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Good Doctor-Patient Relationship Is Crucial For Fertility Treatments: Survey

The survey found millenials are more likely to leave a fertility clinic if they don't connect with a doctor than if treatments aren't working.

Millennials don’t want to get fertility treatments from people they don’t find understanding or in clinics where they don’t feel comfortable, according to a new survey of over 1,000 fertility patients.

The research, conducted by infertility site Pregnantish, found the most common reason patients end treatments with their fertility doctors is that they feel the treatment or approach isn’t tailored to their needs. The second-most common reason is similar: They feel they aren’t being heard. Only 8 per cent of participants said they left because their treatment wasn’t working.

“Every fertility patient wants to feel seen and heard,” Pregnantish editor-in-chief Andrea Syrtash said in a press release. She told Romper that even though she knew these medical relationships were significant for patients, “I still was surprised at the top reasons.”

Fertility treatments often involve taking drugs or hormones to stimulate egg growth or make the uterus better suited for a baby. People preparing for intra-uterine or in-vitro fertilization often need to prepare for the procedure with hormones, too. Many people who take fertility drugs report difficult physical and emotional side effects, including mood swings, anxiety, headaches and nausea.

Watch: Pregnantish editor-in-chief Andrea Syrtash on what no one tells you about fertility treatments. Story continues after video.

One patient, a 28-year-old who had been trying to conceive for a year and a half, left her fertility clinic because she didn’t feel any connection to it, she said in the survey. “It felt like I was just another patient,” she said.

Given the personal and often highly emotional nature of infertility, it makes sense that patients will feel most satisfied with a clinic where they feel validated by a doctor who’s understanding and who cares. The survey found that having a fertility doctor who’s a “good fit” was the respondents’ most important criteria.

The research also found that women were experiencing infertility at a younger age than was expected. The median age of the people who took part was 33, and they had on average been trying to conceive for four years.

“It felt like we turned on its head what infertility looks like,” Syrtash told Romper. “So often, what is portrayed is an older white career woman who kind of took too long to prioritize other things before starting her family. And what the survey showed us is the face of infertility is much younger on our platform.”

One in six couples in Canada experience infertility, according to StatCan. That number has more than doubled since the 1980s.

“As the number of patients and providers grow, so too does the need for open communication,” Syrtash said. “Increasingly, today’s fertility patient is a millennial who wants a much more active and self-directed role in her treatment and is seeking a supportive connection with her doctor and practice.”

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