Updated: Mar 3, 2020
The process of surrogacy can seem intimidating. From the qualifications to delivery, there are many new terms and medical procedures involved. Once someone has successfully been cleared to become a surrogate it is important they understand what is happening. This glossary will help clear up some of the confusion behind common terms used while someone is a surrogate.
1. IP – Intended parents. The person or persons who will be needing the help of a surrogate to grow their family.
2. Gestational surrogate – The surrogate is not genetically related to the baby.
3. Traditional surrogacy – The surrogate is genetically related to the baby.
4. Matching – This is when the intended parents look through profiles of the surrogate or egg donors and chose the person they want to work with. This is a two-way street however, the surrogate can also speak with the intended parents and decide if she wants to work with them as well.
5. Surrogacy agency – The agency backing the entire journey plays a massive role in the process. They will guide the intended parents and surrogate through the process, including legal, medical and emotional support.
6. Estrogen – This is a hormone that is naturally produced by the ovaries to help thicken the uterine lining to support pregnancy. It will be taken in the form of birth control in conjunction with the intended mother’s or donor’s cycle.
7. Egg donation – When a fertile woman donates an egg, also known as an oocyte, to help another woman conceive.
8. IVF – In Vitro fertilization is when an egg is removed from the intended mother and mixed with a sperm removed from the intended father with the intend of fertilization. The embryos are then directly transferred to the uterus. If any of the embryos implant themselves within the lining of the uterus, that is when pregnancy occurs.
9. Mock cycle – This is when the potential surrogate will be put on full or partial medications so her doctors can monitor her as if she was planning on transfer to monitor her body’s reaction to the medication. There is no intent for embryo transfer during this cycle.
10. Dropped cycle – A surrogate may be taking all medications and planning on transferring an embryo at the conclusion of the cycle, but the transfer is canceled. This may happen for a variety of reasons. The egg donor or intended mother could be having an adverse reaction to the medication, a mistake in the protocol or the quality of eggs is not high enough. Changes may be made to the original course of action and try again in about a month.
11. Pre-birth order – This document establishes that the intended parents will be the legal parents of the baby once it is born. It also requires the hospital to list the intended parents on the birth certificate and allows the child to be discharged to the intended parents.
12. Post-birth order – While there is no genetic link between the surrogate and the child, she is considered the mother since she was the one who gave birth.
13. Ultrasound – A medical test that uses sound waves to view images of the reproductive organs.
14. Embryo – Unborn offspring in the early stages of development. This is about the second to the eighth week after fertilization.
15. Embryo transfer – Putting one or more embryos into the uterine cavity of another woman.
16. Medical screening – The step in the process when the potential surrogate must visit a fertility specialist to confirm that they are physically fit to become pregnant. During this procedure, they will screen both personal and sexual history, lab test blood and urine and undergo an overall examination.
17. Lupron – This medication prevents natural ovulation, so the ovaries do not release any eggs.
18. Progesterone – This is used to not only thicken the lining of the uterus but also to prevent the surrogate’s body from rejecting the embryo.
19. Prenatal care – Anywhere between the six- and twelve-week mark, once a heartbeat is found, the surrogate may be released to the care of her own OB/GYN.
20. Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) – This procedure may use donor eggs, donor sperm or frozen embryos. It is used to help treat infertility where an egg is mixed with sperm outside of the body and placed back into the woman’s body. IVF is the most common type of ART.
21. Screening requirements – This is a list of requirements that a woman must meet in order to assist her in deciding if surrogacy is the right path for her.
22. Blastocyst – This is an embryo that has developed for 5 to 7 days post-transfer. There are 2 cell types and a cavity in the center filled with fluid. It must reach this phase before being placed in the uterus.
23. Cycle schedule – A list of important appointment dates will be given to you by your doctor or coordinator in regard to your embryo transfer.
24. Hysteroscopy – A technique used to look inside the uterus to make sure there are no abnormalities.
Every surrogate mother's journey will be unique in her own way. Assisting her intended parents will be a life-changing experience. Giving the gift of life is unparalleled to anything else for a family in need.