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November 2007 Blog Archive

Friday, November 30, 2007
Hang Some Mistletoe In Your Home This Season
December is upon us and we're all in the mindset that Christmas is near. Perhaps you've already started your holiday decorating or maybe you're just about to begin. In either case, consider hanging up some mistletoe in the home this holiday season. It just could help with your fertility.

Okay, maybe that's not really true. But the Ancient Druids believed that it was. They considered mistletoe to have several curative powers, including acting as a sort of voodoo treatment for infertility.

Although you might not believe in the mistletoe myth, the plant has been successfully used for curative purposes unrelated to fertility. Learn more here.

Of course, we don't think that you should rely on mistletoe alone to help you solve fertility issues. You should find a dcotor who can provide more modern medical approaches to help you get pregnant. But there's no harm in putting up a few sprigs of the plant in your home this season. It is a season for magic after all.

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Thursday, November 29, 2007
Long-time Supporter of Infertility Legislation Expecting Baby
Elenore "Casey" Crane is known in the state of New Hampshire for the work that she has done over the years on infertility legislation. She has pushed for years to introduce legisltation that would require insurance companies throughout the state to pay for infertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization. Her impassioned support has been to no avail.

However, her personal struggle with infertility has seen better results. Part of the reason that she is so passionate about infertility legislation is because she knows first-hand the difficulties of trying to conceive. She spent seventeen years attempting to get pregnant. Two of those years involved intesive infertility treatments which ultimately failed.

But just before Christmas of this year, Crane is expecting her first baby. After a series of disappointments in both the political and personal realm of infertility, she unexpectedly got pregnant. Despite that she ultimately didn't conceive as a result of fertility treatments, she plans to continue her support of the legislation.

Crane considers the entire experience to be a Christmas miracle. Read the whole story here.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Do Celebrity Trends Contribute to Delays in Pregnancy?
Last week InsideBayArea.com reported that California women are increasingly delaying the age at which they start having babies. The study found that the number of women having babies between the ages of 40 and 44 has tripled in recent years.

A number of contributing factors were suggested as possible reasons for this decision among women. One of those factors was that older celebrity women (such as Madonna and Halle Berry) are showing the world that it's possible to have babies at later ages without problems.

The unfortunate fact, though, is that there are problems with delaying pregnancy. When you postpone the age at which you choose to have children, you increase your risk of infertility. This doesn't mean that you have to have kids earlier than you'd like to but it does indicate that you should consider the possibility that fertility treatments may be necessary to assist you with these later-in-life births.

Question of the Day: Do you feel that celebrity fertility choices have affected your own?

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Is Mom's Exposure to Toxins to Blame for your Infertility?
You already know that you should stop smoking when you are trying to get pregnant because it can increase your likelihood of infertility. New research indicates that a stronger anti-smoking case may be made. It seems that women exposed to environmental toxins like cigarette smoke actually pass on infertility problems to their daughters. This infertility may even take place if the exposure happens prior to conception.

In simpler terms, if you are exposed to certain toxins (including cigarette smoke) at any time throughout your life and then you get pregnant, you daughter may suffer from problems with infertility.

These toxins are stored in the fat of the body and then released during pregnancy which is why it doesn't matter when the exposure took place; your daughter could still be at risk. This information comes from a study done on mice which revealed that exposure to high levels of toxins before conception and during lactation resulted in a 66% reduction in eggs in the ovaries of the children conceived.

Whether or not this research applies directly to humans will have to be determined through additional research. But it probably wouldn't exactly hurt to start limiting your exposure to both firsthand and secondhand smoke.

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Monday, November 26, 2007
Preventing Miscarriages Caused by Chlamydia
We recently reported on a new preventive treament designed to catch chlamydia before it could spread and cause fertility problems. (See the report here.) Additional news reports suggest that calcium-blocking treatment for chlamydia could also help to reduce the number of miscarriages caused by the disease.

Anthony Azenabor, UW-Milwaukee associate of health sciences, has been involved in research studying the bacteria that causes chlamydia. Through his research, he has uncovered information about the ways in which the bacteria attacks the body's immune system. Applying this information to miscarriages caused by the bacteria, he looked at how this affects the trohpoblasts (protective cells) in the placenta during the early stages of pregnancy.

"It's not for nothing that trophoblasts are the early cells," says Azenabor. "They prevent any kind of infection that could threaten the fertilized egg. They produce toxic chemicals similar to those of macrophages."

Basically what this means for you and I is that the body attacks the cells. Azenabor is working on finding a way to block these effects so that pregnancies won't be terminated by the body.

Interestingly, this same research may also help with the prevention of heart disease.

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Friday, November 23, 2007
Benefits of a Baby Vacation
There is no clear "right" side in the debate about whether or not American women should get their in vitro fertilization done overseas. The reason that most women who do so go for the option is because the cost of IVF treatments in other countries is considerably lower than those done here in the United States. (We're seeing the same thing happen with surrogacy in India.) But there is evidence to suggest that there's another good reason to consider going on a vacation to get your fertility treatments: it might be more effective.

The medical treatment itself can't be certain to be superior in another country. In fact, many would argue that it's actually inferior to the treatments given here in the United States. But some women say that simply the experience of being on vacation for the treatment can relax them enough to allow their bodies to get pregnant. There's nothing scientific about it but women's intution might know best.

Getting IVF treatments done in another country can be a relaxing experience. You book a few weeks away with your partner and you go check out a place you've never seen before. Although you do spend time in a doctor's office, you also get to enjoy the time that you're not in the office. Your emotional highs and lows are much less frequent. Despite this, it is always suggested that you find a doctor at home to work with you on getting pregnant.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007
Giving Thanks during Difficult Times
Thanksgiving is supposed to be a happy time of year. You gather together with friends and family to celebrate the things in life for which you are thankful. But during difficult times in life, it can sometimes be hard to enjoy these celebrations. This is particularly true for couples who are having difficulty with fertility. The very nature of the family gathering often reminds them of what is missing in their own immediate family - a baby.

Despite this, Thanksgiving can be a wonderful holiday. The key to enjoying the season despite the difficulties is to acknowledge in advance that it might not be easy for you. Let yourself mourn the fact that you are having trouble conceiving a child. Write in a journal or talk with a close friend about your feelings. Don't be ashamed that you don't feel one hundred percent happy during this time.

And then remember to give thanks. You do have a lot to be thankful for despite the difficulty of these times. Make a list of all of the people and things that give you pleasure and satisfaction throughout the course of a day. By accepting your mixed feelings about the holiday and still focusing on what you are grateful for, you'll be able to make the most of the day.

Who knows, by this time next year your fertility doctor might have given you news to really be thankful about!

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Celebrity Infertility: Cindy Margolis Tells All In New Book
It's not easy to feel sorry for Cindy Margolis. She's a stunning supermodel and actress who has money, fame and a slew of interesting projects in her past. But when you finish reading her new book, you might be feeling something like empathy. It doesn't matter how rich or beautiful you are, infertility problems are emotionally difficult.

Cindy reveals her struggle in the new book entitled Having a Baby ... When the Old-Fashioned Way Isn't Working (Hope and Help for Everyone Facing Infertility). The book details her own difficulties and how she handled them while continuing to live the rest of her busy life. Co-authored by fertility experts, it also provides valuable information for women who are enduring these same types of difficulties now.

The book is just one part of the work that Margolis does to assist others who are experiencing the same types of infertility issues that hit so close to home for her. She has also donated a significant amount of money to Resolve, a charity which works to improve insurance coverage of fertility treatments. Margolis also has her own related charity called Get a Download of This Fertility Fund. (Source.)

Celebrity or not, infertility is tough. This book reminds us of the woman behind the stardom and the universal feelings felt by women in this situation. The book will be in stores after the first of the year but is available on Amazon for pre-order already.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007
A Living Example of the Benefits of PGD
The average person doesn't understand anything about Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (or PGD). Those that hear that it's a way to test babies for diseases and to select certain characteristics of their offspring often get all up in arms about the ethical issues surrounding the topic. But the fact is that PGD can save parents and babies alike a whole lot of heartache in some cases.

The Eagle-Tribune recently reported on the healthy birth and development of twin girls after successful genetic screening. Alone, that's nice but not particularly news. However, the story that lead the parents to choose genetic screening makes it noteworthy. It also shows the average person why parents who probably wouldn't have ever thought about genetic screening chose to find a fertility expert to help them go through it.

Melanie and Troy Medieros already had one healthy child when their second baby was born. The second baby had problems from day one. The birth was premature and the child was born with a rare genetic skin disease called Epidermolysis Bullosa. Melanie and Troy spent four long months in the hospital hoping to help their baby. In the end, the baby died.

It took the parents two years to heal enough from the emotional pain to consider having children again. But they were cautious. During the course of treating their sick baby, they had found out that they both carry the gene for this rare disease. This would mean that there was a twenty five percent chance that they would go through the same ordeal again with another baby if they got pregnant.

They wanted to have a big family but didn't want to risk having to go through that again. It was too painful for them and for the baby as well. By choosing to work with a fertility doctor to screen for the disease, they were able to minimize the chance of passing it along. They now have healthy twin girls who just enjoyed their first birthday.

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Monday, November 19, 2007
Touching Book: Choice
Most women who are having difficulty conceiving a child are not going to think to pick up the new book called Choice. That's because the book is most well-known for providing true first-hand stories by women who have had abortions. A woman desperate to have a child doesn't really think to read about the emotional plight of women who have opted to terminate their pregnancies. But there is more to this book than just the abortion hype. And women with infertility issues may find that a number of stories in the anthology speak to their own hearts.

Choice (subtitled Stories of Birth, Contraception, Infertility, Adoption, Single Parenthood and Abortion) is a collection of personal experiences with all different aspects of conception and motherhood. It takes a close look at the layered truths within the lives of women on both sides of surrogacy as well as for women who have made choices related to their infertility. During a time when you often feel alone in the world, it is touching stories like these that remind you that others have gone through what you have and are thriving.

Read one review of Choice here.

Question of the Day: Does reading about others who have dealt with fertility problems make you feel better or worse about your own situation?

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Friday, November 16, 2007
Should You Tell Your Boss About Fertility Treatments?
There is nothing easy about undergoing fertility treatments. They require that you spend a lot of time speaking with your doctor and taking care of medical procedures. More importantly, fertility treatments can cause significant emotional difficulty in the lives of both prospective parents. It's a tough time to go through.

For working women, undergoing fertility treatments has another difficult facet to it. Women have to make the decision about whether or not to tell their bosses that they are doing these treatments. On the one hand, revealing this information can seem like bringing something too personal to the conference table. On the other hand, your boss may be more sympathetic to the time you need off work if he or she knows the real reason behind it.

A recent study found that the choice to tell (or not tell) a boss about fertility treatments appears to have no significant effect on a woman's stress levels. This is important because you certainly don't want to add any additional stress to the fertility treatments. Since none is caused by disclosure (or lack thereof) to the boss, your decision about whether or not to tell can be based on your own desires.

Think carefully about your relationship with your boss and the ramifications of revealing this personal information. Consider the ways in which it may affect your working relationships, both positively and negatively. Look at the situation pragmatically and make a decision based on your brain instead of your changing emotions.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007
Stop Smoking As You Try To Get Pregnant
You know that you can't smoke cigarettes when you're pregnant. If you love your nicotine, you might be upping your dose now in the hopes that you'll be pregnant soon and have to give up the habit. But if you're smoking as you try to get pregnant, you could be increasing the difficulty of conception. Smoking is not only bad for your general health; it can cause infertility.

Kenneth L. Noller, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, recently wrote an article on the dangers of smoking. He points out that one in five adult women smokes despite the fact that smokers are more likely to have fertility problems (and numerous other health problems) than are non-smokers.

Work with a doctor to figure out the best way for you to quit smoking. You should be open with your fertility specialist about your smoking habits so that you can get accurate information about how this may be affecting your fertility treatments. Do it for the baby. And do it for yourself as well!

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007
How Long To Try For a Baby Before Getting Medical Assistance?
You are ready to get pregnant. You've gotten your life situated and your finances in order. You've found your partner and worked together to establish a strong foundation in your relationship. The two of you have discussed the pros and cons of pregnancy and decided that you are both ready to make the leap. You've stopped taking your birth control pills and started trying to get pregnant.

And nothing is happening.

How long should you continue trying to conceive naturally before you consult a fertility specialist for medical advice? The answer depends on your age and the urgency with which you would like to get pregnant. However, the general consensus is that if you haven't gotten pregnant after 1 - 2 years of trying, it's time to get a little bit of help.

About 10 percent of couples will experience infertility, (Dr. Jay) Mehta says. After age 30, a woman's eggs have declined in number and quality. "Also, the uterus is getting older, so it interferes with the proper (egg) implantation," he says. After one to two years of trying to get pregnant, a couple should seek medical care," he says.(Source: Twin Tiers Moms)

Making the decision to seek medical assistance for infertility is a difficult choice for many couples. Some feel as though this means they have failed somehow. Others are nervous about turning this "natural" part of life into a medical ordeal. But the fact is that sometimes people need help getting pregnant. It's better to have all of the facts than to keep on doing something that doesn't work. If you're thinking that it might be time to seek out the help of a specialist, the time has probably come.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Surrogacy Growing as a Job in India
Women in America who are having difficulty conceiving a child often turn to other countries for medical assistance. This is due to the fact that procedures for fertility can be very expensive in the United States. Foreign countries offer the same procedures at a reduced rate which is sometimes the only option available to lower income families in America.

For example, women in the United States have regularly turned to India for assistance with in vitro fertilization. There is some debate about whether or not it's better to have IVF done here in the states or overseas. But despite the debate, women head over there because it's where they can afford to get treatments done.

Now, India is seeing a surge in a new kind of fertility treatment. Whereas before it was women interested in IVF who went to India, now it is frequently women who are seeking surrogate mothers. Surrogacy was uncommon in India up until recent years. However, it is increasingly seen as a way for women in India to earn additional income. Being a surrogate mother is practically becoming a job title in some parts of the world.

Leading advocate of surrogacy, Dr. Naina Patel of the Akanksha Fertility Clinic in Anand, contends that it is a positive service. "Infertility is a global problem and we have its global solution," she said.

Some people say that surrogate moms in India are being exploited for the cheap use of their bodies. Others say that it provides a way for Americans to get the children they want while assisting a family in another country. The debate may rage on but interest in overseas surrogacy continues to grow.

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Monday, November 12, 2007
New Chlamydia Treatment Can Help Prevent Infertility
Did you know that a leading cause of infertility is complications from sexually transmitted diseases? A major player in that is chlamydia, a disease that is common but seems to be talked about less frequently than many other STDs. This is unfortunate not only because it's a serious problem but also because it's treatable. Infertility caused by chlamydia can be avoided with the proper care.

A recent project completed by researchers in the UK resulted in the development of new diagnostic procedures which assist with screening for chlamydia. The new procedures can detect chlamydia in those people who are at risk for the disease but who do not show any symptoms. This means that people can catch chlamydia sooner rather than later and treat it.

Chlamydia can affect the fertility organs of both males and females. The new treatment works in both groups. Early treatment of the disease greatly reduces chances of complications such as infertility. There can be many causes for infertility but there are some, such as this one, that we have control over.

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Friday, November 09, 2007
Both Sides of Surrogacy
Would you rather be a surrogate mom or have a surrogate mom carry your baby? Of course, this is a hypothetical question because most women aren't in the position to be on both sides of that equation. But it's an important thing to think about when considering fertility solutions because it lets you really put yourself in the shoes of the other party. Both being a surrogate mom and having one bear your child pose unique difficulties and being able to empathize with the other person in the situation helps make those difficulties easier to bear.

Difficulties for the surrrogate include:
- Attachment to the baby during nine months of pregnancy, after which you have to relinquish rights to the baby.
- Unexpected pregnancy complications.
- Coping not only with the emotions of pregnancy but also with the added stress of having others monitoring the pregnancy.

Difficulties for the mother include:
- Fears that the surrogate will not meet her end of the deal.
- Jealousy and insecurity during traditional surrogacy because another woman is effectively having the husband's child.
- Self-esteem issues because of being unable to bear a child on her own.
- Concerns about lack of bonding with the child.

Surrogacy creates fears on both sides of the equation. In an ideal situation, all parties can openly discuss these fears in order to bring the child into a safe and loving environment.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Infertility Doctors Make Headway in Genetic Disease Detection
A press release last week announced what fertility doctors have known for years: progress is being made in understanding and treating genetic diseases.

Rapid progress in avoiding catastrophic inherited diseases -- boosted
by research in genetic development that won the Nobel Prize for a North
Carolina scientist last month -- is unfolding from a procedure called
pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD).(Source: press release).

PGD is currently used in conjunction with in vitro fertilization in order to select the eggs which are most likely to offer success during the fertility treatments.

Commonly, PGD is used to prevent children from being born with autism, Down's syndrome, muscular dystrophy, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, Alzheimer's disease, and other disorders.(Source: Fertility ProRegistry.com).

PGD was first developed in the late 1980's. Since then, techniques have regularly improved and the number of genetic diseases that it can predict has increased rapidly. This allows for the potential use of fertility treatment findings in other areas of medicine to assist women in all stages of pregnancy in detecting and potentially treating genetic diseases.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Which Celebrity Would You Be a Surrogate For?
Yesterday we reported on the recent birth of a baby boy to celebrity mother Kelly Klein (former wife of fashion designer Calvin Klein). The baby was born not exactly to Kelly but to Kelly via the assistance of a surrogate mother. Mom and baby are back at home now, beginning to live their lives together.

However, the issue brings up the fun and interesting question: Would you be a surrogate for a celebrity baby? And if so, which celebrity would you love to be a surrogate for?

Of course, in today's Hollywood eye, many celebrities (including many quite young celebrities) want to have their own babies. But there are still plenty of famous women out there who are nearing menopause and would need to consider other options such as surrogacy for having their own babies. And there are certainly some celebrity women out there who don't want to go through pregnancy but do want their own baby and so would consider gestational surrogacy as an option for having kids.

If you were going to engage in gestational surrogacy, you would be carrying both the mom's egg and the dad's sperm inside of your body so you'd probably want to think carefully about both parents before selecting your celebrity couple. If you were going with traditional surrogacy, it would just be the dad's sperm that you'd have inside. But you might still want to think about that celebrity mom who is going to be raising the baby that you have. After all, there are some crazy celebrity moms out there and no one wants to be part of a surrogacy gone wrong.

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Celebrity Surrogacy: Kelly Klein
Ten years ago, at the age of forty, Kelly Klein felt her biological clock begin to start ticking. She was already at the age when women start thinking that it's time to either get pregnant or consider other options for having children. However, she pushed the thoughts away as she continued to deal with her active life. (If you can't quite place the name, Kelly is the former wife of star fashion designer, Calvin Klein.)

Ten years later, Kelly has acted on her wish to be a mother. She has just taken home a baby boy of about seven pounds to raise as her own. But, no, she didn't give birth to this baby. Instead, Klein's new son was born with the help of a surrogate mother. The child, Lukas Alexander Rector, bears Kelly's maiden name but she says that her ex-husband will still be involved in the new baby's life.

There are many different ways to go about having your dream family. Often, what we initially have planned isn't how things work out. Kelly Klein probably did not think that she would be fifty before having her first child, nor that it would come from a surrogate mother after she had divorced her husband. However, she is likely all smiles as she takes care of her new baby boy.

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Monday, November 05, 2007
Celebrity Fertility: Carrie Ann Inaba
Carrie Ann Inaba, the nearly-40-year-old judge from Dancing with the Stars, spoke recently on The View about her desire to have a baby. She expressed concerns about pressuring her boyfriend into having a baby too soon, emphasizing the fact that since he's only 25, children just might not be where he's at in life right now.

What Inaba didn't delve into was the difficulty of getting pregnant at her age. Not to say that women in their forties can't get pregnant naturally but the fact of the matter is that more and more women think about infertility concerns after they've hit 40. This is certainly a factor on Inaba's mind; she doesn't want to wait too long before trying for a baby even if her dancer boyfriend isn't quite ready. However, she didn't address whether or not she would consider fertility treatments if it turned out that she was having difficulty conceiving.

She did discuss that she really does want to be pregnant. So, she wouldn't be looking into surrogacy or adoption for having the baby of her dreams. Instead, if she had to go ahead with fertility treatments, she would most likely be looking at an option like in vitro fertilization. Would the daddy be on board? Only time is going to tell.

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Friday, November 02, 2007
A Call for Ethics in Egg Donation
There has recently been attention in the fertility industry to the problem of agencies which engage in over-compensation and inappropriately high compensation for egg donors. There are some agencies which have been known to engage in the practice of adding compensation to the egg donor for such thing as proven academic ability or skill in sports. This leads to the kind of reports that we sometimes hear about parents trying to buy a "designer baby".

Out of concern for the ethical problems of this situation, agencies are beginning to create ethics codes and guidelines which reflect their belief that egg donors should be appropriately compensated for their efforts but not over-compensated for the "quality" of their genes. These ethics codes follow the minimum guidelines which are laid out by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. The hope is that strictly adhering to these guidelines will limit the number of ethical problems encountered by prospective parents.

Parents are often understandably nervous about who is going to be giving them their eggs. This is exacerbated by the fact that recipients and donors rarely understand each others' motivations for engaging in the transaction. This lack of understanding breeds problems that are heightened when issues like "designer baby egg donation" come in to the mix. Reducing those problems and fostering understanding between recipients and donors improves the experience for all involved.

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Thursday, November 01, 2007
When Surrogacy Fails: Surrogate Mom Keeps Baby
Most of the time surrogacy works out in the favor of all parties involved. The surrogate mother gets financial compensation as well as the experience of pregnancy and giving birth. The parents get the chance to have a child that they weren't able to have on their own. Sometimes the parties stay in touch and the child benefits from having extra loving adults in his/her life. Other times, the child is raised without the inclusion of the surrogate mother in what is usually a loving home by people who absolutely wanted the baby. It's normally a win-win-win situation.

But there are times when surrogacy fails. As was the case for a Florida couple who recently lost a court judgment against a surrogate mother who decided in the end to keep the baby. The way that surrogacy works in the legal field is that the surrogate mother does retain the rights to the child until she has given up those rights as part of the surrogacy process. It isn't common, but it does happen that the surrogate mother falls in love with the baby during the pregnancy and decides not to give the child up. This causes obvious emotional pain to the parents expecting to raise the child.

The Florida couple is exploring their options for fighting the judge's decision. Although they understand that the surrogate mother has rights to the child, they also believe that the husband has rights as the biological father to the child. They are hoping to be able to convince the courts of his rights. Complications like these often give a bad name to surrogacy and deter parents from trying this route when faced with fertility problems. However, these cases really are rare in comparison with the number of surrogacy situations that do work out in favor of everyone involved.

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