Improve Fertility with Mindfulness
By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.
“those who participate in a mind-body wellness program are 32% more likely to become pregnant!” – Michelle Anne
Infertility is primarily a medical condition due to physiological problems. It is quite common. It is estimated that in the U.S. 6.7 million women, about 10% of the population of women are infertile. Infertility can be more than just a medical issue. It can be an emotional crisis for many couples, especially for the women. Couples attending a fertility clinic reported that infertility was the most upsetting experience of their lives. Women with infertility reported feeling as anxious or depressed as those diagnosed with cancer, hypertension, or recovering from a heart attack.
Mindfulness training been shown to be an effective treatment for depression and its recurrence and even in the cases where drugs fail. This is especially true for Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) which was specifically developed to treat depression. MBCT has been shown to be effective in treating infertility. At this point it’s useful to step back and summarize what has been learned about mindfulness training and infertility.
In today’s Research News article “Application of Mindfulness-Based Psychological Interventions in Infertility.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7295259/), Patel and colleagues review and summarize the published scientific research of the effectiveness of mindfulness training in treating infertility. They identified 9 published research studies.
They report that the research found that mindfulness training decreases anxiety, depression, stress, and anger, and increases well-being and quality of life of infertile women. These enhance the self-efficacy of women coping with infertility. Mindfulness training also has been found to reduce emotional stress and stress hormones and improve sleep and immune function all of which are known to play an important role in infertility. These all lead to increased conception rates.
The psychological and emotional issues that result from infertility produce a negative spiral, where infertility increases emotional dysfunction, which in turn lessens the likelihood of conception, which increases emotionality and so on. Mindfulness training appears to interrupt this cycle by improving the psychological and physical well-being of infertile women. This allows the women to relax and better cope with the issues surrounding infertility. This in turn improves their likelihood of conception. Hence, mindfulness training should be recommended for infertile women.
So, improve fertility with mindfulness.
“mindfulness becomes the perfect antidote for the paradoxical land mines infertility presents. Mindfulness starts from the perspective that you are whole and complete already, regardless of flaws or imperfections. It is based on the concept of original goodness: your essential nature is good and pure. Proceeding from this vantage point gives you freedom from the bondage of inadequacy and insecurity.” – Janetti Marotta
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies
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Patel, A., Sharma, P., & Kumar, P. (2020). Application of Mindfulness-Based Psychological Interventions in Infertility. Journal of Human Reproductive Sciences, 13(1), 3–21. https://doi.org/10.4103/jhrs.JHRS_51_19
Living mindfully helps one gain a deeper understanding into realities of life. It enables people to witness suffering, desire, attachments, and impermanence without any fear, anxiety, anger, or despair. This is considered the hallmark of true psychological insight. As a skill, mindfulness can be inculcated by anyone. Mindfulness helps in attending, getting aware and understanding experiences in a compassion and open-minded way. Research suggests that applying mindfulness in daily life has been known to tame our emotional mind and enabled people to perceive things “as they are” without ascribing expectations, judgments, cynicism, or apprehensions to them. This review unravels the therapeutic power of mindfulness meditation in the context of infertility distress. It serves to integrate the evidence on the effectiveness of mindfulness-based psychological interventions to improve the emotional well-being and biological outcomes in Infertility.