The prevalence of depression symptoms among infertile women: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Fertil Res Pract. 2021 Mar 4;7(1):6. doi: 10.1186/s40738-021-00098-3.


Background: Infertile women's mental health problems, including depression, are key fertility health issues that affect infertile women more severely than infertile men. Depression may threaten the health of individuals and reduce the quality of their lives. Considering the role and impact of depression on responses to infertility treatments, a systematic review and meta-analysis were conducted to investigate the prevalence of depression symptoms among infertile women.

Methods: International databases (PubMed, Cochrane Library, Web of Sciences, Scopus, Embase, and PsycINFO), national databases (SID and Magiran), and Google Scholar were searched by two independent reviewers for articles published from 2000 to April 5, 2020. The search procedure was performed in both Persian and English using keywords such as "depression," "disorders," "infertility," "prevalence," and "epidemiology." The articles were evaluated in terms of their titles, abstracts, and full texts. The reviewers evaluated the quality of the articles using the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale, after which they analyzed the findings using STATA version 14. The I2 and Egger's tests were performed to examine heterogeneity and publication bias, respectively.

Results: Thirty-two articles were subjected to the meta-analysis, and a random effects model was used in the examination given the heterogeneity of the articles. The samples in the reviewed studies encompassed a total of 9679 infertile women. The lowest and highest pooled prevalence rates were 21.01% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 15.61-34.42), as determined using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, and 52.21% (95% CI: 43.51-60.91), as ascertained using the Beck Depression Inventory, respectively. The pooled prevalence values of depression among infertile women were 44.32% (95% CI: 35.65-52.99) in low- and middle-income countries and 28.03% (95% CI: 19.61-36.44) in high-income countries.

Conclusion: The prevalence of depression among infertile women was higher than that among the general population of a given country. Especially in low- and middle-income countries, appropriate measures, planning, and policy that target the negative effects of depression on infertile women's lives should be established to reduce related problems.

Keywords: Depression; Infertility; Meta-analysis; Prevalence; Women.

Publication types

  • Review