Mind-body group treatment for women coping with infertility: a pilot study

J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 2015;36(2):75-83. doi: 10.3109/0167482X.2014.989983. Epub 2014 Dec 26.


Objectives: To evaluate the feasibility of a 10-week mind-body intervention (MBI) for women coping with fertility challenges, examine the impact of an MBI on psychological distress and cortisol levels, and assess adherence to MBI skills 12-months after completion of the intervention.

Design: Prospective open pilot study of 51 women with infertility enrolled in a group MBI. Psychological variables and salivary cortisol levels were obtained pre- and post-intervention; a 12-month follow-up survey assessed MBI skill adherence. Participants completed practice logs throughout the intervention.

Results: Participants attended an average of eight sessions (SD = 2.0), and practiced mind-body techniques which elicited the relaxation response (RR) an average of 5.9 (SD = 0.8) days/week and 20.1 (SD = 9.9) min/day; 80% completed the post-treatment assessment. The intervention resulted in a significant increase in perceived social support and a decrease in depressive symptoms and perceived stress; however, there were no significant changes in cortisol levels. Sixty-eight percent of the participants completed the 12-month follow-up, with 51% reporting continuation of RR-eliciting practice.

Conclusion: This group of women with infertility provided with an MBI showed decreased symptoms of depression and stress and increased perceived social support. The protocol was feasible and participants reported a high degree of adherence and maintenance to the skills taught during the intervention. The findings indicate the value of appropriate evaluation against a control group.

Keywords: Adherence; infertility; mental health; mind–body; relaxation response; stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / analysis*
  • Infertility, Female / metabolism
  • Infertility, Female / therapy*
  • Mind-Body Relations, Metaphysical*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Psychotherapy, Group / methods*
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Stress, Psychological / metabolism
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Hydrocortisone