Surrogate Health Requirements in Pennsylvania

All About Surrogacy 

For the protection of the intended parents, the gestational surrogate, and the future baby, all states require that prospective surrogate mothers meet certain surrogate health requirements before getting approval. While these standards may vary from one state to the next, there are some standard requirements that seem to be widely accepted all over the U.S.

In the state of Pennsylvania and specifically the city of Philadelphia and New Jersey, the enforcement of surrogate health requirements is very strict. A prospective surrogate must be deemed suitable to carry a child to term before a contract can be finalized. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the surrogate health requirements for surrogacy in Pennsylvania.

To protect the health of the future baby, as well as minimize risks to the gestational carrier, prospective surrogates must meet certain health requirements. While these standards may vary by clinic, there are some standard requirements that are widely accepted and are defined by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine.

What are the Surrogate Health Requirements to Become a Gestational Surrogate in PA?

Since the health of the surrogate is always a primary concern, that is where the following information is going to focus.

Here is a list of basic surrogate health requirements:

  • Be between 21-40 years old
  • Have had least one successful pregnancy and delivery
  • No more than five pregnancies
  • No more than three cesarean deliveries
  • BMI of between 20-32
  • No history of illicit drug use or alcohol abuse
  • No psychiatric illness
  • Be at least 6 months postpartum from your last delivery

Note: Some of these surrogate qualifications or surrogate health requirements might be different in other surrogate clinics in the same city and state.

Each prospective surrogate must go through a psychological screening process. This is necessary in order to look at the potential existence of historical genetic-driven psychological disorders and the current mental/emotional stability of the prospective surrogate. Remember, most surrogates are going to face emotional challenges as they go through the surrogacy process, especially if it’s their first time.

Frequently Asked Questions About Surrogacy

As an agency, we have answered many questions from prospective surrogates about qualifying for the process. Here are the most common questions that we get.

We accept candidates between the ages of 21 and 40. There is a need to make sure the surrogate has the maturity to consent to the complexities of the medical cycle, as well as handle the unique stressors that come with being a gestational carrier. On the upper end of the spectrum, advanced maternal age increases the risk for several medical conditions.

Yes! In fact, it’s a preferable situation. Why? Some types of hormonal birth control can delay resumption of normal menstrual cycles, which leads to a delay in the surrogacy embryo transfer schedule.

HPV is very common. It can cause changes to cervical cells. However, if you have had normal pap smear results and no symptoms, HPV would not disqualify you from becoming a surrogate.

Is it possible to be a surrogate with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)?

It depends. PCOS impacts ovulation, but it also increases your risk for gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. In very mild cases, with an uncomplicated pregnancy history, a surrogate may be approved.

Can I be a surrogate mother if I have herpes?

Herpes is another common STD and not an automatic disqualification. However, like any transmittable disease, your Intended Parents would be informed that this is part of your medical history. Should you an outbreak occur close to delivery, it is likely that a cesarean would be performed to minimize the transmission risk to baby.

Can I be a surrogate if I have endometriosis?

You may be considered with very mild endometriosis. A hysteroscopy would be performed to biopsy the endometrial tissue to check for abnormalities before proceeding further.

Can I be a gestational surrogate after having preeclampsia?

No. Preeclampsia will disqualify you from being a surrogate. Your health and safety is very important. If you experienced this condition during a prior pregnancy, it increases the likelihood it would happen again.

Can I be a surrogate after experiencing an ablation?

No, it disqualifies you as a surrogacy candidate. Endometrial ablation destroys a thin layer of your uterine lining. Successful implantation of an embryo is dramatically reduced.

Can someone with sickle cell be a surrogate?

No. Sickle cell disease puts you at high risk for preterm labor, a low birth weight baby or other complications.

Can a menopausal woman qualify as surrogate?

Menopause is one of the reasons the age limit on surrogacy sits in the low 40s. A lot of women enter menopause in their mid to late 40s. The fact is a woman can get pregnant during menopause, but it brings with it a lot of health risks that can be very dangerous for the woman and unborn child. Given the possibility of this happening, you can expect to be disqualified if you are going through menopause.

Can a woman with a history of adenomyosis be a surrogate?

This is a condition that can cause the growth of unwanted tissue into the wall of your uterus. Any condition that affects the health of your uterus demands scrutiny in terms of going through the surrogacy process. At issue is the fact this condition can make it difficult for the implant of the embryo into the uterine wall. While having this condition does not automatically eliminate you as a candidate, extreme caution is warranted.

What prior pregnancy conditions would disqualify me from being a surrogate?

Some conditions that would disqualify you from becoming a surrogate include preterm labor (earlier than 36 weeks for a singleton, 34 weeks for multiples), repeated miscarriage, preeclampsia, and placental abruption.

Can you be a surrogate while also naturally pregnant?

Physically, it’s possible. From a practical standpoint, it creates too many risks that would most likely not be permitted by a responsible fertility clinic. The main issues would be the strain it would place on the woman’s body and the effect it would have on her hormones. This is another circumstance where erring on the side of caution is the best thing to do.

How long do I have to wait after childbirth to become a surrogate?

We require that you are a minimum of six months postpartum before starting the surrogacy process. If you have had a cesarean delivery, we ask that you wait to become a surrogacy candidate until you are at least one-year postpartum.

Can I be a gestational surrogate if I am breastfeeding?

No. You should have fully weaned before starting your surrogacy cycle. Breastfeeding often delays the return to a normal menstruation. Additionally, you must take a variety of hormones and medications during your surrogacy cycle that are not safe for breastfeeding.

Can I be a surrogate if I’ve never been pregnant?

No. It’s very important that prospective surrogate candidates have a history of a successful pregnancy. This allows us to determine if you are at risk for certain conditions during pregnancy.

How many times can I be a surrogate?

It is recommended that a surrogate have no more than 5 total pregnancies. So if you have had two children, you may qualify to be a surrogate up to three times.

Can I be a surrogate with a history of mental illness?

Having a history of mental illness will not automatically disqualify you from being approved as a surrogate. With more focus on your current mental and emotional health, the fertility clinic will assess your ability to go through the process are you have been in the recent past and how you are now. However, a vast history of mental health issues would likely lead to your disqualification. By the way, fertility clinics will generally require surrogates to stop using most psych meds.

If I’m overweight, can I be a surrogate?

Surrogates should have a BMI between 20-32. If you were to fall slightly outside of these parameters, additional factors would be taken into consideration. The top concern is your ability to stay healthy while you go through the pregnancy. Read more details in our article about BMI and surrogacy.

Can I be a surrogate if I have experienced gestational diabetes?

It depends. If you developed gestational diabetes during a prior pregnancy, there is a higher possibility that it will happen again. If you managed your gestational diabetes by monitoring your diet and activity levels, it would not be an automatic disqualification. However, if your blood sugar levels did not return to normal after delivery, and you later developed Type 2 diabetes, you would not be able to become a surrogate.

Can I be a surrogate if I have had depression or anxiety?

Having a history of depression or anxiety will not automatically disqualify you from being a surrogate.  Surrogates must undergo a full psychological evaluation.  If you are taking medications for mental health, you must safely discontinue those medications for at least 6 months prior to becoming a surrogate. 

Can I Be A Surrogate If I Have a Hypothyroidism?

It is possible to be a surrogate with hypothyroidism, so long as it is being properly managed and your levels are steady.