Emotional Intimacy and its Impact on Infertility
The role of emotional intimacy and romantic relationships has long been established to help buffer against the negative impacts of stress, anxiety, and quality of life during fertility treatments. A new study is evaluating for the impact of couple dynamics, behavioural traits in couples and their impact on fertility treatment success.
To understand how the emotional functioning in a relationship impacted treatment outcomes, two scales examined study participants for attachment anxiety and attachment avoidance traits. Attachment anxiety was defined as feelings of rejection or abandonment when one's partner is perceived as unavailable. Attachment avoidance was defined by an extreme need for autonomy, reluctance to share and self-disclose, and a fear of dependence on the other partner. The two scales used to determine how closely the emotional construct of each partner showed signs of attachment anxiety and/or attachment avoidance, the Experience in Close Relationships-Revised (ECR-R) Anxiety and Avoidance scales were used. They are a self-reported questionnaire with 36 questions.
Partners that ranked high in ECR-R anxiety levels correlated with a higher level of doubtfulness towards their partner's loyalty to the relationship, mistrust, disappointment, and feelings of persecution.
Partners that ranked high in the ECR-R avoidance scales correlated with a lower quality of life during fertility treatments, higher levels of mistrust towards the fidelity of their partner, reduced capability of communicating mutual needs and participating in activities together.
Interestingly, couples that scored lower on the two scales were more likely to succeed in fertility treatments. Specifically, couples that reported less fear in needing support from their partner (or being 'dependant' on them), did not avoid or fear sharing and communicating needs/feelings, and were not afraid of interpersonal intimacy were more likely to succeed in their fertility treatments.
The role of mental health and emotional health seem to have a significant impact in determining the overall health of a relationship, the perceived quality of life with respect to fertility patients, and potentially the success rates of fertility treatments as well.
The study was an observational study, meaning that the causation cannot be established but are observed correlations between these different variables. Further research will allow us to better understand the impact of emotional wellbeing, relationship intimacy and romanticism have on fertility treatment outcomes.
This article is in no way a replacement for medical advice or medical care, it is advised that anyone concerned about their Health should speak with their Naturopathic Doctor. Please discuss with your healtcare provider and only make changes to your medications regimen if recommended by your doctor and under their guidance.
1. Renzi, A., Trani, M. D., Solano, L., Minutolo, E., & Tambelli, R. (2020). Success of assisted reproductive technology treatment and couple relationship: A pilot study on the role of romantic attachment. Health Psychology Open, 7(1), 205510292093307.