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Posted by on Aug 25, 2019 in Infertility | 0 comments

In a nutshell

This study investigated if stress affects fertility outcomes (FOs) in patients undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF). They found that stress does not have a negative effect on FOs. 

Some background

Infertility affects many couples. Many infertile couples chose to undergo in vitro fertilization (IVF). Both infertility and IVF are associated with high stress levels. Stress can be both psychological and physical. Many patients are concerned that stress can have a negative effect on IVF treatment.

Higher rates of anxiety and depression were found in some studies. Higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol have also been measured in these women. Cortisol is a hormone involved in stress management. Most of these studies only measured stress levels once. This makes it difficult to determine if the impact of stress on IVF success. The impact of stress on fertility outcomes (FOs) is unclear. It is unclear if elevated stress before and/or has an effect on FOs.  

Methods & findings

This study included 72 women undergoing IVF. Patients were assessed at 3 intervals. The first assessment was before IVF began. The second assessment was on the day that oocytes (eggs) were retrieved for IVF. This is called oocyte pick-up (OPU) day. The third assessment was on embryo transfer (ET) day. Physical stress was measured by cortisol levels in saliva. Psychological stress was measured using a standard stress questionnaire. Participants were also directly asked how stressed they felt. This was called the Stress Scale measurement. 

Cortisol levels increased by 28% between the first and second assessment. Cortisol levels decreased then by 29% between OPU day and ET day. Questionnaire scores did not differ between the 3 assessment days. There was no difference in stress scale scores. Stress parameters were not associated with any FOs. Higher cortisol levels were associated with higher fertilization rates.

The bottom line

The authors concluded that stress does not have a negative effect on FOs in women undergoing IVF.

The fine print

The number of patients in this study was relatively low. Psychological stress can be difficult to assess. More investigation is needed. 

What’s next?

If you have any concerns regarding infertility please consult with your doctor. 

Published By :

Reproductive BioMedicine Online

Date :

Jul 01, 2019

Original Title :

Does stress affect IVF outcomes? A prospective study of physiological and psychological stress in women undergoing IVF.

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