The surrogacy process is both daunting and rewarding. Intended Parents need to arm themselves with knowledge before committing to their journey. The vocabulary associated with surrogacy can sometimes be strange and confusing, making the available information less clear. In this post, we will define and explain some of the common terms you should know and will likely encounter when you read up on surrogacy. Hopefully, this will help you gain a thorough understanding of the process and aid you in making a decision.

Surrogate/Surrogate Mother/Carrier

These terms are used interchangeably. However, the general definition for a surrogate is a woman who is carrying a baby for hopeful parents who cannot have a child on their own. There are two types of surrogates: gestational surrogates and traditional surrogates.

Gestational Surrogacy

This refers to a pregnancy, where the surrogate doesn’t share any genetic ties with the baby. In this case, fertility experts use the egg from a donor or the intended mother and the sperm of a donor or the intended father to create the embryos. The surrogate then carries the pregnancy to term. 

Traditional Surrogacy 

This is a pregnancy where the carrier is biologically related to the child (the surrogate’s eggs are used) and gets pregnant via artificial insemination (IUI). Although it is the most common type of surrogacy, the majority of surrogacy arrangements today involve gestational surrogacy.

Intended Parent 

An individual or individuals who are legally recognized as parents of a baby born via surrogacy.

Egg Donor 

A young woman who donates her eggs, or premature eggs (oocytes) for assisted reproduction through IVF.

Cycle Schedule 

This is a timeline that contains a list of monitoring appointments and their dates before an embryo transfer. It’s usually made by an IVF center.

Egg Retrieval 

The process through which eggs are harvested from the womb of an egg donor or intended mother. The eggs are then fertilized and used during the IVF process. 


It refers to the process in which an egg donor or a surrogate is paired with Intended Parents. We have a team that works together with the Intended Parents to identify surrogates and/or egg donors who would be perfect matches based on personality, compatibility, and shared expectations.

Surrogacy Contract or Carrier Agreement 

A legal agreement between the Intended Parents and their surrogate. The negotiations of the terms of the contract are carried out by attorneys representing the parties involved. Once signed, the terms of this contract determine the parties’ interactions. It’s important that both the surrogate and the Intended Parents read the legal contract line by line in order to have a good understanding of all the conditions involved.

“Blast” or Blastocyst

The stage of development that an embryo needs to reach before it can be implanted in the wall of the uterus. Around 40 % of human embryos get to this developmental stage after they are incubated in an IVF lab for five to six days.

IVF, or In Vitro Fertilization 

A process through which female eggs and sperm are fertilized outside the uterus in a controlled environment, be it a Petri dish or test tube. It is carried out by an experienced Reproductive Endocrinologist at a fertility clinic.

Frozen Embryo Transfer 

This process occurs when a frozen embryo is thawed and transferred into the surrogate or intended mother’s womb.

Beta Testing 

A blood test carried out approximately ten days after an embryo transfer. This test is used to determine whether or not a woman has conceived. It examines the levels of hormones that indicate pregnancy, such as LH, Progesterone, Estradiol, and Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG).


A medical test used to diagnose any chromosomal abnormalities through the examination of amniotic fluid cells surrounding the baby. It is usually performed between 2 and 3 months of pregnancy.

Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) 

A test carried out to examine the cells in the placenta. To do this, the doctor inserts a catheter (a thin, flexible tube) into the womb through the vagina, or inserts a small needle through the abdomen into the uterus. It is often performed between 10 and 12 weeks of pregnancy. Like amniocentesis, it can also be used to detect chromosomal birth defects, like Down syndrome.

Pre-Birth Order 

A court order that is obtained before the baby is born. While it may be issued before birth, it is not effective until the birth occurs.  This also gives the Intended Parents full custody of the child once they are born. 

Post-Birth Order 

A court order that is obtained after the delivery of the baby. It will replace the names of the surrogate with the intended parents’ names on the birth certificate of the baby. This also gives the Intended Parents full custody of the child once they are born. 

If you want to know more about becoming a parent through surrogacy, please reach out to us at or call (858) 209-3801 to schedule a free consultation.