Author(s): Antonia Abbey, Frank M Andrews, L Jill Halman
Infertility is a major life stressor that affects approximately 10% of U.S. married couples. Infertile women and men have reported experiencing depression, helplessness, and marital strain. Given U.S. society's emphasis on women's role as mothers, it has been suggested that women's lives are more disrupted by infertility than those of men. This hypothesis was supported in a survey of 185 infertile couples and 90 presumed fertile couples. Infertile wives, as compared to their husbands, perceived their fertility problem as more stressful, felt more responsible for and in control of their infertility, and engaged in more problem-focused coping. Infertile husbands experienced more home life stress and lower home life performance than did their wives. These differences were not found for presumed fertile couples. Both infertile and presumed fertile wives experienced more depression, more sexual dissatisfaction, and lower self-esteem than did their husbands. Theoretical and counseling implications of these findings are discussed.