Although these days the number of one-parent families in the UK is on the rise, having a baby when you are single remains rather taboo. However, despite not having a partner, many women decide to start a family on their own anyway.
Because, unlike men, women have an “expiration date” when it comes to childbearing. As they don’t want to give up on their dream of motherhood, just because they haven’t yet found the right partner, some decide to start this journey solo, before it’s too late. Fortunately, in the UK, fertility treatments and sperm donation are available to single women who want to have children.
Where to find a sperm donor with whom to conceive
The first thing for a single woman to consider before having a baby this way, is where to source the required semen. In the UK, there are different ways of finding a donor. Those looking for an anonymous donor can go to a fertility clinic (they have their own stock of donated sperm, or they can obtain it from sperm banks). This is the safest option, as donors are all thoroughly screened to ensure that they have healthy, good quality sperm.
Those who prefer to opt for a non-anonymous donor have the choice of asking someone they already know (for instance, a friend). However, as not everyone knows a relative willing to provide their semen, women can also look for a sperm donor using a dedicated website. Online, donors and intended parents can contact each other, chat as much as they like, and eventually meet. These platforms are the best option for those looking to get to know their donor better, in order to ascertain whether they might be a good match.
Looking for a co-parent instead of a sperm donor
What if, instead of opting for a sperm donor who would not be involved in your child’s life, you prefer to look for a co-parent? Together, you would conceive and then raise a child without being in a romantic relationship. You would both be the parents and, therefore, would share all responsibilities and rights towards your baby.
In fact, as can be clearly seen when looking at some of the few websites dedicated to co-parenting, a large number of men want to be more than just a donor. They also want to become fathers and play an active role in their child’s life.
Although this platonic parenting model is quite new, a growing number of single men and women (as well as LGBT couples) are making the decision to partner and have a baby together.
What are the fertility treatments available to single women in the UK?
Of course, the most obvious way to become pregnant is via natural insemination, in other words through sexual intercourse. Luckily, there are other ways to conceive with someone who isn’t your partner! Unlike many other European countries, fertility clinics in Britain are quite open-minded when it comes to access to reproductive technologies for single women.
Depending on your age or any fertility issues that you might have, you could either be advised to undergo in vitro fertilisation (IVF) with donor sperm or intrauterine insemination (IUI). For the latter, you can choose to perform the insemination at home with a fertility kit, or in a clinic. Women over 40 or unable to conceive with their own eggs might have IVF with donated eggs recommended to them.
Having a child later thanks to egg freezing
Another alternative that has been much discussed in the past few years is egg freezing. In short, the process involves freezing and storing your eggs, in order to use them later on, when you are ready to become pregnant.
Preserving your fertility is a great opportunity to allow you more time to find a partner to have a baby with, or to be more financially secure. However, as this method is relatively recent, we are still unsure of its success rate. But in principle, the younger you freeze your oocytes, the more chance you have of becoming pregnant with your frozen eggs.
And you, what do you think? Would you consider having a baby on your own, if you were single and sensing your biological clock ticking?