A gestational carrier cycle, also known as a host uterus cycle, is a process in which embryos are created by your egg and either your partner’s or donor sperm which are then transferred into the uterus of a woman genetically unrelated to the embryos. Indications for using a gestational carrier would be disorders of the uterus including hysterectomy (removal of the uterus, but not the ovaries), congenital abnormalities of the uterus, certain surgical procedures done to the uterus, fibroids, or for women with underlying medical problems which could cause great risk to the mother or baby. Men in a same sex relationship may also use a gestational carrier to expand their family.
Our gestational carriers are either known by the intended parent, or recommended by experienced and reputable attorneys who specialize in third party reproduction. Dr Russell performs an extensive medical screening exam to confirm a candidate’s adequacy for surrogacy. After passing both medical and psychological screening exams, a gestational carrier is available to be matched. Once a couple or individual is matched with a gestational carrier and all contacts have been signed, medical treatment begins.
If using her own eggs, the female partner of the intended parent couple will undergo an IVF cycle. If using an egg donor, the donor will be placed in an IVF cycle. This cycle includes stimulation of the ovaries with the high doses of the same hormones the brain produces each month (that would normally result in the production of one egg) which result in the ovaries producing many eggs. These hormones, follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone, are self-administered. Then, the patient will be monitored with frequent hormone levels and ultrasound to watch the developing follicles (which are the fluid-filled sacs that contain the eggs). Once the eggs are determined to be mature, the patient will receive a specific self-administered medication, and exactly 36 hours later the eggs will be retrieved in an in-office procedure.
Once the eggs are retrieved they will be brought into the lab where the intended parent’s sperm, or donor sperm, will be injected into the egg. The fertilized eggs will be monitored closely until they are deemed fit for embryo transfer, which is usually 5 days following the egg retrieval.
At the same time the intended parent, or donor, is undergoing an IVF cycle the gestational carrier will be given hormones to prepare her lining for implantation. During this time, the gestational carrier will be monitored with hormone levels and ultrasound to closely watch the uterine lining. The gestational carrier’s cycle is manipulated so that the carrier’s uterus is ready for embryo transfer at the appropriate time. On the day of transfer, the embryos with the highest quality are placed in the uterine cavity of the gestational carrier. The number of embryos transferred depends on the age of the woman producing the eggs and the quality of the embryos.
The pregnancy rates with gestational carriers depend primarily on the age of the woman providing the eggs. The success rates vary but are among the highest possible in reproductive medicine today, with pregnancy rates of 70-75% and delivery rates over 60% with an excellent embryo and a normal fertile gestational carrier.