Infertility and Mental Health

October 2015 Roundup: Recent Publications in Reproductive Psychiatry

When we started our website 15 years ago, a productive month in the field of reproductive psychiatry meant that a few good articles were published.  Times have certainly changed.   In fact, it is sometimes difficult [...]

Women with Recurrent Pregnancy Loss at Risk for Depression and Anxiety

In a recent cross-sectional study from Denmark, researchers compared the prevalence of stress and depressive symptoms among 301 women with recurrent pregnancy loss (or RPL) and 1813 women attempting to conceive naturally. RPL was defined [...]

The Impact of Infertility Treatment on Mood: Some Women are More Vulnerable

While many women complain of psychological distress during infertility treatment, it has been somewhat unclear if the anxiety and depression women may experience is related to having to undergo infertility treatment or to the hormonal agents that are used as part of the treatment, or a combination of the two.   While we know that changing levels of gonadal hormones, like estrogen, may affect mood and anxiety levels, we have very little information on the psychological effects of the hormone-modulating drugs used in assisted reproductive technology (ART).

Remote Enrollment Initiated in MGH Study Assessing Mood Symptoms Across Infertility Treatment

We are pleased to announce the recent launch of an exciting new research initiative that is being conducted by the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Women’s Mental Health.  The Symptom Tracking in Assisted Reproductive Technologies study (START study) will focus on understanding the risk factors for depressive relapse in women undergoing infertility treatments.  There has been a growing request in our clinical work to address the needs of women undergoing infertility treatments.  It is our hope that such a study will provide important information on the course and risk of depression in women undergoing fertility treatment and thus inform clinical care.

Dr. Lee Cohen: Using SSRIs in Pregnancy

Over the last decade, attention in the medical literature has gathered logarithmically to focus on potentially efficacious treatments for perinatal depression. Studies of relevant databases, editorials, and various reviews have addressed the reproductive safety concerns of antidepressant treatments, particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) on one hand, and the impact of untreated maternal psychiatric illness on fetal and maternal well-being on the other.

SSRIs and Pregnancy: Putting the Risks and Benefits into Perspective

Prozac hit the market in 1988, the first selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant approved by the FDA for the treatment of depression.  Because it was safer and more tolerable than the antidepressants that preceded it, Prozac was soon the most commonly prescribed antidepressant in the United States.

Infertility Increases Risk of Serious Psychiatric Illness

Multiple small studies have demonstrated a link between infertility and psychological distress, reporting high rates of anxiety and depressive symptoms among women with infertility.  These studies have evaluated psychiatric symptoms or psychological distress; however, less is known about the prevalence of more significant psychiatric disorders in this population.  

Acupuncture Helpful for Reducing Anxiety in Women Undergoing IVF

Most women undergoing infertility treatment experience increased anxiety.  In a randomized clinical trial, researchers explored the effectiveness of acupuncture in diminishing anxiety in a group of women undergoing IVF.  43 patients undergoing IVF received either active acupuncture (n=22) or sham treatment (n=21).  Women with a history of psychiatric illness and those using antidepressants and/or anxiolytic drugs were excluded from the study.  Anxiety levels were assessed before and after treatment using the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAS). 

Infertility Treatment is Stressful: But Does Stress Affect the Chances of Getting Pregnant?

It is common for women experiencing infertility and undergoing fertility treatment to experience significant emotional distress.  Many women, reasoning that their emotional health influences their physical functioning, worry that the stress and anxiety they experience in this context may hinder their ability to become pregnant.