Five Misconceptions About Surrogacy Explained

Becoming pregnant and starting a family is a dream for many couples. The process, however, is not always straightforward and many couples struggle to conceive naturally. But the inability to conceive or give birth naturally shouldn't shatter a couple's dream of building a family.

According to the Human Fertilization and & Embryology Authority, people have several fertility options to choose from, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), intrauterine insemination (IUI), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), fertility drugs, surgery, or surrogacy. As HFEA further explains, surrogacy is an option for same-sex male couples who'd like to have a family, but women who cannot conceive naturally due to complications or failed fertility treatment cycles can also choose that or another option.

As compared to other fertility treatments, the chances of conceiving a baby through the process of surrogacy is higher, per Premium Surrogacy but it largely depends on the egg's age. The rate of success when using donor eggs is 65-70% per embryo transfer. Nonetheless, there are some misconceptions about the procedure which often hinders couples from seeking this option.

The surrogate will refuse to give up the baby

As explained by Pregnancy, Birth & Baby, surrogacy refers to an "arrangement where a person carries and gives birth to a baby for another person." A huge misconception that many people assume is that the surrogate might not want to give up the child after carrying the embryo to term and giving birth.

There is, however, little to no truth to this as most surrogates say they do not develop the "same kind of bond with the baby as their own children," via International Surrogacy Center

As American Surrogacy explains, surrogacy lawyers and professionals ensure that the intended parents' rights are protected through a pre- or post-birth parentage order, which includes having their names written on the child's birth certificate instead of the surrogate's name. The outlet further adds that surrogates must already be mothers, which hopefully puts any cause for emotional stress out the window. Surrogacy agencies also hold counseling sessions with the surrogates to help them cope with the situation as amicably as possible. 

Surrogates need to have sex with the baby's intended father

Another common misconception about the process of surrogacy is that the surrogate is required to conceive the baby in the "traditional way," or, in other words, by having sex with the baby's intended father. But as American Surrogacy points out, this is also far from the truth.

Per the outlet, the practice of the male having sex with the surrogate might have existed in the past when the concept of assisted reproductive technology (ART) was still alien. Now, this isn't even an option when going through professional surrogacy. 

The process, instead, requires in vitro fertilization — a procedure in which doctors take an egg from a person's ovaries and fertilize it with sperm. Once the surrogate and intended parents of the baby enter into a signed agreement, the embryo is implanted into the surrogate's womb with the help of the professionals.

The surrogate has no bodily autonomy during pregnancy

Due to limited knowledge about the procedure of surrogacy — including intended parents and those wishing to become surrogates — may believe that once the surrogacy agreement is signed, the surrogate will have to give up her bodily autonomy, via International Surrogacy Center. The idea implies that the intended parents will start controlling the surrogate's body.

This is also a myth, as surrogates have full control over their bodies and are not required to be under any sort of pressure from the intended parents. However, there are certain conditions that both parties have to mutually agree to under the supervision of a surrogate agency before signing the agreement.

As Proud Fertility explains, if a surrogate is sexually active, she can continue to do so but will have to remain monogamous to avoid catching infections. Moreover, she will have to practice abstinence "before and after two weeks of embryo transfer."

The baby and surrogate mother are genetically related

According to California Surrogacy Center, one of the misconceptions about the process of surrogacy is that the surrogate mother and the baby are genetically related to each other. This, however, is not necessarily true.

A baby can only be genetically related to the surrogate mother if it is conceived through traditional surrogacy in which the surrogate donates her egg to be fused with the sperm of the intended father through the process of IUI. So she is the biological mother of the baby she is carrying, via Southern Surrogacy. This practice, however, is uncommon these days as most couples opt for gestational surrogacy.

As explained by the website, in gestational surrogacy, the egg of the intended mother is fused with the sperm of the intended father in a laboratory and the zygote is then transferred into the womb of the surrogate mother through the process of IVF. In this way, the surrogate mother only serves as a biological carrier for the baby and has no genetic ties.

Surrogacy allows women to sell their womb

Even though there is a wealth of knowledge about surrogacy, there have also been misconceptions that the practice is used by women to sell their wombs, while intended parents use the process to "profit off vulnerable women," via American Surrogacy, and, for that reason, believe that the that the procedure is unethical.

In reality, there is nothing unethical about surrogacy as both parties are fully aware of the arrangement. Moreover, per American Surrogacy, the entire process is regulated and takes place under the supervision of a professional agency. This means that the legal rights of the intended parents, as well as the surrogate, are well-protected. Besides, most states in the US have strictly defined laws regarding the procedure.

The agency ensures that no one is taken advantage of and that the surrogate achieves a healthy, fully consensual pregnancy. "Surrogates want to carry a child for intended parents, and they are properly compensated for doing so," per American Surrogacy.

If you choose to go this route, you are protected as long as you consult a medical professional and work through the proper agencies.