The disadvantages of surrogacy

Updated November 21, 2016

A surrogate is a woman who carries a baby for a couple who cannot have a child of their own. Traditional surrogacy occurs when a woman is the biological mother of the child she is carrying. She does not undergo injections or require other medications that are needed by a gestational carrier, who is not the biological mother of the baby. A traditional surrogate must be agreeable to giving up her biological child. A traditional surrogate is often chosen by a couple based on her physical appearance, as well as her medical history, which do not come into play in a gestational match. A gestational carrier is not biologically related to the infant that she is carrying. She is carrying someone else's biological child. If the "intended" mother cannot produce eggs of her own, a donor egg can be used and fertilised by the intended father's sperm. Once the egg is fertilised, it is placed in the surrogate's womb. Surrogacy is an option for those couples unable to conceive. However, there are some disadvantages.

Psychological and Ensuing Legal Issues

It is possible that the surrogate will experience grief and psychological problems when it comes time to hand over the child she has carried and delivered. This could potentially put the "parents" in a difficult situation. Legal issues can rise. Going the surrogacy route may turn out to be complicated legally. An attorney who specialises in surrogacy should be involved in the process to advise the parties of how to proceed, what to expect and possible problems. Contracts are drawn up and, hopefully, not breached.

Differences of Opinions and Control

The intended parents do not have full control over how the surrogate's pregnancy is managed. The surrogate may not want to undergo certain tests or may prefer a birthing plan that is different from what the intended parents want. Furthermore, there is no way that the intended couple can monitor the surrogate's behaviour 24/7. If she opts to drink, smoke or do drugs, despite agreeing not to as part of the contract, there isn't much the intended parents can do, especially if they aren't aware of it.


Surrogacy doesn't come cheaply. Some couples simply cannot afford to go this route, which entails paying for IVF, doctor's visits and testing. The couple may also be required to pay travel costs for the surrogate, as well as a fee to the surrogate and sometimes to an agency.


A surrogate must agree not to have intercourse with anyone between the first day of her menstrual cycle before the embryo transfer until the day that her pregnancy is confirmed. The surrogate's partner must agree not to engage in any activity with her that could introduce his sperm into the surrogate's body. There is always the possibility that the surrogate will not abide by this and the pregnancy that does result is her partner's child and not the child of the intended father.

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About the Author

Cindi Pearce is a graduate of Ohio University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in journalism. She completed both the undergraduate and graduate courses offered by the Institute of Children’s Literature. Pearce has been writing professionally for over 30 years.