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Studies and Resources

Studies about Hypnosis for Fertility

References on the relationship between stress and fertility

Domar, A., Clapp, D., Slawsby, E., Dusek, J., Kessel, B., Freizinger, M (2000) Impact of group psychological interventions on pregnancy rates in infertile women. Fertility and Sterility. Vol. 73, no.4 April

Domar, A., Zuttermeister, P., Friedman, R (1999) Distress and Conception in Infertile Women: A complementary approach. Journal of the American Medical Women's Association. Vol. 54, No.4

Demyttenaere K, Bonte L, Gheldof M, Veraeke M, Meuleman C, Vanderschuerem D, et al. (1998) Coping style and depression level influence outcome in vitro fertilization. Fertility and Sterility. 69:1026-1033

Domar, A (1996) Stress and Infertility in Women: Is there a relationship? Division of Behavioural Medicine, Deaconess Hospital Mind/Body Institute, Harvard Medical School.Psychotherapy in Practice. 2/2:17-2

Domar, A., Zuttermeister, P., Friedman, R (1993) The Psychological impact of infertility: a comparison with patients with other medical conditions

Domar, A., Seibel, M., & Benson, H (1990) The Mind/Body Program for Infertility: A new treatment program for women with infertility. Fertility and Sterility. 53, 246-249

Wasser, S., Sewal, G., & Soules, M. (1993)Psychosocial stress as a cause of infertility. Fertility and Sterility. 59, 685-689

Pennebaker, J., Kiecolt-Glasser, J & Glasser, R. (1987) Disclosure of traumas and immune function. Health implications for psychotherapy.Journal of consulting and Clinical Psychology. 56, 239-245

Books by Alice Domar, PhD

CONQUERING INFERTILITY, A Mind/Body guide to enhancing fertility and coping with infertility. By Alice D Domar and Alice Lesch Kelly. Published by Viking (2001)

SIX STEPS TO INCREASED FERTILITY: An integrated Medical and Mind/Body Program to promote conception. A Harvard Medical School Book. By Robert L. Barbieri M.D, Alice D. Domar and Kevin R Loughlin, M.D. Published by Simon & Schuster (2000)

HEALING MIND, HEALTHY WOMEN, using the Mind Body Connection to manage stress and take control of your life. By Alice D Domar PhD and Henry Dreher. Published by Delta trade Paperbacks (19

Israeli study proves hypnosis can double IVF success rate

By David Brinn August 22, 2004

If Israeli professor Eliahu Levitas has his way, women undergoing IVF treatment will all have the benefit of a hypnotist at their bedside.

According to Levitas's team from Soroka Hospital in Beersheva, hypnosis can double the success of IVF treatment. Levitas's study of 185 women found that 28% of women in the group who were hypnotized became pregnant, compared with 14% of those who were not.

6.1 million American women and their partners experience infertility, according to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine. Of those about 5% choose in-vitro fertilization treatment.

IVF is a method of assisted reproduction in which the man's sperm and the woman's egg (oocyte) are combined in a laboratory dish, where fertilization occurs. The resulting embryo is then transferred to the uterus to develop naturally. Usually, two to four embryos are transferred with each cycle.

According to the latest statistics, the success rate for IVF is similar to the 20% chance that a healthy, reproductively normal couple has of achieving a pregnancy that results in a live born baby in any given month. IVF was successfully used for the first time in the United States in 1981. Since then, more than 114,000 babies in the US have been born as a result of the technique.

The Israeli study - the first of its kind - was presented last month by Levitas to the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology conference in Berlin. According to Levitas, the findings will be published shortly in an American medical journal.

The Israeli researchers were looking to see if hypnosis could make the embryo transfer stage of IVF more successful.

"We gave hypnosis to a group of our patients during the most stressful part of IVF treatment - the transferring of embryos into the uterus," Levitas told ISRAEL21c. "It's a crucial point of the treatment, and the point in which the embryos comes in contact with the womb of the woman. It all builds up to that special moment, which is not very painful but is very stressful."

According to Levitas, that stress can cause complications during the transfer that can put the procedure at risk.

"Studies have been done before which claim that during this short period, there's so much stress in the woman's body that it may induce contractions, albeit tiny ones, which may interrupt or even expel the embryos from the uterus at the same moment we're introducing them," he said.

"Other techniques have been employed like relaxants and tranquilizers, but nothing has worked well. On the other hand, hypnosis has been known for many years for producing central relaxation, and has even been used before surgical interventions to calm patients," said Levitas.

Women undergoing IVF were assessed to see if they were suitable to be hypnotized.

"Those women that were interested signed a consent form and underwent hypnosis by Soroka's Dr. Aldo Parmet, a gyncelogist who's licensed to perform hypnosis. All the patients were interviewed prior and Dr. Parmet established which patients where more likely to be hypnotized," said Levitas.

Eighty-nine women were then given hypnosis while their embryos were implanted. Some underwent more than one cycle of IVF treatment. Ninety-six other women underwent embryo transfers without hypnosis. All received one cycle each.

The results showed that the hypnotized women resulted in double the amount of pregnancies of those that weren't hypnotized.

"Performing embryo transfer under hypnosis may significantly contribute to an increased clinical pregnancy rate," Levitas told the conference in Berlin.

Given logistical and financial constraints, Levitas sees no reason why hypnotism shouldn't be an option for all woman undergoing IVF treatment, and he hopes the publication of the Soroka study will raise enough interest to spark continued investigations of the approach.

"The bottom line is I think it's a good thing, it will work. Patients should be given the option if the facilities are available."

Studies about Hypnosis for Childbirth

Br J Obstet Gynaecol. 1993 Mar;100(3):221-6.

Hypnosis: practical applications and theoretical considerations in normal labour.

Jenkins MW, Pritchard MH.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the effects of hypnotherapy on the first and second stages of labour in a large group of pregnant women. DESIGN: A semi-prospective case control study in which women attending antenatal clinics were invited to undergo hypnotherapy. SUBJECTS: One hundred twenty-six primigravid women with 300 age matched controls, and 136 parous women having their second baby with 300 age matched controls. Only women who had spontaneous deliveries were included. SETTING: Aberdare District Maternity Unit, Mid Glamorgan, Wales. INTERVENTION: Six sessions of hypnotherapy given by a trained medical hypnotherapist during pregnancy. OUTCOME MEASURES: Analgesic requirements, duration of first and second stages of labour. RESULTS: The mean lengths of the first stage of labour in the primigravid women was 6.4 h after hypnosis and 9.3 h in the control group (P < 0.0001); the mean lengths of the second stage were 37 min and 50 min, respectively (P < 0.001). In the parous women the corresponding values were 5.3 h and 6.2 h (P < 0.01); and 24 and 22 min (ns). The use of analgesic agents was significantly reduced (P < 0.001) in both hypnotised groups compared with their controls. CONCLUSION: In addition to demonstrating the benefits of hypnotherapy, the study gives some insight into the relative proportions of mechanical and psychological components involved in the longer duration of labour in primigravid women.

J Fam Pract 2001;50:441-443.

Hypnosis May Reduce Pain and Complications of Labor

New York (Reuter Health) Jun 13 According to the report, only 1 in 22 patients in the hypnosis group remained in the hospital longer than 2 days after delivery, compared with 8 of 20 patients who did not learn self-hypnosis. None of the patients in the hypnosis group needed surgical intervention, compared with 60% of those in the non-hypnosis group.

"This study provides empirical data demonstrating that the use of hypnosis in preparing pregnant women for labor and delivery reduces the risk of complications, decreases the need for medical intervention - and promotes safer, more comfortable delivery for mother and child," Dr. Schauble told Reuters Health.

Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 1990, Vol. 58, No. 5, 525-530

Improved Obstetric Outcomes Using Hypnotic Analgesia and Skill Mastery Combined with Childbirth Education

Theresa M. Hammon and Michael T. Hynan University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Timoth E Tyre Pain Clinic, Waukesha Memorial Hospital Waukesha, Wisconsin

The benefits of hypnotic analgesia as an adjunct to childbirth education were studied in 60 nulliparous women. Subjects were divided into high and low hypnotic susceptibility groups before receiving 6 sessions of childbirth education and skill mastery using an ischemic pain task. Half of the subjects in each group received a hypnotic induction at the beginning of each session; the remaining control subjects received relaxation and breathing exercises typically used in childbirth education. Both hypnotic subjects and highly susceptible subjects reported reduced pain. Hypnotically prepared births had shorter Stage 1 labors, less medication, higher Apgar scores, and more frequent spontaneous deliveries than control subjects' births. Highly susceptible hypnotically treated women had lower depression scores after birth than women in the other three groups. We propose that repeated skill mastery facilitated the effectiveness of hypnosis in our study.


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