Surrogacy is a way of helping a couple to become parents, with the use of a surrogate mother carrying their child through pregnancy, with the intention of handing over that child after birth.

Couples wanting to have a child are often referred to as “Intended Parents” or sometimes the “Commissioning Couple”.

There are two types of surrogacy:

  • Straight surrogacy utilises sperm from the male Intended Parent and the surrogate’s own egg. This may be by home insemination, artificial insemination or by IVF.
  • Gestational surrogacy (also known as host surrogacy) involves carrying an embryo created from the Intended Parents through a cycle of IVF. The resulting child therefore has no genetic relationship to the surrogate carrier. Sometimes a donated egg or donated sperm is used, but one of the Intended Parents must normally be a genetic parent.

Why is Surrogacy sometimes necessary?

  • Some patients are born without a uterus, whereas others may have lost their uterus and or ovaries through treatments for cancer for example.
  • Some women have difficulty carrying a pregnancy to term and experience repeated miscarriages or may be at risk of experiencing severe pregnancy complications.
  • Some couples suffer repeated implantation failure after IVF. Using a gestational carrier may improve the chances of having a baby.
  • Same sex couples who require a host.

How successful is surrogacy?

The success of surrogacy depends on several factors:

  • The ability of the surrogate to get pregnant is very important. Usually surrogates have a good track record of achieving pregnancy. If the surrogate is using her own eggs, her age is usually a good indicator of how fertile she may be.
  • The quality of the donor egg or embryo is probably the most important factor in achieving pregnancy in host surrogacy. In real terms, the younger the biological egg the higher the success rate.
  • In straight surrogacy, the quality of sperm used may also affect pregnancy rates
  • The general success rates of your fertility clinic treatments also influence outcomes.

Who regulates Surrogacy?

Surrogacy in the UK is controlled by the Surrogacy Arrangements Act (1985) and the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act (2008)

What is the process involved for surrogacy?

It is illegal for an IVF provider to advertise for, or recruit, potential surrogates, or to negotiate the terms of a surrogacy arrangement. It is therefore the responsibility of the Intended Parents to establish contact with a potential surrogate which can be facilitated through non-profit making organisations (Surrogacy UK, COTS and Brilliant Beginnings) that act as intermediaries.

All patients who provide eggs, sperm or embryos to be used in surrogacy must be registered as donors and therefore subject to screening tests for viral diseases and genetic conditions that may impact the suitability and success of treatments.

All parties involved in a surrogacy agreement are required to attend mandatory counselling prior to proceeding with treatment. It is expected that the couples involved will be seen separately and together.

What are the risks of surrogacy?

In general terms the risks of surrogacy are comparable to those risks involved in IVF. The risks of transmission of viruses are possible, but with the appropriate screening of individuals this is very unlikely. However, the surrogate will be exposed to the often-unpredictable risks that accompany any pregnancy. Research indicates that older women are more likely than younger women to have pregnancy complications. There is a greater risk of developing medical problems during pregnancy, miscarriage, preterm birth and medical intervention at birth.

What are the legal issues involved?

The legal issues around surrogacy are complicated. Organisations like Surrogacy UK, COTS, Brilliant Beginnings and My Surrogacy Journey (which are helpful surrogacy support organisations) are not able to give legal advice and we advice and require that you seek your own legal advice from a solicitor prior to commencing treatment. Before we undertake treatment at Hewitt Fertility Centre we will require written evidence of:

  • That legal advice has been obtained (Intended Parents and Surrogate)
  • The Surrogate has life insurance and a last will and testament (to ensure the surrogate’s family is protected in case the surrogate dies as a result of fertility treatment, pregnancy or childbirth)
  • An agreement has been drawn up between all parties (although agreements made between Intended Parents and the surrogate are not enforceable in a court of law, it indicates that a meaningful discussion has taken place to consider all scenarios). The Hewitt Fertility Centre and Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust are not responsible or liable for the negotiation or agreement between parties and are not responsible for any ultimate breakdown of the agreement.

The Hewitt Fertility Centre is legally responsible for performing treatments according to best practice and standard operating procedures and as such your treatment is covered by the Trust’s Indemnity policies. However, the Trust is not involved in the construct or enforcement of agreements between parties and not legally liable for any breakdown in these agreements that may negatively impact the treatment outcome.

Who can I contact to discuss surrogacy in more detail?

If surrogacy is a treatment that you may consider, please feel free to make an appointment to discuss this further with one of the doctors or our surrogacy nurse specialist. You can do this by contacting 0151 702 4212 or email to and one of the team will respond. 

Patient Story

Our journey started back in April 2020 just at the start of the covid lockdown. We had 6 weeks in the house just us two and the dog and one evening we sat on the sofa and said, if this is what retirement looks like then it’s not for us! We then questioned why as two men we were not trying for a family of our own via surrogacy. We’re both the heart of our families and bring everybody together so why are we not doing this for ourselves. The reason is that two dads or same sex male parents is not spoken about at all, and we have no idea where to begin!

From here, we started the process with a clinic local to our egg donor and it took us about 9 months to create successful embryos that were then put into frozen storage. We then branched off onto our surrogate journey and left the embryos in storage. The surrogacy journey is an emotional rollercoaster as you’re not legally allowed to ask somebody to be your surrogate, the female must approach the intended parents. We joined Surrogacy UK as we liked their way of friendship first and after about 6 months, we had met somebody who wanted to be our surrogate, without going into too much detail she unfortunately was diagnosed with a condition where she couldn’t be a surrogate. We’ll forever be thankful to her and her family for giving us that hope we needed at that time! Just a couple of weeks after this, one of our close friends come and offered to be our surrogate. Shocked to say the least! But Sarah and her Partner Andy said ‘you’re family to us, so why wouldn’t we help you create a family of your own’… I will always repeat this sentence as this is what Surrogacy is about. People don’t realise what you go through mentally and physically during a surrogacy agreement.

We then came with Sarah as a trio to The Hewitt Fertility Centre where all our worries disappeared. The staff here are so warm, welcoming and always on hand to support you through the challenges of a surrogacy journey. The process we felt was smooth and transitional throughout each step of the way.

32 months after sitting on our sofa and deciding to start the process of creating our own family as two gay men, we had the embryo transfer at the Hewitt Centre and 10 days later got the amazing news that Sarah was pregnant and we were expecting in July 2023.

Without the guidance of The Hewitt Fertility Centre and their team, we would have probably not got to this point! Thank you to everyone.

Sam & David Heath.

Further information and support is available from a range of organisations

Surrogacy UK

Brilliant Beginnings

Donor Conception Network

My Surrogacy Journey