Skip to main content

Psychological Reactions to Infertility

  • Chapter
Infertility

Part of the book series: The Springer Series on Stress and Coping ((SSSO))

Abstract

Like many other life stresses, infertility is not a discrete event but an unfolding process. The beginning of the process is frequently marked by the passing of a year attempting to conceive without success, and by entry into medical treatment, although many couples begin to worry and seek treatment sooner. For some, a medical condition necessitates treatment such as the surgical removal of reproductive organs that suddenly impairs fertility. Thus, many events may signify the beginning of the infertility process, a process that often continues over a long period of time as individuals contend with the prospect of being unable to conceive. Indeed, in most cases, it is the possibility rather than the reality of infertility that is at issue, because there is some degree of ambiguity about the outcome. This situation initially involves a threat rather than a loss (Lazarus, 1966; Lazarus & Launier, 1978; Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). As time passes without conception, the situation is gradually transformed into one of loss.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

eBook
USD 16.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD 109.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book
USD 109.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  • Adler, J. D., & Boxley, R. L. (1985). The psychological reactions to infertility: Sex roles and coping styles. Sex Roles, 12, 271–279.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bell, J. S. (1981). Psychological problems among patients attending an infertility clinic. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 25, 1–3.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Berger, D. M. (1980). Couples’ reactions to male infertility and donor insemination. American Journal of Psychiatry, 137, 1047–1049.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Brand, H. J. (1982). Psychological stress and infertility. Part 2: Psychometric test data. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 55, 385–388.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Callan, V. J. (1987). The personal and marital adjustment of mothers and of voluntarily and involuntarily childless wives. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 49, 847–856.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Callan, V. J., & Hennessey, J. F. (1988). The psychological adjustment of women experiencing infertility. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 61, 137–140.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Clapp, D. (1985). Emotional responses to infertility. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing (Supplement), 32s-35s.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cook, E. P. (1987). Characteristics of the biopsychosocial crisis of infertility. Journal of Counseling and Development, 65, 465–470.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Daniels, K. R., Gunby, J., Legge, M., Williams, T. H., & Wynn-Williams, D. B. (1984). Issues and problems for the infertile couple. New Zealand Medical Journal, 97, 185–187.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Daniluk, J. C. (1988). Infertility: Intrapersonal and interpersonal impact. Fertility and Sterility, 49, 982–990.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Dennerstein, L., & Morse, C. (1985). Psychological issues in IVF. Clinics in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 12, 835–846.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Domar, A. D., & Seibel, M. (1990). The emotional aspects of infertility. In M. Seibel (Ed.), Infertility: A comprehensive test (pp. 23-35). Appleton-Lange.

    Google Scholar 

  • Edelmann, R. J., & Connolly, K.J. (1986). Psychological aspects of infertility. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 59, 209–219.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Eisner, B. G. (1963). Some psychological differences between fertile and infertile women. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 19, 391–395.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Elstein, M. (1975). Effect of infertility on psychosexual function. British Medical Journal, August 2, 296-299.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fagan, P. J., Schmidt, C. W., Jr., Rock, J. A., Damewood, M. D., Halle, E., & Wise, T. (1986). Sexual functioning and psychologic evaluation of in vitro fertilization couples. Fertility and Sterility, 46, 668–672.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Fleming, J., & Burry, K. (1988). Coping with infertility. In D. Valentine (Ed.), Infertility and adoption: A guide for social work practice (pp. 37–41). New York: Haworth.

    Google Scholar 

  • Freeman, E. W., Boxer, A. S., Rickels, K., Tureck, R., & Mastroianni, L., Jr. (1985). Psychological evaluation and support in a program of in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer. Fertility and Sterility, 43, 48–53.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Freeman, E. W., Garcia, C. R., & Rickels, K. (1983). Behavioral and emotional factors: Comparisons of anovulatory infertile women with fertile and other infertile women. Fertility and Sterility, 40, 195–201.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Garcia, C.-R., Freeman, E. W., Rickels, K., Wu, C., Scholl, G., Galle, P. C., & Boxer, A. S. (1985). Behavioral and emotional factors and treatment responses in a study of anovulatory infertile women. Fertility and Sterility, 44, 478–483.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Griffin, M. E. (1983). Resolving infertility: An emotional crisis. AORN Journal, 38, 597–601.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Hearn, M. T., Yuzpe, A. A., Brown, S. E., & Casper, R. F. (1987). Psychological characteristics of in vitro fertilization participants. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 156, 269–274.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Honea-Fleming, P. (1986). Psychosocial components in obstetric/gynecologic conditions with a special consideration of infertility. Alabama Journal of Medical Sciences, 23, 27–30.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • James, B., & Hughes, P. F. (1982). Psychological well-being as an outcome variable in the treatment of infertility by Clomiphene. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 55, 375–377.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Kaufman, S. A. (1969). Impact of infertility on the marital and sexual relationship. Fertility and Sterility, 20(3), 380–383.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Keye, W. R. (1980). The impact of infertility on psychosexual function. Fertility and Sterility, 34, 308–309.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kraft, A. D., Palombo, J., Mitchell, D., Dean, C., Meyers, S., & Schmidt, A. W. (1980). The psychological dimensions of infertility. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 50, 618–627.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Lalos, A., Lalos, O., Jacobsson, L., & von Schoultz, B. (1985a). The psychosocial impact of infertility two years after completed surgical treatment. Acta of Obstetrics and Gynecology in Scandinavia, 64, 599–604.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lalos, A., Lalos, O., Jacobsson, L., & von Schoultz, B. (1985b). The wish to have a child: A pilot-study of infertile couples. Acta of Psychiatry in Scandinavia, 72, 476–481.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lasker, J. N., & Borg, S. (1987). In search of parenthood. Boston: Beacon Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lazarus, R. S. (1966). Psychological stress and the coping process. New York: McGraw-Hill.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lazarus, R. S., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, appraisal, and coping. New York: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lazarus, R. S. & Launier, R. (1978). Stress-related transactions between person and environment. In L. A. Pervin & M. Lewis (Eds.), Perspectives in interactional psychology (pp. 287–327). New York: Plenum.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Link, P. W., & Darling, C. A. (1986). Couples undergoing treatment for infertility: Dimensions of life satisfaction. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 12, 46–59.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • McCormick, T. M. (1980). Out of control: One aspect of infertility. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing, 9, 205–206.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • McEwan, K. L., Costello, C. G., & Taylor, P. J. (1987). Adjustment to infertility. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 96, 108–116.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • McGrade, J. L., & Tolor, A. (1981). The reaction to infertility and the infertility investigation: A comparison of the responses of men and women. Infertility, 4, 7–27.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mahlstedt, P. P. (1985). The psychological component of infertility. Fertility and Sterility, 43, 335–346.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Mai, F. M., Munday, R. N., & Rump, E. E. (1972). Psychiatric interview comparisons between infertile and fertile couples. Psychosomatic Medicine, 34, 431–440.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Matthews, R., & Matthews, A. M. (1986a). Beyond the mechanics of infertility: Perspectives on the social psychology of infertility and involuntary childlessness. Family Relations, 35, 470–487.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Matthews, R., & Matthews, A. M. (1986b). Infertility and involuntary childlessness: The transition to nonparenthood. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 48, 641–649.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mazor, M. D. (1978). The problem of infertility. In M. T. Notman & C. C. Nadelson (Eds.), The woman patient (pp. 137–160). New York: Plenum.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Mazor, M. D. (1984). Emotional reactions to infertility. In M. D. Mazor & H. F. Simons (Eds.), Infertility: Medical, emotional, and social considerations. New York: Human Sciences Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Menning, B. E. (1980). The emotional needs of infertile couples. Fertility and Sterility, 34, 313–319.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Miall, C. E. (1985). Perceptions of informal sanctioning and the stigma of involuntary childlessness. Deviant Behavior, 6, 383–403.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Nesbitt, R. E., Hollender, M., Fisher, S., & Osofsky, H. J. (1968). Psychologic correlates of the polycystic ovary syndrome and organic infertility. Fertility and Sterility, 19, 778–786.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • O’Moore, A. M., O’Moore, R. R., Harrison, R. F., Murphy, G., & Carruthers, M. E. (1983). Psychosomatic aspects in idiopathic infertility: Effects of treatment with autogenic training. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 27, 145–151.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Pantesco, V. (1986). Nonorganic infertility: Some research and treatment problems. Psychological Reports, 58, 731–737.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Paulson, J. D., Haarmann, B. S., Salerno, R. L., & Asmar, P. (1988). An investigation of the relationship between emotional maladjustment and infertility. Fertility and Sterility, 49, 258–262.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Platt, J. J., Ficher, I., & Silver, M. J. (1973). Infertile couples: Personality traits and self-ideal concept discrepancies. Fertility and Sterility, 24, 927–976.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rosenfeld, D. L., & Mitchell, E. (1979). Treating the emotional aspects of infertility: Counseling services in an infertility clinic. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 135, 177–180.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Sandelowski, M. (1987). The color gray: Ambiguity and infertility. Image: Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 19, 70–74.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sawatzky, M. (1981, March–April). Tasks of infertile couples. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing, 132-133.

    Google Scholar 

  • Seibel, M. M., & Taymor, M. L. (1982). Emotional aspects of infertility. Fertility and Sterility, 37(2), 137–145.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Silver, R., & Wortman, C. B. (1980). Coping with undesirable life events. In J. Garber & M. E. P. Seligman (Eds.), Human helplessness (pp. 279–375). New York: Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Slade, P. (1981). Sexual attitudes and social role orientations in infertile women. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 25(3), 183–186.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Spencer, L. (1987). Male infertility: Psychological correlates. Postgraduate Medicine, 81, 223–228.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Taylor, S. E., & Lobel, M. (1989). Social comparison activity under threat: Downward evaluation and upward contacts. Psychological Review, 96, 569–575.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Valentine, D. P. (1986). Psychological impact of infertility: Identifying issues and needs. Social Work in Health Care, 11, 61–69.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Walker, H. E. (1978). Psychiatric aspects of infertility. Urologic Clinics of North America, 5, 481–488.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • West, S. (1983). Infertility—Couples in crisis. The Australian Nurses Journal, 13, 40–41.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Wiehe, V. R. (1976). Psychological reaction to infertility. Psychological Reports, 38, 863–866.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Williams, L. S., & Power, P. W. (1977). The emotional impact of infertility in single women: Some implications for counseling. Journal of the American Medical Women’s Association, 32, 327–333.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Wilson, E. A. (1979). Sequence of emotional responses induced by infertility. Journal of the Kentucky Medical Association, 77, 229–233.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Woollett, A. (1985). Childlessness: Strategies for coping with infertility. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 8, 473–482.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wortman, C., & Silver, R. (1987). Coping with irrevocable loss. In G. R. VandenBos & B. K. Bryant (Eds.), Cataclysms, Crises, and Catastrophes: Psychology in Action. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 1991 Springer Science+Business Media New York

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Dunkel-Schetter, C., Lobel, M. (1991). Psychological Reactions to Infertility. In: Stanton, A.L., Dunkel-Schetter, C. (eds) Infertility. The Springer Series on Stress and Coping. Springer, Boston, MA. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4899-0753-0_3

Download citation

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4899-0753-0_3

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Boston, MA

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-4899-0755-4

  • Online ISBN: 978-1-4899-0753-0

  • eBook Packages: Springer Book Archive

Publish with us

Policies and ethics