Hypnosis and Infertility
BY SJANIE HUGO
It is estimated that one in seven UK couples have difficulty
conceiving – approximately 3.5 million people. A wide variety
of factors affect fertility, and there are many potential causes
of infertility. These range from physical and chemical factors to
emotional and psychological factors.
A diagnosis of infertility – whether it is explained or unex-
plained – can leave you feeling extremely disappointed and
without hope. But does this mean the end of a life long
dream? Or are there things you can do to increase your fertil-
ity and help you become a parent?
I have worked with many couples who have wondered if they
will ever conceive and have a family of their own. Some of
these couples have been trying for a baby for years and some
have spent a lot of time and money on medical treatments like
IUI (intra-uterine insemination), GIFT (gamete intrafallopian
transfer) and IVF (in-vitro fertilisation) without success. In
other cases, couples have made the decision to start a family
in their later years, only to discover that becoming pregnant
is taking far longer than they expected.
Regardless of each couples unique situation, they all found
their struggles with infertility highly emotional and stressful –
which is completely understandable, given everything that they
have to go through. The ongoing striving for a baby can leave
you feeling out of control and hopeless. It can affect every
aspect of your life, from your relationships with your partner,
family and friends to your career. It can be the first real test
of a marriage. The majority of infertile women report that
coming face to face with their infertility is the most upsetting
experience of their lives.
Unfortunately, their heightened levels of stress and increased
feelings of depression can have a very harmful effect on their
ability to conceive and carry a baby to full term. Research has
shown that stress affects the hormonal system, which may
result in decreased fertility. Stress causes tremendous changes
in the body’s biochemistry and rhythms. It upsets the body’s
natural balance, and over time can lead to chronic health
problems. After prolonged stress the Sympathetic Nervous
system can become hyperstimulated. A hyperstimulated
nervous system sends less blood to the uterus and ovaries,
thereby impairing their optimal functioning. (Lewis, R. P ‘The
Infertility Cure.' Little, Brown and Company, January 2004.
Pg193.)
So how can Hypnotherapy help?
Hypnotherapy can help to decrease the effects of infertil-
ity, and it can also work to help increase fertility. By reduc-
ing stress, relieving anxiety, lifting depression, increasing the
patient’s sense of control, it enables patients to cope better
and take better care of themselves during this time. As part
of the treatment I teach people a variety of self-help tools,
including self-hypnosis, which can be used for many things
including deep relaxation. Relaxation techniques help women
to cope with, and heal from, the stress of infertility while
also substantially increasing the rates of conception. Using
approaches derived from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, I
always aim to work with unhealthy beliefs and to challenge
them so that the patient can actively change the causes of
stress and anxiety. Hypnotherapy also helps couples to pre-
pare for pregnancy, birth and parenthood. This process will
often address unconscious resistance to conception as well
as any ambiguity towards parenthood. Couples are often sur-
prised when I ask them: why do you want to be parents? And
why don’t you want to become parents? Simply discussing this
can bring many beliefs into conscious awareness.
Recent research has drawn attention to the effectiveness of
using hypnosis to support IVF treatment. The use of hypnosis
during embryo transfer doubles the IVF/ET (embryo trans-
fer) outcome in terms of increased implantation and clinical
pregnancy rates. Furthermore it seems the patients’ attitude
to treatment was more favourable. (‘Impact of hypnosis dur-
ing embryo transfer on the outcome of in vitro fertilization-
embryo transfer: a case-control study.’ Fertility and Sterility
Journal. May 2006; 8 (5):14040-8)
Due to the increasing demand for this treatment, I have devel-
oped an effective hypnotherapy protocol, which is designed to
support couples through each stage of IVF. I have also begun
teaching this protocol at fertility and hypnotherapy workshops,
since many practitioners find it such an important component
of their fertility work.
Below I have listed the key stages of IVF treatment, and a few
ideas and approaches to consider during each stage.
The Stages of IVF:
a) Preparation for treatment
Preparing the body and mind
Hypnotherapy:
• Increase physical, mental and emotional well being
• Reducing FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) levels if
necessary
• Direct suggestion to support ‘detox’
• Techniques like ‘Self-Integration Dissociation’ to clean
out any psychological or emotional clutter
• Pseudo orientation to see themselves being in control
throughout the treatment, feeling calm and relaxed.
• Teach self-hypnosis for relaxation and visualisation
b) Ovarian Stimulation (10 - 14 days)
Fertility Drugs are used to stimulate ovarian production
Hypnotherapy:
• To increase the effectiveness of the drugs and to
decrease the negative side effects
• Use of techniques like ‘Healing White Light’,
‘Apposition of Opposites’ and ‘Control Room of the
Mind’
• Visualisation of the ovaries producing an abundance
of healthy eggs.
• Use self-hypnosis to balance the systems of the body
on a daily basis using ‘Apposition of Opposites’
c) Egg collection and sperm collection
The eggs are retrieved, fertilized and monitored
Hypnotherapy:
• To increase comfort and speed of recovery from egg
Can Hypnotherapy help to increase Fertility?