Understanding BMI Surrogacy Requirements

At the Center for Surrogate Parenting, we prioritize the health of our surrogates. Surrogates undergo a rigorous screening process with fertility specialists and mental health professionals before helping intended parents grow their families. This screening helps our team confirm that surrogacy is safe for you and helps instill confidence in intended parents that their baby will have every opportunity to thrive during pregnancy. As part of that screening process, fertility specialists require you to have a body mass index (BMI) of 31 or less.  

What to know about BMI surrogacy requirements

We often get questions about BMI surrogacy requirements. Body mass index (BMI) considers a person’s height and weight to determine which of the following categories they fall into. 

  • Underweight (BMI <18.5)
  • Normal (BMI 18.5-25)
  • Overweight (BMI 25-30)
  • Obese (BMI >30)

BMI may not be perfect, but it is a good rule of thumb and is a common medical screening tool. 

We frequently hear from women who want to be surrogates, but are classified as underweight or obese, according to their BMI. CSP would love to accept every person who applies to be a surrogate in our program. However, there are guidelines set by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). Each fertility doctor or clinic may also have their own BMI surrogacy requirements. 

We do consider each application on a case by case basis. However, we need to know that we can match an applicant with a doctor willing to work with them. 

A surrogate pregnancy is quite different than your own

All our surrogates are gestational carriers, meaning there is no genetic link between them and the baby they carry. They become pregnant via in vitro fertilization (IVF) using the intended parents’ and/or donor eggs and sperm. Each surrogate is assigned a medical protocol by the fertility clinic their intended parents are working with. This includes a variety of medications designed to prevent ovulation and prepare the uterine lining for a transfer. Patients with a higher BMI have a lower response to medications, which can lead to cancelled cycles. This is one reason for BMI surrogacy requirements. 

Our number one priority is the health and safety of our surrogates  

With any pregnancy there are risks. With a surrogate pregnancy, the doctors want to minimize risks and maximize the chance of a healthy baby and a healthy surrogate. An above normal BMI can lead to a more complicated pregnancy with increased risks of diabetes, hypertension, postpartum hemorrhage and the need for a cesarean section. It can also lead to greater anesthesia and surgical complications if surgery is required. A BMI that is too low has been associated with an increased risk for preterm delivery and small-for-gestational-age (SGA) babies. 

Another reason for BMI surrogacy requirements 

A BMI above 35 (considered class II obesity) can double the amount of time it takes to achieve conception, while in underweight women (BMI less than 19) it can take up to 4 times longer to conceive. An extended time to conception in surrogacy can lead to a greater investment of time and money. It can also lead to greater stress for all parties involved. 

Fulfill your dreams 

The great thing about the BMI requirement is that it can be addressed. If it is the only thing holding you back, talk with your doctor about lifestyle changes such as focusing on a balanced diet and increasing your exercise. We want to help you fulfill your dream of helping others, but we also have to keep your best interest at heart. You can help set yourself up for success by being in the best overall health and helping to reduce potential risks and complications.  

When you’re ready to become a surrogate, CSP will be here to walk you through every step of the process 

Apply today