Sexual coercion in couples with infertility: prevalence, gender differences, and associations with psychological outcomes

Zoë D. Peterson, Sarah K. Buday

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Infertility can create challenges for couples’ sexual negotiation and could set the stage for sexual coercion (i.e. use of verbal pressure or force to obtain sex from an unwilling partner). This study investigated the occurrence and correlates of sexual coercion during intercourse for conception among infertile couples. A convenience sample of heterosexual couples (N = 105) with infertility were recruited from clinics and online forums. Members of the couple separately completed an online questionnaire. Members of the couple answered questions about their partner's use of sexual coercion during intercourse for conception and not for conception. Then they completed measures of psychological distress, relationship adjustment, and sexual functioning. A significantly higher proportion of men (37%) than women (12%) reported being verbally pressured by their partner to engage in intercourse for the purposes of conception. For men, but not women, experiencing sexual coercion during intercourse for conception was associated with psychological distress and poor relationship adjustment. Qualitative data provided context for understanding the impact of infertility on participants’ sexual relationships. These findings suggest that sexual coercion may be a problem for some men within infertile couples. Experiencing sexual coercion in the context of infertility may represent a double threat to men's masculine identity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-45
Number of pages16
JournalSexual and Relationship Therapy
Volume35
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Infertility
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • relationship satisfaction
  • sexual coercion
  • sexual dysfunction

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