Too much time? Time use and fertility-specific quality of life among men and women seeking specialty care for infertility


BACKGROUND: There are known gender differences in the impacts infertility has on quality of life and well-being. Less is known about how infertile couples spend time on fertility-related tasks and associations with quality of life. The purpose of this study is to evaluate whether time spent on tasks related to family-building decision-making (including research, reflection, discussions with partner, discussions with others, and logistics) were associated with fertility-specific quality of life or anxiety among new patients.

METHODS: Couples or individuals (N = 156) with upcoming initial consultations with a reproductive specialist completed the Fertility Quality of Life (FertiQoL) tool, which produces a Core (total) score and four subscales: Emotional, Relational, Social, and Mind-Body. We developed questions to measure time spent in the previous 24 h on tasks related to family-building. We tested for differences by gender in time use (McNemar's Test) and used ordinary least squares regression to analyze the relationship between time use and FertiQoL scores.

RESULTS: In the week before a new consultation, a higher percentage of women reported time spent in the past 24 h in research, reflecting, discussion with others, and logistics compared to male partners (all p < 0.05). In adjusted models, more time spent reflecting was associated with worse FertiQoL scores for both men and women, as well as with higher anxiety for men. Time spent in discussion with others was associated with higher anxiety for women but better Social FertiQoL scores for men.

CONCLUSIONS: Couples seeking infertility consultation with a specialist reported spending time on tasks related to family-building before the initial visit. There were gender differences in the amount of time spent on these tasks, and time was associated with fertility-specific quality of life and anxiety.

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