Stress & Infertility

By Kathy Fountain, Licensed Mental Health Counselor and founder of the Mind Body Program of Tampa Bay

“Just relax, you’ll get pregnant!” Has anyone ever said that to you in the course of your fertility journey? Chances are they have because there has always been a perceived relationship between relaxation and getting pregnant. Anyone who has been through it knows that infertility causes stress – but is the opposite true? Does stress cause infertility?

The connection is still not completely understood and remains a subject of debate. Infertility is a huge source of stress: It can create disruption in your relationships with friends, family and your partner/husband; can be physically uncomfortable; can be costly financially; can put you out of synch with friends who have children; can take the fun out of intimacy; and can make you feel like a failure.

But can all that stress add up to failure in trying to conceive? Several new studies attempt to reverse that belief by showing that women who are stressed and anxious prior to IUI or IVF are no less likely to have a baby. Many experts feel women should stop feeling pressured to be a “good patient” and “not worry” that they will cause their treatment to fail. On the other hand, the latest research in the journal Fertility and Sterility (2012) finds that women who try IVF and fail may see their mental health suffer, and be more likely to experience anxiety and depression in the months afterward.

In addition, randomized/controlled studies conducted for 20 years by Alice Domar, Ph.D., Director of Mind/Body Services at Boston IVF, have consistently found that women who dramatically reduce their levels of stress through structured Mind Body programs frequently have significantly higher rates of IVF success. This isn’t “just relax,” this is a vigorous 10-week program that teaches stress management, relaxation response, yoga and tools to restructure negative thinking. In addition, these mind body classes can help counter the impact of stress from failed attempts at pregnancy, and actually reverse its adverse effects. Many studies (Fertility and Sterility Feb. 2004) have found that the No. 1 reason women drop out of treatment is not because they were discouraged by their physician, but rather because they said they couldn’t handle the stress!

All the more reason to reduce your stress while trying to conceive, put yourself in control of the process instead of it being in control of you, and live a more joyful, peaceful life.

There are Mind Body classes offered in Tampa Bay modeled on the exact programs initially created by Dr. Domar at Harvard and still ongoing today at Boston IVF. For more information, go to this web address: www.kathyfountainferility.com or call 813-833-8393.

You can also find information on Kathy Fountain’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/FountainFertility

Kathy Fountain is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the state of Florida (FL#7630) and National Board Certified Counselor specializing in fertility and infertility issues. Her practice includes counseling individuals and couples who are experiencing the stresses that accompany fertility issues.

Kathy also works with doctors, lawyers and agencies specializing in reproductive technologies, and is experienced in evaluating and counseling those looking for fertility help who are considering IVF, third-party reproduction, egg donation, sperm donation, embryo donation, and surrogacy. Her practice is located in Tampa.

Kathy is known in the Tampa Bay area as a long-time former news anchor and talk show host for WTVT Fox 13. She has published articles and is a highly respected speaker on the topic of stress and infertility.

She is a member of the Mental Health Professionals Group within the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. She is a certified professional instructor of the Mind Body Program for Infertility, having trained with Alice D. Domar, Ph.D., at the Mind Body Center for Woman’s Health in Boston, Massachusetts. Ms. Fountain is the founder of the Mind Body Program for Infertility in Tampa Bay.

Ms. Fountain also is one of the facilitators for the Tampa chapter of Resolve, the national infertility support group.