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Important Surrogacy Terms

Important Surrogacy Terms

When intended parents and potential surrogates learn about surrogacy, they may encounter many unfamiliar terms.

Whether you are an intended parent exploring surrogacy or a woman considering becoming a surrogate, here are some important terms to help with your surrogacy journey.

Important Surrogacy Terms Describing Surrogates 

We use several terms to describe the compassionate, generous women who will carry your baby.


Surrogates are women, typically between the ages of 21 and 42, who have already given birth to at least one child they are raising. Surrogates undergo in vitro fertilization to get pregnant and deliver your baby. The terms surrogates and surrogate mother are often used interchangeably.  The Intended Parent is always the legal parent of the baby.

Gestational Surrogates

Gestational surrogates are the most common surrogates in the United States. They carry or gestate a surrogate baby created by the Intended Parents who may utilize their own gametes ( eggs and sperm) or an egg donor and or sperm donor to create an embryo to transfer into their surrogate.

Gestational Carriers

Gestational surrogates are also called gestational carriers.

Traditional Surrogates

A traditional surrogate is a woman who uses her eggs to become pregnant, with the intended parents’ baby, through intrauterine insemination, also known as artificial insemination or IVF. Most IVF Centers do not perform traditional surrogacy because of the complex legal issues. Therefore, traditional surrogacy is rarely used in the United States.

Terms Describing Parents

You will hear terms like intended parents, prospective parents, and future parents to describe the hopeful women and men using surrogacy to create and expand their families. Intended parents, the most common term, may require to find a surrogate mother for medical or social reasons or as the only treatment to have a child such as a same sex male couple.

Other Important Terms

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

Reproductive endocrinologists like Dr. Arnold perform this procedure to create and freeze embryos and then transfer one or two thawed embryos to the surrogate. Embryos are created from the genetic material of either the intended parents or from egg, sperm, or embryo donors.

Embryo Transfer

The embryo transfer is the final part of the IVF process. The IVF doctor will transfer the embryo to the gestational surrogate, which has been thawed and tested using Preimplantation Genetic Testing, (PGT).

Donor Egg, Donor Sperm, and Donated Embryos

Donated gametes include donor eggs and/or donor sperm. Also, embryos may be donated. CACRM has helped many intended parents who require donated gametes or donated embryos to grow their families.

Physician-Directed Surrogacy Program

CACRM is unique among IVF clinics and surrogacy agencies because we offer intended parents and surrogates a surrogacy program directed by our medical director, Dr. Lori Arnold, who has over 28 years of surrogacy experience.

Dr. Arnold manages every aspect of the surrogacy journey, including:

  • Recruiting, evaluating, selecting and matching surrogates
  • Performing IVF treatment
  • Interacting with other reproductive professionals such as lawyers, insurance brokers, social workers and OB/GYNs
  • Following the surrogate during pregnancy
  • Coordinating care with CACRM team members

From start to finish, we feel this type of supervision increases the possibilities for a successful outcome and a more streamlined approach to your surrogacy journey.

For more information about a physician-directed surrogacy program, please read our Guide to Finding Your Surrogate and The Advantages of CACRM’s Physician-Directed Surrogacy Program on the CACRM blog.

Hopefully, this overview helps educate you about some new words and phrases you will encounter during your surrogacy journey. Please feel free to contact CACRM to learn more about the surrogacy process.  We are here to help and educate you.

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