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Research on Infertility and Mental Health

Psychological ramifications of infertility: Infertility can cause stress, depression and anxiety. Studies have found major depression to be prevalent in 15-54% of infertile couples, and clinically significant anxiety reported by 8-28% of infertile couples.

Impact of psychiatric illness on infertility: It is more difficult to determine whether infertility is caused by psychological distress. In one study, twice as many women with a history of depression were at risk of infertility. However, the study did not consider other influencing factors, such as cigarette smoking, alcohol use, decreased libido and body mass index.

Psychological impact of prolonged exposure to intrusive infertility treatments: The process of assisted reproduction itself is associated with increased levels of anxiety, depression and stress:

Most studies have focused on the impact of failed IVF trials, with results showing women were more depressed, had lower self-esteem and were less confident than a control group of fertile women. Ongoing treatment also led to an increase in depressive symptoms. 

There is competing data finding minimal psychological disturbance from infertility treatment or IVF failure. In light of this discrepancy, research suggests a significant number of dropouts from infertility treatment is due to psychological factors—with these women most likely not participating in the studies. 

The outcome of infertility treatment may also be influenced or predicted by psychological factors. Research suggests distress is associated with lower pregnancy rates among women pursuing infertility treatment. 

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