Is hypnosis an overlooked option to improve fertility?

About 75%-90% of infertility cases can be diagnosed depending on the complexity or rarity of the condition. That leaves around 10%-25% of infertility as unexplained. In fact, unexplained infertility is an actual medical term. It is given when semen analysis, ovulation and fallopian tubes appear to be in good working order.

However, medical professionals agree that abnormalities are likely to be present just not yet detected by current methods. There may be a host of these undetected reasons, but what about psychological reasons? After all, couples suffering infertility often demonstrate psychological distress. A review of the research suggests that psychological interventions for women with infertility have the potential to decrease anxiety and depression and may well lead to significantly higher pregnancy rates.

Hypnotherapy for stress

Within mind-body medicine as a whole, there is a wealth of high-quality research proving that unhealthy levels of stress can impair a wide range of natural body functions. Removing the stress can often have a beneficial effect on symptoms. Hypnosis is a proven means of relieving stress and removing negative thoughts that may be impacting on natural bodily functions such as reproductive processes.

Benefits of hypnosis

  • Effective in many psychological conditions
  • Non-invasive
  • No requirement for medication
  • Long lasting with take home exercises.

 Issues with hypnosis

  • Small body of evidence for use in fertility
  • Time consuming
  • Requires commitment

On consideration, it’s clear that the benefits outweigh the issues. In any case, the issues are pretty much the same as with all holistic therapies that require input from the patient. However, more research is needed, and patients need to commit to the idea that they and not the therapist will be doing most of the work!

A typical experience with hypnosis for infertility

A hypnosis session is not just about being hypnotized. It is a journey to be undertaken in carefully planned steps. At each session the participant’s progress in the journey is examined and techniques are provided. And most importantly these techniques must be practiced, so that the participant can move to the next stage smoothly.

A typical technique learned in hypnotherapy might be something like a STOP technique. An example of this is where a patient is hypnotized to imagine a huge STOP sign springing up in front of them or a voice shouting STOP! This can be used if they begin to have negative thoughts.

Hypnosis also makes use of sensory visualization. This is a powerful tool to change a participant’s train of thoughts. Visualization can be aural, related to smell or sensation. It all depends on the individual.

Yvette Renda, Hypnotherapist, New York says, “A useful technique to stop a runaway train of negative thought is not to get on the train in the first place! When the participant feels themselves getting low, the patient and I work on them visualizing a rollercoaster in front of them. It is then their choice whether to get on and take a ride on it! It is a way of empowering them to take control of their emotions, not the other way around.”

Being physically and emotionally ready to conceive

However, it is not just as simple as telling someone to just imagine something. The allegory has to have real meaning or significance to the patient or else the suggestion will not work. It also has to be real in the sense that it is hypnotically implanted. A hypnotherapy session can also be seen as a sanctuary for energization and rebooting. This allows the participant to deeply relax and visualize their mind body and spirit as optimally healthy. And in the case of those trying to conceive, they must visualize being physically and emotionally ready to get pregnant.

Yvette says, “Hypnotherapy allows people to change patterns of thinking, or even patterns of behavior, that don’t help them in their efforts to get pregnant. They can get lost in the emotional fog of trying for a baby, and hypnotherapy helps them find the self that is wandering around in that fog.”

Hypnotherapy as a tool for lifestyle changes

It’s not all about banishing negative thoughts and reducing stress though! Hypnotherapy is clinically proven to be a useful tool in assisting with aspects of lifestyle that need to be addressed in order to physically prepare yourself for pregnancy. For instance, in reducing obesity, smoking cessation, and cutting down alcohol and caffeine intake.   

Yvette concluded, “These lifestyle aspects can all be addressed during the same hypnotherapy sessions aimed at reducing stress and stopping negative trains of thought.”

Studies on hypnotherapy for infertility patients

Although, as mentioned, more research into hypnotherapy and its use in infertility is required, there are some significant studies that have been conducted:

  • An Israeli study of 185 women showed that the success rate of IVF treatments doubled from 14% to 28% when the subjects underwent hypnosis during implantation.
  • A study published in Fertility and Sterility found that 55% of the previously infertile women studied who used mind/body techniques conceived, compared with 20% of the control group who didn’t use these techniques.

It seems that hypnotherapy may well be a useful aid to fertility that with further research will, like counselling and other more mainstream mind/body techniques, become less overlooked as time goes on.