Women struggling to conceive are more willing than their male partners to take risks, according to new research.
Many are prepared to face multiple pregnancy, says Associate Professor Luk Rombauts, who led a study of 320 infertile Melbourne couples.
This could lead to premature birth, low birth weight and a higher incidence of conditions such as cerebral palsy.
The study also revealed a disturbing lack of numeracy skills among couples, which could hamper their ability to assess risk.
This shows it is not appropriate to offer “one size fits all” information, said Prof Rombauts, who presented the study at the annual Congress of the Asia Pacific Initiative on Reproduction.
“In our commitment to informed consent, we need to be sure we are giving patients the information they need so they are able to make decisions in their best interests.”
Australian IVF (in-vitro fertilisation) units are committed to a policy of single-embryo transfer to avoid multiple birth, but Prof Rombauts said couples who had been trying for a long time often asked for multiple transfer.
“Multiple transfer only marginally improves the chance of achieving a pregnancy, but it significantly increases the potential for complications.”
“Women were five times more likely to be willing to take extra risk to achieve pregnancy,” said Prof Rombauts, head of research at Monash IVF in Melbourne.
“This is significant when you consider that women predominantly drive decision-making in assisted reproduction, even though the burden of infertility is equally shared between male and female partners.”