Over the past few decades, individuals and couples who have been unable to have children on their own have had more choices opened up to them in terms of starting a family. While adoption is viable option, there are many who would prefer to raise an infant from the very beginning, along with the possibility of one or both parents being biologically related to the child.
The concept of surrogacy has made this a reality. This process entails the donation of sperm, and in some cases eggs, from the intended parents. These are then fertilized and subsequently inseminated into the uterus of a woman who is referred to as the surrogate mother. This individual will then carry the embryo through the entire pregnancy term at which point the child is born and is given to its intended parents.
There are two primary types of surrogacy. These are referred to as traditional and gestational. In the traditional form of surrogacy, a donor's sperm is implanted into the surrogate mother's uterus, at which point it fertilizes this individual's eggs. In this case, the surrogate mother is also then the biological mother of the child she is carrying.
With gestational surrogacy, the sperm and eggs are donated. In many cases, these are from the intended parents. Both are implanted into the surrogate mother's uterus, and, similar to traditional surrogacy, the individual will carry the pregnancy through its full term.
Unlike traditional surrogacy, though, with gestational surrogacy, the surrogate mother does not have a biological relation to the child. And, this process can also allow for the child's intended parents to both have a biological relationship to him or her.
There are also cases where eggs will be donated for the purpose of allowing a woman who is unable to conceive using her own eggs to still have a child. Egg donation is the process by which a woman provides one or more eggs for purposes of assisted reproduction. Once the eggs have been donated, the process will involve fertilizing the eggs with the male parent's sperm in a laboratory dish and then soon afterwards transferring the resulting embryo.
When a female has donated her eggs for another female to use via in vitro fertilization, it is oftentimes because the woman seeking to have a child has poor egg quality, is predisposed to problematic pregnancy, or may simply not want to risk passing on a known genetic disease to her child.
In most situations, eggs are donated from younger women who are typically in their fertile years. This is because as women age, their ovaries' ability to produce good quality eggs begins to diminish.
Depending on the situation, donor eggs may be fertilized with donor sperm, as there could be issues with the intended male partner/father of the child. In any case, the recipients of donated eggs are usually offered counseling in order to ensure that they fully understand the process of receiving such eggs that are not their biological gene material.