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Confusing fertility advice sparking unnecessary worry among UK women

News 14 March 2019

New data released today by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) highlights widespread concern and worry UK women are feeling in the face of conflicting fertility information.

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. To address these concerns, the first ever Fertility Forum information day will take place at the RCOG this month, bringing together experts, professionals and the public.

The survey findings also reveal that 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. The RCOG argues 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.

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

The Fertility Forum will address these concerns and provide women, their partners and those who want to find out more about fertility with access to experts who will provide accurate, evidence-based and unbiased information at this event on Saturday 30 March. 

Organised by the RCOG, the UK’s fertility regulator the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA) and British Fertility Society (BFS), in partnership with experts in the field, it brings together the public and professionals for a full day of information sessions and discussion about fertility.

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.

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.

Four out five women (81%) say that it is not always clear that information is promoting particular clinics or treatments

Londoner Katy Lindemann, age 37, 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.

“I think 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.”

In addition to a selection of renowned leading experts giving the latest evidence-based advice at the Fertility Forum, key patient support organisations will be represented on the day. Trained fertility counsellors will be providing a Time Out Space and offering emotional support at the Fertility Forum.

For more information about the Fertility Forum and to book, please visit the Fertility Form event page.


Note to Editors

For more information, please contact the RCOG press office on 020 7045 6357 or by email; or Out of hours: 07986 183167

The research was conducted by Censuswide, with 1,002 UK women aged 18-65 who have not yet started menopause in GB between 20.02.2019 - 25.02.2019. Censuswide abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles. 

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.

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.