Fertility and family histories among couples before and after assisted reproductive treatment in Denmark - a comparison with contemporary fertile couples

Lene Toelboell Blenstrup, Aalborg University
Lisbeth B. Knudsen, Aalborg University

This study analyzes fertility and family histories among couples before and after In Vitro Fertilization treatment in comparison with couples having naturally conceived children. Data stem from national, population-based registers in Denmark on women undergoing IVF-treatment and socio-demographic characteristics of the women as well as their co-resident partners. For 1995-’99 a total of 12,000 women are identified in the IVF-register. The comparable group includes all women 20-49 years old, in 1981-2001, and their co-resident partners. The histories of the families are monitored five years after treatment and analyzed in relation to various aspects concerning the treatment, e.g., whether the treatment has resulted in a birth and selected socio-demographic characteristics. The analysis shows that couples undergoing IVF-treatment are capable of preserving their relationships more often than couples in the reference group when no distinction is made between IVF-couples whose treatment resulted in a child and those whose did not. The result is however a crucial factor and couples who doesn’t get an IVF-baby have a higher risk of ending their relationship than IVF-couples that become parents. The analysis shows, however, that an IVF-couple, who doesn’t become parents but is married at the time of initiating treatment or marries subsequently has a lower risk of ending their relationship than an unmarried couple who gets a child, either as a result of the IVF-treatment or later in their life together. There is no indication of IVF-couples ending their relationships with the purpose of finding another partner in the attempt of becoming a parent. Thus the analysis indicates that couples undergoing IVF-treatment is bound together by their common dream of having a family and that this tie is stronger than the child per se.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Session 9: Late fertility, twinning and reproductive technologies