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Anxiety and perceptive functioning of infertile women during in-vitro fertilization: exploratory survey of an Italian sample. di Ardenti R, Campari C, Agazzi L, La Sala GB.

The psychological impact of infertility has now been widely confirmed. It implies great stress on both members of the couple and on their relationship and also provokes a crisis that threatens self-image and identity (Möller and Fällström, 1991). The most frequently reported manifestations of psychological disorder are: frustration, anger, lowering of self-perception, interpersonal difficulties, anxiety and depression (Mahlstedt, 1985; Edelmann and Connolly, 1986; Berg and Wilson, 1990; Beaurepaire, 1994). It has been widely found that in-vitro fertilization (IVF) is also a particularly stressful experience, especially for the woman. This treatment is long and tiring, it disturbs marital sexuality and involves physical suffering which is linked, interdependently, to emotional disorders. (Kopitzke et al., 1991). Nevertheless, research into infertility suggests that the diagnosis of infertility, IVF and possible failure do not provoke the same threat to all individuals: there are numerous personal and contextual variables that may affect the psychological response to infertility.
Many studies have aimed to identify the emotional state of the patients during IVF; all recognize that these procedures are highly stressful. Irrespective of the final outcome, women undergoing IVF define it stressful, difficult and, at times, `an ordeal’, yet they choose to pursue this kind of treatment in the hope of having a child that is genetically their own. (Auhagen-Stephanos, 1993; Chatel, 1995; Chatel et al., 1996). According to Mahlstedt et al. IVF causes patients to experience a wide range of feelings in a short space of time (Mahlstedt et al., 1987). Of the 94 patients in our sample, the majority had experienced frustration, depression, hopelessness and anger. In a longitudinal study (Slade et al., 1997), which was carried out on 144 couples, at intake for IVF the women presented a high level of anxiety and proved to be more stressed than their partners.