The Mind/Body Program for Fertility

It it clear that stress takes a toll on a woman’s ability to persevere through fertility treatments. Research from around the world has shown that stress is the number one reason why patients drop out of treatment.

Every time you experience an unsuccessful cycle, hear of a friend’s pregnancy, battle through the “holiday blues” or are asked, “so, why don’t you have children,” ~ your level of stress goes up and up and up. You can’t help but wonder, “is this only happening to me?” The simple answer to this question is an emphatic NO! There are many women who share these same feelings.

Nobody understands these very real and natural emotions better than our own Dr. Alice Domar and our team of psychologists. Dr. Domar established the first Mind/Body Center for Women’s Health, as well as the  first Mind/Body Program for Fertility.

Our Domar Center psychologists specialize in the emotional aspects of infertility and are experts in working with individuals and couples who are dealing with its many challenges. We understand how powerful uncertainty can be when addressing your infertility, and our only goal is to help you achieve your dream of becoming a parent.

The goal of a mind/body approach is to help you get your life back, to become the person you were before you started trying, to feel healthy and whole even as you continue to pursue your dream of parenthood.

What is the Mind/Body Program for Fertility?

The Mind/Body Program is a 10 session group program for women with infertility that is led by a Domar Center psychologist, who is an expert in the emotional aspects and challenges of infertility.

This program combines lecture, skills training, and group sharing with other women experiencing infertility. Through shared knowledge, resources and experiences, our program offers support to women at any stage of treatment are welcome, including those who are not in treatment yet, or those who are taking a break or those who have exhausted what their physicians can offer. In most groups, about half of the participants are either beginning or in the midst of IVF treatment.

It enables you to take back control of your life, cope with your infertility in a much more positive way, and learn about lifestyle habits that can enhance your fertility and contribute to your happiness and good health for the rest of your life.

Program Success Rates

The research indicates both excellent reductions in anxiety, depression and hostility, as well as increases in pregnancy rates, with the most recent research showing a more than doubling of IVF success rates.

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 have been collecting data for 20 years on the women who attend the mind/body program and the results are consistent. About half the patients get pregnant within six months, and about 95% become moms somehow within two years.

Program History

The first mind/body program for infertility patients was offered in September, 1987. It actually began because of “tears”.  Dr. Domar was doing a study on the impact of teaching relaxation techniques to women with unexplained infertility, to see if those who learned such techniques would have higher pregnancy rates and less anxiety. The first three or four women who were accepted into the study all happened to be assigned to the control group, which meant that they weren’t going to be learning any relaxation at all. And all of them cried. Which certainly made Dr. Domar feel awful. At the same time, she was being trained to run mind/body groups for patients with all sorts of medical conditions, including cancer, multiple sclerosis, gastrointestinal problems, etc. As each of these patients learned different mind/body techniques, which included relaxation training and stress management, it was amazing to watch their symptoms improve. So Dr. Domar decided that the same approach might well help infertility patients. She abandoned the study, and quickly started such a clinical program. And lo and behold, the women who attended the first few groups experienced about a 33% pregnancy rate within a few months and their psychological symptoms were markedly reduced.

Fast forward almost 26 years, and the program not only has survived, but has proven in a research setting to indeed lead to significant increases in pregnancy rates as well as decreases in psychological symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and hostility and physical symptoms such as insomnia, abdominal pain, and headaches.