Does infertility cause marital benefit? An epidemiological study of 2250 women and men in fertility treatment

Lone Schmidt, Bjørn Holstein, Ulla Christensen, Jacky Boivin
Patient Education and Counseling 2005, 59 (3): 244-51

OBJECTIVE: To investigate (i) marital benefit, e.g., that infertility has strengthen the marriage and brought the partners closer together among people beginning fertility treatment and (ii) communication and coping strategies as predictors of marital benefit 12 months later.

METHODS: A prospective cohort design including 2250 people beginning fertility treatment and a 12-month follow-up. Data were based on self-administered questionnaires measuring marital benefit, communication, and coping strategies. The analyses of predictors were based on the sub-cohort (n=816) who had not achieved a delivery after fertility treatment.

RESULTS: 25.9% of women and 21.1% of men reported high marital benefit. Among men medium use of active-confronting coping (e.g., letting feelings out, asking others for advice) and use of meaning-based coping were significant predictors for high marital benefit. Having the infertility as a secret, difficult marital communication, and using active-avoidance coping (e.g., avoid being with pregnant women or children, turning to work to take mind off things) were among men significant predictors for low marital benefit. No significant predictors were identified among women.

CONCLUSION: Fertility patients frequently experience marital benefit.

PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: The study provides information about where to intervene with male fertility patients in order to increase their marital benefit after medically unsuccessful treatment.

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