Having a child is one of the most wonderful feelings in the world. Unfortunately, many couples find out that they are not capable of having a baby the traditional way. Couples often turn to modern popular methods like In-Vitro-Fertilization and Implantation in such cases. Surrogacy is also an option that comes into the picture, especially when the female is unable to carry a baby for many reasons. Surrogacy involves employing a third party, a female, who agrees to carry the baby for the couple.
Surrogacy is fastly gaining momentum around the world. However, as simple as it may sound, it is important for couples to think it through before making any decisions. After all, another person would be carrying your child, and you can’t just focus on your own family in such a situation. It is crucial to take into consideration the surrogate mother who will be carrying your child for nine months, after which she will have to part with the baby. The process of surrogate motherhood doesn’t just have a physical impact; it can also psychologically impact the surrogate mother. All of this makes it crucial for you to fully understand why people choose this option before going ahead with it. So, keep reading as we break it down for you:
1. What Exactly Is Surrogacy?
In some cases, a woman may be unable to have a child. This can be due to various reasons, such as infertility or menopause. In such a situation, you can still choose to have a child via surrogacy, which is a particular kind of arrangement where another woman, who is called the surrogate, gives birth to your child for you. A medical procedure like IVF is employed in impregnating the would-be surrogate, who will carry the baby in her uterus. She might or might not be the biological mother to the child depending on the type of surrogacy.
2. How Does Surrogacy Work?
To understand how surrogacy works, you should know that there are two kinds of surrogate procedures – traditional and gestational surrogacy. In the case of traditional surrogacy, the surrogate mother’s egg is fertilized with the intended father’s sperm. It is important to know that if a couple decides to opt for traditional surrogacy, only the father will be generally linked to the child. The surrogate mother will be the biological mother and not the female partner. Being okay with this arrangement totally depends on the view of the couple. The intended mother would have to be comfortable and ready with the fact she doesn’t have any biological connection with her would-be child. The same goes for the surrogate mother who would have to deal with parting with her own biological child (1).
Another type of surrogacy is gestational surrogacy. With the help of an assisted reproductive technique known as IVF or in vitro fertilization, the female eggs along with the partner’s sperm, are gathered in a lab setting and then fertilized externally to form an embryo. This embryo is then placed in the uterus of the mother, who is the surrogate. The surrogate mother would carry the baby for nine months like in normal pregnancies. However, the surrogate mother will not be genetically linked to the baby in gestational surrogacy, as the eggs are not hers (1). Gestational surrogacy allows both parents to be genetically linked to their baby and thus is a more agreeable process for many. After all, the feeling of knowing that you are not the biological parents to your child can linger on and cause trauma and issues in the future. Furthermore, it can also affect the child when he/she grows up.
3. When Is Surrogacy Used As An Option?
Now that we know what surrogacy is and how it works, let’s look at when and why a couple opts for a surrogate child:
Infertility is one of the reasons why a couple opts for surrogacy. In some cases, it could be because the partner’s sperm count is low or the quality of the sperm does not meet the requirement to conceive a child. In other cases, it could be because the woman suffers from issues such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, hypothalamic dysfunction, premature ovarian failure, and other uterine or cervical problems (2)..
5. The Uterus Is Absent
Some women face a medical condition known as Mayer RoktanskyKuster Hauser, where the lady parts or uterus of the female are either underdeveloped or absent. A woman who is diagnosed with this rare congenital condition may also suffer from Uterine Factor Infertility. Unfortunately, women suffering from this condition cannot get pregnant. They do not have the option of trying out In Vitro Fertilization either, so the only way to have a child is through adoption or surrogacy (3).
6. Severe Health Conditions
Sometimes, other health conditions can come in the way of having a child. This could include conditions such as heart ailments, diabetes, cancer, and kidney failure. When diagnosed with a severe health condition, either the sperms and eggs get affected, or the patient will be unable to carry a child. Women who suffer from certain diseases may put themselves at risk or end up with a miscarriage if they do get pregnant (4).
Preeclampsia is a dangerous complication that occurs during pregnancy. It can cause a sudden spike in blood pressure, which in turn can affect the mother’s brain, kidney, and liver and even prove to be fatal for both mother and child. Women who have had a history of preeclampsia are asked to avoid getting pregnant, as it can put them at severe risk of death (5).
Several factors come into play when opting for a process such as surrogacy. It involves legal, emotional, ethical, and financial aspects that you can’t take lightly. You will also have to factor in the emotional and physical wellbeing of the surrogate who would be helping you out in this huge decision. It is also essential to know that it can be a lengthy, complex and expensive process. So, do your research well and have proper discussions with your partner before taking any steps. What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comments below!
- Surrogacy: Ethical and Legal Issues
- Fertility and infertility: Definition and epidemiology
- Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome
- Lifestyle factors and reproductive health: taking control of your fertility
- Pre-eclampsia: pathophysiology diagnosis and management