Does emotional stress affect the chances of getting pregnant?

No, according to a recent highly-publicized study in the British Medical Journal. They analyzed articles published from 1985 to March 2010 which reported a test of the association between pretreatment emotional distress (anxiety or depression) and pregnancy in women undergoing a single cycle of assisted reproductive technology. They concluded that the findings of this meta-analysis should reassure women and doctors that emotional distress caused by fertility problems or other life events concurring with treatment will not compromise the chance of becoming pregnant.

This is contrary to what most experts believe and our experience with stress reduction techniques such as acupuncture and Mind-Body programs improving IVF success rates, According to RPMG's Scientific Director, Dr. David Meldrum,   the discussion makes the point that because of the small percentage of significant stress in these studies (15%), any effect could have been diluted out by the 85% that did not have it. This could reconcile the finding that the mind/body program had a positive effect, because it would be those with more severe stress that would elect to be in such a study. Also most importantly (point also made in the discussion), stress reduction may allow couples to do more cycles (not examined in these studies), and that can have a profound effect of the chances of success. All studies of regions/countries where  IVF is covered have shown that the major reason for discontinuing treatment is being unable to cope with failure. It is our experience that most couples who discintinue treatment do not do so for financial reasons, but predominently because they cannot tolerate another failed cycle.

 We acknowledge that studies to date have not shown an impact of stress, but that patients who are under stress may still benefit  from stress-reduction, particularly if it allows them to do more cycles than they would otherwise  be able to tolerate psychologically .



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