Surrogacy – How to Prepare, Process, Success Rate, Cost & More

Surrogacy – A Fertility Treatment Option

Advancements in science help many individuals and couples who crave the responsibility of a child but, for various reasons, may not be able to conceive or carry one. Whether it is single men who want biological children, couples who have medical issues or someone who has another reason altogether, the answer for all of them may be surrogacy. Read on for all you need to know about this method of childbirth.

What is Surrogacy?

Many couples who are facing fertility issues nowadays are opting for surrogacy to start their family. When another woman carries and delivers your baby, it is called surrogacy. The woman who carries and gives birth to your baby is known as a surrogate mother (or simply a surrogate) and can be your relative, friend or an anonymous volunteer. The surrogacy process is an extremely complex legal process which can not only be emotionally intense but also require a lot of patience, time and money. It is very important to understand all the pros and cons of the procedure before going for it. If all the aspects of surrogacy, such as legal, financial and medical, are taken care of, then surrogacy is one of the best fertility options available today.

Who Can Benefit From Surrogacy?

You may benefit from surrogacy if:

  • Your medical condition makes pregnancy and birth fatal for you.
  • You are born without a uterus.
  • You have undergone uterus removal surgery or hysterectomy.
  • You have had recurrent abortions.
  • Your uterus has an abnormality or unusual shape.
  • You have had no success with other fertility treatments (like IVF)

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) states that surrogacy can be an option if it is medically impossible for the couple to carry a baby.

How Does Surrogacy Work?

Surrogacy works in the following ways:

  1. Natural or Straight Surrogacy :

The intended dad’s sperm is artificially inseminated through IUI into the surrogate mother. Natural or straight surrogacy uses the host’s uterus and eggs. After birth, the baby is handed over to the intended parents and the surrogate mother terminates her parental rights.

  1. Gestational or Host Surrogacy :

When a donated embryo is carried by a surrogate up to the term, it is called gestational or host surrogacy. In this case, you are the biological parents of your baby.

  1. Altruistic Surrogacy :

The host receives no financial benefit from this kind of surrogacy and only receives allowable expenses.

  1. Commercial Surrogacy :

When on top of allowable expenses a separate fee is also paid for the services rendered by the surrogate, it is called commercial surrogacy.

How to Find and Choose a Surrogate Mother

You may ask a friend or relative to be a surrogate mother for your baby. It is one of the best ways to find a surrogate, as it not only reduces the legal hassles associated with surrogacy but also cuts down the cost.

Woman discussing surrogacy

You may also contact various surrogacy agencies to arrange a surrogate for you. The agency makes arrangement for a surrogate and also acts as an intermediary for passing on various medical expenses and fees between you and the surrogate.

Surrogacy and Its Legal Issues

There are many issues associated with legal surrogacy and a legal surrogate. It is very important to seek expert legal advice on this matter. If you plan for surrogacy in another country, you should be aware of the surrogacy law of that country.

How to Prepare for Surrogacy

You can prepare for surrogacy by:

  • Preparing yourself emotionally for the changes that will follow after the birth of your baby, such as waking up at night, change in social life, sharing responsibilities with your partner etc.
  • Making arrangements to welcome your baby into the house. You may do up your baby’s room, buy a  stroller, crib, clothes and other essentials for your baby.
  • Joining parenting classes to prepare yourself for the baby’s arrival.
  • Reading about parenting and childcare.

What Screening Test is Required?

The following screening tests may be required for a surrogate mother:

  • Medical screening will be done to ascertain any sexually transmitted disease. The lab and physical tests may include HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, RH factor, Herpes, and Syphilis etc. Other blood and urine tests also may be conducted.
  • The health of the uterus is determined by conducting Pap smear.
  • A mock cycle is performed to check the response of uterine lining to hormone replacement.
  • HCG will be performed to check the size of the uterus and the passage of the fallopian tubes.
  • A pelvic examination is also performed to determine the length and direction of the uterine cavity.
  • Apart from various physical and medical tests, psychological testing is also done to check the determination and ability of the surrogate to carry on the surrogacy.

Medical tests being carried out for surrogate mother

What is the Success Rate?

It is very difficult to determine the actual success rate of surrogacy as there are a number of factors associated with it. If you get a volunteer surrogate, who becomes pregnant through the fertility treatment and carries your baby for the full, you will be successful, however, the same procedure may fail for others.

Advantages of Surrogacy

Surrogacy has great advantages to couples who cannot conceive biologically, as it provides you with a chance to have a baby who is (genetically) partially or completely yours. You may also get closely involved during the pregnancy and birth of your baby.

Disadvantages of Surrogacy

Some of the disadvantages associated with surrogacy are:

  • It involves complicated legal and medical procedures.
  • It is difficult to find a clinic that supports surrogacy.
  • It is difficult to reconcile with the various choices of the surrogate, such as managing diet, pregnancy and labour.

Problems Associated With Surrogacy

One of the main concerns or problems associated with surrogacy is whether or not this procedure is fair to the surrogate mother. It is generally feared that the surrogate mother may become attached to the baby she is carrying. However, if a proper relationship with the commissioning couple is maintained throughout the pregnancy, this problem can be kept aat bay.

How Much Does Surrogacy Cost?

The surrogacy cost can vary and depends on various factors, such as:

  • The cost of the donor (sperm or egg)
  • The surrogate mother payment
  • The cost of embryo implantation
  • The cost of your infertility treatment (ICSI or IVF to create an embryo)

Surrogacy vs. Adoption

Surrogacy has many benefits in comparison to adoption, as surrogacy allows either or both the partners to be the genetic parents of the child. Though surrogacy laws are different for different countries; surrogacy does not involve expensive and extensive procedures like adoption. You do not need ‘qualify’ to be surrogate parents, unlike in adoption.

Surrogacy is an effective way of becoming parents if you are unable to become parents naturally. However, it is recommended to be thorough with all the legal, financial and medical issues before going for this fertility treatment option.  

Also Read: A Guide to Assisted Reproductive Technology

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