Objective: To determine if differences could be distinguished between men's and women's emotional response to infertility based on the assignment of a gender-specific diagnosis.
Design: Gender-specific diagnoses were examined in relation to stigma, perception of loss, role failure, and self-esteem, using structured interviews.
Setting: Tertiary clinical care in private practice settings.
Participants: Thirty-six self-selected volunteer couples undergoing infertility treatment.
Main outcome measures: Stigma, perception of loss, role failure, and lowered self-esteem emerged from content analysis of structured interview data.
Results: No differences were found among women in their emotional response to infertility regardless of whether a female or male infertility factor was present, whereas men with a male factor experienced more negative emotional response to infertility than men without a male factor.
Conclusions: Although both women and men are affected by infertility, their emotional response is significantly influenced by a gender-specific diagnosis. Men's response to infertility closely approximates that of women if the infertility has been attributed to a male factor but differs considerably if a male factor is not found.