by Naomi Woolfson
It is said that women undergoing fertility treatment experience the same level of stress, anxiety and depression as women who have cancer, HIV or heart disease.
I can definitely relate to the above. During our second intrauterine insemination (IUI) treatment I became increasingly anxious and began having panic attacks. My doctor sent me on an eight week mindfulness-based stress reduction course. As the weeks passed, the panic attacks stopped and the depression lifted.
I was so captivated by what I was learning that I decided to leave my career in design and retrain as a therapist
I became absorbed by the research on how to enhance fertility using your mind and body.
I interviewed Dr Alice Domar PhD who is the Executive Director of the Domar Center for Mind, Body and Health and the Director of Mind, Body Services at Boston IVF. Domar established the first ever Mind and Body Program for Fertility which is a 10 session group program which runs in Boston.
Having read Domar’s book ‘Conquering Infertility’ in which she states . . .
“Women’s minds must be treated along with their bodies. To separate mind from body, to treat one without attending to the other, is foolish and ineffective. When you treat a woman’s mind as well as her body, almost without exception she feels better and can cope more effectively with her condition.”
I was eager to discuss her program and how she supports women going through infertility
Domar spoke about how women join her course because they are not coping. They complete the course with all the skills they need to very successfully and healthily handle their infertility.
Introducing ways of reducing stress and anxiety can improve your quality of life while trying to conceive
In fact studies indicate there may be an additional positive side-effect in doing so.
‘In a large federally funded study, 55% of previously infertile women who met regularly in a Mind Body Infertility program conceived within 6 months after the program, compared to only 20% in a control group that used no mind body techniques.’*
We discussed this in our interview and Domar talked about how her work is not about getting people pregnant it’s about getting people happy again
Knowing that the person you were before infertility will come back.
I now run my own mind and body program, The Embrace Fertility Method, with the same intention. The transformation that women go through during the course is so heartwarming..
I have found that the majority of people experience infertility first through denial, then anger, followed by depression and bargaining and finally coming to a place of acceptance and empowerment. This cycle can take many years to transition through but with the right support women can reach this place of acceptance and hope in a matter of months.
Techniques that have been found to reduce anxiety and negative thinking while experiencing fertility issues include mindfulness, cognitive behavioural therapy, relaxation techniques, meditation, visualisation, gratitude, journaling, counselling and peer support groups.
Alleviating anxiety and depression in women experiencing fertility issues appears to make it easier for them to become pregnant and I encourage you to look into some of the above coping strategies. Not just because it might help you to conceive, but because they can support you to cope with infertility and help you to live now rather than putting your life on hold until you get pregnant.
I will leave you with my favourite quote from Domar’s book
‘You will be happy again. Life will become joyful again. And somehow, some way, if you want to become a parent, you will.’
Naomi Woolfson is the founder of Embrace Fertility offering inspiration, community and support for anyone trying to conceive, going through fertility treatments. Woolfson has teamed up with IVFBabble and is offering a discount on her 12 week Embrace Fertility Method online mind body program. To find out more, visit our shop on Babble Prime Wellness
For more information on Dr Alice Domar and her ground breaking course click here