Along with the heartbreak of not being able to have a baby, the stress and financial strain of infertility and unsuccessful fertility treatments can take a heavy toll on a couple’s relationship, according to a new study that found the divorce rate among infertile couples unable to get pregnant triple that of couples who received help for fertility issues and ultimately had a baby.
Conducted by researchers in Denmark, the study tracked over 47,515 women who were evaluated for infertility between 1990 and 2006. On average the women were about 32 years of age at the fertility evaluation and were followed for an average 7 years, resulting in more than 350,000 follow-up years.
Of the women in the study, 57% gave birth to at least one child following the initial infertility treatment, while 43% did not give birth. During the first 12 years following the fertility assessment the women who did not have a child were up to three times more likely to divorce or end the relationship with the person with whom they were living at the time of the evaluation, compared to women who had a child.
Previous research shows that fertility issues can have a physical and psychological impact on both partners, with women being considerably more affected. In fact, there is evidence that unsuccessful fertility treatment may lower quality of life, increase stress levels, anxiety and depression for the couple.
If you and your spouse are dealing with fertility issues, what can you do to get help before it hurts your relationship? Researchers involved with this study suggest that some form of marital counseling or couple’s therapy is important, no matter how far along you are in the fertility treatment process. If you need help finding a counselor, we explain different types of therapists here. You can also ask your fertility specialist for a referral. Adoption is also an option for some. We have been successful at helping many with the private adoption process here in New Jersey.