Male psychological adaptation to unsuccessful medically assisted reproduction treatments: a systematic review

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Mariana Veloso Martins, Miguel Basto-Pereira, Juliana Pedro, Brennan Peterson, Vasco Almeida, Lone Schmidt, Maria Emília Costa

BACKGROUND: Similarly to women, men suffer from engaging in fertility treatments, both physically and psychologically. Although there is a vast body of evidence on the emotional adjustment of women to infertility, there are no systematic reviews focusing on men's psychological adaptation to infertility and related treatments.

OBJECTIVE AND RATIONALE: The main research questions addressed in this review were 'Does male psychological adaptation to unsuccessful medically assisted reproduction (MAR) treatment vary over time?' and 'Which psychosocial variables act as protective or risk factors for psychological maladaptation?'

SEARCH METHODS: A literature search was conducted from inception to September 2015 on five databases using combinations of MeSH terms and keywords. Eligible studies had to present quantitative prospective designs and samples including men who did not achieve pregnancy or parenthood at follow-up. A narrative synthesis approach was used to conduct the review.

OUTCOMES: Twelve studies from three continents were eligible from 2534 records identified in the search. The results revealed that psychological symptoms of maladjustment significantly increased in men 1 year after the first fertility evaluation. No significant differences were found two or more years after the initial consultation. Evidence was found for anxiety, depression, active-avoidance coping, catastrophizing, difficulties in partner communication and the use of avoidance or religious coping from the wife as risk factors for psychological maladjustment. Protective factors were related to the use of coping strategies that involve seeking information and attribution of a positive meaning to infertility, having the support of others and of one's spouse, and engaging in open communication about the infertility problem.

WIDER IMPLICATIONS: Our findings recommend an active involvement of men during the treatment process by health care professionals, and the inclusion of coping skills training and couple communication enhancement interventions in counselling. Further prospective large studies with high-quality design and power are warranted.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHuman Reproduction Update
Volume22
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)466-478
Number of pages13
ISSN1355-4786
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016

ID: 162989554