Massage therapy has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety while boosting a sense of well being, and massage therapists and clients often point to the mind-body awareness component of massage as one aspect of its benefits. In new research, women who participated in a mind-body awareness program experienced higher pregnancy rates than did a control group.

The goal of the Mind/Body Program for Infertility at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center on Harvard University’s main campus in Boston, Massachusetts, is to help couples learn effective relaxation and stress-management strategies while attempting to conceive. The 10-week stress-management program focuses on cognitive behavior therapy, relaxation training, negative health behavior modification and social support components,” according to a university press release.

The women who participated in the mind/body program for stress reduction while undergoing IVF treatment had a significantly higher pregnancy rate than those who do not: 52 percent versus 20 percent.

“The intersection of stress and fertility is a controversial one, but we do know that stress can reduce the probability of conception,” said principal investigator Alice Domar, Ph.D., OB/GYN, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and executive director of the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF.

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