Understanding Surrogacy and IVF


At fertility clinics, you can access a comprehensive range of fertility services to assist if you’ve been unable to conceive naturally. In many cases, fertility treatments such as IVF allow a prospective mother to carry a child on her own, but not always.

Some intended parents turn to surrogacy so that a suitable candidate can carry the pregnancy when it is not possible for the parent to do so.

When we talk about “surrogacy,” it’s essential to understand the two primary options: traditional and gestational. Let’s discuss the key differences regarding traditional vs. gestational surrogacy so that you can select a treatment path that best suits your unique needs and desires.

Traditional Surrogacy

If you opt for traditional surrogacy, you’re choosing to have your surrogate act as both the carrier and the egg donor, meaning that she is the genetic mother to the child.

Traditional surrogacy offers some benefits. Most notably, there are fewer medical procedures required when your surrogate uses her own eggs. While IVF may sometimes be required, traditional surrogacy can often be completed via intrauterine insemination, or IUI. IUI is a less complicated procedure, which can further benefit you and your surrogate by reducing the medical risks of surrogacy while still lowering the cost of treatment.

Traditional surrogacy also has some drawbacks that must be considered. For many, it is much more difficult emotionally when the surrogate is both the carrier and the egg donor. It can also be more difficult for the surrogate to give up a child that is genetically hers, and the parents may be especially stressed about the bond created between the surrogate and child.

Due to these potential complications, some states do not even allow traditional surrogacy, and in those that do, it can be more difficult to find a surrogate who is willing to undergo traditional surrogacy rather than gestational surrogacy. Traditional surrogacy is not as frequently used for these reasons.

Gestational Surrogacy

Gestational surrogacy differs from traditional surrogacy in that the carrier has no genetic link to the child. The intended mother’s eggs (or donor eggs) will be fertilized via in vitro fertilization, or IVF, and embryos will be transferred to the surrogate mother.

The greatest drawback of gestational surrogacy is that it involves multiple medical procedures. IVF requires procedures such as ovarian stimulation, egg retrieval, and embryo implantation. This increases both the risk and cost of treatment, though many fertility patients have success with gestational surrogacy.

Most of the benefits of gestational surrogacy relate to the emotional aspects of treatment. Many people find it easier to undergo surrogacy knowing that there is no genetic link between the child and carrier. This simplifies things emotionally and legally, which tends to make it easier to find a willing surrogate in a timely manner.

In almost all cases of gestational surrogacy and IVF, the intended parents can establish parentage before the birth of the baby. This lowers the stress on both intended parents and the surrogate and can make for a less stressful, anxious time for everyone involved. 

IVF and the gestational surrogacy process 

Once the intended parents have chosen their surrogate, completed the necessary screenings and paperwork, the IVF cycle can begin. This involves testing and fertility medications to the donor and surrogate, an egg retrieval from your donor or intended mother, and fertilization with the sperm (from the intended father or sperm donor).

Once fertilized, the fertility specialist will transfer the embryo into the surrogate’s uterus for implantation and successful conception. She will carry the baby throughout her pregnancy term and at the end of her term, she’ll give birth and the intended parents can go home with their newest family member. 

Which type of surrogacy is right for me?

Choosing between traditional and gestational surrogacy can be difficult. To better weigh the pros and cons of each method, patients should consider these questions:

  • Are my partner or I able to be the egg donor for my surrogate?
  • Am I comfortable with my baby being carried by its biological mother?
  • What kind of relationship do I want with my surrogate?
  • Will my budget accommodate the cost of gestational surrogacy?
  • Does my state allow for traditional surrogacy?

Explore your surrogacy options 

The fertility specialists at Pacific Fertility Center would be happy to answer any further questions you may have regarding your surrogacy options. To speak with one of our doctors, send us a message at your earliest convenience, or call (818) 452-2583 to schedule a personal consultation. We serve patients in Los Angeles, Glendale, and San Fernando Valley.
Note: This is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Information provided is for general educational purposes only and is subject to change without notice. Speak to your doctor directly with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Any information contained herein does not replace any care plan as determined by a physician. 

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