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Becoming a Single Mother
Americans are marrying later in life or not at all, and women who have never been married are increasingly having children, according to the Pew Research Center. If you’re a younger single woman with regular menstrual cycles, getting pregnant can be relatively easy using IUI (intrauterine insemination) with donor sperm. Women with irregular cycles may need to include ovulation induction with fertility drugs. Women 35 and older, and those with a low ovarian reserve, may require IVF (in vitro fertilization). And women age 40 to 44, who are increasingly having children, often require donor egg to get pregnant.
If you’re thinking about getting pregnant, it makes sense to schedule a consultation with a fertility doctor for diagnostic testing. “Even if you’re not ready yet, you can get information now that will help you understand what your options are, and what they will be down the road,” says Dr. Spencer Richlin, partner and lead Reproductive Endocrinologist at Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMA of CT). Ovarian reserve testing, an ultrasound, and evaluation of the fallopian tubes and uterine cavity will provide a good picture of your reproductive health and potential, and prepare you for what’s ahead.
RMA of CT has recently launched its “Single Moms to Be” program. “We as a practice decided to support single moms, show them that they have options and to support their journey with a dedicated team,” Richlin says. As part of the program, they offer a 90 Day Preconception Checklist. Making small changes in the 90 days before conception can help improve chances of having a healthy pregnancy and baby.
When you are ready to get pregnant, choosing a sperm donor is the first step. There are three categories of donors:
- Known sperm donor, someone you know personally. If you go this route, hire a lawyer to write a contract between you and the donor that details the arrangement and what the relationship will entail.
- Anonymous sperm donor, chosen from a sperm bank.
- Open door donor or ID release donor, chosen from a sperm bank and willing to be contacted when the child is 18 or older
“More women are choosing open door, or ID release donors, because the trend is for children to know their genetic heritage and to be able to learn down the road if there are half siblings,” says Richlin.
Once you’re chosen a donor, the method of getting pregnant – IUI, IVF, egg donation cycle – is primarily dependent on the woman’s age and ovarian reserve.
Some single women, who know they want to have a baby but don’t want to get pregnant now, are freezing their eggs. That, in essence, can pause your biological clock and give you the option of getting pregnant with your own eggs when you are ready.
Age is one of the biggest barriers to getting pregnant naturally. A 42-year-old single patient of Dr. Richlin’s said, “I wish I would have come in years ago, to learn what my options are.”