There is now an increasing number of single women who, for various reasons, will contemplate conception using double donation (sperm and egg) and/or using embryo donation (sperm and egg at embryo stage). It may be that women have reached an age where conception using their own eggs is simply not possible, or who have other reasons why their own eggs cannot be used (e.g. genetic issues or premature ovarian failure).
Whatever the reasons for turning to double or embryo donation, the issues are very similar in terms of telling any child resulting from this form of conception.
One of the main issues with this choice of conception is that women, who may have already gone through one struggle to come to terms with the idea of going it alone without a male partner, will then be faced with the loss of their own genetic connection to their child and the sense of loss and grief this may engender.
Some older women may decide turn to double donation very quickly in order to maximise their chances of a baby. IVF treatment is expensive both emotionally and financially, and women may be keen to move forward using a method which gives them the greatest chance of success.
Other women may find out that they are unable to use their own eggs for other medical reasons and for them this will also be a process of moving forward with their best chance of a baby.
Issues around double or embryo donation for solo mums are similar to those for single women using donated sperm. However, some women may find it harder to tell people about the fact that they used donor eggs as this aspect is less obvious than a solo mum without a male partner.
The choices of clinic for single women who need double or embryo donation can be daunting and confusing. Women have a choice to stay in the UK at one of the several clinics who provide double donation. Waiting lists are shorter than ever and women have the advantage of much more information about their donors as well as the opportunity for their children to learn more about their donors at age 18.
Some women choose one of the growing number of ivf clinics in Europe which provide double or embryo donation to single women. These embryos are created especially for donor ivf and the donors will be young men and women. Any donors will be anonymous and currently, very little information is given to women about their donors to pass on to their child.
Because of this lack of donor information, some women feel it may hurt the child to be told they were donor conceived while being unable to give them any donor information. This may make it seem much harder to tell their child about their conception. However, we believe that a child has a right to know how they were conceived and that this does not have to be a negative barrier to openness.