In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a method of assisted reproduction that involves combining an egg with sperm in a laboratory dish. If the egg fertilizes and begins cell division, the resulting embryo is transferred into the woman’s uterus where it will hopefully implant in the uterine lining and further develop. IVF bypasses the fallopian tubes and is usually the treatment choice for women who have badly damaged or absent tubes
A couple's sexual relationship and satisfaction can suffer while
attempting to conceive a child through in vitro fertilization (IVF), a
new study reports.
In IVF, mature eggs are retrieved from a
woman's ovaries and fertilized by sperm in a lab in order to create
embryos, which are then implanted in the woman's uterus. IVF is used
after couples have tried several other less invasive procedures. By the
time they begin IVF, couples may have been trying to conceive for many
Indiana University researchers looked at the responses of 270
women who completed an online questionnaire. They also conducted
interviews with 127 men and women using IVF and with 70 health
providers, including doctors, nurses and mental health experts.
study authors found that women undergoing IVF had significantly less
sexual desire, interest in sexual activity and satisfaction with their
sexual relationship, compared to women who did not require IVF.
The study was presented Oct. 30 at the American Public Health Association meeting in San Francisco.
women undergoing IVF also had more difficulty with orgasm and were more
likely to report sexual problems such as sexual pain and dryness. The
sexual problems worsened as the IVF treatment proceeded, the researchers
noted in a university news release.
Women undergoing IVF reported
similar problems with sexual function regardless of whether the cause
of infertility was in the man, woman, or both, the investigators found.
In addition, women who reported being sexually active with a partner in
the past month were more likely to masturbate and to report fewer sexual
problems, they noted.
Hormonal treatments used in assisted
reproductive technologies, such as IVF, may affect women's sexual
experiences and pain. However, these effects are not well understood and
have not been well studied, the study authors pointed out.
researchers also added that little attention has been given to the
sexual relationships and satisfaction of couples undergoing IVF and
other infertility treatments, even though sex plays a role in a couple's
efforts to have a child.
"Sex is for pleasure and for
reproduction, but attention to pleasure often goes by the wayside for
people struggling to conceive," study co-author Nicole Smith, a doctoral
student with the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at the Indiana
University School of Public Health, said in the news release.
assisted reproductive technologies, couples often report that they feel
like a science experiment, as hormones are administered and sex has to
be planned and timed. It can become stressful and is often very
unromantic and regimented; relationships are known to suffer during the
process," Smith said.