Investigators conducted a voluntary, survey-based study, collecting responses from 222 men undergoing IVF at a hospital-affiliated fertility center between September 2018 and December 2022, using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) questionnaire. Participants scoring eight or higher on the survey's sub-sections were considered to have anxiety or depression, respectively. The study evaluated the correlation between these mental health conditions and IVF outcomes and live birth rates, as well as various semen parameters, while also examining the prevalence of erectile dysfunction and low libido.
Results indicated that 22.5% of respondents experienced anxiety and 6.5% experienced depression, according to HADS scores. There was no notable difference in live birth rates between those with and without anxiety, though men with anxiety had, on average, lower total motile sperm counts during egg retrieval. Researchers found that IVF outcomes and live birth rates were unaffected by antidepressant use. Additionally, there were no statistically significant findings regarding erectile dysfunction or low libido between groups.
The small study's limitations included an inability to assess sperm morphology at time of egg retrieval and to evaluate the full impact of depression scores on fertility due to the small portion of participants with high depression scores. Researchers also could not fully assess all patients' hormone levels – something they desire to investigate with future studies. Upon going forward the theme is to fully investigate and evaluate patient hormone levels throughout the duration of fertility treatment to better understand how stress affects IVF and birth outcomes.
According to senior author Martin Kathrins, is encouraging his patients to pursue and continue appropriate therapies for anxiety and depression without concern that they will adversely impact their IVF outcomes.