The effects of gender-specific diagnosis on men's and women's response to infertility

Fertil Steril. 1992 Jan;57(1):113-21.


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.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female / diagnosis
  • Infertility, Female / psychology*
  • Infertility, Male / diagnosis
  • Infertility, Male / psychology*
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Self Concept
  • Sex Characteristics