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The term surrogacy is used when a woman carries a pregnancy and gives birth to a baby for another woman. Opinion on the morality of surrogacy is divided. Surrogacy is legally accepted in some countries treatment option for selected groups of patients. However, surrogacy is still not allowed in many countries. Legislation governing surrogacy varies between countries.

Surrogates can be divided into natural surrogates and IVF surrogates.

IVF surrogacy (gestational carrier) - full surrogate

This is where a woman carries a pregnancy created by the egg and sperm of genetic couple. The carrier is not genetically related to the child.

Natural surrogacy (traditional/straight surrogate)

Here, the surrogate is inseminated with sperm from the male partnerís of an infertile couple. The child that results is genetically related to the surrogate and to the male partner but not to the commissioning female partner.This is legally not allowed.

To whom surrogacy is advised?

There are several groups of patients that natural and IVF surrogacy may be advised to.

IVF surrogacy

  • Women whose ovaries are producing eggs but they do not have uterus this could be because they have had a hysterectomy (removal of uterus) performed due to cancer, severe hemorrhage or ruptured womb, or they were born without a uterus. This is by far the most common indication for IVF surrogacy.
  • A woman whose uterus is malformed or damaged and is incapable of carrying a pregnancy to term, may be recommended IVF surrogacy.
  • Women who suffer from medical problems such as diabetes, heart and kidney diseases and in whom a pregnancy would be life threatening. However, their long term prospect for health is good.
  • Repeated miscarriages where the causes of miscarriage have been fully investigated, may also suggest IVF surrogacy treatment.
  • Women who have no functioning ovaries due to premature menopause ( some may argue that the best option for these patients is egg donation).
  • A woman who is at risk of passing on a genetic disease to her offspring, may opt for traditional surrogacy.
  • As with IVF surrogacy, women who suffer from medical problems such as diabetes, heart and kidney diseases and in whom a pregnancy would be life threatening may select traditional surrogacy if their long term prospect for health is good.

Surrogacy for social reasons such as the inconvenience of carrying a child, fear of pregnancy or interrupting a career is not accepted and legally not allowed.

Women who agree to become a surrogate may do so for compassionate reasons to help a sister, daughter or friend. Some women may agree to become surrogates for financial remuneration after a legal mutual agreement is done.