Involuntary childlessness more detrimental than originally thought

August 16, 2010

Test-tube fertilisation is the reason why more couples than previously now have the chance to become biological parents. However, the path to achieving this can be laborious and, for some, the treatment is unsuccessful. A thesis from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, indicates that people are more negatively affected than previously reported in studies of involuntary childlessness.

In the thesis, interviews have been conducted with women and men for whom test-tube (known as in vitro fertilisation or IVF) was concluded two years previously without resulting in childbirth. All the men had a diagnosis of severe male factor and in the interviews, the men and women described their experiences of involuntary childlessness.

The study shows that childlessness amongst women feels like bereavement whilst the men's perception is described as climbing a mountain one step at a time towards the summit to achieve the goal of forming a family. The men often feel frustrated by not knowing the cause of the infertility; the emphasis is often on the woman and a sense of marginalisation can arise. For the men, the driving force is forming a family and they selflessly protect their loved ones by taking on responsibility for the situation.

Furthermore, quality-of-life, wellbeing and health were studied as well as the experience of childlessness in couples who had concluded IVF treatment around five years previously without it resulting in childbirth.

"We then compared this group with couples for whom the treatment had resulted in childbirth, plus a control group of parents without infertility problems who had children of the same age," says Marianne Johansson, researcher and midwife at the Institute of Health and Care Sciences.

Two hundred couples in each group were invited in to complete a questionnaire. Men and women were also studied separately and compared with each other.

The results showed that 77% of those couples concluding public sector IVF treatment after five years were living with children, just under 40% had biological children, usually after a further IVF treatment under private care, and around 35% had adopted children.

Those couples living without children, both men and women, had a significantly poorer quality of life than those for whom IVF treatment had been successful and also in comparison with the couples in the control group.

"They perceived their infertility as central to their lives and above all that quality of life amongst men without children was more negatively affected than had been previously reported in studies of involuntary childlessness," confirms Johansson.

Johansson therefore considers it important that the health service should allow time for supportive discussions following the conclusion of treatment in which the emphasis is on the couple's - the man's and woman's - reactions and thoughts regarding infertility and the future.

"I also believe that the health service should strive to reduce the group in which IVF treatment has not succeeded. In some cases, this can take place by offering the couple a number of further treatments," says Johansson.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Drug therapy from lethal bacteria could reduce kidney transplant rejection

August 3, 2017
An experimental treatment derived from a potentially deadly microorganism may provide lifesaving help for kidney transplant patients, according to an international study led by investigators at Cedars-Sinai.

Exploring the potential of human echolocation

June 25, 2017
People who are visually impaired will often use a cane to feel out their surroundings. With training and practice, people can learn to use the pitch, loudness and timbre of echoes from the cane or other sounds to navigate ...

Team eradicates hepatitis C in 10 patients following lifesaving transplants from infected donors

April 30, 2017
Ten patients at Penn Medicine have been cured of the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) following lifesaving kidney transplants from deceased donors who were infected with the disease. The findings point to new strategies for increasing ...

'bench to bedside to bench': Scientists call for closer basic-clinical collaborations

March 24, 2017
In the era of genome sequencing, it's time to update the old "bench-to-bedside" shorthand for how basic research discoveries inform clinical practice, researchers from The Jackson Laboratory (JAX), National Human Genome Research ...

The ethics of tracking athletes' biometric data

January 18, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—Whether it is a FitBit or a heart rate monitor, biometric technologies have become household devices. Professional sports leagues use some of the most technologically advanced biodata tracking systems to ...

Financial ties between researchers and drug industry linked to positive trial results

January 18, 2017
Financial ties between researchers and companies that make the drugs they are studying are independently associated with positive trial results, suggesting bias in the evidence base, concludes a study published by The BMJ ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.