All about surrogacy

There are many different types of surrogacy, ways to create embryos, and methods of insemination. The laws also vary depending on where you live, so if you’re considering surrogacy, you’ve got a bit of research ahead of you.

What are the types?

Surrogacy involves a third party carrying and delivering a baby. There are two ways to think about types of surrogacy. First, how is the embryo being made? With traditional surrogacy, the surrogate’s egg will be combined with donor sperm. “Donor” here doesn’t necessarily mean a stranger or a friend; it could also be sperm of the intended father. Gestational surrogacy uses an embryo created with donor sperm and a donor egg, which could be sperm or an egg from one of the intended parents, a friend, or a donor from a bank.

The other way to define surrogacy is to look at for what purpose the surrogate is carrying the pregnancy. A commercial surrogacy is one where the intended parents would pay their surrogate in exchange for the pregnancy. With altruistic surrogacy, the surrogate isn’t carrying the pregnancy for money; she is doing it simply as a favor to the intended parents.

How does the pregnancy happen?

To create a surrogate pregnancy, either insemination or reproductive assistance through IVF is used to create (or attempt to create) an embryo. There are a few different types of insemination:

  • IVF: this means in vitro fertilization, which is when sperm and an egg are combined into an embryo, which is implanted into the uterus. An IVF cycle takes about two weeks, and the success rate is around 40%, though results vary based on maternal age, reproductive history, lifestyle, and other factors.
  • IUI: this means intrauterine insemination, which is when the sperm is injected into the uterus. The procedure only takes a few minutes after the sperm is processed, and the success rate is around 15-20%.
  • ICI: this means intracervical insemination, which is when the sperm is injected into the cervix. Like IUI, ICI only takes a few minutes and has similar rates of success, though some evidence suggests that IUI is slightly more successful.
  • IVI: this means intravaginal insemination, which is when the sperm is injected into the vagina. The success rates for IVI are less clear than those of the other three methods of assisted reproductive technology, but it’s the least expensive procedure, and it can be performed at home.

What are the surrogacy laws?

Surrogacy laws are different from country to country and state to state. States within the US have varying laws about surrogacy, but states that have some laws favorable to surrogacy include Arkansas, California, Delaware, Illinois, New Hampshire, and Nevada. Some states have no laws against surrogacy, but they also don’t have any laws protecting surrogacy arrangements either. There are also some states that will only allow heterosexual couples to become surrogate parents.

Countries that have laws allowing surrogacy in some form include Australia, Canada, Denmark, Greece, India, Mexico, Nepal, Russia, Thailand, and the United Kingdom. Many of those countries have restrictions, such as only allowing altruistic surrogacy or barring foreigners from coming to find surrogates. There are also other countries that allow surrogacy but don’t have any laws about it.

There can also be a legal difference between traditional and gestational surrogacy. With gestational surrogacy, though the surrogate carries and delivers the child, she is not biologically related to them. Traditional surrogacy uses the surrogate’s egg, making her the biological mother of the child. It’s recommended that a surrogacy contract outlining parental rights be signed with both gestational surrogacy and traditional surrogacy, but surrogacy contracts aren’t legal in every state. There are also some states where traditional surrogacy itself is not legal. Because of this, traditional surrogacy is often more legally complicated than gestational surrogacy, and the legal parents of a child from traditional surrogacy are not always legally clear.

The bottom line

The types, methods, and laws surrounding surrogacy are varied, and it’s up to you to decide if surrogacy is right for your family. If surrogacy isn’t legal where you live, it may be possible for you to make surrogacy arrangements in another country or state. When you’re aware of all your options, you can make the decision that’s best for you.

  • “Demystifying IUI, ICI, IVI and IVF.” Seattle Sperm Bank. Seattle Sperm Bank. 2015. Web.
  • “Gestational surrogacy law across the United States.” Creative Family Connections. Creative Family Connections, LLC. 2016. Web.
  • “Surrogacy by country.” Families Through Surrogacy. Families Through Surrogacy. 2015. Web.
  • “Surrogacy laws and legal considerations.” Human Rights Campaign. The Human Rights Campaign. 2016. Web.
Get the Ovia Fertility app
Get our app at the Apple App Store Get our app at the Apple App Store Get our app at the Google Play Store Get our app at the Google Play Store