New research shows that single women and same-sex couples using fertility treatments are redesigning the idea of what modern families look like.
The Western ideal of a ‘normal’ family has long been sold to us as a picture of mum, dad, child one, child two, and maybe even a dog.
But, in a society where 42% of marriages end in divorce, and over one million people identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual – an edit of that picture is well overdue.
New research proves that things are finally starting to change.
A report from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority shows that record numbers of single women and same-sex couples are using IVF and donor insemination, with the fertility treatments becoming more popular than ever.
This suggests that the modern idea of what a family looks like (which is, well…anything) is accepted by a growing number of people in Britain.
The report showed that, between 2016 and 2017, IVF and donor insemination for women in female same-sex relationships rose by 12% to 4,463 cycles, while there was a 4% rise among single women to 2,279 cycles. Treatments for surrogates rose by 22% to 302 cycles.
In 2007, 351 IVF treatments were for single women who had no partner, but this more than tripled to 1,290 a decade later. And, in 2017, 671 cycles of fertility treatment – including IVF and donor insemination – were for women aged 40 to 42 with no partner, while 278 were for those aged 43 to 44. There were also 191 treatments were for women aged over 44.
“We are seeing a gradual change in the reasons why people use fertility treatments, which were originally developed to help heterosexual couples with infertility problems,” Sally Cheshire, HFEA chairwoman.
“While the increases in same-sex couples, single women and surrogates having fertility treatment are small, this reflects society’s changing attitudes towards family creation, lifestyles and relationships and highlights the need for the sector to continue to evolve and adapt.”