Yoga and Infertility

Girl doing yoga pose

Incorporating Yoga into Mind-Body Treatment for Infertility    

Alongside the many physical challenges faced by those undergoing treatment for infertility, are difficult emotional states that can manifest simultaneously from the treatment process itself.  Infertility treatment can often produce high levels of stress, anxiety, and, in many cases, loneliness, due to reluctance to share the struggle with loved ones, and requirements to adhere to tight medication schedules and dietary restrictions.  Combined, these demands can create a pervasive sense of anxiety and helplessness.  Often, having to follow strict medical instructions, while harboring deep-seated fears that the infertility treatment won’t be effective, fosters further stress, which has been shown to reduce the chances of conception.  Various psychological treatment methods, however, which have been researched for efficacy, have begun to emerge as being helpful in reducing these potentially harmful emotional reactions and cycles of thought.

Support groups for infertile couples have long existed, and have become more and more popular over the years.  Being able to share the experience with others who are undergoing the same struggle can help to alleviate the pain of feeling alone, as though battling a quiet enemy.  Lately, increasing numbers of studies have also shown that mind-body programs can be extremely effective in terms of reducing the anxiety associated with infertility.   Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) groups in particular have yielded significant results in the reduction of stress and in facilitating an increased sense of support.  In line with the overall objective of reducing the anxiety experienced, which can, in turn, lessen the harmful effects on conception, fertility treatment centers have begun to add yoga to their programming.

In the last six years, treatment centers and yoga studios have begun to offer “yoga for fertility” classes, which have been steadily growing in popularity.  The World Yoga Center and the New York University Fertility Center have both been offering such classes for several years.  Although yoga has not been clinically proven to increase the rates of conception, it has long been considered to be an extremely effective relaxation technique – a much needed salve for many hopeful moms.  Not only do these classes offer the helpful aid of relaxation, but they also provide another environment for support, where participants tend to share in their experiences without even realizing it.  Resolve, the National Infertility Association, is offering a free teleseminar on “yoga for fertility” on March 17, 2011; for more information, visit http://www.resolve.org/resources/resolve-s-teleseminar-series.html.  If you have any questions about cognitive-behavioral groups and their benefits, feel free to call New York Behavioral Health at 646-495-3078.