Dear Sassy Surrogate

Hi Readers! I’ve received a lot of questions recently from surrogates who are frustrated when they get turned down by a fertility clinic or by an agency for a health issue that doesn’t seem that serious. I really empathize with you. It’s so hard to put yourself out there to do this beautiful, selfless thing for someone else and then be turned down for something outside of your control. It can feel like an unfair judgment on your health or life. But keep in mind that agencies typically only accept a small percentage of candidates, and fertility clinics accept an even smaller percentage. For them it’s about giving intended parents the absolute best chance for a good outcome, so being really picky is part of the process. Your desire to do this for someone else remains beautiful and inspiring, but it might take some time to find the right fit of clinic/agency/IP. Here are a couple of questions on this topic I’ve received recently. Take heart, and keep those questions coming! - Sassy

Dear Sassy: I had a boyfriend 15 years who gave me genital warts. I haven’t had a flare-up for 10 years, and my OB has said that it’s not an issue for me when being pregnant or delivering, unless I have a flare-up. But I’ve recently been denied by an fertility clinic for just that reason. What’s up with that? I am so eager to be a surrogate and I feel really upset about this. – Frustrated in Franktown

Dear Frustrated: That is really frustrating! I get it: a diagnosis of HSV-2 or genital warts isn’t fun, but it’s also not the end of the world. And your OB is right that it is generally very low risk when it comes to being pregnant and delivering. However, it’s also true that fertility clinics can be very strict about HSV-2 and will sometimes deny working with a surrogate who has it. This is because there is a (slight) risk of passing the disease on to a fetus in utero or during delivery. For this reason, some agencies won’t approve a candidate because it’s hard to get a clinic to approve the candidate. There are agencies and clinics that do accept candidates who have had HSV-2, as long as intended parents are aware of the risks. I really hear you. It feels terrible to be turned down by an agency or clinic for something that doesn’t seem like that big of a risk, and it can feel like a judgment. But it’s not at all a judgment call– fertility clinics, agencies and IPs are all working a risk game, and some will take bigger risks than others. HSV-2 isn’t that big of a risk in the scheme of things, and you may find a different clinic or agency that will be less stringent on this particular diagnosis.

Dear Sassy: I have 3 kids, great pregnancies and deliveries with all of them. But during my second pregnancy I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I never had a high blood sugar reading other than the day of the 3-hour glucose tolerance test, and I never took medication for it. I just ate well and stayed active (like I did with my other pregnancies). A friend of mine who wanted to be a surrogate was denied by an agency for having had gestational diabetes. Now I’m afraid I’ll be denied, but my OB had said it wasn’t a big deal, and that I probably didn’t actually have gestational diabetes. How I do move forward with my dream to become a carrier for another family? – Healthy and Dreaming

Dear HAD: One of the challenges about being a surrogate is that your health history (specifically your written health history, like medical records) is picked over with a fine-tooth comb, and things that wouldn’t normally be a big deal for your own pregnancy become a big deal for a surrogacy pregnancy. Some agencies and fertility clinics will work with surrogate candidates who had diet-controlled gestational diabetes, and some won’t because the risk is greater that you will text positive for gestational diabetes in future pregnancies. As it is impossible to prove that you didn’t have gestational diabetes (though it may be probably in your OB’s eyes), stricter fertility clinics may turn you down, and agencies that work with stricter fertility clinics may turn you down, too. When you start on your journey of finding an agency or self-matching, make sure everyone knows you had a gestational diabetes diagnosis. Some agencies may accept you and just not match you with IPs who are using a more strict clinic. Don’t be discouraged! There is still the chance to find the perfect family to work with. It just might take a little more effort to find the right agency and fertility clinic.

If you have a question for the Sassy Surrogate, please email her at with the subject line Dear Sassy Surrogate.