Articles on Infertility
Can Hypnosis Help to Make You Pregnant?
Hypnotherapy to Promote Fertility
The Mind-Body Approach to Fertility
The Overlooked Infertility Factor
The following article discusses the role of hypnotherapy in promoting fertility:
Can Hypnosis Help to Make You Pregnant?
Some complementary therapists claim they can aid conception
Excerpts from an article by Suzy Greaves
One in seven women seeks medical help to aid conception. Inevitably, given this demand and the low success rates of conventional treatments for infertility alternative practitioners have not been slow to offer therapies that they claim will increase fertility.
Dr Elizabeth Muir, a clinical psychologist who has specialized in treating infertility for seven years, uses hypnotherapy to help couples for whom there is no apparent medical reason why they should not have a child. Muir believes that the psychological issues surrounding pregnancy are not sufficiently well addressed for many women with fertility problems, and she claims a success rate of 45 per cent for her clients.
"Hypnotherapy works on the premise that the conscious and subconscious minds may be at odds with each other," she says. "I believe that while a woman might consciously want a baby, her subconscious may be stopping her from getting pregnant. Most women I see have psychosomatic infertility related to conflicts or unresolved issues about having a baby. A combination of counseling and hypnotherapy can remove these problems."
Muir explains that hypnosis affects the hypothalamus, the neural center at the base of the brain linked to the pituitary gland and controls the flow of hormones in the body. The hypothalamus is sensitive to stress and acts as a bridge between the emotional and physical, turning emotional messages into physical responses that affect hormone levels.
A study by John Gruzelier, Professor of Psychology at Imperial College School of Medicine, revealed that self-hypnosis could strengthen the immune system by 48 per cent in six weeks. Muirs theory is also supported in studies by Dr Alice Domar, director of the Beth Israel Deaconess Behavioral Medicine Program for Infertility in Boston, who examined the relationship between stress and infertility. Her studies documented the success of her mind/body fertility program, which taught people how to relax and reduce tension.
In the first study, published in 1999 in the Journal of the American Medical Womens Association, 42 per cent of the 132 infertile women in the program conceived within six months of completing it. In the second study, published in 2000 in the journal Fertility and Sterility, 55 per cent of the previously infertile women who met regularly in a mind-body program conceived, compared with 20 per cent of the control group, who used no mind-body techniques and did not attend meetings.
Niravi Payne, a psychotherapist and pioneer of mind-body fertility therapy in America, believes that stress is only one of the factors that can prevent conception. "Our endocrine, immune and nervous systems are all intimately connected and influenced by every thought we think and every emotion we feel," she says. "When something significant happens in our lives, the emotionally charged experience gets stored in our brain. Memories and experiences are also simultaneously stored biochemically and electromagnetically in various organ systems. Negative emotional experiences can throw off the finely tuned hormonal balance necessary for ovulation and sperm production"
After four years of infertility, the actress Alex Kingston had a child after having IVF treatment. During the treatment, Kingston also worked with Payne. "One of my sisters is physically and mentally handicapped and I realized that I was holding on to a lot of fear about that," says Kingston. "With Niravi, I was able to release a huge amount of stuff Id been holding on to without realizing it."
March 05, 2002, Reported On The Times Newspapers (TimesOnLine.com) Web Site
Hypnotherapy to Promote Fertility
by Jim Schwartz, BCH
Originally published in the Bellies, Birth and Babies publication, Winter 2004
When most people think of hypnotherapy, they think of losing weight, smoking cessation or issues such as overcoming fears and phobias, but few people are aware of how hypnotherapy is being used for promoting fertility.
Several thousand years ago, the Chinese observed that women who had difficulty conceiving often had an underlying emotional issue that was preventing conception. This concept is once again receiving serious consideration as infertility has become more prevalent in our society.
Christiane Northrup in her book, Womens Bodies, Womens Wisdom, talked about the mind/body connectionthe importance of a healthy mind as well as a healthy bodyand how it can impact fertility. Northrup wrote: Regardless of what youve been told about your fertility, you need to know that your ability to conceive is profoundly influenced by the complex interaction among psychosocial, psychological, and emotional factors, and that you can consciously work with this to enhance your ability to have a baby.
Is the mind really strong enough to interfere with conception? That question has been the focus of several recent infertility studies. Dr Elizabeth Muir, a clinical psychologist based in London, who specializes in treating infertility, conducted a study where hypnotherapy was added to the fertility program for women with unexplained infertility. Muir says, Hypnotherapy works on the premise that the conscious and subconscious minds may be at odds with each other. I believe that while a woman might consciously want a baby, her subconscious may be stopping her from getting pregnant. Most women I see have psychosomatic infertility related to conflicts or unresolved issues about having a baby. The results of Muirs study were that forty-five percent of the women with unexplained infertility were able to conceive.
In her research, Dr. Muir discussed how hypnotherapy affects the hypothalamus gland. The hypothalamus gland is a tiny region of the forebrain that sends out the signals which control the flow of hormones in the body. Muir found that this gland was sensitive to stress and acted as a bridge between the emotional and the physical. She discovered that hypnotherapy could be used to reduce stress which in turn would allow the hypothalamus gland to trigger the hormone production that was conducive to successful reproduction.
Other studies regarding the mind/body connection to fertility have been conducted in recent years. One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Womens Association found that 42 percent of the 132 infertile women in a mind/body program conceived within six months of completing the program. A third study published in the journal, Fertility and Sterility, found that found that 55 percent of the previously infertile women in a mind/body program conceived, compared with 20 percent of the control group.
So what kinds of fears or issues or roadblocks might keep a woman from conceiving? There may be subconscious issues around pregnancy, labor, childbirth, hospitals, medical treatments, motherhood, loss of independence, questions about their husbands ability to be a good father, unresolved dysfunctional patterns from a womans own childhood, worries about balancing a family and a career or simply the fear of failure to conceive under the financial and psychological pressure that often comes with medical reproductive procedures.
For the couple experiencing infertility issues, hypnotherapy is a powerful tool that can bring to light and help resolve subconscious material that might be preventing a successful pregnancy. In three to four sessions, hypnotherapy helps the individual explore the mental and emotional elements that are often overlooked when trying to achieve a healthy conception.
Jim Schwartz is an NGH certified hypnotherapist and Director of the Rocky Mountain Hypnotherapy Center. Jim and his wife Julie, an Acupuncturist, run a healing center located in Lakewood where they specialize in hypnotherapy and acupuncture to promote fertility. You can contact Jim at (303) 987-1604 or www.rmhypnotherapy.com.
The Mind/Body Approach To Fertility
An Interview with Dr. Elizabeth Muir
By Jim Schwartz, Board Certified Hypnotherapist
Originally Published in the RESOLVE Newsletter, Winter 2004
As infertility has become more prevalent in recent years, there has been a great deal of interest in what role the mind/body connection might play in creating a healthy conception. One of the pioneers in this field is Dr. Elizabeth Muir, a clinical psychologist based in London, who introduced the practice of hypnotherapy in working with infertility patients. Dr. Muir conducted a ground-breaking study where she focused on the mind/body connectionusing mostly hypnotherapy and some psychotherapywith women who had unexplained infertility. The results of her research showed that, after completing Dr. Muirs program, 45% of the women who had experienced infertility were able to conceive. That study created quite a stir because, up until that time, the focus of infertility work had been based almost solely on biological causes. Emotional and psychological elements hadnt been considered a factor. Two more studies in the last five years reinforced Muirs research and have raised the question of what role the mind plays in the conception process. Dr. Muir now runs a clinic in London where she specializes in working with infertility clients. I asked Dr. Muir if she would be willing to answer a few questions for the members of the Colorado chapter of RESOLVE, and she was happy to share her insights.
Q: Many couples focus primarily on physical or biological conditions when addressing infertility. How important is it to address the mental and emotional aspects in creating a healthy conception?
Dr. Muir: It is very important to address the mental and emotional aspects in creating a healthy conception. Emotional and psychological issuesthe circumstances of our livesaffect our bodies and manifest themselves in physical symptoms even if we are not consciously aware of it. Every thought has an emotional connotation; every emotion has its biochemical counterpart. Therefore, each emotion triggers numerous biochemical changes not only in the brain but in different parts of the body, very often activating memories that might have embedded themselves there previously. As a result of that, the body's natural healthy balance is disturbed and it stops the body from its natural manifestation, in this case reproduction. The body and mind are engaged constantly in dynamic interactions, and there is a continuous communication going on between the mind and the different systems, cells and parts of the body. For instance, the immune system constantly communicates with the nervous and endocrine systems, sending chemicals which are messenger molecules.
Q: What role does hypnotherapy play in your work? How can it be useful in promoting fertility?
Dr. Muir: Hypnotheraphy is particularly successful in the area of fertility. It enables us to access subconscious issues which might be related to fertility such as memories or experiences which become a source of negative conditioning, causing fears or doubts in the area of reproduction. Very often an individual is not aware of those issues. Some [issues] may go back to the time in the womb. Hypnosis is a very natural tool which allows the intervention to take place on mental and physical levels. During the state of hypnosis, biochemical changes take place in the body and the access is made to the subconscious mind that stores not only our experiences and memories but also our resources. With the skillful use of hypnotherapy a subject is helped to elicit her own individual ability to resolve her specific issues of fertility.
Q: What kinds of fears or issues or roadblocks can be contributing factors to infertility?
Dr. Muir: There is a whole range of issues that can contribute to infertility. Fears connected with childbirth, ambivalence to motherhood, fear of repeating the mother's story, insecurities in the existing relationship, a sense of guilt stemming from the experience of termination in the past, a sense of punishment, or even the fear of new responsibilities [can all be factors]. These are some examples which usually correspond with disempowering beliefs about pregnancy, parenthood, [and entering parenthood while trying to maintain] a professional life.
Q: Many women become discouraged when their FSH level is too high. Have you had success with hypnotherapy in working with that condition?
Dr. Muir: Yes, I have had success with women with elevated levels of FSH. Some of these women were told by medical professionals that they had been menopausal. This, however, was not the case at all. In my opinion, FSH level is very much affected by the level of stress, as far as fertility is concerned. For instance, if there is a subconscious fear of having a baby, every time she embarks on the reproductive process, it is going to trigger in her a response from her body. In this case [the response may be a] higher level of FSH or some other physical manifestation stopping the reproductive process.
Dr. Muirs research has become known worldwide. Since her landmark study, hypnotherapy has become an important tool used to help identify and process roadblocks and fears that may be preventing pregnancy. The importance of the mind/body connection has been widely supported in the teachings and writings of several prominent doctors including Dr. Christiane Northrup, Dr. Andrew Weil and Dr. Deepak Chopra.
If you have any questions about this article or about hypnotherapy, you can contact the author of this article, Jim Schwartz. Jim is an NGH certified hypnotherapist and the Director of the Rocky Mountain Hypnotherapy Center which specializes in the Hypnotherapy to Promote Fertility program. Jim and his wife Julie, an Acupuncturist, have an established healing center in Lakewood, Colorado where they combine hypnotherapy and acupuncture to assist couples experiencing infertility. You can contact Jim at (303) 987-1604 or at www.rmhypnotherapy.com
The Overlooked Infertility Factor
by Jim Schwartz, BCH
Originally Published in the Winter 2007 Resolve Newsletter
Nearly seven million women in the U.S. have been diagnosed with unexplained infertility.(1) That means that according to Western Medicine there is no physiological reason why these women can't conceive. The question then becomes: if the physical body is not the cause, could it be that the missing factor might be somewhere in the mental and emotional realms?
In our society it is commonly acknowledged that psychosomatic disharmonies could be related to physical malfunctions in the body. For example, someone under tremendous stress might experience symptoms such as high blood pressure, heart disease, migraine headaches, insomnia, or back spasms, but infertility has always been considered primarily a physiological issue. However, in the last two decades, several scientific studies have challenged that supposition, and the majority of those studies support the belief that the mind/body connection is a vital part of the conception process.
In just one area of infertility research-the affects of distress on the success rates of In-Vitro (IVF) procedures-there have been fourteen studies. Ten of those studies found a very clear connection between distress and decreased pregnancy rates, and two more of those studies showed a trend or tendency toward decreased pregnancy rates.(2)
How can emotional issues, such as feelings of distress, create infertility? It is deep within the subconscious mind where all of the emotional issues and blocks related to infertility are stored. The subconscious mind holds our habits, beliefs, behavioral patterns, anxieties and fears that we have been accumulating since birth. Then, as adults, when we experience emotions like anxiety, sadness, fear or anger, we are responding to the cumulative effect of the information and programming that has collected throughout our entire lifetime.
Can this programming affect one's ability to conceive? According to the research, it appears that this is the case. Negative feelings and emotions within the subconscious can intensify and become all-consuming to the woman experiencing infertility. An experience from years past such as a feeling of failure can become so intense that it can control our present belief system without us even knowing it. These old emotions feed our current fears: "What if I fail again in this cycle?" "I feel like I'm letting everyone in the family down." "Why is this happening to me: is it something I did in my past?" "Maybe I don't deserve a child." "I'm so afraid of having another miscarriage." "What if I never have a child?" These fears and insecurities are often connected to old unhealed emotions and can only be processed by accessing the subconscious mind.
The quickest and most effective way to work directly with the subconscious mind is through the use hypnotherapy. In a relaxed hypnotic state where the client is always in control, it is easy to access and heal the programming within the subconscious mind. Since hypnosis works directly with the subconscious material, positive changes can take place in a short period of time.
There have been several scientific studies regarding the success rates for using hypnosis to promote fertility. The pioneer in this field, Dr. Peter Quinn, 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. Sixty-five percent of the women went on to have successful full-term pregnancies.(3) Dr. Elizabeth Muir, the director of a fertility clinic in London, practices hypnosis with all of her infertility clients. Her success rate is 45%, based on live births that take place within one year of completing the program at her clinic. That means that 45 % of these previously "infertile" women, typically ranging in age from 37-43, were able to not just conceive, but to give birth.(4)
The positive results from these studies suggest that the subconscious mind may be an overlooked factor in the treatment of infertility. Whether one is choosing assisted reproductive techniques (ART) or trying naturally, the mind/body connection may hold the key to success.