The difference between Gestational and Traditional Surrogacy

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When it comes to surrogacy in Canada, there are two types most commonly used: “Traditional” and “Gestational.” Traditional surrogacy is rarely done in Canada, as the legal parameters in Canada aren’t clear.  When clients choose Traditional Surrogacy, it is done via artificial insemination, with the surrogate using her egg and another man’s sperm. Gestational surrogacy is done via In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), where fertilized eggs from another woman are implanted into the surrogate’s uterus.  When intended parents are choosing which route to take, it is one of the most important and earliest decisions necessary.

Traditional surrogacy used to be the only way for a couple to use a surrogate, and is still used by many people in the US, as the laws are more clear in many States.  Artificial insemination is easy, pretty painless, and significantly less expensive than IVF, a selling point for many intended parents. There is a high success rate when working with a surrogate with proven fertility, and the rebound time after a failed attempt can be as early as a few weeks.

Generally, Traditional surrogates do not have to be on any special medications. The inseminations are scheduled around when they would naturally ovulate.  In some cases, intended parents and their surrogate will choose to use mild fertility drugs, such as Clomid, to fine-tune the timing of ovulation or increase the chances of a multiple pregnancy.

To many, the downside of Traditional surrogacy is the genetic link between the surrogate and the baby she is carrying. Many Gestational surrogates say they cannot imagine being able to relinquish a child that they are genetically related to, or they don’t feel comfortable with their children having half siblings, who they are not connected to within a family structure.

Gestational surrogacy is a much more expensive and complex medical process; however, there is one thing it offers that many intended parents can’t pass up: the chance to parent a child that is genetically their own. Through IVF, a surrogate can carry embryos that have been created from the eggs of the baby’s intended mother and sperm of his intended father. In cases where the intended parents can’t produce the necessary sperm or eggs, a donor may also be used.

The transfer of the embryos itself is often described by surrogates as startlingly quick and easy; it’s the process of getting ready for that transfer and the weeks after that require heavy medical intervention. The most common protocol involves months of daily injections for the surrogate. First, birth control pills and shots of hormones to control and suppress her own ovulatory cycle, then shots (or skin patches) of estrogen to build her uterine lining (as the other drugs will prevent this), then continuing after the transfer, daily injections of Progesterone until her body catches up to the idea it’s pregnant and can sustain the pregnancy on its own

. If the surrogate will be transferring frozen embryos, she may be able to avoid some of the suppression medication necessary before the transfer. Whether delivered by injection or in alternate forms, these medications often have significant side effects the surrogate must be aware of, including menopause like symptoms.

Gestational surrogacy is an expensive process, with each IVF cycle costing tens of thousands of dollars. In the case of a failed embryo transfer, there is often a wait of several months before one can attempt another transfer, and there is a higher miscarriage rate among pregnancies through IVF. The legal procedures associated with gestational surrogacy and lack of a genetic connection to the Surrogate, however, are often strong selling points for intended parents who choose this route.

In CFC’s Surrogacy programs we offer guidance, and support to all of our clients, whether pursuing Traditional, or Gestational Surrogacy. We work with industry professionals who also support both types of surrogacy- whether Fertility clinics, Legal professionals, or Psychologists.

For further information on Gestational and Traditional Surrogacy, or to learn more about our programs and services, please email us at info@fertilityconsultants.ca Or, call us at 613 439 8701