As a two time gestational surrogate mother and an author, as well as having many friends in the surrogacy community, I often hear women ask this question. Herpes is very common today, and does not automatically disqualify you from becoming a surrogate mother.
All clinics will require potential gestational surrogate mothers to undergo extensive physical and psychological testing prior to becoming approved as an acceptable carrier. Part of this testing is complete STD panels for both the surrogate and her partner.
Some clinics and intended parents will automatically disqualify any woman as a surrogate who has Herpes, but this is not a hard and fast rule. With proper arrangements, Herpes can become a non-issue.
The main problem with the Herpes virus is that it can be transmitted to the baby at birth. The simple solution for this is that the surrogate mother delivers the baby via c-section instead of vaginally.
The risk to the infant is only if there is an active Herpes infection present during delivery, though intended parents might ask for a mandatory c-section with a surrogate who carries the STD to be on the safe side.
The most important thing for you to do as a potential surrogate mother who has Herpes is to disclose this information during the matching process to the set of potential intended parents that you are interviewing with. You will also need to disclose this to the clinic before they have done any testing on you.
This way, if there is a problem, any relationship can be ended immediately, which will save everyone valuable time and money. Plus, this shows that you are honest and forthright with information, even derogatory information, which is vital in a surrogacy arrangement.
If you do not disclose this information in advance of testing, and it is found later, it could be a very large black spot on your relationship with both the clinic and the intended parents. STDs are not something to be taken lightly. They can have permanent and damaging effects on any unborn child.
It is important to note that Herpes is usually the only exception when it comes to carrying any sort of STD and still qualifying to become a surrogate mother. Because Herpes is only contagious when the baby passes through the birth canal, as opposed to being contagious in vetro, and because Herpes is so common in America, clinics and intended parents may turn a blind eye towards it.
Do not get offended if a clinic or intended parents reject you based on your Herpes status. These parents undergo a very expensive and emotional journey trying to become parents. They are usually extra cautious and extra sensitive to such issues.
But for every set of intended parents who may reject a Herpes carrier, there is another set of intended parents who simply do not care, so long as the proper safety precautions are taken. Good luck in your surrogacy journey!