Lyon, France: Although most psychosocial research into infertility is centred round the unhappiness it causes women, men suffer just as much, a scientist will tell the 23rd annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology today (Wednesday 4 July). Ms Laura Peronace, from the School of Psychology, Cardiff University, Wales, UK, will say that, as compared to the use of formal counselling, the development of appropriate support networks for infertile patients is more likely to be used by couples and therefore lessen their unhappiness.
Ms Peronace and her team set out to see whether men with male factor infertility, for example through sperm deficiencies, suffer more than men where the couples infertility comes from the woman. There is a common belief that being unable to father a child is shameful and emasculating, she says, and it is thought that if the man is the source of the couples failure to conceive he is likely to suffer more emotionally than if the problem lies with the woman. However, she says, most studies have focused on men shortly after their infertility was diagnosed, and few have looked at their well-being during the course of treatment.
The scientists selected 256 men from the Copenhagen Multi-Centre Psychosocial Aspects of Infertility (COMPI) research programme. Most men were in the mid thirties, and had been married, on average, for almost 8 years. They had known that they were infertile for over 4 years, and the majority of couples had no children either together, or from previous relationships. Participants completed a series of questionnaires that included measures assessing physical health, support, and psychological and social stress. They completed the questionnaire before the start of treatment, and again after 12 months of treatment, only if their partners had not become pregnant during this time. The men were divided into four categories; unexplained infertility; female infert
Contact: Mary Rice
European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology