Surrogacy refers to a legal agreement between a couple and a surrogate (another woman) in which the latter agrees to conceive, carry, and deliver a baby for the couple.
Surrogacy is a very complicated legal process and patients should get legal advice before the procedure starts.
Why surrogacy is needed
Surrogacy is usually a good alternative for women who cannot carry a baby to term due to reasons such as failure of the embryo to implant inside the uterus, life-threatening pregnancy, or problems with giving birth.
In the case of patients with endometriosis, abnormal lesions are formed by the tissue that resembles the endometrium (the inner lining of the uterus, in the pelvic region). These lesions respond to hormonal cycles in the same way as the endometrium, i.e., they swell and shed each month. However, because these cannot leave the body, they cause inflammation and pain. In more severe cases, these lesions can reduce the ability of a woman to get pregnant.
There are several assisted reproductive techniques that can help a woman with endometriosis become pregnant, including in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intrauterine insemination (IUI). However, in some cases, the disease is so severe that neither technique can help. In such cases, surrogacy might be an option.
How it is done
The use of IVF or IUI also is needed in the case of surrogacy. However, the baby is carried by the surrogate mother instead of the patient.
In IVF the eggs and sperms are fertilized in a dish in a laboratory. For the procedure, eggs can be taken from the patient herself, or if she is unable to produce eggs, can be obtained a donor or the surrogate. The eggs are fused with sperm from the patient’s partner. The resulting embryo is transferred into the surrogate mother who has legally agreed to carry the baby.
Alternatively, the surrogate mother can conceive the baby by undergoing IUI. In this procedure, sperm from the patient’s partner is inserted into the uterus of the surrogate through the cervix using a catheter. The procedure involves preparing and sorting the sperm from the patient’s partner so that only the healthy sperm are used for insemination. To increase the chances of fertilization, the procedure is usually performed about the time of ovulation.
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