Understanding Different Types of Surrogacy


The first step to deciding if surrogacy is right for you is learning about the two types of surrogacy and how they differ. In any surrogacy situation, a woman carries a child with the intention of handing it over to other people (intended parents) after the birth. Within that general definition, there is traditional and gestational surrogacy.

Traditional Surrogacy

In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate uses her own eggs to attain pregnancy. Pregnancy is achieved either through IVF or artificial insemination by using the intended father’s sperm or, in some cases, sperm from a donor. This form of surrogacy is less common. The child will bear a biological connection to a traditional surrogate. A benefit to traditional surrogacy is that it often provides a significant cost savings to the intended parents.


Gestational Surrogacy

The more popular and effective method of surrogacy is gestational surrogacy. The embryo is created outside of the human body and then placed into the surrogate’s uterus for gestation. In this method, the child will have no biological connection to the surrogate. Pregnancy is achieved in three steps:

  • Egg donation—either the intended mother or the egg donor undergoes an egg retrieval procedure.
  • Fertilization—the egg is fertilized with semen in the laboratory to create embryos.
  • Transfer—the fertilized egg, or embryo, is implanted into your uterus. This is often referred to as an embryo transfer, or just transfer.

A fertilized egg may be transferred to the surrogate either when it is freshly fertilized, or after it has been taken from cryogenic storage and thawed. In order to prepare for a fresh embryo transfer, the intended mother or egg donor and the surrogate must take hormone pills at the same time to synchronize their cycles. In a situation where the embryos have been thawed, some fertility clinics recommend that the surrogate take hormone medication to prepare the lining of her uterus for the transfer.

The success rate of IVF depends on a number of factors such as the age and health of the woman providing the eggs. Both types of surrogacy are just as safe as traditional pregnancy, providing that the surrogate mother undergoes a thorough health screening.

Dr. Kim Bergman

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 Fertility Counseling Services and 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 upcoming book, Your Future Family: The Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction (Conari Press 2019). Dr. Bergman created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 35 years. Her two daughters are in college.