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Hum Reprod. 2013 Mar;28(3):683-90. doi: 10.1093/humrep/des422. Epub 2012 Dec 6.

Psychiatric disorders in women with fertility problems: results from a large Danish register-based cohort study.

Author information

1
Virus, Lifestyle and Genes, Danish Cancer Society Research Center, Copenhagen 2100, Denmark.

Abstract

STUDY QUESTION:

Do women who don't succeed in giving birth after an infertility evaluation have a higher risk of psychiatric disorders compared with women who do?

SUMMARY ANSWER:

The results indicated that being unsuccessful in giving birth after an infertility evaluation could be an important risk factor for psychiatric disorders.

WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY:

Several studies have investigated the association between fertility treatment and psychological distress, but the results from these studies show substantial variation and lack of homogeneity that may be due to methodological limitations.

STUDY DESIGN, SIZE AND DURATION:

A retrospective cohort study was designed using data from a cohort of 98 320 Danish women evaluated for fertility problems during 1973-2008 and linked to several Danish population-based registries. All women were followed from the date of first infertility evaluation until date of hospitalization for the psychiatric disorder in question, date of emigration, date of death or 31 December 2008, whichever occurred first. Owing to the precise linkage between the infertility cohort and the Danish population-based registries, using the unique Danish personal identification number, virtually no women were lost to follow-up.

PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING AND METHODS:

Information on reproductive status for all women in the infertility cohort was obtained by linkage to the Danish Medical Birth Registry. A total of 53 547 (54.5%) women gave birth after the initial infertility evaluation, whereas 44 773 (45.5%) women did not gave birth after the evaluation. To determine psychiatric disorders diagnosed in the women after enrolment in the infertility cohort, the cohort was linked to the Danish Psychiatric Central Registry. A total of 4633 women were hospitalized for a psychiatric disorder. The Cox proportional hazard regression model was applied to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) and corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for the association between parity status after the initial infertility evaluation and risk of hospitalization for various groups of psychiatric disorders, including 'all mental disorders' and six main discharge subgroups labelled: 'alcohol and intoxicant abuse', 'schizophrenia and psychoses', 'affective disorders', 'anxiety, adjustment and obsessive compulsive disorders', 'eating disorder' and 'other mental disorders'.

MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE:

The incidence rate for all mental disorders was 393 cases per 100 000 person-years among women who did not succeed in giving birth after the infertility evaluation but only 353 cases per 100 000 person-years among women who succeeded in giving birth after the infertility evaluation. Women not giving birth after the infertility evaluation had an increased risk of hospitalization for all mental disorders (HR 1.17, 95% CI 1.11; 1.25), alcohol and intoxicant abuse (HR 2.02, 95% CI 1.69; 2.41), schizophrenia and psychoses (HR 1.46, 95% CI 1.17; 1.82) and other mental disorders (HR 1.42, 95% CI 1.27; 1.58) compared with women who gave birth after the infertility evaluation. In contrast, the risk of affective disorders (HR 0.90, 95% CI 0.81; 0.99) was decreased among women not giving birth after the infertility evaluation. Finally, the risk of anxiety, adjustment and obsessive compulsive disorders (HR 1.07, 95% CI 0.97; 1.17) as well as of eating disorders (HR 1.40, 95% CI 0.88; 2.22) was not significantly affected by parity status after the infertility evaluation.

LIMITATIONS, REASON FOR CAUTION:

As only psychiatric conditions warranting hospitalization could be included in the present study, the true incidence of all psychiatric disorders among women with fertility problems is likely to be somewhat underestimated. Furthermore, since detailed information on fertility treatment was not available for all cohort members the association between different modalities of assisted reproductive techniques and risk of psychiatric disorders was not assessed.

WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS:

Clinicians and other healthcare personnel involved in diagnosis and treatment of women with fertility problems should be aware of the potential risk modification of psychiatric disorders associated with unsuccessful fertility treatment. Hence, our results may point to new aspects of follow-up of women with fertility problems who are unsuccessful in giving birth in order to prevent or identify and treat these possible psychological side effects.

STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S):

The study was supported by the Danish Cancer Society (award number: 96 222 54). All authors report no conflicts of interest.

PMID:
23223399
DOI:
10.1093/humrep/des422
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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