Surrogacy is an arrangement, often supported by a legal agreement, whereby a woman (the surrogate mother) agrees to become pregnant and give birth to a child for another person(s) who are or will become the parent(s) of the child.
People may seek a surrogacy arrangement when pregnancy is medically impossible, when pregnancy risks are too dangerous for the intended mother, or when a single man or a male couple wish to have a child. In these arrangements, monetary compensation may or may not be involved. Receiving money for the arrangement is considered commercial surrogacy; receiving no compensation beyond reimbursement of reasonable expenses is altruistic. The legality and cost of surrogacy varies widely between jurisdictions, sometimes resulting in problematic interstate or international surrogacy arrangements.
Laws of some countries restrict or regulate surrogacy and its consequences. Those wanting to seek a surrogacy arrangement who, however, live where it is banned may travel to a jurisdiction that permits it.
The more popular method, this procedure involves in vitro fertilization (IVF) with the eggs of the intended mother or those of an egg donor. This arrangement means that the surrogate mother is not genetically related to the child. Because this method is more complicated medically, it tends to be more expensive than traditional surrogacy where the surrogate mother is impregnated with semen from the intended father or sperm donor and uses her own eggs. However, this method is also more effective.
There are three stages to gestational surrogacy:
Egg donation—either the intended mother or the egg donor undergoes an egg retrieval procedure.
Fertilization—the egg is fertilized with semen in the laboratory to create embryos.
Transfer—the fertilized egg, or embryo, is implanted into the surrogate mother’s womb. This is often referred to as an embryo transfer, or just transfer.
A fertilized egg may be transferred to the surrogate either when it is three to five days past fertilization, or after it has been taken from cryogenic storage and thawed. In order to prepare for a fresh embryo transfer, the intended mother or egg donor and the surrogate must take hormone pills at the same time to synchronize their cycles. In a situation where the embryos have been thawed, some fertility clinics recommend that the surrogate take hormone medication to prepare the lining of her uterus for the transfer.