There are cases where couples/partners are unable to have children due to one reason or the other among which is medical conditions. Couples like this pass through hard times especially for those in our society where stigmatization is rampant. In a case where artificial insemination cannot work, surrogacy has proven to be a viable option and a way out.
Procreation is a thing all humans desire; can’t argue less if in few cases’ humans do otherwise. In actual fact, especially for heterosexuals, we want to bring forth our kind. Homosexuals too are not left out as they want a child in their likeness.
Not long ago, there was this news of Kim Kardashian, partner of famous rapper Kanye West resorting to surrogacy to have their intended third child. Kim Kardashian at a point in her life have said she won’t be able to bear a child again after having West and North for the music superstar. Whether this is true or not, it is not the first time couples would have a child through a surrogate. While artificial insemination has worked for some couples through in vivo fertilization, some medical conditions have hindered others in using this procedure. Surrogacy is therefore an option for this set of people.
What is surrogacy?
Surrogacy is a method of assisted reproduction where intended parents work with a gestational surrogate who will carry and care for their baby(ies) until birth. In a lay man’s definition, surrogacy is a process whereby a woman (surrogate mother) bears a child on behalf of another woman. Intended parents use surrogacy to start or grow their families when they are unable to do so.
Who is a surrogate mother?
A surrogate mother is the woman who takes the responsibility of bearing a child for a couple. Through in vitro fertilization, embryos are implanted in a surrogate (also known as gestational carrier) who carries the child or children to term but has no genetic relationship to them. A surrogate mother can be gestational or traditional. A gestational surrogate carries the egg and sperm donor of the intended couples to term while the traditional surrogate has her genetic material in the baby to be carried to term.
How does surrogacy work?
Surrogacy can be in two forms which are gestational surrogacy and traditional surrogacy. In a typical gestational surrogacy agreement, intended parents create embryos through in vitro fertilization. This method makeup the vast majority of modern surrogacy agreements. In traditional surrogacy, the surrogates typically become pregnant through artificial insemination, and have genetic connection to the child or children they carry for their intended parents.
Once agreement is met, which is usually supported by legal means (monetary compensation known as commercial surrogacy may or may not be involved), the intended couples as well as the surrogate mother are also given a run-through of the entire process. This include the surrogate mother being healthy and financially stable to go through the process as well as having a strong support from the intended couple throughout the child-bearing journey.
Through in vitro fertilization (IVF), embryos are created in a lab at a fertility clinic. Sometimes the intended parents use their own genetic material (sperm and egg). Sometimes, an egg donor is required. At the fertility clinic, 1-2 embryos are implanted into a gestational carrier, who carries the baby(ies) to term.
This process maybe expensive for many, but it is effective. Some women have been labelled ‘barren’ in our society especially by their mother-in-laws and so on due to some complications but this can change with surrogacy. Mrs. Shakirat, a young wife couldn’t give birth for his husband after she has had series of abortions for him as an undergraduate. Doctors reports shows that she couldn’t carry a child and she gave up by committing suicide. She could have lived longer if she sees surrogacy as an option. With a gestational carrier, she could have a child for his partner in the future.
There are couples who have been married for years and really needs a child, surrogacy is therefore their available option when they consult their doctor.
Here is a list of intended parents who could use surrogacy to have a child:
- Heterosexual couples who have struggled with infertility
- Intended mothers who are unable to carry a child
- Intended parents who have a genetic defect or medical condition they don’t want to pass onto the child.
- Homosexuals who want to have a genetic link to their baby.
Although people use surrogates for many different reasons, there are also several medical reasons to opt for surrogacy in having a child. This medical conditions include;
If a couple have sexual intercourse for 12 months and over without pregnancy, it is advisable for them to visit a hospital and have themselves checked. One or both maybe infertile. If that is the case, a surrogate mother could help after the sperm and egg has been donated (by a partner or donor).
Women born without a uterus or vagina
A surrogate may be used if an intended woman is born without a functional uterus, or when they no longer have one due to operation that was carried out to remove it (hysterectomy), or a congenital absence of the vagina could be a reason. When an agreement with a gestational surrogate is reached, they can have a child of their own through this process.
As a result of a past surgical operation whether it is from fibroids, or scar tissues, some women have uterine scarring and cannot carry a baby to term. In this kind of medical condition, a gestational carrier is needed to carry a baby to term for the intended parents.
Existing medical conditions
A woman may not be able to carry a child to term due to existing medical conditions that are risky for childbearing such as heart disease, kidney disease, or severe diabetes. Other conditions include a history of breast cancer or severe preeclampsia which is characterized by high blood pressure during pregnancy. There could also be sign of damage to another organ system. All these make surrogacy an option for an intended parent.
Complicated past pregnancies
There are women who have complications in their past pregnancies and have delivered a baby(ies) through surgical operations. Doctors may have warned them that getting pregnant again could be life-threatening. They’ll need a surrogate mother to avoid the risk associated with their child bearing again.
History of miscarriages
Some women who can also produce healthy eggs lose them at the onset of their pregnancy through miscarriages. Women who have these constant miscarriages may choose a gestational surrogate to help carry a baby to term.
A surrogate may be used to avoid a hereditary disease that can be passed on from parents to offspring such as Down Syndrome, Cystic Fibrosis, Sickle Cell Anemia, and so on. A traditional surrogate maybe used, which will have a genetic connection to the surrogate.
These are the medical reasons intended parents opts for surrogacy as a way of having their own child. Many have done this (surrogacy) and it is a viable option when it comes to having a baby. Of course, only you and your doctor can decide the best course of action for you, so make sure you seek their advice by consulting them first.
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