Gestational surrogacy is becoming a sought after third party reproduction method given its reliability and benefits. The method was first conceived in the 80s and since then it has shown some really astonishing results. Chances are, you have already heard about Jimmy Fallon, Neil Patrick Harris, or Kim Kardashian growing their families through the surrogacy process. It is estimated that about 750 babies are born in the U.S. alone through gestational surrogacy each year.
But this brings us to the question – why would someone require help from a gestational surrogate mother to become parents?
Before we answer that, we need to take a look at the gestational surrogacy process itself.
How is Gestational Surrogacy Done?
The gestational surrogacy is a third-party reproduction method where a healthy woman (termed the gestational surrogate/gestational carrier/surrogate mother) agrees to carry a pregnancy for another couple or individual. The process involves IVF medical procedure where the eggs of the intended mother (or egg donor) and the sperm of the intended father (or sperm donor) are used to create an embryo in the lab. The embryo is then transferred into the womb of the surrogate mother to conceive pregnancy. The gestational surrogate then carries the pregnancy to term and upon delivery, hands over the baby’s parenthood responsibilities to the intended parents. Since the gestational carrier’s eggs are not used to create the embryo, she is not biologically related to the baby.
What Reasons Drive People to Consider Surrogacy?
Medical problems or illnesses that affect the health of the uterus: Various issues may occur with the uterus, thereby making it impossible for certain individuals to carry a pregnancy to completion. Medical issues include uterine shape abnormalities, septate uterus, uterine fibroids, uterine scars from infection or surgery, or others.
Infertility is one of the primary reasons why hopeful parents seek gestational surrogacy. As per CDC statistics, about 19% (1 in 5) women in the U.S.A. experience some level of infertility. Infertility can be caused by countless male or female factors. Male infertility can be a result of low sperm count or varicocele while female fertility issues can be caused by PCOS, endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease etc. Women who had surgeries to get rid of an ectopic pregnancy may also face infertility issues that make it difficult to conceive safely.
2. Same-sex couples
Same-sex couples are unable to conceive a pregnancy on their own and may require help from assisted reproductive technology to have a baby. However, same-sex male couples cannot carry a pregnancy as the partners lack functioning womb. In this case, the gay parents will need an egg donor to create the embryo and a surrogate mother to carry their child.
In the past decade, surrogacy has gained great popularity in the LGBT community as a great way to create or grow a family. Many famous personalities such as Elton John and Ricky Martin have contributed to this by sharing their positive experiences with surrogacy.
3. Single individuals
A single woman with an inability to conceive pregnancy safely will require the help of a surrogate mother. On the other hand, a single male will require a surrogate as well to carry the pregnancy for him. Surrogacy gives these men and women a chance to taste the joys of becoming parents.
Age plays a vital role in a woman’s reproductive health as her egg quality and quantity starts to decline rapidly after 30s. By the age of forty, a woman’s chances of getting pregnant drops significantly and the risk of miscarriages and stillbirth increases greatly. The good news is that a gestational carrier would be the right person to carry the pregnancy since she already had a successful pregnancy before.
Oftentimes, women suffering from chronic diseases require medication and treatments that severely affects their reproductive organs and thus, damage their ability to conceive a baby. Many of these women find it very difficult to become a mother on their own and hence decide to partner with a surrogate mother to have a baby.
6. Having genetic relation with the baby which is not possible in adoption
The surrogacy process can be a time-consuming process, but it’s usually less lengthy than adoption. Another reason to choose gestational surrogacy is that in this process the intended parents can have a biological relation to the baby. Some hopeful parents opt for surrogacy instead of the adoption process for these advantages.
7. Physical problems
Sometimes, women face physical problems other than infertility that make it difficult for them to become a mother through natural conception. For example, a congenital uterine abnormality may make pregnancy or birth impossible for some women. On the other hand, Women who underwent certain surgeries (such as full hysterectomy) may have to remove their womb which makes it impossible for them to carry a pregnancy. In these situations, they might choose to reach out for a surrogate mother to have a baby.
8. Past trauma
Some women have to endure so much during birth that it causes post-traumatic stress disorder. A physical and emotional trauma concerning a past pregnancy or childbirth may deter a woman from pursuing pregnancy in the future. This is a situation where partnering with a surrogate would be a better suit to have a trouble-free pregnancy.
9. Unable to carry full-term
Repeated miscarriage, stillbirth, IVF failure, ectopic pregnancy conception can indicate an unexplained infertility that prevents becoming a mother naturally. Some of these conditions are treatable while others are still a mystery to medical science. For those non-treatable cases, would-be parents may turn to surrogacy to help them carry their child to full-term.
Gestational surrogacy is a rewarding process for intended parents who cannot conceive naturally or safely. The process allows the parents to have a biological connection with their baby which is not possible in adoption.
While there are many reasons why someone would choose to go with surrogacy, the end result is always a blessing of tasting the joys of parenthood.