The study involved 270 women who completed an online questionnaire, as well as interviews with nearly 130 men and women undergoing IVF treatments. Also the researchers interviewed 70 physicians, nurses, and mental health experts who work directly with patients.
Compared to the control group, a sample of healthy women not undergoing IVF, women undergoing IVF reported less sexual desire and interest in sex, as well as more difficulty with orgasms. They were also more likely to report vaginal pain and dryness. Also, when talking to their physicians, the researchers noted that sex life issues weren't likely to come up.
"There's just a dearth of knowledge on how infertility affects sexual behavior," researcher Jody Lyneé Madeira adds. "The focus is more likely to be on the social and support dimensions of the relationship, but sex is a big part of that. Just letting patients know they aren't alone in this would be helpful."
The researchers say patients could benefit from being told up front about potential side effects, counseled on remedies or referred to a sex therapist. "Women interested in ART are generally well-educated and tend to spend time researching these issues," Madeira said. "They would be very responsive to this information, and proactive."