Expert answers 12 FAQs on surrogacy in India

Planning for a surrogacy in India? Here is all that you should know.

India was known as a surrogacy hub till we heard the news that the Supreme Court is likely to pass a ruling saying foreign nationals will no longer be allowed to choose India as a base for surrogacy. It is a popular choice of conception for people who fail to conceive despite trying various fertility treatments. If you are planning for surrogacy and have doubts about this technique, our expert Dr Richa Jagtap, Consultant, Nova IVI Fertility, Mumbai, answers some of the queries on surrogacy in light of this news.

1. Has anything changed except that foreign nationals won't be allowed to choose India as a base for surrogacy?

Overall, the laws have become more stringent, and documentation has become more particular. Currently, there is a lot of emphasis on the level of care offered to donors and surrogates. Not much has changed for clinics that were already following safe practices, except the fact that foreign nationals are not offered surrogacy.

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2. Is surrogacy within the country (but from different states) allowed?

Surrogacy within the entire country is possible if medically required. The clauses for non-resident Indians and persons of Indian origin are still not clarified.

3. What type of surrogacy is permitted in India?

Only gestational surrogacy is permitted by our law, in which the surrogate carries a pregnancy by conceiving an embryo created with the sperm and egg of the intended parents. A gestational surrogate has no genetic relationship to the child.

4. What kind of people require surrogacy?

Surrogacy is an option for women with absent uterus, severely distorted uterus, uterine causes of miscarriage and medical disorders, which prevent a woman from carrying a pregnancy to term without complications. Even women who had repeated IVF failures, multiple miscarriages or hysterectomy, might need surrogacy.

5. Does the couple opting for surrogacy undergo any screening?

A couple opting for surrogacy needs to undergo a psychological counselling to ensure that they understand the implications. Once the medical formalities are done, the intending parents sign a legal contract with the surrogate and her husband/ guardian to state the legal surrogacy and the right of intending parents to the offspring, as well as medical and social care for the surrogate. Here's more on what is surrogacy and how it is done.

6. How should one choose a surrogate?

A surrogate mother should not be less than 21 years or over 35years of age. Before accepting a woman as a possible surrogate, the ART (assisted reproductive technique) clinic must ensure and put on record that the surrogate satisfies all the criteria required to go through a successful full-term pregnancy. Also, ensure that surrogate had no more than two previous pregnancies in her lifetime and is voluntarily willing for surrogacy.

7. Can you choose the gender of the child?

No. It is a punishable legal offence in India.

8. How long does it take for the entire surrogacy process?

The selection and evaluation of a surrogate may take 15-20 days. The treatment itself will take another 15 days or so. The results for pregnancy are earliest evaluated 12-15 days after transfer.

9. Is it possible to have multiple births by surrogacy?

Multiple births depend upon the number of embryos transferred. In the case of surrogacy, the efforts are to limit this by not transferring more than one or two best embryos. This can be achieved by better grading system, blastocyst culture and preimplantation genetic screening.

10. What if the couple fails to become parents through surrogacy?

For patients who have failed with self-embryos in surrogacy as well, genetic testing (PGS) of embryos is essential before next transfer.

11. Will the kid s features resemble his biological parents or the surrogate's?

In the case of surrogacy with parent s gametes, the genetic or physical trait of the offspring is not affected by the surrogate at all.

12. How does one ensure a smooth pregnancy in the case of surrogacy?

The overall health of the surrogate (emotional, physiological and physical status) is of prime importance. It is best to transfer fewer but healthy embryos to have a smooth pregnancy without compromising the health of the surrogate or the baby.

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