Can You Be a Surrogate Mother at Age 50 — or Older?
Sometimes, women who are in the middle of their life want to give back by serving as a gestational carrier. But, how possible is this path — and what should you know before you get started?
We’ve all read them — the miracle stories of grandmothers bringing their own grandchildren into the world through the magic of surrogacy. After having their child’s embryo transferred to their uterus, these women in their 50s (and even their 60s) successfully carry a pregnancy to term and give birth to a happy, healthy baby.
But, just how realistic is this? Is it really possible to be a surrogate mother at age 50 — or even older?
Gestational surrogacy can be a complicated process, no matter a surrogate’s age. A lot of moving parts are involved, and it’s easy for intended parents and gestational carriers to get confused along the way. All the stories of older women becoming gestational carriers do exactly this — they confuse prospective surrogates as to what the requirements to be a surrogate actually are.
This article is here to set the record straight. Below, learn a bit more about the reality of being a surrogate mother at age 50 or older before you start this complicated journey.
Can You Be a Surrogate Mother at Age 50 or Older?
It’s not uncommon for prospective surrogates to approach surrogacy professionals asking the same kind of questions:
Can a 51-year-old be a surrogate?
Is it possible to be a 55-year-old surrogate?
Can a 58-year-old woman be a surrogate?
If you’re asking one of these questions about being a surrogate in your 50s, the answer will be no.
While there are stories of women over the age of 50 serving as gestational carriers, they are the exception — not the rule. Surrogacy professionals set surrogacy age requirements for a reason; surrogates have the best chance of a successful pregnancy and childbirth experience if they are within a certain age range. Women in their 50s cannot offer the safety and guarantee that younger gestational carriers can.
So, unfortunately, if you are thinking about being a surrogate mother at age 50 or older, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to pursue this journey. Surrogacy professionals’ restrictions exist for your own good — and for the well-being of the intended parents looking to grow their family through this process.
The Medical Risks of Being a Surrogate in Your 50s
Surrogacy professionals want to create a surrogacy partnership that has the best chance of success and protects the health and interests of all parties involved. Generally speaking, using a surrogate over the age of 50 puts all parties in danger.
While it’s admirable that you are so dedicated to helping someone else become a parent, it’s important that you fully understand the risks that can cause difficulties in the journey ahead, should you choose it.
First and foremost, you need to understand the No. 1 reason why women in their 50s cannot be surrogates. At this time in a woman’s life, she is likely going through or has reached menopause — and these changes can make it incredibly difficult to safely carry a pregnancy to term.
Menopause is the body’s natural way of ending fertility to keep a woman safe. After a certain age, the risks of pregnancy are simply too great for the process to be possible. That’s why it’s so rare to see a woman in her 50s be pregnant, either with her own child or as a gestational carrier.
When you become a surrogate mother at age 50 or older, you expose yourself to these increased risks:
- Gestational diabetes
- Pregnancy-induced high blood pressure
- Cesarean-section and premature birth
- Placental complications
- Low-birth-weight babies
- Difficult labor
Many intended parents find these medical risks to be too great when they’re considering someone to carry their child into the world. In turn, surrogacy professionals will not approve women over the age of 50 (or sometimes even 40) for their matching programs.
Who to Contact About Being a Surrogate Mother at Age 50 or Older
Still, you may ask something along these lines: I want to be a 56-year-old surrogate mother, and both my intended parents and I are comfortable with the risks. Why can’t we move forward with our journey?
While you and your intended parents may be able to accept the risks of an older gestational carrier age, many surrogacy professionals will not. To protect themselves (and, by extension, you), they will refuse to work with surrogates over a certain age.
So, how do all of those 50-something women you hear about become surrogates if they don’t meet surrogate age requirements?
Often, these stories you hear are a result of independent surrogacy. This journey occurs when intended parents and a gestational carrier find each other without the assistance of a surrogacy agency (usually because they are friends or family). They then work with only a surrogacy attorney and fertility clinic to complete their family-building process.
The only way that a woman can be a surrogate in her 50s is if she is medically cleared by a fertility clinic. While some clinics will set age restrictions for carriers, others will not. Instead, they screen a prospective surrogate to see whether her body can successfully carry a pregnancy to term and safely give birth to a child. If she can, she will likely be approved for the surrogacy process and be able to move forward with her intended parents.
However, remember: Even if a woman is approved for surrogacy in her 50s, there will still be all the risks of an advanced-maternal-age pregnancy. Both parties must be 100 percent comfortable with these risks in order to move forward.
If you think being a surrogate mother at age 50 or older might be possible for you, please reach out to a surrogacy attorney or reproductive endocrinologist to begin your medical screening.