Long-term health, well-being, life satisfaction, and attitudes toward parenthood in men diagnosed as infertile: Challenges to gender stereotypes and implications for practice

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Objective: To investigate attitudes toward parenthood, long-term life satisfaction, and health and well-being in men diagnosed as infertile.

Design: A cross-sectional survey of a cohort of men 5 years after diagnosis of infertility.

Setting: The andrology clinic at the Royal Women's Hospital Reproductive Services, Melbourne Australia.

Patient(s): All men diagnosed at this center as infertile in 2001 and 2002.

Intervention(s): None.

Main Outcome Measure(s): Attitudes to parenthood (Meaning of Parenthood), quality of intimate relationship (Intimate Bonds Measure), personality characteristics (Vulnerable Personality Style Questionnaire), life satisfaction (Satisfaction with Life Scale), and self-rated physical health (Physical Component Summary of SF-12 [PCS-12]) and relationship with mental health (Mental Component Summary of SF12 [MCS-12]).

Result(s): A total of 112 (41%) of 276 men completed the survey. Of these, 96% had pursued infertility treatment and 87% had become fathers. Only 10% thought that fertility confirmed by fatherhood reflected masculinity, and 84% desired parenthood as much as their partners did. When all other factors were controlled for, men who had not become fathers had poorer mental health (MCS-12 score = 43.9 ± 9.9) than those who were fathers (MCS-12 score = 49.25 ± 8.7).

Conclusion(s): Clinical practice should not presume that infertile men conflate fertility and masculinity, are less distressed than women about the potential loss of parenthood, or adjust more readily to childlessness, which appear to be inaccurate but widespread stereotypes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)574 - 580
Number of pages7
JournalFertility and Sterility
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

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