The Science and Statistics
In the publication Social Science and Medicine, Marcia Inhorn wrote, "Infertility is a problem of global proportions, affecting on average 8-12 percent of couples worldwide." One reason it is becoming a bigger problem for women in North America is because they are waiting until later in life to have children. Whereas women used to get pregnant in their 20's we now see more women waiting until their 30's. Medical evidence is clear that fertility declines for both men and women as they age.
What isn't quite so clear is how stress affects infertility. Mayo Clinic psychiatrist Daniel Hall-Flavin, M.D.'s answers this way: "Although there is little doubt that infertility often causes considerable stress, the question of whether stress can cause infertility remains unsettled. Theoretically, stress could impair fertility if it has a direct impact on hormones. For example, emotional stress in some women causes ovulation to stop. Stress could also have an indirect impact on fertility by impairing the desire for sexual intercourse."
Others point out that evidence is mounting to support the claim that stress reduction may be able to help infertility. Excess levels of the stress hormone Cortisol may be the link, according to Dr. Sarah Berga of Emory University's department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. A study by the National Institute of Medicinal Health showed that women who participated in mind-body support groups had a higher rate of conception than those who did not. Also, chronic stress is known to cause irregular periods and loss of sexual desire, other key components related to conception.
What those of us in the spa industry know for sure is that spas reduce stress and help improve health. Whether or not any of our programs have a direct impact on fertility, we do know that our ideal settings (which often allow for more relaxation, time for reconnection and romance) can help heighten sexual activity. And everyone is in agreement that more sexual activity (at the right time of the month) increases the possibility of conception.
Also perpetuating this trend are couples with fertility challenges who may ultimately embrace advanced fertility drugs and in vitro fertilization (IVF) but might first opt to try a more natural, less invasive, healthier alternative that can be found now at some spas/fertility centers. For those couples who do take advantage of techniques such as IVF, a German Study has documented evidence showing that acupuncture along with IVF increases women's chances of conceiving by 16 percent; yet another reason to embrace alternative solutions. These services, many of which are offered at spas, can help to increase the odds of conception; or at the very least, make the often stressful process a bit more comfortable.