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The HRC Fertility Blog is a resource for patients and those seeking infertility related issues and articles. Check back often or subscribe to this blog as it is changed weekly by the HRC staff.

What You Need to Know about Using a Surrogate

Surrogates have made parenthood possible for many couples in which other assisted reproductive technologies (ART) have failed. Surrogates also have helped those whose marital status, age or gender have prevented them from having children. Surrogates are women who carry the baby in the uterus for another couple.


There are two types of surrogates: traditional and gestational. A traditional surrogate is a woman who is impregnated via artificial insemination using her own egg and either the father’s sperm or donor sperm. She is the baby’s biological mother. A gestational surrogate is a woman who is implanted with embryos formed in a lab from the biological mother’s egg and biological father’s sperm. The surrogate is considered the baby’s birth mother, but as her egg was not used, she has no genetic ties to the baby.

Using either type of surrogate requires taking many important steps in order to preserve the legality and financial responsibility of the agreement. It is important to note that gestational surrogates are usually preferred by many clinics, as they are less complicated legally. Some clinics will not perform IVF or AI if a traditional surrogate is used.

It is also highly recommended that you navigate the tricky process of working with a gestational surrogate through a qualified agency. They will have the experience and network to make the process as streamlined as possible. While each relationship is different, there are some standard practices that protect all parties legally and financially. Having a knowledgeable partner to help you with these steps will be invaluable during this process.

Here are the steps that you should take when employing surrogacy as part of your ART treatment:


  1. Have your surrogate evaluated both physically and mentally before you go ahead with the procedure.
  2. Meet with a family law lawyer to draw up the contracts that specifically define the process, the surrender of the baby, the financial commitments and all other details of the relationship.
  3. Make a plan for how often you have personal contact with your surrogate and what you expect as far as her checking in during the pregnancy. It’s important to remember that your surrogate has a life and responsibilities of her own, and defining your expectations early will help both of you maintain a good relationship.
  4. Once the baby is born, it’s important to maintain the relationship with your surrogate. This may be a permanent parting or a temporary one, but either way, closure to the process is important, as is gratitude.

Using a surrogate is a great option for many families. Whether you are battling infertility, having children after a medical condition prevents you from carrying the child yourself, or partnered in a same-sex relationship, surrogates open the possibilities of parenthood to more couples wanting to have a family of their own.




Bradford Kolb, MD, FACOG
HRC Fertility
Office: Pasadena 






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