Differences in Women's Psychological Well-being Based on Infertility Treatment Choice and Outcome


  • M. Patrice McCarthy RN, CNS, PhD,

  • Sheau-Huey Chiu RN, PhD

Address correspondence to M. Patrice McCarthy, RN, CNS, PhD, College of Nursing, 209 Carroll Street, University of Akron, Akron, OH 44325-3701. E-mail: mccarthy@uakron.edu


Introduction: The empirical foundation regarding women's experiences with infertility is influenced by the use of clinically based populations of women who are seeking medical assistance to conceive. Although the experience of infertility and involuntary childlessness is recognized as a significant life stressor characterized by a loss of control, bodily integrity, and identity, little is understood about women who perceive an infertility problem but do not seek treatment.

Methods: A secondary analysis was conducted by using a national probability sample from the National Survey of Fertility Barriers. Women (N = 142) who self-reported perceptions of fertility problems were placed in 1 of 3 groups based on the decision to seek/not seek treatment and treatment outcome.

Results: When we controlled for marital status, women who conceived with medical assistance reported significantly higher levels of life satisfaction and held parenting as more important than women who sought treatment and did not conceive and women who did not seek treatment.

Discussion: Women who did not seek treatment for perceived infertility problems reported a decreased sense of the importance of parenthood but also reported lower levels of self-esteem and life satisfaction than women who sought treatment, regardless of treatment outcome.