In our clinic at the Center for Women’s Mental Health, we see a significant number of women who come in for the treatment of depression and anxiety while undergoing infertility treatment. While for some women this is the first time they have experienced depression and/or anxiety, most of the women who we see in the […]
Tag Archives | IVF
A new study suggests that a soy-rich diet may improve fertility in women undergoing infertility treatment. How? Researchers hypothesize that soy products may help to offset the the harmful effects of bisphenol A or BPA. Just to review, bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical found in many types of food storage containers, including polycarbonate plastic […]
Infertility and its treatment are enormously stressful. Previous studies have shown that women undergoing infertility treatment are more vulnerable to clinically significant anxiety and depressive symptoms. But what happens when the desired outcome is achieved? Are women who conceive after infertility treatment still at risk for depression? To answer this question, researchers assessed risk for […]
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).
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.
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.
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).
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.
Infertility affects an estimated 10-15% of couples of reproductive age. Several studies have indicated that patients undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) experience high levels of stress, depression, and anxiety. Multiple risk factors for anxiety and depression during infertility treatment have been identified; these include being female, age over 30, lower level of education, lack of occupational activity, a male cause for infertility, and infertility for 3-6 years.
Infertility and its treatment have been shown to be a trigger for both depression and anxiety. Women with pre-existing histories of depression and anxiety who have been stable on medication may find themselves with worsening symptoms brought on by the stress involved in the process of infertility treatment. Many women find the process an emotional roller coaster of hopefulness and disappointment.