The results, says Dr. Bloch, show consistently increasing depression rates among patients in both groups, irrespective of which protocol they underwent. The first two weeks of hormonal repression, he explains, thus have no impact on whether a woman experiences depression during IVF. "Once the patient begins ovulating, her estrogen rises to high levels. Then, after the ovum is replanted in her uterus, there is a precipitous drop in these hormonal levels," he explains. It's the severity of the estrogen drop, a feature of both protocols, that was found to affect the patient's emotional state.
Preventing stress in susceptible women
Whatever the specific effect of hormones, during their study Dr. Bloch and his fellow researchers discovered that the stress and anxiety experienced during the treatment has a significant impact on patient depression rates. When compared to a "normal" population, women undergoing IVF experience very high levels of anxiety and depression even before the treatment begins. As the protocol advances, explains Dr. Bloch, women experience increased anxiety about the success of the implantation.
Women who have a previous history of anxiety or depression disorders before the IVF treatment are even more susceptible, he says. This is likely due to the fact that these women are more emotionally vulnerable to the toll of the IVF process rather then increased reactivity to changing hormonal levels, Dr. Bloch says.
Choosing the right protocol
When it comes to depression rates, the type of protocol a patient undergoes, whether short-term or long-term, has no impact, Dr. Bl
|Contact: George Hunka|
American Friends of Tel Aviv University