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What is surrogacy

Surrogacy treatment is mainly sought by couples in whom the female partner is unable or unwilling to deliver a baby safely.  This may be because of illness or a problem with the uterus.  In recent years, surrogacy has become increasingly popular with gay men wishing to start a family with the help of a surrogate and sometimes an additional egg donor too.

How it works

There are two types of surrogacy available.  Host surrogacy involves the patient-couple (intended parents) providing an embryo by IVF either using the female partner’s eggs, the surrogate’s eggs or the eggs of an egg donor which is then transferred to the surrogate mother for pregnancy and delivery.  The second less common type in which the surrogate herself provides the egg which is fertilised by a semen sample via intrauterine insemination.  

Legal advice

Surrogacy is a very complicated treatment, with so many potential challenges that most arrangements are now coordinated through a surrogate agency.  However, it is important to note that 'commercial' surrogacy in the UK - in which the gestational carrier receives payment - is not allowed.

The treatment is complex, with many potential difficulties over parenthood and citizenship (particularly when the surrogacy arrangement is performed overseas).  Most successful arrangements require the involvement of a lawyer and very strict counselling.  All surrogacy cases undertaken at the London Women's Clinic must have the approval of the clinic's ethics committee.

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