Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


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 Göteborg (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 health at the start of treatment. There was also no significant difference between the two groups on an additional test designed specifically to assess 14 emotions[2] often expressed by infertility patients.

The analysis of the second questionnaire answered just before egg retrieval again showed no difference between those who conceived and those who didn’t.

"The only variable that was significantly associated with pregnancy was the number of good quality embryos transferred,’ said Dr Anderheim.

Dr Anderheim said the good psychological well-being of the patients prior to treatment was somewhat unexpected and did not correspond with earlier clinical impressions. So, it was possible that the patients were keeping their worries to themselves because they had great expectations and were giving answers that were more positive than they felt. Neither could the researchers totally rule out that the lack of a link between stress and outcome might have been due to lack of sensitivity in the methods used, although the PGWB method was proven to be valid and reliable and the other questionnaire used had been devised specially for the study to pick up aspects of stress identified among infertility patients.

She said the timing of the first questionnaire was chosen because they wanted to study the women’s psychological status before treatment. The timing of the second just prior to egg retrieval was chosen because patients often express anxiety and stress at that point. It may, she conceded, have been valuable also to have questioned patients at the point the embryos were transferred, which is known to be a time of heightened tension.

However, the fact that it was impossible to establish a link in a prospective study between stress and the chances of conceiving via IVF was encouraging.

"During IVF treatment patients frequently ask about the relationship between psychological stress and outcome and often express worries that their own stress might have a negative influence, so the fact that our prospective study did not indicate any relationship is reassuring. This is a positive message we can give our patients to help decrease their stress at this time." Dr Anderheim concluded.

[1] Does psychological stress affect the outcome of in vitro fertilization? Human Reproduction. doi: 10.1094/humrep/dei219.

[2] The 14 responses to infertility tested were: guilt, success, anger, contentment, frustration, happiness, isolation, confidence, anxiety, satisfaction, depression, powerlessness, competence, control.

Margaret Willson | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht When fat cells change their colour
28.10.2016 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht Aquaculture: Clear Water Thanks to Cork
28.10.2016 | Technologie Lizenz-Büro (TLB) der Baden-Württembergischen Hochschulen GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel light sources made of 2D materials

Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.

So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Prototype device for measuring graphene-based electromagnetic radiation created

28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Gamma ray camera offers new view on ultra-high energy electrons in plasma

28.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

When fat cells change their colour

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>