Gestational Carrier (Surrogate)

Key points of gestational carrier surrogate

  • A surrogate is a woman who agrees to carry a pregnancy for another person or couple who cannot otherwise carry a pregnancy.
  • A gestational carrier (GC) – today’s fertility standard – is a woman who carries a pregnancy using the egg and sperm of the intended parents, or eggs (not her own) and sperm from donors, which are combined in the lab via in vitro fertilization (IVF) with a resulting embryo implanted into the GC’s womb.
  • We recommend gestational surrogacy for women who may have a medical condition that makes carrying a pregnancy very challenging or impossible.
  • Gestational surrogacy can also help patients or couples who otherwise cannot carry a pregnancy, such as a gay male couple.
  • The ideal gestational surrogate is a woman between ages 21 and 45 who has already had a successful pregnancy and gone through required health screening.
  • Third-party assisted reproduction, also called third-party fertility, is a form of assisted reproduction using a third person outside of the intended parents as an egg donor, sperm donor, embryo donor or as a gestational carrier.

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What is a gestational carrier (gestational surrogacy)?

A gestational carrier (GC) refers to a woman who becomes pregnant through IVF with embryos created using the intended mother’s egg and the intended father’s sperm. The GC carries the pregnancy to term and gives birth to a baby that belongs to the intended parents or a single parent.

The GC is different from a traditional surrogate, who conceives by the sperm of the intended father, generally through intrauterine insemination (IUI) or IVF that can both fertilize her egg. The baby born by a traditional surrogate has the surrogate mother’s genes and not the genes of the intended mother. With a gestational carrier, the intended parents are both genetically related to their child born by the GC.

Due to this genetic relation, most couples seeking a third-party surrogate select a gestational carrier over a traditional surrogate. If the intended mother’s eggs or the father’s sperm cannot be used (for health or genetic reasons), the intended parents can use a donor egg or sperm donor to create an embryo via IVF. In this case, the gestational carrier is not genetically related to the child.

The intended parent(s) are the child’s legal parent(s) after birth.

Gestational carrier surrogacy is part of our third-party reproduction services (third-party fertility)

Third-party reproduction is used when prospective parents or individuals need the help of another person in combination with certain fertility treatments to have a child. Third-party reproduction typically includes using sperm, eggs or embryos donated by a third person that will be used in IVF procedures to achieve pregnancy for the intended parent(s). In third-party fertility, a gestational carrier (a form of surrogacy) can sometimes be required to carry a pregnancy.

Such third-party assistance enables couples or individuals experiencing infertility to have a child they could otherwise not achieve. LGBTQ+ individuals and couples and single intended parents who are not experiencing infertility can also benefit from our third-party reproduction services.

Who should use a gestational surrogate?

We recommend gestational surrogacy for women who may have a medical condition that makes carrying a pregnancy very challenging or impossible. Such medical conditions include the absence of a uterus, uterine abnormalities or a medical condition that could put both mother and baby at risk in a pregnancy.

If donor eggs must be used and the intended mother cannot carry a pregnancy, then a couple may decide to use a gestational carrier so that the child is genetically related to the intended father. LGBTQ+ couples or individuals may also elect to use a gestational surrogate to have a child that is genetically related to one of the partners.

Using a gestational carrier involves complex medical, emotional and legal considerations. Envita discusses these issues with intended parents considering gestational surrogacy. We advise such patients to seek psychological counseling and legal guidance from professionals versed in surrogacy issues.

Envita will coordinate your gestational carrier journey

Envita helps our patients find a gestational carrier surrogate, will coordinate treatment timing, and connects patients with legal counsel for pursuing an assisted reproduction agreement with the gestational carrier for pregnancy, labor and delivery.

Screening for gestational carriers

A gestational carrier can be a woman related to or known by the intended parents. More often, the GC is recruited from an agency.

The ideal gestational surrogate is a woman between ages 21 and 45 who has already had a successful pregnancy. When a gestational surrogate is chosen, thorough health screenings and tests are done to ensure that she is healthy. This process includes:

  • Health questionnaire.
  • Review of medical records.
  • Physical examination.
  • Infectious disease testing.
  • Bloodwork.
  • Assessment of reproductive health with a transvaginal ultrasound.
  • Psychological counseling.