Egg freezing has become an increasingly attractive option for Irish women, a doctor who specialises in fertility has claimed.
Latest figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that the average age of Irish women having babies last year was almost 33, and this has been slowly increasing in recent years.
However, according to Dr Bart Kuczera, a medical consultant at Beacon CARE Fertility, while many women are choosing to delay motherhood for a number of reasons, fertility is known to decline in a woman's 30s.
"Increasing numbers of Irish women are choosing to delay motherhood and 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 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 age of 40," he explained.
He noted that one of the biggest problems facing women who are having problems getting pregnant is reduced egg quality, which can lead to problems conceiving, miscarriages or failed IVF.
"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. We tell our patients that ideally egg freezing should happen before you're 36. Around 36, the quality of a woman's eggs will begin to decline," he said.
Dr Kuczera pointed out that for women interested in this option, freezing eggs when they are younger will give them the best chance of getting pregnant later on.
"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," he added.