A new study suggests that mind/body therapy can increase the chance of pregnancy in in vitro fertilization treatment. The Mind/Body Program for Infertility at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center was designed as a 10-week program that would allow participants to learn stress reducing techniques through “cognitive behavior therapy, relaxation training, negative health behavior modification and social support components.” Recently, a study was conducted to examine the effects of this program on women trying to conceive through IVF. “The intersection of stress and fertility is a controversial one, but we do know that stress can reduce the probability of conception,” said principal investigator Alice Domar, Ph.D, OB/GYN, BIDMC and Executive Director of the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF.
The study involved 100 women under the age of 40 with normal hormonal ranges. Half of the group entered into the Mind/Body Program, and the other half served as the control. Although there were minimal differences between the groups after the first round of IVF treatments, Domar believes that it was because the subjects were only in the program for a short period of time. “We noticed that only half of the study group had begun the Mind/Body Program and those who had started the program were only a couple of sessions in,” said Domar. However, the results were quite significant after the second round. “By that point, they had acquired some real life skills to deal with their stress,” said Domar. “And that’s when we saw the significant increase in pregnancy rates.”
The results showed that over half of the women in the program became pregnant compared to less than one fifth of the control group. “The study supports the theory that psychological distress may be an important detriment to IVF outcome,” wrote the authors. Domar added, “But there is a strong indication that stress levels and IVF outcomes are linked and that intervening with mind/body therapies can help.”
© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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