According to an estimate, more than 100 million heterosexual couples are unable to have children – the exact prevalence of infertility is highly difficult to measure due to various factors.
While there are a variety of factors that can lead to infertility; genetic disorders, different infectious and non-infectious diseases, and exposure to certain types of chemicals are some of the major causes.
In view of the predominance of the problem of infertility and many other factors that can affect a couple’s ability to have children, healthcare professionals and couples have continuously been on the lookout for treatment procedures and alternative ways of having children. Surrogacy is one of them!
What is Surrogacy?
A form of assisted reproductive technology, surrogacy is a method of having children when a couple is unable to do so on their own. It is a process in which a woman carries someone else’s child in her womb until the delivery.
The woman who carries the child is called ‘surrogate mother’. Although a little controversial in some parts of the world, surrogacy is one of the most successful alternative procedures to have children for people affected by infertility, certain diseases, or any condition that makes them unable to conceive.
Since it is a long process, it is generally supported by a legal agreement to prevent any conflict, especially during the later stages.
Types of Surrogacy
There are two types of surrogacy:
Falling into the category of in-vivo fertilization, traditional surrogacy is a process in which the surrogate mother’s egg is artificially inseminated with the sperm of father or an anonymous donor. The surrogate then carries the child to term.
Since the process uses the egg of the surrogate, she remains the child’s biological mother.
A type of in-vitro fertilization, gestational surrogacy means the egg of the intended mother or an anonymous donor and the sperm of the father or the donor are fertilized in a lab, under controlled conditions. Once the egg is fertilized, the embryo is then placed in the uterus of the surrogate mother where it stays till birth.
The surrogate in this process is called host or birth mother or gestational carrier and is not genetically or biologically related to the child. Even though the development of the child takes place in the body of the surrogate, the biological mother of the child is the woman whose egg is used.
Since the child is biologically and genetically tied to intended parents, the gestational surrogacy is legally less complex and is also more preferred.
Who Can Go For Surrogacy?
Simply put, surrogacy is suggested in cases where a woman is unable to conceive or carry a pregnancy due to:
A weak uterus
Absence of uterus – some women have to go through the uterus removal surgery – hysterectomy – due to certain diseases, like uterine fibroids, cervix cancer, etc.
Health issues that hinder pregnancy or make it highly risky, such as heart diseases and poly-cystic ovarian syndrome.
Surrogacy is also an option for homosexual couples.
Surrogacy is a medical process that has made parenthood possible for couples who cannot give birth or adopt a child for any reason. While it is still slightly controversial in some parts of the world, its popularity has been increasing globally.
To aid the process, there are many organizations and agencies that help people find surrogate mothers, egg donors, and sperm donors. A large number of healthcare facilities have also started offering surrogacy methods.