How Couples Cope With Infertility

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couple holding hands
How a couple handles stressful infertility treatments is based on personality, researchers find.

Belgian researchers find that how a couple copes with infertility is determined more by their personalities and the nature of their relationship than by the ins and outs of the treatment itself, reports Reuters.

Dr. Benedicte Lowyck and her team of researchers at the University of Leuven studied 70 couples undergoing reproduction through in-vitro fertilization and intracytoplasmic sperm injection. Each couple completed tests to identify their sense of well-being and the strength of their relationship at three points during the infertility treatment: when they started the treatment, three months into the treatment, and six months into the treatment.

The researchers looked at how couples scored on personality traits such as dependency and self-criticism. They also identified which of these four categories of attachment a couple's relationship fell into: secure, insecure and preoccupied; insecure fearful-avoidant; or dismissive.

The findings, published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, show that well-being was lower for couples in dependent or self-critical relationship roles. Couples that had the highest levels of well-being were those in which partners felt securely attached to their mates. Researchers concluded that the couple's well-being during infertility treatment was based more on pre-existing relationship factors (dependency, attachment) than on treatment-related factors such as duration of infertility treatment. The findings suggest that couples who invest time in building secure, strong attachments to their partners may find infertility treatments a less stressful endeavor. 

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