Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in final edited form as: Fam Relat. 2017 October ; 66(4): 644–658.



Published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the National Council on Family Relations. Used by permission.

HHS Public Access Author manuscript


Infertility is a common, yet often misunderstood, experience. Infertility is an important topic for family scientists because of its effects on families; its relevance to research in related areas, such as fertility trends and reproductive health; and its implications for practitioners who work with individuals and couples experiencing infertility. In this review, we focus on common misperceptions in knowledge and treatment of infertility and highlight insights from recent research that includes men, couples, and people with infertility who are not in treatment. The meaning of parenthood, childlessness, awareness of a fertility problem, and access to resources are particularly relevant for treatment seeking and psychosocial outcomes. On the basis of insights from family science research, we provide specific guidelines for infertility practice within broader social contexts such as trends in health care, education, employment, and relationships. Guidelines are presented across three areas of application: infertility education for individuals, families, and practitioners; steps to support the emotional well-being of those affected by infertility; and understanding of treatment approaches and their implications for individuals and couples.