The two types of surrogacy are "traditional" and "gestational." Traditional surrogacy is done via artificial insemination, with the surrogate using her egg and another man's sperm. Gestational surrogacy is done via In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), where fertilized eggs from another woman are implanted into the surrogate's uterus. Choosing which route to take is one of the earliest decisions a surrogate or intended parents must make.
Traditional surrogacy used to be the only way for a couple to use a surrogate and is still used by many people. In traditional surrogacy arrangements, the surrogate mother is also the biological mother of the child she gestates. Artificial insemination is significantly less expensive than IVF. There is a high success rate when working with a surrogate with proven fertility, and the rebound time after a failed attempt is a matter of weeks.
In general, traditional surrogates do not have to be on any special medications. They keep track of their own menstrual cycle and time the inseminations around when they naturally ovulate. A surrogate may choose to use mild fertility drugs to fine-tune the timing of ovulation or increase the chances of twins. The downside to traditional surrogacy is the genetic link between the surrogate and the baby she carries.
In gestational surrogacy, the surrogate is artificially inseminated with the fertilized ovum of another woman. Gestational surrogacy is a much more expensive and complex medical process than traditional surrogacy; however, it offers intended parents the chance to parent a child that is genetically their own. Through IVF, a surrogate can carry embryos that have been created from the eggs of the baby's intended mother and sperm of the intended father. The eggs are retrieved from the intended mother and fertilized with the sperm, allowed to grow, then transferred into the surrogate's uterus through a catheter. In cases where the intended parents can't produce the necessary sperm or eggs, a donor may also be used.
The transfer of the embryos itself is fairly quick and easy, but the process of getting ready for that transfer and the weeks after that require heavy medical intervention. The process usually involves months of daily injections for the surrogate. The medications involved often have significant side effects that the surrogate must live with, including hot flashes, mood swings, headaches, and drowsiness.
Gestational surrogacy is an expensive process. In the case of a failed transfer, there is often a wait of several months before another transfer may be attempted. Also, there is a higher miscarriage rate among pregnancies achieved this way than through traditional means. However, many parents utilizing alternative reproductive technologies prefer this method of surrogacy because it allows both the intended mother and father to have a biological connection to the child.
Copyright 2007 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.