What is the Mind/Body Approach?
Emotions, beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and attitudes can impact how the body functions, both positively and negatively. The Mind/Body approach focuses on influencing the mind in order to improve health. The Mind/Body Approach combines Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) as well as relaxation exercises towards this end. CBT is a well-established empirically validated treatment for a variety of problems and disorders including mood disorders, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and marital problems. The treatment helps people reduce their negative thinking that causes negative emotions, assists with problem solving and stress-reduction.
Application to Infertility
Studies by Dr. Alice Domar, a leader in the field of Mind/Body medicine, conclude that Mind/Body treatments in conjunction with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is effective in both reducing psychological stress and increasing pregnancy rates. Alice Domar is a pioneer in the application of mind-body interventions in infertility. Dr. Domar studied with world renowned Harvard Professor, Herbert Benson, and started publishing in the early 1990s about the benefit of inducing the relaxation response for women undergoing infertility treatment.
In an early study, participation in a behavioral program decreased symptoms of anxiety, depressive symptoms, and fatigue as well as increased vigor (Domar, Seibel, & Benson, 1990). A randomized controlled prospective study offering a mind/body intervention that included relaxation exercises and CBT to 143 women under 40 undergoing a first cycle of IVF, found that women who completed more than half of the sessions, had improved pregnancy rates compared to a control group (Domar, et al., 2011).
Recent studies point to a direct relationship between CBT, stress reduction and fertility. Successful CBT treatment has a great effect on woman undergoing fertility treatments. Within a few weeks, stress is reduced and the chance of pregnancy is higher. Restorative Yoga has also proved to be effective in relieving stress on woman with fertility challenges and allowing them to reach their fertility potential.
The First of its Kind in Israel
While several Mind/Body for Infertility programs exist around the world, including in Boston, Los Angeles and London, Karen Gefen supports the first such program in Israel.