Yoga for Infertility–The Facts and Myths

Couples who are trying to conceive may feel alone, but they most certainly aren’t: according to the most recent numbers from the Center for Disease Control, a full 10 percent of women of women ages 15-44 have fertility problems.   Typically, doctors and fertility experts recommend a variety of treatments to help women get and stay pregnant—mostly hormones treatments and lifestyle changes—but, recently, yoga classes with an emphasis on increasing fertility have become a popular alternative and supplement to more traditional methods. 

Yoga for fertility addresses both emotional and physical problems.  For many women, fertility problems dredge up sadness and anxiety, and take a toll on their relationships with their partners.  Support groups for women trying to conceive are common, and fertility yoga classes are a new extension of the support group principle.

“As important as the yoga postures was the idea that women could come out of the closet with their infertility and be supported in a group,” Tami Quinn, the founder of the fertility yoga group Pulling Down the Moon, told the New York Times. “If you say ‘come to my support group,’ women going through infertility are like, ‘I don’t need some hokey support group’ or ‘I’m not that bad.’ But with yoga, they are getting support and they don’t even realize it.”

In addition to community, yoga also offers an alternative to aerobic exercise, which many women have to give up while undergoing hormone treatments.  The poses are gentle and the programs focus on restoring inner balance.  Stress itself is a hormone killer, and the upsurge in negative feelings women trying to conceive experience can often turn into a vicious cycle. 

While a single study has yet to prove that yoga has measurable physical effects on fertility, anecdotal evidence suggests that committing to a yoga practice (in addition to doctor-recommended treatments and lifestyle changes) can increase a woman’s chances of getting pregnant.  And there is some science behind the physicality.  Brenda Strong, founder of Strong Yoga 4Women, says this on her website:

“Yoga for fertility can help to detoxify the body while relaxing tight muscles and connective tissue. The specific areas in Yoga for fertility of the low back (sacral plexus) hips, groins and pelvis begin to improve in blood flow and circulation-which can aid in healthier gynecological function. As the body relaxes, the mind calms and the nervous system is aided by the breath to help lower stress hormones like cortisol, which can impede reproductive hormone function.” 

Yoga isn’t a quick fix for fertility problems.  But it can help treat the emotional stress and strain on relationships caused by infertility, and science showing if and how it can help you get pregnant doesn’t seem to be far behind. 

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