Scores of women in their early twenties are logging on to websites such as babydonor.com and co-parent-search.com to find fathers for their children.
Many women, some of whom are as young as 18 or 19, say they are frustrated with relationships and have decided to face the challenge of parenthood alone.
According to The Sunday Times of UK, women under 25 make up a quarter of women registering on some sites, where they post pictures or themselves, as well as private information allowing potential donors to get in touch.
One 20-year-old said: 'I've wanted kids for as long as I can remember. I lost a baby when I was with my ex-boyfriend. We broke up shortly afterwards, too devastated to continue. But since then I have known I am ready to be a parent. I am financially secure, I have found a job with flexible hours, I have a house and a mortgage. I know I could offer a child a loving, safe environment, so I don't know why I should wait.'
According to Christina Hughes, professor of women and gender at Warwick University, having a child is no longer a matter of waiting to find the right man and falling in love. 'Now there is an emphasis on women waiting until the time is right to have children.' she said. 'Even though these women are young, they believe that they have the support structure and feel emotionally and financially independent: for them it is the right time.'
Research shows that between one and two per cent of patients at licensed fertility clinics are under 25 but the number of adverts suggests that the number using unregulated channels may be much higher, perhaps due to the cost of fertility treatment, which can run in to many thousands of pounds.
But the unregulated market is fraught with dangers and women who take this route are putting themselves at risk.