Article

Psychosocial characteristics of women and men attending infertility counselling.

Centre for Psychosocial Medicine, Institute of Medical Psychology, University of Heidelberg, Bergheimer Strasse 20, D-69115 Heidelberg, Germany.
Human Reproduction (Impact Factor: 4.59). 02/2009; 24(2):378-85. DOI: 10.1093/humrep/den401
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Little is known about the psychosocial characteristics of infertile couples seeking psychological help. This study describes couples attending infertility counselling.
Questionnaires pertaining to socio-demographic factors, motives for wanting a child, lay aetiology of their infertility, dimensions of life and partnership satisfaction, and a complaints list were completed by 974 women and 906 men. Of those who indicated an openness to counselling, almost half actually attended infertility counselling, and two groups, 'no counselling' (358 women and 292 male partners) and 'taking up counselling' (275 women and 243 male partners), were therefore compared.
More couples with stressful life events were found in the counselling group. For women taking up counselling, psychological distress, in the form of suffering from childlessness and depression as well as subjective excessive demand (as a potential cause for infertility), was higher in comparison to women not counselled. The higher distress for men in the counselling group was indicated by relative dissatisfaction with partnership and sexuality and by accentuating the women's depression.
Infertile couples seeking psychological help are characterized by high levels of psychological distress, primarily in women. The women's distress seems to be more important for attending infertility counselling than that of the men.

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