How to be a single mother? Fertility treatments and prices

By (gynecologist), (gynecologist), (gynecologist), (embryologist), (embryologist), (embryologist), (embryologist) and (psychologist).
Last Update: 12/15/2023

More and more women are deciding to become single mothers by choice. Today, this is possible thanks to ART with sperm donation or adoption.

However, fertility treatments for having a single child are on the rise, as they have the advantage of allowing these women to become biological mothers with the participation of an anonymous sperm donor.

In summary, single women can achieve pregnancy with treatments such as artificial insemination (IUI), in vitro fertilization (IVF) or, in specific cases, with the adoption of embryos.

Artificial insemination for single mothers

Artificial insemination is the simplest and most economical assisted reproductive treatment available. It is indicated for young women with good ovarian reserve and permeable fallopian tubes.

Since there is no male partner, single women who want to have artificial insemination will have to resort to donor sperm.

Depending on the technique used, there are two forms of IUI for single women: home insemination and AID.


At-home artificial insemination, also known as intracervical insemination or “ICI”, is a method that a woman can perform in her own home after acquiring semen from a donor from an accredited sperm bank and a homemade insemination kit.

It is very important to note that home insemination is not an assisted reproductive technique as such, as it is not performed with intervention or medical assistance.

The probability of achieving pregnancy with this method is similar to that of natural pregnancy and will depend mainly on the time of the cycle in which it is carried out and the correct manipulation of the semen sample.

If you are interested in more detailed information on this subject, you can read more here: How does artificial insemination at home work?


Artificial insemination with donor sperm (AID) is a treatment that must be performed in a fertility clinic under the supervision of a specialist gynecologist.

The steps for a woman who wants to get pregnant with this method are as follows:

  • Mild ovarian stimulation
  • Control of stimulation with ultrasound and estrogen analysis to assess follicular development.
  • Ovulation induction with hormonal medication.
  • Preparation of donor semen, which will be frozen.
  • Introduction of capacitated semen into the woman's uterus using an insemination cannula.

For donor sperm, the fertility clinic will choose a donor whose physical and immune characteristics are as close as possible to those of the woman.

The clinic must guarantee by law the anonymity of gametes donors and under no circumstances will it be possible to disclose this information. Recommended: IUI with donor sperm.

In vitro fertilization for single mothers

Women who do not qualify for artificial insemination or who have not achieved pregnancy after several cycles of Donor Insemination may resort to in vitro fertilization.

This may be the case for single women who are older or have fertility problems.

Dr. Gorka Barrenetxea, in reference to sterility in single women and lesbians, tells us that:

A woman who comes alone or with a female partner has an 80% chance of not having fertility problems and a 20% chance of having fertility problems.

The IVF treatment is a little more expensive and complex than the previous one, but the pregnancy rate is much higher.

Since we are talking about single mothers, IVF will also have to be performed with donor sperm. However, depending on the origin of the woman's eggs, we differentiate between the following types of IVF:

IVF with donor sperm

This is the classic IVF treatment indicated for couples with sterility, but with the particularity of using donor sperm.

In the following section, we are going to detail the steps of this whole process:

  • Controlled ovarian stimulation
  • Control of stimulation with ultrasound and estrogen analysis to assess follicular development.
  • Follicular puncture to remove mature eggs from the ovary.
  • Thawing and capacitation of the assigned donor's semen.
  • Fertilization of the eggs obtained with the donor's semen.
  • Cultivation of the embryos that have managed to fertilize.
  • Selection of the best quality embryos and embryo transfer to the maternal uterus.

Just like donor insemination, the sperm donor will be anonymous and chosen by the fertility center on the basis of the immunological and physical characteristics of the future mother.

Visit this post for more detailed information on this assisted reproductive technique: IVF with a sperm donor.

IVF with double donation

In the event of a low ovarian reserve or inability to use their own eggs for any reason, single mothers can resort to IVF with double donation of gametes to achieve pregnancy.

Both the eggs and the sperm needed to carry out fertilization comes from anonymous donors who have passed all the necessary controls to be able to donate.

The IVF procedure with egg and sperm donation is very similar to egg donation. The future mother will only have to go through a hormonal treatment of endometrial preparation to be able to make the embryo transfer with the maximum guarantees of success.

In IVF with a double donation, ovarian stimulation and follicular puncture are performed on the egg donor, so that the recipient woman hardly feels any discomfort or side effects from the medication.

As we have already said, donor semen always comes from a bank and is therefore frozen. However, donor eggs may be fresh or vitrified.

If freshly donated eggs are used, it will be necessary to coordinate the donor's cycle with that of the recipient.

In this link you will find all the information you need to know about the double donation of gametes: IVF with egg and sperm donation.

Embryo adoption

IVF treatment with embryo adoption is another possible option when a woman cannot use her own eggs to achieve pregnancy. In addition, embryo adoption is much cheaper than IVF with double donation of gametes.

Embryos donated for this procedure are surplus embryos from fertility treatments of other women or couples, who no longer wish to have children and decide to donate them.

These embryos are cryopreserved in liquid nitrogen, so they simply have to be thawed and transferred to the woman's uterus.

Previously, the patient must have received hormonal treatment for the preparation of the endometrium, as in the case of the egg.

Just like egg and semen donation, embryo donation is anonymous. The fertility center chooses the embryos based on the immunological and physical characteristics of the couple or woman who donated them so that they match those of the future mother.

Learn more about embryo donation here: Is embryo donation the same as embryo adoption?


The cost of being a single mother will depend mainly on the fertility treatment required, the assisted reproduction center as well as in the country in which the procedure will be carried out.

Here, we will indicate the approximate costs of fertility treatments in the U.S. and the U.K.

Costs in the U.S.

The following costs are charged on average by fertility clinics in the U.S.:

IUI with donor sperm
IVF with donor sperm
IVF with double donation
Embryo adoption

Women who decide to become single mothers by choice must bear in mind that hormonal medication to stimulate the ovaries and prepare the endometrium is not included in these prices.

Fertility drugs for donor insemination cost approximately $400-1000, for IVF between $2,000-4,000, and around 400$ for endometrial preparation.

We recommend you ask your health care about what's included in your insurance coverage and what's not.

Costs in the U.K.

The average costs of fertility treatments for single mothers in the United Kingdom are as follows:

IUI with donor sperm
IVF with donor sperm
IVF with donor eggs and donor sperm
Embryo adoption

These costs don't include fertility medication which can add up another £20-300 for IUI and £700-1000 to the overall expenses of IVF.

Sedation and HFEA fees as well as any other complementary technique such as ICSI, assisted hatching, etc. are excluded as well. Therefore, it is important to inform yourself before undergoing any fertility treatment about which services and techniques are included and which are not.

Unfortunately, up to this day, it is not possible for single women to undergo fertility treatment via the NHS since they exclude single motherhood from being funded publicly.

For more information on this subject, you can continue reading here: Costs in assisted reproduction.

Video about options for single motherhood

Esther Marbán, a gynecologist specializing in fertility at the Tambre clinic in Madrid, tells us about the different fertility treatments for single women who want to have a baby:

Well, everything will depend on her age. If the patient is young we normally recommend undergoing IUI, which means intrauterine insemination with a sperm donor. She can also undergo IVF (in vitro fertilization) and, of course, we also offer egg donation plus sperm donor.

FAQs from users

When is an unmarried woman considered infertile?

By Marta Zermiani M.D., Ph.D. (gynecologist).

Infertility is usually diagnosed if a woman has not become pregnant after having unprotected sex (i.e., without using contraception) for one year. However, in the single woman, the outcome of assisted reproductive treatments must be considered in order to evaluate whether or not she has a fertility problem.

In single women, it is usually recommended to start assisted reproductive treatments when they have the desire to become pregnant. Treatment options vary depending on the age and ovarian reserve of the woman.

If there is no previous pathology, it is usually started with DAI and it is recommended to perform 3-4 cycles before moving on to IVF with donor sperm. If the woman does not achieve pregnancy after the IVF cycles deemed necessary, a sterility problem can be diagnosed, for which sometimes, unfortunately, the main cause cannot be identified.

Can I keep the donor sperm in case I want to have more children?

By Rachele Pandolfi M.Sc., Ph.D. (embryologist).

In most sperm banks it is possible to reserve doses of donor sperm for successive pregnancies in order to have biological siblings. The number of doses to reserve will depend on the type of treatment.

This reservation can be made as long as the availability of donor sperm doses is verified and the donor has not reached the number of newborns allowed by the Spanish assisted reproduction law (a maximum of 6 children).

Is there any age limit for becoming a single mother?

By Zaira Salvador B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

No, there is no specific age limit for being a single mother. However, a woman's age is a very important factor in any assisted reproductive treatment, and success rates decrease as a woman turns age.

Can I be a single mother for the second time?

By Sara Salgado B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

Yes, but only in a private center. You will have to undergo fertility tests again to decide the best treatment.

If you are sure that you want a second child and the first one you had in a private center, you can request that they keep a sample of the donor so that your children will be biological siblings. There will be no problem as long as you pay a reserve and there are no more than 5 babies born thanks to their donations.

One of the most common concerns of women who decide to become single mothers is the source of donor semen. If you want more information related to this topic, we recommend you enter the following article: Sperm Donation: requirements for becoming a donor, price, and treatments.

If you are interested in the success rates of fertility treatments, you can continue reading here: Success rates of assisted reproduction treatments.

We make a great effort to provide you with the highest quality information.

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Andrade-Rocha FT (2003). Semen analysis in laboratory practice: an overview of routine test. J Clin Lab Anal 2003; 17: 247-258 (View)

Ballesteros A, Castilla JA, Nadal J, Ruiz, M. Manifiesto de la SEF sobre la donación de gametos en España. Publicado a través de la Sociedad Española de Fertilidad (SEF) (View)

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Comisión Nacional de Reproducción Humana Asistida (CNRHA) (2015). Aspectos legales y éticos de la donación. En: Registro Nacional de Donantes de Gametos y Preembriones. Ministerio de Sanidad, Consumo y Bienestar Social de España (View)

Kvist U, Björndahl L. ESHRE Monographs: Manual on Basic Semen Analysis. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.

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Manuel Muñoz y María Nicolás. Donación de embriones con fines reproductivos. Manual de Buena Práctica Clínica en Reproducción Asistida (pp. 75-88). Sociedad Española de la Fertilidad (View)

Sociedad Española de Fertilidad (SEF) (febrero de 2012). “Saber más sobre fertilidad y reproducción asistida”. En colaboración con el Ministerio de Sanidad, Política Social e Igualdad del Gobierno de España y el Plan de Calidad para el Sistema Nacional de Salud.

Sociedad Española de la Fertilidad (SEF). Libro Blanco Sociosanitario. La Infertilidad en España Situación Actual y Perspectivas. Imago Concept & Image Development 2011.

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FAQs from users: 'When is an unmarried woman considered infertile?', 'Can I keep the donor sperm in case I want to have more children?', 'Do you recommend me to have a baby alone at 40?', 'Can I become a single mother with artificial insemination?', 'Is there any age limit for becoming a single mother?', 'What pregnancy options does a woman have without a man?', 'Can you have a baby without a man or sperm?', 'Is there any difference in the performance of the techniques in single motherhood?', 'Is it possible to become a single mother and be happy?', 'Can I be a single mother for the second time?', 'How are sperm donors for single women chosen?', 'Can I become a single mother of two?', 'Will the baby look like the mother in a single motherhood?' and 'Has the number of single women resorting to assisted reproduction increased?'.

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Authors and contributors

 Esther Marbán Bermejo
Esther Marbán Bermejo
Bachelor's Degree in Medicine from the Alcalá University of Madrid. Specialist in Obstetrics & Gynecologist after being a resident doctor at Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañón of Madrid. Several years of experience as expert OB/GYN in the field of Reproductive Medicine. More information about Esther Marbán Bermejo
License: 282859737
 Gorka Barrenetxea Ziarrusta
Gorka Barrenetxea Ziarrusta
M.D., Ph.D.
Bachelor's Degree in Medicine & Surgery from the University of Navarra, with specialty in Obstetrics and Gynecology from the University of the Basque Country. He has over 30 years of experience in the field and works as a Titular Professor at the University of the Basque Country and the Master's Degree in Human Reproduction of the Complutense University of Madrid. Vice-president of the SEF. More information about Gorka Barrenetxea Ziarrusta
License: 484806591
 Marta Zermiani
Marta Zermiani
M.D., Ph.D.
Graduated in Medicine and Surgery from the Università degli Studi di Padova in Italy, specializing in Gynecology and Obstetrics at the Hospital Universitario de Bellvitge in Barcelona. Specialist in Assisted Reproduction with 4 years experience and currently a gynecologist at Vida Fertility Madrid. More information about Marta Zermiani
Licence number: 280847526
 Marta Barranquero Gómez
Marta Barranquero Gómez
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Graduated in Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences by the University of Valencia (UV) and specialized in Assisted Reproduction by the University of Alcalá de Henares (UAH) in collaboration with Ginefiv and in Clinical Genetics by the University of Alcalá de Henares (UAH). More information about Marta Barranquero Gómez
License: 3316-CV
 Rachele Pandolfi
Rachele Pandolfi
M.Sc., Ph.D.
College studies on Molecular Biological Sciences in Italy. PhD in Biomedical Research, with a Master's Degree in Human Reproduction. Several scientific publications. Currently, she continues expanding her professional career as an embryologist at Clínica Tambre. More information about Rachele Pandolfi
License: 20059-M
 Sara Salgado
Sara Salgado
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU). Master's Degree in Human Assisted Reproduction from the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM). Certificate of University Expert in Genetic Diagnosis Techniques from the University of Valencia (UV). More information about Sara Salgado
 Zaira Salvador
Zaira Salvador
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Bachelor's Degree in Biotechnology from the Technical University of Valencia (UPV). Biotechnology Degree from the National University of Ireland en Galway (NUIG) and embryologist specializing in Assisted Reproduction, with a Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Reproduction from the University of Valencia (UV) and the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI) More information about Zaira Salvador
License: 3185-CV
Adapted into english by:
 Cristina  Algarra Goosman
Cristina Algarra Goosman
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Graduated in Psychology by the University of Valencia (UV) and specialized in Clinical Psychology by the European University Center and specific training in Infertility: Legal, Medical and Psychosocial Aspects by University of Valencia (UV) and ADEIT.
More information about Cristina Algarra Goosman
Member number: CV16874

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