Coping With Infertility: A Mind-Body Medicine Approach

Research has shown that the psychological stress of infertility can affect your marriage, your relationship with others, and even your career. It also can contribute greatly to health problems including heart disease, cancer, and hypertension. The impact stress has on reproductive health is inconclusive. The research is mixed as to whether stress causes infertility, but we do know that infertility and treatment for infertility causes stress. We have learned that relieving the stress associated with infertility can increase the likelihood of conception.

For most people that have been diagnosed as infertile, and are going through some form of treatment for infertility, the stress can create a cycle that seems impossible to break. You get stressed when you can’t conceive, which makes you more stressed, which can make it even harder to conceive. It is extremely beneficial, for many reasons, to learn ways to alleviate some of the stress associated with your medical diagnosis, and the treatment for infertility.

Mind/body strategies offer specific techniques that are proven to elicit what is called the relaxation response, which is our inborn capacity to reduce internal stress. These techniques are a way for individuals to regain some control in their lives. With infertility, so much of what happens when, how, and why is largely outside of the control of the individual. Regaining some control over the process has been shown to alleviate some of the stress and depression that can be associated with infertility, and also gives those who make these strategies part of their daily living, a lifelong way to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. The relaxation response is the foundation of mind/body medicine, and is the basis for many successful mind/body infertility programs throughout the country. According to Dr. Alice Domar, the relaxation response is defined as:

“… a physical state of deep rest that occurs when a person is extremely relaxed. It counteracts the body’s physical and emotional responses to stress, allowing it to return to a calm, relaxed state. When a person elicits the relaxation response, there is a measurable decrease in heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, stress hormone levels, and muscle tension.”

Mind/body strategies can not stop the triggers or causes of our stress, like infertility, but they help change our reaction to it. How the relaxation response is induced is less important than finding one method or methods that work best for you and committing to the practice of method(s).

To learn about how mind/body medicine can help you better cope with infertility, call Kerry Christifano at (913) 515-7338.