Stress Doesn’t Hinder IVF Success Rates

In vitro fertilization (IVF) success rates aren’t affected by stress, say researchers who have recently completed the largest study on the connection between anxiety, depression, and IVF rates.

“This message can be reassuring,” says lead researcher Dr. Bea Lintsen of Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center in the Netherlands. “The chance of pregnancy seems not be influenced by anxiety or depression.”

For more info on IVF for couples coping with infertility, click on In Vitro Fertilization: A Practical Approach by David K. Gardner. And, read on for what experts say on how stress affects IVF success rates…

Stress Doesn’t Hinder IVF Success Rates

It seems to go against all logic, that anxiety and depression doesn’t reduce in vitro success rates! I keep hearing, “Relax, and you’ll get pregnant” – and “Don’t stress about it! Be as calm as possible to create the best conditions for conceiving a baby.” 

But, this study in the journal Human Reproduction (January 29, 2009) shows that symptoms of anxiety and depression don’t reduce the chances of getting pregnant for women undergoing fertility treatments.

Dr Lintsen says women should feel reassured that stress and other psychological symptoms don’t have a strong effect on in vitro fertilization (IVF) success.

This study analyzed the pregnancy rates of 783 Dutch women during their first fertility treatment. They complete a questionnaire that reported their anxiety and depression symptoms at three different times during their fertility treatments: when they were on the waiting list, one or two months before the procedure, and the day before the treatment.

Past research shows that many women suffer anxiety and depression after a failed IVF attempt – which isn’t surprising. I only want to go in for one bout of in vitro fertilization – and I’ll be crushed if I don’t get pregnant! I doubt I’ll fall into depression or extreme anxiety, but….it’ll be a sad day if I get my period.

Other past studies have connected stress and psychological distress to lower chances of IVF success – while still other research shows no connection. This study, which shows that stress doesn’t reduce IVF success rates, seems to be the largest one so far. Hope for couples coping with infertility!

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As always, these researchers say that more info is needed to determine the exact relationship between stress and getting pregnant through in vitro fertilization.

Do you think stress would affect your chances of IVF success? I definitely do. It just seems logical that my egg and ovaries wouldn’t be as cooperative if I’m anxious or depressed…but it is helpful to know that anxiety or sadness won’t necessarily ruin my chances of getting pregnant!


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