Glossary of Surrogacy Terms

Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) - A variety of procedures used to bring about conception without sexual intercourse, including in vitro fertilization (IVF) and gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT).

Blastocyst transfer - Embryos develop for 4 or 5 days (until they reach blastocyst stage) rather than the usual 2 or 3 days in IVF.

Egg analysis and FDA testing - In certain cases a woman may not be able to carry a child but may be able to use her own eggs.  If this is the case, the intended mother will need to be tested for infectious diseases before her eggs can be transferred to the surrogate.

Egg retrieval - A procedure used to obtain eggs from ovarian follicles for use in in vitro fertilization.  The procedure may be performed during laparoscopy or through the vagina by using a needle and ultrasound to locate the follicle in the ovary.

Embryo transfer - Placing an egg fertilized outside the womb into a woman's uterus or fallopian tube.

Embryo - Term used to describe the early stages of fetal growth, from conception to the eighth week of pregnancy.

Endometrium - The lining of the uterus.  Mucus membrane lining the uterus.

Escrow account - A financial account the intended parent establishes to disperse funds that will be used to pay surrogacy expenses.  The surrogacy agency will tell the escrow agency how much is to be distributed according to the contract that is drawn up (by a fertility attorney) between a surrogate and the intended parents.

Estradiol - The most potent, naturally-occurring estrogen in humans which is released from the ovary.

Estrogen - A hormone naturally produced in the body that controls the course of the menstrual cycle.  Estrogen is used in IVF to thicken the lining of the gestational carrier's uterus so that the transferred embryos will adhere to the uterine lining.

Fertility attorney - An attorney with experience in third-party fertility contracts and parental establishment procedures.  This is a specialized area of law.

Fertility Specialist - A physician specializing in the practice of fertility.  The American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology certifies a subspecialty for OB-GYNs who receive extra training in reproductive endocrinology (the study of hormones) and infertility.

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) - The hormone produced in early pregnancy, released by the placenta after implantation, that keeps the corpus luteum producing estradiol and progesterone and thus prevent menstruation.

Implantation (Embryo) - The embedding of the embryo into tissue so it can establish contact with the mother's blood supply for nourishment.  Implantation usually occurs in the lining of the uterus; however, in an ectopic pregnancy it may occur elsewhere in the body.

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) - Eggs produced by administering fertility drugs are retrieved from a woman's body and fertilized by sperm in a laboratory.  The resulting embryos are transferred by catheter to the uterus.

Infertility - The inability to conceive after a year of unprotected intercourse (six months if a woman is over age 35) or the inability of the woman to carry a pregnancy to live birth.

Intramuscular (IM) needle - A needle designed to administer medication deep into the muscle.  Injections of this type are usually given in the thigh or upper buttock area.

IP - Intended parent.  This is the person or persons who are in need of a surrogate in order to form their family.

Legal clearance - This is a document your fertility clinic will require prior to the start of medical treatment for a surrogate.  This will be issued directly to the medical facility by the attorneys involved once the contracts have been signed by all parties.

Lupron - Used to stop production of FSH and LH from the pituitary gland to temporally quiet the ovaries so that they do not release any eggs; primarily used to synchronize two women’s cycles during IVF for either an egg donation cycle or gestational carrier cycle.

Menstruation - Shedding of the uterine lining by bleeding, which (in the absence of pregnancy) normally occurs about once a month in the mature female.

Mock cycle - Many REs require surrogate candidates to complete a mock cycle before being medically cleared as a surrogate.  This usually takes just a few weeks.  The surrogate will take hormones as though she was getting ready for an embryo transfer.

Oocyte - The egg.

Ovulation - The release of the egg (ovum) from the ovarian follicle.

Ovulation Induction (OI) - Medical treatment performed to initiate ovulation.

Ovum - The egg.

Pituitary gland - The gland located at the base of the brain that secretes a number of important hormones that regulate fertility as well as normal growth and development of the body.

Parent profile - Each surrogacy agency has a parent profile.  The profile will help the surrogate get to know the intended parent and to make sure that you are compatible.

Pre-birth order - A court document filed by the intended parent's attorney with the court prior to the birth of their child to ensure that their names will appear on the birth certificate, rather than the surrogate's, declaring the intended parents as the legal parents of the child you have carried on their behalf.

Post-birth order - The surrogate’s name appears on the birth certificate as the birth mother even if she is not genetically related to the child.  She is automatically considered the mother because she is the one who gave birth.  Therefore, a few days after the birth of the child, the intended parent's attorney will file an adoption order establishing them as the legal parents of their child.  At that time, a new birth certificate is issued with the name of intended parents.

Progesterone - The hormone produced by the corpus luteum during the second half of a woman's cycle.  It thickens the lining of the uterus to prepare it to accept implantation of a fertilized egg.  It is also used to keep the gestational carrier’s body from rejecting the couple's embryos.

Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) - A physician with advanced education, research, and professional skills in reproductive endocrinology and infertility.  These highly trained and qualified physicians treat reproductive disorders that affect infertility in both men and women and who will evaluate your ability to carry a child as a surrogate.

Sharps Disposal Bin (Safety Container) - A container used for the disposal of needles and other medical waste.

Subcutaneous (SC) Injection - Administration of medication with a fine small needle just below the surface of the skin, into fatty tissue.

Subcutaneous (SC) Needle - A needle designed to administer medication just below the surface of the skin, into the fatty tissue.

Surrogacy Agency - A surrogacy agency is an important part of this process, acting as a liaison between you and the intended parents, as well as between you, the clinic, and the hospital.  The agency will coordinate your match with IPs, medical evaluations, legal agreement, compensation, and handle all your travel arrangements.  They are there to answer your questions and provide you support through your journey.

Ultrasound - A test used instead of X-rays to visualize the reproductive organs, for example, to monitor follicular development.

Uterus - Hollow muscular organ where the fetus grows until birth.

Vagina - Muscular opening in a woman extending from the vulva to the cervix of the uterus.

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