April 14, 2024

The British virgins who have IVF babies

Some women seeking IVF have never had a relationship

Another chapter in the Chronicles of the Wild West of Assisted Reproduction. A steady trickle of women seeking IVF in Britain are single women who have never had sexual intercourse. And because the National Health Service only subsidises IVF for women who “have been trying to get pregnant through regular unprotected sexual intercourse” for two years they have to pay at least £5,000 for each treatment cycle.

The unusual approach to motherhood troubles some of the fertility specialists. “Just because money talks does not mean it’s the right thing to do,” Gedis Grudzinskas, a leading IVF doctor, told the Mail on Sunday. It appears that there have been about 25 of these cases over the last five years. At least four major clinics told the newspaper that they had helped virgins to become pregnant.

Although IVF is no longer restricted to couples, most people have presumed that single women are or were in a relationship of some kind. Child psychotherapist Dilys Daws said the fact that virgin women were resorting to IVF “suggests someone who is not emotionally mature enough to be close to someone else – and that matters when it comes to bringing up a child. It implies the woman has a fear of having a close physical relationship with someone else, in which case the baby will not be brought up with that love.”

Fertility specialists had different observations about the IVF virgins. One said that: “In some cultures it is the stigma associated with childlessness which causes some women to head for fertility treatment rather than counselling for psychosexual issues.” Another’s explanation was “fear of sex. Most of them don’t have a fertility issue – it’s more a psychological problem”. Another observed that “Some wish to save sexual intercourse for a special relationship. They feel they have not found the right partner to share sex with, but they know they want a baby now.”

Maha Ragunath, a doctor at Care Fertility, told the newspaper:

“The number of single women I see has doubled over the last decade and single women now account for at least ten per cent of my patients. A lot of them are very young, in their 20s, sometimes studying or doing very ordinary jobs and often living with their parents, rather than career women who have been driven and focused too much on their work.

“When I ask them why they are coming for treatment, very often the response is that they are ready to have a child and they don’t want to wait around for the right partner to come along.

“A small percentage have never been in a relationship and never had sexual intercourse. They are extremely happy to go ahead on their own and don’t care about the implications that might bring for the child or how they would go into a new relationship.”

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