A gestational carrier is someone who carries a pregnancy that is not biologically their own, but is providing a healthy environment for an embryo to grow and develop until they reach full term. A gestational carrier is different than a surrogate, as a traditional surrogate uses their own egg and carries the pregnancy. A gestational carrier is commonly used in cases where women may have experienced recurrent pregnancy loss, had to have their uterus surgically removed, or for male same sex couples.
Gestational carriers can be used in cases where the intended mother is using her own egg or a donor egg, if medically necessary. Same sex male couples can also utilize a gestational carrier and an egg donor to create an embryo that is fertilized with the sperm of one or both male partner(s).
Unlike using a gestational carrier, traditional surrogacy is when the woman who is carrying a pregnancy for the intended parents has a genetic tie to the child (becomes pregnant with her own egg) most commonly via an IUI.
Due to the necessary complicated legal arrangements and more complex psycho-social interactions, this form of third party reproduction very rarely performed in the United States.