Understanding the Differences of Gestational vs. Traditional Surrogacy

When considering surrogacy, one of the first decisions hopeful parents and potential surrogates have to make is the type of surrogacy they want to pursue.

There are two primary types: gestational and traditional surrogacy. While Southern Surrogacy’s program focuses on gestational surrogacy, it is important to understand all of your options and the differences between them. Here, learn more about traditional vs. gestational surrogacy.

What is Gestational Surrogacy?

Gestational surrogacy, also called partial surrogacy or host surrogacy, is the most common type of surrogacy today; in fact, Southern Surrogacy only handles gestational surrogacy cases. But how does gestational surrogacy work?

In gestational surrogacy, the surrogate (also often called the gestational carrier) is not biologically related to the baby she is carrying. Instead, the embryo is created in the laboratory using in vitro fertilization (IVF). The embryo may be created using the intended mother’s (or donor’s) egg and the intended father’s (or donor’s) sperm. It is then transferred to the surrogate’s uterus at the fertility clinic.

What is Traditional Surrogacy?

In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate doubles as the egg donor and is the biological mother of the baby she is carrying; the embryos are created using sperm from the intended father or a donor in a process called intrauterine insemination (IUI). This type of surrogacy is also known as full surrogacy or genetic surrogacy.

Because the traditional surrogacy process can be more legally and emotionally complicated, this form of surrogacy is now far less common than gestational surrogacy.

Traditional Surrogacy vs. Gestational Surrogacy

The primary difference between gestational and traditional surrogacy is the surrogate’s biological connection to the child (or lack thereof). However, this simple difference impacts the surrogacy process in several significant ways. It is important for hopeful intended parents and potential surrogates to consider all of the following factors before deciding between traditional vs. gestational surrogacy:

  • Medical Process: IVF (used in gestational surrogacy) and IUI (used in traditional surrogacy) are very different medical procedures. Generally, IUI is a simpler process that requires the surrogate to undergo fewer fertility treatments. In addition, intended mothers will not need to take fertility medications or undergo the egg retrieval process, as their eggs will not be used to create the embryo.
  • Legal Process: Traditional surrogacy laws tend to be more complicated than gestational surrogacy laws. Because the surrogate is the biological mother of the baby in traditional surrogacy, she has parental rights that will need to be legally terminated after the baby is born. In some states, this means that the non-biological parent of the child will need to complete a stepparent adoption to obtain parental rights. These additional legal procedures are not required in the gestational surrogacy process, as parentage is established before birth using a pre-birth order.
  • Wait Time: Most surrogacy professionals, including Southern Surrogacy, only handle gestational surrogacy cases. In addition, many surrogates prefer gestational surrogacy because it is less legally and emotionally complicated for them. This can make it difficult to find a willing traditional surrogate and agency to complete the process, increasing intended parents’ wait times in traditional surrogacy.
  • Costs: On average, the cost of gestational surrogacy tends to be higher than for traditional surrogacy. This is primarily due to differences in the medical process; IUI is less expensive than IVF and tends to involve fewer medical procedures and fertility treatments.
  • Risks: Traditional surrogacy poses a greater emotional and legal risk than gestational surrogacy. Because the surrogate is the biological mother of the child in a traditional surrogacy, she may be more likely to emotionally bond with the baby, making it more difficult to hand him or her over to the intended parents. And because she has parental rights to the baby, she could theoretically challenge the surrogacy arrangement in court, which could result in a lengthy and expensive legal battle for everyone involved.

There are a number of pros and cons to consider when debating traditional surrogacy vs. gestational surrogacy. Ultimately, it is up to each intended parent and prospective surrogate to consider their own goals and priorities when choosing the type of surrogacy that is right for them.

If you think gestational surrogacy might be a good fit for your family, please contact Southern Surrogacy today to learn more about our gestational surrogacy program and services.