Can virtual reality session aid in improving IVF outcomes?

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London, June 2 (IANS) Giving women different types of virtual reality (VR) sessions prior to sedation for in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment reduces their anxiety and could improve successful pregnancy rate, results of a pilot study has shown.

“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,” Fabienne Roelants, professor at the Catholic University of Leuven in Brussels, Belgium.

In the study, 100 women between 18 and 42 years old 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, but 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 per cent) were biologically confirmed as pregnant, and only seven of these women (15 per cent) had an ultrasound confirmed successful pregnancy at 12 weeks gestation (termed clinical pregnancy).

In the hypnosis group, 35 women had embryos successfully transferred, with 16 of these (46 per cent) biologically confirmed as pregnant, and eight of these (23 per cent) 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.



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