A large Australian study recently looked at the psychological well-being among women who got pregnant naturally and those who conceived through assisted reproductive technology (ART), and compared the 592 participants by age as well. During their third trimester the women were interviewed and completed a questionnaire asking about their conception and pregnancy history, their relationship or marriage, anxiety, depression, and how well they coped with stress.
“The results of this study show that personality and…the quality of the relationship of the intimate partner are more important than age in predicting…depression and anxiety,” wrote the authors, led by Catherine McMahon of the Centre for Emotional Health at the department of psychology at Macquarie University, in Sydney. What seemed to help women most in making the transition to parenthood was having a hardy, resilient personality and a less controlling partner. The emotional picture is more complex for women who used ART to conceive, and these women tended to report more anxiety focused on their pregnancy, but had lower symptoms of general anxiety and depression than did women who conceived spontaneously.
Since women who use ART tend to be older, they’re also more likely to own a home and have a professional occupation – both factors that help women adjust better to motherhood, the researchers noted. In concluding their study, the authors write, “Our study findings are reassuring regarding the psychosocial wellbeing of older mothers once a pregnancy is achieved.”