Open Access Research

Procreative sex in infertile couples: the decay of pleasure?

Roberto Marci1*, Angela Graziano1, Isabella Piva1, Giuseppe Lo Monte1, Ilaria Soave1, Emilio Giugliano1, Silvia Mazzoni1, Roberta Capucci1*, Maria Carbonara2, Stefano Caracciolo2 and Alfredo Patella1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biomedical Sciences and Advanced Therapies, Section of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Ferrara, Corso Giovecca 183, 44121, Ferrara, Italy

2 Department of Experimental and Clinical Medicine, Section of General and Clinical Psychology, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy

For all author emails, please log on.

Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 2012, 10:140  doi:10.1186/1477-7525-10-140

Published: 23 November 2012



Infertility represents a major challenge to the emotional balance and sexual life of couples, with long-lasting and gender-specific effects. The objective of this study is to explore personality features of infertile patients and detect possible sexual disorders in couples undergoing infertility treatment.

Materials and methods

In this prospective study 60 infertile couples and 52 fertile control couples were asked to complete standardized and validated questionnaires: the Adjective Check List (ACL) to enquire about personality features and the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) or the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF) to assess sexual functioning of female and male partners. The study population was divided into 3 groups: Group A (N = 30, recently diagnosed infertile couples) Group B (N = 30, infertile couples already undergoing Intrauterine Insemination) and Group C (N = 52, fertile control group).


Infertile patients did not display any distinguishing personality features. Regarding sexual function, men of all the three groups scored higher in both questionnaires (sexual satisfaction, desire and orgasm) than their female partners. Comparing results between groups, Group A male partners obtained lower scores in all the subscales. Women belonging to Group A and Group B showed an impairment of sexual arousal, satisfaction, lubrification and orgasm when compared to fertile controls.


Even if at the very first stages of infertility treatment no personality disturbances can be detected, the couples’ sexual life is already impaired with different sexual disorders according to gender.

Infertility; Psychology; Sexuality; Sexual dysfunction; Assisted Reproductive Technology; Sexual disorders; Sexual behavior; Psycho-sexology