Stress and Anxiety in Couples Who Conceive via In Vitro Fertilization Compared With Those Who Conceive Spontaneously.
OBJECTIVE:To determine the feasibility of recruitment and explore whether women and their partners who conceive via in vitro fertilization (IVF) experience greater levels of stress and anxiety during pregnancy compared to each other and compared to couples who conceive spontaneously. DESIGN:Longitudinal, descriptive, pilot study. SETTING:Recruitment was conducted at three sites in the United States (two fertility clinics and one well-woman clinic). PARTICIPANTS:Informed consent was obtained from 48 women and their partners (22 IVF couples and 26 spontaneous conception [SC] couples). METHODS:During each trimester, participants completed the Perceived Stress Scale, the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, and the Pregnancy-Related Anxiety Measure to assess their levels of stress and anxiety. We used hierarchical linear mixed-effects models for repeated measures adjusting for woman and partner nesting effects to conduct trajectory analyses to test for group differences in stress and anxiety levels. RESULTS:Recruitment goals were met (31 IVF and 27 SC couples gave informed consent and 22 IVF and 26 SC couples completed questionnaires). We found no significant group main or group by time interaction effects on anxiety and stress. However, pregnant women had significantly higher mean state and pregnancy-related anxiety scores than their male partners. Of interest, the women showed a gradual reduction in state and pregnancy-related anxiety across trimesters, whereas pregnancy-related anxiety of their partners gradually increased. CONCLUSION:Among our participants, IVF did not increase risk for stress, state anxiety, or pregnancy-related anxiety, which provides reassurance during patient counseling. Although pregnant women overall experienced greater state and pregnancy-related anxiety than men, we found that levels in women decreased closer to birth, which may contribute to successful emotional transition to parenthood. Men's experiences with anxiety require additional investigation given the recent attention to male postpartum depression.
Stevenson, EL; Cebert, M; Silva, S
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