Gender differences in emotional reactions to in vitro fertilization treatment: a systematic review

Liying Ying, Lai Har Wu, Jean Tak Alice Loke Yuen

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purposes of this paper are to provide a comprehensive picture of men and women’s emotional reactions to infertility treatment, specifically In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) pursued by heterosexual couples, and to identify any differences between the genders. Methods: Nonexperimental studies exploring the psychological effects of IVF treatment on infertile couples were included. Six electronic databases were used to conduct a systematic search from the years 2000 to 2014. The references of the articles selected for review and other related systematic reviews were also screened to retrieve additional relevant articles. The quality of the included studies was assessed using the Joanna Briggs Institute Critical Appraisal Checklist. Descriptive analysis was adopted to synthesize the results. Results: A total of 22 quantitative and 4 qualitative studies were identified and included in this review. Although both men and women experienced psychological distress during the treatment, gender differences existed. Women had elevated anxiety and depression levels prior to the treatment, which became even higher on the day of the oocyte retrieval, pre- and post embryo transfer, and during the waiting period before the pregnancy test. Men of the infertile couples reported elevated depression scores before treatment, which usually increased during the time spent waiting for the outcome of the IVF treatment. Both men and women had lower scores on positive affect before the pregnancy test. A failed IVF cycle had long-term negative psychological consequences for both spouses. Conclusions: The results of this review pointed to the need for a couple-based support program, aimed at improving the psychological well-being of couples.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-179
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016


  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Gender difference
  • In vitro fertilization
  • Infertility
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Genetics
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Genetics(clinical)


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