Starting a family can be a wonderful time in one's life. However, while there are many who very much long to have children, for one reason or another, they are unable to conceive. There is a solution, though, in the process of surrogacy.
Surrogacy involves the carrying of an embryo and the subsequent birthing of a baby by one woman, referred to as the surrogate, for another individual or couple. There are two primary types of surrogacy - traditional and gestational.
In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate is both the donor of the egg and the carrier of the embryo. In this process, the surrogate is impregnated with sperm that is taken from the intended child's biological father using intrauterine insemination, or IUI. Because it is the surrogate's egg that is used for the pregnancy, the surrogate is also the biological mother of the child. With the gestational surrogacy process, the embryo is created by using sperm from the biological father and an egg from the biological mother through the process of in vitro fertilization. In this case, the surrogate is only used to carry the embryo and is therefore not the child's biological mother.
Using in vitro fertilization, it typically takes between three and five days before the embryo develops in the lab before it can be implanted into the uterus of the surrogate. Once the surrogate has been impregnated, she will then carry the embryo until the time of the child's birth.
There are advantages and disadvantages to each type of surrogacy, so the best option will depend upon each specific situation. One of the advantages of traditional surrogacy is that it typically involves a lower cost that gestational surrogacy. This is because there is no donation fee, and if the first effort at insemination does not work, it can be attempted again in a matter of weeks rather than several months.
In addition, with the process of traditional surrogacy, it is unlikely that the surrogate will need to take additional fertility medication. It is important to note, though, that with traditional surrogacy, the surrogate will be the child's biological mother.
With gestational surrogacy, because the sperm and the egg both come from the intended child's biological parents, the surrogate will not be biologically related to the child and is only used for carrying purposes. This can be of extreme importance to many parents.
Because many women are capable of producing healthy eggs, yet are not able to become pregnant, they are ideal candidates to choose a gestational surrogate, as are those who may be able to become pregnant but have a history of miscarriage.
Gestational surrogacy is more costly, however, than traditional surrogacy. This is because of the additional procedure of obtaining both sperm and eggs from the biological parents as versus just the father's sperm for use in traditional surrogacy. Therefore, from a financial standpoint, traditional surrogacy may make more sense for some individuals or couples who wish to have children but may not have the financial wherewithal to pay for the gestational surrogacy process.