Using a Gestational Carrier

The job of a gestational carrier is to carry a pregnancy for another woman or couple through to delivery. Using a gestational carrier may be an option for a woman who does not have a uterus or who has a medical condition that prevents her from safely carrying a pregnancy.


Role of the Gestational Carrier

A gestational carrier, sometimes called a gestational surrogate, is a woman who carries a child for another individual or couple wishing to become a parent(s).  However, the gestational carrier does NOT supply the eggs, therefore, there is no genetic link between the gestational carrier and the baby.

In gestational surrogacy, the eggs are taken from either the intended mother or an egg donor and implanted into the gestational carrier using in vitro fertilization (IVF). During this process, the eggs are fertilized in the lab and a select number transferred into the uterus of the gestational surrogate.


Selecting a Gestational Carrier

Hopeful couples often locate a gestational carrier through an agencyspecializing in this type of arrangement. Fertility specialists can also provide information and guidance on how to go about finding a suitable gestational carrier. Less commonly, couples opt for a known gestational carrier, such as a family member or friend.

The ideal gestational carrier should meet the following requirements:



All potential gestational surrogates are required to undergo a medical history and physical evaluation. The work-up includes a screening for sexually transmitted diseases. It is also advisable that gestational carriers meet with a mental health professional and undergo psychological testing, if recommended.


Potential Parent’s Responsibility when Using a Gestational Carrier

Prior to IVF, a fertility specialist will conduct a medical history and physical on potential parentsalong with genetic disease testing. Like the gestational carrier, the couple should also be screened for sexually transmitted diseases. The FDA requires this testing be done within 30 days of egg retrieval and within 7 days of sperm donation.

A mental health evaluation of potential parents is not required but is recommended. Particular care should be taken to rule out any unresolved addictions, mental health issues and history of abuse.

This evaluation also offers couples an opportunity to address any concerns or conflicts that could impact the gestational carrier arrangement.


Legal Considerations when Using a Gestational Carrier

Gestational carrier laws vary from state-to-state; therefore, it is a good idea to seek legal representation in the state where the parties reside and where the birth is scheduled to take place.

A legal contract should be drafted covering the following issues:



Whether potential parents opt to use a known gestational carrier or one contracted through an agency, it is vital that a legal contract be in place to protect the rights of all parties.

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