The surrogate is the woman who carries and gives birth to the child for the intended parents or commissioning couple. IVF treatment is usually required to create the embryos for transfer to the surrogate’s womb unless the surrogate is using her own eggs and artificial insemination. Surrogacy may be appropriate if you have a medical condition that makes it impossible or dangerous to get pregnant and to give birth.
The type of medical conditions that might make surrogacy necessary for you include:
- absence or malformation of the womb
- recurrent pregnancy loss
- repeated in vitro fertilisation (IVF) implantation failures
- medical conditions that would make a pregnancy a life threatening situation
Full surrogacy (also known as Host or Gestational) involves the implantation of an embryo created using either:
- embryos created using the eggs and sperm of the commissioning couple
- embryos created using donated eggs fertilised with sperm from the male commissioner
- embryos created using donor sperm and eggs of female commissioner
- embryos created using donated sperm and eggs
Partial surrogacy (also known Straight or Traditional) involves sperm from the male commissioner and an egg from the surrogate. The fertilisation is usually done by artificial insemination or intrauterine insemination (IUI).
A surrogate must be:
- over 21 years old, ideally not older than 42 years old,
- in good health with a normal body mass index (BMI) i.e. less than 35,
- no previous health or pregnancy problems.
Ideally the surrogate would have completed her family and have the support of her partner (if in a relationship). The surrogate and her partner, where applicable, must fully and carefully consider all aspects of treatment including emotional, medical, legal and practical matters. A mandatory counselling session is required to fully consider these matters before treatment.
Commercial surrogacy is illegal in the UK. Surrogates can only be reimbursed by the commissioning couple for reasonable expenses.
Surrogacy involves complicated legal issues and we recommend that you seek your own legal advice before making any decisions. It is important to know that surrogacy arrangements are unenforceable in the UK.
Surrogacy is legal in the United Kingdom but there are restrictions regarding advertising and payments. It is also only permitted if one or both of the commissioning parents is domiciled in the UK, Channel Isles or Isle of Man.
Legally, commissioning applicants must be either:
- husband and wife, or
- civil partners, or
- two people living as partners in an enduring family relationship.
Please note: Your relationship must not be one that is prohibited by the Marriage Act 1949 or the Civil Partnership Act 2004.