Boston IVF Study Shows Infertility is a Top Stressor Despite COVID-19 Pandemic

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This is the first study to show that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, women experiencing infertility perceived the inability to conceive a healthy baby as having the most negative impact on their emotional health.

“This important study highlights the emotional struggles our patients deal with on a daily basis, which are certainly exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and resultant delay in infertility treatment.

Boston IVF, a worldwide leader in fertility care and a pioneer in emotional health in fertility patients, today announced the results of its landmark COVID-19 Pandemic Stress study – which shows that the stress of infertility remains one of the top three life stressors for patients, similar to the stress created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study, published in the journal Reproductive Biomedicine online, comprised a survey of over 2,200 female infertility patients. The authors report that prior to the pandemic, women experiencing infertility ranked infertility as their top stressor, followed by their job, and then money. At the beginning of the pandemic in the Boston area, the top stressor was infertility, followed by their job, and then the Coronavirus. During the surge, the top stressor remained infertility, followed by the Coronavirus and then their job.

This is the first study to show that despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on virtually every aspect of these patients’ lives, women experiencing infertility perceived the inability to conceive a healthy baby to have the most negative impact on their emotional health.

Led by Boston IVF physicians Drs. Denis Vaughan, Jaimin Shah, Alan Penzias, Thomas Toth and psychologist Dr. Alice Domar, this research affirms the need to provide a holistic form of care for those struggling to build their families.

“This important study highlights the emotional struggles our patients deal with on a daily basis, which are certainly exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and resultant delay in infertility treatment. This initial report is part of a greater longitudinal study which will educate us all regarding the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our patients,” says study lead author Denis Vaughan, MD. Added senior author Thomas Toth, MD, “We would like to thank our patients for participating in the study and for bravely speaking out about their emotional health. It is important for them to be heard and know that they are not alone, we are all in this together.”

“Although the results of this study might feel surprising to those who aren’t familiar with the emotional impact of infertility, the fact that the inability to successfully have a baby represents slightly more of a stressor that a global pandemic will ring true to the millions of men and women in the US who struggle with the roller coaster of hope followed by disappointment every month. Multiple studies have documented that the psychological impact of infertility is equivalent to the impact of life-threatening diseases such as cancer, heart disease and HIV”, says co-author Alice D. Domar, Ph.D., Director of Integrative Care at Boston IVF.

Boston IVF, the only fertility clinic in New England to house a comprehensive integrative care center, will continue to pursue research on the most effective ways to meet the physical and emotional needs of their patients. This is even more vital now, when COVID-19 poses significant risks to the physical and psychological health of all.

ABOUT BOSTON IVF
One of the world's most experienced fertility networks, with more than 90,000 babies born since 1986, Boston IVF has earned a reputation for innovative care, groundbreaking research, and next-generation fertility treatments. With 25+ centers throughout New England, New York, and Indiana, the Boston IVF fertility network utilizes advanced science and customized care to maximize patient outcomes.

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Theo LoPreste
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