A struggle with infertility causes emotional turmoil for the individuals trying to conceive (TTC) and it often carries through to affect the relationship. Some unions don’t survive, especially when all efforts prove unsuccessful. When it is successful, however, and a baby is born from the experience, the bond between the parents is strengthened, according to a recent study from Denmark.

To test how or if in vitro fertilization (IVF) success strengthens relationships, the Danish research team turned to the Danish National Patient Registry and to the Danish IVF Registry to identify 47,515 women who underwent IVF treatments between 1990 and 2006. In each case, the women received the fertility treatments from a hospital in Denmark and their average age was 32 years.

Couple dealing with infertilityTrille Kristina Kjaer led the team of researchers to explore the long-term physical and psychological effects of the experience of infertility on a couple’s relationship. Kjaer works at the Danish Cancer Society Research Center’s Unit of Survivorship.

The Kjaer research team conducted follow-up studies on the women for an average of seven years although some were followed for as long as 12 years. The outcome of the women’s IVF treatments were:


  • 57% had one or more children during the study period
  • 43% never had a baby

The research team discovered that the rate of divorce or dissolution of a relationship was three times higher in the group that did not have a child than in the group that did. Kjaer would like to see more research done on the quality of the relationship and overall well-being of a couple during the time the couple is dealing with the fertility issues. The team has published its findings in the medical journal Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica.

Previous studies conducted by various research groups have found the rate of stress, anxiety, and depression to be at increased levels when fertility treatments are not successful. It is important to note that although some couples do experience emotional and physical distress when infertility treatments prove unsuccessful, not all of them do. Couples exploring assisted reproductive technologies (ART) are advised to seek counseling to address any concerns. Counseling for individuals and as a couple may be especially beneficial when fertility treatments do not produce the desired outcome.

In the United States, the Centers for DIsease Control and Prevention defines infertility as failure to conceive after one year of unprotected sex. About 11% of couples (representing about 1.5 million women) in the US experience fertility problems.

< Dealing with the Emotional Impact on Infertility for Couples

Source: Whiteman, Honor. “Having a baby after fertility problems ‘strengthens relationship.’” Medical News Today. MediLexicon International Ltd. Feb 2, 2014. Web. Feb 6, 2104.