Fertility issues affect millions, and it can certainly be a challenging problem to face. In some ways, fertility treatments like IVF can compound the stress of infertility, as this time-consuming and demanding procedure requires a huge emotional and financial investment and you may feel like your happiness depends on the outcome.
Still, it’s important to remember that the mind and body are connected, and the creation of a new life is still very mysterious. An integrated approach to in vitro fertilization that combines physical and mental intervention may be more likely to bring positive results and make this difficult procedure a bit easier to deal with. A great deal of research over the past decade has shown the positive benefits hypnosis and guided imagery may have on IVF treatments, particularly embryo transfer. Here’s a look at what research has shown about the benefits of using hypnosis during IVF.
It seems there are really four ways hypnosis or guided imagery may help you while you undergo IVF. This form of therapy will teach you to reach a deep state of relaxation, which then reduces your stress levels. It can also help you gain access to the skills you need to better cope with the procedure and mentally, emotionally and physically prepare for IVF. Finally, hypnosis may help you increase the chances of a positive outcome.
What Does the Research Say?
One study presented in 2004 to the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology conference showed that hypnosis can actually double the success rate of IVF treatment. This study, conducted at Soroku Hospital in Israel, was designed to see if hypnosis could improve the success of the embryo transfer stage. The study was comprised of 185 women and the 28% who were hypnotized for the treatment became pregnant, compared to just 14% of the women in the control group (Levitas 2006).
The researchers also noted that patients in the hypnosis group had a more positive attitude toward their treatment than those who did not receive treatment.
After this research by Professor Levitas and his associates showed that hypnosis during the embryo transfer stage can increase the pregnancy ratio by 76%, a follow-up study was conducted by researches from the Clinique du Mail in France. Their study, a randomized, prospective, controlled study, was designed to compare the efficacy of hypnosis on patients who were receiving embryo transfer to measure its effects on pregnancy rates and the amount of anxiety compared to Valium.
The authors of this study looked at the impact of Valium, which is the typical pre-medication administered before embryo transfer along with muscle relaxation, compared to hypnosis plus a placebo in 94 patients. Their research found no difference in birth ratio or pregnancy rates between the two groups, concluding that hypnosis during embryo transfer is just as effective as Valium, but with fewer side effects, and they recommend it become a routine treatment option in the future (Catoire 2013).
Hypnosis and guided imagery are truly powerful tools that bring about real physiological and emotional changes and may be used safely and effectively in conjunction with other effective treatments to benefit women going through fertility treatments. Given the relatively low success rate of this fertility treatment, it may be beneficial to see more use of guided imagery and hypnosis during IVF in the future.
Catoire P, Delaunay L, Dannappel T, Baracchini D, Marcadet-Fredet S, Moreau O, Pacaud L, Przyrowski D, Marret E. Hypnosis versus diazepam for embryo transfer: a randomized controlled study. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis. 2013 Apr; 55 (4): pages 378-86.
Levitas, E. e. (2006). Impact of hypnosis during embryo transfer on the outcome of in vitro fertilization-embryo transfer: a case-control study. Fertility and Sterility , 85 (5), 1404-1408.