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Objective The purpose of this study is to examine whether there are gender differences in the level of perceived social support in couples experiencing issues with fertility. Methods A total of 938 participants aged 18-47 years, with self-reported issues of infertility, were evaluated using the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS) which comprises three subscales which correspond with distinct sources of social support: significant other (SO), family, and friends. Differences between sexes for total score and for all subscale scores were subsequently analyzed using SPSS Statistics (IBM Corp, Armonk, USA). Results Mean total scores and scores on all subscales (SO, family, friend) were higher in women (5.13 ± 1.10, 5.90 ± 1.20, 4.53 ± 1.53, 4.97 ± 1.40, respectively) compared with men (4.43 ± 1.58, 5.04 ± 1.90, 4.06 ± 1.76, 4.20 ± 1.81, respectively), a statistically significant difference of 0.70 (95% CI, -1.11 to -0.28), t(63.018) = -3.360, p = .001), 0.86 (95% CI, -1.35 to -0.36), t(62.277) = -3.452, p = .001, 0.47 (95% CI, -0.94 to -0.01), t(65.219) = -2.039, p = 0.046, 0.76 (95% CI, -1.24 to -0.29), t(63.018) = -3.360, p = 0.002), respectively. Males with male-factor infertility had a statistically significantly lower mean total score than males with female-factor infertility, -2.22 (95% CI, -3.71 to -0.74), p= 0.005. For males and females with male-factor infertility, mean "total" score was 2.73 (95% CI, 1.43 to 4.03) points lower for males than females, F(1,22) = 18.89, p < 0.001, partial η2 = 0.462. Conclusion Perceived social support among individuals experiencing issues with fertility was higher in females than in males across all subscales (SO, family, friends) with the biggest difference seen in SO score. Total scores differed with respect to infertility diagnosis in males but not in females, and amongst males and females with a male-factor infertility diagnosis, total scores were statistically significantly lower in males compared with females. Given the implications of high levels of perceived social support on improved overall well-being, our findings underscore the importance of implementing interventions that are focused on improving perceptions of social support in males experiencing issues with infertility, with specific consideration given to the unique experiences/ challenges and factors that may impact their experience.


Erratum (PMID: 37426395) changes author surname from Borowczak to Pinzon.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Pinzon M, Rotoli S. Possible gender differences in the level of perceived social support in couples who are experiencing issues with infertility. Cureus. 2022 Sep 19;14(9):e29343. eCollection 2022 Sep. doi: 10.7759/cureus.29343. PMID: 36284809. PMCID: PMC9582580.