There’s some interesting new research from the University of Iowa which shows that women with fertility problems aren’t getting enough of the right support. The researchers carried out a survey, talking to more than 300 women with fertility problems. They found that women wanted more support than they were getting, and became depressed and unable to deal with stress when they weren’t getting the help they needed.
The research team also looked into the sort of support from family and friends that women welcomed, and found that they were often given too much advice but too little practical help or emotional help. I’m sure it sounds familiar – we’ve all heard advice about the way a a friend or relative overcame a fertility problem, or about some amazing new development people have just read about in the paper, we’ve all been told that we might get pregnant if we’d stop being so stressed, go on holiday, buy a dog or think about adoption…
The researchers found that women were often overwhelmed by all this advice, and pinpointed mothers, other female relatives and women with children as the most likely to want to share their opinions!
Apparently husbands are the main source of support for most women, but the fact that men don’t always feel able to talk about infertility could cause problems within the marriage – the research team suggested men should try to be more actively involved in treatment.
One other interesting area covered by the survey was the support offered by clinicians, and the researchers concluded that doctors and nurses seemed to feel they were there as sources of information rather than to give emotional support – and suggested that they could be more empathetic, spending more time with patients and making sure they directed them to the help they needed.
This new research is particularly pertinent as it follows on the heels of the BICA and Infertility Network UK survey here in the UK (details here), which found that 1/3 of patients were not offered counselling.
Let’s hope that this helps to raise awareness of the fact that good emotional support is vital for anyone experiencing fertility problems and going through treatment.