Women asked to help determine scale of Grampian’s fertility problems

Women asked to help determine scale of Grampian’s fertility problems

Thousands of women across the North-east of Scotland are being asked to take part in a major survey that will help University of Aberdeen researchers better understand the scale of Grampian’s fertility problems.

Findings from the questionnaires – which are going to 9,000 randomly selected women aged between 31 and 51 – will also inform the planning process of the future delivery of the region's fertility treatment.

This is the first survey of its kind to take place in 18 years in Grampian where it is estimated that one in seven couples will experience fertility problems at some point in their lives.

Around 500 new referrals are made every year to Aberdeen Fertility Centre which treats patients from the North and North-east. The Assisted Reproduction Unit – within the Fertility Centre - performs more than 400 IVF cycles a year.

University of Aberdeen researchers say it is important that all recipients - not just those who have experienced infertility - fill in the questionnaires so that an accurate estimate of the burden of the problem can be made. 

Professor Siladitya Bhattacharya, Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Aberdeen, and Honorary Consultant at Aberdeen Fertility Centre, said:  "The population of Scotland is in decline and more and more couples appear to be in need of fertility treatment. There is a lot of debate across Britain about access to fertility treatment with complaints about postcode lotteries. 

"However, the actual scale of the problem is unknown as there are no recent figures on the numbers of couples who are unable to have children of their own. "

Professor Bhattacharya added: "A similar survey carried out in Grampian 18 years ago is the most recent source of information available to health service planners. Results from the new study will provide an estimate of the current prevalence of infertility and examine potential causes for the situation."

Women are being selected from the Community Health Index, a database of everyone who is registered with a general practitioner in Grampian, which is under the control of the Director of Public Health, NHS Grampian.

Researchers will not know who the women are, or have access to their medical records and the questionnaires are completely anonymous. As well as asking about any fertility issues, the survey, which is funded by the Chief Scientist Office, Scotland, also contains general health, background and lifestyle questions.

Dr Maureen Porter, Research Fellow within the University's Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, said: "Women in the North-east have traditionally been supportive of questionnaires of this kind.

"We really hope that those who receive these questionnaires take the time to fill them in because their contribution is vital to understanding the scale of the fertility problem in Grampian and to enable future planning and delivery of fertility services."

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