What are the surrogacy options?

Many couples have had difficulty carrying full-term pregnancies for a variety of reasons. Every couple is unique, but the need to carry a baby to term while avoiding the physical stress of pregnancy is very common. Sometimes the mother’s uterus is simply unable to carry a pregnancy. In other cases the mother’s general health makes the stress of pregnancy risky. In all these cases, surrogacy is often a very safe and reliable solution.

These couples have a few options to pursue surrogacy…

Option 1: Full Surrogacy Overseas

The typical process is for future parents to travel to an IVF clinic and have the entire procedure performed there. The intended mother can donate her own eggs at the clinic, and the father can donate his sperm. The clinic will fertilize the eggs and then transfer the embryos to a local surrogate. Additional embryos not used during the first transfer can be frozen for future use.

Page-photo-9The husband’s sperm donation only requires that he be at the clinic for a few days (two donations, with 3 days rest between.) However to donate her own eggs will require that the mother remain abroad for about 2 weeks to undergo fertility treatments leading up to the donation.

Donating your own eggs for the IVF procedure is called a “self-cycle”. It is quite common, but you must first have some fertility tests to show that you are able to donate the needed eggs for the procedure. Unfortunately, it is not as easy to be an egg donor as many women think, especially for women with many failed pregnancies.

You can request a detailed brochure on self-cycle procedures that describe what you should do to see if you can donate your own eggs.

Option 2: Surrogacy with Frozen Embryos

You can have your embryos created at your local clinic using a doctor that you may already know and trust. Then you can ship the embryos frozen to an overseas clinic for transfer to a surrogate. It’s common to ship embryos from the US to Eastern Europe, for example. However legal requirements make it much more difficult to ship embryos from overseas into the United States (due to FDA regulations).

Overseas clinics regularly receive frozen embryos and sperm samples for use in Surrogacy procedures. Be sure to include the costs of the shipment of the embryos, which can be thousands of dollars. Shipping is handled by a number of international cryo-shipping agencies (and we can recommend one, if you like).

Because you are shipping your embryos, you may not need to visit the clinic until the baby is ready to be born. Contracts can be signed by local managers with a Power of Attorney, giving them limited authority to act on your behalf. Payments can be arranged online or by bank transfer.

Option 3: Surrogacy with an Egg Donor

If you feel that you are not a suitable egg donor, or the mother is unable to visit the clinic for the required time to donate her eggs, you can use an egg donor. Donors are available from many international agencies — the cost ranges from $12,000 USD to $25,000 USD in the United States. Local donors overseas cost between $3,000 and $6,000 USD. The donor can donate either at the overseas clinic or at your home clinic (if the IVF procedure will be performed in the US).

In the case of an egg donor, your husband will still need to donate sperm for the procedure. However he has the option of shipping his sperm sample frozen to the clinic if he prefers not to travel abroad. As above, we can recommend a cryo-shipping agency, but the cost of the shipment is not generally included in the standard fees.


About the authors

  • Bill-Houghton
  • Author: William Houghton

    Bill Houghton is the founder of Sensible Surrogacy, author of the Sensible Surrogacy Guide, 2x surrogacy dad, and a dedicated advocate for secure, legal and ethical Gestational Surrogacy. Read Bill's Biography

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