Surrogacy Terminology 101


The world we live in is full of abbreviations- everything from “LOL” to “EVOO” has its own special acronym. While many of these phrases have become familiar in everyday life, surrogacy has its own unique dictionary of common terms used throughout the journey.

The list below is some of the most frequently used terms you’re likely to come across, whether you’re just starting to research surrogacy or are already underway on your journey. We at ConceiveAbilities are here to help make sure you stay educated on using the correct surrogacy terminology.

ART: Assisted Reproductive Technology
Assisted Reproductive Technology refers to procedures which involve removing eggs surgically from the ovaries to combine them with sperm, then transferring the fertilized egg(s) back to the carrier for implantation. ART doesn’t include fertility treatments that only involve the retrieval of sperm- for example, Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) would not fall into the category of ART since the egg is never retrieved. In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is a form of ART, as is the process of egg donation and an ensuing Embryo Transfer [ET].

BETA: Blood Test to Determine Pregnancy
A BETA test detects human chorionic gonadoptrin (HCG), a hormone produced during pregnancy. This hormone change is usually detectable around the time of the first missed period, and a BETA test is a more reliable measure of HCG than a Home Pregnancy Test (HPT) which typically uses urine to detect the hormone. HCG levels can also be tested throughout pregnancy to check on progress and how the baby is developing.

CD: Cycle Day
Cycle Day refers to the day of your cycle, so CD1 means the first day of your cycle. CDs are tracked to take the right steps at the right time for the highest chances of a successful pregnancy. For example, there are certain medications that should be administered at specific times of the cycle, and procedures like Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) that need to align with ovulation.

ED: Egg Donor
An Egg Donor is a woman who gives her eggs to another woman in order for her to have a baby. Egg Donors must meet strict health requirements and have availability to be a part of the donor pool for six months, among other qualifications. EDs are compensated for their Donor Eggs, or DEs. While many people may refer to egg donation as "selling eggs," most of our donors share that their choice to donate is also driven by a desire to help others who may be struggling with fertility to build a family. For Egg Donors, it’s about much more than money- it’s the fulfillment of helping another family have a healthy baby, and their willing commitment to their own journey to help other families on their paths.

ET: Embryo Transfer
The Embryo Transfer is the final step in In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) when the fertilized egg(s), or embryo(s), are placed into the uterus for implantation and ideally lead to conception. There are very few risks associated with ET, and it’s widely recognized as the simplest part of the IVF process. Your doctor will likely recommend that you take certain medications around the time of the ET procedure to help increase the chances of pregnancy.

GC: Gestational Carrier
Gestational Carriers are the amazing women who carry the baby (or babies!) for the Intended Parents. Gestational Carrier is sometimes used synonymously with “Gestational Surrogate” or “Surrogate.” GCs must meet specific requirements and undergo a thorough evaluation process to make sure the pregnancy will be healthy and safe- a healthy baby and pregnancy is our top priority. While GCs are compensated, their role goes above and beyond what some may see as simply hiring a surrogate to do the job of carrying a baby. The majority of our GCs tell us they feel a calling to help another family have a baby, and being a surrogate is a deeply fulfilling experience for them. Far from a simple surrogate hiring process, our Matching Matters process focuses on getting a perfect match between GCs and their IPs. They often develop lifelong relationships and sometimes even embark on a sibling journey together, with the full support of their team at ConceiveAbilities every step of the way.

HPT: Home Pregnancy Test
A Home Pregnancy Test is just what it sounds like. There are several varieties of HPT to use as an initial indicator of pregnancy. In surrogacy, it’s important to use this term to identify that a positive or negative result is from a HPT so that the right steps can be taken to confirm the pregnancy with a BETA test.

IP: Intended Parent(s)
Intended Parents refer to the couple or individual who have made the decision to build their family through surrogacy. You might also see Intended Fathers referred to as IFs, and Intended Mothers abbreviated as IMs. IPs are as unique as their reasons are for choosing surrogacy, and we are so grateful that they trust ConceiveAbilities to support them through their journey.

IUI: Intrauterine Insemination
Intrauterine Insemination is a less expensive and simpler fertility treatment than In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) which aims to give the sperm a greater chance of reaching and fertilizing the egg. Sperm is placed in the uterus around the time of ovulation, which gives a higher likelihood of conception particularly for couples who are working against low sperm count or mobility. Success rates of IUI vary- factors like age, the reason for infertility and how other fertility drugs are used during IUI can impact its effectiveness.

IVF: In Vitro Fertilization
In Vitro Fertilization is an Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART). IVF is the term for the full process of extracting eggs and combining them with a sperm sample in a laboratory dish, then implanting the embryo after fertilization into the uterus through Embryo Transfer (ET). You can see why it’s commonly referred to as just IVF! Technical procedures aside, IVF provides families who may be struggling with fertility issues with another path to have a child.

RE: Reproductive Endocrinologist
Simply put, Reproductive Endocrinologists are experts in fertility and infertility. They have been specially trained in fertility treatments like In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), egg freezing and other procedures included in Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART). ConceiveAbilities is proud to work with these fertility specialists to ensure you receive the utmost level of care and expertise throughout your journey.

Understanding the unique language of surrogacy is a great place to start if you are considering surrogacy as part of your path. If you’re looking to understand even more about how surrogacy can play a role in your life, reach out and contact us- we are here to help.

By Bridget McFail