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Br J Gen Pract. 1997 Feb;47(415):111-8.

Management of involuntary childlessness.

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  • 1Department of General Practice, University of Göttingen, Germany.


Any definition of involuntary childlessness has to consider the difference between sterility and subfertility. As the latter affects about 20-30% of all couples at least once in their lives, general practitioners (GPs) may be the first to be confronted with this problem. This review presents the most relevant diagnostic and therapeutic options in cases of female or male infertility, and discusses the new assisted reproductive technologies (such as insemination, in vitro fertilization, gamete transfer and intracytoplasmatic sperm injection) so that GPs may adequately inform their patients about these procedures and their risks and outcomes. Although controversial, involuntary childlessness and its clinical treatment seem to have a strong psychological impact on a couple's social, emotional and sexual life. Being available for discussion with childless couples and offering ongoing support may be the most important role for the GP in this context.

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