Surrogacy Terms Decoded: 17 Definitions to Know

Although rewarding, the surrogacy process and its associated vocabulary can be new and confusing at times. Not to worry! This blog defines and explains some of the common terms you’ll come across during your journey.
Surrogacy-Terms

  1. Carrier/Surrogate/Surrogate Mother: We use these terms interchangeably. However, a general surrogate definition is a woman carrying a child for intended parents who are unable to build a family on their own. There are two types of surrogates: traditional surrogates and gestational surrogates. If you’re thinking about applying or have signed a contract with Circle, you’ll be a gestational surrogate.
  2. Gestational Surrogacy: Pregnancy where 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. Gestational surrogacy is what the Circle team help to facilitate.
  3. Traditional Surrogacy: Pregnancy where the surrogate is genetically related to the baby and becomes pregnant through artificial insemination. While traditional surrogacy used to be more common, most of today’s surrogacy arrangements involve gestational surrogacy.
  4. Intended Parent: Person or persons who become the legal parent of a child born through surrogacy.
  5. Egg Donor: A woman who donates eggs, or oocytes, for assisted reproduction via IVF.
  6. Cycle Schedule: A timeline that lists important local monitoring appointment dates leading up to the transfer. This is usually created by an IVF clinic
  7. Egg Retrieval: The process by which eggs are removed from the egg donor for fertilization.
  8. Matching: A process in which a surrogate or egg donor is matched with intended parents. At Circle Surrogacy, social workers and lawyers work together to identify surrogates and intended parents who would be good matches based on legal requirements, personality compatibility, and shared expectations.
  9. Carrier Agreement/Surrogacy Contract: A legal contract between the surrogate and intended parents. The terms of the contract are negotiated by the parties through their legal representation. Once the contract is signed, the terms of the contract govern the parties’ interactions. It is very important for both the intended parents and the surrogate to read the contract carefully so that all conditions are understood.
  10. Blastocyst or “Blast”: The last stage of development an embryo must reach before it is implanted in the uterine wall. About 40 percent of human embryos reach this stage of development in the IVF laboratory after five to six days of incubation.
  11. In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): A process by which eggs are fertilized by sperm outside the womb in a controlled environment: either a test tube or Petri dish. The process is performed by a reproductive endocrinologist at an IVF clinic.
  12. Frozen Embryo Transfer: A process that occurs when a frozen embryo (an already fertilized and frozen egg) is thawed and transferred into a surrogate.
  13. Beta Testing: A blood test used to help indicate whether a woman is pregnant approximately 10 days after an embryo transfer. It measures levels of Estradiol, Progesterone, LH, and HCG (hormones that indicate pregnancy).
  14. Amniocentesis: A test used to detect any chromosomal problems through the examination of the cells in the amniotic fluid around the baby. This test is done between 15 and 20 weeks of pregnancy (usually around week 16).
  15. Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS): A test performed between 10 and 12 weeks to look at cells in the placenta by inserting a thin flexible tube (catheter) into the uterus through the vagina or by inserting a needle through the belly into the uterus. Similar to an amniocentesis, a CVS procedure can be used to find chromosomal birth defects, such as Down syndrome.
  16. Pre-Birth Order: A court issued order that is acquired before the birth of the child. Typically, it will place the names on the birth certificate and allow you access to the child while he/she is in the hospital
  17. Post-Birth Order: A court issued order that is acquired after the birth of the child. Typically, it will replace the surrogate with the intended parents on the newborn’s birth certificate.

Learn more about becoming a surrogate or a parent through surrogacy