Whose egg is used in surrogacy?

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Intended parents pursuing surrogacy (or sometimes even surrogates) usually want to know whose egg is used in surrogacy.

Interestingly, there are a few options. However, options are limited depending on the type of surrogacy the intended parents choose.

Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place to learn all about whose eggs can be used in surrogacy. In this article, we will explore all the potential options for whose eggs are used in surrogacy, who each option might be for, the process, and more.

Fast Facts

  • Surrogacy may involve the intended mother’s, donor’s, or even the surrogate’s own eggs.
  • If undergoing gestational surrogacy, the intended mother’s or donor’s eggs are used.
  • If undergoing traditional surrogacy, the surrogate’s eggs MUST be used.
  • Gestational surrogacy is the most popular form of surrogacy today and relies upon IVF technology.
  • Traditional surrogacy is very uncommon due to ethical/emotional concerns and legal challenges.

Using the Intended Mother’s Eggs

Using the intended mother’s eggs in surrogacy is one of the most common choices for the egg source in surrogacy today. In such an instance, the intended mother will be the biological mother, share half of the baby’s DNA, and likely have a strong physical resemblance.

The ability to use the intended mother’s eggs is a relatively new capability thanks to In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).

Because the surrogate is only involved in the “gestation” or “pregnancy” of the surrogacy when the intended mother’s eggs are used, it is referred to as gestational surrogacy. Similarly, the surrogate is appropriately called a “gestational carrier” or “gestational surrogate.”

Of course, not all intended parents have a female partner with viable eggs (or a female partner at all, for that matter), so this is not an option for all individuals and couples pursuing surrogacy.

Process for using the intended mother’s eggs in surrogacy

Gestational Surrogacy is a complex process that involves creating embryos, finding a surrogate, getting the surrogate pregnant, establishing parental rights, and more.

The exact process varies from surrogacy to surrogacy but can generally be broken up into two distinct undertakings: making embryos and the surrogacy process.

Making embryos with the intended mother’s eggs generally follows the same steps as a standard freeze-all IVF cycle:

  • The intended mother takes medications for approximately ten days to increase the number of eggs she produces
  • The intended mother undergoes an egg retrieval in which the eggs are aspirated from the ovaries.
  • The eggs are fertilized in a lab with the intended father’s or donor’s sperm
  • The fertilized eggs (now embryos) are grown in the labe for 3-7 days
  • The embryos are frozen

Making embryos for surrogacy may take place before, after, or simultaneously with the first few steps of the surrogacy process itself:

  • Exploring Agencies
  • Agency Consultation
  • Sign Agency Agreement
  • Pre-Match Surrogate Screening
  • The Match
  • Clinical Medical Screening
  • Final Agency Screening
  • Legal Contract: The Gestational Carrier Agreement
  • Escrow
  • Establishing the Pregnancy via a Frozen Embryo Transfer
  • The Pregnancy & Recognizing the Intended Parents as the Legal Parents
  • The Birth of Your Child

Using Donor Eggs for Surrogacy

Another option for those growing their family through gestational surrogacy is to use donor eggs.

There are many reasons people use donor eggs for surrogacy, including:

  • being a single man
  • being in a male-male relationship
  • those of advanced maternal age or diminished ovarian reserve
  • those with an oophorectomy
  • those with a history of fertility-reducing diagnosis or treatment

The process for using donor eggs in a surrogacy arrangement is similar to using the intended mother’s eggs, except the eggs are purchased from a donor agency for fertility clinic.

Using the Surrogate’s Eggs

Another potential option is to use the surrogate’s eggs for the surrogacy. Using the surrogate’s eggs is the defining aspect of traditional surrogacy.

While this may work for some people, traditional surrogacy is a rather controversial topic today and is rarely practiced in the United States due to ethical concerns and emotional and legal challenges.

Some of the most common challenges of using the surrogate’s eggs are:

  • Traditional surrogacy may be illegal, even in states where gestational surrogacy is legal
  • Long wait times/long time to pregnancy:
    • Most surrogates are concerned by the emotional distress giving up a biological child would cause. As such, finding a surrogate willing to use their own eggs can be exceptionally difficult.
    • Most agencies, like Surrogate Steps, do not support traditional surrogacy due to the difficulty in finding surrogates willing to use their eggs and the emotional and legal complexities.

Of course, there is a place and time for traditional surrogacy, and if the above concerns don’t seem like too much of an issue, it may be something you want to explore more.

The Bottom Line About Whose Egg is Used in Surrogacy

One of the most important decisions in any surrogacy is whose egg is used.

While the answer to that question seems like it only really determines the genetics of the surrogate baby, it actually has very important consequences in regard to the logistical and legal nature of the surrogacy.

Most surrogacies today use a gestational surrogate with the intended mother’s or donor’s eggs. Gestational surrogacy gives some intended mothers the opportunity to be the biological mother of their child and also provides sound legal protection of the intended parent’s parental rights.

Surrogacies that use the surrogate’s eggs are referred to as traditional surrogacies. This strong biological connection between the surrogate and the baby they carry can make the process emotionally draining and legally and logistically challenging.

As we can see, it is possible to use eggs from a variety of sources in surrogacy, even if that decision has important consequences.

If you’re considering growing your family through surrogacy or even interested in being a surrogate yourself, we encourage you to contact us to answer any questions you may have or request a free 30-minute consultation.

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