Coping with unsuccessful fertility treatment

New research has been investigating how people react to unsuccessful fertility treatment and how best to them. Although such comparisons are difficult to make, going through unsuccessful fertility treatment is thought to have a worse impact on your mental health than  divorce and is almost comparable to the impact of bereavement.

When research participants were asked to share their experience, they talked about an intense grief made of profound pain and feelings of loss, sadness and emptiness, which was sustained over time and only very progressively tended to diminish and become bearable. They also said that it was hard to stay connected with the people around them who have children and to discuss their situation with others, and this resulted in feeling very isolated. In addition, most people perceived to be abandoned by their fertility clinics and expressed a need for psychosocial support.

We now know that with time, around nine in every ten people are able to let go of their desire for children and rebuild a happy and fulfilling life. What we haven’t know, is what the things that helped those people to come to terms with their unmet desire for children.

To investigate this adjustment process, Dr Sofia Gameiro from Cardiff University worked with the patient support charity Fertility Network on an online study aimed at answering two key questions. First they wanted to find out whether this grief and the adjustment process is experienced by everyone who is unable to have the children they wanted or is unique to those who had had fertility treatment. Second, they want to investigate the mechanisms which helped people to adjust and could be used to support others.

There were 420 responses to the survey and the vast majority were women with an average age of 35. The survey results showed three key things that help people come to terms with their unmet desire for children;

  • Making meaning of the experience
  • Accepting the reality
  • Refocusing life on other fulfilling goals

The results from this study are in the process of being written up for publication and have been crucial to the development of educational and supporting materials that Fertility Network UK is making available in its More to life website, which is specially dedicated to support those facing the challenges of childlessness. The materials will be launch on Tuesday 30th October and can be accessed here.

Could you help to develop a new online app?

The Cardiff Fertility Studies Group and Infertility Network UK are developing an online app to support people who have had fertility treatment but did not conceive. The aim of the app is to offer help and support after unsuccessful treatment, and so the views of those who have personal experience of this are essential to make sure it will meet people’s needs.

With this in mind, there will be a group-based workshop to discuss what is proposed and to gather comments and views from people who have experience of unsuccessful treatment. It will be held on a Saturday afternoon at the School of Psychology at Cardiff University and will last about two and a half hours.  Travelling costs will be refunded.

If you want to know more about the workshop or think that you may be interested in participating, you can contact the main researcher on the project Sofia Gameiro by emailing GameiroS@cardiff.ac.uk.

Launch of support service for fertility patients in Wales

CVOjtHGWoAAYj4YGreat news for anyone who is having difficulty conceiving and lives in Wales. Infertility Network UK launched its first dedicated patient information, advice and support service in Wales in a ceremony at the Welsh Assembly today led by Darren Millar, Shadow Minister for Health and Older People in Wales.

Susan Seenan, chief executive of Infertility Network UK said: ‘We are delighted to be launching a patient support service in Wales. For the first time in many years, all those who struggle to become parents will have a local patient support service that understands their particular problems, addresses regional issues and challenges and is locally managed.’

The new service, which was made possible by a major award from the Big Lottery Fund, will enable the charity to set up face-to-face and online support groups, a Wales-specific information service, employ a Welsh co-ordinator to manage the service and hold annual patient information events.

The launch was hosted by Darren Millar and attended by fellow Welsh Assembly members Julie Morgan and Kirsty Williams along with Peter Bowen-Simpkins and Dr Thackare from London Women’s Clinic Wales, BICA fertility counsellor Lynda Mizen and Dr Sofia Gameiro from Cardiff University among others.