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What are the different types of surrogacy available?

Generally speaking, there are two types of surrogacy: Traditional Surrogacy and Gestational Carriers. 

In Traditional Surrogacy, the surrogate is the biological mother of the child. Sperm from the biological father is used to impregnate the surrogate via IUI or IVF, who then goes on to carry the pregnancy. 

In Gestational Surrogacy, the eggs are provided by the intended mother or an egg donor, and the surrogate has no genetic relationship to the baby. Embryos are formed using those eggs and sperm of the intended father which are then carried by the surrogate. Women who can produce healthy eggs but cannot carry a pregnancy for medical reasons often use this approach without an egg donor to have children to whom they are genetically related. 

What are the legalities of surrogacy?

Laws surrounding surrogacy can vary greatly from state to state. Because of this, it is important to discuss your surrogacy options with a professional familiar with the state where surrogacy will take place to ensure that your individual needs are met.

In some states, it is illegal to compensate for a gestational carrier. In this case, a compassionate carrier – often a friend or family member – may carry the pregnancy. In any event, there are agencies that you can work with to match you with a surrogate in the many states that allow compensated carriers.

What are the risks to my baby?

Although it’s important to eat plenty of healthy foods during pregnancy, you also need to avoid foodborne illnesses, such as listeriosis, toxoplasmosis, and salmonella, which are caused by the bacteria that can be found in certain foods. These infections can be life-threatening to an unborn baby and may cause birth defects or miscarriage.

What is the age limit for IVF?

The average age of natural menopause, according to the guidelines that IVF units have to abide by to maintain their accreditation. This is usually interpreted as 52 years of age.

After 45 years of age, less than 1% of women will have a live birth when they use their own eggs. Many women in this age group will consider the use of donor eggs, as the age of the egg donor determines the outcome of IVF, not the age of the women receiving the embryo. As women age, it is important to understand that medical problems such as high blood pressure, heart problems and diabetes can make pregnancies much more complicated and there is a higher risk of a poor outcome.

Is male factor infertility more common than female infertility?

In about one-third of cases, male factor infertility is the sole source of reproductive problems. In roughly another third, the problem is a result of female infertility. The rest of the time, both the male and female contribute to infertility. So, male and female factors are more or less equal in their frequency. 

Male factor infertility, however, is easier to identify and to treat, in most cases. For this reason, a semen analysis is often the first testing procedure to be performed when a couple begins fertility assessment. 

How does age affect fertility?

A woman’s fertility peaks in her early twenties, declining gradually by about 30, and steeply after 35. Contemporary women are often surprised and frustrated to learn this, as 35-year-old women are still quite young, by most standards. Women who are in their mid to late thirties and wanting to have children are likely to have more trouble than women who are having children during their mid to late twenties. The need for fertility assistance is even more common among women who have reached their forties. 

Because men continue to produce sperm throughout their reproductive lives, while women are born with all of the eggs they will ever have, age is not as significant a factor in male fertility problems, although it may still play a role. 

How will I know if I need fertility treatment?

People are often surprised by how long it can take to become pregnant when you want to have a child. For most couples, we recommend trying to conceive naturally for one full year before seeking medical assistance. This may seem like a long time, but as it can take several months for perfectly normal, healthy couples to get pregnant, it is important to try to be patient and realize that, in the majority of cases, there is absolutely nothing to be worried about.

The exception to this standard involves couples in which one or both partners currently have or have had any condition that is known to interfere with fertility.

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