New infertility website launched after Oxford research

It is estimated in the UK that around one in every seven couples have some sort of infertility problem. Getting tested to make sure you are fertile, and working out where the problem lies, can be a painful and challenging process.

A new website, Healthtalk Online, has recently been launched which is going to focus on infertility and has been constructed after research was conducted by the University of Oxford. There is something of an assumption in today’s society that if you want to have children it is going to be possible and people simply do not expect to have any fertility problems.

Fortunately, even for those who have problems with fertility, there are many modern treatments which mean that the fertility problem will probably be solved. However, the figure that one in every seven couples in the UK could have problems having children is still a concerning number for many people.

This new research, based on interviews with both women and men, suggests that people are often unprepared for infertility and uninformed about what it means, what treatment it entails and how likely it is to be successful or fail. With almost a quarter of cases being ‘unexplained infertility’, over 50 per cent due to multiple causes and 30 per cent of infertility cases in the UK attributable to men, there is a lot of guesswork for couples and infertility tests can be just the start of a long process of elimination.

In fact, although treatment and procedures can be unpleasant, those interviewed suggested that it is the waiting and uncertainty that people often find the hardest to cope with.

Those interviewed talked about their experiences – their initial thoughts that there might be an issue and the slow dawning realisation that there was a more serious problem.

Findings showed that UK couples wished they had known how hard infertility treatment was going to be, both physically and emotionally. For many, the initial awareness of the problem was only the start in a long series of tests that needed to be undergone to rule out different aspects of infertility and to pinpoint what fertility tests and treatments would work best for the couple.

The research highlighted the isolation that couples felt as they were going through treatment even if they chose to tell family and close friends. In many cases they felt unsure about doing this because of the stress that it can put on relationships, particularly with those friends who are having babies without issues.

People also described examples of good and bad practice when dealing with clinicians, from misinterpreting results to failing to do the referrals, but it was the emotional and psychological support either offered or not offered by GPs that stood out.

Occasionally people said that their GP had been insensitive or did not seem to understand the impact of infertility. Men in particular felt they had a difficult role in fertility treatment and often felt sidelined by medical professionals, as their partners were going through treatment.

Dr Lisa Hinton, senior qualitative researcher at the University of Oxford, says: “We spoke to a range of men and women between the ages of 25 and 40. The people we spoke to were very honest about their experiences and described in detail the physical and emotional toll that going through the ‘infertility process’ had on them.

Not being able to conceive a child can be devastating and the start of a long, lonely journey of tests, treatments and uncertainty in a painful process of elimination, like a rollercoaster with more downs than ups.”

On the healthtalkonline website, information and video interviews are split into topics. These cover early concerns, treatments, after treatment, social life & work and coping with infertility. The new ‘Infertility’ section can be viewed at: link title

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