Between 20 and 30 percent of women who undergo in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures suffer from significant symptoms of depression. Many practitioners believe that the hormone therapy involved in IVF procedures is primarily responsible for this. But new research from Tel Aviv University shows that, while this is true, other factors are even more influential.
According to Dr. Miki Bloch of Tel Aviv University's Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv, stress, pre-existing depression, and anxiety are more likely than hormone therapy to impact a woman's depression levels when undergoing IVF. Combined, these factors may also affect IVF success rates ― so diagnosis and treatment of this depression is very important.
Recently reported in the Journal of Fertility and Sterility , Dr. Bloch's research clarifies the involvement of different hormonal states as triggers for depression during IVF, both for long- and short-term protocols.
The long and short stories
In the long-term IVF protocol, explains Dr. Bloch, women receive injections which block ovulation, resulting in a sharp decline in estrogen and progesterone levels. This state continues for a two-week period before the patient is injected with hormones to stimulate ovulation, at which point the eggs are harvested and fertilized before being replanted into the womb. The short-term IVF protocol, on the other hand, does not include the initial two-week period of induction of a low hormonal state.
Some gynaecologists believe that depression is more likely when a woman undergoes long-term IVF therapy because of those first two weeks of hormonal repression. But Dr. Bloch's research has demonstrated that the difference between the two different procedures is negligible ― depression and anxiety rates for women who undergo the long protocol and those who undergo the short are exactly the same.
Dr. Bloch and his fellow researchers conducted a random assignment study, in which 108 women who came to the Sourasky Medical Center for IVF were randomly assigned to either the long- or short-term protocol. They were given questionnaires and interviews at the start of the therapy and at four other points during the IVF treatment. Related Stories
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