Doctors encourage new approaches to family planning

Doctor: More couples waiting later in life to start families

HOUSTON - More and more men and women are getting married later in life and that can pose challenges to couples who want to have children. But doctors are encouraging creative approaches to family planning.

Teresa and John Rocky were in their late 40s by the time they met and married.

"We talked about what it would be like to have children and, unfortunately, I couldn't," said Teresa Rocky.

In the search for solutions, the couple decided to work with what is formally known as a gestational carrier and more commonly known as a surrogate.

"We heard about the fertility process and a spark kind of started and I guess it just kind of went from there," John Rocky explained.

According to the Council for Responsible Genetics, the number of babies born to gestational carriers grew 89 percent between 2004 and 2008.

Fertility specialist Dr. Moshe Peress said more couples are waiting until they're much older to marry and start families.

"Families are not what they used to be families are different," said Peress. "We find even single men who are trying to have a baby. They need to have the sperm, they need to have the egg and they need to have a uterus."

But choosing surrogacy is far from simple as the Rockys discovered.

"It was trying, certainly a lot of bumps in the road," said Teresa. "It was not a smooth process. We had some setbacks along the way."

The Rockys went through two donors before getting viable embryos and two gestational carriers, before they became parents of twin boys.

"It's a roller-coaster ride, but ultimately would we have done it again? Absolutely, because every morning when we look at these babies, it was worth everything," said Teresa.

Beyond surrogacy, scientists are testing another way for women to preserve their fertility by removing tissue from a young woman's ovaries and preserving it for re-transplantation later in life.

So theoretically, a 50-year-old woman could ovulate like a 20-year-old, producing healthy, viable eggs.

Choosing to use a gestational carrier is expensive. Surrogates typically get paid between $12,000 and 25,000 per pregnancy, and the costs to the intended parents can range from $40,000 to $100,000.

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