A gestational carrier is a woman who carries the fertilized egg from another woman to term in her uterus. There are two types of surrogacy: classic and gestational. In a classic surrogacy cycle, the gestational carrier is inseminated with sperm from the child’s father. The gestational carrier’s egg is fertilized inside her body and the resulting baby is carried to term on behalf of the intended mother.
In gestational surrogacy, the baby may be conceived entirely by the intended parents (the biological mother’s egg is fertilized with the biological father’s sperm or by a sperm donor). The resulting embryo is then placed in the gestational carrier’s uterus and carried to term. Gestational surrogates may be relatives, friends or women that have not met the intended parents before. The best gestational carrier candidates are usually highly committed women under age 40 with proven fertility potential and at least one healthy child. Potential surrogates must undergo thorough medical and psychological testing. The involved parties are advised to seek legal counsel before the process. A legal contract must be in place prior to the process in order to delineate the adoption process of the intended parents.
Once a surrogate is selected, she will undergo a “mock cycle”, in which she will use all the fertility hormones administered during a frozen IVF cycle. This cycle allows Dr. Gomez to make sure that there are no problems with the uterine lining. After the cycle is complete, there will be a “mock embryo transfer”, where the cervix angle and the uterine cavity length are measured in preparation for the actual transfer.
The surrogate and the intended mother or egg donor are then given birth control pills to synchronize their menstrual cycles. Leuprolide, estrogen and other medications are then given to prepare the uterine lining in the surrogate. The eggs are retrieved and fertilized with the male partner or donor’s sperm. Then, one or more embryos are transferred to the surrogate. If the implantation of the embryos is successful, the surrogate may carry the pregnancy to term. Any unused embryos may be frozen for future use.