Study: Body's Response To IVF May Depend On Motivation

By Amanda Cuda
Connecticut Post, Bridgeport

People don’t just have medical procedures to treat a disease. Oftentimes, there’s another reason behind the procedure — be it to improve their odds at having child, increase their quality of life or even to make money.

It turns out that the motivations behind having a medical intervention can greatly affect how the body responds to it, according to a new study from Yale University researchers.

The report, published in the journal Social Science and Medicine, compares the physical, emotional, and cognitive experiences of women undergoing in vitro fertilization — commonly known as IVF — either to become pregnant or to donate their eggs for money.

Researchers found that there is a direct correlation between the intensity of a woman’s physical experience and her reason for harvesting eggs.

One of the study’s goals was to determine whether the body responded differently depending on someone’s motivations for undergoing a medical intervention, said Rene Almeling, associate professor of sociology and lead author on the study.

“We were trying to determine if why they want to do it and what they hope to get out of it produces variation in how it feels,” Almeling said in a news release.

The researchers surveyed 50 IVF patients and 62 egg donors from the United States. They found that IVF patients described the experience to be all-consuming and painful, while egg donors who underwent the exact same regimen described it as less intense.

“To our knowledge, this is the first explicit comparison of bodily experiences based on individuals’ reasons for undergoing an elective medical intervention,” said Almeling.

Scientific researchers and medical professionals should take into consideration an individual’s end goals as a potential factor in how they will experience medical interventions, Almeling noted. Another example of the same medical procedure being done for different reasons is mastectomy — breast removal surgery — to prevent cancer, treat cancer, or transition genders.

The Yale study also revealed that relying solely on physical pain scores can be misleading. The researchers applied a statistical method called cluster analysis, which demonstrated that bodily experience is the result of physical, emotional, and cognitive processes.

The research also showed that women undergoing IVF for the first time had heightened levels of stress and concern about the procedure.

The study results can help physicians better prepare patients for procedures, depending on their reasons for going through these interventions, Almeling said. “In the case of IVF, patient fact sheets can be tailored to indicate that women producing eggs for different reasons may have more or less intense bodily experiences, particularly if it is their first cycle,” she said.

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