To Tell or not to Tell? Parents’ Reluctance to Talking About Conceiving Their Children Using Medically Assisted Reproduction

  • Elena FaccioEmail author
  • Antonio Iudici
  • Sabrina Cipolletta
Original Paper


While more and more researchers are investigating the effects of disclosing conceptions achieved through heterologous fertilization, even couples who use homologous medically-assisted reproduction (MAR) often do not tell their relatives and children how they conceived, possibly because they find it embarrassing. The present study explores the perception of stigma, and the reticence of Italian couples resorting to homologous MAR when speaking about conception. Interviews were conducted with 30 participants recruited through a fertility clinic at a public hospital in northern Italy, and through social media and snowball sampling. Content analysis was used to identify respondents’ various attitudes to talking about their MAR experience. Their reluctance to tell their relatives and children about their conceiving experience may reflect, but also perpetuate the social stigma associated with in vitro fertilization. Further research and scientific dissemination campaigns are needed to emphasize the importance of normalizing and sharing these experiences within the family—addressing not only heterologous, but also homologous MAR—especially in the more traditional cultural and legal settings, such as Italy.


Medically-assisted reproduction Stigma Disclosure Qualitative research Children 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy, Sociology, Education and Applied PsychologyUniversity of PaduaPaduaItaly
  2. 2.Department of General PsychologyUniversity of PadovaPaduaItaly

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