In 2011, 142 Irish women attended a Spanish fertility clinic, mainly for egg donation to help to conceive a baby — with 70% over the age of 40.
A study on the Irish patients revealed how one-in-two told doctors at the Institut Marquès in Barcelona they wanted to give birth to twins — to have a readymade family with one pregnancy.
Fertility specialist at the clinic Victoria Walker said she isn’t surprised Irish couples experiencing fertility problems wish to have twins, even though there can be additional risks. “Quite a lot of the patients say to me they really, really want to have twins. For them it is one pregnancy and you’ve created a family.
“If you are already relatively old because you are talking about egg donation then people seem to want to have their family completed in one go.”
She said there are greater risks to a twin pregnancy, especially with mothers over the age of 40. “We tell patients that issues of prematurity and blood pressure and diabetes that can go wrong in pregnancy are accentuated with a twin pregnancy.
“When a mother is 45 there is a higher risk in pregnancy and having twins pushes the risk higher.
“The medical profession don’t want twins but the patients do.”
The study on 980 childless couples from 31 countries revealed the Spanish and Italians were the most in favour of twins while the Germans had a distinct preference for only children.
In the study, 51% of Irish patients expressed their wish to doctors to give birth to two babies.
The study claimed 73% of the Irish women were implanted with donor eggs while 9% used both donated eggs and donated sperm, with just over 1% using only donated sperm.
Since 2005, more than 500 Irish women between the ages of 30 and 49 have travelled to the Institut Marquès in a final attempt to become mothers.
Dr Walker said most Irish women who travel to Spain will be receiving donor eggs from European female donors aged between 18 and 35 to conceive a child.
“IVF exists in Ireland but it’s when your own country has run out of possibilities for you due to legislation or no donors that people will travel.”
The Spanish institute said only 14.5% of their patients gave birth to twins in 2010.