Treatments & Options - Surrogacy - Procedures

In this section, we explain the procedures involved in a surrogacy arrangement. Two primary types of surrogacy exist, including traditional surrogacy and gestational carrier arrangements.

Traditional surrogacy
In a traditional surrogacy arrangement, an individual or couple identifies a woman to be their carrier. She will become pregnant with sperm from the father-to-be, or a sperm donor, typically using artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization (IVF). The woman's own egg is fertilized, and she will carry the pregnancy to term and give birth to the child. At birth, the child is handed to the intended parents. Since the child is genetically and biologically connected to the carrier, traditional surrogacy can be risky and requires thorough legal guidance.

Gestational carrier
In gestational carrier arrangements, a woman (the gestational carrier) becomes pregnant with embryos implanted after in vitro fertilization (IVF). The embryos come from the intended mother's eggs, or eggs from an egg donor, which are then fertilized by the father's sperm, or a donor's sperm. In this situation, the carrier has no genetic relation to the child. You may want to go this route if you have healthy ovaries (and fertile eggs), but are not able to carry a pregnancy to term. You may choose a friend or relative to be your carrier, or you may work with an agency to identify the carrier.

Choosing a surrogate
If you decide to use a surrogate, be thorough when making your choice. You may want to do the following:

  • Narrow your list down to those over the age of 21 that have already given birth to a healthy baby.
  • Ask potential surrogates for references and run background checks on the final candidates.
  • Choose a carrier with similar priorities and values to yours.

When choosing surrogacy, potential carriers should provide you with the following:

  • Thorough medical and obstetric histories
  • Honest answers regarding lifestyle habits, drinking, and drug use
  • A clear bill of health and certification that she can sustain a healthy pregnancy
  • Results from infectious disease screenings and other blood tests

You and your partner will also need to be tested if you are providing eggs or sperm for your intended child. These tests serve to protect the carrier's health and your child's health.

Challenges you may face
If you choose surrogacy, keep in mind the following challenges that you may face:

  • Surrogate carriers, like all women, can miscarry.
  • It may take several attempts of IVF or artificial insemination before a pregnancy occurs.
  • Almost half of all gestational carriers give birth to multiples.

If you are interested in surrogacy, contact an agency and get started now. Most likely, it will take between 14 and 18 months from the start of your surrogacy journey until your child is born.