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Are Spa Treatments and Fertility Retreats Worth the Expense?


by Rachel Lehmann-Haupt, Jan. 21, 2010

The Tiffany Kim Institute, a medical wellness spa in Chicago, has started to offer a “Fertility Boot Camp,” that promises participants a variety of aids to help ready their “bodies, minds and spirits” for fertility. The one day retreat advertises its ability to “whip your eggs into shape” and costs $195, which includes advice and consultation with an acupuncturist, a reproductive endocrinologist (fertility doctor), a pre-natal yoga instructor, a personal trainer, and a nutritionist. “People are busy and we wanted to create a retreat for women to get a lot of information in one sitting so they can have tools and information to improve and preserve their fertility,” says Jeanie Bussel, the spa’s director of Oriental Medicine.

The Fertility Boot Camp is part of a growing trend at spas -- both medical and traditional -- and wellness centers that is targeting a market of older, well-heeled women who are trying to conceive. The question remains, however, whether paying for fertility spa treatments or wellness advice is really going to help you get pregnant – especially when factors like age are involved. Are these spas worth a visit?

Google “spa treatments for fertility” and a plethora of relaxation-focused options appear that also include luxurious fertility boosting travel packages. For example, the Becoming Mom Pregnancy Spa in Mason, Ohio, offers want-to-be mothers a luxurious robe, slippers, and a “pre-conception massage.” Other spas that offer fertility-related services include Peaceful Beginnings in Greensboro, North Carolina and the Santa Monica Fertility Clinic in California, which combines fertility treatments with holistic medicine.

And if you’re looking for a longer getaway, hotel spas such as The Tides Riviera Maya feature the Ritual de Fertiladad, The Rosewood in Little Dix Bay offers Fertility Reflexology and Fertility Yoga , and there is the Program for Infertility at the Raj Ayurvedic Spa in Iowa.

Even though there are a number of studies that show that acupuncture helps infertility treatment and some studies have shown that stress can contribute to ovarian aging and lower IVF success rates, the majority of infertility is traditionally related to fallopian tube damage, endometriosis, hormonal imbalances, or fibroids, according to The Mayo Clinic.

“There is no proof that stress relief does anything more than . . . relieve stress!,” says Dr. Edward Marut, an RE with Fertility Centers of Illinois. “I tell my patients that these therapies have a fertility-neutral effect, but if it helps you deal more positively with the entire situation, then do it. I also emphasize that the only mind-body connection seems to be a positive outlook! Patients who are optimistic have better outcomes than those who are not.”

A study published in the October, 2009 issue of Fertility and Sterility did conclude that women who worked on “letting go” had higher rates of success in IVF. The study concluded that “in the context of a low-control situation such as IVF treatment, women who try to be actively in control may pay a higher price in terms of pregnancy probabilities.”

So a week in the Caribbean or even an hour massage may be worth the cost after all.