Infertility treatment hinders the careers of working women in Japan

Tomoko Ichikawa, Ikuko Ota, Yoshimitsu Kuwabara, Ruriko Tsushima, Toshio Hamatani, Osamu Hiraike, Toshiyuki Takeshita, Yutaka Osuga, Shigeo Akira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: Women undergoing infertility treatment often need to balance work and fertility treatment. Therefore, we evaluated the quality of life (QOL) and impact of infertility treatment on Japanese working women and their careers. Methods: We conducted an online questionnaire at 18 clinics in Japan. Responses were collected from 835 women, 713 of whom were working. The participants were divided into three groups based on treatment stage. Data were collected using the FertiQoL and an original questionnaire created by the authors. The Mann–Whitney U test and a multinomial logistic analysis were used. Results: Approximately 90% of the participants felt that treatment could hinder their work and 8% had quit their jobs. Low QOL was associated with sadness and despair due to infertility and mood disorders, disruptions to life and work, and the complicated medications and procedures involved in treatment. Social isolation and the effect of fertility treatment on daily life and work strongly hindered the careers of working women in the third stage of treatment (in vitro fertilization and intracytoplasmic sperm injection). Approximately 70% of the participants required support to subsidize treatment costs and sought shorter working hours and flextime systems. Only 55% informed their workplaces about the fertility treatment, but about 70% easily gained understanding by informing them. Conclusions: For many working women, infertility treatment posed barriers to their careers, which could explain the low QOL. Urgent introduction of a support system is necessary in Japan, and understanding and social acceptance of infertility appears to be important.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1940-1950
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Oct 1


  • Japan
  • infertility
  • quality of life
  • women
  • work

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology


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