Starting out or even researching the process of surrogacy might seem intimidating as you come across a sea of jargon you have absolutely no clue about. Studying and getting acquainted with each and every step of the process can be time-consuming which is why we compiled this list of some of the most commonly used terminology in the third party reproduction space.
1. Carrier or Surrogate
These terms are often used interchangeably. A carrier or surrogate is the woman who consents to carry a surrogate pregnancy for a couple or individual who cannot have kids on their own due to various reasons. The term surrogate or carrier can be further classified into two categories: a. Traditional Surrogate Traditional surrogacy actually dates back to Biblical times when Abraham and Sarah could not conceive naturally on their own so Sarah's servant Hagar carried the couple's child for them. Although Hagar was the birth mother, the child belonged to Sarah and Abraham, setting the very first example of traditional surrogacy.
b. Gestational Surrogate Gestational surrogacy has definitely come a long way since the birth of the first surrogate child in 1985 birthed by a surrogate genetically unlinked to the child. The intended mother's fallopian tubes had been damaged due to a childhood disease leading to the intended parents to seek the option of assisted reproduction. In gestational surrogacy, the carrier or surrogate has no biological/genetic connection to the unborn child and she merely carries the pregnancy to term using either the intended mother's eggs or donor eggs.
2. Intended Parents
Intended parents could be either a heterosexual couple battling infertility or a set of gay/lesbian parents who cannot biologically conceive on their own.
3. Egg Donor and donor eggs
Infertility can exist due to a multitude of factors, one of the most common ones is poor egg quality. In cases where the intended mother is of old maternal age or has a poor ovarian reserve regardless of age, the option of using donor eggs opens up a host of possibilities for having a baby who is biologically related to the at least one intended parent, that is, the intended father. Using the male partner's sperm and donor eggs, an embryo is created which can be implanted in either the intended mother or a surrogate's uterus. Egg donors are young females who consent to donate their eggs for use in the IVF process for childless families.
4. Sperm donor and donor sperm
Male factor infertility is caused by problems with sperm count and quality. Sperm banks are facilities that store donor sperm which can be accessed by families looking to have children via assisted reproduction. Unlike egg donation though, sperm donors don't have to belong to a particular age bracket and the process of sperm donation is also much less comprehensive than egg donation requiring no invasive procedures.
5. Egg donation
Egg donors are compassionate, selfless individuals who bank their eggs knowing that women are born with a finite number of eggs and that their quality and count decreases with time. Egg donation itself is a relatively lengthy process requiring the donor to receive hormone injections for ovarian stimulation. Ovarian stimulation is needed for the ovaries to produce an unusually large amount of eggs, which in some cases might have mild to medium side effects as well.
6. Egg retrieval
Following ovarian stimulation, mature eggs are retrieved using a fine needle attached to a catheter through the vaginal wall. It is typically an outpatient procedure lasting about 15 minutes mostly administered using local anesthesia however, it is advised to take rest on the day following your egg retrieval.
7. Embryo transfer
Once an embryo is successfully created in a laboratory setting, it is then transferred to the intended mother or gestational surrogate's uterus. A successful IVF cycle begins once the embryo sticks to the intrauterine wall resulting in a pregnancy,
8. Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET)
A frozen embryo transfer or FET is a process characterized by the transfer of a previously frozen embryo to a uterus. FET is an increasingly common practice in IVF as lots of women decide to freeze their eggs (cryopreservation) in order to utilize their fertility window even if they are not ready to have kids as yet. Cryopreservation essentially helps in preserving your fertility if you plan on having kids later on in future.
9. Pre-birth Order (PBO)
A pre-birth order or PBO is a court issued order acquired before the birth of a surrogate child. It enables the IPs to have their names listed as the legal parents of the child on the birth certificate and be at the hospital for the birth of their child.
10. Post-birth Order
A post-birth order alternatively is acquired after the birth of a surrogate child. It serves the same purpose of establishing legal parenthood for the Intended Parents following the birth of their child.