Growing EdgesMind/Body Program
Mind/Body Program (Click here for a printable flyer)

Infertility can affect nearly every aspect of your life; and, conversely, nearly every aspect of your life can also affect your fertility! Infertility patients need to know what impact their lifestyle habits can have on their fertility.

During the course of the 10-week program you will learn how to reduce the physical symptoms of stress, learn to self-nurture, communicate effectively, cope with negative emotions, learn relaxation techniques, learn the impact of diet and exercise on fertility, and learn about alternative medicine. This is a research based program modeled after the Harvard Mind/Body Medical Institute's Infertility Program. Dr. Swartout has been personally trained by Dr. Alice Domar, Ph.D., a luminary in the field of Mind/Body work in infertility.

Who can benefit?

All women having difficulty conceiving can benefit from our program. This includes women in all stages of infertility, including those who are currently undergoing (or have already undergone) IVF, GIFT, or other programs/procedures; hormone treatments or other fertility drugs; have a low chance of conceiving a biological child; have a history of miscarriages, or ar experiencing secondary infertility.

What are the program's goals?

  • Increase sense of well-being and control
  • Reduce stress levels
  • Decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • Reduce/manage physical symptoms such as insomnia, fatigue, headaches, stomach pain
  • Examine lifestyle and personal situation factors that can affect health such as diet and stress.
  • Develop skills to ease the treatment process for those working towards building a family

How effective is the program?

Research has shown that women who experience infertility have increased levels of negative emotions such as depression and anxiety. Some scientists believe that these feelings may prevent contraception, while others believe the feelings are a result of infertility. Regardless, it is clearly beneficial to reduce these negative emotions.

--Infertile women are significantly more depressed than their female counterparts, with depression and anxiety levels equivalent to women with heart disease, cancer, or HIV positive status. (Domar, Zuttermeister, & Friedman, 1993).

--Women who were not depressed before starting IVF treatment had a conception rate twice as high as women who were depressed before treatment. (Thiering, Beaurepaire, Jones, & Saunders, 1993).

--Women with unexplained infertility who went through an 8-week program of relaxation training, cognitive restructuring, and self-instructional management were significantly more likely to conceive than a control group who receive no training.  Within the 2-month study period, 4 out of 7 experimental subjects conceived, whereas none of the 7 control subjects conceived.  (Rodriguez et al.. 1983).

--In a study of 63 women about to undergo an IVF treatment cycle, those who chose to attend 2-weeks worth of sessions on relaxation training were significantly more likely to conceive on their first IVF attempt. (Farrar, Holbert, & Drabman, (1990).

--A randomized, controlled, unpublished pilot study showed an increased conception rate in women with unexplained infertility who received relaxation-based behavior therapy.  (Domar & Seibel, 1990).

In a recent study conducted at Harvard Medical School on 184 women going through infertility, of those who went through a 10-week course of relaxation training, cognitive restructuring, and stress reduction, 55% had a viable pregnancy within one year.  This is compared to only 20% of the control group achieving a viable pregnancy in one year. (Domar et al, April 2000).

Additional Resources:

National Infertility Association:

American Society for Reproductive Medicine:

Mind/Body Programs: Domar Center for Complementary Health Care

Boston IVF

At Growing Edges, patients can consult in person with Ilyssa Swartout, Psy. D. for guidance and support. We also welcome emails asking about the "emotional side" of infertility and its implications.

Please contact us for more information.


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