Objective: To assess self-perceived mental health in women treated with in vitro fertilisation (IVF) 20-23 years previously, while comparing them to a reference group, and to determine any differences in mental health between those who had given birth, those who had adopted a child, those who had given birth and adopted a child and those who remained childless.
Design: A cross-sectional study.
Setting: A Center of Reproductive Medicine (RMC) at a Swedish University hospital.
Participants: 520 women who had undergone at least one IVF cycle at the University Hospital in Linköping between 1986 and 1989. 504 of 520 women (97%) were eligible for follow-up. While 34 women declined, 93 per cent (n=470) of the women agreed to participate. The reference group consisted of 150 women of the Swedish population included in a study that was used to validate the Symptom CheckList (SCL)-90.
Interventions: Follow-up was conducted in 2008-2009. The SCL-90 was used to measure the women's self-perceived mental health and a questionnaire specific for this study was used to retain demographic information.
Outcome measures: The SCL-90 assesses 9 primary dimensions; somatisation, obsessive-compulsive, interpersonal sensitivity, depression, anxiety, hostility, phobic anxiety, paranoid ideation and psychoticism. There is also a global index of distress.
Results: Women who had previously undergone IVF treatment were at increased risk of symptoms of depression (p=0.017), obsessive-compulsion (p=0.02) and somatisation (p≤0.001) when compared to a reference group. In addition, the women who have remained childless are at increased risk of symptoms of depression (p=0.009) and phobic anxiety (p=0.017).
Conclusions: The majority of the women who have been treated with IVF 20-23 years previously appear to be in good mental health. However, women who remain childless and/or without partner after unsuccessful infertility treatment constitute a vulnerable group even later on in life.
Keywords: IVF; Infertility; MENTAL HEALTH; childlessness; depression.
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