A research team from Boston IVF, a private, academically affiliated infertility center, in Waltham, MA conducted a randomized controlled study with 143 women, 40 years old or less, to determine if a mind-body program, delivered in a group, would yield higher pregnancy rates than treatment as usual.

Subjects were randomized to a ten-session mind/body program (MB) or a control condition and followed for two IVF cycles.  Components of the mind/body program consisted of teaching 10 different relaxation techniques (breath focus, body scan, meditation, mindfulness, several kinds of imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, autogenic training and hatha yoga); a variety of stress management skills, with a cognitive-behavioral focus; segments on lifestyle modification, with special focus on alcohol and caffeine consumption, exercise and limits on nicotine exposure; modules on the safety and efficacy of various integrative therapies; group support; partners attending 3 of the 10 group sessions; and 2 peer counselors supporting the group facilitator.
Logistical difficulties and eagerness to begin treatment prevented getting most subjects on board before the first IVF cycle.   Only 9% of the MB participants had attended at least one-half of their sessions at cycle 1 start.  Pregnancy rates for cycle 1 were 43% for all subjects.
By the start of the 2nd cycle, 76% of the MB subjects had attended at least one-half of their sessions. Pregnancy rates for cycle 2 were 52% for the experimental group, as compared to 20% for the controls.

The investigators conclude that group participation in the Mind/Body sessions was associated with increased pregnancy rates for cycle 2, prior to which most subjects had attended at least half of their sessions.

Citation:  Domar AD, Rooney KL, Wiegand B, Orav EJ, Alper MM, Berger BM, Nikolovski J. Impact of a group mind/body intervention on pregnancy rates in IVF patients. Fertility and Sterility. 2011 Jun; 95 (7):2269-73. Epub 2011 Apr 15. [email protected]