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Women complain of 'confusing and contradictory' fertility advice

Royal College says sheer volume and variability of advice is causing widespread concern

Mark Gould

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Four out of five UK women say fertility advice from different sources seems contradictory, while more than three-quarters are not sure if fertility information is impartial and unbiased, according to a new survey from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG).

The survey questioned 1,002 UK women aged 18-65 who have not yet started the menopause and reveal that three out of five report feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of advice on offer.


More than half think that online forums are unreliable, and nearly three-quarters said Facebook groups were unreliable. Almost half stated that advice from friends and family is unreliable.

To address these concerns, the first ever Fertility Forum information day will take place at the RCOG this month, bringing together the RCOG, the UK’s fertility regulator the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA) and British Fertility Society, members of the public and other professionals.

The survey found almost half of the respondents report they have worried about their own fertility, with a quarter of 18-24 year olds currently concerned.

It also found:

  • One in nine women say they have frozen or considered freezing their eggs, with a further third saying they would consider this in the future.
  • More than two in five women aged 18-24 said they would consider freezing their eggs in the future.
  • A fifth have used a fertility app, with almost a third say they would consider using one in the future.
  • One sixth have used an ovulation monitor or ovulation testing kit, one in nine have considered using one and a third would consider using one in the future.
  • Nearly a fifth said they would consider seeking treatment abroad

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 says 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.

RCOG president Professor Lesley Regan, 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 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.”

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