While the pandemic has stopped the world and our lives spinning so fast, it has also given many people the time to take stock and check-in on where they are at and what their goals might be for the future.
As a fertility specialist in a national fertility clinic, one of the trends we have witnessed in Australia in the last year is an increase in the number of single women enquiring about and undergoing IVF and IUI cycles to have a baby on their own or undergoing fertility preservation by freezing their eggs.
Whatever the reason is behind their motivation to take action, it is reassuring to know that there are fertility options available for these women who come from a range of situations and are often in different phases of their lives.
So what are the options if you are single for either having a baby or preserving your fertility? Below we summarise them for you.
Treatment options for having a baby
With the help of donor sperm, the options available to single women include:
- Donor Insemination (DI): treated sperm is artificially inseminated directly into the woman’s uterus to provide a chance of conceiving. This method for single women usually involves the use of frozen sperm from a donor.
- In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF): involves the fertilisation of the egg by a donor sperm in an incubator outside the body, followed by transfer of the embryo back into the uterus. This involves a full IVF cycle including an egg retrieval process.
- Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI): a specialised form of IVF and involves the injection of a single sperm directly into a mature egg in a laboratory. This method would only be used for single women if the donor’s sperm quality is poor or previous IVF cycles showed a poor fertilisation rate.
Prior to starting any of the above options, a patient needs to obtain a referral from a GP to a fertility specialist and book a consultation. At this meeting, they will have a personalised assessment of their chance of achieving a pregnancy and be able to discuss the different options available to them. I always strive from the outset to provide clear and comprehensive information so patients feel they can take part in the decision-making process and make well-informed decisions.
Preserving your fertility
If you are not ready to start a family yet but want to increase your chances of falling pregnant at a later date, then fertility preservation in the form of egg freezing might be an option for you.
- Egg freezing: Involves freezing your unfertilised eggs. This preserves the quality of your eggs at the time they are retrieved (i.e. the younger the better). It provides a backup option to your fresh eggs if and when you are ready to try to conceive down the track. You will need to undergo a standard IVF procedure in order to develop and remove the mature eggs. The eggs will then be frozen for up to ten years until you are ready to use them – often years later. The success rate for freezing the eggs is approximately 90% and research shows that IVF success rates using fresh or frozen eggs are now very similar if egg freezing is done at a young age.
For more information on fertility options for single women visit our dedicated pages and step-by-step guides here