According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 10 percent of women in the United States have difficulty getting pregnant. If you are over the age of 40, it is even more dire as the Office on Women’s Health indicates that a “woman’s chances of having a baby decrease rapidly every year after the age of 30.”
If you are one of these women or in a relationship where conceiving is proving difficult, there are treatment options available. Fertility drugs, intrauterine insemination (IUI), or assisted reproductive technology (ART) methods such as in vitro fertilization (IVF). The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) also cite two options that can be of benefit to you. The first that the HHS list is the use of surrogacy.
The Office on Women’s Health states that the use of a surrogate is a good option for women who cannot produce eggs or produces unhealthy eggs. The surrogate agrees to become pregnant with her own egg and the man’s sperm. Once the baby is delivered, the surrogate gives up the baby for adoption to the man and the infertile woman.
The HHS mentions a gestational carrier as another option for infertile women or couples. A gestational carrier is different than a surrogate in that the egg and sperm of the potential parents will be used but the embryo will be placed in another woman who will be the gestational carrier. The carrier is not genetically related to the baby and gives the baby to the parents at birth. This option is typically used in couples where the woman, due to potentially serious health issues, should not get pregnant or when the woman has ovaries but no uterus.
If you do decide that any of the ART treatment options are best for you, keep in mind that recent research by the CDC showed that ART babies are two to four times more likely to have certain birth defects but the research does not indicate why this happens. The CDC indicates that the risk is low but that potential parents should consider this when thinking about using ART methods.