By Cristina Mestre Ferrer BSc, MSc (embryologist).
Last Update: 09/01/2015

Fertility problems generate stress, psychological alterations, and tension between both members of a couple.

A study conducted in Denmark has analyzed how reproductive problems influence the future of a relationship. This study concluded that couples who are not able to conceive after an assisted reproductive treatment are three times more likely to break up than those who do get pregnant.

The study was conducted with data recorded from 47,515 cases of women who sought medical help for infertility between 1990 and 2006. On the other hand, the state conducts an annual statistical survey on the marital status of citizens. These women were monitored to see if they continued with their partners or separated. In addition, the number of babies born was also monitored.

Results showed that 57% of women had a child. In addition, separation rates of these women after twelve years were considerably lower than the rates of women who did not have children.

The separation

One hypothesis presented by some experts to explain why the separation rates of women who have conceived a child are lower, is precisely the child. Having a child together creates a bond between the couple. Furthermore, for the sake of the child, many couples fight and work harder to stay together and maintain the family united, as the child’s emotional and intellectual development may be affected by the separation.

For couples who don’t have children, the separation can be less complicated and traumatic.

When a couple is trying to have a child, new emotions, and unknown tensions arise and can lead to a confrontation that may lead to a breakup. When facing adversity and the inability to have a child, it is important for the couple to remain united.

Psychological support during assisted reproduction treatments

Investigators note that not having children in common may contribute to the decision of breaking up. On the other hand, investigators recognize this study has limitations because the status of the couple’s relationship before the treatment should be taken into account.

Couples with fertility problems should be aware of the stress caused by infertility and of the disappointment generated by a failed treatment and should consider psychological therapy as a means to avoid the breakup.

These results should also be valued by all those dealing with couples suffering from infertility, particularly in cases when a pregnancy is not achieved, so that they can provide support and understanding.

Most reproductive centres have a psychology department specialized in assisted reproduction that offers support to patients before, during, and after the fertility treatment. This is important because it is not only difficult to assume that the treatment has failed, but also to face that you need to start a treatment due to fertility problems.

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Authors and contributors

 Cristina Mestre Ferrer
BSc, MSc
Embryologist
Bachelor's Degree in Biological Sciences, Genetics & Human Reproduction from the University of Valencia (UV). Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Assisted Reproduction from the UV and the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI). Embryologist at IVI Barcelona. More information
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