Traditional Vs. Gestational Surrogacy

June 12, 2023

Posted In: Surrogacy

If you’re contemplating surrogacy, you should know that there are different kinds. In most cases, a surrogate carries a pregnancy created from an egg that isn’t hers. This process is known as gestational surrogacy. Some surrogacy journeys call for a surrogate to provide the egg, usually called traditional surrogacy. Surrogates and intended parents may have preferences for either, and it’s wise to know the difference between surrogate and gestational carrier. We can help you compare traditional vs. gestational surrogacy.

What Is Gestational Surrogacy?

Gestational surrogacy is the most common form of surrogacy. If you are a gestational surrogate, you carry the pregnancy, but you are not biologically related to the embryo. In-vitro fertilization is the process used to start a pregnancy as a gestational carrier. Trained fertility experts select eggs and sperm from the intended parents or donors to create embryos. Once they have a number of healthy embryos, they choose one to implant into the gestational carrier’s uterus. You may need to take certain medications to suppress your egg production, to prevent a natural pregnancy, and to give the IVF pregnancy a better chance at success. All surrogates must go through a psychological surrogacy screening and must have given birth to at least one child.

What Is Traditional Surrogacy?

Although gestational surrogacy is far more common, traditional surrogacy may be an option for surrogates and intended parents to consider. Traditional surrogacy relies on a surrogate to use her own eggs. As a result, the mechanism to create the pregnancy is significantly different. Traditional surrogates may be able to conceive using intrauterine insemination instead of IVF. IUI involves inserting sperm into the uterus using a catheter at just the right time, to increase the chances of conception. If you become a traditional surrogate, you will probably have a different medication regimen.

When thinking about traditional surrogacy versus gestational surrogacy, legal considerations are an important factor. Because a traditional surrogate is a biological parent of the embryo, you may have to take specific actions to legally sever that link. Before becoming a traditional surrogate, you may want to ask what’s involved in terminating your parental rights in your area.

Gestational Surrogacy vs. Traditional Surrogacy

In a comparison of traditional vs. gestational surrogacy, cost and complication are the biggest differences. Traditional surrogacy can use a simpler process to achieve pregnancy, which means it can cost less for the intended parents. If you’re thinking about being a traditional surrogate, you might need some additional screening to confirm that your eggs are suitable for pregnancy.

When looking at gestational surrogacy versus traditional surrogacy, it’s wise to prioritize your feelings and goals. Some surrogates believe it’s easier to complete the process when they aren’t related to the baby, which is an important factor for many gestational carriers. Additionally, although starting a pregnancy as a traditional surrogate may be a simpler procedure, it’s no guarantee that the process as a whole will be easier.

The primary differences between the two approaches that involved parties need to consider beforehand include:

  • Medical Procedures: First, there are striking differences in how the procedures differ from a medical standpoint. Gestational surrogacy involves in vitro fertilization (IVF) to create an embryo, which is then transferred to the surrogate. The surrogate will need to undergo treatments to prepare her body for IVF and enable a successful embryo transfer.

Traditional surrogacy often uses intrauterine insemination (IUI), a simpler fertilization process requiring fewer treatments for the surrogate. Ovulation monitoring should be expected as well as the possibility of medication meant to facilitate ovulation and successful conception.

  • Egg Procurement: In gestational surrogacy, the embryo is created using an egg obtained from the intended parents or from a selected donor. Using a donor egg is common for same-sex couples, single men, and couples or women with egg-related challenges.

In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate uses her own eggs, acting as both the egg donor and the carrier. The options for sperm are similar in that it may come from the intended parents or from a selected donor.

  • Emotional Toll: In traditional surrogacy, the biological connection to the child can create challenges related to emotion. As the emotional effect of surrogacy varies so much by person, it can be difficult to gauge the toll the process will take on the surrogate’s mind and wellbeing. Even with gestational surrogacy, a strong support network is needed to guide the surrogate along this journey.
  • The Legal Process: While laws vary across the country, many states permit gestational surrogacy but have restrictions in place for traditional surrogacy. Additional legal processes — such as termination of parental rights — are generally required in traditional surrogacy due to the surrogate’s biological connection to the child.
  • Surrogacy Professional: While surrogacy professionals may specialize in either traditional or gestational surrogacy or both, strictly gestational surrogacy agencies are far more common. This is due to the added emotional and legal complexities of traditional surrogacy. Intended parents opting for traditional surrogacy should expect to have fewer options when choosing a professional.
  • Wait Time: Because there is lower emotional complexity involved, many surrogates prefer gestational surrogacy. This means intended parents often face longer wait times for surrogates who are open to traditional surrogacy.
  • Costs: Traditional surrogacy tends to be the less-expensive route due to its simpler medical procedures, such as IUI, as well as the absence of egg donation costs. In gestational surrogacy, IVF and potential egg donation can increase the overall cost. As can negotiating terms with the surrogate and certain agency fees.

Associated Risks: Traditional surrogacy carries a greater legal risk as the surrogate is the biological mother of the child. While it is rare, if the surrogate bonds with the baby, she could potentially change her mind and contest custody. The result of which could lead to a potentially lengthy legal battle for custody. Gestational surrogacy typically poses less legal risk in this regard.

Understanding these differences can help intended parents and surrogates make informed decisions about the type of surrogacy that best suits their specific needs and preferences.

ISC Can Help You On Your Surrogate Journey

At International Surrogacy Center, we know that becoming a surrogate is a big decision. Comparing traditional surrogacy vs. gestational surrogacy is one important part of the process. The right choice for you depends on several factors, including your health, age and your personal feelings about surrogacy. Since over 50% of our staff have been surrogates, we’re in an expert position to help answer your questions, compare your options and start your journey. Contact us to learn more about our services or to research the surrogacy guidelines by states.