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There are several reasons why someone might consider a surrogate pregnancy. Women struggling with uterine scarring for example, or a serious heart condition, may not be physically able to carry a pregnancy. Same-sex male couples and single men wishing to start a family would also require a surrogate.
There are two types of surrogacy for you to choose from: traditional surrogacy and gestational surrogacy. While a gestational surrogate (a.k.a. gestational carrier) and a traditional surrogate are both women who choose to carry a child for a couple or an individual who cannot do so on their own, there are some differences between the two.

Traditional surrogacy

In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate agrees to donate her own egg to be fertilized using the intended father’s sperm or sperm from a donor. This means that the surrogate is the biological mother of the baby she is carrying. The surrogate will then carry the baby to term and deliver it for you (the “intended parent”) to raise. In the past, traditional surrogacy was the only option available to those who needed the help of a surrogate to conceive. Thanks to the technology of in vitro fertilization, now there’s the option for gestational surrogacy as well.

Gestational surrogacy

Gestational surrogacy begins with in vitro fertilization (IVF). Your eggs would be harvested and combined with your partner’s sperm (or donor sperm) to create embryos. Once the embryos have developed in an incubator for five days, they are ready to be transferred into the uterus of the gestational carrier. This means a gestational carrier has no genetic connection to the child she is carrying.

IVF and gestational surrogacy

If you are considering a gestational carrier, here are some of the things you should know about the IVF cycle:

When you decide to use IVF, you will need to start taking fertility drugs. In most cases, women produce only one egg per month; however, fertility drugs cause the production of multiple eggs. When multiple eggs are produced, your chances of a successful IVF cycle are increased. You will also be given a synthetic hormone to prevent the eggs from being released (ovulated) too early. While you are taking the prescribed medication, you will have to see the doctor to check your hormone levels every 2 or 3 days. The doctor will need to monitor the follicles that hold the eggs while they mature using ultrasound as eggs must be retrieved just before they would have been released. When it is time for the egg to be retrieved, the doctor will administer a trigger shot that will ensure the eggs are mature, so they will be capable of fertilization.

The Egg Retrieval Procedure

The fertility doctor will perform a ten-minute procedure to retrieve the eggs. During this operation, an ultrasound probe is used to guide a thin, hollow needle that will collect about 8 to 15 eggs. Your male partner will also provide a sperm sample that same day (unless you are using sperm that has been frozen or sperm from a donor).

The fertilization process

Immediately following the egg retrieval, the sperm will be mixed with the eggs in a petri dish. If the sperm you are using has low motility and thus a low probability of fertilization, a method called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI may be used. In this technique, a single sperm is taken and injected directly into each egg. Once the eggs and sperm have been mixed, the eggs will be monitored to see if fertilization takes place. The resulting embryos are then keenly observed for five days. Then, the most viable embryo will be selected to be transferred to your gestational carrier’s uterus. This is done using a catheter and happens 3 or 5 days following the retrieval of the eggs. After 10 days, the doctor may administer a pregnancy test to see if the carrier is pregnant.

Are you searching for a fertility clinic in Vancouver?

If you want to try traditional surrogacy or gestational surrogacy in Vancouver, the Pacific Centre for Reproductive Medicine can help to further explain your options and guide you through the process. So, give us a call to schedule a consultation and let’s work together to fulfil your dream of becoming a parent.