A gestational carrier, also known as a "gestational surrogate," is a person who carries and delivers a baby on behalf of a couple having difficulty getting pregnant. This approach can be used for hetero or LGBTQ couples who aren't able to carry a child on their own. Often, it will include in vitro fertilization (IVF) with the mother's or a donor egg, and the father's or donor sperm; then, the resulting embryo will be inserted into the gestational carrier's uterus.
A gestational carrier, sometimes referred to as a gestational surrogate, is a person who carries and delivers a baby on behalf of a couple or individual, known as the intended parent(s).
Today, a gestational carrier is typically impregnated through the use of in vitro fertilization (IVF). In this process, doctors create an embryo by fertilizing eggs from an intended parent or an egg donor with sperm from an intended parent or a sperm donor. Since the gestational carrier does not provide their own egg, they are not biologically related to the child they are carrying and pass no genetic material onto the child.
This is what sets a gestational carrier apart from a traditional surrogate. Typically, traditional surrogates provide their own egg for the pregnancy and are biologically related to the child. The pregnancy may be conceived through insemination or IVF.
Gestational carriers are typically chosen by those who do not have a functioning or suitable uterus, those who have a medical condition that puts them at significant medical risk if they become pregnant, and those who have a history of recurrent miscarriage. Many male same-sex couples also choose gestational carriers to conceive a child.
Fertility centers typically collaborate with an agency to find a suitable gestational carrier for the intended parents, though sometimes a family member or friend may volunteer and meet the medical requirements for the process. The cost associated with gestational carriers varies depending on whether your carrier is a volunteer or a paid surrogate; total costs of the process can exceed $100,000. Using a gestational carrier requires a legal contract from both parties, the intended parents and their carrier.
When both partners in a relationship produce sperm, you will need to decide whose sperm to use to attempt pregnancy with a surrogate. There are many considerations that weigh in this decision, including medical, family, and genetic history as well as fertility. Starting with a semen analysis for both partners is a good first step.