As Irish women are having babies later, is egg-freezing the answer?

Latest CSO figures show the average age of first-time mothers continues to rise

As Irish women are having babies later, is egg-freezing the answer?

Picture by: Andrew Matthews / PA Wire/Press Association Images

The average age of Irish women having a baby in 2016 continues to rise.

In 2016, the average age of first time mothers rose to 33. On top of that, 43,761 less women aged 20-39 had babies compared to those recorded in the 2011 Census figures.

Children born to every woman aged 70-74 in 2016 averaged 3.27.

The average number of children born to women aged 45 and over was recorded county-by-county - Donegal had the highest rate at 3.08 children per woman, followed by Monaghan (3.07) and Offaly (3.06).

Dublin city, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown and Galway city had the lowest rates, at 2.38, 2.41 and 2.45 respectively.

The benefits of egg-freezing

As more woman decide to have children later in life (or to go it alone, as reflected in the number of one-parent mothers at almost 90,000), egg-freezing is becoming a more common practice.

Speaking following the release of the figures, Dr Bart Kuczera medical consultant with Beacon CARE Fertility said: “Increasing numbers of Irish women are choosing to delay motherhood - between 5-10% of patients I see are now choosing to go out it alone for a variety of reasons including the inability to find a suitable partner, the failure of a long-term relationship and indeed the greater financial independence.

"However, a women’s fertility begins to decline at 30 with a significant drop at 35 and an even more significant drop by the time a woman reaches 40. Often the biggest problem facing patients is reduced egg quality which often leads to failed IVF or miscarriage.

"The reality is that when a woman gets to 40, up to 80% of her eggs have a chromosomal anomaly. Egg-freezing gives women more choice to preserve their fertility for the future, giving them the flexibility to wait for the right time."

Dr Bart Kuczera recommends that women freeze their eggs before turning 36. At that age, the quality of a women’s eggs begins to decline. Poor egg quality can lead to problems conceiving, miscarriage or  babies affected by genetic conditions.
"We have devised a procedure called EGGsafe which involves freezing a total of 20 eggs gathered over up to four egg collections and can be spread over several months," Dr Kuczera continued.
"Even with the medical advances of IVF we cannot change our biological clock, that is why if for whatever reason women cannot have children until they are in their late 30s , I would strongly urge them to consider freezing their eggs."