Undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) can be an extremely stressful experience. Women who have tried to get pregnant in the past and were unsuccessful may see IVF as a last resort, of sorts. This can increase their anxiety and stress relating to IVF treatment. Stress has been shown to have a negative impact on reproduction in general, and is especially detrimental to IVF success. However, few studies have looked at how stress fluctuates over the IVF cycle and how anxiety and stress at different times during IVF treatment affect pregnancy success.
Kathy Turner of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Stanford University School of Medicine in California wanted to examine the influence of stress on IVF. In a recent study, Turner assessed the stress levels of 44 women as they underwent IVF. She evaluated their stress at three different time points, and also compared stress and anxiety of women receiving their first IVF treatment to those who undergoing subsequent treatments.
Turner found that stress levels were elevated at all three time points for all of the women. But resiliency was higher among the first-time IVF recipients. In other words, the women who had received IVF before had steeper declines in self-efficacy than those undergoing their first cycle.
Interestingly, stress levels measured one day before egg retrieval seemed to predict pregnancy. The women who had the lowest stress levels prior to egg retrieval were more likely to have successful pregnancies than those whose stress levels were higher at the same time. Turner specifically selected to measure stress on days that were not procedure days in an effort to reduce the chance of increased anxiety related to egg retrieval or embryo transfer.
In all, she believes that these findings show how significant stress is to reproduction, and in particular, to the success of IVF. Turner added, “These results emphasize the need to investigate stress reduction modalities throughout the IVF cycle.”
Turner, K., Reynolds-May, M.F., Zitek, E.M., Tisdale, R.L., Carlisle, A.B., et al. (2013). Stress and Anxiety Scores in First and Repeat IVF Cycles: A Pilot Study. PLoS ONE 8(5): e63743. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0063743
© Copyright 2013 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.