Infertility Treatment in MD, VA & DC at Shady Grove Fertility

Gestational Carrier Program

A Shady Grove Fertility patient shares her story about using a gestational carrier on the TODAY show: Shady Grove Fertility Patients Overcome Infertility

According to the Society for Reproductive Medicine, 859 gestational carrier - or gestational surrocycles were performed in the United States in 2010 and nearly 5% of those cycles were performed at Shady Grove Fertility.

Several benefits for patients seeking treatment are:

  • Laws supporting gestational carriers
  • Established clinical treatment process.
  • Extensive experience coordinating all aspects of Gestational Carrier cycle.
  • Success rates
  • Shared Risk 100% Refund Plan
  • Located centrally to multiple international airports in Washington, DC; Baltimore, MD; and Philadelphia, PA.

What is a gestational carrier?

A gestational carrier (GC) is a woman who volunteers to carry a pregnancy for someone who cannot otherwise carry a pregnancy for herself (someone who has had her uterus removed due to health problems, or someone who has a non functional uterus).

A gestational carrier (GC) is not a traditional “surrogate”, as a surrogate is someone who donates her egg and then subsequently carries the child. In the case of a gestational carrier, the woman carrying the pregnancy is in no way biologically or genetically related to the child she is carrying- she is merely providing a nurturing environment in the form of a uterus for the child to grow for the gestational period of 40 weeks. The eggs and sperm are derived from the “intended parents” (or egg donor, or sperm donor), through the process of In Vitro Fertilization, fertilized in the lab, and then the embryo (or embryos) are placed into the uterus of the gestational carrier.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians, please contact our friendly New Patient Liaisons by calling 888-761-1967.

Is gestational carrier the right option right for me?

A gestational carrier is required for any couple in which the female partner cannot carry the pregnancy herself. This may result from conditions in which the female partner has had her uterus surgically removed such as in the case of cervical or uterine cancer, fibroids, severe endometriosis, or any other conditions requiring a hysterectomy. In other cases, the woman may have her uterus intact, however, the uterus may be nonfunctional. This may be the result of scarring from prior surgeries or infections, to name a few possible conditions. As long as the ovaries are intact and functional, there is a good possibility that eggs may be harvested, fertilized in the lab with the male partner’s sperm to create embryos, and the embryos may then be placed into the uterus of the gestational carrier.

How do people find a gestational carrier?

Shady Grove Fertility relies on experienced and reputable attorneys and agencies to recruit our GC’s. Prospective carriers and intended parents meet in order to determine compatibility and if they decide to work together, a legal and binding contract will be drawn up at that time by an attorney. The average wait to be matched with a GC can run from approximately 2-6 months.

All GC’s and Intended Parents must seek legal counsel, even when they are using a family member or friend as the GC. All parties must seek legal counsel before a cycle can commence, regardless of the relationship.

Is a gestational carrier screened for health issues?

The female serving as the gestational carrier must be free of communicable diseases. She is tested for HIV-1, HIV-2, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Syphilis, Herpes Simplex Virus, Toxoplasmosis, and CMV. This is essential so that there will be the least possible chance of transmitting disease to the fetus. Under the guidelines of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, she is also thoroughly screened with a psychological evaluation and a written psychological screening, has a physician evaluation, uterine evaluations and must be in excellent physical health. She must not use tobacco, alcohol, or illegal drugs. She must also have a normal and up to date pap smear. The partner of the GC, if applicable, must also consent to infectious disease screening and psychological screening.

What fertility tests are required when using a gestational carrier?

The intended parents will also undergo screening, medically and psychologically. Under the regulations of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the intended parents must be tested for communicable diseases, since their embryos will be placed into the uterus of the GC. The male intended parent will be asked to freeze a sperm sample, at which time an “FDA Panel” will be completed. They will also undergo psychological evaluation alone and with the GC, and her partner of applicable.

How does the gestational carrier IVF cycle work?

Intended parent: The female partner of the intended parent couple will be undergoing an In Vitro Fertilization cycle (IVF cycle) if using her own eggs. If using an egg donor, the donor will be placed through an IVF cycle. This is a cycle where her ovaries will be stimulated by high doses of the same hormones that are secreted by her brain each month (that normally stimulate one ovary to produce one egg) in order to get both ovaries to produce many eggs (usually 10-20). These hormones (Follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone) are given via subcutaneous injections (using small needles given directly into the fatty tissue underneath the skin). She will be monitored in the office with transvaginal ultrasound frequently to measure the size of the developing follicles (the fluid filled sacs that contain the eggs) until they reach a size of 18 - 20mm. She will also have her blood tested for estradiol levels as well. Once the lead follicles reach 18mm – 20mm in size, she will be given an intramuscular injection to “trigger” egg maturity and in 36 hours exactly, her eggs will be retrieved in a procedure called a “transvaginal oocyte retrieval”.

Her eggs will then be brought into the lab. The male intended parent’s sperm, previously frozen, will be thawed and one normal appearing sperm will be injected into each mature egg, via a procedure called ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection). Typically 70% of eggs fertilize into embryos. The embryos will then be allowed to grow in the lab and a certain number of embryos (depending on embryo quality and age of the intended parent or egg donor) will be transferred into the GC.

Gestational Carrier: While the intended parent is undergoing the IVF cycle, the GC will be given estrogen and progesterone, in sequential fashion, via intramuscular injections, in order to prepare her uterine lining for implantation. Before the GC starts the preparation, she will come in to be sure the lining is thin and the ovaries have no cysts. If everything looks normal, she will start the estrogen. Approximately 2 weeks later, she will come in for another transvaginal ultrasound and blood work. to be sure the lining is developing adequately- if so, she will start the progesterone when instructed by her nurse. In order to be sure that she responds adequately and develops a lining that is perfectly primed and ready to support a developing embryo, she will undergo a “mock” cycle first, which is a practice cycle. The Mock cycle involves injections of estrogen, followed by a mid-cycle uterine evaluation to confirm the endometrial thickness is appropriate. If the lining is not favorable, adjustments will be made for the fresh cycle. After the mock cycle and all of the prescreening blood work and psychological screening is complete, the real cycle can begin.

Time Lines: From the time the intended parent and gestational carrier are initially seen for consultation, it generally takes 4-6 months to complete the necessary pre-screening and fresh cycle. If a patient is working with an attorney or agency to recruit a gestational carrier, it can take an additional 2 – 6 months to recruit a carrier.

Gestational Carrier Cycle Success Rate
Shady Grove Fertility Centers
January 1, 2007– December 31, 2009

Number of Fresh Cycle Embryo Transfers 67
Clinical Pregnancies (% per ET) 44 (66%)
Miscarriages 7
Live Birth/Ongoing (% per ET) 36 (54%)

Learn more about Gestational Carrier Success Rates by Age.

How do I get started with the gestational carrier process?

Step One New Patient Appointment for Intended Parents to review history and determine treatment plan.
Step Two If plan is to proceed with a GC, the GC will be scheduled for a consult and/or the patient will be directed to an attorney or agency to start the recruiting process.
Step Three Pre-screening will be outlined for all parties.
Step Four Confirmation of legal counsel and contracts must be received by SGFC, prior to the start of the fresh cycle.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians, please contact our friendly New Patient Liaisons by calling 888-761-1967.

Treatment Options