Surrogacy is an arrangement in which a woman carries and delivers a child for another couple or person (called the "intended parents").
The surrogate may be the child's genetic mother (a "traditional surrogacy") or she may be genetically unrelated to the child (a "gestational carrier surrogacy"). In traditional surrogacy, the child may be conceived using intrauterine insemination (IUI) or through IVF. Gestational carrier surrogacy uses IVF to create embryos from the intended parent’s egg and sperm. The embryo(s) is transferred into the gestational carrier.
At Olive we assist with gestational carrier surrogacy and are one of Canada's largest programs.
When to Consider Surrogacy
Surrogacy is an option if you wish to have a child but are unable to do so because of:
- Not having a uterus
- Having a uterus that is abnormally shaped, a thin endometrial lining, scars, or other such problems
- Medical conditions that would make pregnancy risky to your life or the life of the fetus.
- Recurrent IVF failure
- Biologic inability to conceive or bear a child (e.g. male couple)
What to Expect During Treatment
Your first step is to discuss your case with your Olive physician. If a surrogate is appropriate for you, then the next thing is to identify a potential surrogate. She will undergo a screening that includes blood work, an ultrasound, and a hysteroscopy.
Once the screening is completed, the intended parents and surrogate meet with a psychologist. Following this, a legal contract between the intended parents and the surrogate is drafted.
The intended mother then undergoes an IVF cycle. While she is undergoing her IVF cycle, the surrogate is taking medication to prepare her uterus for an embryo(s). The embryo(s) is then transferred into the surrogate’s uterus and hopefully a successful pregnancy results.
In some cases, the intended mother does not have eggs or there is no female (e.g. male couple). In this case, an egg donor is used and the embryos are transferred into the surrogate.
How Successful is it?
Surrogacy is very successful with pregnancy rates between 60%-80%, depending on the quality of the eggs and sperm.
Who can be a Surrogate?
A healthy woman under the age of 40 whose body mass index (BMI) is less than 35 kg/m2 and who has had at least one full term uncomplicated pregnancy.
What Testing is Done on the Surrogate?
Potential surrogates have psychological, medical, and infectious disease testing. Surrogates also have their uterus assessed by ultrasound and hysteroscopy.
How do I Find a Surrogate?
In Canada, a person or couple who wishes to use a surrogate must identify the person themselves. Canadian federal law prohibits surrogates from being paid more than "reasonable expenses." This naturally limits surrogacy relationships in Canada as a woman cannot be a surrogate for profit. As a result, surrogates in Canada are almost always a friend or relative of the intended parent who volunteers to be a surrogate altruistically.