By LUCY ORMONDE
Nicky Lavigne always thought she’d be married with kids by the time she reached 40. In reality however, on her 40th birthday she found herself divorced, single and childless and desperate to become a mother.
A woman’s fertility declines after the age of 32. By the age of 40, it’s fallen by half. Waiting for the father of your future children to come into your life is no longer an option.
Nicky realised she had a choice to make. She could continue to wait for a relationship that may or may not lead to children. Or she could look into becoming a single mother through treatments like IVF and intrauterine insemination.
It took Nicky five years of fertility treatments and donor sperm to get nowhere. Until this year.
Now she’s 45 and 19 weeks pregnant. With twins.
Nicky is one of a growing number of women who are being labelled as ‘socially infertile’ by the IVF industry. They’re women in their late 30s and early 40s who are using donor sperm and fertility treatment to become mothers. Some, of course, are also medically infertile; their eggs are no longer viable, as was the case with Nicky.
According to recent reports, the number of single women using sperm donors to get pregnant has increased by as much as 10 per cent in the past three years.
Although lesbian couples account for some of the increase, doctors say the real growth is among older single heterosexual women.
”We’re seeing more and more of these ladies. Women who can’t find Mr Right but still want a child realise this is an option for them,” the deputy president of the Fertility Society of Australia, Michael Chapman, said. ”It’s become almost normal to be a single mum. So when these women get to 38, 39, they go to donor sperm and do assisted reproduction.’
MM: At what point did you realise this was the path you were going to go down?
NL: By 40 I had always thought I would be married with a couple of kids but in the real world, I was actually divorced, single and childless. Everyone I had ever come into contact with knew how much I wanted children, so a girlfriend suggested I look into using a sperm donor. I shot this down fast because it wasn’t part of my “dream life”. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realised my “fertility window” was closing and I needed to do something fast, so I started looking into what using a sperm donor involved.
MM: What were the options that were available to you? What have you tried – and how did you end up where you are?
NL: I was living in the US at the time, so my options were greater than in Australia. They have no restrictions on how many families one sperm donor can have, whether they have to be known or can remain anonymous AND the guy is paid really well…in all cryobanks in the US.
Choosing a sperm donor was like internet dating. Hundreds of profiles to consider. So. Many. Choices. Height, body shape, hair color, eye color, skin color, religion. Whether he wanted to remain unknown or not (if not, when the child turns 18, he/she can contact the biological father).
I chose a fertility doctor and a donor and figured I’d be pregnant within a year. But how wrong was I…
I had 7 IUI (Intrauterine insemination) cycles. This pretty much involves sperm and a catheter and simulates intercourse… if for you intercourse involves the guy getting off, then rolling over and going to sleep! All were unsuccessful and was told the next step would be IVF.
I was already thinking of moving back to Sydney and decided I’d wait to start with a new doctor there.