It’s not uncommon for older women who have been through pregnancy and completed their families to want to give back to those intended parents who need assistance to do the same. Sometimes, it’s even a mother or mother-in-law who volunteers to carry her own grandchild!
There are a lot of stories out there about older women serving as gestational carries — which can be confusing when you start researching the basic surrogacy requirements. After all, you’ll find that many professionals require a prospective surrogate to be age 40 or younger.
So, what gives with these older women serving as surrogates? Can you really be a surrogate mother after menopause as these reports would have you believe?
It’s no secret that surrogacy can be a complicated process. The answer to these questions can be complicated, too. That’s why we’ve created this guide to being a surrogate mother after menopause. Below, learn more about whether this path is possible and the risks that surrogates (and intended parents) should consider before moving forward.
However, remember: The information in this article is not intended to be medical advice for your particular situation. If you are asking, “Can a woman in menopause be a surrogate?” we encourage you to reach out to an experienced surrogacy professional. They can give you more information on surrogate health requirements and what may (or may not) be possible in your situation.
Can You Be a Surrogate Mother After Menopause?
There is a lot of conflicting information out there about whether a woman can be a surrogate after menopause. While surrogacy professionals seem to set strict age requirements that rule out postmenopausal women from this process, stories of identified surrogacy with older women continue to get shared and posted across the internet.
Because every surrogacy journey is so unique, the best way to learn whether you can be a surrogate after menopause is by speaking with a surrogacy professional. Your personal and medical background will play a huge role in this decision, as will the opinion of your reproductive endocrinologist.
Generally speaking, however, a woman in menopause cannot be a surrogate mother. Surrogacy professionals frequently set a maximum surrogate age at 45 or younger, per recommendations from the American Society of Reproductive Medicine. This is for a few reasons, but ruling out postmenopausal prospective surrogates is a big one.
Menopause is the natural end to a woman’s fertility. During menopause, a woman’s menstrual cycle stops. Her ovaries stop releasing eggs, and her uterus no longer builds up the lining it needs to support a healthy pregnancy. Menopause takes some time to fully reach; it is only diagnosed after a woman has gone 12 months without a menstrual period. It’s also frequently accompanied by uncomfortable side effects such as vaginal dryness, hot flashes and night sweats.
Because menopause makes achieving pregnancy much more difficult — and comes with additional risks to a surrogate and the child she carries — surrogacy professionals aim to avoid the whole situation by setting surrogacy age requirements below the average age of menopause onset.
That said, there are some fertility clinics who will work with surrogate mothers in menopause in an independent surrogacy, if she can pass the rest of her medical screening. To determine whether you are medically eligible for surrogacy after menopause, contact a local fertility clinic or talk to your personal physician.
The Risks of Being a Surrogate Mother After Menopause
Surrogacy professionals set age requirements before the onset of menopause for a reason. A woman who becomes pregnant later in life, especially after menopause, puts herself at risk for a much more complicated pregnancy than a woman who is in her 20s or 30s. And, when a woman is carrying a child for someone else, extra risk can put everyone in danger.
Women can become pregnant after menopause with a donor egg or embryo, but these women also report increased complications during the process. If you are a surrogate mother in menopause, you are at more risk for:
- Gestational diabetes
- Pregnancy-induced high blood pressure
- Cesarean-section and premature birth
- Placental complications
- Low-birth-weight babies
In addition, if you are a surrogate over the age of 30, you are at increased risk for:
- Difficult labor
It’s one thing to accept these risks when you are carrying your own child. But, when you’re carrying a child for someone else, it’s often a bad idea to be a surrogate mother after menopause. Remember that intended parents have been through a lot before coming to surrogacy. They desperately want a child, and they want to ensure they have the best chance at a successful pregnancy and birth. For this reason, many intended parents want a gestational carrier who is younger and in her prime health. That means someone in her 20s or 30s who has proven her ability to carry a pregnancy and can carry a child for them with little risks.
If you are asking, “Can I be a surrogate after menopause?” there may be a path ahead of you through independent surrogacy. Perhaps you have friends or family members who have asked you to be a surrogate, and they are aware of the risks and challenges of a surrogacy after menopause. If you are all on the same page, and you are otherwise medically cleared for surrogacy, you may be able to complete a surrogacy without the assistance of a surrogacy agency. However, before you start this journey, you should be aware of the challenges and responsibilities that come with an independent surrogacy.
If you want to be a surrogate mother in menopause, you likely have a generous heart to offer such a selfless sacrifice. But, just because you want to be a surrogate doesn’t mean you automatically can be one. To determine whether this is a viable path for you, speak with a surrogacy professional as soon as possible.