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The idea of using a surrogate has become more and more common over the past few years. You may even know of some well-known celebrities who use surrogate carriers.
But did you know there are two different types of surrogacy? Surrogacy is not a one-size-fits-all fertility service, so let’s talk about the different options available to you.
The type of surrogacy is determined by how the embryo is created and whether the gestational carrier is the biological mother. The two different types of surrogacy are categorized as traditional or gestational.
Traditional surrogacy refers to when a surrogate's biological eggs are used to get pregnant and deliver the baby for another couple. In this scenario, the surrogate would be genetically related to the baby.
Before assisted reproductive technology provided “in vitro fertilization” (IVF), a traditional surrogacy was the only way to complete a surrogacy. In this process, the surrogate is artificially inseminated with the intended father’s sperm and once pregnant, she then carries and delivers the baby.
This type of surrogacy arrangement is not always promoted because it led to many legal and emotional struggles when it came time for the surrogate to give up the baby to the intended parents. This type of surrogacy is much rarer now, and is, in fact, illegal in some states.
Now that donor eggs and IVF can be used, gestational surrogacy is often preferred and much more common within the fertility industry. Gestational surrogacy requires more medical appointments and noninvasive procedures, making it more expensive than traditional surrogacy. However, because the surrogate is not genetically related to the baby, there are fewer legal issues involved and many intended parents (and surrogates) feel much more comfortable with the process.
Gestational surrogacy requires 3 main steps:
The intended couple choose an egg donor or the intended mom may choose to use her own eggs. To prepare for the egg retrieval, the egg donor or individual can take a series of fertility medications to stimulate her ovaries. The eggs are later retrieved during a short 30-minute procedure.
After the eggs are retrieved, they are fertilized with the intended father’s sperm to create embryos. The embryos can either be frozen or immediately transferred to the surrogate, depending on the intended parents desired timeline.
The embryo transfer consists of a small procedure where the embryo(s) are placed into the surrogate's uterus through a very fine transfer catheter. This is a low-risk procedure and does not require pain medication or sedation. Because an egg donor was used, the surrogate has no genetic relation to the child.
Surrogacy is also classified by whether it is led by an agency, which we highly promote.
For instance, independent surrogacy refers to when a carrier is working without the support and expertise of an agency. This is most common when the intended parents know the surrogate personally; such as a relative or friend.
While it may be tempting to take the agency out of the equation, it is risky working without the support and knowledge of a third party. A third-party agency offers increased knowledge, safety, support and protections for everyone involved.
If you’re looking into using a surrogate or gestational carrier, don’t get overwhelmed at the different kinds of surrogacy. We’re here to help you every step of the way. We can walk you through all your options until you find the perfect arrangement that will meet all your needs.
So, don’t wait any longer; let’s get your surrogacy journey started today.