Surrogacy has been a hot topic in news because last week, Kim Kardashian and Kayne West announced they are expecting their third child through a surrogate. New York Magazine’s The Cut turned to SGF’s own Ryan Martin, M.D., of Shady Grove Fertility’s Bala Cynwyd, PA, office, to provide some surprising facts about surrogacy.
Surrogacy and Gestational Carriers are NOT the Same
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, ideally, 40 weeks. A gestational carrier is not a traditional “surrogate,” as a surrogate is someone who donates her egg and then subsequently carries the child.
Same sex male couples and women unable to use their own eggs would be candidates for a traditional surrogate. While, if the woman is able to use her own eggs, SGF will treat the female partner as a traditional in vitro fertilization (IVF) patient, with her cycle culminating in an egg retrieval. Her egg and her partner’s sperm will then be fertilized in the lab and a physician will transfer the embryo to the gestational carrier.
According to Dr. Martin, before a gestational carrier is implanted with an embryo, she would have a mock embryo transfer. “We try and thicken the lining of the uterus up like it would during a normal cycle,” Martin said. The goal of this mock transfer is to see if the uterus responds appropriately and to make sure the gestational carrier or surrogate doesn’t have any problems.
Surrogacy Can Be Expensive
For celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, money is no object, but for most fertility patients cost is a major concern. Costs can include the IVF process and compensation for the carrier. “The cost of transferring an embryo is not expensive; the cost is more so for paying the carrier to carry the pregnancy,” said Dr. Martin.
Surrogacy Isn’t a “Career” For the Carriers
Gestational carriers are able to serve as a surrogate more than once, but this is dependent on her health, age, and ability to successfully carry a pregnancy. However, Dr. Martin notes that these women aren’t able to necessarily make a “career” out of surrogacy, although they do of course receive compensation. “Sometimes we have carriers that will do it multiple times for people, it’s a way for many women to give back to those who have been less fortunate reproductively,” he said.
While Shady Grove Fertility does not recruit gestational carriers, we work with many partners that meet Shady Grove Fertility’s standards for quality. Surrogacy and gestational carriers are both ways that SGF continues to make parenthood possible for everyone.
For more information about surrogacy and gestational carriers, or to schedule an appointment with one of our reproductive endocrinologists, please contact our New Patient Center at 888-971-7755.