The shared burden of infertility : gender role conformity as a predictor of infertility-related distress and relational health in couples undergoing treatment for infertility
This study explored gender role conformity as a predictor of infertility-related distress and relational health in women and men undergoing treatment for infertility. Other factors that have been linked to infertility-related distress, including diagnosis type, treatment type, and insurance coverage were also explored. Study participants were comprised of 185 women and 147 men who had received a diagnosis of primary infertility and were undergoing medical treatment for infertility. Participants completed an online measure which included the following instruments: the Fertility Problem Inventory (FPI: Newton et al., 1999); the Conformity to Feminine Norms Inventory (CFNI: Mahalik et al., 2004); the Conformity to Masculine Norms Inventory (CMNI: Mahalik et al., 2003); and the Relational Health Indices (RHI: Liang et al., 2001). Findings from the study demonstrate a significant relationship between gender role conformity and infertility-related distress for both men and women. Women reported significantly greater levels of infertility-related distress than did men. Biological sex was a stronger predictor of infertility-related distress than was gender role conformity for both men and women. No significant differences in distress scores were found for individuals grouped by diagnosis type, treatment type, or insurance coverage status were detected. When the couple was used as the unit of analysis, no differences were found between couples with congruent distress scores and incongruent distress scores. Clinical implications linking the study findings with individual and couple-based interventions, as well as ideas for future research, are discussed.