If you have been trying for a baby for a while without success you are no doubt starting to feel a bit stressed. When month after month goes by without any sign of pregnancy it’s easy to start to worry about whether it will ever happen and to feel a bit down about it all. Add to that the stress of having IVF treatment, especially when it fails. In the midst of this someone might tell you ‘Just relax and you’ll get pregnant’. This might make you think that the reason why you don’t get pregnant is because you’re too worried and stressed. If this is you, here is some good news.
A group of researchers looked at all the studies that have been done about the relationship between stress and chance of having a baby with IVF. In total they pooled the results from 20 studies which involved more than 4,300 women. And this is what they found:
- Anxiety before infertility treatment does not affect the chance of IVF success.
- Depressive symptoms before treatment don’t affect chance of IVF success.
- Perceived stress before treatment does not affect the chance of IVF success.
- Anxiety and depressive symptoms during treatment don’t affect chance of IVF success.
So, there is no reason to think that you are responsible if the treatment doesn’t work, you are not.
But, for the sake of your general wellbeing and life enjoyment and your relationship with your partner, family and friends, it’s still important to try and reduce stress and anxiety relating to infertility and infertility treatment. The most common reason why couples quit IVF prematurely is because it’s too stressful. Getting help and support from a counsellor or a psychologist to manage the emotional strain of IVF will help you cope better with treatment. And this might pay off because the chance of having a baby with IVF increases if you try more than once.
Nicoloro-SantaBarbara, J., Busso, C., Moyer, A., & Lobel, M. (2018). Just relax and you'll get pregnant? Meta-analysis examining women's emotional distress and the outcome of assisted reproductive technology. Social Science and Medicine, 213, 54-62. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2018.06.033