A group of reproductive medical specialists from Indiana have come up with new research which suggests that infertility caused by stress factors can be reversed through various forms of talk counselling.
According to mental health counsellors, many couples unable to conceive anticipate the holidays with dread. “For them, the end of the year becomes another marker in their inability to have children,” said Deidra T. Rausch, PhD, LMFT, an Indiana counsellor specialising in infertility. “Plus, the seasonal emphasis on family can become a painful reminder of their ongoing struggles.”
Fertility physicians believe that reducing stress is key for many infertility patients, with potential for both mental and physical benefits. On the physical side, stress signals the pituitary gland that the body is in trouble, said Laura Reuter, MD, medical director at Midwest Fertility Specialists.
“This can slow the release of the luteinising hormone, which in turn triggers ovulation,” Reuter said. “Even if ovulation occurs, a shortage of the luteinising hormone could mean a lower level of progesterone, a hormone necessary to nourish and sustain an embryo’s implantation and early development.”
Research from Emory University presented at a major European fertility conference in Prague showed that stress-related infertility could be reversed with talk therapy.
Among those who participated in a course of cognitive behaviour therapy and relaxation techniques, six of the eight women regained full fertility, with one showing some signs of restored ovarian function and two later became pregnant within two months. The eight women who received no treatment, one recovered her fertility while another showed signs of ovarian function.