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In Pan-European Survey, Four out of Five Women Attempting to Conceive Wish They Had Visited a Fertility Specialist Sooner


Women Over Age 35 With Fertility Challenges Wait Almost Three Times Longer Than Recommended to See a Health Care Provider

ROME - Despite the fact that up to 80 million people worldwide experience fertility problems, in a new pan-European survey of women experiencing fertility challenges, 81 percent of the 86 women in the survey undergoing fertility treatment would go to a fertility specialist sooner if they could start over. In fact, many women aged 35 and over who had received fertility treatment delayed seeking care from a health care provider (HCP) an average of almost 10 months longer than medical guidelines recommend for optimal care. Survey results were presented today at the 2010 European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) annual meeting in Rome, Italy. The survey of 445 women, aged 18-44, was conducted in France, Germany, Italy and Spain by TNS on behalf of MSD.

“Most women understand the link between age and infertility, yet do not often fully understand how soon a woman’s fertility declines after the age of 35. Couples should seek the advice of a specialist quickly if they suspect a fertility challenge to improve the odds of successfully conceiving,” said Keith Gordon, Ph.D, Regional Director, Medical Affairs at Merck. “Although an estimated one in six European couples experience difficulty conceiving, patients often say they never thought it would happen to them.”

According to medical guidelines, women over the age of 35 are encouraged to seek diagnosis and treatment for infertility following six months of unprotected intercourse. Women under age 35 should speak to a fertility specialist after one year of unsuccessful attempts at conception.

Delay in seeking medical assistance leads to regret

Most women (90 percent) in the study recognized age as a risk factor, but more than two-thirds (68 percent) of respondents did not think they would have difficulty conceiving at the time of their choosing. More than half (58 percent) of all women surveyed agreed they may have waited too long to start trying to conceive, with women aged 35 years and older particularly likely to report feeling this way (68 percent of 257 women).

Multiple injections a deterrent for women seeking fertility treatment
Fertility treatment typically includes a series of daily injections. Of the 285 women surveyed who did not receive fertility treatment, more than two-thirds (68 percent) cited the number of injections required as a concern. In fact, more than one in three (39 percent) women not in treatment said they would consider starting treatment earlier if they knew there was an option requiring fewer injections.

“Women trying to get pregnant clearly experience many ups and downs, both physically and emotionally,” said Keith Gordon. “It is important for patients to fully understand their treatment options, including new solutions that may lessen their personal burden.”

Other survey findings
Additional survey results provided insight into respondents’ perceptions and awareness of fertility challenges; their perceptions and experience of fertility treatment; and the emotional impact of infertility on women and their relationships. When asked about the impact of fertility treatment on their emotional wellbeing, 81 percent of the 160 women who had undergone treatment reported feeling hopeful. Additionally, those receiving fertility treatment were less likely to feel frustrated (37 percent), compared to the 285 women not receiving fertility treatment (51 percent). Women in treatment were also much more likely (78 percent) to reach out to personal support networks than those not receiving treatment (57 percent).

About the survey
Conducted by TNS between 20 – 30 October 2009, the survey included 445 women experiencing problems trying to conceive. Participants were from four European countries, including France (n=108), Germany (n=111), Italy (n=112) and Spain (n=114). Of the survey participants, 160 had received treatment for their fertility challenges while 285 had not received any treatment for their fertility challenges. Participants were between the ages of 18 and 44 and either:

* Were currently in treatment for infertility;
* Had received fertility treatment in the past two years; or
* Were currently having trouble getting pregnant, but had not received fertility treatment.

Infertility: a condition affecting 50 – 80 million people worldwide
A couple is often diagnosed as infertile if they have not conceived after one year of regular, unprotected, well-timed intercourse. Women over the age of 35 are encouraged to seek diagnosis and treatment for infertility following six months of regular, unprotected intercourse.

With infertile couples, the source of infertility lies with the male in 40 percent of cases and 40 percent with the female. The remaining 20 percent is either a joint problem or unknown, because the cause has not been identified. There are a variety of treatments available for infertility; these include surgery, hormone treatments, insemination, IVF and natural treatments, among others.

About MSD
Today’s MSD is a global healthcare leader working to help the world be well. MSD is known as Merck in the United States and Canada. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, and consumer care and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to healthcare through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. MSD. For more information, visit

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