Infertility, fertility treatment and sexuality

Student thesis: Master programme thesis

  • Majken Weirsøe Mogensen
4. term, Master of Sexology (Continuing education) (Continuing Education Programme (Master))

Background: Today almost ten percent of live births in Denmark occur on the basis of fertility treatment. It is well known that fertility treatment can cause stress on the psychosocial level. Likewise it is known to be a stressor on the relational and not least sexual level. In addition, infertile couples experience reduced quality of life. At the same time, research shows that togetherness of the relationship and sexuality is of great importance for most people. Quite interesting studies show that a relationship with a well functioning sex life and togetherness can enhance both compliance and the chance of conception among the infertile couples.

Aim: This master thesis aims to examine how infertile couples in IVF treatment experience that their sexuality is affected, and in relation to that explore how health professionals should deal with the topic of sexuality alongside the IVF treatment.

Method: This thesis has an overall phenomenological inductive approach, and is based on qualitative analyses of individual semi structured interviews, with four couples in IVF treatment.

Summarized the interviews showed that infertility is a risk factor for sexuality on a bodily, psychological and social level. The analyses also showed that there is a taboo when it comes to sexuality in regards to fertility. It is ambiguous whether the couples find it meaningful to include the topic of sexuality in relation to the treatment. Though, the couples express the need to receive actual information regarding sexuality and fertility treatment. There is a request for more psychosocial conversations where sexuality could be considered as a mandatory and natural part. In that connection it must be the responsibility of the health professionals to include sexuality in a health-promoting perspective.

The conclusion of the thesis is that efforts must be made primarily to break down the taboo that consists around the sexological aspects. Health professionals may benefit from the highly used “Plissit model”, which is a manageable guide developed to advise on sexual issues.

Health professionals should be trained to identify sexual issues among couples in IVF treatment, and should alongside that suggest strategies to overcome these potential issues. This may help couples to maintain their quality of life and potentially also maximize their chances of pregnancy by IVF.

Publication date8 May 2017
ID: 257174463