IMPACT OF STRESS ON PREGNANCY RATES
A paper published by Alice Domar, Ph.D., in Fertility
& Sterility (Journal of the American Society for Reproductive
Medicine), February 2004, stated that "recent research on
the relationship between psychological distress and IVF
success indicates that pre-cycle distress is associated
with lower pregnancy rates." Dr. Domar cited 15 studies
found in the literature from around the world, and ten of
these studies "provided statistically significant results
to support the theory that distress is associated with lower
pregnancy rates. Two of the studies had small numbers of
patients but showed a trend toward the same direction. Three
showed no relationship."
Dr. Domar also cited a Turkish study by Terzioglu where 60 couples
were evaluated. Half of the couples received counseling and support
throughout their IVF cycles, whereas the other half received routine
medical care. Terzioglu found that "the experimental patients
had lower anxiety and depression scores in addition to significantly
higher pregnancy rates."
In the same issue of Fertility & Sterility, Catharina
Olivius et. al. reported "that 54% of the patients not achieving
live birth discontinued the IVF program, despite the treatment
being free of charge." She concluded that the "majority of discontinuations
were due to psychological stress."
Continued research on the effects
of stress and the impact of stress management and psychological
support on pregnancy rates is needed. However, there appears to
be a solid foundation to support the need for fertility clinics
and providers to address the emotional aspects of patient care.
Fertility treatment at its best provides excellent medical care
as well as comprehensive psychological support and stress management.