Thumbnail Image

Stress and anxiety in IVF and non-IVF pregnancies

As an increasing number of couples experience difficulties conceiving a child, the demand for assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) continues to grow. A great deal of research has been done on the process of enabling conception but much less research has been done on pregnancy experiences of the parents, and previous research has concluded that couples treated with ARTs experience higher levels of stress and anxiety. Given that these responses can negatively impact the development of the foetus, this is an important area of study. The aim of this study was to compare pregnancy experiences, including stress and anxiety levels, of women and their partners who were pregnant after treatment with ARTs with pregnancy experiences of women and their partners who had conceived spontaneously. Participants in the study were 38 women pregnant from IVF, 31 IVF partners, 38 control women who conceived spontaneously, and 13 control partners. The women were all past their first trimester of pregnancy. All participants completed a battery of psychometric measures including demographic questionnaires and seven self-report inventories. The study found that IVF mothers did not experience pregnancy differently from control mothers, however, both IVF mothers and control mothers experienced higher anxiety and lower mood compared to their partners, and IVF couples reported lower quality of life. Focusing on IVF couples, the pregnancy experiences of partners revealed they felt more controlled in their relationship, irrespective of having prior children, and IVF couples with children felt less supported from family and their social network. Furthermore, IVF partners felt more controlled within their relationships irrespective of the treatment type used and the duration of the treatment process. Analyses also revealed two or more treatment cycles had an effect on couple’s ability to cope. The findings of this study showing similar pregnancy experiences between IVF mothers and control mothers, and IVF couples pregnancy experiences on the basis of prior family, treatment type and duration, is advantageous for the positive outcomes of their unborn children. The small number of control partner participants was a limitation of this study, and future research could include strategies that might improve the response rate. In addition, future studies could include qualitative data to gain a personal perspective as a supplement to statistical analyses, and longitudinal studies could compare similar groups from conception to a period after the birth of the child. The study showed the resiliency of IVF couples who had endured the processes of ARTs, some of whom commented that they would prefer extended professional care as an addition to the treatment processes.
Type of thesis
Clausen, E. D. (2010). Stress and anxiety in IVF and non-IVF pregnancies (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/5173
University of Waikato
All items in Research Commons are provided for private study and research purposes and are protected by copyright with all rights reserved unless otherwise indicated.