So you’re contemplating or are already on a natural fertility program – eating really well, trying herbs and supplements, exercising daily, staying vigilant about tracking ovulation, etc. This is all great! But are you taking care of your mind? Are you telling yourself you’re fertile, that your body is strong and can heal? Do you believe you can achieve your fertility health goals? Do you use mind-body therapies? Science is proving you should be!
The idea that the mind impacts our overall health and well-being isn’t new. It’s not a New Age fad! Yet, when I talk about the mind-body connection in terms of mind-body therapies, cognitive therapies, mindfulness, meditation, etc., I often sense resistance or get asked, “What does what I think in my head have to do with my period, menstrual cycle or fertility?”
Benefits of Mind-Body Therapies
Mind and body therapies (sometimes referred to cognitive-behavioral therapies) are techniques used to address both the health of the mind and body through psychological, social, behavioral and spiritual approaches. They include various practices that invite the participant to slow down, be calm, breathe deeply, sit quietly, log off from stimulus, observe the body, thoughts and feelings, or channel/change their thoughts from negative to positive.
The various practices can include:
Self Fertility Massage
Relaxation and breathing techniques
Tai chi and Qigong
EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique)
Ways Mind-Body Therapies Influence Fertility Health
The understanding is that the brain interacts with the rest of the body, impacting our physical health – including fertility health. Here are just a handful of ways science has proven the interaction…
- “Studies show that visualization can help alter menstrual cycles and imagery can boost your immunity. Danish researchers found increased natural killer cell activity among ten college students who imagined their immune systems were becoming very effective,” shares Joanne Verkuilen creator of Circle+Bloom Mind-Body Programs, a collection of brilliantly guided meditations.
- Mindfulness may significantly reduce levels of pain, as well as lower anxiety and depression for patients with chronic pain according to classic research from John Kabat Zinn, internationally-known and revered founder of MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction).
- Mindfulness can help reduce the severity of the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome or PMS (according to researchers at Seattle Pacific University and the University of Washington, Seattle).
- Cognitive-behavioral therapies have proven time and again to reduce psychological distress for couples in treatment for infertility and improved clinical pregnancy rates, report Danish researchers who conducted a meta-analysis of reports/studies published in several databases between 1978 and 2014.
- Mindfulness-based intervention is able to positively impact “fertility quality of life, mindfulness, self-compassion, meaning-based coping strategies” and pregnancy rates for women going through in vitro fertilization (IVF) for the first time, learned researchers and developers of a program called the Mindfulness-Based Intervention for IVF (MBII) at the Third Military Medical University in Chongqing, China.
The benefits don’t just stop there. Researchers from Harvard Medical School, the California Pacific Medical Center, Rollin McCraty (and I’m sure many more) have proven through their studies that practicing mind-body therapies can positively impact the following list of health issues many couples with infertility also face:
- Improving recovery post surgery
- Hypertension, Coronary artery disease and elevated glycemic levels, cholesterol, heart rate and/or blood pressure
- Stress, poor moods and emotional responses to stressors, or are in need of more focused attention
Is your mind set on being fertile?
It should be! The proof for why is here. Our thoughts and feelings extend far beyond the overwhelming desire to become pregnant and can impede our health. So, consider exploring the various mind-body therapies to find one that feels right for you on your fertility journey. A few places to start are our guides:
If you need the science as proof, researchers continue to conduct randomized control trials, analyze possible mechanisms that might explain why mindfulness helps, explore the impact of mindfulness on the brain (its physical structure and function), and summarize the research with systematic reviews and meta-analyses of published studies.
Psst! I bet though, that if you just give a mind-body therapy a try and feel the changes in your mood and body, you won’t need to know science says there’s proof that they work.
- Hart, P. (n.d.). Is There Good Evidence? Retrieved from: https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/mind-body-therapies/-there-good-evidence
- Frederiksen Y., Farver-Vestergaard I., Skovgård N.G., et al. (2015). Efficacy of psychosocial interventions for psychological and pregnancy outcomes in infertile women and men: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ5:e006592. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2014-006592. Retrieved from: http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/5/1/e006592
- Li J., Long L., Liu Y., He W., Li M. (2016). Effects of a mindfulness-based intervention on fertility quality of life and pregnancy rates among women subjected to first in vitro fertilization treatment. Behaviour Research and Therapy. 77, 96–104. pmid:26742022. Retrieved from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0005796715
- Lustyk, M.K.B., Gerrish, W.G., Douglas, H. et al. (2011). Mindfulness 2: 37. doi:10.1007/s12671-011-0041-x. Retrieved from: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12671-011-0041-x
- Mind and Body Practices. (2015, January 27). Retrieved from: https://nccih.nih.gov/health/mindbody
- The Science Behind Our Programs · Circle Bloom™. (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://circlebloom.com/about-us/the-science-behind-our-programs