A woman's stress does not seem to affect success of fertility treatments

Tuesday, March 15, 2011; 4:02 AM


A woman's stress does not seem to affect success of fertility treatments

THE QUESTION Might tension, nervousness, anxiety or other types of emotional distress inhibit a woman's chances of becoming pregnant through in vitro fertilization?

THIS STUDY analyzed data from 14 studies involving 3,583 women undergoing a cycle of fertility treatment. Most of the women were in their early to mid-30s and had been infertile for three to eight years. Standardized scales were used to assess the women's emotional stress levels before their treatment started. Virtually no difference was found in emotional distress levels between women who became pregnant through assisted reproduction and those who did not.

WHO MAY BE AFFECTED? Women considering assisted reproduction. An estimated 12 percent of U.S. women of childbearing age are infertile. About 1 percent of all babies born in the United States today are conceived with the aid of some kind of fertility treatment.

CAVEATS The study included data on women at different stages of treatment; some were just beginning, and others had undergone multiple cycles of fertility treatment.

FIND THIS STUDY Feb. 23 online issue of BMJ (www.bmj.com).

LEARN MORE ABOUT infertility at www.nichd.nih.gov/health and www.acog.org (search for "treating infertility").

- Linda Searing

The research described in Quick Study comes from credible, peer-reviewed journals. Nonetheless, conclusive evidence about a treatment's effectiveness is rarely found in a single study. Anyone considering changing or beginning treatment of any kind should consult with a physician.

© 2011 The Washington Post Company