Women who have healthy, viable eggs but, for medical reasons, are unable to carry a pregnancy to term can benefit from using a gestational carrier. Using In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) technology, we are able to fertilize the woman's eggs with her husband's sperm and transfer the resulting embryo(s) to the uterus of a volunteer gestational carrier (gestational surrogate), who will carry the pregnancy and return the child to the genetic parents at birth. Unlike traditional surrogacy arrangements, the gestational carrier is not genetically related to the child she carries. To learn more about surrogacy, contact the Chicago area office of Laurence A. Jacobs, M.D., today.
There are many conditions making it impossible for a woman to carry a pregnancy to term. An absent, malformed, or non-functioning uterus will prevent a woman from becoming pregnant. This is true even if her egg supply is good and her hormonal system is functioning normally. Some women who have a functional uterus may have a medical condition making pregnancy dangerous or even life threatening. In these cases, gestational surrogacy is an excellent option.
The process for gestational surrogacy is similar to that of IVF Using Donor Eggs. The patient must be matched with a gestational carrier, both parties to the transaction must be thoroughly screened. Once the gestational carrier's and intended mother's menstrual cycles are synchronized, the actual IVF process begins.
During the initial stages of gestational surrogacy, the intended parents and the gestational carrier (as well as the gestational carrier's husband or partner) must complete a thorough screening process. This will include an examination of each potential participant's medical records, an in-depth psychological evaluation, and physical and medical testing. The parties must also meet with legal counsel to draw up a contract mutually agreeable to all parties involved.
A gestational carrier must have a relationship with the parents of the child she is carrying and remain in contact with them throughout the pregnancy. Therefore, in addition to a thorough medical and psychological screening for the parents, the gestational carrier (and the gestational carrier's partner) will undergo multiple interviews and evaluations to ensure they fully understand all aspects of participation in this type of surrogacy program. This process minimized differences of opinion jeopardizing the relationship.
After all decisions have been made, the first step in the gestational surrogacy process is to synchronize the menstrual cycles of both the genetic mother (egg donor) and the gestational carrier. This is accomplished with the use of a medication to suppress the natural hormonal processes of the gestational carrier and then replacement hormones (estrogen and progesterone) are administered to mimic the various stages of a normal cycle in a controlled manner. The genetic mother is then prescribed fertility medications to stimulate follicular development and induce the maturation of several eggs at once.
When the two women's cycles are well synchronized and the intended mother's eggs are ready to be collected, an egg retrieval procedure will be performed and the eggs will be combined with sperm from the intended father and monitored over the next three to five days. When healthy embryo development has been confirmed, one or more of the embryos are transferred to the uterus of the gestational carrier. Any remaining embryos can be cryopreserved (vitrified) for future surrogacy cycles in case implantation is unsuccessful.
Lotus Blossom Consulting is one of the gestational surrogacy agencies I recommend. For more information, go to www.lotusblossomconsulting.com. Parenting Partners is another trusted gestational surrogacy agency. For more information, go to www.parentingpartners.net.
Gestational surrogacy is unique in that the gestational carrier is expected to stay in contact with the parents throughout the pregnancy. Likewise, the genetic intended parents generally provide support and maintain a relationship with the carrier until after delivery of the child. The amount of contact and interaction between the parties varies by individual case.
If you would like to learn more about our Chicago, Illinois area practice or how the gestational surrogacy process, please contact Laurence Jacobs, M.D., to schedule a consultation.