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Sampson, then aged 40, had had five unsuccessful IVF cycles and was considering seeking an egg donor - but was concerned about the potential costs. As she added up the numbers, the phone rang. It was the clinic: Sampson is one of a growing number of women using donor sperm to achieve their dream of becoming a mother and having a child.
Since the law changed in Victoria inallowing single women and lesbian couples to access IVF, the number of women using sperm donors to try to conceive has quadrupled.
In the last financial year, Victorian women were treated, up from women inaccording to figures from the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority.
Louise Johnson, VARTA's chief executive, echoes many others who say the rise reflects a growing acceptance of different kinds of families - that it's not who makes up a family or how the family is created, but what the child receives in terms of love and care. But what makes a woman decide to go it alone? When is the time right?
And what role should, or could, a donor play in a child's life? Advertisement Sampson, now 41, says up until her mids she thought she'd have ''a husband, kids, a Labrador and a picket fence''.
But in her late 30s she realised it might not happen that way. Her last relationship broke up just as she turned 40, spurring her to kick ''Plan B'' into action.
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Two gay male friends offered Sampson their sperm, but one lived in London and the other was ''a bit irresponsible'', so after counselling she opted for an anonymous donor. Selecting the donor was similar to perusing online dating profiles, she says.
Sampson prioritised health, the person's reasons for donating and how he sounded - from a written profile - followed lastly by physical characteristics. But one small quirk sealed it for Sampson. You go through all those criteria, like health. But I really like trivia and my sperm donor liked trivia. That just jumped out at me, as cheesy as it sounds.
More Victorian women choosing to be single mothers
Anderson, 37, has a two-year old daughter conceived with the sperm of a Danish man who had three daughters of his own. She was living and working in India, but this didn't deter her: She discovered the world's biggest sperm bank was in Denmark and so chose a donor and arranged for the sperm to be sent to Bangalore, where she would undergo IVF.
Anderson says she considered trying insemination, but its lower success rate - at about 10 per cent compared with IVF's estimated 30 per cent - convinced her otherwise. She tells of tracking the sperm's journey to India via Saudi Arabia and Dubai. She was forced to leave the sperm behind. Anderson says people often describe her as brave embarking on parenthood alone, but she's uncomfortable with the tag.
Brave is having five children in India, living in a shanty town and having no access to all the things I have access to. I have a good job, a supportive family, a lovely home and life and friends.
Thinking of freezing your eggs? It's not that simple | health and fitness | Hindustan Times
The only thing that was missing was a baby. They realise the biological clock is ticking and they need to do something. While they were open to finding a life partner - be it male or female - they weren't prepared to settle for just anyone. Sampson, a marketing manager, says: My parents say they didn't even know each other particularly well; in those days women needed men financially.
We don't need that and we are fussier. We can have full lives and want our partners to complement us. For heterosexual women there is, she says, a shortage of compatible men - a ''man drought''. Sampson says her ex-partner had mental health issues, plus a daughter from a previous relationship. Freezing Shikha's eggs could mean that, in a few years, when the Vermas are ready - and if they are unable to have a child naturally - they could turn to her frozen eggs stored at the Kiran infertility centre in Hyderabad, get them thawed, and after the in-vitro fertilization IVF procedure, implant the embryo in Shikha's womb.
Her chances of getting pregnant through this method would depend on several factors including the quality of her eggs at the time of banking. Also read No time to cherish: Career couples freeze family dreams Typically, it takes one or two cycles of extraction to get a good number of eggs from a woman's body. The Vermas are aware that the success rates of IVF is about per cent per cycle. But if we can't, with egg freezing, we would at least have an option," says Shikha, who is keen to wait another five years before planning a child.
Dr Samit Sekhar, executive director of KIran infertility centre, says there are at least 17 other women whose eggs are stored in the clinic's egg bank. The first woman to get the procedure done at the clinic two years ago was a year-old airline professional, who believed her job wouldn't allow her to have a baby just yet. She believed that the option of freezing her eggs allowed her to consider postponing motherhood for a few more years. Other doctors such as Mumbai-based Dr Duru Shah, describe egg freezing or oocyte cryopreservation as an "empowering" alternative for women whose career aspirations take precedence over having a baby, or, for those who believe they haven't found the "right partner" yet.
Mummy for a fair price - Times of India
Egg freezing provides a "safety net" to these women, she says. Shah says that the procedure allows women to be choosier about their partners. Of course, it would be best if they had it naturally. But this option gives them choice. It's just like contraception," she says. Recently, in a bid to attract more women employees, Facebook and Apple announced a host of benefits, including the offer to freeze eggs. Since then, the subject has been hotly debated in the media, on blogs, and at workplaces.
Apple, Facebook to pay for female employees to freeze their eggs While many - not all of them social and religious conservatives - view this, like surrogacy, as a tricky ethical issue that could have unforeseen repurcussions, and as yet another indication of mankind's Icarus-like attempts to overreach itself, there are those who believe it is a great stride forward. Advocates of egg freezing believe the procedure will bring about an attitudinal, even a social paradigm shift comparable to the one affected by the pill 55 years ago.
Incidentally, one of the doctors on the team that developed the pill was, ironically, trying to treat infertility. The pill gave women greater reproductive autonomy, allowed them to plan their families, participate more fully in the work force and therefore improve living standards of their families. Advocates of egg freezing believe the benefits of the procedure are comparable to contraception. But like all contemporary hotbutton issues that force individuals to confront their sexual and reproductive roles, there are as many pros as there are cons.
While some women, conscious of the documented negative effects on their careers of their motherhood breaks and even their status as mothers, might want to 'have it all' by freezing their eggs, the procedure is an even greater boon for cancer patients whose eggs are destroyed by radiation therapy.
Contrary to general belief, however, egg freezing is not as simple as popping a pill. According to Rene Almeling, author of Sex Cells: The Medical Market for Eggs and Spermshuman sperm banks were established in Los Angeles in the s, though commercial sperm banks with donated sperm didn't open until the s.
In an email interview with this reporter, Almeling explained that the demand for frozen sperm though it does not work as well as fresh sperm increased after the AIDS crisis of the mids, when physicians were encouraged by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine ASRM and FDA to begin using frozen sperm. This view is reinforced by the ASRM website, where a document on egg freezing states that "data on safety, efficacy, cost-effectiveness and emotional risks of elective cryo preservation is insufficient to recommend" the procedure for those who wish to bank their eggs in the absence of a medical condition.
While stating that the technique is no longer experimental and may be used to simplify egg donation, the document also states that "marketing this technology to defer childbearing may give women false hope and encourage delay in child bearing".