The modern world rapidly changes, and it affects people’s physical and psychological health and well-being. One of the most crucial outcomes produced by various environmental problems and processes, increasing levels of pollution, and several other reasons is infertility. According to the World Health Organization, close to 15% of couples suffer from this physical disorder. Based on the statistics provided by SingleCare, it can be concluded that the lowest fertility rates are shown in Southern and Eastern Europe, as well as in Eastern Asia. Although in the United States the situation is better than in European countries, the SingleCare statistic states that 10% of women aged 15-44 are affected by infertility in the U.S. Therefore, the risks of future generations decrease in number can be expected due to heightening infertility rates in correlation with the trend of child-free families.
Infertility affects men and women differently; however, it has an impact on both genders’ psychological health. Hence, many research questions and topics examine people’s psychological state and well-being while undergoing fertility treatment. Additionally, IVF participants often experience stressful situations due to their infertility, which leads to high pressure on these people and sometimes even their psychological destabilization. Therefore, in their articles, Neter (2017) and Pottinger et al. (2015) explain the levels of experienced stress and investigate various infertility-coping patterns that help reduce psychological pressure and research struggles faced by IVF patients. Many people are scared of bullying, mocking from society, and the inability to have children; consequently, they fear loneliness and difficulties in building a family. In the modern world full of prejudice, inequalities, and social expectations, infertile men and women feel even less protected. Hence the researched topics raise in actuality and urgency.
Psychological Well-being of IVF Participants
Diverse research has been conducted on the psychological health and level of experienced stress by IVF participants over the last years. Many of them conclude that negative events in life can influence the mental and physical health of infertile people. For example, Pottinger et al. (2015) state that multiple uncontrollable negative experiences or situations such as interpersonal abuse or violence significantly lower the chances of a positive IVF treatment outcome. In their research, Pottinger et al. (2015) explained such essential topics as stress, IVF-assisted pregnancy, and mediating influence of coping patterns. It means that the study concentrates not only on infertility-related stress but on other stressful events influencing the infertile individuals’ stress as well.
To gain the needed data, such modern techniques and methods as secondary data analysis and consideration and questionnaire creation. In the study, both the medical records of the IVF participants and personal forms of collecting information such as questionnaires were implemented. Therefore, sociodemographic data, information on stressful events, loss experiences, coping, and IVF treatment was collected and properly analyzed by the researchers. During the research, various tools of estimating stress such as empirically constructed scales, open questions, checklists, and dual-process models of grieving were utilized. They helped to investigate the level of experienced pressure during the IVF treatment process and the impact of past stressful events on the present psychological states of individuals. Additionally, data on positive and negative outcomes of IVF-assisted pregnancies was gained from the patients’ files. Such methods of analysis can help understand the mental and psychological condition of individuals undergoing such treatments and gauge the impact of people’s past traumatic events on their present situation and wellbeing.
The study shows various results that apply to diverse age groups and genders; therefore, it can be utilized ubiquitously. For example, Pottinger et al. (2015) conclude that the most common stressors among both men and women are work issues, their or relatives’ health, and financial problems. The authors add that men are generally less concerned about their health than women and support their conclusion with appropriate statistics. Close to 83% of participants have experienced a significant loss of at least one in their lives; however, the perception of loss does not vary depending on gender or age (Pottinger et al., 2015). However, a huge gender difference was shown among preferred coping techniques, where women are more likely to actively accept support and use emotion-focused coping and problem-focused strategies (Pottinger et al., 2015). Based on the results of the studies, a conclusion can be made that stress often guides the IVF treatment and generally accompanies infertility. However, people prefer diverse techniques of coping with it depending on age and gender.
An interesting fact is that the result of the IVF treatment is not determined by previous or current stress. According to Pottinger et al. (2015), the experience of additional stressful events did not influence the outcome of pregnancies in a negative way for people struggling with infertility. The only variable that made an impact on the pregnancy outcome is age; however, the results rather depend on independent factors (Pottinger et al., 2015). Hence, many infertile people experience stress; however, it does not correlate with the pregnancy outcome after the treatment. Additionally, the IVF treatment shows positive results in less than 30% of cases; therefore, it is rather ineffective.
Women’s Psychological Adjustment to Infertility
Infertility can be seen from another perspective, such as playing a central role in the woman’s identity as well. For example, in their research article, Neter and Goren (2017) describe their examination of the centrality of infertility in the woman’s identity, as well as psychological aspects of fertility treatment. As men and women differ in their reproductive systems, the responsibility of child delivery lies on female characters; hence the inability to perform those inborn functions sometimes leads to severe emotional damage and stress. For example, the blocked goal of having children leads to women’s developmental crisis, deteriorating their relationships, sense of meaning, plans, and identity (Neter & Goren, 2017). A loss of identity and sense in life is crucial for all people, but especially for infertile women as they additionally fail in pursuing and achieving some of their global goals.
Another essential topic covered in the research is goal adjustment. The goal of child delivery and motherhood is significant for the majority of women. Therefore, the block of this goal or compound traverses in its adjustment usually leads to rising stress levels. Neter and Goren (2017) explain that in the case of IVF attempts being repeatedly unsuccessful, women whether keep following their unattainable goals or transfer their resources to the attainable ones. The inability to achieve a set or even providential goals commonly leads to high levels of stress, dissatisfaction, and sometimes depression. However, during the research, such indicators of the blocked goal adaptation as fewer intrusive thoughts, lower stress, anxiety, levels of inflammation, depression, and better sleep efficiency were shown (Neter & Goren, 2017). Therefore, the negative emotions are adaptive and can be replaced with some methodologies, such as concentrating on other goal adjustments.
To get accurate results on the issue, the authors implemented such methods as questioning and observing future female IVF patients. They state that 193 women starting or waiting for their fertility treatment had filled out the prepared questionnaires to collect information, and their psychological state was observed and carried out during the next three months (Neter & Goren, 2017). Those methods and practices are quite effective as they allow to gain and proceed information on two different stages of the treatment. Therefore, it is possible to compare the psychological state of individuals before and during or right after the curing process. Additionally, descriptive analyses were conducted, as well as Pearson correlations were calculated in order to evaluate the relations between main dependent and independent variables (Neter & Goren, 2017). Such data analysis methods help understand the correlations between various factors influencing stress levels.
The conclusion was made in correlation with some other researched groups’ results to estimate the level of stress and re-engagement ability in comparison with cancer patients, for example. According to Neter and Goren (2017), the hypothesis concerning the relations between the centrality of infertility and psychological adjustment to the situation was supported by the study results. Additionally, low disengagement and moderate reengagement abilities were shown, which means that they strive to necessarily solve the existing problem (Neter & Goren, 2017). Based on the results of the study, it can be concluded that infertile women experience high levels of stress along with strong goal pursuing despite unfavorable predictions.
Evaluation of the Research Results
In my opinion, all researchers performed well and presented essential results of their studies. I presume that the methodologies utilized in both studies are well-chosen and do not require improvement. I agree with Pottinger et al. (2015) on the most common stress factors for both men and women. However, the low impact of past stressful events on the current psychological pressure seems doubtable to me. I think more research should be conducted on the correlation between past stress and infertility as hard emotion-provoking past events may have an impact on the current imbalance in child delivery functions. I fully support Neter and Goren (2017) and their research results which conclude that infertility comes in correlation with psychological stress.
Infertility. (n. d.) World Health Organization. Web.
Infertility statistics 2021: how many couples are affected by infertility. SingleCare. Web.
Neter, E., & Goren, S. (2017). Infertility centrality in the woman’s identity and goal adjustment predict psychological adjustments among women in ongoing fertility treatments. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 24, 880-892. Web.
Pottinger, A. M., Nelson, K., & McKenzie, C. (2015). Stressful events and coping with infertility: factors determining pregnancy outcome among IVF couples in Jamaica. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 34(1), 3-14. Web.