Objective: To explore women's awareness of issues associated with delayed childbearing, including its social and medical implications and the limitations of available treatment.
Design: Cross-sectional study.
Setting: University-based tertiary care clinics.
Patient(s): Three hundred sixty-two women attending a subfertility clinic and 362 pregnant women.
Intervention(s): A precoded questionnaire.
Main outcome measure(s): Awareness and perceptions of issues surrounding delay in childbearing.
Result(s): Subfertile women were, on average, 3.3 years older (95% confidence interval 2.5-4.1) and more likely to have tried for their first pregnancy after the age of 30 years (37.3% vs. 24.6%). Despite awareness of the impact of age on fertility, 85% of the subfertile group expected IVF to overcome the effects of age compared with 77% of the pregnant population. Knowledge about age-related obstetric risks, such as trisomy 21, was similar in both groups (86.3% vs. 85%). Almost all participants (94.5%) believed that women should be informed about the implications of delaying childbearing at an early age.
Conclusion(s): Women are largely aware of the risks and complications of delaying childbirth, but erroneously believe that IVF can reverse the effects of age. There is a need to provide accurate information in the community.