Egg donation and Surrogacy
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Egg Donation and Surrogacy

What is Surrogacy?

Surrogacy is the act of getting a woman, known as a surrogate, to agree to carry and deliver a child for another person, known as the intended parent/parents. After delivery, the surrogate gives the child to the intended parent/parents. The surrogate also grants the intended parents custody and guardianship of the child. This process is legally and medically complicated, and some steps must be met. Therefore, it is important to seek professional help to accomplish the process.

Who needs surrogacy?

The surrogacy process is intended to give people who wouldn’t be able to get pregnant an opportunity to have children. Some of the people who might be in this position include:

  • Women who getting pregnant would risk their lives
  • Women who have removed their uterus or ovaries 
  • Women who are infertile or passed the age of fertility
  • Single dads or gay couples

What are the types of surrogacy?

types of surrogacy
Picture courtesy: Circle Surrogacy

Traditional Surrogacy

This is when the surrogate gives her own egg for the conception of the child. The woman then carries this child to term and delivers them. The fertilizing sperm is gotten from the intended dad, so the child is related to both the surrogate and the single dad. The main advantage of this process is that it is easier and more cost-effective to carry out, as the sperm is inseminated into an ovulating surrogate mother, and fertilization is achieved.

The main disadvantage of this process is that because the child is related biologically to the surrogate, the custody or ownership of the child legally is not entirely for the intended parents. In case of an emotional attachment and subsequent refusal by the surrogate to give up the child, the intending parent can be sued in the courts and may lose custody of the child. This is why most people do not highly desire this type of surrogacy.

Gestational Surrogacy

In this type of surrogacy, the egg donor differs from the surrogate mother. The egg donor’s eggs are collected, then they are fertilized in vitro with the sperm of the intending father. The fertilized egg is then implanted into the surrogate mother, who carries the baby to term and delivers them. This way, the baby is not genetically related to the surrogate mother, and custody complications do not arise. This is the major advantage of gestational surrogacy. The main disadvantage is that the process is more complex, time consuming, and expensive than traditional surrogacy.

What are the methods involved in surrogacy?

There are different ways to go about the surrogacy procedure, and it could either be done independently or by a surrogacy agency. 

Independent surrogacy – this refers to when an individual works alone without an agency’s help and expertise. This usually occurs when the intended parent personally knows the surrogate. This method is risky because an agency offers knowledge, safety, protection and support for the people involved in the surrogacy, which a single individual may not be able to do.

Agency-led surrogacy – this is where an agency, for a fee, helps the intending parent and the surrogate through all the steps involved in the surrogacy process. This includes screening, matching, mediating etc.

What is a surrogacy agency?

This is an agency that provides everything relating to the surrogacy process. They provide a solution to various problems that an intending couple may face, from finding a willing carrier, screening, medical clearances, legal issues, and all other intricacies that may arise in the process. The intending couple does not face any issues and then is left to focus on the family building and preparation for the child’s arrival. 

Services offered by a surrogacy agency

Surrogacy agencies differ in their services, but most are involved in a wide range of services. Some of these services are coordinating visits to medical facilities and handling the legal aspects of surrogacy to ensure a smooth and problem-free process. The main or core service lies in their screening and matching of surrogacy candidates and coordinating everything to the end to remove any complication the intending couple may face.

Searching for a suitable agency

It is always advised to be thorough and circumspect in the search for a good surrogacy agency. It is important to ensure that the agency is in tune with your requirements and preferences, as they will supervise and facilitate a very important life decision. An online search will provide the agencies in your state and country. It is necessary to make a list of them and eliminate them based on suitability. This is important as the selected agency will be tasked with helping you in your quest for a child.

Egg donation in Surrogacy

This is a process where a woman donates an egg to another woman to help her conceive. The procedure involves the removal of an egg or eggs from willing donors, fertilizing them and then implanting the embryos into the recipient’s uterus. In some cases, the eggs from the donor are not fertilized immediately but are frozen for future use. This process is quite advantageous for women who are unable to use their eggs for whatever reason. 

What are the steps in egg donation?

steps in egg donation
Picture courtesy: IVF Conceptions

Screening and hyperstimulation: The first step is screening and selection to find a donor. Ensuring the legality of the entire process will be the responsibility of the surrogacy agency involved. After recruiting the donor, she is prepared for the egg donation process. The donor is administered fertility medication that will enable her to produce multiple eggs at once. This is known as hyperstimulation. Some of the side effects of the medication include breast tenderness and mood swings. In some severe cases, some women develop severe ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, which requires hospitalization. 

Extraction: This is done trans-vaginally; the doctor aspirates the eggs from the donor’s ovaries. This procedure lasts for about half an hour and is done under anesthetics or sedatives. The procedure does not require hospitalization as it’s a minor procedure.

After extraction: the reaction differs from different women after the egg extraction. While some women are active the day after, some others require resting for several days. Some donor programs provide extraction aftercare, while others do not. 

What are the risks of egg donation?

The risks are low; the procedure is similar to women using their eggs for in vitro fertilization. Some of the risks encountered include

  • Risk of infection
  • Bleeding
  • Damage to internal organs during extraction
  • Anesthetic risk

What are the criteria for egg donors?

Some qualities are considered when selecting egg donors. These factors increase the chances of successful pregnancies and reduce the risk of abnormalities in the fetus. Some of them include the following:

  • Donors should be between 21 and 35 years, as this age group responds favorably to fertility medication
  • The donors should not be at an increased risk of inheriting genetic illnesses
  • Donors should be free from any infection or sickness

What does an agency screening involve?

An agency thoroughly screens potential egg donors to reduce the risk of congenital anomalies and other complications. Some of the steps involved in the screening are:

  • An application process
  • An interview 
  • Physical examination
  • Tests (blood, drug etc.)
  • Reproductive organ examination
  • History taking (medical, family, psychological)
  • STI screening

This varies in different countries, and the intending agency will work within the legal limits of the country of location. In some countries, however, it is legal for women to donate eggs, even anonymously. It is also legal for them to receive monetary compensation for the donation. The donors usually sign documents that ensure they have no responsibilities towards the resulting child or embryo. 

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