When my husband and I decided we were ready to make our family of two a family of three, I was thrilled. I had been waiting my whole life to be a mom. As I gleefully threw away my remaining birth control, I was confident that I would be pregnant in no time. After all, my mom, aunts, and grandmothers never had any trouble in that department.
When I didn’t get pregnant immediately, I got worried instead. As a young woman, I had spent lots of time and energy preventing unwanted pregnancy, which seemed like an ever-present risk. I assumed that once I actually wanted to be pregnant, it would be a cinch.
As the months went by, my stress around trying to conceive (TTC) grew. In addition to tracking my cycles and taking advantage of peak fertility times, I eventually added another practice to my TTC repertoire: meditation. I would sit in my office in a rocker that would be perfect for baby, holding a set of tiny pajamas that I had already purchased. I was trying to let go of the stress of TTC and to focus positive energy on the family I desperately wanted.
I can’t say whether the meditation helped increase my fertility, but it certainly helped calm my mind during those stressful months. In fact, it was so calming that after I did conceive, I continued my practice. It helped me cope with the discomfort of later pregnancy and then the sleep deprivation–related stress of early motherhood.
Whether they are actively trying for a baby, planning for the future, or struggling with infertility, many people wonder whether meditation can increase their chances of fertility.
What We Know About Meditation
Meditation has steadily grown in popularity in the West, and studies show that it can reduce stress. Since stress wreaks havoc on our health, it’s fairly safe to say that meditation has some healthy benefits. This 2004 study from the Journal of Psychosomatic Research found that meditation helped people cope with both clinical and non-clinical issues.
Meditation and Fertility
Unfortunately there hasn’t been much research specifically looking at how stress can affect fertility or how medication may affect a couple’s ability to conceive. However, studies have found that meditation and mindfulness have had a positive impact on couples dealing with the very stressful experience of infertility.
A 2007 study published in Best Practice & Research: Clinical Obstetrics & Gynaecology showed that measures designed to reduce stress (which meditation does) can have “beneficial effects for infertility patients.” However, authors went on to say that more research needs to be done on stress levels and fertility.
A 2013 study published in the Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology concluded that mindfulness-based treatment can be helpful for women experiencing fertility-related distress, although it did not measure whether women who used mindfulness were more likely to get pregnant.
What the Experts Know
Although science has yet to provide proof of meditation increasing women’s chances of fertility, some fertility clinics offer meditation tracks for their clients. There are also companies that sell guided meditations specifically designed to boost fertility and help people cope with the stress of trying to conceive.
Although I can’t say for certain that meditation increased my fertility, I can say without a doubt that it made the process of trying to conceive much more pleasant, and there’s certainly no harm in that!