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Mind/Body Training with IVF Patients Yields Higher Pregnancy Rates

16 Jan

A research team from Boston IVF, a private, academically affiliated infertility center, in Waltham, MA conducted a randomized controlled study with 143 women, 40 years old or less, to determine if a mind-body program, delivered in a group, would yield higher pregnancy rates than treatment as usual.

Subjects were randomized to a ten-session mind/body program (MB) or a control condition and followed for two IVF cycles.  Components of the mind/body program consisted of teaching 10 different relaxation techniques (breath focus, body scan, meditation, mindfulness, several kinds of imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, autogenic training and hatha yoga); a variety of stress management skills, with a cognitive-behavioral focus; segments on lifestyle modification, with special focus on alcohol and caffeine consumption, exercise and limits on nicotine exposure; modules on the safety and efficacy of various integrative therapies; group support; partners attending 3 of the 10 group sessions; and 2 peer counselors supporting the group facilitator.
Logistical difficulties and eagerness to begin treatment prevented getting most subjects on board before the first IVF cycle.   Only 9% of the MB participants had attended at least one-half of their sessions at cycle 1 start.  Pregnancy rates for cycle 1 were 43% for all subjects.
By the start of the 2nd cycle, 76% of the MB subjects had attended at least one-half of their sessions. Pregnancy rates for cycle 2 were 52% for the experimental group, as compared to 20% for the controls.

The investigators conclude that group participation in the Mind/Body sessions was associated with increased pregnancy rates for cycle 2, prior to which most subjects had attended at least half of their sessions.

Citation:  Domar AD, Rooney KL, Wiegand B, Orav EJ, Alper MM, Berger BM, Nikolovski J. Impact of a group mind/body intervention on pregnancy rates in IVF patients. Fertility and Sterility. 2011 Jun; 95 (7):2269-73. Epub 2011 Apr 15. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award