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Surrogacy is an arrangement, often supported by a legal agreement, whereby a woman agrees to delivery/labour on behalf of another couple or person, who will become the child's parent(s) after birth. People may seek a surrogacy arrangement when a couple do not wish to carry a pregnancy themselves, when pregnancy is medically impossible, when pregnancy risks are dangerous for the intended mother, or when a single man or a male same sex couple wish to have a child.

In surrogacy arrangements, monetary compensation may or may not be involved. Receiving money for the arrangement is known as commercial surrogacy. The legality and cost of surrogacy varies widely between jurisdictions, sometimes resulting in problematic international or interstate surrogacy arrangements. Couples seeking a surrogacy arrangement in a country where it is banned sometimes travel to a jurisdiction that permits it. In some countries, surrogacy is legal only if money is not exchanged.

Where commercial surrogacy is legal, couples may use the help of third-party agencies to assist in the process of surrogacy by finding a surrogate and arranging a surrogacy contract with her. These agencies often screen surrogates' psychological and other medical tests to ensure the best chance of healthy gestation and delivery. They also usually facilitate all legal matters concerning the intended parents and the surrogate.


Surrogacy may be either traditional or gestational, which are differentiated by the genetic origin of the egg. Gestational surrogacy tends to be more common than traditional surrogacy and is considered less legally complex

Traditional surrogacy

A traditional surrogacy (also known as partial, natural, or straight surrogacy) is one where the surrogate's egg is fertilised by the intended father's or a donor's sperm. Insemination of the surrogate can be either through sex (natural insemination)or artificial insemination. Using the sperm of a donor results in a child who is not genetically related to the intended parent(s). If the intended father's sperm is used in the insemination, the resulting child is genetically related to both the intended father and the surrogate In some cases, insemination may be performed privately by the parties without the intervention of a doctor or physician. In some jurisdictions, the intended parents using donor sperm need to go through an adoption process to have legal parental rights of the resulting child. Many fertility centres that provide for surrogacy assist the parties through the legal process.

Gestational surrogacy

Gestational surrogacy (also known as host or full surrogacy) was first achieved in April 1986.It takes place when an embryo created by in vitro fertilization (IVF) technology is implanted in a surrogate, sometimes called a gestational carrier. Gestational surrogacy has several forms, and in each form, the resulting child is genetically unrelated to the surrogate

  • The embryo is created using the intended father's sperm and the intended mother's eggs;
  • The embryo is created using the intended father's sperm and a donor egg;
  • The embryo is created using the intended mother's egg and donor sperm;
  • A donor embryo is transferred to a surrogate. Such an embryo may be available when others undergoing IVF have embryos left over, which they donate to others. The resulting child is genetically unrelated to the intended parent(s).

The embryo implanted in gestational surrogacy faces the same risks as anyone using IVF would. Preimplantation risks of the embryo include unintentional epigenetic effects, influence of media which the embryo is cultured on, and undesirable consequences of invasive manipulation of the embryo. Often, multiple embryos are transferred to increase the chance of implantation, and if multiple gestations occur, both the surrogate and the embryos face higher risks of complications

Gestational surrogates have a smaller chance of having hypertensive disorder during pregnancy compared to mothers pregnant by oocyte donation. This is possibly because gestational carriers tend to be healthier and more fertile than women who use oocyte donation. Gestational carriers also have low rates of placenta previa / placental abruptions

Children born through singleton IVF surrogacy have been shown to have no physical or mental abnormalities compared to those children born through natural conception. However, children born through multiple gestation in gestational carriers often result in preterm labor and delivery, resulting in prematurity and physical and/or mental anomalies

Among gestational surrogacy arrangements, between 19–33% of gestational surrogates will successfully become pregnant from an embryo transfer. Of these cases, 30–70% will successfully allow the intended parent(s) to become parent(s) of the resulting child.[9] For surrogate pregnancies where only one child is born, the preterm birth rate in surrogacy is marginally lower than babies born from standard IVF (11.5% vs 14%). Babies born from surrogacy also have similar average gestational age as infants born through in vitro fertilization and oocyte donation; approximately weeks. Preterm birth rate was higher for surrogate twin pregnancies compared to single births. There are fewer babies with low birth weight when born through surrogacy compared to those born through in vitro fertilization but both methods have similar rates of birth defects