Trying to Conceive? Try Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

According to a study funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Mental Health, pregnancy rates are higher among infertile women who receive cognitive-behavioral therapy or participate in a support group than among women who receive routine care.

Dr. A.D. Domar and colleagues at Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, studied 185 women who had been trying to conceive for one to two years. The researchers randomly assigned each woman to receive routine care, to attend 10 sessions of group therapy, or to attend 10 support group meetings. "(Cognitive-behavioral) sessions included relaxation training, numerous stress-management strategies, and nutritional and exercise advice," Domar's team reported. "(Support) sessions focused on different aspects of the infertility experience, including the impact of infertility on self-esteem, marriage, job, and family."

Of the 112 women who completed the study, 25 received routine care, 46 received cognitive-behavioral therapy, and 41 attended support group meetings. The investigators determined that, within one year, 28%, 76.1% and 68.3 percent of the women in these groups became pregnant, respectively. "There appears to be a connection between psychological interventions and viable pregnancies in infertile women," Domar's group concludes in a meeting abstract. "This study supports the complexity of the relationship between stress and infertility."

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