Behavioral, Psychological, and Hypnotherapeutic Treatment for Psychogenic Infertility

by Dr. Simcha Sheldon

This article appeared in “Connections” magazine,Israel. June 1, 2006

Behavioral, Psychological, and Hypnotherapeutic Treatment for Psychogenic Infertility

By Dr. Simcha Sheldon

Psychogenic infertility is a condition in which psychological factors interfere with the body’s ability to make pregnancy possible. Although it accounts for about 5% of all infertility cases, for those in this group, there are effective psychological strategies that can help. Many people know of couples who after years of unsuccessful medical intervention, decide to adopt, and afterwards have a surprise – natural birth.

It is truly amazing how our minds can affect our bodies. Effective caring psycho-emotional guidance, support, and/or behavioral therapy can be very helpful both for getting pregnant and for dealing with related problems, such as marital strife, low self esteem, deep frustration, anxiety, depression, difficulty relating to others (parents, children, friends), sexual dysfunction, etc. Couples need to prevent the difficulties of trying to get pregnant from hurting either of the two individuals who joined together in love and marriage.

The good news is that one can learn to positively influence one’s thoughts, emotions and physiology by approaching this life challenge in a healthy, helpful, productive, positive, and realistic manner.

The Mind-Body Connection

High levels of stress or depression can have harmful effects on the reproductive systems. Conscious and unconscious conflicts, fears, and guilt can also affect physiological processes. It is often difficult to know which came first – infertility, stress, or psychological difficulties – however, one does affect the other, in a negative vicious circle, which can be corrected.

Stress can cause infertility. The hypothalamus regulates stress responses and sex hormones. Excessive stress can suppress the menstrual cycle (e.g.“marathon runner’s amenorrhea”); cause an ovulation or irregular menstrual cycles; and alter uterine blood flow. Excessive stress can reduce sperm count, suppress libido, cause erectile dysfunction, and result in a reduction in the frequency of intimate relations.

Psychological difficulties can also contribute to infertility, such as fears (e.g. that the child’s arrival could create marital conflict; or fear of the process of pregnancy, labor and childbirth itself); guilt (e.g. negative sexual experiences such as incest, abuse); and strong conflicts with one’s mother. Also, many women start overeating in response to the stress of infertility, thereby increasing fat cells, which can disrupt the hormonal balance.

Suggestions: There are easy and enjoyable ways of reducing stress and anxiety hypnosis, self-hypnosis, biofeedback, visualization, meditation, etc. If one is suffering from psycho-emotional or relationship difficulties, a specialist who is effective and caring can help. One can either resolve or eliminate difficulties or one can learn to relate to them in a way that is helpful and healthy.

For example, one of my patients realized, through hypnosis, that she unconsciously did something that interfered with her body’s ability to ovulate. Yes, she did get pregnant and had a successful childbirth experience, Baruch Hashem!

Hopefully, with Hashem’s blessings, and with doing all that is reasonable, a couple can enjoy bringing additional children into the world and into their family.

Dr. Simcha Sheldon is an Israeli-licensed Clinical Psychologist, Medical Psychologist, and Hypnotherapist, and is a U.S. licensed Marriage, Family, and Child Therapist, in practice for 25 years. He practices in Hashmonaim and Modiin.

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Important for you to know

Winning the struggle with eating and food can be relatively easy if you go about the right way.

The way that I help people does not require a “die-et” – in fact you don’t need to feel that you are giving up anything important.

In fact you will gain – self-esteem, self-mastery, increased health, enhanced appearance and extra social benefits.

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