A new survey by the Fertility Network UK has revealed the emotional, financial, and career impact of infertility and fertility treatment
The charity commissioned the survey to coincide with National Fertility Awareness Week 2022 and approached 1,300 fertility patients in the UK.
It stated that the results highlight the truly devastating toll infertility wreaks on people’s mental health, relationships, finances, and career. It said it also shone a spotlight on the lack of information provided by GPs and limited support options.
Gwenda Burns, chief executive of Fertility Network UK said: “Fertility Network UK’s major new survey reveals the far-reaching trauma of infertility, painting a stark, distressing picture of what it is like to experience infertility and fertility treatment in the UK.
“Fertility patients encounter a perfect storm: not being able to have the child you long for is emotionally devastating, but then many fertility patients face a series of other hurdles, including potentially paying financially crippling amounts of money for their necessary medical treatment, having their career damaged, not getting information from their GP, experiencing their relationships deteriorate, and being unable to access the mental support they need.
“This is unacceptable. Infertility is a disease and is as deserving of medical help and support as any other clinical condition.”
Fertility Network UK’s survey was conducted with Dr Nicky Payne, Middlesex University London and found four out of ten respondents experienced suicidal feelings, approaching half (47 percent) of respondents experienced feelings of depression often or all the time, while the vast majority (83 percent) felt sad, frustrated and worried often or all of the time.
When it came to their finances, 60 percent of patients had to pay for their own medical treatment, with the average cost of treatment being about £13,750, and one in ten couples spending more than £30,000 to have a child.
The results of the career aspect of fertility revealed that one in ten respondents either reduced their hours or left their job, and over a third of respondents felt their career was damaged as a result of fertility treatment, with 58 percent feeling that fertility treatment has a detrimental effect on their career.
Respondents’ relationships were also impacted, with nearly 60 percent reporting that it has a major impact on their relationships.
When it came to information and support, nearly half sought help from Fertility Network UK, with many feeling their GP did not provide sufficient information about fertility problems. Three-quarters of respondents felt their counselling should have been free, with many saying they had to fund it themselves.
Commenting on the survey, Dr Raj Mathur, chair of the British Fertility Society, said: “This survey gives a sobering – some might say, shocking – insight into the wellbeing of sub-fertile people, especially women, in Britain today.
“For 47 percent to report feelings of depression and as many as ten percent to report suicidal thoughts often or all of the time is unacceptable.
‘This survey uncovers effects far beyond the physical health of patients. We must do better as a society and as a health system in looking after patients with fertility problems. Above all, this must begin with a fair funding settlement for fertility treatment across the UK, based on the full implementation of the evidence-based recommendations made by NICE. We must improve awareness of fertility matters and the effect of subfertility on patients, among healthcare commissioners, professionals, and wider society.”
Do these results ring true for you? Did your career, mental health or relationship suffer as a result of fertility treatment? We’d love to hear your story, email email@example.com.