Background: The purpose of this pilot study was to evaluate the impact of a 6-month cognitive-behavioral therapy for infertile couples.
Methods: Seventeen idiopathic infertile couples participated in a therapy program comprised of modules to behaviorally optimize the chance of conception, improve sexual functioning and satisfaction, reduce thoughts of helplessness and, if necessary, improve marital communication skills. Pre- to posttreatment changes in the therapy group were compared to changes in two control groups.
Results: The therapy group showed an improvement in sperm concentration, a reduction in thoughts of helplessness and a decrease in marital distress. By the end of therapy participants practiced timed intercourse more reliably and reported unchanged sexual pleasure and satisfaction during the nonfertile period of the menstrual cycle. At the 6-month follow-up, problem-focused thoughts had decreased. The live birth rate was higher in the therapy group than in epidemiological samples.
Conclusion: Preliminary data suggest that cognitive-behavioral treatment may be an effective approach for the treatment of infertility.