Despite its growing popularity, gestational surrogacy is still a fairly misunderstood process. For many people, what they know about surrogacy comes from media stories and viral articles. And, while the media can be useful in educating people about some aspects of this journey, it can’t always clear up the misconceptions that continue to exist.
To get accurate information about the surrogate mother age limit and the surrogacy process, speak with a surrogacy professional today.
One common misconception? That there is no surrogate mother age limit — that a woman can be a gestational carrier well past her child-bearing prime and well into her menopausal years. This comes from the frequently told stories of women carrying their own grandchildren into the world, but these stories don’t tell the whole truth of how old a surrogate can be in this modern family-building process.
Below, we set the record straight on how old you can be to be a surrogate. Before you move forward with your own process to become a gestational carrier, it’s important that you are aware of the preliminary requirements.
The Generally Accepted Surrogate Age Limits
While age is only one of the factors that play a role in whether a woman can be a surrogate, it is an important one. This is for many reasons; a woman’s age can influence her ability to meet other surrogate health requirements, which is why many surrogacy professionals set specific surrogacy age limits for all clients they work with.
But, these professionals don’t set age limits to be a surrogate mother all by themselves. In fact, they set these age requirements based on recommendations from experts at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine:
“Carriers must be of legal age and preferably between the ages of 21 and 45 years. Certain situations may dictate the use of a carrier older than 45 years of age, but all parties involved must be informed about the potential risks of pregnancy with advancing maternal age.”
For this reason, many surrogacy professionals will set the age limit to be a surrogate at 40 or 45 years old. In their opinion, this is the oldest a gestational carrier can be before she starts incurring serious risks to herself and the intended parents’ baby.
However, surrogacy professionals may allow gestational carriers who are slightly over their age limit on surrogacy to continue with the process, on a case-by-case basis. The best course of action is to talk with a surrogacy professional if you’re on the older end of the age range for gestational carriers.
How Old Can You Be to Be a Surrogate Mother?
But, if there is a common surrogate mother age limit at 40–45 years old, how come you continue to hear stories about women well into their 50s and 60s carrying children for intended parents?
Remember what we said about case-by-case basis? In some situations, a prospective surrogate may be able to continue this journey even if she is years over the surrogate age limit. She and her intended parents can only do this an independent surrogacy journey, as most surrogacy agencies will not take on the risks of an older surrogate, even if both parties already have accepted those potential challenges.
It’s important to note that even in an independent surrogacy, a surrogate must meet certain health requirements. Before an embryo can be transferred to her womb, she will need to undergo medical screening at the intended parents’ fertility clinic. A reproductive endocrinologist will conduct certain tests to ensure that she can safely and successfully carry a child to term.
So, if a fertility clinic medically approves a prospective surrogate, she can still move forward with her journey, despite her age. This is where those stories of older surrogates come about — when they are medically approved and are pursuing an independent surrogacy with intended parents they already know.
In this way, how old is “too old” to be a surrogate will always be up to a medical professional.
Why is There an Age Limit to Being a Surrogate?
You may be wondering: If the oldest age that a woman has been a surrogate is way higher than the average professionals’ age range, why are there age requirements in the first place?
Gestational surrogacy with an older surrogate is the exception, not the rule. It’s actually fairly rare — not to mention fairly risky — for a woman over a certain age to be medically approved for the surrogacy process. In most cases, a woman over the age of 40 cannot safely carry a child to term without certain risks, including:
- Trouble getting pregnant
- Preexisting and gestational diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Premature birth
- Low birthweight for the baby
- Miscarriage or stillbirth
Intended parents are looking for the best chances of success possible. Therefore, they are often not comfortable with a gestational carrier who, simply by being over a certain age, is more likely to put their baby at risk during pregnancy. Because surrogacy professionals are dedicated to helping intended parents find the best match for their surrogacy, they only want to bring the best surrogate candidates into their programs. That’s why they set an age limit to be a surrogate mother — to automatically rule out many of the women who wouldn’t pass medical screening later on.
However, as mentioned above, all surrogacy professionals set their own health requirements — and may allow for exceptions to some of these rules. If you are close to or slightly over the age of 40, consider reaching out to a surrogacy professional to see if you might still be eligible for the surrogacy process.