News Being single doesn't mean you have to fly solo

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‘Socially infertile?’ More single women embracing motherhood alone

It may not beat as loudly as the clock on the wall, but most women are familiar with their own, ticking biological clock. And whilst its impending count down to menopause isn’t considered a big deal for some women, for others it can impose a very real deadline when it comes to starting a family.

But does this mean women in their late 30s should sacrifice their single life in favour of settling down and fuelling the family tree? Are we sacrificing our chances of starting a family by waiting longer for ‘Mr Right’, or by placing more precedent in our careers during our youth?

No, says a growing number of single women from New South Wales and Victoria, where the number of women using donor sperm to conceive has jumped 10 per cent in the past three years.

Typically in their late 30s, these women are referred to by the IVF industry as ‘socially infertile’, and whilst the group encompasses lesbian couples, Australian fertility expert Professor Michael Chapman told the Sydney Morning Herald the real growth in this demographic is occurring with older, heterosexual women.

”We’re seeing more and more of these ladies,’ he says. ‘Women who can’t find Mr Right but still want a child realise this is an option.’

According to Professor Chapman, it has become almost normal to be a single mum. Therefore, when these women reach their late 30s, they consider donor sperm and assisted reproduction in order to realise their dream of starting a family. In the absence of a significant other, Professor Chapman says these women rely on their mother, sister, or friend for the support they need throughout the process.

But whilst the number of single women seeking assisted reproduction is on the up, not all donors are happy for their sperm to be used by women considered ‘socially infertile’, citing concerns for the welfare of children brought up by single mums.

‘Many sperm donors are not comfortable giving sperm to single women and lesbian couples,’ Professor Chapman said. ‘There is a desperate lack of men who are prepared to give into that environment.’

Add this to the fact that sperm donations in general have declined since 2010, when donors lost their anonymity, and single women wanting to become mums face an uphill challenge – regardless of their level of financial security.

‘They’re financially able to support a child on their own,’ says Dr Gab Kovacs from Monash IVF who typically treats single patients with a successful career in industries such as banking or journalism.

It wasn’t until 2010 that legislation allowing single women to take advantage of IVF came into play. Since then, Monash IVF has treated 418 single women, with the number of IVF cycles up from 323 in 2010 to 469 in 2011, and the clinic  performed 353 cycles in the first half of this year.

What about you? Would you consider starting a family when single? Or would you settle for Mr Not-quite-right in order to start a family?

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About the Author

Lizzy has more than ten years’ experience in the print and digital publishing arena and is the Editor at Single File. Having moved from the UK to Australia in 2008, Lizzy has worked for a number of leading publishers in Sydney and has particular expertise in the health, wellness and travel markets. If you have any questions for Lizzy, you can send them across by email to lizzy@singlefile.com.au.



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