, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 161-169

Psychological and hormonal changes in the course of in vitro fertilization

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This study was designed to investigate concurrently the psychological and hormonal changes at three critical points during in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment. One hundred thirteen couples suffering from mechanical and unexplained infertility participated in the study and 23 of them conceived. Psychological evaluation included background questionnaires, Lubin's Depression Adjective Check List, and Spielberger's State Trait Anxiety inventory. Cortisol and prolactin levels were estimated by radioimmunoassay. The results showed that patients' anxiety and depression scores were significantly higher than the population norm. Psychological test scores and hormonal levels showed a similar pattern of change, increasing on oocyte retrieval day, decreasing on embryo transfer day, and rising again on pregnancy test day. Differences between these phases were generally significant. Differences in parameters' means between conceiving (C) and nonconceiving (NC) women were generally not significant. However, correlations between psychological measures and hormonal levels showed a clear disparity between C and NC women in the last phase. Whereas significant negative correlations were found in C patients, no relationship was found in NC patients. The findings suggest that success in IVF treatment may depend, in part, on differential modes of coping with anxiety and depression, involving hormonal or endorphin mediation.