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Women's experience of treatment for infertility

Principal investigator
Maggie Redshaw (NPEU (Former member))
Leslie Davidson (Columbia University, New York), Christine Hockley (NPEU (Former member))
Infertility, Women's experience of maternity care
Department of Health
Start year
End year


The aim of the study was to investigate the experience of women who had undergone treatment for infertility and given birth as a consequence, focusing on perceptions of treatment and care. As an adjunct to the Millennium Cohort Study in which 18,553 women who had recently given birth were interviewed, 460 women who had received treatment for infertility (2.6%) were asked to participate in a postal study. Their responses to open-ended questions about the impact of treatment, how treatment could be improved and advice to policy makers were analysed qualitatively. A total of 230 women responded (50%). Key findings:

  • Themes emerged that related to the treatment process, pain and distress, lack of choice and control, timing, emotional and financial costs, fairness and contrasts in care.
  • Women wished to be treated with respect and dignity and given appropriate information and support.
  • They also wanted their distress recognised, to feel cared for and to have confidence in health professionals in situations where outcomes are uncertain.
  • Women acknowledged receiving care from motivated and skilled health professionals and value the children they have enormously. In summary, while for many there is now a sense of being complete, for some this has been at great emotional and financial cost.


Journal Articles