Infertile couples’ experience of family stress while women are hospitalized for Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome during infertility treatment


  • Shiu-Neng Chang MS, RN,

  • Pei-Fan Mu PhD, RN

Pei-Fan Mu
Institute of Clinical Nursing
National Yang-Ming University
#155, Sect. 2, Li-Nong Street
Telephone: 886 228 267163


Aims and objectives.  The aim of this study was to explore the essential structure of family stress among hospitalized women receiving infertility treatment with Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome.

Background.  When hospitalization is necessary for infertile women with Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome, they face health-illness transition stress and their families are traumatized by the pressure of hospitalization. Most literature on infertility treatment has dealt with the infertile women's physio-psychological reactions, the impact on the couples’ relationships and the influence of social support on infertile couples.

Design.  A descriptive phenomenological design consistent with Husserl's philosophy.

Methods.  Ten married couples from a Taipei medical centre participated in the study. All the couples were receiving infertility treatment because the female partners were suffering from moderate or severe Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome and this required hospitalized. An open in-depth interview technique encouraged parents to reflect on their experience, which raised their feelings to a conscious level. Data were analysed using Colaizzi's approach.

Results.  This study explored infertile women's experiences from the couples’ perspectives and the results identify the overall stresses that the family face. Five themes emerged from the study, namely, the stress of ‘carrying on the ancestral line’, the psychological reactions of the couple, a disordering of family life, reorganization of family life and external family support.

Conclusions.  The results demonstrate that the experience of family stress involves impacts that range across the domains of individual, marital, family and social interactions and there is a need to cope with these when the wife is hospitalized for moderate to severe Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome.

Relevance to clinical practice.  The findings indicated that nurses should provide infertile couples with family-centred perspectives that are related to Chinese cultural family values. Nurses should supply information on infertility treatment and assist couples to cope with their personal and family stress.