A survey of the attitudes of infertile and parous women towards the availability of assisted reproductive technology


Dr S. Heinonen, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Kuopio University Hospital, 70211 Kuopio, Finland.


Objective  The aim of the study was to assess differences in attitudes towards aspects of assisted reproduction technology between infertile and parous women.

Design  Case-control study.

Setting  University-based tertiary care clinic.

Population/Sample  Three hundred and ninety-two women with fertility problems and 200 parous controls.

Methods  A questionnaire was sent out to 392 the members of Childless Support Association and 200 parous women who had at least three infants and had given birth at Kuopio University Hospital. The questionnaire consisted of 46 questions: demographic information, fertility history, different aspects of assisted reproduction technology and prioritisation issues.

Main outcome measures  Attitudes towards assisted reproduction technology.

Results  The overall response rate was 46%. Infertile women were highly educated (P < 0.01) and had lower parity (mean 0.83 vs 4.76, P < 0.01) than parous women. We recorded four major differences in attitudes between the two groups (OR >2 or <0.5) including provision of infertility treatment to lesbian (46.9%vs 16.7%) and homosexual couples (28.4%vs 11.4%), the opportunity for homosexual couples to use surrogate mothers (30.6%vs 15.2%) and limitations in the number of infertility treatment cycles (28.4%vs 61.4%). For 11 questions, we recorded minor, but statistically significant, differences. In the prioritisation questions, the women set the order according to their own interests, probably because the women were at fertile age and they had or would like to have a child. Maternity services and screening for cancer in women (Papanicolaou's test and mammography) were at the top of the list.

Conclusion  These results reflect a split attitude that was influenced by the wish of infertile women to help childless couples and to be able to recruit suitable sperm/oocyte donors. Parous women were motivated by their concern for children's rights.