Misconceptions about the effect of stress on fertility treatment

The notions about stress affecting the outcome of fertility treatment don’t stand up to scientific scrutiny.

In 2011 Professor Jacky Boivin from the Cardiff Fertility Studies Research Group investigated links between stress and the success of fertility treatment. She undertook a large-scale review (known as a ‘meta-analysis') of all the studies that had been done on the impact of stress and distress on fertility treatment outcome. *

Fourteen studies with a total of 3,583 infertile women were included in the review. The women were assessed before fertility treatment for anxiety and stress. The authors then compared data for women who achieved pregnancy and those who did not.

The results show that emotional distress was not associated with whether a woman became pregnant.

Professor Boivin therefore argues that "these findings should reassure women that emotional distress caused by fertility problems or other life events co-occurring with treatment will not compromise their chance of becoming pregnant."

Boivin's conclusion was supported the following year in another study into the relationship between psychological distress and IVF treatment outcome found that pre-IVF psychological distress does not predict IVF failure.