By: 3 September 2013

Dame Judi Dench has spoken out in support of a new awareness campaign to support Britain talking about infertility to reduce the loneliness and anxiety associated with this illness. The charity Infertility Network UK is on a mission to end the isolation and secrecy of infertility by encouraging women to talk about their problems. This illness affects one in six of the UK population today.

Past studies have found a connection between stress levels and infertility. In 2010, Louis et al studied 274 women, and found a negative association between stress biomarker alpha-amylase in their saliva and female fecundity, after adjusting for age, alcohol consumption and frequency of intercourse.

Alice Domar, director of the Center for Mind/Body Health in Boston said that the effect of stress on infertility can be self-sustaining. “If you are stressed and you don’t get pregnant quickly, then you get more stressed.”

Therefore, for healthcare workers, helping women manage the level of stress they’re experiencing is important in tackling infertility, and encouraging them to talk about their problems will help alleviate stress to do with secrecy, embarrassment and isolation. Additionally, hearing stories from others going through the same thing may reduce the frustration associated with not being able to get pregnant when others are.

Dame Judi Dench, who has been a patron for the UK charity for the past 10 years is urging sufferers to be candid about their condition and end isolation. “I am writing to ask you to please get behind Talking about Trying. Quite simply, this is a campaign to start an open conversation about infertility: to get more people talking about it, and give the 3.5 million sufferers in the UK today a much louder voice,” she said.

“Millions of women and men often choose to keep their baby-making challenges under wraps. Everyone has the right to privacy, but that secrecy leaves so many people to cope alone, feeling isolated.

“By supporting Talking about Trying, you can help us raise awareness of infertility, and make sure that everyone affected knows where to get the information they need, wherever they live in the UK, right at the start of their infertility journey – something which is not happening now. So, please help us to spread the word, dispel the myths and get more people to understand the truth about infertility.”

Clare Lewis-Jones, Infertility Network UK’s chief executive said: “We have launched National Infertility Awareness Week to try to being infertility out of the closet and push it much higher up the medical, social and political agenda.”

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