Traditional vs Gestational Surrogacy

Many factors impact the decision to have children, including personal and social aspects. Some people may argue that this is one of life’s biggest decisions. Each journey to growing and building a family is different, some with more steps than others.

Copulation is usually the traditional way to get pregnant, but this is not a viable option for some. Other ways to add to your family include adoption, IVF, fertility treatments, and surrogacy. 

Surrogacy is a special, fast-growing method to grow your family, and it has many moving parts. There are two types of surrogacy, traditional surrogacy, and gestational surrogacy. Each type has its fair share of potential risks, laws, costs, and fertilization methods.

Thus, it’s important to understand both types to make a well-informed decision. This article will explore traditional vs. gestational surrogacy to give you the necessary information to choose a suitable path. 

About Traditional Surrogacy

Pregnant Woman

Genetic surrogacy (also known as traditional surrogacy) is the process of fertilizing the surrogate’s eggs with sperm. Thus, the surrogate is an egg donor and the child’s biological mother. The sperm could be either the intended fathers or sperm donors. Laws around traditional surrogacy vary, but the intended parents choose the sex cells. With traditional surrogacy, the intended mother can never be the child’s biological mother.

Traditional surrogacy can happen through sexual intercourse (natural insemination). It can also happen through artificial insemination, a short medical procedure where sperm is injected into the surrogate’s uterus. Due to the genetic connection between traditional surrogate mothers and children, they could claim the baby. Some laws protect the intended parents, but most don’t, so this method carries greater legal risk. Some states require intended parents to undergo an adoption process if they use a donor. 

After fertilization, the traditional surrogate carries the baby and signs over rights after birth. Since parentage is established after birth, the law sees traditional surrogates as legal mothers. Due to this, the surrogate may bond with the baby, making the relationship emotionally complicated. The traditional surrogacy process places the intended parents at a disadvantage. So, more people opt for the alternative; gestational surrogacy. 

About Gestational Surrogacy

Gestational surrogacy – also called host surrogacy – is where an embryo is implanted into the surrogate’s uterus. This form of surrogacy is the most chosen by intended parents because it has less legal risk. In this case, the person carrying the baby is referred to as a gestational carrier or gestational surrogate. Gestational surrogacy pregnancies happen through In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Scientists create an embryo in a lab using this procedure.

The embryo created during the gestational surrogacy process uses the intended parents’ cells. This surrogacy type also works with the father’s sperm and intended mother’s eggs or donor eggs. Intended parents could also use donated embryos, where the child isn’t biologically related to an involved party. During the surrogate’s pregnancy, the embryo is implanted medically. Due to the absence of a genetic connection, the surrogate has zero legal claim over the baby. 

Surrogates prefer gestational surrogacy because they aren’t genetically related to the child. An application for gestational surrogacy usually starts with contacting a surrogacy agency. Next, a thorough process of vetting and matching takes place. A gestational carrier doesn’t have to be an egg donor, which tends to appeal to intended mothers. Though IVF has more fertility treatments, the gestational surrogacy journey is more comfortable.

Pregnant Woman

Similarities Between Traditional and Gestational Surrogacy

  • Intended Parents: In addition, traditional surrogacy and gestational surrogacy are options that can be used by people who have difficulties conceiving. Couples of the same sex, single men or women, as well as people with health conditions or anatomical conditions that prevent them from conceiving naturally, are some examples of such individuals. 
  • Surrogacy Procedure: Gestational and traditional surrogacy agreements require the carrier to carry the child to term. The surrogate and intended parents are protected by contracts in both types of surrogacy. The surrogacy agreement ensures the surrogate doesn’t change their mind during the pregnancy. In some cases, it ensures that the surrogate signs over parental rights after birth. 
  • Surrogate Screening Process: Both surrogacies require extensive health and ability screening processes. This process includes drug and STD tests, a pap smear, plus blood tests. The surrogate’s partner – or previous partners – is also tested for blood diseases and STIs. Most surrogacy professionals perform background checks on potential surrogates and intended parents. 

Differences Between Traditional and Gestational Surrogacy

  • Sex Cells: Gestational surrogacy can result from various sex cell blends, never including the surrogate’s egg cells. Traditional surrogacy, however, involves the surrogate being an egg donor during fertilization. As a result, a traditional surrogate becomes the child’s biological mother, and a gestational surrogate doesn’t
  • Fertilization Method: Traditional surrogacy has two egg fertilization methods, sexual intercourse and intrauterine insemination (IUI). During IUI, doctors place washed sperm into the ovulating surrogate’s uterus, hoping for fertilization. At the same time, gestational surrogacy using IVF to create an embryo in a lab and implant it. 
  • Legal Process: Gestational surrogates have no genetic relationship to the baby, so they have no legal rights. The surrogate signs a contract before the procedure, stating she won’t cancel the agreement no matter the eventuality. Traditional surrogacy gives the surrogate parental rights due to their genetic contribution. As a result, the biological mother can terminate parental rights after birth. After that, the intended parents must perform stepparent adoption. 
  • Cost: An IVF cycle is more expensive than IUI because it has a longer insemination process. Though IUI is more cost-effective, it may require more cycles than IVF. Traditional surrogacy situations tend to require less medical care; thus, it is the cheaper surrogacy type.


By now, you should understand the traditional vs. gestational surrogacy debate a little more. Most people are only aware of gestational surrogacy because it’s the most common surrogacy process.

The medical process is longer due to the complicated egg retrieval process. It also includes many fertility medications and treatments. Yet, it has fewer emotional risks involved, and gestational carriers don’t use their eggs. As a result, most surrogacy agencies and professionals lean towards gestational surrogacy.

Although surrogacy is the less conventional way to add to your family, it has opened up opportunities for hopeful parents. Hopeful intended parents and every potential surrogate should consider impacting factors.

Moreover, depending on what they’re comfortable with, they have two types to choose from. Gestational surrogacy is ideal for intended parents who want to use their eggs and sperm. Traditional surrogacy would appeal more to people who are unable to use their sperm or eggs.

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