The American Society of Reproductive Medicine reveals that 10 to 15% of couples experience fertility issues, worldwide, during the childbearing years; this percentage includes 6.1 million American couples.
Many cases of infertility interfere significantly with the ability to conceive naturally. As a result, many effected couples will seek the help of ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology) to enhance their chances of becoming pregnant.
The role of the doctors that employ the use of ART with their patients is clear, but what about the role of educators and other non-medical professionals working in the field of childbirth? Is there anything else that can be done, aside from the procedures themselves, to contribute toward reproductive successes?
The answer is yes and it really comes down to choosing options that are supported by evidence-based research and using them in conjunction with ART to enhance the overall likelihood of a desired outcome.
Here is the evidence for one such option:
Prof. Eliahu Levitas has witnessed, the positive effects of hypnosis, a well-known relaxation technique, on the overall effectiveness of IVF. He and his team from Soroka Hospital in Beersheva, Israel found that employing the use of hypnosis can DOUBLE the success of IVF treatment.
Levitas emphasizes the need for effective methods that increase relaxation levels in women receiving IVF. He says, "[The transferring of embryos into the uterus is] a crucial point of the treatment, and the point in which the embryos comes [sic] in contact with the womb of the woman. It all builds up to that special moment, which is not very painful, but very stressful."
Many, if not most, couples undergoing IVF and other ART treatments will attest to the very real stresses and anxieties that fertility therapies evoke.
Dr. Edmund Sabanegh of the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio concurs with this reality. "[T]here is certainly so much anxiety and stress [about having children] that we routinely have couples coming in after only a few months of trying..." he says.
And what about age? Does age affect stress levels in couples trying to conceive? The simple answer is YES! A woman under age 35, undergoing IVF, has a 39.6% chance of giving birth to a baby; however, in comparison, a woman over 40 only has an 11.5% chance at the same outcome. (WebMD)
When ANYONE is filled with anxiety and uncertainty, neither her mind nor her body is in an ideal state to receive fertility interventions.
Ok, so it's clear that the key here is to RELAX! But how? Dr. Mindy Shaffran, an infertility specialist from New York, has the right idea.
"There are studies that suggest stress plays a role in infertility and as a result, we offer mind and body programs that involve counselling as well as acupuncture and massage therapy," she shares.
Unfortunately, these types of programs are not always directly available in all clinics. This is where HypnoBirthing® Fertility Support can help! HypnoBirthing® Fertility Support is a unique program designed by Mongan Method HypnoBirthing® - the same creators of the world-renowned HypnoBirthing® Childbirth Education series.
What makes this program different from other available options?
Some couples may be apprehensive about seeking help from a hypnotist or a counselor, due to already existing feelings of inadequacy.
The HypnoBirthing® Fertility Support format gives couples the opportunity to learn the body/mind techniques in a comfortable private or group environment and at half the cost of other private therapies.
Need more evidence that these programs really work?
According to the Journal of the American Medical Women's Association, 42% of women were able to conceive within 6 months of being taught mind/body relaxation techniques. In addition, these women managed to efficiently reduce their levels of anxiety and depression. Other similar studies have yielded comparable results.
Currently, in Ontario, there is only one Certified HypnoBirthing® Fertility Support provider. Certified Birth Doula and HypnoBirthing® Practitioner, Kris Pedder, is excited to be the first to offer this unique service to couples trying to conceive in Toronto and the GTA. She is currently accepting new couples to her HypnoBirthing® Fertility Support classes.
As a birth and postpartum doula, I can fully empathize with the effect of stress and uncertainty on expectant couples, labouring women and women and their partners during the postpartum period. However, in the past, I've never really given a lot of thought to how greatly these same factors effect the 12 to 16% of 'trying to conceive' couples in Canada. (Statistics Canada)
Based on what I've recently come to know, it would seem wise for all couples, recently having made the decision to enlist the help of ART, to consider incorporating relaxation techniques into their everyday routines. Hopefully, more healthcare providers and clinics will begin to recommend complementary programs like HypnoBirthing® Fertility Support classes to their patients receiving ART therapies for an effective holistic approach to achieving their reproductive goals.
Please visit the Beautiful Bellies Doula Care HypnoBirthing® Fertility Support page for additional information or to register.