Psychosocial adjustment during pregnancy for older couples conceiving through assisted reproductive technology

Catherine A. McMahon, Frances L. Gibson, Jennifer L. Allen, Douglas Saunders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (SciVal)


BACKGROUND: The trend to older maternal age at first birth is well established in Western countries and biological risk factors, particularly declining fertility, are well documented. Less is known, however, about the psychosocial well-being of older first time parents. This study explores differences in psychosocial adjustment during pregnancy in older (maternal age ≥ 38 years) and younger (maternal age < 35 years) couples after assisted reproductive technology (ART) conception. METHODS: Questionnaire data were collected from a consecutive cohort of pregnant nulliparous women and their partners recruited over a 12-month period from ART clinics in Sydney, Australia. RESULTS: There were more similarities than differences when comparing older and younger couples. Older couples took longer to conceive and were more likely to use donor eggs. Older pregnant women scored higher on a measure of psychological hardiness/resilience and reported a lower identification with motherhood compared with younger pregnant women. Older men differed only in reporting a less satisfying social orientation during pregnancy (lower satisfaction with sex life, relationship with partner and social life). CONCLUSIONS: Findings do not indicate problematic adjustment during pregnancy in older couples, but differences found need further investigation using larger samples and prospective designs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1168-1174
Number of pages7
JournalHuman Reproduction
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jan 2007


  • ART conception
  • Maternal age
  • Pregnancy
  • Psychosocial adjustment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology


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