Yoga and Meditation May Complement Medical Fertility Treatments

Yoga and Meditation May Complement Medical Fertility Treatments
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In the United States, about 7.3 million women suffer from infertility. Both the struggle to get pregnant and the treatment for infertility itself can be very stressful, and stress has been shown to reduce the probability of conception. As natural healing remedies are gaining acceptance among Western medicine practitioners, stress-relieving activities such as yoga and meditation are being recommended more often as a complement to medical fertility treatments.

Stress-Relieving Activities Can Produce Positive Body Changes

During periods of stress, the brain releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter, which impacts fertility. The release of the hormone cortisol can also impede reproductive hormone function. Stress can also trigger the inflammation pathway in the body. Anything that minimizes stress can be beneficial for those seeking to conceive.

Research from the July 2008 issue of the journal PLoS One, finds that mind-body techniques such as yoga and meditation can put the body into a state of deep rest known as the relaxation response. This may physically help change the body’s response to stress. The relaxation response is characterized by a reduction in oxygen intake, an increase in the exhalation of nitric oxide and lower psychological distress.

More on eMaxHealth.com: Study Links Stress to Infertility

A more recent study, published in May 2010 in the journal Fertility and Sterility, found that women who participate in mind-body training have a significantly higher pregnancy rate than women who do not – 52% compared to 20%. In addition to yoga and meditation practices, repeated prayer, progressive muscle relaxation, and body scan relaxation techniques are also found to be beneficial in reducing stress.

Yoga may also have physical benefits that lead to increased fertility. The strength and flexibility gained from a gentle yoga practice may improve circulation that can regulate the menstrual cycle. The poses performed may help open up the hips to help align the uterus properly, making conception more viable. The physical activity may also help reduce some of the weight gain brought on by IVF treatments.

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Classes specializing in “fertility yoga” may also offer support for women trying to become pregnant. “Being able to open up in a safe environment with support and encouragement of others on the journey, everyone became each other’s cheerleader,” says one supporter of yoga for fertility programs.

More on eMaxHealth.com: Men - Soda and Unhealthy Lifestyle Can Affect Fertility

Alice Domar PhD, the director of the mind/body services at Boston IVF, affiliated with Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, says, “(Yoga) is a very effective relaxation technique, and a great way to get women in the door to get support. It’s a way to get them to like their bodies again.”

Dr. Robert Kiltz, founder and director of the CNY Fertility and Healing Arts Center adds, "Yoga for fertility is a powerful practice that helps men and women reduce stress and anxiety, become more mindful and centered, and therefore, improve the body's ability to conceive".

Journal References Cited in this Article Include:
"Genomic Counter-Stress Changes Induced by the Relaxation Response." Jeffery A. Dusek, Hasan H. Out, et al. PLoS ONE 3(7): e2576, Published online 2 July 2008 DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0002576

“The use of complementary and alternative fertility treatment in couples seeking fertility care: data from a prospective cohort in the United States” James F. Smith, Michael L. Eisenberg, et al. Fertility and Sterility - 1 May 2010 (Vol. 93, Issue 7, Pages 2169-2174, DOI: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2010.02.054)

Image Credit: My Yoga Online via Flickr

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Comments

Very interesting article, thank you!
I firmly believe in the power of Yoga to heal and also to increase your chances for fertility. I had difficulty for years trying to conceive and along with yoga, we tried a kit called Beefertile. We both took it, because we both had fertility issues-PCOS, slow swimmers, and difficulty ovulating. We ended up getting pregnant. I attribute a lot of that to the natural routes we chose to take. I would tell anyone wanting to conceive to give Yoga and Beefertile a try.
As a teacher and trainer of fertility Yoga and a doctor of Oriental medicine and I have found yoga to positively influence reproductive outcomes as a method of relaxation but not limited to that mechanism. The Triad method of combining breathing practices- specifically kapalabhati, and concentration methods while emphasizing specific acupuncture meridians via yoga postures can have a marked impact on secretions of pituitary and thyroid hormones as well as increasing pelvic blood flow, ovarian responsiveness and uterine receptivity and alignment.