Surrogacy describes the arrangement where a woman agrees to become pregnant and carry a baby for another couple or person. The woman carrying the baby is called the “surrogate” and the couple who will become the parents are called the “intended parents”.
Unfortunately, surrogacy is often the only course of action available to women who are unable to carry a baby to term themselves, for a number of reasons, and for male gay couples.
There are two forms of surrogacy: Full/Host surrogacy and Partial/Straight surrogacy.
In Full/Host surrogacy, the intended parents use IVF treatment to create embryos using their own sperm and eggs. The embryos are then transferred into the uterus of the surrogate. If the treatment is successful, the intended parents are the genetic parents of the baby. It is also possible to use donated eggs or sperm as part of the full surrogacy process.
In Partial/Straight surrogacy, the surrogate becomes pregnant by artificial insemination or IVF, using the sperm from the intended father with the surrogate’s eggs. In this instance the child shares the surrogate’s genes.
If you have decided that surrogacy is the right fertility treatment for you and your partner, we will carry out our usual fertility assessments on both of you to give you a clear idea of your chances of having a successful treatment cycle. As your gametes will be carried by a third party, we will need to screen both of you as if you are egg and sperm donors. This means you will need to have blood tests for genetic screening as well as screening for routine diseases.
It is important to note that surrogacy is not controlled by the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA). It is illegal to be a surrogate for commercial reasons, and the only payment a surrogate can receive is reasonable expenses to be paid by the intended parents. We charge our usual fees for any necessary IVF and insemination procedures. It is illegal for us, as a licensed fertility centre, to find a surrogate mother on behalf of any couple. The responsibility of finding a surrogate lies with you. However, there are organisations that can help you to find a surrogate:
Brilliant Beginnings – Creating UK families through surrogacy: www.brilliantbeginnings.co.uk
The Infertility Network (UK): www.infertilitynetworkuk.com
Childless Overcome Through Surrogacy (COTS): www.surrogacy.org.uk
We strongly recommend that you take legal advice before embarking on a surrogacy journey, either as a would-be parent or as a surrogate. The laws surrounding surrogacy and the rights of each party are complicated.
We provide a counselling service for anyone involved in surrogacy, to help you consider all the moral and emotional implications of this complex issue, and that you are happy with your decision to continue.
If you would like to talk over the implications, both legal and treatment-related of choosing surrogacy for your future child, please do call Sarah Templeman on 01992 78 50 67 or email Sarah.Templeman@hertsandessexfertility.com or you can call 01992 78 50 60 and chat to any of our expert fertility nurses.