A prospective study of stress among women undergoing in vitro fertilization or intrafallopian transfer

Summary:  The impact of stress on the success of fertility treatments is becoming more of interest to researchers, fertility specialists and couples experiencing infertility.  Infertility is known to create psychological trauma for most couples, with many couples identifying it as the most stressful event of their lives.  

While the advances in technology to support couples experiencing infertility issues have exponentially grown in the past 15 years, the experience of those interventions can create untold stress for couples.  The hope and expectation that fertility treatment offers is coupled with the anxiety and fear of possible failure at any stage.

So does the level of stress, existing before treatment impact of the effectiveness of treatment?  Does the level of stress experienced during fertility treatment, specifically IVF or gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) impact any more or less?  These are difficult questions to answer.

In their 2000 study, these researchers found that stress was a factor affecting what they called biologic end points – that is, the number of oocytes retrieved and fertilised.   Baseline stress, that is stress that was evident before treatment, was found to impact on pregnancy, live birth delivery, birth weight, and multiple gestations.  Procedural stress, the stress experienced during treatment procedures, was found to negatively impact on the end points,  that is the number of oocytes retrieved and fertilised.

These researchers state: “This research determined that success rates of IVF or GIFT may, in part, be affected by psychological stress that results in disruption of the reproductive function”…………….”it appears that the baseline (rather than during the procedure) is the most critical time for monitoring and decreasing stress levels.” Read Full Article


Hillary Klonoff-Cohen, Ph.D., Elaine Chu, M.D., Loki Natarajan, Ph.D. and William Sieber, Ph.D. Fertility and Sterility Vol.76, No.4, October 2001

Impact of a group mind/body intervention on pregnancy rates in IVF patients

Summary:  It is well accepted that women undergoing infertility treatments exhibit high levels of anxiety and/or high levels of depressive symptoms at the start of, as well as over the course of, their fertility treatment.  Previous data indicate that distress significantly reduces the probability of conception in women just starting to attempt pregnancy.

The purpose of this study was to determine if a mind/body group intervention, such as the Mind Body Program for Fertility, was associated with an increase in pregnancy rates in a group of women about to undergo their first IVF cycle.

Results showed pregnancy rates for cycle 2 were 52% for the participants of the mind/body intervention compared to 20% for the control group (those who didn’t attend the mind/body intervention). Read Full Article


Alice D. Domar, PhD., Kristin L. Rooney, B.A., Benjamin Wiegand, PhD., E. John Orav, PhD., Michael M. Alper, M.D., Brian M. Berger, M.D., and Janeta Nikolovski, PhD.  Fertility and Sterility Vol.95, No.7, June 2011


“Letting go” coping is associated with successful IVF treatment outcome

Summary: Lifestyle and psychological factors are increasingly becoming the focus of studies as potentially modifiable factors that could affect reproductive performance.  

Low control situations often increase our stress levels.  IVF is considered a low control situation, due to the nature of the treatment process.  While stress and distress are associated with IVF outcomes, women, who try to be actively in control of IVF cycles, may actually lower their probability of getting pregnant.

In this study the authors investigated the difference between women who ‘let things go’ compared to those who may ruminate and worry

Results indicate that the strategy of “letting go” was positively and significantly associated with pregnancy. Read Full Article                  


Nathalie Rapoport-Hubschman, M.D., Yori Gidron, PhD., Rivka Reicher-Atir, PhD,. Onit Sapir, PhD., and Benjamin Fisch, M.D.  Fertility and Sterility Vol 92, No. 4, October 2009