Disqualifications for Surrogacy

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Being a surrogate is one of the most meaningful and rewarding experiences. As a surrogate, you will have the profound responsibility of carrying a child into the world for the intended parents.

The American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) sets forth medical and psychosocial guidelines most surrogate agencies use to build their surrogate requirements.

With strict requirements and so much on the line, many things can disqualify someone from becoming a surrogate.

This article will cover the top 10 things that disqualify you from surrogacy.

Overview of Surrogate Disqualifications

With so much on the line during every surrogacy, only those in good health, with proven birth records, a solid psychosocial profile, and a robust support network, must participate in this sacred role.

The following situations can disqualify you from becoming a surrogate:

  • Having not given birth
  • Having a very high number of births
  • Being too old or too young
  • Having a very high or very low body mass index (BMI)
  • Having a history of pregnancy complications (i.e., preeclampsia)
  • Being on Section 8 Housing
  • Having a history of mental health issues
  • Having a history of alcohol or drug abuse
  • Being an active smoker
  • Living in Nebraska, Arkansas, or Michigan
  • Having a Criminal Record
  • Not Being a US Citizen or Greencard Holder
  • Having no support network
  • Menopausal

With a basic overview of things that can disqualify you for surrogacy, let’s look closely at why each disqualification exists.

Having not given birth

As a surrogate, your job is to get pregnant, carry, and give birth with little to no hiccups. 

What’s the best way to test whether or not someone is capable of this? Some may argue over the “best” way to tell if someone will be good at this, but the simplest is likely whether or not someone has done it before.

If you haven’t given birth before, there’s no definitive proof that you can perform the primary function of a surrogate.

Having a very high number of births

If you have given birth to at least one child to be a surrogate, you may think that giving birth to MANY children makes you a better candidate for surrogacy. This may be the case for some, but a history of many pregnancies increases the risk of major pregnancy complications.

Since having a history of many births increases the risk of pregnancy complications, there is a limit to how many previous pregnancies you can have and still become a surrogate.

Being too old or too young

Every agency differs slightly in its surrogate age requirements.  

Most agencies want women who are old enough to have stable relationships and a high level of maturity but young enough to be physically health and suitable for pregnancy.

At Surrogate Steps, you will be disqualified if you are under 23 or over 43.

Having a very high or very low body mass index (BMI)

Studies show that both a very low and very high BMI harm pregnancy outcomes.

Since surrogacy is a significant investment for the intended parents, only those most fit for pregnancy must become surrogates.

Having a history of pregnancy complications (i.e., preeclampsia)

Pregnancy complications can lead to dire outcomes for both the fetus and the mother.

Studies also show that having a history of serious pregnancy complications like preeclampsia dramatically increases the risk of these potentially life-threatening complications in future pregnancies.

Due to the serious dangers of some pregnancy complications, anyone with a history of pregnancy complications will be disqualified from surrogacy.

Being on Section 8 Housing

Surrogates are paid anywhere from $45,000 to over $70,000 at surrogate steps. Section 8 housing is government-assisted housing for low-income families. 

Giving someone in need of money the opportunity to perform the honorable role of a surrogate and provide some much-needed financial support to their own family sounds like a good idea initially; unfortunately, experience has told us that it can backfire terribly for surrogates and their families. 

Government assistance programs like Section 8 housing have strict income requirements to qualify and continue to receive such assistance.

Earning $45,000+ would, unfortunately, make these families ineligible for Section 8 housing, counteracting the benefit of their surrogate pay and potentially sending the surrogate’s family on a downward spiral for decades to come. 

Because of this, being on section 8 housing is one of the disqualifications for surrogacy.

Having a history of mental health issues

Due to high levels of stress, the routine challenges of any pregnancy, and the importance of communication throughout the surrogacy process, it is essential that surrogates are mentally strong.

For this reason, having a history of mental health issues is a surrogacy disqualifier. 

Having a history of alcohol or drug abuse

Similar to why those with a history of mental health issues are disqualified from being a surrogate, so are those with a history of drug or alcohol abuse. 

Being an active smoker

Smoking doubles the risk of abnormal bleeding during pregnancy and delivery and increases the chance of several congenital disabilities. 

Naturally, since someone is paying a surrogate to bring a child into the world for them, anyone who is an active smoker is disqualified from becoming a surrogate.

Anyone who smokes must be smoke-free for at least six months before applying and becoming a surrogate

Living in Nebraska, Arkansas, or Michigan

Surrogacy is illegal in Nebraska, Arkansas, and Michigan, so living in those states automatically disqualifies any surrogate. 

Having a Criminal Record

With so much on the line, the integrity and trustworthiness of the surrogate are highly important. 

A felony criminal record is a sign of potentially compromised integrity and an automatic disqualification for surrogates. 

Not Being a US Citizen or Greencard Holder

To ensure the legality of the surrogate arrangement and the ability for parentage to be legally transferred to the intended parents, any surrogate must be a US Citizen or green card holder. Not being one is an automatic disqualifier. 

Having no support network

Surrogacy is a beautiful and rewarding experience. But you’re also carrying a baby for another family. 

Naturally, this can be a stressful endeavor, and having a solid support network is critical to the success and experience of the surrogate.

A strong support network can come in many forms. If the surrogate is married or in a long-standing relationship, then they MUST have the support of their significant other. If the surrogate is single, they must have a strong support network of close family and friends.

If a surrogate does not have the support of their partner or friends and family, they are unfortunately disqualified from being a surrogate.


While it is true that menopausal women can carry a pregnancy, and there are cases of menopausal women acting as surrogates for intended parents, it is not an ideal situation from a medical standpoint. It thus disqualifies you from being a surrogate with most agencies.

Potential, but usually non-disqualify situations

While all of the above are certainly disqualifications for surrogacy, there are several situations people often ask about that are usually non-disqualifiers for surrogacy.

Can you be a surrogate with your tubes tied?

Unlike every other scenario on our list up until now, having your tubes tied is NOT a disqualification to be a surrogate

Having your tubes tied is a measure that prevents natural fertilization from taking place. However, gestational surrogate pregnancies place an embryo fertilized and grown in a lab directly into the uterus, bypassing the fallopian tubes. Thus, having your tubes tied does not affect your ability to get pregnant in a surrogate arrangement, and that is why having your tubes tied is NOT a disqualification. 

Can an infertile woman be a surrogate?

Can an infertile woman be a surrogate? In short, it depends.

According to the CDC, infertility is defined as “not being able to get pregnant (conceive) after one year (or longer) of unprotected sex.”

But a woman can have previously gotten pregnant, given birth, and now be infertile according to the above definition but still be an excellent surrogate candidate. 

That’s because:

  • The ability to get pregnant is primarily determined by egg quality
  • Egg quality deteriorates at a much younger age than uterine quality
  • Gestational surrogates do not use their own eggs for the surrogate pregnancy

On the other hand, if the woman is infertile due to uterine factors or has other general health issues impacting their fertility, then they would likely be disqualified from being a surrogate.

Can you be a surrogate if you’ve had an abortion?

Unless the abortion resulted in significant uterine scarring or there was a medical reason why the abortion needed to take place, it is unlikely that an abortion would disqualify someone from being a surrogate.

Bottom Line About Surrogate Disqualification

Surrogacy is one of the most important events in every intended parent’s and likely surrogate’s life. With so much at stake, it’s no wonder that intended parents and the agencies who help them find surrogates have strict requirements for their surrogates with many potential disqualifications. 

Many of these disqualifications are straightforward, while others, like infertility, have essential nuances scrutinized by our team of surrogate professionals

Unfortunately, if one of these disqualifications applies to you, you are ineligible to become a surrogate. On the other hand, if you’ve read this list, happened to avoid all these disqualifiers, and are interested in becoming a surrogate, we encourage you to apply today. 

And, of course, we are here and happy to help, so if you still have questions, feel free to explore our FAQs or send us a message

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