Traditional vs. Gestational Surrogacy

Which Type of Surrogacy Might Be the Best Fit for You

What's the difference between gestational and traditional surrogacy? Which one should you choose? Learn more about traditional vs. gestational surrogacy, the pros and cons, and how to choose which is right for you.

Traditional and gestational surrogacy methods have a lot in common. Both rely on a surrogate to carry and deliver the baby, and both use some form of in vitro fertilization or artificial insemination. Surrogacy in either form is a complicated process that involves many professionals and complex legal, medical and emotional steps. But there are also many differences when it comes to traditional vs. gestational surrogacy. Here’s what you should know about these two different types of surrogacy, and the important similarities and distinctions between them:

Understanding the Main Difference between Gestational and Traditional Surrogacy

A common question asked by those who are learning about surrogacy is: “What is the difference between a gestational pregnancy and surrogacy?”

The answer is simple: gestational surrogacy (sometimes simply called “gestational pregnancy”) and traditional surrogacy both use a surrogate to carry the baby to term. However, in traditional surrogacy, the surrogate’s egg is used, which means she’s the biological mother of the baby she carries. In gestational surrogacy, the surrogate has no biological tie to the baby — an egg from a donor or an intended mother is used instead.

Again, both forms of surrogacy are achieved using medical technology in a lab — either IVF or a form of artificial insemination. Surrogate mothers will either be the biological mothers of the babies, or not, and that’s the biggest difference between traditional surrogacy and gestational surrogacy.

Not sure which type of surrogacy is right for you? If you’re thinking about becoming a surrogate (either gestational or traditional) or you’re a hopeful intended parent, understanding the pros and cons of gestational surrogacy vs. traditional surrogate methods may help you make a decision.

The Pros and Cons of Traditional Surrogacy

Here’s what you should know if you’re considering traditional surrogacy, either as a potential surrogate or as an intended parent:


  • In general, traditional surrogacy may be less expensive than gestational surrogacy because the intended parents won’t need the additional medical step of egg retrieval or finding an egg donor — their surrogate provides the egg.
  • Intended mothers won’t need to experience any medical procedures because their eggs won’t need to be retrieved in traditional surrogacy situations.


  • Some states prohibit the practice of traditional surrogacy.
  • Because a traditional surrogate is the biological mother of the baby, she has legal parental rights and the ability to change her mind and keep her baby.
  • Intended parents will often need to complete a post-birth adoption with the consent of the traditional surrogate in order to gain custody of her biological baby. Traditional surrogates are legally within their rights to change their mind and decline to consent, if they wish.
  • Intended mothers are unable to be biologically related to the baby in traditional surrogacy.
  • Most surrogacy agencies and clinics will not complete a traditional surrogacy, due to the increased legal and emotional risks involved. American Surrogacy will not complete traditional surrogacies.

There are a lot of challenges to face in traditional surrogacy, but it’s still practiced by some people in certain situations. Although American Surrogacy will not complete traditional surrogacies, it’s up to you to decide if pursuing this type of surrogacy independently is right for you.

Who is Traditional Surrogacy the Best Fit for?

Because in traditional surrogacy, the surrogate doubles as the egg donor, traditional surrogacy is most commonly used by:

  • Single men
  • Same-sex male couples
  • Intended mothers who are unable to produce healthy eggs

Traditional surrogacy is usually chosen by surrogacy partners who are already close friends or relatives, as the surrogate will be the biological mother of the baby. Working with someone you know as your surrogacy partner can bring its own challenges, but can also be beneficial for some.

Intended parents and surrogates should only choose traditional surrogacy if they feel comfortable navigating the process and coordinating with the various required professionals on their own, since most surrogacy professionals can’t help with this type of surrogacy.

The Pros and Cons of Gestational Surrogacy

Here are some important considerations about gestational surrogacy for potential surrogates and intended parents:


  • Gestational surrogates aren’t biologically related to the baby they carry for the intended parents, so it’s less emotionally and legally complicated.
  • Intended parents have the opportunity to share a genetic link to their child through gestational surrogacy. For example, if the intended parents are a heterosexual couple and both parents have viable gametes but are unable to carry the baby, they could both genetically contribute to their embryos, while their gestational surrogate carries and delivers their baby.
  • Many states rule in favor of gestational surrogacy, and will often grant pre-birth parentage orders, so there’s no need for post-birth legal measure to ensure the legal parental rights of the intended parents.
  • Because the gestational surrogate is not the biological mother of the baby, she won’t need to consent to an adoption like she would in many traditional surrogacy situations.


  • Gestational surrogacy can be more expensive.
  • There is an additional step of either harvesting eggs from an intended mother or working with an egg donor, because the gestational surrogate does not use her own eggs and is not the biological mother of the baby she carries.

Gestational surrogacy is the more common method of surrogacy when comparing traditional vs. gestational surrogacy, and is widely accepted and practiced by surrogacy professionals, including American Surrogacy.

Who is Gestational Surrogacy the Best Fit for?

Gestational surrogacy allows intended parents the opportunity to have a genetic connection to their child, when possible. This type of surrogacy is often chosen by:

  • Couples who have viable gametes and would like to be genetically related to their child, but who are unable to carry a baby
  • Couples who don’t have viable egg and/or sperm but work with a gamete donor alongside their gestational surrogate
  • Same-sex couples
  • Single parents
  • Any intended parent who wants a professional surrogacy program like American Surrogacy to guide them through every step of the process

Final Thoughts

Although the surrogate’s biological connection to the baby is the one key difference when you’re examining traditional surrogacy vs. gestational surrogacy, that difference will affect much of the process, including the laws, the emotional implications and more for the surrogate and the intended parents. Only you can decide which type of surrogacy is right for you.

While American Surrogacy can only help gestational surrogates and intended parents who are completing the gestational surrogacy process, we’re happy to answer any questions you might have about becoming a gestational vs. traditional surrogate or about partnering with a gestational carrier vs. surrogacy with a traditional surrogate. Contact us now at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) for more information.