Understanding What Surrogacy Means

Welcome to the beautiful world of surrogacy, where the gratification of helping others create the family of their dreams is plentiful, and the terminology is sometimes confusing! We’ve created this list to help you understand some standard terms you’ll see and hear during your surrogate journey.

A woman scans through surrogacy terminology in a textbook

1. Carrier/Surrogate/Surrogate Mother: These terms are often used interchangeably. There are two types of surrogates: traditional surrogates and gestational surrogates.

2. Gestational Surrogacy: (GC) For Family Creations, this is our #1 term for surrogacy terminology. A GC pregnancy is when the surrogate is genetically unrelated to the baby. The embryos are created using the eggs from the intended mother or an egg donor and sperm from the intended father(s) or a sperm donor. Family Creations facilitates only gestational surrogacy.

3. Traditional Surrogacy: Pregnancy where the surrogate becomes pregnant through artificial insemination and is genetically related to the offspring. When exploring what surrogacy is and its means for creating a family, it’s important to note that this option is less popular today due to legal complications that can arise due to genetic connection.

4. Egg Donor: A woman who donates eggs for assisted reproduction via IVF.

5. Egg Retrieval: How eggs (oocytes) are retrieved from the egg donor’s ovaries.

6. Intended Parent(s): (IP) Legal parent(s) of child (ren) born through surrogacy. In official surrogacy terminology, you’ll likely see/ hear Intended Mother (IM) and Intended Father (IF).

7. Matching is part of the process where the surrogate and intended parent(s) are paired. The matching process includes sharing profiles (surrogate and IPs) and a phone, Skype, or in-person meeting facilitated by Family Creations.

8. Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-2): There may be instances where psychology and surrogacy terminology come together. The MMPI-2 is one of two types of required clinical assessment tests that egg donors and surrogates may be asked to take as part of the screening process.

9. Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI): One of two types of required clinical assessment tests that both egg donors and surrogates may be asked to take as part of the screening process. These psychological inventories help both parties understand what surrogacy means to them and help ensure compatibility.

10. Carrier Agreement/Surrogacy Contract: Once you have been medically cleared, your case manager will refer you to an attorney with expertise in third-party reproduction. Yes, surrogacy terminology also has some legal language to understand! The IPs have a contract drafted by an attorney that will be sent to your attorney for review. You will schedule a consultation with your attorney, who will review the contract and what the surrogacy terms mean. This legal document explains the rights and obligations of both parties and needs to be signed by both parties.

11. Monitoring Clinic: A fertility clinic local to the surrogate or donor that provides medical treatment, such as blood work and ultrasounds, during an egg donation cycle and surrogate pregnancy.

12. Obstetrician and Gynecologist (OB/GYN): Surrogacy terminology includes some medical language. OB is short for obstetrics or for an obstetrician, a physician who delivers babies. GYN is short for gynecology or for a gynecologist, a physician who specializes in treating diseases of the female reproductive organs and providing well-woman health care.

13. Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE): An OB/GYN specializing in the function/dysfunction of the reproductive system.

14. Cycle Schedule: The timeline that lists important appointment dates leading up to the embryo transfer.

15. In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): Performed by a reproductive endocrinologist at an IVF clinic, this procedure is one of the most important in surrogacy terminology. IVF is the process of manually combining an egg and sperm in a laboratory dish to create an embryo.

16. Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET): A cycle in which the frozen embryos from a previous fresh IVF or donor egg cycle are thawed and transferred into the surrogate’s uterus.

17. Beta Testing: Beta testing is performed approximately ten days after an embryo transfer. The test measures Estradiol, Progesterone, LH, and HCG (indicators of pregnancy).

18. Hysterosalpingogram (HSG): Understanding what surrogacy means also involves learning medical technology terms. An HGS is a radiology procedure that determines the condition of the fallopian tubes and uterus.

19. Amniocentesis (Amnio): This surrogacy terminology describes a test used to detect any chromosomal abnormalities, neural tube defects, and genetic disorders by examining cells in the amniotic fluid. This test is done between 14 and 20 weeks of pregnancy.

20. Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS): Like amniocentesis, a CVS is a diagnostic test for identifying chromosome abnormalities and other inherited disorders. This test is performed between 10 and 12 weeks at cells in the placenta by inserting a catheter into the uterus or by inserting a needle through the belly.

21. Blastocyst or “Blast”: An embryo that has developed for five to seven days after fertilization and has two distinct cell types and a central cavity filled with fluid (blastocoel cavity). This is the last stage of development an embryo must reach before it is implanted into the uterus.

22. Pre-Birth Order (PBO): For most surrogates and IPs, what surrogacy really means is the chance to have a family. However, there is a final bit of surrogacy terminology to understand before the baby arrives. The PBO is a court-issued legal order acquired before the surrogate gives birth. This allows IPs and the surrogate access to the baby in the hospital.

23. Post-Birth Order: The post-birth order is acquired after the baby is born. This removes the surrogate’s name and leaves the intended parents’ names on the newborn’s birth certificate.

Family Creations Can Help!

Have questions about what surrogacy means and if it’s the right choice for you? A Family Creations staff member will gladly answer any questions regarding the surrogacy process. Contact us today!

by Julia McConnell on July 12, 2023