Women who have the ability to produce eggs from their ovaries, but are unable to use their uterus, or do not have a uterus, may consider using a gestational carrier. A gestational carrier is a woman who volunteers to carry a pregnancy for someone who cannot otherwise carry a pregnancy for herself.
A gestational carrier is a woman who has an embryo transferred into her uterus, becomes pregnant, carries a fetus throughout a pregnancy and delivers the child for another couple. A donated egg may also be used with a gestational carrier in the event a woman cannot produce her own eggs. In either scenario, the gestational carrier has no genetic link to the fetus she is carrying as the embryo is derived from the couple or in some cases a separate donor egg and/or sperm are warranted.
What is the Difference Between A Gestational Carrier and a Surrogate?
The terminology between a gestational carrier and a surrogate can be confusing. A true surrogate is a woman who not only carries a pregnancy for a couple, but uses her own egg as the genetic material. In these cases, the fetus is genetically linked to the surrogate. True surrogacy is not legally permitted in the State of Arizona. 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(s) are placed into the uterus of the gestational carrier.
Who Needs a Gestational Carrier?
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. 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 are Gestational Carriers Recruited?
Advanced Fertility Care can refer interested candidates to experienced and reputable attorneys and agencies that are equipped to recruit gestational carriers and provide all the legal counseling and contracts necessary. In addition, there are some non-agency options and websites where intended gestational carriers offer their services to the public. 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. All gestational carriers and Intended Parents must seek legal counsel, even when they are using a family member or friend as the gestational carrier. All parties must seek legal counsel before a cycle can commence, regardless of the relationship.