Surrogacy Terminology Glossary

surrogacy terms

If you are thinking about surrogacy or have already started a journey, you’ve probably heard a lot of the surrogacy terminology. Often times, these are terms that you’ve never heard before or have heard conflicting definitions for. We wanted to clear that up! Below is the Surrogacy Terminology Glossary to help you feel more prepared going into your journey!

Beta Testing

This blood test is used to help indicate whether you are pregnant approximately ten days after the embryo transfer. It measures the levels of Estradiol, Progesterone, LH, and HCG (which indicate pregnancy) in your system. If the first beta is positive then you will go for two additional tests. After three tests you will go for a confirmation of heartbeat ultrasound, which will officially confirm that you are pregnant.

surrogacy terminologyCarrier Agreement

The Carrier Agreement is a legal contract between the surrogate and the intended parents. The terms of the contract are negotiated prior to agreement and signing by the parties through their legal representation. Once the contract is signed, the terms of the contract will govern the parties’ interactions. It is very important for the surrogate to read the contract carefully so that all conditions are understood.

Cycle Schedule

This is a timeline that your intended parents’ IVF clinic will create and send you, listing all the important appointment dates leading up to your transfer. These appointment dates are for your local monitoring.

Egg Retrieval

When the donated eggs are physically removed from the egg donor/intended mother. Embryo An embryo is a fertilized egg. Embryos are cultured in a lab for two to five days before they are transferred to the surrogate on either Day Three or Day Five.

Fresh Egg Transfer

When fresh eggs are retrieved from the donor and then immediately fertilized. The resulting embryo is transferred into the surrogate on either Day Three or Day Five, based on its quality and grade.

Frozen Embryo Transfer 

When a frozen embryo (an already fertilized and frozen egg) is thawed and transferred into the surrogate on a specified day.


surrogacy terminologyIn Vitro (Latin for ‘within the glass’) Fertilization is a process by which eggs are fertilized by sperm outside the womb in a controlled environment, either a test tube or Petri dish.

IVF Clinic

A clinic, chosen by your intended parents, that specializes in assisted reproductive technology. This clinic will perform the egg retrieval and embryo transfer.

Local Monitoring Clinic

This is an IVF clinic found and researched either by your NES Coordinator. You will go there for regular blood work and ultrasounds. It is located close to your home to reduce the number of visits needed at the IVF clinic.

Medical Screening

This is a preliminary appointment at your intended parents’ IVF clinic that includes a check-up, testing, and education about IVF to help ensure that you are ready and able to be a surrogate.

Mock Cycle

An artificial cycle of hormonal stimulation affecting the endometrium or the lining of the uterus where the embryos implant. These results will allow the IVF doctor to know how the surrogate’s body will respond to the medication prior to scheduling the embryo transfer.

Pre-Birth Order

The term for a court issued order that is acquired before the birth of the child. Typically it will place the intended parents on the birth certificate and allow the intended parents access to the child while in the hospital. The terms of the order are case-specific. A prebirth order is only allowed in certain states and under certain conditions; therefore, it may not be appropriate or available for every child.

Travel Itinerary

This is a document that you will receive from the travel agent outlining all of your travel arrangements.

If you need more than a crash lesson in surrogacy terminology, you can learn more about the general surrogacy process for intended parents or surrogates on our website or check out our Surrogacy Acronyms blog post highlighting some common surrogacy terminology acronyms!