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Research and articles                                                                              

Chronic Stress and Infertility

"I believe that depression- often in response to chronic stress- can indeed play a part in infertility. For some infertile women, depression may be an initial trigger, which then feeds a cycle of increasing emotional upset that further reduces their chances for conception. In both instances, depression may hinder one or several biological factors crucial to fertility including maturation of the egg, ovulation and implantation. When we effectively treat women's stress and subsequent depression, we stand a chance of helping them become fertile.

Alice Domar, Healing Mind, Healthy Woman New York: Henry Holt, 1996: page 238

Click the links below for word documents featuring published research on Reflexology &:

·               Gynaecological problems

·               The Heart / circulatory system

·               Digestive problems

·               Migraine & Headaches

·               Diabetes

·               Chest problems / Pneumonia

·               Post Surgery

·               Cancer – Pain relief / quality of life

·               Stress in the workplace  

Stress Ovarian Angst, Lois Verbrugge (July/August 1994)

Conclusion: Some anxious monkeys in North Carolina are showing medical researchers just how damaging stress can be to women's health. It goes straight to the ovaries. Like humans, monkeys show signs of stress physically and behaviorally when having to organize their social life. In the monkey world, it's a matter of jockeying for social position in groups. The stressed-out simians oversecrete stress-related hormones in their brains, which in turn throw their ovaries into hormonal disarray. They not only may become infertile, but they are at higher risk for osteoporosis and heart disease. These monkeys have reduced concentrations of estrogen and other hormones in their menstrual cycles, reports Carol Shivel, Ph.D., associate professor of comparative medicine at Bowman Gray School of Medicine. The concentrations can be low enough that the uterus couldn't support a fertilized egg or so low that a person never ovulates.

The role of Reflexology with Counseling

A reflexologist and a counsellor worked with a total of 74 people (49 received reflexology and 25 received counselling).

Physical improvements underpinned feelings of enhanced mental/emotional well-being for many participants. The researchers observed that the release of tension through being able to talk led to greater relaxation, was found to alleviate headaches and improve sleep.

With the exception of 2 participants in the reflexology sample, there was a reported increase in relaxation levels and a decrease in anxiety levels.

The participants developed an increased awareness of tension in the body and an increased ability to change that state, e.g. they consciously altered their breathing and their posture.

Many participants reported improved emotional status. Fear, worry and despair reported at the beginning of the study had changed into more positive and fulfilling emotions.

Perhaps the most interesting finding of the study was that the participants tended to make greater progress when reflexology and counselling were offered together, and the report recommended greater integration of the therapies.

Reflexology and Counselling: an evaluation of a complementary health care project at Worthing Mind. September 1997.

Research study : Influence of reflexology on the pregnancy rate in patients who undergo assisted reproduction therapy, Wolfgang E. Paulus, M.D. et al (Fertility and Sterility, Vol.77, No.4, April 2002)

Conclusion: Reflexology seems to be a useful tool for improving pregnancy rate after ART. (Fertility Sterility® 2002; 77:721-4. ©2002 by American Society for Reproductive Medicine.)

Who says you're too old?

"It's not hard to understand the fears surrounding conception. Yes, the statistics show that a woman's fertility declines as she ages, but you must keep in mind that these numbers may have nothing to do with you. In fact, over the last 20 years, births to women over age 40 have increased by 50%.... And in 1991, 92,000 women in the U.S. over age 40 had babies. That number continues to rise. A lot of forty-something women don't realize how fertile they are, which may account for the fact that they are second only to women ages 18-25 in frequency of abortions. Who says your eggs are too old? Furthermore, you should know that the vast majority of babies born to women in their forties are healthy. And in healthy women, the vast majority of pregnancies are completed without a hitch."

-Christiane Northrup, M.D., Health Wisdom for Women (July 1997)

Immunological changes and stress are associated with different implantation rates in patients undergoing in vitro fertilization-embryo transfer. Dr. Andrea Gallinelli et al (Fertility and Sterility, Vol.76, No.1, July 2001)  

Conclusion: A prolonged condition of stress, which causes a decreased ability to adapt and a transitory anxious state, is associated with high amounts of activated T cells in the peripheral blood. Such a condition, in turn, is associated with a reduced implantation rate in women undergoing IVF-ET. (Fertility Sterility® 2001; 76:85-91. ©2001 by American Society for Reproductive Medicine.)  

Stress and marital satisfaction among women before and after their first cycle of in vitro fertilization and intracytoplasmic sperm injection: Christianne M. Verhaak, M.Sc. et al (Fertility and Sterility, Vol.76, No.3, September 2001)  

Conclusion: Differences in emotional status between pregnant and non-pregnant women were present before treatment and became more apparent after the first IVF and ICSI cycle. There were no differences in emotional status between the women who underwent IVF and those who underwent ICSI. (Fertility Sterility® 2001; 76:525-31. ©2001 by American Society for Reproductive Medicine.)

Stress and Reproductive Function

"Dr. Sarah L. Berga, associate professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences and Psychiatry at Magee-Women's Hospital and the University of Pittsburgh, has received a federal (NIH) grant to study the relationship between stress and irregular menstrual cycles. The aim of the study is to understand more about what kinds of stress interfere with the brain signal to the ovary. There must be healthy eggs and sperm for conception to occur. Stress can reduce the brain signal to the ovary. When this happens, ovulation either stops or becomes infrequent. Generally, this becomes apparent when menstrual cycles stop, or by a change in their patterns. If ovulation ceases, or is impaired, infertility can result."

-Magee - Woman's Hospital, Womancare (July, 1997)

A prospective study of stress among women undergoing in vitro fertilization or gamete intrafallopian transfer, Hillary Klonoff-Cohen, Ph.D. et al (Fertility and Sterility, Vol.76, No.4, October 2001)

Conclusion: Baseline (acute and chronic) stress affected biologic end points (i.e. number of oocytes retreived and fertilized), as well as pregnancy, live birth delivery, birth weight, and multiple gestations, whereas (procedural) stress only influenced biologic end points. (Fertility Sterility® 2001; 76:675-87. ©2001 by American Society for Reproductive Medicine.)

Impact of psychological interventions on pregnancy rates in infertile women, Alice D. Domar, Ph.D. et al (Fertility and Sterility, Vol.73, No.4, April 2000)

Conclusion: Psychological interventions appear to lead to increased pregnancy rates in infertile women. (Fertility Sterility® 2000; 73:805-12. ©2000 by American Society for Reproductive Medicine.)

Behaviorally induced reproductive compromise in women and men, Sarah L. Berga, M.D.

Conclusion: Functional hypothalmic hypogonadism is a clinical example of how attitudes, moods, and behaviors can have endocrine consequences and cause definable reproductive disorders. Although a link between brain states and gonadal function has long been hypothesized, only recently have we been able to specify some of the mechanisms mediating this relationship. This understanding not only has concrete clinical implications, but it also expands our appreciation of what it means to be healthy. Health truly depends upon developing healthy attitudes and healthy behaviors. Misattributions, negative images of self and others, unrealistic expectations, and emotional disharmony can cause neuroendocrine havoc. There are many religions and philosophical orientations that aim to guide us in the endeavor to be spiritually healthy. Whatever the route, we must seek to develop healthy mind-sets that permit us to meet life's innumerable challenges without overwhelming our coping mechanisms and without activating a chronic stress response. If we expect and learn to cope well with adversity, then we likely will have more than just good reproductive functioning.

Neuropeptides: The Emotions and Bodymind, Candace Pert, Ph.D. (Advances, Vol. 3 No. 3 Summer 1986) Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3180

Conclusion: Neuropeptides and their receptors are a key to understanding how mind and body are interconnected and how emotions can be manifested throughout the body. (Dr. Candace Pert, a biochemist, was among the first to show opiate drugs like morphine and heroin can bind to cells in the brain. This finding, along with the discovery two years later that the body produces its own morphine-like chemicals called endorphins, has opened up a whole new approach to investigating how the brain controls emotion.)


Reflexology & fertility

The effect of involuntary childlessness

Fertility & counseling

Reflexology in Pregnancy & Child birth 
part 1
(pdf file)  
part 2 (pdf file)

SOS – Reflexologists for a pregnant cause (word doc – Interact worldwide doc)

TheWholeU – reviewed on The Web ! View London Website

“Reflexology – can it aid fertility ?”

“Is Reflexology the new cure for infertility?”

10 Ways to boost your fertility

Complete guide to checking your breasts

Natural cures for Impotence


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