Surrogacy Definitions, Terms, and their Meanings for Intended Parents

Although surrogacy is a highly rewarding journey, the associated terms and vocabulary can sometimes seem strange and confusing. This is why hopeful parents and Surrogates need to have full knowledge of the process, its definitions, and terminologies before commencing a surrogacy journey.

In the following piece, we’ll define and explain most of the common terms you may come across during your surrogacy journey and their meaning. We hope that these definitions will help you to have a full understanding of the surrogacy process and assist you in making your decision.

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1. Surrogate/Surrogate Mom/Gestational Carrier

The surrogacy terms are often used interchangeably. But generally, the definition of Surrogate Mother is a woman who carries a baby for Intended Parents who are unable to have a child on their own. There are two different types of Surrogates: Traditional Surrogates and Gestational Surrogates.

2. Gestational Surrogacy

In this type of surrogacy the Surrogate is not genetically related to the baby she is carrying.

Reproductive experts “combine” sperm from the intended father or a donor and egg from the intended mother or donor to produce the embryos. The Surrogate Mother then carries the baby to term. This is why the Surrogate is also referred to as Gestational Carrier or Gestational Surrogate.

3. Traditional Surrogacy

In traditional surrogacy, the Surrogate shares a genetic tie to the baby as her eggs are used to create the embryos. The carrier conceives through intrauterine insemination (IUI). It was the most prevalent type of surrogacy, but nowadays, most surrogacy arrangements involve gestational surrogacy.

4. Domestic Surrogacy

The definition of domestic surrogacy can be given as an agreement between a Surrogate and Intended Parents residing in the same country.

5. International Surrogacy

To give a simple definition, it is a surrogacy agreement between a Surrogate and Intended Parents that live in a different country.

6. Intended Parent or IP

A person or couple who are the legal parents of a child born through surrogacy. Intended Parents (IPs) can be same-sex couples, heterosexual couples, transgender couples, or unmarried individuals.

7. Egg Donor

A woman who gives out her eggs or oocytes (premature eggs) to help Intended Parents build a family via IVF. Depending on the Intended Parents’ preference, egg donors can either be known or unknown persons.

8. Cycle Schedule

This refers to a timeline containing a list of doctor appointments and their dates prior to embryo transfer. Typically, these cycle schedules are created by the IVF clinic.

9. Egg Retrieval

Egg retrieval is the process in which eggs are collected from the womb of the intended mother or a donor. Once harvested, the eggs are taken to the lab for fertilization, and the resulting embryos are used to create a baby through IVF.

10. Matching

In surrogacy, this term refers to the process through which Intended Parents are matched with their Surrogate or an egg donor. At Physician’s Surrogacy, we have a separate team that helps Intended Parents find egg donors and/or Surrogates that would be ideal matches for them based on compatibility, personality, and expectations.

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11. Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-2)

Both the Surrogate and egg donor may have to undergo one of the two standardized tests to know their mental health status. These tests also help make sure that the Surrogate mothers and egg donors are ready to embark on the journey of helping another person achieve their parenthood dreams.

12. Surrogacy Contract or Carrier Agreement

This is a legal agreement between the hopeful parents and their Surrogates.

The terms of the contract are negotiated by the lawyers representing the parties involved in the surrogacy process. And these terms determine the interactions between the Intended Parents and their Surrogates once the surrogacy agreement has been signed.

Note: It’s crucial that the Intended Parents and the Surrogate thoroughly go through the contract in order to fully understand the terms and conditions.

At our surrogacy agency, we have drafted a list of surrogacy contract terms that make us the favorite of prospective Surrogates and a go-to choice for Intended Parents.

13. Surrogacy Monitoring Clinic

A fertility clinic that is close to the egg donor or Surrogate and offers medical treatments, including blood and ultrasounds. This is where most of the necessary tests during an egg donation cycle and a surrogacy pregnancy are done.

14. Obstetrician and Gynaecologist (OB/GYN)

An obstetrician (OB) is a doctor that helps deliver babies and provides medical care to women during pregnancy and after childbirth. A gynecologist (GYN), on the other hand, is a doctor who treats diseases affecting the female reproductive organs. A GYN also provides well-woman healthcare, majorly on the female reproductive organs.

15. Blastocyst or “Blast

This is the stage of development an embryo must get to before it can be transferred into the intended mother’s or Surrogate’s womb. Approximately 40 percent of human embryos reach this developmental stage.

16. Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE)

A reproductive endocrinologist performs surgical and medical treatment of diseases affecting the female reproductive tract. Generally, they are gynecologists or obstetricians who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders concerning women’s reproductive organs.

17. Surrogate Mother Cycle Schedule

The term refers to a surrogacy schedule drafted by a fertility doctor or coordinator. Typically, it contains a list of all the appointment dates before embryo transfer.

18. IVF (In Vitro Fertilization)

IVF is a medical procedure in which female eggs and sperm are “combined” outside the body in a controlled environment, such as a petri dish or test tube. It is carried out by an experienced reproductive endocrinologist at a fertility clinic. The success of an IVF cycle depends greatly on the quality of the fertility clinic.

19. Embryo Transfer

In this process, a fertilized egg or blastocyst is implanted in the womb of the Surrogate or intended mother.

20. Frozen Embryo Transfer

This is the process in which an already frozen embryo is thawed and then implanted in the Surrogate’s or intended mother’s uterus.

21. Escrow Account

An escrow account is an account containing the fund to be used to finance the surrogacy journey and refund any surrogacy-related payments made by the Surrogate.

22. Prenatal Test

Prenatal genetic testing is carried out after embryo implantation to determine whether or not the fetus has congenital disorders. There are two types of prenatal tests: prenatal diagnostic tests and prenatal screening tests.

23. PGS Test

PGS stands for “Preimplantation Genetic Screening.” These tests are done before the implantation of the embryo, and they determine whether or not the cells of the embryo have the normal chromosome number. This test is carried out after the embryo has been grown in the lab, usually for a period of 5 days (blastocyst stage).

24. PGD Test

PGD is short for “Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis.” It is done to check an embryo for a particular genetic mutation that can cause severe diseases, like Klinefelter syndrome or Down syndrome

25. Beta Testing

This is a blood test that is performed ten days after an embryo transfer to determine whether or not the woman is pregnant. It checks the levels of pregnancy hormones like Progesterone, Luteinizing hormone (LH), Estradiol, and Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) in the blood.

26. Amniocentesis

Amniocentesis is a prenatal test that is carried out to detect chromosomal disorders by examining the cells of amniotic fluid, which surrounds the growing Surrogate baby.

These tests can be done between 2 and 3 months of pregnancy. You need to get a good fertility clinic to make sure your amniocentesis is on the right track.

27. Hysterosalpingogram (HSG)

Hysterosalpingography(HSG) is also referred to as uterosalpingography. It is a radiology procedure that checks the shape of the womb cavity as well as the shape and patency of the uterine tubes. HSG is an X-ray screening process that uses dye to look at the womb and oviducts (Fallopian tubes).

28. Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS)

This test is performed to examine the cells of the placenta.

During this test, the physician inserts a small, hollow tube (catheter) into the uterus via the vagina or a tiny needle through the belly into the womb. Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) is usually carried out between 10 and 12 weeks of pregnancy. It can also be used to diagnose genetic disorders, such as Down Syndrome.

29. Pre-Birth Order

By definition, it is a court order that is obtained before the Surrogate baby is born. Although it can be issued before delivery, it is only effective after the birth of the baby. A pre-birth order gives the Intended Parents full rights over the baby once he or she is born.

30. Post-Birth Order

A post-birth order is obtained after the baby is delivered. It is needed in order for the Surrogate’s names to be replaced with the Intended Parents’ names on the birth certificate of the baby, establishing them as the legal guardian of the baby.

Final Words

Although there are more terms related to surrogacy, these are the generally used surrogacy definitions you will come across. We have tried to cover most of the common surrogacy definitions, terms, and meanings in this article, but we may have missed some.

If you want to know about more surrogacy-related terms, definitions or are looking to become parents through surrogacy, contact us today at Physician’s Surrogacy to schedule a free consultation with our surrogacy experts.

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