Meditation: a free treatment to improve fertility, mental wellbeing, and support a healthy pregnancy
In order to support fertility treatment outcomes, we look at all available options that have been studied and recommend them to patients when appropriate. This includes fertility acupuncture, hormone therapies, nutraceuticals and botanicals, and a lot more. A commonly overlooked area of treatment which can help improve fertility treatment outcomes is meditation. Meditation and yoga have spread through the World and are widely available to us.
The practice of meditation can be traced back millennia in certain countries, such as India, where meditation was believed to be exclusively practiced by renunciates and Yogis. But its application in modern medicine has quickly grown over the last few years as recent research has shown it can improve various health outcomes.
Mental Health and Pregnancy
According to a new research paper published in Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics on July 15th, 2020 a preexisting mental health condition (depression) is linked to an increase in the risk of miscarriage and gestational diabetes. And the development of depression during pregnancy has been linked to an increase in the risk of preterm labour and low birth weight.
Why is mental health a concern with infertility?
According to research published in 2020, which confirmed previous findings, the diagnosis of infertility and the treatment process than ensues presents significant emotional and mental challenges. The areas of stress associated with infertility include:
Diagnosis of Infertility
Infertility identity crisis
Dealing with infertility treatments
Low treatment success rates
Determining best treatment options
Uncertainty associated with fertility treatment outcomes
Adverse effects from fertility medications and treatments
If your medical history includes a mental health disorder, the chances of a relapse increases when dealing with infertility and chances of developing a mental health disorder can increase for those without a medical history due to potentially chronically elevated stress levels.
How does meditation help prepare for fertility treatments?
Meditation is an absolutely free treatment option that can be included in your preparation plan for upcoming fertility treatments or a possible treatment option to support you if you are pregnant. A review published in 2020 evaluated for the impacts of meditation (and mindfulness based therapies) on fertility, and it revealed that meditating at least 3x a week was helpful in reducing rates of anxiety, depression, anger, and improved quality of life. It improved the ability to manage distressing thoughts and emotions and to 'switch off' the 'false-fear alarm' (an emotional reaction of fear, anxiety, and increased stress that may be disproportionate to a presented challenge) in day-to-day living.
How does meditation support fertility?
The observed correlations in improved fertility treatment outcomes have been hypothesized to be a result of biological changes that occur in the body as a result of the practice of mediation. Some of the main mechanisms include improved hormonal secretions and balance from the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis, reduced spasms of the Fallopian tubes (which affect follicle transport), reduction in anovulatory cycles (luteinized unruptured follicle syndrome), reduced cortisol and prolactin hormone levels, and improved sleep quality (helpful in reducing the harmful impact of chronic stress on the body and potentially hormone balance).
Additional therapies to support mental wellbeing:
The use of various supplements, herbal formulas, acupuncture have also been shown to help support improved emotional regulation and improved mood. Some of these therapies are used to help support patients with chronic elevated stress levels prior to fertility treatments and some during pregnancy. It is important to always work with a licensed naturopathic doctor before starting any therapies to determine what is safe to take for you to take for your condition.
This article is in no way a replacement for medical advice or medical care, it is advised that anyone concerned about their Health should speak with their Naturopathic Doctor. Please discuss with your healtcare provider and only make changes to your medications regimen if recommended by your doctor and under their guidance.
Patel, A., Sharma, P. V., & Kumar, P. (2020). Application of mindfulness-based psychological interventions in infertility. Journal of Human Reproductive Sciences, 13(1), 3.
Montagnoli, C., Zanconato, G., Cinelli, G., Tozzi, A. E., Bovo, C., Bortolus, R., & Ruggeri, S. (2020). Maternal mental health and reproductive outcomes: A scoping review of the current literature. Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics.