Psychosocial outcomes for fathers after IVF conception: A controlled prospective investigation from pregnancy to four months postpartum

J. Cohen*, C. McMahon, C. Tennant, D. Saunders, G. Leslie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: The aim of this study was to compare the psychosocial adjustment of fathers of children conceived by in vitro fertilization (IVF) with appropriate controls, matched for age and parity. Investigation of men's responses to infertility has suggested that there may be diagnosis-related differences. Data presented here are from a larger longitudinal study examining parental adjustment, parent-child relationships, and child outcomes in IVF families. Materials and Methods: Sixty-two IVF fathers and 56 control fathers completed questionnaires at 30 weeks of pregnancy and at 4 months postpartum. Psychosocial adjustment was measured using the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, the Spanier Dyadic Adjustment Scale, and the Intimate Bonds Questionnaire. Attachment to the baby was measured using the Antenatal Bonding Questionnaire. Groups were compared using multivariate analyses of covariance and repeated measures analyses of variance. Results: At 30 weeks of pregnancy, IVF fathers displayed significantly more general anxiety, lower self-esteem, reduced overall marital satisfaction, and a less caring relationship with their partner than the control group. Despite these differences, the levels of anxiety and marital cohesion of the IVF fathers were well within normal range. There were no group differences in their reported attachment to their unborn baby. At 4 months postpartum, group differences had disappeared, and there were no significant differences in psychosocial adjustment, measures of attachment to the baby, or satisfaction with parenting. When IVF fathers were subdivided according to diagnosis of infertility, no differences were found for any of the psychosocial measures between these subgroups and the control group. Conclusions: IVF fathers reported a lower self-esteem and displayed less marital satisfaction compared to control fathers during the third trimester of their partner's pregnancy. Despite these differences, their overall level of functioning was well within clinical norms. By the fourth month after the birth of their child, these differences had disappeared. Reassuringly, IVF fathers seemed to be adjusting adequately to the challenges accompanying the transition to parenthood. Nevertheless, the elevated distress obtained among IVF fathers during pregnancy suggests that counselors might be advised to be alert to specific self-esteem or relationship issues relevant to IVF fathers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-130
Number of pages5
JournalReproductive Technologies
Volume10
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

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