Should women be advised to have babies in their 20s?

In recent weeks, a number of consultant gynaecologists have spoken out about encouraging women to have babies while still in their 20s, rather than waiting until their 30s, when the risks of infertility and possible medical complications are higher. Some have suggested including education on this in the school curriculum.

There is a strong tendency in Ireland for couples to wait to have children until they are in their 30s, and this was reflected in recently released figures that women in Ireland are the oldest in Europe to give birth for the first time.

Speaking about the recent media coverage on the matter, Dr Moya McMenamin, Consultant Gynaecologist at Waterstone Clinic, said: “There are many reasons why people postpone having children, many of which are very valid. However, we cannot ignore the fact that fertility in women declines with increasing age. Furthermore, IVF and other assisted reproduction methods are far more successful when embarked on at an earlier age, but there does tend to be a lack of awareness and education about this.

“We would strongly encourage Irish couples to start thinking about having a family at an earlier age in order to give themselves the best chance of success,” she said.

Dr McMenamin added that she would recommend raising awareness about fertility among young women and men and would strongly advise young adults to check their fertility as part of routine health check.

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