Skip to main content

Single women

If you’re single you might be thinking about what your options are for having a family without a partner. Get an overview of some of the key issues you may want to consider before starting treatment.

  1. Some women choose to have fertility testing, sometimes called a fertility MOT, to get an idea of how fertile they are. The results are not guaranteed but can help some women make decisions about when to try for a family.

  2. There are certain conditions that affect a woman’s fertility. If you have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis or blocked fallopian tubes for example you should see your GP to discuss your treatment options.

  3. Treatment options for single women may include intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilisation (IVF) using donor sperm. If you aren’t able to provide your own eggs you may want to use donated eggs in treatment too.

  4. Whether you find a donor yourself, or you choose one from your clinic, we strongly recommend having treatment with donated sperm at a licenced UK clinic. It’s safer than going it alone, and there will be no legal questions around whether the donor is the father.

  5. Whether you find a donor yourself, or you choose one from your clinic, we strongly recommend having treatment with donated sperm at a licensed UK clinic. It’s safer than going it alone, and there will be no legal questions around whether the donor is the father.

  6. It’s really important you have a strong support network around you before starting treatment. Treatment doesn’t always work and there’s a risk you could have a miscarriage so make sure you have the support of family, friends or a professional.

Treatment options

Egg freezing

Egg freezing may be an option if you’re certain you’re not ready to have a family and you want to maintain the chance of having one in the future.

Find out more about egg freezing
A lab assistant holding a swab wearing a face mask and eye protectors

Fertility MOTs

Fertility MOTs assess your ovarian reserve (the number and quality of eggs) by testing for two hormones: follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH). The tests can give some indication of how fertile a woman is although the results are not guaranteed.

Surrogacy

Surrogacy could be an option for women who have a condition that means it's dangerous or impossible for them to give birth.

Find out more about surrogacy
A young lady reads her tablet whilst sat on a brick road

In vitro fertilisation (IVF)

If you have any conditions affecting your fertility you may be advised to have IVF, which gives your doctor complete control of the fertilisation process.

Find out more about in vitro fertilisation
A scientist dispensing something from a pipette into a petri dish

Home insemination

Home insemination is when you impregnate yourself at home with donor sperm. We don't recommend this as there can be serious health and legal implications.

Find out more about home insemination

Treatment abroad

If you're considering treatment abroad, it's important to be aware of the risks to ensure your treatment is safe and effective.

Find out more about treatment abroad
A 3D jigsaw of the globe

Using a donor

Whether you want to use just donated sperm or donated eggs too, find out everything you need to know about using a donor in treatment.

Find out more about using a donor
A young man in a thick jumper reading a book in an autumnal park

Choose a clinic

Ready to choose a fertility clinic? Get all the information you need to choose the best clinic for you and prepare for your appointment.

Find out more about choose a clinic
A purple flower with a ornate tag on it that reads 'welcome'

Birth rates: IUI with donor sperm

This graph shows birth rates for each age group for a single cycle of IUI with donor sperm. The stimulated figure is for cycles where the woman took fertility drugs to stimulate her egg production whilst the unstimulated figures are for women who took no fertility drugs.

  • For women aged 18-34 the birth rate was 22% for stimulated and 14% for unstimulated.
  • For women aged 35-37 the birth rate was 12% for stimulated and 13% for unstimulated.
  • For women aged 38-39 the birth rate was 9% for stimulated and 8% for unstimulated.
  • For women aged 40+ the birth rate was 5% for stimulated and 3% for unstimulated.

Birth rate per donor insemination cycle started, 2013

decorative only

Birth rates: IVF with donor sperm

This graph shows birth rates for a single cycle of IVF using the woman's fresh own eggs with donor sperm. Rates are higher than for IUI but IVF is a more expensive treatment.

  • Women aged 18-34 had a 33% birth rate
  • Women aged 35-37 had a 30% birth rate
  • Women aged 38-39 had a 22% birth rate
  • Women aged 40-42 had a 14% birth rate
  • Women aged 43-44 had a 5% birth rate
  • Women aged 45+ had a 2% birth rate

Birth rate for one cycle of IVF using a woman's own fresh eggs, 2013

Decorative only

Take care of you

Fertility treatment is not an easy thing to go through.

There are plenty of things that can go wrong with treatment and no guarantee it will be successful, so you need to prepare for that. Even if you are successful, just the process of taking fertility drugs and travelling back and forth to the clinic for appointments can be exhausting. Make sure you're getting plenty of support from family, friends, a charity or a qualified counsellor. Gingerbread is a charity supporting single parents and the Donor Conception Network provides information to anyone conceiving with the help of a donor. Alternatively you can find an accredited counsellor through the British Infertility Counselling Association.

Find out more about getting emotional support

Publication date: 13 November 2017

Review date: 13 November 2019