Saturday 25 November 2017

Love dilemmas: Will my plans for motherhood put men off?

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Dr Victoria Lukats is a psychiatrist and an expert on relationships and dating. Today, she advises a woman who wants to freeze her eggs to have a baby, but is worried it will put off potential boyfriends.

Dear Dr Victoria,

I’m single, 38 and haven’t been in a relationship for more than three years.

I do meet men and have even started to online date but it’s really important for me to feel instant chemistry with a potential partner, therefore my endeavors have failed miserably. For me chemistry is everything and unfortunately I don’t seem to have it with many men and the ones I do like don’t like me.

Now some people may say I’m fussy but surely if I don’t fancy someone then it’s never going to work. When I look back on my exes they weren’t particularly good looking, successful or even funny, I just sort of fancied them, so how can I be fussy?

My friend says instant chemistry only happens when you’re a teenager and you need to go on several dates before deciding if they’re the one, personally I couldn’t disagree more, what do you think?

As I’ve been single for four years and really don’t seem to be getting any closer to meeting “the one” I’m getting very concerned that I’ll end up alone and childless. All of my life I’ve wanted to have a child/children and life would be meaningless without a child.

I’m seriously considering freezing my eggs before it gets too late and finding a sperm donor. However, my friend says that this would almost certainly put any man off me in the future. If they found out the extremes I’m prepared to go to have a child they’d be off like a shot.

So it’s the freezer or a man, can you have both?

Some advice to help me clarify things would be really appreciated.

Victoria replies:

You raise lots of issues here. And you clearly have some thinking to do.

Freezing your eggs isn’t like having a blood test. It’s not something you undertake lightly and there are medical risks involved, so you need to research all the facts before you make your decision. When you find out what’s involved – hormone shots, operating theatre, large needles and a risk of over-stimulating the ovaries, not to mention the cost – you might think differently.

If you’re serious about finding a sperm donor and doing this alone, you don’t even need to get your eggs frozen first so it could all be unnecessary. After researching the topic, you’d need to go and have a consultation at a fertility clinic before you make any decision.

Regarding your fertility, time isn’t exactly on your side but if you’re fit and healthy, not over or underweight and you’re having regular periods still, the chances are that you’ll still be fertile. You can confirm if you’re ovulating with either a blood test or with an ovulation testing kit. There’s no accurate way to predict when your fertility will drop off but it will gradually start to decline some years before you go through the menopause – and the single most important factor in determining when that will be is when your mother went through the menopause herself.

The average age is 45. Even if you have had your eggs frozen, there’s no guarantee that when the time comes and you’re ready to get pregnant that you’ll get a healthy embryo or that you’ll get pregnant – especially if you leave it until you’re older.

Naturally, you also need to consider if you really want to be a single parent. It’s going to be tough – physically, emotionally and financially. So don’t be sentimental about what having a child will be like – be as realistic as possible.

Having said that, many women do make the active choice to go it alone and it can work but it will be best if you have a plan as to how you’re going to manage – will you work, how much maternity leave would you take, what will you do for childcare, how much will the childcare cost, how will you manage financially, will you need to move house, will you have any support?

Be realistic about the timescale involved here – you’re 38, so if you really want to have a child, think about all this now. If your preference would be to meet a man, settle down and have a child together, then you’d better get out dating and get on with it.

Your friend does have a point that instant chemistry isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, but most people need to feel at least attracted to the person they go on a date with in order to go on another date. But instead of looking for some sort of magical spark, try being a bit more flexible.

If you think the man is attractive in some way and if you get on and you like him, why not go on a few dates and see how you feel then?

Your friend also has a point that there are certain things you don’t say on the first few dates and this would include mentioning that you want to get married as soon as possible, that you’ve frozen your eggs or that you’d like to get pregnant in the next 6-12 months.

But if you meet someone that you get on well with and it turns into a relationship, it’s ok to check that you both want the same things in life. Maybe wait a month or two before you bring it up but you can’t afford to be wasting your time now if you already know what you want.

If you want to ask Dr Lukats's advice send an email to . Please bear in mind she cannot enter into private correspondence and cannot answer all questions. Any advice given will be published on the website (personal details will not be published).

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