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Women who participated in a stress management program prior to or during their second IVF cycle had a 160 percent greater pregnancy rate than women who did not participate in a program, according to a study funded by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies and conducted in conjunction with The Domar Center at Boston IVF.

The study revealed a pregnancy rate of 52 percent among women who participated in a stress management program as compared to a 20 percent pregnancy rate for women who were not exposed to the stress management program. The program was designed to educate women on the utilization of cognitive, relaxation and lifestyle techniques to manage stress.

Stress management had an even greater impact on pregnancy rates for women who showed higher baseline symptoms of depression. Pregnancy rates jumped to 67 percent for women with signs of depression at the start of the study who engaged in the stress management program versus no pregnancies for those that did not.

"This study shows that stress management may improve pregnancy rates, minimizing the stress of fertility management itself, improving the success rates of IVF procedures, and ultimately, helping to alleviate the emotional burden for women who are facing challenges trying to conceive," says Alice Domar, Ph.D., executive director of The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF and assistant professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology at Harvard Medical School.

Stress management in this study was achieved through a 10-session mind/body program that included relaxation training, cognitive-behavioral strategies and participation in group support.

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