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Mind-Body therapies have become less “alternative” and more mainstream as studies reveal the benefits of stress relief on the body. As a result, more and more physicians are suggesting stress relief to parents-to-be, especially women who need to calm their mind and bodies in an attempt to relax reproductive organs.
Infertility is Stressing You Out
Fertility and Sterility (The Journal of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine) cited 10 studies proving distress on the body lowered pregnancy rates, particularly when undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF). Stress has also been shown to affect egg maturation and release, and in men may affect sperm count and motility, and may cause erectile dysfunction. Infertility itself may also lead to stress, creating a vicious cycle. One study found that 40 percent of women experiencing infertility were depressed or anxious.
Practicing the Relaxation Response
Meditation has been proven to reduce stress. One mind-body technique in particular is the “relaxation response,” which takes practitioners into a state of deep rest that is the extreme opposite of the body in distress. Founded by a physician and Harvard Medical School professor, Dr. Herbert Benson, relaxation can be achieved through a series of simple steps performed over 10 to 20 minutes. This state of relaxation decreases metabolism, slows heart rate, relaxes muscles, lowers blood pressure, and slows breathing. The key during the meditation process is to think of nothing but relaxing the body and breathing in and out, and can be achieved through the following steps:
- Sit quietly in a comfortable position
- Close your eyes
- Relax your muscles beginning with your feet and working up to your head
- Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth saying the word, “one”
- When time is up, sit quietly for several minutes with eyes closed, and then with eyes open.