New Study Disspels Theory Linking IVF, Divorce

  • Past research found links between those seeking fertility treatment and divorce.
  • A new study suggests there is no difference between those seeking fertility treatments and those who were not, in terms of likelihood of divorce.
  • The stresses of fertility treatments were comparable to a variety of other chronic disease that can often be linked to divorce.

Couples looking to conceive a child can often find themselves under a tremendous amount of stress. Planning and preparing for everything that goes into bringing a child into this world is even more difficult when one or both of the spouses have some type of medical issue preventing them from conceiving without medical aid.

Understanding IVF

In Vitro Fertilization is one of the more popular ways that couples employ, in order to help themselves have a child, according to the American Pregnancy Association. It is an assisted reproductive technology, and it involves extracting eggs, retrieving a sperm sample, and manually combining an egg and sperm in a laboratory dish. The embryo is transferred into the uterus.

This procedure is used to treat individuals with genetic disorders, women who have had their fallopian tubes removed, decreased sperm count, sperm motility, women with ovulation disorders, premature ovarian failure, uterine fibroids, and other forms of unexplained infertility.

OnePlusOne’s Research

There is a perception that exists, and is supported by past research, that undergoing IVF can lead to an increased risk of divorce for married couples. Research from OnePlusOne, a marriage and relationship charity in England, found that the transition to parenthood is a risk factor for divorce.

According to their interpretation of the 2008 statistics of children younger than the age of 16 per divorcing couples, couples who go through so many trials and tribulations in having their first child, make them less likely to have more children and can often fracture the couple’s relationship.

Previous studies

An additional study published in the Acta Obstretricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica examined couples with fertility problems and how a fertility evaluation contributed to their likelihood of a divorce. They found that couples who had marital problems because of failed fertility treatment were more likely to end up in divorce or separation.

Over the span of 12 years, 27 percent of women who did not have children after their fertility treatments were no longer living with their partners. In this study of 47,515 Danish women who were seeking fertility treatment, 57 percent had at least one child after the treatment and 43 percent did not have any children. Among the women who did not have children, their likelihood for divorce or ending their relationship was three times more than the women who did have children from the fertility treatment.

Recent studies

However, recent research seems to suggest otherwise, according to The Daily Mail. A new study from Mariana Martins, of the University of Porto Psychology department in Portugal drew on findings from 42,845 women having assisted reproductive treatment between 1994 and 2009 in Denmark. They compared these women to a control group from the general population and noticed that 56 percent from the general population had children and 65 percent, who sought fertility assistance underwent the treatment.

According to their research, approximately 20 percent of those who had received fertility treatments ended up separated or divorce, in comparison to 22 percent of the general population.

The study showed that after accounting for both partners’ education, marital status, and age, as well as adding children into the equation, no difference was found in the risk for a divorce.

Martins states that the significant interaction between the assisted reproductive technology status and the common children that may exist between two partners suggest that the risk of a break-up is mainly influenced by childishness.

She continues by saying that the results of the study were not incompatible with what has already been found in previous studies, regarding the impact of stress and anxiety caused by infertility and its treatments. The stresses of the situation made the psychological symptomatology similar to a variety of other chronic diseases.

Martins concludes that while there may be various aspects of strain that infertility can bring on a relationship, going through fertility treatment can benefit a couple’s relationship, because it forces them to improve coping strategies and communication.

Her studies were presented at the European Society of Human Reproductive and Embryology annual meeting in Geneva.

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