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Keywords:

  • anxiety;
  • in vitro fertilization;
  • personality;
  • pregnancy;
  • psychology;
  • reactions to infertility

Background. Little is known as to whether negative experiences associated with infertility and IVF treatment persist after successful treatment. The aim of the study was to compare couples who have conceived after IVF and couples who have conceived naturally regarding personality factors and emotional responses to pregnancy.

Methods. Fifty-seven women pregnant after IVF and 55 male partners and 43 women who had conceived naturally and 39 male partners were recruited from university IVF clinics and antenatal clinics in Stockholm. The subjects were interviewed about their socio-demographic background. They completed scales of personality traits, anxiety, emotional responses to pregnancy, marital adjustment and reactions to recalled infertility while in pregnancy week 13 (range 11–17).

Results. The results showed that the IVF women had more muscular tension and were more anxious about loosing the pregnancy than the control women. The IVF women with high infertility distress were more anxious about loosing the pregnancy and less ambivalent than the women with lower distress. The IVF men had more somatic anxiety, indirect aggression, guilt, and were more detached and more anxious about loosing the pregnancy and less ambivalent than the control men. The IVF men with high infertility distress were more anxious about the baby not being normal than the men with lower infertility distress.

Conclusions. The women and men who had conceived after IVF differed on a number of personality dimensions and emotional responses to the pregnancy from that of the women and the men who had conceived naturally. The results suggest that IVF couples may need additional emotional support in early pregnancy.