Psychogenic Infertility

Hypnotherapy notes

The mind and the body are inseparable. They are part of the same "machine" and influence each other.

If there is no physical cause for infertility a psychological element may well be present. Hypnotherapy targets the underlying psychological causes and allows the mind / body balance to return to normal.

Where a physical cause is present psychological factors could still be playing a role. For example a couple could be trying so hard to conceive that they both become stressed. When they "give-up trying" their levels of stress return to normal and they may be surprised that they seem to conceive without any effort at all.

Many couples believe that it is easy to have a child and are often surprised when the woman does not fall pregnant as soon as they start trying for a baby.

The chance of getting pregnant in each menstrual cycle (each month) is calculated to be one in four for an average fertile couple. However, it may take a long time to conceive, even if everything is normal.

Eight out of every ten women trying for a baby will fall pregnant within the first year. Women who do become pregnant without any medical assistance generally do so within two years of trying.

It is common for couples to seek help and advice if there is difficulty conceiving. Overall, around 15 per cent (one in six) of all couples will seek help. The point at which they may want to seek help will depend on various factors. For example, if they are over 35 years of age or if they have any worrying symptoms, such as infrequent periods, the couple should seek help after about six months of trying.

What happens during normal conception?

The woman

Ovulation is the end of a complicated series of events leading to the release of an egg from the ovary. If that egg is fertilized by a sperm and implants in the lining of the womb (endometrium), a pregnancy has started.

All of a woman's eggs will already be present when she is born. From the early years of childhood, she starts to lose eggs, but it is calculated that a woman aged 50 still has about 1000 of her eggs left.

A woman's cycle begins with a hormonal signal from the pituitary gland at the base of the brain. It releases a follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), which stimulates the ovaries. FSH stimulates a group of about 20 follicles on the surface of the ovary to grow. Within the follicles are the developing eggs.

Another hormone, oestrogen, is produced by the ovary and in response to increasing oestrogen levels, the largest follicle continues to develop. This is why most pregnancies result in only a single baby.

Another hormone, luteinizing hormone (LH), also produced by the pituitary gland, causes the follicle in the ovary to release the egg. This release of the egg (or ovum) is called ovulation.

After ovulation, the empty follicle forms a structure called the corpus luteum which produces a hormone called progesterone. Levels of progesterone rise after ovulation and prepare the womb to receive a fertilized egg (embryo). Fertilization by a sperm, if this occurs, takes place in the Fallopian tube, which then moves the early embryo along towards the womb itself. If the egg is not fertilized, or the embryo does not implant in the womb, the progesterone levels fall and a period starts. The whole cycle then begins again.

The man

The man's role in conception is the production and ejaculation of sperm cells. To fertilise an egg, a man must be capable of producing adequate numbers of swimming (motile) sperm. Only a few of these sperm cells will in the end reach the egg, and only one will actually enter and fertilise it.

During puberty, the testes become active and start to produce sperm. From his teens until about the age of 70, a man will typically produce 5,000 sperm cells every minute. Ejaculation produces semen, which is a mixture of two per cent sperm cells and 98 per cent liquid produced by the glands in the testes. Production of sperm is under the control of FSH and LH, the same hormones that control the woman's fertility.

When are the chances of fertilization and conception greatest?

Fertilization only happens if intercourse takes place almost around the time of ovulation. Ovulation only takes place once in every menstrual cycle, which means that there are only a few days each month when a woman can fall pregnant. However, intercourse and ovulation don't need to be at exactly the same time as healthy sperm can survive for about 48 to 72 hours inside a woman's body and a woman's egg lives for about 12 to 24 hours after ovulation.

Fertility is therefore a result of sperm and egg meeting each other almost immediately after ovulation. Ovulation occurs 14 days before the onset of a period. This is reasonably predictable if the cycle is regular, but may be very unpredictable if the cycle is irregular.

What does fertility depend upon?

The hormone balance must be correct to ensure an egg develops and ovulates normally. Intercourse must take place during the fertile part of the cycle. There must be an adequate number of motile sperm and no mechanical barrier such as blocked Fallopian tubes, which may prevent sperm reaching the egg.

Impact of hypnosis during embryo transfer on the outcome of in vitro fertilization embryo transfer: a case-control study

AUTHOR(S): Levitas, E., Parmet, A., Lunenfeld, E., Bentov, Y., Burstein, E., Friger, M., Potashnik, G. DATE: April, 2006

DESIGN: Case-control clinical study

SUBJECTS: Infertile couples undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF)

OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether hypnosis during embryo transfer (ET) contributes to successful IVF/ET outcome.

INTERVENTIONS: 98 IVF/ET cycles with hypnosis during the ET procedure were matched with 96 regular IVF/ET cycles.

RESULTS: 52 clinical pregnancies were obtained out of 98 cycles (53.1%) with an implantation rate of 28% among hypnosis IVF/ET cycles, and 29 out of 96 (30.2%) clinical pregnancies and an implantation rate of 14.4% in the control cycles. The overall IVF program pregnancy rate for the same period was 32.1%. Logistic regression analysis emphasised the positive contribution of hypnosis to the IVF/ET conception rates.

CONCLUSIONS: Use of hypnosis during ET may significantly improve the IVF/ET cycle outcome in terms of increased implantation and clinical pregnancy rates. Furthermore, patients' attitude to the treatment was more favourable. SOURCE: Fertility and Sterility. At time of publication, article in press.





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