A surrogate is a woman who carries a child on behalf of an infertile person or couple, who are usually referred to as the “intended parents”. The intended parents must have a documented medical need to work with a surrogate, such as lack of a uterus or other medical conditions that would prevent the intended mother from getting pregnant or maintaining a pregnancy. The ideal surrogate is a relatively young woman who has previously carried a pregnancy without complications and does not have any habits (e.g., smoking, alcohol, drug use) or medical disorders (e.g., diabetes) that could risk her health or the health of the fetus during a pregnancy. Surrogates are also called “gestational carriers” or “gestational mothers.”

There are two different types of surrogacy. The first is often known as “traditional” surrogacy. In a traditional arrangement, the surrogate donates her egg and is usually artificially inseminated with the intended father’s sperm. The most common type of surrogacy for many years, traditional surrogacy is seldom seen today because the surrogate must surrender her own biological child.

The second type is known as “gestational” surrogacy. In a gestational surrogacy arrangement, the intended parents create their own embryos through an IVF process, and one or two of the resulting embryos are transferred to the surrogate’s uterus. With gestational surrogacy, the surrogate has no biological relationship to the child she is carrying.

SSA only provides gestational surrogacy arrangements. An SSA surrogate will never be asked to carry her own biological child.