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New research shows no link between stress and chances of IVF success

New research from Sweden has shown that psychological stress does not appear to influence the outcome of IVF good news for women who fear that the understandable anxiety that they suffer during fertility treatment might damage their chances of conceiving.

"This means that we can use these findings to reassure women and this information should, in itself, help to reduce their stress and worry levels," said lead author Dr Lisbeth Anderheim whose team's research is reported today (Thursday 25 August) in Europe's leading reproductive medicine journal Human Reproduction[1].

Past research on the effect of psychological stress on IVF success has been conflicting, with some studies finding an association and others not. But, support for a causal link between stress and IVF results was often weak, according to Dr Anderheim, midwife and PhD student at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gteborg (Gothenburg).

The new research has the strength of being prospective and therefore does not rely on answers given after the patients found out whether their treatment was successful. A month before treatment 166 women answered extensive questionnaires evaluating their well-being. These covered a wide range of emotions, their general health, their relationship with their partner, their lifestyle and outlook on life and the intensity of their desire for children. A second questionnaire timed just before their eggs were retrieved was answered by 151 of the women. A total of 139 women had embryos available for transfer 58 conceived and 81 did not.

The results of the pre-treatment questionnaire showed no difference between those who became pregnant and those who didn't. The questionnaire was a proven method for measuring well-being the Psychological General Well-Being (PGWB) index. The patients' scores were in line with Swedish reference values, reflecting the fact that the women were in good psychological h
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24-Aug-2005


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