New life - Hypnotherapy and infertility
Statistics tell us that the last twenty years has seen a significant rise in the number of couples experiencing difficulties conceiving, with up to 25% of those trying to conceive having problems. For approximately 30% of those couples there will be no obvious physiological explanation.
There are many theories as to why this should be the case, however we do know that the age at which a woman tries to conceive for the first time has also increased, with the added potential stress of asking herself, “Have I left it too late?”
It is fair to say that we now acknowledge that emotional issues can lead to physical issues, with stress being one of the most destructive influences on our mental and physical well-being, and research that has been undertaken in the field would suggest that fertility can very much be impacted on by these negative emotions, rather than being purely a physiological issue, as was once thought. This research has also shown that hypnotherapy to counteract this issue can assist in increasing conception rates in affected couples.
The statistics coming out of the studies that have been done make compelling reading, some of which are detailed below:
- Dr. Peter Quinn a pioneer in the field, used hypnotherapy with a group of women between the ages of 26 and 42 who had durations of infertility lasting from two to 12 years. 65% of the women went on to have a successful full-term pregnancy.
- Dr Elizabeth Muir a clinical psychologist based in London conducted a study where she focused on the mind-body connection - using mostly hypnotherapy and psychotherapy - with women who had unexplained infertility. The results of her research showed that, after completing Dr. Muir’s programme, 45% of women with unexplained infertility were able to conceive and carry the pregnancy full term.
- In a study conducted at the Mind-body Medical Institute (MBMI), 185 women who had been trying to conceive for one to two years were randomised into either a 10 week mind/body group, a ten week support group, or a routine care control group. The birth rates during the one year follow up period were as follows: Mind/body 55%, support 54%, and controls 20%.
The overwhelming evidence suggests that whether a couple is trying to conceive naturally or via IVF, the use of hypnotherapy in the process, greatly increases their chances of success.
How does hypnotherapy succeed?
To understand how hypnotherapy enhances the chances of a successful pregnancy, we first need to look at the impact of stress on the body, particularly as it relates to conception.
Essentially, stress can have a big effect on fertility. It is one of our most delicately balanced biological systems. Stress hormones affect the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, and reproductive organs. If the reproductive hormone prolactin is over-produced, this can interfere with ovulation because the hypothalamus stops secreting the hormones that stimulate ovulation. In addition to inhibiting the hypothalamus, psychological stress can also cause its over activation, which can change the pituitary and adrenal responses. Since the pituitary regulates both how much of a hormone is made and how much is released in the body, its alteration can have dramatic effects on the hormonal balance necessary for ovulation, fertilisation, tubal functioning or successful implantation of the egg once it reaches the womb.
The “fight or flight” response, which is triggered in our bodies when we feel physically under threat, is also associated with a threat to our self-esteem or dignity, which may be experienced (consciously or unconsciously) by women who are unable to become pregnant. The impact this has is that our muscles contract, our cardiovascular system accelerates and we release ‘emergency’ hormones throughout our body; energy is directed to the parts that the body considers most important – and away from what it considers least important. In such circumstances, the reproductive system falls into the category of “not important”. And once this imbalance is created, it can lead to ongoing issues, which need to be addressed. Hypnotherapy can redress the balance by restoring the parasympathetic nervous system with imagery and relaxation strategies.
Another situation that can arise is that a woman can, unconsciously, develop a mental block about the impact on her life having a baby will bring, whether it be fear associated with the pain of childbirth, inability to cope as a mother, the lifestyle changes that occur when a child arrives and so on. Subconsciously the body is sending out messages that a baby isn’t wanted, and the body is responding. Hypnotherapy can help break down that mental barrier with positive visualisation messages, including the mental image of holding their newborn baby, and reducing stress levels.
Dr Muir, whose research was cited earlier, said, “Hypnotherapy is particularly successful in the area of fertility. It enables us to access sub-conscious issues, which might be related to fertility. Very often an individual is not aware of those issues. With the skilled use of hypnotherapy a subject is helped to elicit her own individual ability to resolve her specific issues of fertility.”
I believe the evidence is increasingly pointing to fact that the mind/body link cannot be ignored when dealing with clients who have conception issues and there is clinical proof that hypnotherapy can improve a woman’s chance of conceiving considerably. Hypnosis to assist pregnancy works by getting the client mentally, emotionally and physically ready for conceiving a baby. It works on their unconscious, so they no longer feel anxious and allow emotions to affect their hormone levels in a negative way.
Hypnosis can improve relaxation and lower stress levels. It empowers clients and enables them to return to a tranquil state that welcomes conception. It is a safe, non-invasive, effective and affordable technique that can enhance fertility. Hypnosis can help clients tap into the power of their subconscious mind, promoting real chemical changes in the brain that, in turn, can manifest in suitable conditions for conception.
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About Stuart Downing
Stuart Downing is a hypnotherapist with a particular interest in issues affecting women, using a range of techniques to achieve positive outcomes. He offers face-to-face, phone/Skype consultations, and works from 5 clinics in Birmingham and Warwickshire. He is a member of the GHR, CNHC, & International Medical and Dental Hypnotherapy Association.