Types of surrogacy
There are two types of surrogacy, ‘straight’ and ‘host’.
Straight (or traditional) surrogacy
Straight surrogacy is the simplest and least expensive form of surrogacy and is also known as artificial insemination. The surrogate uses an insemination kit to become pregnant using the intended father’s semen. The baby will therefore be conceived using the surrogate’s egg.
Some people prefer to use a clinic for inseminations, but it can also happen at home and can therefore seem a more natural and less ‘medical’ way of becoming pregnant than host surrogacy. It can, however, can be harder emotionally for both the surrogate and the intended parents.
Host (or gestational) surrogacy
Host surrogacy is when IVF is used, either with the eggs of the intended mother, or with donor eggs. The surrogate therefore does not use her own eggs, and is genetically unrelated to the baby. It is physically more complicated and considerably more expensive than straight surrogacy, (although many IPs can have some costs covered by the NHS) and always takes place in a fertility clinic.
Some Surrogates prefer this method as they may not be comfortable with using their own eggs in surrogacy.
In essence, there are three stages to ‘host’ surrogacy:
Egg donation: the female IP, or the egg donor, undergo special procedures to extract a number of eggs
Fertilisation: the egg is fertilised with semen in the laborator
Transfer: the fertilised egg is transferred into the womb of the surrogate mother
The fertilised egg can be transferred to the surrogate either ‘fresh’ or after having been de-frosted from egg storage. For a fresh egg transfer the monthly cycles of the surrogate and the egg donor must be synchronised, and this is done using hormone medications. In cases where embryos have been frozen already and the de-frosted embryos are being transferred some IVF clinics will insist on the surrogate taking hormone medications to ‘ready’ her womb lining.