Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Women undergoing IVF report problems with sexual relationship, study finds

Date:
October 30, 2012
Source:
Indiana University
Summary:
A new study has found that women undergoing in-vitro fertilization report that the process of infertility treatment has many negative impacts on their sexual relationship with their partner. Little attention has been given to the sexual dynamics of couples as they navigate infertility and treatments such as IVF, despite the important role that sex plays in a couple's attempt to conceive a child.

An Indiana University study has found that women undergoing in-vitro fertilization report that the process of infertility treatment has many negative impacts on their sexual relationship with their partner. Little attention has been given to the sexual dynamics of couples as they navigate infertility and treatments such as IVF, despite the important role that sex plays in a couple's attempt to conceive a child.

Related Articles


"Sex is for pleasure and for reproduction, but attention to pleasure often goes by the wayside for people struggling to conceive," said Nicole Smith, a doctoral student with the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington. Smith is conducting the study in collaboration with Jody Lyneι Madeira, associate professor in the IU Maurer School of Law. "With assisted reproductive technologies (ART), couples often report that they feel like a science experiment, as hormones are administered and sex has to be planned and timed. It can become stressful and is often very unromantic and regimented; relationships are known to suffer during the process."

This study, which is one of the first in the United States to examine women's sexual experiences while undergoing assisted reproductive technologies, used the Sexual Functioning Questionnaire to assess the impact of IVF treatment on couples' sexual experiences. Compared to a sample of healthy women, women undergoing IVF reported significantly less sexual desire, interest in sexual activity and satisfaction with their sexual relationship. They had more difficulty with orgasm and were more likely to report sexual problems such as vaginal pain and dryness. Similar to emotional and relationship challenges associated with assisted reproductive technologies, the sexual problems intensified as a couple's use of ART proceeded.

When couples meet with their physicians, their sex life might not top the list of issues they want to discuss, either because of unease talking about the subject or simply because they have so many other important issues to discuss. Still, Smith and Madeira say, the doctor-patient relationship is key, and couples can be told up front about the potential sexual side effects and resources that can help. If they have issues with dryness, for example, they could be counseled on remedies such as purchasing lubricant or other sexual enhancement products. In addition to referring couples to mental health counselors, reproductive endocrinologists could also refer them to sex therapists.

"There's just a dearth of knowledge on how infertility affects sexual behavior," Madeira said. "The focus is more likely to be on the social and support dimensions of the relationship, but sex is a big part of that. Just letting patients know they aren't alone in this would be helpful."

If more information about sexual challenges becomes available, couples might find it on their own.

"Women interested in ART are generally well-educated and tend to spend time researching these issues," Madeira said. "They would be very responsive to this information, and proactive."

The study involved 270 women who completed an online questionnaire; interviews with 127 men and women using IVF to try to conceive; and interviews with 70 professionals, including physicians, nurses, mental health experts and other providers who work directly with patients.

IVF is a procedure in which mature eggs are retrieved from a woman's ovaries and fertilized by sperm in a lab, forming embryos. The embryo(s) are then implanted in the woman's uterus. It is considered an effective procedure but one that is used after couples try several other less invasive procedures. By the time couples begin IVF, they might have been trying to conceive for many years. Nine percent of the women in their study had been through five IVF cycles, which could take at least a year.

Here are some of their other findings:

  • Women who reported being sexually active with a partner in the past month also were more likely to engage in masturbation and report fewer sexual problems.
  • The women reported similar problems with sexual function regardless of the type or source of infertility involved: male factor, female factor, or both male and female factor.
  • Hormonal treatments used in assisted reproductive technologies likely affect women's sexual experiences and pain, but these effects are not as well understood and receive less priority than other conditions, such as heart disease and cancer.

Smith will discuss "Utilizing Assisted Reproductive Technologies and the Impact on Sexual Function: Validating the SFQ Among a Sample of Infertile Women," on Oct. 30. The research was supported in part by the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction, the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington, and the Faculty Research Support Program in IU's Office of the Vice Provost for Research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Indiana University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Indiana University. "Women undergoing IVF report problems with sexual relationship, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121030062407.htm>.
Indiana University. (2012, October 30). Women undergoing IVF report problems with sexual relationship, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121030062407.htm
Indiana University. "Women undergoing IVF report problems with sexual relationship, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121030062407.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

AP (Dec. 18, 2014) — As part of a six-month investigation of child maltreatment deaths, the AP found that hundreds of deaths from horrific abuse and neglect could have been prevented. AP's Haven Daley reports. (Dec. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dads-To-Be Also Experience Hormone Changes During Pregnancy

Dads-To-Be Also Experience Hormone Changes During Pregnancy

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) — A study from University of Michigan researchers found that expectant fathers see a decrease in testosterone as the baby's birth draws near. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) — Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

AFP (Dec. 17, 2014) — Border closures, quarantines and crop losses in West African nations battling the Ebola virus could lead to as many as one million people going hungry, UN food agencies said on Wednesday. Duration: 00:52 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins