Distress and concerns in couples referred to a specialist infertility clinic

J Psychosom Res. 2003 Apr;54(4):353-5. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3999(02)00398-7.


Objectives: The aims of this study were to examine emotional distress and infertility-related concerns in male and female members of couples referred to a specialist infertility clinic and to determine changes in these over time.

Methods: A prospective cohort study with a 6-month follow-up. Emotional distress was measured using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, and concerns by a specially designed questionnaire.

Results: The response rate achieved was 38%. At baseline, 25.7% of women and 8.9% of men had scores of greater than 10 on the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) Anxiety subscale, and 2.7% of women and 1.8% of men had scores of greater than 10 on the HADS Depression subscale. At 6-month follow-up the HADS scores were substantially unchanged. Females reported a significantly greater infertility-related concerns regarding life satisfaction, sexuality, self-blame, self-esteem and avoidance of friends compared with males.

Conclusions: The prevalence of emotional disorder identified was low. There were gender differences in the nature of the specific concerns reported. The degree of distress and concerns did not change significantly over time. There are a minority of patients, mainly females, with clinically significant distress and infertility-related concerns amongst patients attending infertility clinics who deserve psychological attention.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities*
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Family Characteristics*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infertility / therapy*
  • Male
  • Medicine*
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Referral and Consultation*
  • Sex Factors
  • Specialization*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires