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Many intended parents have endured years of infertility treatment with its inherent emotional turmoil and financial burden and are still unable to have a child. Despite the medical breakthroughs developing in the field of infertility, some fertility problems are left unexplained. Others are attributed to premature menopause, genetic or physical abnormalities, various diseases and/or their treatments, or hormonal imbalances that affect a woman’s ability to produce viable eggs and/or carry a pregnancy to term.
(IVF)DONOR’S EGG + INTENDED FATHER’S SPERM = INTENDED MOTHER PREGNANT
This is an option if there is advancing maternal age, poor egg quality or premature ovarian failure, but the wife is ABLE to carry a pregnancy. Ovum (egg) donation is a procedure that makes it possible for a woman to become pregnant and to give birth using the eggs of another woman. Eggs donated by another woman are retrieved and fertilized with the intended father’s sperm using in vitro fertilization in the lab. The resultant embryos are transferred to the intended mother’s uterus making it possible for a couple to experience the joys of pregnancy, child birth and breastfeeding, not to mention a lifetime of parenting!
The practice of therapeutic donor sperm insemination (TDI) has been practiced since the 18th century. Today “sperm banks” have been established. Unfortunately, “egg banks” are not possible because eggs are difficult cells to freeze without damaging their reproductive capacity. (This is being attempted but isn’t yet reliable.) Eggs must be fertilized and become embryos before they are frozen. This requires medical skill and technology as well as a great deal of instruction and administrative coordination with the ovum donor and the recipient couple.
Because this technology is relatively recent, many women forty or older have a renewed chance of having a baby. 20 years ago, a woman who had inoperable tubal disease at the age of 30 would have been considered sterile. By the mid-80s, in-vitro fertilization clinics were established, but the procedure was relatively new and chances of success were slim. Now, with further advancements, it is possible to achieve pregnancy through ovum donation. A 42-year-old woman’s pregnancy rate when undergoing IVF with her own eggs may be less than 5%. With the use of a 23-year-old ovum donor, her chances of taking a baby home increase to over 50%. It is important to understand that the uterus’ and other reproductive organs’ ability to maintain a pregnancy is not affected by the age of the uterus. With proper hormone replacement, post-menopausal women can now maintain uterine function as efficiently as women in their early reproductive years. (IARC® does, however, place some age restrictions on our clients for ethical reasons rather than physiology.)
Advantages: The intended mother experiences childbirth and breastfeeding. The baby is the biological offspring of the intended father. Maternal age is not a factor since fertility rates are based on the age of the egg donor. Step-parent adoption is not generally necessary because the intended mother gives birth.
Disadvantages: The ovum (egg) donor may retain the right to assert parental rights to the child because of her genetic link to the child. This is only a remote possibility in anonymous programs, and it is possible to eliminate it through an appropriate legal proceeding, if desired.
A surrogate is required if:
The intended mother does not have a functioning uterus to carry a pregnancy.
The intended mother has a congenital deformity of her uterus.
Couples have undergone numerous IVF procedures and transfers of good quality embryos but have been unable to achieve a pregnancy. In these cases, it is very difficult for infertility specialists to actually determine if the problem lies with the uterus’ ability to accept implantation or whether there is an unknown problem with the embryo itself that causes it to inhibit its own implantation. Pregnancy rates in these cases are not determined by the age of the surrogate mother. The chances of achieving a pregnancy will depend on the biological mother’s or ovum donor’s age at the time of the egg retrieval.
We Have Three Surrogacy Programs:
Traditional (AI) Surrogacy;
Gestational (IVF) Surrogacy using the intended mother’s egg; and
Gestational (IVF) Surrogacy using an ovum donor.
Traditional (AI) Surrogacy
SURROGATE + INTENDED FATHER’S SPERM = SURROGATE PREGNANT
This procedure is not usually recommended; nevertheless, it is sometimes used when the intended mother is unable to produce her own eggs or carry a pregnancy. The intended father/sperm donor’s sperm is used to inseminate a surrogate at mid-cycle. If she becomes pregnant, she agrees to carry the child to term and defer all parental rights to the biological father and his intended mother. In most states, the baby’s birth certificate can be amended to show the intended mother as the mother of the child after a step-parent adoption.
Advantages: Because the surrogate is artificially inseminated with the intended father’s sperm, the baby is the husband’s biological offspring. Costs are reduced because expensive fertility medications and in vitro fertilization procedures are not required.
Disadvantages: Legal advantages exist for the surrogate mother if she does change her mind; furthermore, most women volunteering to be surrogates prefer to be gestational surrogates and thus NOT have a genetic relationship to the baby they carry. For this reason, it can take longer periods of time to find AI surrogates for couples.
PLEASE NOTE: Sperm Analysis is often required before signing up for this program. Problems in sperm quality or quantity cannot be assisted by ICSI (the injection of one viable sperm into one egg) in AI Surrogacy.
Gestational (IVF) Surrogacy Using Intended Mother’s Egg
INTENDED MOTHER’S EGG + INTENDED FATHER’S SPERM = SURROGATE PREGNANT*
This option allows a couple to have their own biological child. The intended mother must be able to ovulate and produce viable eggs. In vitro fertilization techniques will be used to retrieve the intended mother’s eggs which are subsequently fertilized by the intended father’s sperm. The resultant embryos are transferred to the surrogate’s uterus. In some states, parentage can be established prior to birth, and the intended mother’s name is listed as the mother on the baby’s original birth certificate.
Advantages: The baby is genetically related to both the intended mother and intended father. The baby is not genetically linked to the surrogate. A step-parent adoption is not usually required.
Disadvantages: Because another woman gives birth to the child, a legal proceeding of some sort is necessary to establish the parental rights, depending on where the baby is born.
Gestational (IVF) Surrogacy Using Ovum Donor’s Egg
DONOR’S EGG + INTENDED FATHER’S SPERM = SURROGATE PREGNANT*
This option is required if there is advancing maternal age, poor egg quality or premature ovarian failure AND the wife is unable to carry a pregnancy.
Advantages: The baby is the biological offspring of the husband. The baby is not genetically linked to the surrogate. IARC® has access to many ovum donors. The matching process can progress quickly, and there is more selection for the client with egg donors in the cases where specific characteristics are requested than there is with an AI surrogate.
Disadvantages: A step-parent adoption is usually required to create the legal relationship between the baby and the intended mother.
*PLEASE NOTE: Problems in sperm quality can be assisted by ICSI (the injection of one viable sperm into one egg) when IVF procedures are used.