Sometimes it takes more than just two people to create a family. When a medical condition affects a woman’s ability to carry a baby to term or when a gay male couple wants to have a child, they can turn to a gestational carrier. The Fertility Centers of New England have helped many couples to pursue this path toward parenthood and is experienced in guiding you through every step.

What is a gestational carrier?

A gestational carrier is a woman who becomes pregnant though IVF using the eggs of the intended mother (or egg donor) and the sperm of the intended father (or sperm donor). The embryo is not genetically related to the gestational carrier. The gestational carrier carries to term an embryo conceived by the biological parents and transferred to the carrier’s uterus.

Sometimes a gestational carrier may also be termed a surrogate mother, but the term “traditional” surrogate is different from gestational carrier or surrogate. The difference is that a traditional surrogate carries an embryo created from her own egg or oocyte, so the embryo and child is genetically related to her. Traditional surrogate cycles are no longer performed in New England.

Who would benefit from a gestational carrier?

A gestational carrier may be recommended for a patient that was born without a uterus or for women who are born with a uterus that has not developed normally. Other patients may be born with a normal uterus that was subsequently damaged, preventing normal embryo development. A patient with a completely normal uterus may require gestational carrier because the rigors of pregnancy would be too high a risk to her own health. Finally, gay male couples seeking to have a child will also require a surrogate and an egg donor.

How does it work?

A gestational carrier cycle requires synchronization of the egg, the sperm and the uterus. The biological mother’s egg is obtained after undergoing an IVF cycle. After retrieval, the egg is fertilized with the biological father’s sperm. The resulting embryo is then transferred to the gestational carrier’s uterus three days after egg retrieval. The gestational carrier is hormonally synchronized to the biological mother, and assurances are taken to eliminate any hormonal involvement or contribution from the gestational carrier’s own eggs.

In many states, the woman giving birth to the child is considered the legal mother. Although the gestational carrier has no genetic ties to the child being born, the biological parents will have legal documents prepared in advance of the birth to “adopt” their own biological child.