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10 May 2011
Mind/body program boosts IVF chances

Women who participate in a mind/body program for stress reduction while undergoing IVF treatment have a much higher pregnancy rate (52 percent versus 20 percent), a new study in Fertility and Sterility has found. The new findings contradict an earlier study that indicated stress was not linked to IVF outcomes.

"The intersection of stress and fertility is a controversial one, but we do know that stress can reduce the probability of conception," said researcher Alice Domar, of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Domar conducts the Mind/Body Program for Infertility at Boston IVF. She says the goal of the program is to help couples learn effective relaxation and stress management strategies while attempting to conceive. The ten week stress management program focuses on "cognitive behavior therapy, relaxation training, negative health behavior modification and social support components."

To study the effects of the Mind/Body Program on IVF pregnancy outcomes, Domar's research team approached women who were about to begin treatment at Boston IVF and who met the study criteria: 40 years or under with normal hormonal levels. The women were divided into two groups; one received no mind/body intervention and the other underwent the Mind/Body Program for Infertility.

Domar found that 52 percent of the women participating in the Mind/Body Program for Infertility became pregnant compared with 20 percent of the control group participants, a statistically significant difference.

"The study supports the theory that psychological distress may be an important detriment to IVF outcome," she claims. "We worked with a small group, about a 100 women total, so we'll need to continue with a larger group of patients to see if the results bear out. But there is a strong indication that stress levels and IVF outcomes are linked and that intervening with mind/body therapies can help."

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Source: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

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