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Surrogate Definition and Types

31 January 2015

There are over 6.7 million women aged between 15 and 44 in the US, who suffer from impaired fecundity. It translates to nearly 10.9 percent of the overall female population in the country. About 6 percent of the married woman population in the US, in the 15-44 age bracket are said to be infertile. Many of these women are considering fertility treatments and surrogacy as a means to achieve pregnancy. In fact, over 7.4 million of the women in this age group have got in touch with infertility services for the same.  Surrogacy is an option for individuals who are unable to conceive for multiple reasons. A surrogate is defined as a woman who carries the biological child for a couple or an individual.

Why surrogacy?

There are a number of reasons that can make individuals or couples seek surrogacy. Some reasons which may not allow women to conceive include.

    • Congenital defect like mullerian agenesis that results in absence of uterus
    • Malformations in the uterine that lead to miscarriages or prevent the embryo from being implanted
    • A previous hysterectomy during which parts or whole of the uterus has been surgically removed
    • Uterine adhesions or Asherman's syndrome, which cannot be corrected
    • Failure of implantation techniques repeatedly through IVF treatment
    • Health conditions that may threaten the life of the baby or the mother during pregnancy. It includes conditions like lupus, breast cancer, heart disease, cystic fibrosis, diabetes and kidney disease.

Surrogacy is also a good option for single parents or gay couples who wish to raise a child.

Traditional surrogate

In a traditional surrogacy, the woman who plays the surrogate acts as the egg donor as well. The surrogate is impregnated by means of a procedure called as Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). During this procedure, the medical professional transfers the sperm into the uterus of the surrogate to allow for fertilization to take place naturally. Technically, it makes the surrogate to be the child's biological mother. This surrogacy type is usually preferred in cases where the intended mother's egg and/ or the intended father's sperm cannot be used during surrogacy.

Gestational surrogate

A gestational surrogate is not biologically the mother of the child. Gestational surrogacy is usually chosen in cases where infertility treatments have been unsuccessful or where there are irregularities in the uterus. During this procedure, the couple is made to undergo an assisted reproductive technology procedure (ART) like in vitro fertilization (IVF) to produce the embryo. In cases where this cannot be done due to fertility issues, donated sperms, eggs or embryos may be used. The embryo will then be placed in the surrogate's uterus once it is fertilized. The embryos typically take about 3-5 days to develop before they are transferred into the surrogate.

Cost of surrogacy

The surrogacy industry's annual worth is over $450 million. Surrogacy is illegal in many countries in the world, and furthermore, the expensive prices are making individuals seek out legalized inexpensive alternatives in other countries. The net cost of surrogacy in India amounts to a meager $22,000-$35,000., while the same would cost couples a whopping $100,000 in the US. Some US couples are even seeking Mexico as a destination of choice for surrogacy, despite the fact that there are other international medical tourism destinations that offer better surrogacy opportunities cost-wise, due to its easy accessibility and hassle-free travel. Surrogacy in Mexico could cost coupes about $45,000 overall. The presence of first-rate medical facilities, equipment and quality medical professionals, are other factors that are making individuals in the West take a second look at surrogates outside their own country, in places like India, Mexico and South Africa.

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