Episode 29 – Education – What is GS and TS
GS = Gestational Surrogate (not the egg of the surrogate)
TS = Traditional Surrogate (using the egg of the surrogate)
This page is part of a series of surrogacy education episodes from Anna. On the main podcast page you will find recent episodes and links to other categories: surrogates, gay dads, straight mums and guest / theme.
Join Anna McKie in conversation with surrogates and parents who have navigated Australian altruistic surrogacy. Anna is a gestational surrogate, high school Math teacher and surrogacy educator working with Surrogacy Australia and running SASS (Surrogacy Australia’s Support Service).
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What is a GS and a TS? GS stands for gestational surrogate, meaning it’s not the egg of the surrogate, and TS is a traditional surrogate, meaning the surrogate does use her own eggs. About 85% of surrogates in Australia are gestational, like I was, and 15% are traditional. There’s actually no national database for surrogacy statistics, but I have done some data gathering over my years in the community.
Currently in 2023, there are about 100 to 120 births in Australia each year, so about 70 to 100 of those women are gestational surrogates. When carrying as a gestational surrogate, you would get pregnant through an IVF clinic when an embryo is inserted into the surrogate. The IVF clinic track her monthly cycle, and the embryo is inserted about five days after the ovulation of her own eggs. An embryo is made up of an egg and sperm.
where the egg gets fertilized and then grown in the lab for about five days to check that the cells are dividing and multiplying correctly, and that then forms a blastocyst. As a gestational surrogate, the egg is provided by either the intended mother or an egg donor, and the sperm provided by either the intended father or a sperm donor, and usually with known donors. If the surrogate is carrying for a hetero couple, it’s usually the egg and sperm from that couple.
If she’s carrying for a gay couple, it’s usually the egg from a donor, usually family or a friend, and then the sperm from one of the dads. When carrying as a traditional surrogate, you would usually get pregnant via home inseminations using the sperm from one of the intended fathers. Some call this the turkey baster method, but it’s actually done using a soft cup like a menstrual cup for the surrogate, as well as lots of laughter and sometimes whine from the team to get through the awkwardness.
Probably worth noting that although it’s called a traditional surrogate, she doesn’t get pregnant the traditional way in a standard hetero couple who don’t need surrogacy, it’s not that traditional. Some, but not many, IVF clinics will facilitate traditional surrogacy. When they do, the surrogate gets pregnant either through egg retrieval from her the surrogate as the egg donor first, or through tracking her cycle for IUI Intrauterine insemination.
Traditional surrogacy teams must still complete the required counseling and legal work prior to pregnancy, otherwise that’s not surrogacy. Traditional surrogates are not more likely to want to keep the baby. The required counseling and legal still need to take place for all parties, and traditional surrogates have no recorded cases of refusing to hand over the baby. This is the perfect opportunity to do a plug for the next episode.
I’ll be joined by Narelle Dickinson, who is a Brisbane-based psychologist who recently conducted research with many surrogates, both gestational and traditional. In Narelle’s research, she basically posed the question, is traditional surrogacy riskier than gestational surrogacy? Spoiler alert, the answer is no. Traditional surrogates are not more likely to want to keep the baby. As a matter of fact, surrogates don’t want to keep the baby regardless if they are gestational or traditional.
Traditional surrogacy also doesn’t bring more conflict between teams, nor greater mental health challenges. It’s all on par with gestational and traditional, they’re all handled in much the same way. So check that out on episode 30. If you’re looking for more guidance on how to navigate surrogacy in Australia, please check out SASS, Surrogacy Australia’s support service, so you can have me as your navigation tool on this journey. Until next time, welcome to the village.
Looking to find a surrogate in Australia? Consider joining SASS.
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Looking to chat with other IPs and surrogates in a casual setting? Join us for a monthly Zoom catch up, one Friday of each month.