Choosing to be a single mother is on the increase, and thankfully there is now more widespread acceptance for it, more services available to assist single mothers and, importantly, modern fertility treatments that can help women achieve motherhood on their own.
There are many reasons why women choose to go it alone, whether it be because they haven’t met the right partner yet, they have just always wanted to be a single parent, or for an array of other reasons.
City Fertility Centre provides a comprehensive range of services to help single women achieve parenthood, whether that be now or down the track.
The first decision you need to think about is whether you want to try now to have a baby or preserve your fertility – by freezing your eggs – in order to try to have a baby at a later date.
One of the most important factors that can influence your decision on what action to take is your age. Research shows that female fertility is at its optimum level until the age of 35. While women are born with their lifetime supply of eggs, these naturally begin to decline in quality and quantity from age 25, and more rapidly from 35. The egg supply is almost non-existent by the time of menopause. Therefore, if you are hoping to use your own eggs, age plays an important role.
Here are some fertility treatment options to think about if you are a single woman wanting to achieve a pregnancy on your own.
Donor Insemination (DI)
This involves artificial insemination – a fertility procedure in which treated sperm is inserted into a woman’s uterus directly 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)
In vitro fertilisation (IVF) literally means “fertilisation in glass”. For single women, it 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. In order for this to take place, the woman has to undergo a full IVF cycle, including an egg retrieval process. Any spare eggs can be frozen or fertilised with donor sperm and frozen as embryos.
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) is a specialised form of IVF and involves the injection of a single sperm directly into a mature egg. This method would only be used with single women if the donor’s sperm quality is poor or previous IVF cycles showed a poor fertilisation rate.
For a range of reasons, eggg freezing can potentially be helpful for single women, including those who may wish to try to have children at a later date, those with a genetic disorder that could limit their fertility, and cancer patients who may need to undergo chemotherapy.
The process of freezing female eggs has advanced rapidly over the past 10 years, and research studies are reporting equally successful fertilisation and embryo development rates for frozen eggs as compared to fresh ones. However, it is essential that egg freezing only happens after appropriate counselling.
While there are many egg freezing success stories, there is no guarantee that a particular woman will have a baby down the track, frozen eggs or not. However, the younger the woman is when she freezes her eggs, the better quality they will be and hence the greater chance of a successful pregnancy at a later date.
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