Donor Conception and Surrogacy

Your top 7 surrogacy FAQs, with San Francisco’s leading clinic

Eloise Edington  |   10 Nov 2022


By Jessie Day

From the surrogacy process, and a roadmap of what to expect, to key definitions – do you know the difference between gestational carrier and traditional surrogate, for example? – fertility clinics can help with so much beyond a sperm-meets-egg scenario. But what are the really burning surrogacy FAQs hitting clinics in 2022?

Interest is on the rise globally, with more enquiries than ever before for high-quality, accessible surrogacy support. Fertility clinics like the leading Californian Laurel Fertility Care group are changing the script in patient services, pairing groundbreaking medical advances with the best in patient-carrier matching technology. 

Your surrogacy FAQs, answered

Surrogacy is an incredible step in the journey. But when do people make the decision to hit ‘go’? And what are the key questions from intended parents, across the globe? Here are your seven top queries, answered with expert insight from Laurel Fertility Care

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1 Surrogacy – when should I start looking at my options?

For some people, the decision to look into surrogacy is something they’ve spent months – often years – preparing for. A gay couple, for example, might explore surrogacy right away, whereas a heterosexual couple could be trying for some time to conceive naturally, before contacting a fertility clinic, or having tests run. 

When exploring routes to parenthood, the best approach is to start your research at the earliest opportunity. From initial consultations and set-up, to testing, matching, recruiting, medical procedures and more – plus working out your budget – allowing enough time to take action, regroup and pivot is important. 

Laurel Fertility Care see most enquiries split across the following patient and IP (intended parent) groups: 

  • LGBTQ+ couples and IPs
  • single male IPs 
  • patients aged 42+, and/or may not have an OBGYN clearance
  • patients with known medical conditions, fertility issues, or a history of IVF failure or recurrent pregnancy loss
  • patients who’ve undergone a hysterectomy, or treatment that’s impacted their fertility
  • patients who – for emotional or physical reasons – would prefer not to undergo pregnancy

2 Where do I start?

The process will a vary a little, depending how you’re going about surrogacy, and whether an agency or clinic are helping you get started. At Laurel Fertility Care, the first step is to schedule an appointment with our Surrogacy and Third-Party expert – once a patient has contacted us, we can get the ball rolling.  Every situation is unique and our team of experts are here to guide you through the entire process.

3 Can I still use my own eggs? 

This will depend on your situation, but in many cases – yes! Your fertility clinic can assess your ovarian reserve and quality, and help you make a call on whether to try with your own eggs, or not. 

If you do use your own eggs, this will fall under ‘gestational surrogacy’ – a surrogate would carry your baby to term, but without any genetic connection. 

4 Traditional vs. gestational surrogacy – what’s the difference? 

Simply put, this is all about genetics. 

With traditional surrogacy, a surrogate’s own eggs are used, giving her a genetic connection with your child. Traditional surrogacy is also referred to as ‘partial surrogacy’, and ‘straight surrogacy’. 

On the other hand, for gestational surrogacy, a surrogate has no genetic connection to your baby. You might use your own eggs or a donor’s, as part of the fertilization process, and your surrogate might define themselves as a ‘gestational carrier (GC)’. 

Gestational surrogacy is more common in the USA and UK than traditional surrogacy, and in most cases, less legally complex.

5 What’s an IP? 

Another definition for you – IP is short for ‘intended parent’. Clinics and fertility service providers use this term frequently in their communications, especially when discussing donor conception, surrogacy or gestational carrying. 

6 How does the surrogacy process work?

Every clinic and/or agency will follow their own unique approach. But whether traditional or gestational, surrogacy is governed by pretty tight guidelines. The team at Laurel Fertility Care work with you, to provide a clear structure for all IPs, GCs and surrogates, centered in empathetic, expert care. 

To help your planning, here’s how a surrogacy timeline might look: 

  • Step 1: Research and planning
  • Step 2: Commit to your plan, and complete testing 
  • Step 3: Egg and sperm selection, retrieval and fertilization 
  • Step 4: Embryo creation and testing 

Steps 1-4 above (and a few of the below!) will all work slightly differently, depending on whether you’re going for gestational surrogacy or traditional. 

  • Step 5: Surrogate matching 
  • Step 6: Surrogacy contracts and medical approval 
  • Step 7: Embryo transfer 
  • Step 8: Pregnancy and delivery 

This is a basic guide, but of course when it comes to family building, every journey is unique. 

We’re also mindful that the journey doesn’t stop with the birth of your baby, and encourage anyone looking into – or already navigating – surrogacy, to ask their clinic or agency about support services. Whether it’s specialist counseling, or another form of therapy, investing the time in your emotional and mental health now will set you up strong, for the future you’re building.

At Laurel Fertility Care, we regularly connect patients and IPs with free support groups run by our specialist partners,  Infertility Unfiltered. Whichever stage of the journey you’re at, these weekly 90-minute sessions are a chance to listen, share experiences and ask questions in a supportive, safe space. 

7 Can a friend or relative be my surrogate? 

The simple answer is, absolutely! Depending on your individual situation, this is an option – many IPs do decide to undergo the amazing process of surrogacy with a friend, or relative. 

This is often referred to as an ‘identified surrogacy’, and follows a different approach, depending on your clinic, location and preferences. 

Surrogacy of any kind is complex, however you arrange and go about it – from the legal parameters to navigating pregnancy and delivery – and identified surrogacies are no exception. Speak to your clinic about this option, for all the details on what to expect. 

Looking to get started? For world-leading expertise, connect with the team at Laurel Fertility Care. This amazing group of clinics specialize in family-building support and solutions, for a rainbow of situations and set-ups. 

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