How surrogacy could help grow your family
Earlier this year, Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra welcomed their first baby via a surrogate. This celebrity couple along with many others have chosen to expand their families through the surrogacy process for health or personal reasons.
A surrogate, sometimes known as a gestational carrier, is a woman who carries a pregnancy for another individual or couple. The surrogacy process consists of fertilizing the intended parent’s egg with the intended parent’s sperm through in vitro fertilization to make an embryo. Sometimes donor eggs or donor sperm are used. This embryo is then implanted in the uterus of the surrogate mother, who carries and eventually gives birth to the baby.
“It allows somebody to have a genetic child who otherwise wouldn’t be able to. This is an amazing gift to give someone,” said Dr. Allison K. Rodgers, double board certified Gynecologist and Reproductive Endocrinologist with privileges at several Advocate Aurora Health hospitals.
People will choose to use a gestational carrier for a variety of reasons.
“For example, If the patient suffers from specific cardiac conditions, brain malformations, kidney failure, or bad diabetes then this would make it dangerous for them to carry a pregnancy,” Dr. Rodgers said. “If the patient has problems with their uterus or has had multiple miscarriages and can’t hold a pregnancy then this is also a reason why a gestational carrier would be used.”
Women who want to be surrogates must meet several criteria. “They must have had uncomplicated pregnancies in the past and undergo an extensive health screening that covers their pregnancy history, physiological evaluation, and an infectious disease screening to see if they would be a good fit. An ideal candidate would be a non-smoker, less than 40 years of age and doesn’t utilize alcohol or cannabis who has had at least 1 successful vaginal birth,” said Dr. Jennifer Hirshfeld-Cytron, double board certified Gynecologist and Reproductive Endocrinologist with privileges at several Advocate Aurora Health hospitals.
Those who would like to use a gestational carrier would first meet with a reproductive endocrinologist. The reproductive endocrinologist will then evaluate the intended parents and find out where they’re getting the eggs, sperm and uterus. These are the three components that are needed to make a baby. Some or all of these components may come from the intended parents. It is illegal in Illinois to use a gestational carrier with donor sperm and donor eggs. After the embryos are created, the reproductive endocrinologist transfers the embryo to the uterus of the gestational carrier.
Surrogacy is an extraordinary journey and deeply rewarding experience for both the intended parents and the surrogate mother.