The aim of this study is to investigate the gender inequalities in perceived stress and the influencing factors in infertile couples in Iranian society.
This cross-sectional study was conducted on infertile couples who were referring to Kurdistan Infertility Diagnosis and Treatment Medical Center in 2019. Demographic and clinical information questionnaire, Newton's Infertility perceived stress questionnaire, Rosenberg's standard self-confidence questionnaire and the multidimensional scale of social support were used. Multiple linear logistic models were also used.
A total of 560 couples (1,120 people) participated in the study. The average perceived infertility-related stress, self-esteem scores and social support and social-emotional loneliness were 173.95 ± 41.87, 13.99 ± 2.29 and 27.81 ± 7.33, respectively, which were significantly different scores across infertility cause and sex (P < 0.05). Males compared to females had lower perceived infertility-related stress (169.93 ± 42.51 vs 177.97 ± 40.86, P = 0.001) and self-esteem scores (14.33 ± 2.29 vs 13.66 ± 2.24, P < 0.001) and social support and social-emotional loneliness (32.92 ± 9.31 vs 30.94 ± 9.04, P < 0.001). The partners who reported themselves as infertile, compared significantly higher in perceived infertility-related stress than those who reported their spouse being infertile (194.24 ± 35.33 vs 141.90 ± 39.28), lower self-esteem scores (12.77 ± 2.21 vs 13.94 ± 1.56) and social support and social-emotional loneliness score (27.81 ± 7.33 vs 30.11 ± 7.70). Also, after taking potential confounders into account with increase in each score of self-esteem, 12.19 units of stress decreases (P < 0.001, 95% CI: 11.40–12.99) and with increase in each score of social support and social-emotional loneliness, 3.45 units of stress decreases (P < 0.001, 95% CI: 3.28–3.63).
There is perceived stress among infertile couples, and this rate is higher among infertile people and women. Therefore, it seems that specific intervention programs for infertile couples should be implemented based on the results of this study, and their stress levels in a way that self-esteem and support for both partners be increased and the perceived stress among women and infertile individuals be decreased.
Declarations: Ethics approval and consent to participate: All procedures performed in this study were approved with the ethic committee of Kurdistan University of Medical Sciences, Sanandaj, Iran (no = IR.MUK.REC.1397.12). Competing interests: The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare. Funding: The study was financially supported by Kurdistan University of Medical Sciences, Sanandaj, Iran. Authors' contributions: SM, AS, HM and FZ designed research and conducted research; SM and AS analyzed data; SM, AS, HM and FZ wrote the paper; HM and FZ had primary responsibility for final content. All authors read and approved the final manuscript. The authors acknowledge their staff, the fieldworkers and participants without whom this work would not have been possible.
Mirzaei Moghadam, S., Mahmoodi, H., Zaheri, F. and Shokri, A. (2021), "Gender inequalities in perceived stress and the factors affecting it in infertile couples in Iranian society: a case in one of the provinces of Iran", International Journal of Human Rights in Healthcare, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJHRH-11-2020-0104
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