When my husband and I decided to opt for the IVF route, we knew we wanted a go for a clinic that wasn’t too far from where we lived, which narrowed things down for us. From the five I chose, each website had the previous years results which again helped in our decision making, so for us choosing a clinic was easy. What I did find confusing however, was the jargon and terminology used throughout the process and the varying opinions on different types of treatments (yes, reading online internet forums does NOT help with this sort of thing) When I asked a nurse at my clinic about a certain style of treatment she shot me down, citing that the consultants didn’t believe in it. This was fine as that was (and is) their stance however, I wasn’t pointed in any direction which could have helped clear things up for me.
As we have now veered away from IVF, looking into an alternative type of treatment I have essentially had to go on a gut feeling and recommendations, because everything I have read online is fairly contradictory it’s safe to say. A frustrating journey at times, during an already stressful and frustrating journey! And it seems I’m not the only one to feel confused by the fertility world. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) got in touch with me to share some recent findings and to talk about the first ever Fertility Forum that they were hosting. New data released by the RCOG highlights widespread concern and worry UK women are feeling in the face of conflicting fertility information. Here are some stats for you:
- Four out of five (86%) UK women say information from different sources seems contradictory, while more than three quarters (76%) are not sure if fertility information is impartial and unbiased.
- Three out of five UK women (62%) report feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of advice on offer.
- Almost half of UK women report they have worried about their own fertility (49%), with a quarter (25%) of 18-24 year-olds currently concerned.
- More than half of UK women (54%) think that online forums are unreliable and some 74% of women said Facebook groups were unreliable. Almost half of women (47%) stated that advice from friends and family is unreliable and four out five women (81%) say that it is not always clear that information is promoting particular clinics or treatments
To address these concerns, the first ever Fertility Forum information day took place at the RCOG at the end of March, bringing together experts, professionals and the public. The RCOG believes that women need to feel confident that they can trust the quality and effectiveness of the advice they are receiving at this often challenging stage of their lives.
Professor Lesley Regan, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said:
“Trying for a baby can be an incredibly stressful time for some. This new data echoes what we have been hearing from women and patients for many years. It is vital that women and couples have access to accurate, evidence-based, impartial and expert advice which is why we have brought together renowned experts, patients and partners together in one location for our very first Fertility Forum event.”
Sally Cheshire, Chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), said:
“As the fertility regulator, we collect data about every treatment cycle across the UK to provide patients with clear, unbiased information and to prepare them for what they will face at their clinic. I know from personal experience as a former patient how difficult it is to find impartial, evidence-based information so that you can make informed choices about the right fertility treatment for you. The HFEA is delighted to be joining the Fertility Forum, giving patients the opportunity to ask questions, hear from experts and find out about our latest data on all aspects of fertility treatment and donation.”
Londoner Katy Lindemann, who blogs at Uber Barrens Club talks about her feelings of desperation whilst seeking fertility treatment. Katy said: “When going through fertility treatment it can feel like clinics are the merchants of hope, but if different specialists are telling you, and selling you, different things, deciding what to do can be overwhelming. There’s also a wealth of weird, wonderful and downright crazy stuff to try, that someone on the internet swears worked for them, which of course you end up doing, because you’re desperate – and don’t want to feel guilty that you didn’t try hard enough. The Fertility Forum is a terrific opportunity to access independent, impartial information from experts in an environment where no one’s trying to sell you anything. It will really help couples to navigate this maelstrom of different options to decide what’s right for them.”The RCOG also asked UK women about the action they would consider taking to address their fertility concerns:
- One in nine women (11%) say they have frozen or considered freezing their eggs, with a further 34% saying they would consider this in the future.
- More than two in five women aged 18-24 (44%) said they would consider freezing their eggs in the future.
- A fifth (20%) of women have used a fertility app, with almost a third (31%) saying they would consider using one in the future.
- 16% have used an ovulation monitor or ovulation testing kit, one in nine (11%) have considered using one and a third (33%) would consider using one in the future.
- More than a quarter of women (28%) would consider fertility coaching.
- 18% of women would consider seeking treatment abroad.
About the RCOG
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is a medical charity that champions the provision of high quality women’s healthcare in the UK and beyond. It is dedicated to encouraging the study and advancing the science and practice of obstetrics and gynaecology. It does this through postgraduate medical education and training and the publication of clinical guidelines and reports on aspects of the specialty and service provision. They have a dedicated section on fertility, on their website.
About the HFEA
HFEA is the UK’s independent regulator of fertility treatment and research using human embryos. Set up in 1990 through the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, the HFEA is responsible for licensing, monitoring and inspecting fertility clinics to ensure patients and everyone born through fertility treatment receives high quality care. The HFEA is an ‘arm’s length body’ of the Department of Health, working independently on behalf of the Government providing free, clear and impartial information about fertility treatment, clinics and egg, sperm and embryo donation.