If you’re considering becoming a surrogate to help hopeful parents grow their families, you probably have a lot of questions about how to get started—and whether you’re a good candidate for surrogacy in the first place.
Although the requirements may seem strict, they’re in place to protect both the potential surrogate and the intended parent(s), helping ensure the safety, security, and well-being of all involved.
Below are five common reasons women cannot serve as surrogates.
- Being under age 21 or over age 38
While specific guidelines can vary from clinic to clinic, typically women younger than 21 or older than 38 are not permitted to serve as surrogates. These ages are outside the optimal range of childbearing and carry some risk of health complications for both the baby and the surrogate. Childbearing when outside the optimal age range also typically results in a longer recovery period for the surrogate. Check with your chosen clinic to confirm their age requirements.
- Being HIV-positive
Despite the great advances made in HIV treatment and prevention over the years, women who are HIV-positive are not permitted to serve as surrogates. This prevents the risk of HIV being transferred to a fetus during pregnancy or to the baby during childbirth.
- Never having birthed a child in the past
Most clinics stipulate that potential surrogates must have carried to term at least one child whom they are currently raising. This allows clinics to review surrogates’ prenatal and delivery records, allowing doctors to confirm that no health complications—for either the surrogate or their children—have arisen in the past. Issues during previous pregnancies can indicate that similar problems may occur with subsequent pregnancies.
This qualification also helps protect the emotional well-being of the surrogate; pregnancy and childbirth can be emotionally draining and stressful, so clinics want to ensure that potential surrogates know what to expect to a certain degree and will be more prepared for the unique challenges of surrogacy.
- Living in certain regions
Surrogacy laws are not federally mandated, so regulations can vary from state to state—and even from county to county within the same state. Some states, such as New York and Michigan, have bans on any kind of surrogacy contracts. Other states, such as Arizona and Tennessee, allow it but may require much more complex legal processes or may have unclear laws that pose obstacles along the way. Still other states, such as California and Connecticut, are surrogacy friendly, which means they have statutes officially recognizing surrogacy or have historically ruled in favor of proposed surrogacy arrangements.
Do some research before you dive too deeply to ensure you understand what your state allows, and ask nearby clinics for further information.
- Not meeting certain lifestyle requirements
Women who smoke or live in a smoking household don’t qualify to be a surrogate. Some clinics, including Fertility Source Companies (FSC), have a specific time frame for this requirement; at FSC, they must be smoke-free for at least six months to be considered a surrogacy candidate. Illegal drug users also are disqualified.
Finally, having a body mass index (BMI) over a certain threshold can also be a disqualification. Most clinics won’t consider women with a BMI over 35. Different clinics will have different limits—some set it at 33, for example, while others set it at 30.
To learn more about becoming a surrogate or to set up a consultation with a specialist, reach out to Fertility Source Companies today. We’re on hand to answer any questions you have.