Suspension of fertility treatments during COVID-19 has mental health impacts

September 21, 2020

The suspension of fertility treatments due to the COVID-19 pandemic has had a variety of psychological impacts on women whose treatments were cancelled, but there are several protective factors that can be fostered to help in the future, according to a new study by Jennifer Gordon and Ashley Balsom of University of Regina, Canada, published 18 September in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.

One in six reproductive-aged couples experiences infertility, and many turn to treatments such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF), which require many in-person appointments to complete. On March 17, 2020, the American Society of Reproductive Medicine and the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society announced their recommendations to immediately and indefinitely suspend all in-person fertility treatments in the United States and Canada due to COVID-19.

In the new study, researchers used online social media advertising to recruit 92 women from Canada and the U.S. who reported having their fertility treatments suspended to participate in an online survey. The women, who were aged between 20 and 45, had been trying to conceive for between 5 and 180 months. More than half had had an IVF cycle cancelled and approximately one-third had been in the middle of IUI when treatments were suspended.

Overall, 86% of respondents reported that treatment suspensions had a negative impact on their mental health and 52% reported clinically significant depression symptoms. Neither age, education, income or number of children were correlated with the effect of treatment suspension on mental health or quality of life. However, other factors were found to positively influence these outcomes: lower levels of defensive pessimism (r=-0.25, p<0.05), greater infertility acceptance (r=0.51, p<0.0001), better social support (r=0.31, p<0.01) and less avoidance of infertility reminders (r=0.23, p=0.029) were all associated with a less significant decline in mental health.

The authors add: "This study highlights how enormously challenging the COVID-19 pandemic has been for women whose fertility treatments have been suspended. At the same time, it points to certain factors that may help women cope during this difficult time, such as having good social support."
-end-
Citation: Gordon JL, Balsom AA (2020) The psychological impact of fertility treatment suspensions during the COVID-19 pandemic. PLoS ONE 15(9): e0239253. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0239253

Funding: JLG: Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation, grant #4577, http://www.shrf.ca JLG: Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Tier II Canada Research Chair, https://cihr-irsc.gc.ca/ The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

In your coverage please use this URL to provide access to the freely available article in PLOS ONE:https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0239253

PLOS

Related Mental Health Articles from Brightsurf:

Mental health strained by disaster
A new study found that suicide rates increase during all types of disasters -- including severe storms, floods, hurricanes and ice storms -- with the largest overall increase occurring two years after a disaster.

The mental health impact of pandemics for front line health care staff
New research shows the impact that pandemics have on the mental health of front-line health care staff.

World Mental Health Day -- CACTUS releases report of largest researcher mental health survey
On the occasion of 'World Mental Health Day' 2020, CACTUS, a global scientific communications company, has released a global survey on mental health, wellbeing and fulfilment in academia.

Mental illness, mental health care use among police officers
A survey study of Texas police officers examines how common mental illness and mental health care use are in a large urban department.

COVID-19 outbreak and mental health
The use of online platforms to guide effective consumption of information, facilitate social support and continue mental health care delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic is discussed in this Viewpoint.

COVID-19 may have consequences for mental health
The COVID-19 pandemic appears to be adversely affecting mental health among hospitalised patients, the healthcare professionals treating them and the general population.

Mental health outcomes among health care workers during COVID-19 pandemic in Italy
Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and insomnia among health care workers in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic are reported in this observational study.

Mental ill health 'substantial health concern' among police, finds international study
Mental health issues among police officers are a 'substantial health concern,' with around 1 in 4 potentially drinking at hazardous levels and around 1 in 7 meeting the criteria for post traumatic stress disorder and depression, finds a pooled data analysis of the available international evidence, published online in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

Examining health insurance nondiscrimination policies with mental health among gender minority individuals
A large private health insurance database was used to examine the association between between health insurance nondiscrimination policies and mental health outcomes for gender minority individuals.

Mental health care for adolescents
Researchers examined changes over time in the kinds of mental health problems for which adolescents in the United States received care and where they got that care in this survey study with findings that should be interpreted within the context of several limitations including self-reported information.

Read More: Mental Health News and Mental Health Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.