Understanding the perceptions of and emotional barriers to infertility treatment: a survey in four European countries

Domar, A, Gordon, K, Garcia-Velasco, J A, La Marca, A, Barriere, P, Beligotti, F,
Hum Reprod. Apr. 2012 doi: 10.1093/humrep/des016


BACKGROUND: Infertility can significantly impact women's lives and personal relationships. Despite the negative impact of infertility, a significant number of women who are struggling to conceive do not consult a physician. This cross-sectional survey was conducted to determine the emotional impact of infertility on women to identify which aspects of fertility treatment contribute to the psychological stress experienced by so many patients and to identify barriers to seeking treatment. METHODS: Women (n = 445; 18-44 years) who had received fertility treatment within the past 2 years or were having trouble conceiving but had not received treatment, completed a 15-min survey online. RESULTS: Participants were from France (n = 108), Germany (n = 111), Italy (n = 112) and Spain (n = 114). Responses indicated that infertility causes a range of emotions and can strain relationships. Women who had received treatment were more likely to feel hopeful (26 versus 21%) and closer to their partner than women not in treatment (33 versus 19%, P < 0.05). Most women delayed starting treatment because of a desire to conceive naturally, and on the advice of physicians. Women aged >/=35 years took longer to seek help with their fertility issues. Injection-related anxiety was the second greatest barrier to treatment. CONCLUSIONS: This study has provided insight into the physical and psychological challenges of infertility treatments and permitted a better understanding of the factors that impact patient lives. A treatment protocol with minimal injections and provision of additional information may lessen the emotional impact and challenges of infertility and contribute to patient satisfaction with fertility treatment protocols.