BACKGROUND: Evidence about the effects of infertility and assisted reproduction technique (ART) on marital relationships is discrepant. Here, we examined the impact of ART on marital relationships. The roles of life stressors, infertility and treatment characteristics in predicting marital relations were also evaluated. METHODS: SUBJECTS: 367 couples with singleton IVF/ICSI pregnancies. CONTROLS: 379 couples with spontaneous singleton pregnancies. Women and men were assessed when the child was 2 months (T2) and 12 months old (T3). They further reported stressful life events at T2 and depression in pregnancy. RESULTS: No between-group differences were found in marital satisfaction and dyadic cohesion. Dyadic consensus deteriorated from T2 to T3 only among control women. Sexual affection was low among control men at T2 and stressful life events decreased it further. Depression during pregnancy predicted deteriorated marital relations only in control couples. Several unsuccessful treatment attempts were associated with good dyadic consensus and cohesion among ART women. Spontaneous abortions and multiple parity predicted poor marital satisfaction in ART women, whereas long duration of infertility and multiple parity predicted poor marital relations in ART men. CONCLUSIONS: Successful ART does not constitute a risk for marital adjustment. The shared stress of infertility may even stabilize marital relationships.
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