Stress not linked to IVF success or failure

Women trying to get pregnant via IVF or other assisted reproduction techniques do not reduce their chances of success if they are emotionally distressed, according to a large scale analysis that was published.

In a meta-analysis of data on more than 3,500 women undergoing in vitro fertilisation or other fertility treatments, British researchers found no difference in pregnancy success rates of women who were stressed and those who were not.

"These findings should reassure women that emotional distress caused by fertility problems or other life events co-occurring with treatment will not compromise their chance of becoming pregnant," said Dr Jacky Boivin of Cardiff University's school of psychology, who led the study.

Many infertile women believe that emotional distress is a factor in not getting pregnant naturally or in lack of success with fertility treatment.

Anecdotal research

But Dr Boivin's team, whose work was published in the British Medical Journal, said that view was largely based on anecdotal evidence and often repeated fertility myths such as "relax and you'll get pregnant."

The meta-analysis included 14 studies involving 3,583 women from the United States, Australia, Britain Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Turkey, and other countries who were undergoing fertility treatment.

The women had been assessed for anxiety and stress before their treatment, and Dr Boivin's team compared data for women who achieved pregnancy to those who did not. The results showed emotional distress was not associated with whether or not a woman became pregnant, Dr Boivin said.

(Reuters Health, Kate Kelland, February 2011)

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