Monday, August 20, 2018

The placebo effect in IVF

The placebo can be extremely powerful in medicine.
Unfortunately, this is a therapeutic tool which many doctors look down upon , because they're only interested in prescribing biologically active medicines which have been proven to be therapeutically effective. But the fact is that the mind has an important role to play in healing, and I'm sure this must be equally true in IVF treatment.
While there is no proven connection between stress levels and pregnancy rates, it makes sense to minimize stress levels for the patient , even though we don’t know if this will actually improve pregnancy rates.
Thus, all IVF clinics have seen patients who have got pregnant while waiting for their IVF treatment. It's possible that just the fact that they were finally going to do IVF can help them to get pregnant on their own.
And plenty of patients who have had their first baby with IVF have gone on to have their second baby without any medical assistance at all ! While it's possible that the pregnancy improve their fertility, it'a also possible that they already have a baby helped them to have their second one because they weren't as anxious as in the past.
This should be an interesting research study to do , and easy to carry out. The placebo ( “treatment”) arm would be an empathetic, kind doctor, who spends a lot of time talking to the patient , and helps them feel positive about the treatment – someone who shares information with them proactively, so they know they're in control of the situation. The control arm would be the regular doctor, who deals with patients on a “ business as usual” basis.
It would be interesting to see if the additional time which the doctor spends with the patient by injecting hope will increase pregnancy rates !
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