Infertility and the Mind Body Connection
Infertility isn't always the result of physical illness or dysfunction. Sometimes, lifestyle factors can play an important role in determining a couple's fertility. Mental health is one lifestyle factor that is of particular concern when it comes to fertility. Many couples struggle with severe stress, depression, and emotional concerns as they deal with fertility issues. These emotional problems can have just as severe an effect on fertility as any physical problem. If you are trying to conceive, take stock of your mental health and work to minimize the stress in your life. You will be amazed with the results!
Relationships and Infertility
If you are experiencing infertility, you may find that your struggles are really impacting your personal relationship with your partner. The rollercoaster of emotions caused by infertility can put extreme stress on any partnership, making it difficult to relate to one another, talk to each other, and lean on one another for support. Many couples feel that infertility negatively affects their relationship in a number of ways. You may find that infertility treatments cause:
- financial pressure
- sexual stress
- loss of spontaneity
It may also cause extreme personal stress, which can only impact further on your infertility. When you are strugglig with infertility, it is important to learn how to manage your stress and emotions in order to maintain your partnership and enhance your fertility.
Many couples find it difficult to express their true feelings and emotions. This can be especially troublesome when faced with the very real possibility that you will never conceive. However, if you do not learn to express your emotions, you may actually be further reducing your fertility. Research over the past decade has illustrated that emotions and stress have a dramatic impact on our body's functions. Emotions can make us feel sick, tired, energetic, or weak. Similarly, emotions and stress can also impact our hormone levels, influencing our fertility.
Let Your Emotions Out: The Mind/Body Connection
Recently, a lot of research has been done regarding the connection between the mind and infertility. Called the mind-body connection, this theory posits that physical health and wellbeing are directly related to emotional health. Couples struggling with infertility often have a negative mindset, and, as a result, their fertility continues to worsen. A study performed at Harvard Medical School however, illustrates that fertility can be improved when couples learn to manage their emotional stress.
The study involved 284 women who had each been struggling with infertility for an average of three years. These women participated in a mind-body workshop for ten weeks, which taught them how to deal with stress, alleviate depression, and express their emotions. Within six months of the workshop, the majority of the women reported that both their physical and emotional health had improved. Additionally, many noticed reductions in anxiety, fatigue, and depression. Furthermore, 36% of the women also went on to conceive and give birth compared with only 18% of infertile women who did not participate in the mind-body workshop.
Mind/Body Infertility Retreats
There are a number of infertility retreats based on the premise that the condition of the mind can greatly influence physical fertility. These mind/body retreats often take place at hotels or spas over a weekend, or even several times a month. These retreats aim to restore or boost fertility by helping you to calm your mind and deal with your emotions. Activities may include:
- art therapy
Are Mind/Body Retreats Effective?
A recent study conducted at the University of Hong Kong illustrates that mind/body infertility retreats significantly reduce the anxiety levels of women undergoing IVF and similar therapies. The study, which involved 101 women about to undergo infertility treatment, measured anxiety levels before, during, and after attendance at a mind/body retreat. The women each attended four, three-hour mind/body classes, where they participated in activities including yoga and focused breathing. After attending the classes, these women reported much lower levels of anxiety surrounding their infertility treatment than control groups who did not attend similar classes.
Though the study did not correlate the relationship betweeen the mind/body retreats and subsequent IVF success rates, it has been shown in previous studies that women with lower anxiety rates have an increased chance of fertility treatment success.
Dealing with Your Infertility
If you are interested in trying different ways to boost your infertility, consider techniques to help control your emotional stress and improve your psychological wellbeing. When combined with traditional fertility treatments, mind-body medicine can be highly successful and help to solidify relationships while enhancing your overall enjoyment of life.