Trying to conceive

Fertility treatments: Our reader survey

Readers weigh in on infertility, including the costs associated with treatment and the reasons why people who can't conceive don't always seek assistance.

By Today's Parent
Photo: iStockphoto Photo: iStockphoto

When we partnered with EMD Inc. (a company that provides drug therapies that focus on the medical needs in fertility, endocrinology and neurodegenerative diseases) earlier this year to poll our readers on the issues surrounding infertility, we weren’t sure what the Today’s Parent community would have to say about this medical condition that affects 16 percent of heterosexual couples in Canada.

Here are some of the most common and surprising things our readers reported on the reasons hopeful parents don’t pursue treatment.

1) “Fertility treatments are too expensive, and there’s limited coverage and lack of support from the government.”

84 percent said the cost associated with fertility treatments is too high. 61 percent said there is too little coverage offered from medical plans. 44 percent there is a lack of financial support from the government (and, more specifically, 57 percent of people who have used fertility treatments believe this to be true).

What you told us:

  • “Some people just don't want to go through the expense to again be disappointed by not being able to conceive.”
  • “One of the only treatments the Ontario government supports is the sperm wash — and that’s almost always a waste of time.”
  • “Fertility treatments usually require multiple attempts. Reaching your limit on your health-coverage plan is often achieved very early on after one or two attempts. After that, most costs out of pocket.”
  • “It’s bloody expensive and unfair that I can be covered if I lived in Quebec, but not in Ontario or most other provinces across the country.”
  • “There needs to be something better than a small medical tax benefit for these treatments; it is a medical problem that should have better coverage. Maybe then there would be fewer multiple births that cost the health-care system even more money.”

2) “There isn’t a clinic close enough to where we live. Unless you’re in a major city, it’s tough to get access to good doctors and treatments.”


32 percent noted geographical concerns — location of fertility treatment clinics vs. location of patients (and, more specifically, 46 percent of people who have used fertility treatments believe this to be true).

What you told us:

  • “There are hardly any fertility clinics in all of Manitoba. If you don't live near them, you have no alternate options in the province.”

3) “Conceiving in any way other than naturally is against my beliefs.”

22 percent stated that religious reasons keep people from getting treatment.

What you told us:

  • “I really feel strongly that prior to pursuing treatments, the medical issues should be treated. Also, religious beliefs come into play, and should be respected by the fertility clinics, the medical communities and benefit providers. All efforts should be made to ensure that procedures that are undertaken are in line with one’s beliefs and adjustments to the procedures should be welcomed and offered by the clinics to comply with religious beliefs.”
  • “People who can’t conceive shouldn’t play God.”

4) “There’s still a stigma attached to infertility.”

18 percent said people don’t pursue treatment because of the social stigma and potential embarrassment (and, more specifically, 25 percent of people who have used fertility treatments believe there is a stigma, too).

What you told us:

  • “I felt like I’d be looked down upon and told to adopt and take care of parentless children already in existence.”
  • “Having a child is natural, people shouldn’t go after if nature does not work.”
  • “Society is overpopulated and infertility is natural selection.”
  • “These people should try adoption — many children are already born who need parents.”

5) “I just didn’t have enough information from my doctor about fertility treatments and infertility to make any decisions.”

26 percent believe there is a lack of easily available information regarding treatment options (and, more specifically, 36 percent of people who have used fertility treatments believe this to be true).

  • “Our access to medical doctors (i.e. the lack of primary-care physicians) to obtain referrals to clinics makes it difficult to get treatment.”
  • “More education for general practitioners is needed in the family practice community. Given my age and prior medical history, I feel I should have skipped the referral to the OB/GYN — never mind a fertility clinic — that I waited many months for.”
  • “My family physician didn’t even know how to conduct a day-three blood test. She was not very well informed about fertility treatments or protocols.”
  • “My doctor’s information about fertility clinics was very outdated.”

6) “I didn’t get the support I needed from my doctor.”

15 percent admitted to a lack of support from family doctor or primary-care physician (and, more specifically, 25 percent of people who have used fertility treatments believe this to be true).

What you told us:

  • “Most GPs know little about what fertility treatments are available and what is involved. I had to do my own research and push for a referral.”
  • “Don't allow doctors to dismiss your concerns or make you wait the 12 months of trying to conceive before seeing a specialist if there are obvious cycle problems.”
  • “My family physician told me to ‘get over it’ when we had a miscarriage after an IUI. We changed doctors right away. I was shocked by the insensitivity.”
  • “I had to push just to get a referral to a specialist.”
  • “I had to convince my family doctor to give me a referral; she was reluctant.”
  • “It took three years for my family doctor to refer me to the fertility clinic.”

7) “Not all experiences with fertility clinics are good ones, and if you’ve had a tough time, it’s hard to keep trying.”

12 percent were unhappy with services and staff at the fertility clinic (and, more specifically, 18 percent of people who have used fertility treatments believe this to be true)


What you told us:

  • “Don't let the fertility clinics push you into expensive and sometimes unnecessary treatments. I found that the fertility clinics usually just rush to try to create a baby as quick as possible for you without first trying to address the underlying issue.”
  • “Bedside manners and empathy are qualities that sometimes can be improved upon.”
  • “The first time we were sent to the fertility specialist we felt like we were at a veterinary clinic and were pressured into treatment without allowing us to work through issues causing infertility. It would deter people from seeking treatment.”
  • “It can feel like a fertility clinic is being run as a business.”

Why do you think people don’t pursue fertility treatments?

Base: All respondents Randomized Please note: multiple responses allowed All respondents Persons who used fertility treatments (NET) Persons who did not use fertility treatments (NET)
N=1433 % % %
Cost associated with the treatments 84 91 82
Limited coverage under medical plans 61 72 59
Lack of government financial support 44 57 41
Finished having children/Do not want any more children at this time 34 24 36
Physical concerns/concerns over side effects from treatments 34 37 34
Geographical concerns (location of fertility treatment clinics vs. location of patients) 32 46 29
Lack of easily available information regarding treatment options 26 36 24
Religious reasons 22 23 22
Social stigma/Embarrassment 18 25 17
Lack of support from primary care physician/family doctor 15 25 13
Unhappy with services and staff at the fertility clinic 12 18 11

*Responses with less than 1% selected have been omitted

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This article was originally published on Sep 10, 2013

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