23 November 2019

Fertility treatment for single women: what options do I have?

Fertility treatment for single women
Medical Director
Cesar Diaz-Garcia
MD PhD Assoc Prof
IVI London

 

As a single woman, your fertility options are very similar to those of any other woman looking to become a parent. There’s certainly no need to find a fertility clinic for single women: at all of our IVI clinics you will be treated with exactly the same respect, courtesy and care that we offer to all of our patients.

Of course, there are some obvious differences in your options, but not as many as you might think. For example, couples where the male partner is infertile are in exactly the same position! As a single woman, there is a whole range of fertility treatments that you could consider, whether you intend to become a parent now, or whether you want to keep your options open so that you have the choice of having a child at some point in the future.

 

Single women’s fertility options for now

If you’ve decided that now is the right time for you to start a family, your choices are between Intrauterine insemination (IUI), the simplest and least invasive of all fertility treatments, and in vitro fertilisation (IVF) which is the most frequently used fertility treatment.

 

Intrauterine insemination

Also known as artificial insemination, IUI using semen from a donor could well be your first choice as a single woman with no fertility problems. This is a simple process in which ovulation is tracked or induced to make sure the time is right for conception to take place. This is followed by depositing a semen sample, which has been prepared in advance in the laboratory, inside the woman’s uterus. Have a look at our video about intrauterine insemination for the full picture.

You should know that in the UK, donor anonymity is not possible, and so in the future your child will have access to a certain amount of information about the donor at the age of 16, and full information when they turn 18.

 

In vitro fertilisation

If previous attempts with IUI have failed or if you have fertility problems such as lesions on the fallopian tubes or advanced endometriosis, then IVF using donor semen could be the most appropriate fertility treatment. This is a well-established procedure in which oocytes are collected following ovarian stimulation and then fertilised in the laboratory. After developing for a few days, the most suitable embryo is selected to be transferred back in the uterus. For a full explanation of the process, have a look at our video about IVF. You will find it reassuring to know that we have a clinical pregnancy rate of 71.4% per embryo transferred in women under 38.

 

IVF using a donor egg

For single women who are unable to use their own oocytes, for example because of menopause, ovarian surgery or in the case of hereditary diseases that can escape detection by pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) techniques, there is the option of using a donor egg as well as donor sperm. IVI uses advanced donor matching techniques in order to match a physically similar donor with the recipient. This process can either be very quick or it can take a few months. In the UK, the lack of anonymity of donors applies to both men and women and so the situation regarding access to information is the same. In Spain, the anonymity regulatory regime is different and children have access only to very limited information, not to identity.

A comprehensive genetic analysis is also possible nowadays to also do a genetic matching with a donor to choose the best candidate for you, minimizing the risk of a recessive genetic in the offspring. Additionally, at our clinics in Spain, we have an AI-assisted donor matching programme known as Perfect Match 360º. This system takes into account not only phenotype criteria such as height and body type but also facial matching with biometrics.

 

Single women’s options for future fertility

Of course, fertility treatment for single women is not restricted to those who wish to become pregnant immediately. All of the options detailed above could still remain available to you with the help of fertility preservation.

 

Preserving your choices for the future

There are plenty of potential reasons for wanting to preserve your fertility. The most common one is feeling that you are not ready to start a family for social, economic or personal reasons, but be aware that declining fertility after the age of 35 could become a problem. It is also a beacon of hope for women diagnosed with cancer or some other diseases, where treatment such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy could damage their fertility.

This technique uses the vitrification of oocytes in which eggs are collected in the same way as for IVF but instead of being fertilised in the laboratory, they are vitrified for future use. There is no time limit on how long they can be stored. Nonetheless, according to UK regulations eggs need to be used within 10 years. unless there is a medical reason to extend that period. When using frozen eggs, the pregnancy rates remain the same as at the time they were vitrified.

 

When the future becomes now

When the right time comes and you decide to try for a pregnancy, the ways in which you can use your frozen oocytes are the same as the choices above. However, if your situation has changed, other options are available to you.

If you are in a heterosexual relationship and your male partner has no fertility problems you could opt for IUI, IVF or egg donation using your partner’s sperm. If you are in a same-sex relationship, there is a ground-breaking scheme known as the ROPA method which offers yet another possibility. This allows women to share the IVF process through one of them being the genetic mother providing the egg and the other being the mother who carries the baby.

 

Getting in touch with IVI

We hope that this quick overview has reassured you that there is no shortage of fertility treatments for single women, and there are plenty of opportunities and choices to be made. If you need to know more, don’t hesitate to browse our website, which is always up to date with the latest facts and developments in the ever-advancing world of assisted reproduction. When the time is right, do get in touch with IVI through our online contact form.

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