Treatment discontinuation in couples consulting for male infertility after failing to conceive

Of the 1,345 couples who consulted for male factor infertility, 407 patients discontinued treatment principally due to painfulness of treatment and its ineffectiveness. Of these patients, 20% finally succeeded in having a child.

Marie Walschaerts, Ph.D., Louis Bujan, M.D., Ph.D., Jean Parinaud, M.D., Ph.D., Roger Mieusset, M.D., Ph.D., Patrick Thonneau, M.D., Ph.D.

Volume 99, Issue 5, Pages 1319-1323, April 2013


To evaluate rates and reasons for treatment discontinuation in couples with male infertility and who failed to conceive.

Retrospective study.

Male Sterility Center, University Hospital.

Four hundred seven couples consulting for male infertility and who discontinued treatment without conceiving.


Main Outcome Measure(s):
Treatment, reasons for dropout, and reproductive outcomes after discontinuation.

Of the 407 patients, 218 (54%) had had fertility treatment (medical or surgical), and 189 (46%) had ART (intrauterine insemination (IUI), in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)). The main reasons for dropout were painfulness of treatment (15% for patients with non-ART treatment vs. 32% for patients who had had ART), its ineffectiveness (12% vs. 26%), and separation of the couple (18% vs. 7%). Of the 407 patients, 27% consulted in another fertility center, 8% succeeded in having a child by ART treatment with male partner sperm, 1% by ART with donor sperm, and 11% through adoption.

About half of couples consulting for male infertility discontinued fertility treatment, and of those who discontinued only a fifth finally succeeded in having a child. Although support is available to couples during fertility care, ART procedures are a physical and psychological burden.

  • Jason Kovac

    also it would be interesting to know how many of each procedure the couples had to go through. does having multiple IUIs result in more drop-outs prior to undergoing that final IVF? what are the thoughts of the couple… are they only ‘so-so’ about having a child? if yes, that will definitely impact the drop-out rates.

  • This article highlights the psychological stress of infertility couples. I often see this manifested in the male as psychogenic erectile dysfunction and sexual dysfunction, which can be very debilitating for the young couple trying to conceive.

    Question for the authors: In France, is ART covered by insurance? Is ART subsidized by the government? One major factor that was not addressed in this article is the financial burden of ART, especially when IVF/ICSI are involved. In the U.S., this has a large impact on drop out.


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