Levels and associations among self-esteem, fertility distress, coping, and reaction to potentially being a genetic carrier in women with diminished ovarian reserve

Among 62 women with diminished ovarian reserve, self-esteem significantly predicted fertility distress both directly and indirectly through emotional reactions to potentially being a fragile X premutation carrier.


Ceylan Cizmeli, M.A., Marci Lobel, Ph.D., Jason Franasiak, M.D., Lisa M. Pastore, Ph.D.

Volume 99, Issue 7, Pages 2037-2044.e3, June 2013



To measure the level of distress and its relationship with other psychologic factors in women with diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) who participated in a fragile X genetics study.


Longitudinal data analyzed with structural equation modeling.


Four U.S. private and academic fertility centers.


Sixty-two infertile patients with DOR.



Main Outcome Measure(s):

Fertility Problem Inventory, Coping Scale for Infertile Couples, Rosenberg Self-Esteem, Health Orientation Scale.


Nineteen percent had low fertility distress, 56% had average fertility distress, and 24% had high fertility distress. Thirty-six percent self-reported a “favorable” or “very favorable” emotional response to potentially being a fragile X carrier (termed “emotions”), 53% were “ambivalent,” and 11% had an unfavorable reaction. Three months after learning that they were not a carrier, these percentages were 91%, 9%, and 0%, respectively. Emotions at this second time point were significantly more positive than at pretesting. At baseline, higher self-esteem was a significant predictor of reduced fertility distress both directly and indirectly through emotions. Fertility distress was not associated with coping. Self-esteem, fertility distress, pretesting emotions, and coping were unrelated to posttesting emotions.


The potential of having an explanation for one’s DOR condition may have a beneficial impact on women’s psychologic states during the process of genetic testing, and this appeared to be especially true for women with higher self-esteem. Psychologic interventions targeted to women with low self-esteem may reduce distress and improve reactions to genetic testing.

Read the full text at: http://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282(13)00325-7/fulltext

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