The relationship between infertility of couples and marital adjustment

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Counseling Psychology

First Committee Member

Robert C. McMahon - Committee Chair


This study examined several variables which are related to the infertility experience, and determined how these variables contribute to prediction of marital adjustment in infertile couples. These variables are psychological distress, self-esteem, guilt and blame, sexuality, time in treatment, amount of time married, and age.Infertile couples from a support organization of infertile people, and from the practices of physicians completed a series of questionnaires regarding their experiences on an anonymous, voluntary basis. The sample included 127 couples currently undergoing a medical investigation or treatment for infertility.Stepwise multiple regression analysis was used to determine the additive and unique contributions of the independent variables to the variation of the dependent variable of marital adjustment as measured by the Dyadic Adjustment Scale (Spanier, 1976). The couple dyad was utilized as the unit of analysis.Six regression analyses were conducted with the following results. Couples' scores on psychological distress, guilt and blame, age and sexuality explained 34% of the variance in their marital adjustment. Husbands' scores on psychological distress, sexuality and age explained 23% of the variance in couples' marital adjustment, and wives' scores on guilt and blame and amount of time married also explained 22% of the variance in couples' marital adjustment. Three of the analyses utilized discrepancy scores for the dependent measure with inconclusive results. There were no significant differences in couples' scores in marital adjustment across collection sites or diagnoses. The 127 couples in this study were significantly more distressed than a normed sample of medical outpatients.Results of this study should assist medical and mental health professionals identify couples who may be experiencing marital problems while in medical treatment for infertility. The information also should assist psychologists in designing appropriate interventions to assist infertile couples to deal with relationship difficulties during this stressful time of their lives.


Psychology, General

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