Get Away For the Weekend
and Help Your Fertility

Stress levels can go through the roof when you and your partner are dealing with infertility. Studies have shown that people suffering from infertility have stress levels equal to those going through cancer treatment. Unfortunately, researchers have also found that stress, while not necessarily a cause of infertility, can significantly decrease a person’s fertility. So, what can you do to lower your stress and get a handle on your fertility? Get out of town!

Fertility Retreats
While you may long for a vacation that will get your mind off of your conception woes, sometimes one that deals directly with infertility is more beneficial. Mind/body retreats are designed specifically to help people deal with the emotional, as well as physical, aspects of infertility. These fertility retreats approach fertility based on the connection between the mind and the body.

Using a variety of techniques, including meditation, yoga, nutrition, exercise, acupuncture, diary writing, art therapy, and herbal supplements, participants are taught effective stress management skills. Additionally, participants gain a more positive way of thinking and outlook on their situation.

By the end of the course, people feel more relaxed, experience a greater sense of control over their fertility problems and their ability to deal with it, and a general improved sense of wellbeing. Leaders of the courses believe the classes work because they address a person’s attitude and behavior towards their problem, not just the physical aspects of the issue. Therefore, participants receive a better overall treatment for their infertility.

Some fertility enhancing retreats are geared specifically towards women because the emotional aspects of infertility can affect a woman’s ability to carry a child. However, other workshops include men and deal with issues specific to them. But do these courses actually work?

Getting To The Facts
Because the workshops use a holistic approach to treating infertility, incorporating traditional Chinese medicine methods like herbs and acupuncture, Western doctors are often reluctant to endorse these workshops as a cure for infertility. Since modern scientific thought is unable to provide evidence as to just how these methods work to help people, many medical professionals refuse to believe that mind/body retreats are anything more than a waste of time.

Thankfully, though, not all medical professionals feel this way. Harvard University offers a mind/body workshop for people dealing with infertility. After it was shown that 55% of the participants were able to conceive within six months of finishing the program, compared with only 20% who did not take the program, Stanford University decided to create a similar course. UCLA and Kaiser-San Francisco also offer mind/body infertility programs.

Additionally, the Journal of the American Medical Women’s Association reported in 1999 that 42% of women were able to conceive within six months of being taught mind/body relaxation techniques. Additionally, these women were able to affectively decrease their levels of stress, anxiety and depression. Other studies have been conducted, all with similar results.

Another study recently peformed at the Univesity of Hong Kong also shows that mind/body support can greatly reduce the anxieties of women undergoing IVF therapy. The study, reported in the journal, Fertility and Science, involved 101 women about to undergo IVF treatment. These women attended four, three-hour mind/body support sessions, where they participated in activities including yoga, meditation, and focused breathing. Researchers asked the women to report on their anxiety levels before the sessions, and during IVF treatment.

Results illustrated that women who attended these mind/body sessions experienced significantly less anxiety than those women who did not. And, though the study did not measure the success of the IVF treatments, it has been illustrated that anxiety and stress is often a major factor in success rates.

The Final Say
Mind/body retreats are not necessarily just for those couples looking for a natural alternative to the scientific methods of treating infertility. Women and couples undergoing medical treatments, like in vitro fertilization, often attend the workshops. For others, the courses help a couple see their situation in a new light, letting them finally feel comfortable in accepting the fact that they may not have children or that perhaps adoption is a much better choice for them.

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