Infertility remains a top stressor despite the COVID-19 pandemic

Reprod Biomed Online. 2020 Sep;41(3):425-427. doi: 10.1016/j.rbmo.2020.05.015. Epub 2020 Jun 5.


Research question: What is the psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on infertility patients?

Design: An anonymous cross-sectional online survey was sent to patients who attended a large university-affiliated infertility practice in the USA between 1 January 2019 and 1 April 2020. At three different time-points respondents were asked to note their top three stressors, from a list of 10 commonly reported life stressors.

Results: The questionnaire was sent to 10,481 patients, with 3604 responses (response rate 34%) received. A total of 2202 non-pregnant female respondents were included in the final analysis. One-third of respondents had a prior diagnosis of an anxiety disorder, and 11% reported taking anxiolytic medications; over one-quarter had a prior diagnosis of a depressive disorder and 11% reported taking antidepressant medications. At all three time-points, infertility was noted to be the most frequent top stressor. Coronavirus was noted to be the third most common stressor among the respondents in early March but, at the time of writing, is similar to that of infertility (63% and 66%, respectively). A total of 6% of patients stated that infertility treatment, including IVF, should not be offered during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Conclusion: Despite the unprecedented global pandemic of COVID-19, causing economic and societal uncertainty, the stress of infertility remains significant and is comparable a stressor to the pandemic itself.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / drug therapy
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Betacoronavirus*
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / drug therapy
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infertility / psychology*
  • Infertility / therapy
  • Pandemics*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / psychology*
  • Reproductive Techniques, Assisted / statistics & numerical data
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires