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Stress doesn't affect IVF success, study finds

28 February 2011
Appeared in BioNews 597

Stress levels are unlikely to affect whether or not a woman becomes pregnant following fertility treatment despite anecdotal reports, a review suggests.

Researchers from Cardiff University and the University of Thessaloniki in Greece reviewed 14 previous studies that investigated pre-treatment stress in over 3,500 infertile women undergoing a single cycle of IVF. The authors then compared data on emotional distress levels for women who became pregnant and those who did not. The review, published in the British Medical Journal, found no association between levels of emotional distress and the success of fertility treatment.

The studies reviewed used various ways of measuring anxiety or depression and included women undergoing several kinds of fertility treatments. Women were assessed before treatment for anxiety or depression and then the success or failure of their treatment was recorded.

Lead researcher Professor Jacky Boivin, from the Fertility Studies Research Group of Cardiff University, said the meta-analysis 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'.

Clare Lewis-Jones, chief executive of the charity Infertility Network UK, said: 'Whilst stress may not impact on the success of treatment, the need for patients to receive support and understanding should not be ignored'.

Around one third of UK couples end assisted reproductive treatments early, many due to the stress involved in undergoing treatment.

Emotional distress in infertile women and failure of assisted reproductive technologies: meta-analysis of prospective psychosocial studies
British Medical Journal |  23 February 2011
Fertility treatment success is not prevented by stress
BBC News |  25 February 2011
Fertility treatment 'unaffected' by stress
NHS Choices |  25 February 2011
13 June 2011 - by Dr Kimberley Bryon-Dodd 
US researchers have found a link between an ovarian hormone called anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) and IVF success. The findings suggest AMH testing could help clinicians tailor doses of ovary-stimulating drugs to improve women's egg production and likelihood of pregnancy...
31 May 2011 - by Dr Rosie Morley 
Multiple genetic tests have been performed on a single embryo for almost the first time, according to US researchers. The researchers from John Hopkins School of Medicine say their technique for making copies of an embryo's DNA can improve IVF success rates...
16 May 2011 - by Dr Rosie Morley 
A study of over 400,000 IVF treatment cycles in the UK has found a 'strong association' between the number of eggs retrieved prior to a woman undergoing IVF and live birth rate. The findings suggest that chances of a live birth increased with the number of eggs collected up to the number of 15, after which it began to decline....
9 May 2011 - by Dr Kimberley Bryon-Dodd 
Women who attended a mind and body course shortly before undergoing IVF demonstrated increased pregnancy rates compared with those that did not, a US study has found. The findings suggest that stress relief may increase the likelihood of becoming pregnant from IVF....
7 March 2011 - by Leo Perfect 
Researchers from the University of Western Australia have published a study suggesting IVF effectiveness could be improved by undergoing more cycles....
31 January 2011 - by Dr Lux Fatimathas 
Israeli researchers have shown a correlation between successful IVF (in vitro fertilisation) and 'medical clowning'. In a small-scale study a 'medical clown' was used to entertain women immediately following embryo implantation. A rise in the pregnancy rate was observed in the women subjected to medical clowning compared to controls...
24 September 2010 - by Sarah Pritchard 
Research suggests the anxiety and depression some women experience when undergoing IVF may not be linked to the hormone drugs used in the treatment...
20 September 2010 - by Harriet Vickers 
Women with poor egg (or oocyte) quality could double their chance of becoming pregnant through IVF if given melatonin, researchers have found. The work was presented at the World Congress of Fertility and Sterility in Munich last week...
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