Can yoga really impact fertility?
A researcher at Harvard Medical School conducted a study that took infertile women (those who had been trying to get pregnant for at least a year) and placed some of them onto a 10-week mind/body program that included yoga, meditation, nutrition, exercise and help to change negative thought patterns. 55% of participants conceived within the first 12 months, compared to 20% of women in a control group.
Yoga is thought to improve the general reproductive health of women trying to conceive by increasing the blood flow to the pelvis, toning and strengthening the muscles that support reproductive organs, improving spinal alignment, enabling better circulation and improving the capacity and quality of respiration. It can also be said that the most powerful effect of a regular yoga practice on a person’s fertility is through the calming, restorative effects on the mind and body.
One of the most pervasive mind/body fertility challenges for couples undertaking fertility treatment includes stress and feeling out of control. Stress hormones generate chemicals in the body that weaken immunity and suppress fertility hormones which may impair conception. Yoga, because of its use of relaxation and breathing techniques provides an antidote to the negative emotional and physical impacts of stress, anger and depression resulting from infertility or fertility treatments.
Although there is very little direct evidence to suggest practising Yoga will guarantee pregnancy, the known benefits of inducing relaxation and reducing emotional and physical stresses can be a useful adjunct when undertaking fertility treatments.