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Fertility Retreats

Many couples struggling with infertility are trying fertility retreats instead of, or in addition to, the traditional treatments of drugs, surgery, or ART. These holistic getaways are designed to help couples deal with the emotional and physical aspects of their fertility issues through relaxation techniques, Traditional Chinese Medicine, diet, yoga, massage, exercise, art therapy, and herbal supplements.

According to a study conducted at Harvard University and reported in the Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology in 1993, the level of depression and anxiety experienced by individuals struggling with infertility is equal to that of patients diagnosed with cancer and HIV. Research has also shown a causal relationship between stress and infertility, leading some experts to believe that stress reduction techniques may increase the chance of conceiving naturally or with ART.

Fertility retreats are based on the belief that there is no separation between the mind and the body; one affects the other. Therefore, stress, depression, and anxiety affect the physical body as well as the mind, and when that anxiety is focused on reproductive health, it can impede fertility. Proponents of these retreats believe that by teaching participants relaxation techniques and applying other holistic methods, the fertility issues can be resolved.

Many clinics and organizations offer several different retreats, depending on the participants' specific fertility issue. For example, there are general fertility programs for couples; an adhesion release program for women who suffer from endometriosis, abdominal adhesions and fallopian tube obstruction; and even a pregnancy support program for women who succeed in conceiving to ensure the best condition for sustaining the pregnancy.

A fertility retreat can help you:

  • Understand the mind-body connection with infertility
  • Gain body awareness and learn relaxation techniques
  • Apply cognitive restructuring to reframe thoughts with realism and hope
  • Learn fertile health and wellness recommendations
  • Develop coping strategies to deal with difficult situations
  • Gain a support system by meeting others struggling with infertility
  • Reconnect as a loving couple
  • Emerge better prepared to face whatever you decide is the next step in your family-building

By the end of the retreat, participants report feeling more relaxed, a greater sense of control over their fertility problems and their ability to deal with it, and a general improved sense of well-being. Leaders of the retreats believe they work because the curriculum and methods address the individual's attitude and behavior toward their problem, not just the physical aspects.

The Journal of the American Medical Women's Association reported in 1999 that within six months of being taught mind/body relaxation techniques, 42 percent of the women in the study were able to conceive. Additionally, these women were able to affectively decrease their levels of stress, anxiety and depression. Another study concluded that 55 percent of women who completed Harvard University's mind/body workshop conceived within six months of finishing the program, compared with only 20 percent who did not take the program.

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Featured Sites:

Cord Blood Registry
March of Dimes
Susan G. Komen

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