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Almost eight in 10 adults do not know the age at which fertility begins to decline, a new survey has found.

According to the findings, 79% of people are unaware when fertility starts to decline, with 41% believing it starts to decline at the age of 35. However, it actually begins to decline at the age of 30.

A recent Eurostat survey found that first-time mothers in Ireland are among the oldest in Europe, with 52% aged between 30 and 39. Respondents to this latest survey were asked why they believed people were waiting longer to have children.

Some 46% of women said that waiting for the right partner was the main reason for delaying starting a family, compared to just 29% of men. At least one in three men (37%) said financial concerns were the main reason for delaying children.

The survey involved 710 adults aged between 25 and 44 and was carried out on behalf of My Fertility Check, a self-referral fertility assessment service.

According to its head of clinical services, Mary McAuliffe, the proportion of people who are misinformed about fertility decline ‘is of concern’.

“I see so many women and couples attending for fertility treatment and IVF who are surprised that it has proven so difficult to have a baby naturally. A substantial portion of adults think fertility declines at a much later age than it does in reality.

“The results really highlight the need for a nationwide, State-funded education campaign on fertility and reproductive health, particularly targeting students at third level. Young people need to be educated on the lifestyle choices that can affect their fertility, in particular, age, smoking, alcohol and health issues such as sexually transmitted diseases,” she commented.

She added that young people ‘are too optimistic about their chances of conceiving spontaneously after 35′ and they tend to overestimate the effectiveness of IVF, ‘in part due to the number of celebrities giving birth in their 40s and also due to miracle stories in the media’.

By: Deborah Condon