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Surrogacy is an arrangement where another woman carries and gives birth to a baby, rather than the biological mother. With increasing accessibility in Australia, surrogacy is a good solution for women unable to carry a pregnancy. It can also assist gay couples and single men wanting to have a child.

Who requires a surrogate?

There are a number of reasons why a woman may be unable to successfully carry a pregnancy or give birth. These include:

  • Absence of a uterus, which may occur as a defect from birth, or as a result of surgical removal (hysterectomy);
  • Abnormalities of the uterus, i.e. the uterus may be abnormal in shape, or its inner lining (where the embryo implants) may be scarred;
  • Presence of a medical condition that prevents safe carriage of a pregnancy.

Gay couples or single men wanting a child also require a surrogate, in addition to securing a donor egg.

How can I find a surrogate?

Finding a surrogate can be difficult, but it’s certainly not impossible. In Victoria, a surrogate must meet a couple of criteria. First, the surrogate must be altruistic — that is, they cannot be paid for carrying the pregnancy beyond reimbursement for pregnancy-related expenses (e.g. medical costs, travel expenses). Second, the surrogate cannot both contribute the egg and carry the pregnancy. The egg must be contributed from the intended mother of the child or from a donor.

Unfortunately, Newlife IVF is not permitted to assist you in finding a surrogate (nor can any other IVF provider). However, our counsellors can certainly orientate you to the Victorian surrogacy community and provide support and information as you look for a potential surrogate. It is important to note that you cannot publicly advertise for a surrogate — you will need to look for a surrogate via your network of family and friends, or via online sources. The Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority (VARTA) provides comprehensive advice on how to navigate the process. Other organisations that can also provide assistance include Growing Families and Surrogacy Australia.

Once an appropriate surrogate is found, all the people involved must receive counselling and independent legal advice. Like standard IVF processes, everyone involved needs to have a police check and a child protection order. The intended parent(s) and surrogate must also seek approval from the Patient Review Panel, who will determine whether the arrangement is appropriate.

What happens once a surrogate is found?

Once an appropriate surrogate is found, an embryo is required for transfer into the surrogate’s womb. The methods through which you can obtain this embryo depend on your situation. You and your partner may provide the egg and sperm, or they may be provided by a donor. Alternatively, a donor embryo may be used.

Where can I find more information?

The information on this page is certainly not exhaustive, and we recommend that you refer to the information provided by the VARTA to gain a more complete understanding of the issues pertaining to the use of a surrogate. Other organisations that provide useful information and resources include Growing Families and Surrogacy Australia. If surrogacy is a suitable option for you, our fertility specialists will dedicate adequate time to answering any questions you may have and do their utmost to assist you on this journey.

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For more information or to book an appointment with one of our fertility doctors, please call (03) 8080 8933 or email [email protected]. All three of our Melbourne clinics are open Monday–Friday: 8:00am–5:00pm.

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