'Fertile Yoga' Reduces Stress, Increases Hope in Women Undergoing Fertility Treatment

By Megan Brooks

November 05, 2019

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Women undergoing fertility treatment reported feeling less stressed and more hopeful after attending a "fertile yoga" class and pledged to continue what they learned in the class on their own during their fertility journey, researchers report.

"Many infertility patients stop treatment prematurely due to stress and feelings of discouragement," Lisa Rosenthal, patient advocate at Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMACT), who led the study, noted in an interview with Reuters Health.

"They often feel hopeless with infertility and as disappointments pile up, it gets worse and worse and they are more apt to drop out. We know that when we decrease stress and sadness and increase hopefulness women are able likely to stay in fertility treatment, so we are talking about patient retention, sticking with it," said Rosenthal.

Rosenthal, a yoga instructor and founder of Fertile Yoga, presented her research October 15 at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) annual meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

"Fertile yoga is a very specific kind of yoga," Rosenthal explained. Two techniques are taught: 1) a one-minute mantra, “I am strong, healthy, resilient, capable, hopeful and fertile,” 2) seven movements of the spine which included forward flexion, back bend extension, lateral left bend, lateral right bend, left rotation twist, right rotation twist and axial extension.

To gauge impact of fertile yoga, Rosenthal and colleagues had 55 women undergoing fertility treatment at RMACT complete questionnaires before and after taking fertile yoga. The questionnaire asked about stress, sadness and levels of hopefulness on a zero to 10 scale. Zero indicated no stress, sadness or hope and a score of 10 indicating high stress, sadness, and maximum hope.

"We purposefully used the outcomes of stress and sadness because they are not clinical diagnoses; it's how a woman feels," said Rosenthal.

Results showed a statistically significant decrease in stress and sadness (P<0.001), and an increase in hopefulness (P<0.001) after class for all age groups (younger than 35 to older than 42 years).

The mean pre-class score for stress was 6.96 and fell to 4.00 after the class; the sadness score was 5.67 before class and dropped to 3.11 afterward; the hopefulness score was 6.78 before class and rose to 7.78 after fertile yoga.

Women in all age categories felt that the mantra and seven movements were helpful during class and that they would use them in the future.

Fertile Yoga class "could ultimately provide our patients the emotional energy and skills necessary to continue with fertility treatment and succeed," Rosenthal and colleagues note in their confernce abstract.

The researchers are now collecting data to better elucidate the role of fertile yoga on patients’ fertility journey and success.

The study had no commercial funding.

SOURCE: http://bit.ly/2Ndzp2n

American Society for Reproductive Medicine 2019.