What are the Age Requirements for Surrogacy?
Before you can become a surrogate, you need to meet the age requirements for surrogacy. Learn what an appropriate gestational surrogate age is here, as well as why surrogacy professionals set these important requirements.
For some women, the dream to be a surrogate is one that starts early. In fact, it’s not uncommon for young women in their teens (and sometimes even in childhood) to see a story about surrogacy and tell themselves, “I want to do that.”
However, being a surrogate isn’t possible at every age. There are actually strict age requirements for surrogacy that every prospective carrier must meet. These requirements allow for as positive and successful a surrogacy journey as possible, protecting all parties from some of the risks and complications that could otherwise occur.
Here, we break down what you need to know about the surrogate mother age requirements in the United States below. However, because age restrictions for surrogacy can vary based on state laws and the policies of the professional you’re using, we encourage you to contact a surrogacy professional today to determine whether you meet these requirements or not.
The Generally Accepted Surrogate Mother Age Requirements
Every surrogacy professional has the right to set its own requirements for gestational carriers, and that includes surrogate age requirements. However, many professionals adhere to the guidelines suggested by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine.
Experts in the assisted reproduction field have established base recommendations for surrogacy requirements. According to their research and their experience with this family-building process, they recommend that gestational carriers are between the ages of 21 and 45. Therefore, those are the age restrictions for surrogacy that many professionals require.
But, why exactly does the ASRM set surrogate age requirements at these numbers?
It is absolutely necessary that a woman be of legal age before she becomes a gestational carrier, but experts in the field also often require a woman to reach the age of 21 before she can apply to be a surrogate. This is for several reasons. First, while an 18-year-old woman is legally an adult, she is also in many ways still an impulsive teenager. Surrogacy is not a decision to be made impulsively; it’s a decision that can affect not only a woman’s future fertility but her life. A woman must also have given birth and be raising a child of her own before she can become a surrogate. Setting the surrogacy age requirements at 21 makes it more likely that a woman will have reached this stage in her life.
Now, looking to the other end of the spectrum — why are age restrictions for surrogacy set at 45?
You’ve probably seen lots of stories in the media today about women carrying their own grandchildren when serving as gestational surrogates. Many of these women are over 45 years old. Here’s what you should know: Women in these kinds of surrogacy situations (and all surrogacy situations) must be screened by a fertility clinic prior to embryo transfer. While it’s more common for women over the age of 45 to not have a healthy enough uterus for pregnancy, there are still women who can carry a child healthily at a later time in their life. Setting surrogate mother age requirements at 45 is a more flexible recommendation; the ASRM even says that some women over 45 may serve as surrogates as long as all parties are “informed about the potential risks of pregnancy with advancing maternal age.”
Surrogacy professionals typically set their surrogate age requirements at a maximum of 45 to reduce these risks, which can include:
- Trouble getting pregnant
- Gestational diabetes
- Premature birth
- And more
What is the Average Age of a Surrogate?
These surrogate age requirements certainly play a role in the average age of a surrogate mother — but they’re not the only factor. Simply by design, the requirements of being a surrogate often lead to women in this role sharing certain characteristics. An average age range is one of them.
As mentioned above, a woman must have already given birth and be raising a child of her own to become a gestational carrier. Surrogacy professionals also recommend that a woman is done adding to her family before she pursues surrogacy, as she puts her fertility at risk when carrying a baby for someone else. A surrogate must be financially secure and mature enough to handle all the responsibilities of this process.
For these reasons and more, many gestational carriers are in their late 20s and their 30s when they take this journey to help someone else become a parent.
Can Exceptions Be Made to the Surrogacy Age Requirements?
While it’s true that certain surrogacy requirements are set in stone, others are not. As mentioned above, that includes the upper range of age restrictions for surrogacy.
If you are older than what a surrogacy professional advertises as its maximum surrogate age, it’s a good idea to still contact them. If you are healthy and approved to carry a gestational pregnancy by a local fertility clinic, there is a likely chance that you will be able to move forward with your surrogacy journey. It may be even more likely if you are working with an intended parent that you already know.
When it comes to age requirements for surrogate mothers, the most important thing is that you are protected from some of the biggest risks of the gestational surrogacy process. A surrogacy professional should be willing to honestly talk with you about these aspects and help you determine whether being a surrogate is the right path for you.
Want to get started? Contact a professional today.