Fertility Blog

Mind/Body Techniques for Infertility

Stress reduction through mindful well being... while this may sound like a new age mantra, the medical community is growing in consensus about a mind/body connection that can positively impact a patient's health. No other physician has probed the mind/body infertility correlation deeper than Alice D. Domar, Ph.D., who has written extensively on health and stress, conducted research and designed a comprehensive workshop series. Included in these mind/body and mindfulness health and wellness programs are relaxation techniques involving controlled breathing and posture awareness; yoga, meditation, journaling, neuro-linguistic programming, and joining a support network. Dr. Domar's techniques are designed to help women treat their own stress responses so their bodies might have a higher chance of conceiving. Pacific Fertility Center's team has examined the scientific, medical and anecdotal information surrounding the topic of stress and infertility. And because various relaxation inducing/stress reducing techniques are likely to have an overall positive impact on a patients' general health, PFC is offering classes modeled around Dr. Domar's mind/body practice (see Mind/Body@PFC) Indeed, infertility clinics all over the country are offering similar programs despite the lack of scientific consensus about how stress affects fertility. Skeptics point out that millions of people under extremely stressful circumstances, even kidnap and rape victims, regularly get pregnant. But some facts are clear: Ongoing chronic stress can affect menstrual function; change hormone levels; alter blood sugar; increase heart rate and change a person's immune response. Mind/body therapies are frequently initiated for groups with serious medical conditions, from lupus to multiple sclerosis to major heart disease. It is only natural that the more serious an illness, the more anxiety it can induce in a patient, thus potentially bringing on accelerated and aggravated symptoms. This vicious stress/body cycle, when broken through stress reduction techniques, can provide overall improvement in health. Dr. Domar's initiated one of the few controlled studies funded by the National Institute of Mental Health on this topic. Results of the research showed an improvement in pregnancy rates using either relaxation techniques or though the psychological support of joining a group. With so much growing attention into the mind/body stress reduction methodologies, there is bound to be a greater body of critical scientific knowledge gathered. Meanwhile, take a deep breath and consider your own stress response strategy. -- Carolyn Givens, M.D. and Isabelle Ryan, M.D. contributed to this article

Posted on November 20th, 2003
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