Background: The objective of this study was to explore the reasons why couples discontinue fertility treatment. Methods: A retrospective exploratory study was performed at the Leuven University Fertility Centre, a university hospital-based fertility center. Women who discontinued treatment between September 2000 and December 2001 were contacted in 2004–2005 by telephone for a standardized interview which covered 9 dropout reasons. For each reason, its importance on the decision to stop treatment was measured on an 11-point Likert scale. Results: On average, psychological burden (x = 5.96) had the highest impact on the decision to stop treatment followed by physical burden (x = 4.48) and female age (x = 3.64). Perceived lack of staff expertise (x = 1.84), negative impact on social contacts (x = 2.12) and financial burden (x = 2.16) had the lowest impact on the decision to stop treatment. Longer duration of infertility was significantly positively correlated with a higher rating of physical burden as a reason to discontinue treatment (r = 0.48; p < 0.05). Discussion: On average, psychological burden appears to be most frequently named as the number one reason to discontinue infertility treatment, whereas financial burden had the lowest impact. Longer duration of infertility is associated with more externalizing reasons to discontinue treatment.

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