Becoming a Surrogate Mother for a Cancer Survivor

While it’s clear why gay couples or single men choose surrogacy to help build or grow their families, there are many reasons a heterosexual couples or single women may need the assistance of a surrogate. Some reasons may include:

    • Uterine issues, including extensive fibroids, or uterine scarring
    • Pre-existing health conditions, including heart or kidney issues that can make pregnancy dangerous
    • Previous pregnancy problems, such as cervical incompetence and severe preeclampsia
    • A hysterectomy due to cancer of the cervix, uterus, or ovaries

How Cancer Treatments Impact Infertility

Cancer can impact woman’s fertility if it directly affects her reproductive system. When a woman’s reproductive system is altered or removed during a hysterectomy, she will likely be left unable to carry her own child.

Other forms of cancer not directly impacting the reproductive system can also have an effect on a woman’s fertility. Chemotherapy drugs and hormone therapies can damage a woman’s eggs and decrease fertility. Radiation targeted at the abdomen or pelvis is especially problematic because ovaries can absorb too much during the treatment. Doctors believe this radiation can destroy eggs within the ovaries. The extremity of radiation’s impact will depend on a variety of factors including a woman’s age, egg reserve, and individual response to the treatment. Some forms of radiation may lead to temporary infertility, while others have side effects that may be irreversible.

Fertility Options

The side effects of permanent infertility can be especially oppressive to cancer survivors who want to build or grow their families. These women may turn to assisted reproductive technologies. When they do, chances are highly likely that they are going to need help from a surrogate or egg donor.

With egg donation and surrogacy services, Growing Generations has been able to help build or grow families since 1996.

Kim Bergman, PhD, a licensed psychologist of 26 years, has specialized in the area of gay and lesbian parenting, parenting by choice and third party assisted reproduction for over two decades. Dr. Bergman has created a comprehensive psychological screening, support and monitoring process for intended parents, surrogates and donors. She is the co-owner of Growing Generations and is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American Psychological Association, the Los Angeles County Psychological Association, the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. She is on the national Emeritus board of the Family Equality Council. Dr. Bergman writes, teaches and speaks extensively on parenting by choice. Along with co-authors, she published “Gay Men Who Become Fathers via Surrogacy: The Transition to Parenthood” (Journal of GLBT Family Studies, April 2010). Dr. Bergman’s is the author of the book, Your Future Family: The Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction (Conari Press 2019) as well as the children's book You Began as a Wish (Independent Press 2019). Dr. Bergman created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 35 years. She has two adult daughters.