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VR sessions could reduce anxiety, boost chances of IVF success

Virtual reality (VR) sessions prior to sedation for IVF treatment has been shown to reduce their anxiety and improve successful pregnancy rate.
Trying for In-vitro Fertilisation (IVF) treatments may make you stressed. Now a new pilot study by the Catholic University of Leuven in Brussels, Belgium, shows that giving women different types of virtual reality (VR) sessions prior to sedation for IVF treatment can reduce their anxiety and improve successful pregnancy rate.
“Virtual reality distraction was shown to be effective to reduce experimental pain as well as the discomfort associated with burn injury care. The technology is being used more and more in medicine, notably in psychiatry to treat phobias,” said Fabienne Roelants, professor at the Catholic University of Leuven.
What the study shows
In the study, 100 women aged between 18 and 42 years and undergoing IVF were randomly assigned one of two types of VR session. In the “distraction group”, women received a VR session — an underwater walk cut off from all ambient noise — and the hypnosis group received a VR session with hypnosis focused on breathing, slowing respiratory rhythm, along with suggestions to repeat the technique later to find well-being and calm as needed.
While there was no statistically significant difference regarding anxiety scores between groups, on the visual anxiety scale of 100 points, the distraction group women’s average anxiety score fell from 34 before the VR session to 23 after. In the hypnosis group, the score fell from 40 to 26 points.
Further, 48 of 55 women in the distraction group, had embryos successfully transferred, but only 10 of these women (22%) were biologically confirmed as pregnant, and only seven of these women (15%) had an ultrasound confirmed successful pregnancy at 12 weeks gestation.
In the hypnosis group, 35 women had embryos successfully transferred, with 16 of these (46%) biologically confirmed as pregnant, and eight of these (23%) went on the have an ultrasound confirmed clinical pregnancy at 12 weeks. The results were presented at 2018 Euroanaesthesia congress in Copenhagen, Denmark.
“The preliminary results show that VR sessions before sedation for fertility treatment significantly reduce women’s anxiety. The type of suggestions used during hypnosis session might show a significant positive impact on the biological pregnancy rate, but not on clinical pregnancy rate at 12 weeks,” Roelants said.
Tips for fertility and IVF treatments
* Acupuncture can boost chances of pregnancy.
A study done by IVF Cube in Prague, Czech Republic, shows that acupuncture therapy can boost your chances of getting pregnant by six per cent. The study found that acupuncture stimulates the sensory nerves under the skin and muscles of the body along with an increased blood flow to the uterus, which makes it more receptive to the embryo implanting when it is transferred during IVF.
* The Mediterranean diet can help.
A study done by the Harokopio University of Athens shows that a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, and olive oil — also called as a Mediterranean diet — would greatly benefit women trying for in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).
* Fertility treatments do not spike divorce risk.
A study done by the University of Porto in Portugal suggests that undergoing fertility treatment does not increase divorce risk. Previous studies have suggested that undergoing assisted reproductive technology (ART) such as in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) greatly increases couples’ stress and anxiety levels.

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