Terminology to guide you as you navigate Surrogacy360 resources and encounter commonly used terms.
Assisted Reproductive Technologies or ART
Fertility treatments used to assist with pregnancy and birth. The most common ART include fertility-enhancing drugs, donor insemination, egg provision (donation), and in vitro fertilization.
Egg Provider or Egg Donor
A woman who provides her eggs for other people’s fertility treatment, gestational surrogacy arrangement, or medical research, usually in exchange for money. While egg donor is the more common term, egg provider is also used because payment is involved.
Informed consent means that a patient or participant be given complete, accurate, and unbiased information in writing and/or orally about the purpose and related risks, benefits and potential consequences of a medical intervention before agreeing to it. Informed consent rests on the human right of bodily integrity, including well-being and self-determination.
In Vitro Fertilization
In vitro fertilization (IVF) involves hormonal stimulation followed by surgically removing eggs from a person’s ovaries; combining them with sperm in the laboratory from a donor or intended parent; and transferring one or more embryos to the same person’s uterus or to the uterus of a gestational surrogate in an effort to initiate pregnancy.
An individual or couple who commission and become the legal parent/s of a child birthed by a surrogate. This site uses the plural intended parents for consistency, recognizing that many individuals engage in surrogacy as well.
Entities who coordinate all or certain aspects of a surrogacy arrangement, typically in a commercial context. They may include local recruiters, brokerages or agencies, fertility clinics, lawyers, and tourism businesses.
Surrogate or Gestational Mother
A woman who agrees to carry and birth a child for another person or family. Some women in this role call themselves gestational mothers since they are pregnant and playing an active role in gestating a fetus for approximately nine months. Others do not want to use the term mother and prefer to be called a surrogate. Women acting in this role can decide what term they prefer.
An arrangement, usually bound by a contract, in which a gestational mother or surrogate agrees to carry and birth a child for another person or family with the help of ART.
Surrogacy360 focuses on international and commercial arrangements, which are almost always gestational. These arrangements are referred to on the site as international commercial surrogacy. There are several other types of surrogacy, including:
- Altruistic An arrangement in which a surrogate receives no payment beyond reasonable expenses associated with the pregnancy. Such an arrangement often — although not always — takes place between intended parent(s) and a relative or friend.
- Commercial An arrangement in which a surrogate receives payment from the intended parent(s) for carrying and birthing a child.
- Domestic An arrangement between a surrogate and intended parent(s) living in the same country.
- Gestational An arrangement that uses in vitro fertilization to create an embryo in a laboratory, with eggs and/or sperm from intended parent(s) and/or providers (donors). The embryo is transferred to a surrogate who is not genetically related to the child.
- International An arrangement between a surrogate living in one country and intended parent(s) living in another country.
- Traditional An arrangement that uses donor insemination to fertilize a surrogate’s eggs with sperm from the intended parent or another provider (donor) or using in vitro fertilization with the surrogate’s eggs. The surrogate is genetically related to the child.
A Note on Gender Terminology
Surrogacy360 recognizes that people of all gender identities engage in the use of assisted reproductive technologies and surrogacy. We therefore strongly recommend the use of gender-neutral language (e.g., person acting as surrogate) in state, provincial, and national laws to ensure that protections apply to all people in all surrogacy arrangements. However, on this website, we use woman and gestational mother in recognition of the fact that the vast majority of people acting as surrogates are female and experience the legacy of sex-based discrimination, including lack of safeguards for their health and rights, in the area of surrogacy and in many other aspects of their lives.