There are many etiologies for infertility, both male and female. But a lot of women have trouble conceiving or carrying a healthy pregnancy to term secondary to uterine factors. These factors may include an absent or malformed uterus, fibroids, uterine scarring from previous surgeries or a D&C, and DES exposure. Other women may suffer from recurrent miscarriages due to autoimmune or other disorders that make it very difficult to carry to term. Still, other women may have repeated IVF failures due to poor implantation in a faulty uterine environment despite multiple attempts at transferring high quality embryos. Some women have medical conditions such as heart or kidney disease that makes it dangerous for them to attempt to carry a pregnancy, or a poor obstetrical history complicated by preterm birth, pre-eclampsia/toxemia, or gestational diabetes. All of these women may be good candidates for uterine surrogacy (also called a gestational carrier).
This advance in medical technology allows a couple (the intended parents) to have their own biologic child together formed from their own egg and sperm, but carried in a more healthy uterine environment by the gestational carrier (or surrogate uterus). This process involves the intended parents undergoing the traditional in vitro fertilization (IVF) process of stimulating the woman’s ovaries to produce eggs, office-based egg retrieval, and laboratory fertilization of the eggs with her husband’s sperm. The resulting embryos are then transferred to the gestational carrier’s uterus for implantation and pregnancy to occur. The gestational carrier’s uterus is prepared to be receptive to the embryos with a series of simple hormonal preparations that are continued until the placenta can take over hormone production. The gestational carrier would then carry the pregnancy to term and deliver the child.
Success rates with uterine surrogacy are excellent but depend largely, due to egg quality issues, on the age and health of the intended mother. Ideal gestational carriers are young, healthy, non-smoking women who have already had at least one uncomplicated vaginal delivery with a healthy outcome. Unfortunately, there are more women who need gestational carriers than there are carriers available. Therefore, the process is greatly simplified and the cost dramatically reduced if an intended parent is able to provide their own carrier. Many times this may be a sister or cousin, a close friend, or an acquaintance with whom the intended parents make a financial agreement.
The child resulting from a gestational carrier cycle is clearly meant to be that of the intended parents. However, laws regarding the legal status of the child vary distinctly from county to county. Some counties require that the intended parents formally adopt the child from the non-biologic birth mother. Because of these delicate intricacies, legal representation for both the intended parents and the carrier is required before a cycle can begin. This is intended for the protection of both the intended parents and the carrier.
If you think that you would benefit from a gestational carrier or would like to be a compensated gestational carrier for a deserving couple, please notify Sarah Price, our gestational carrier coordinator, at 513-924-5550 or contact us today. The IRH staff looks forward to working together with you.