The Surprising Mental Health Impact on Fertility


As a psychiatric intern in medical school, Dr. Daniel Amen became so adept at medical hypnosis that patients and colleagues sometimes requested his help. One of them, a nurse, confided in him the difficulty she and her husband were having becoming pregnant. After four frustrating years of failing to conceive, she found herself regularly crying after having sex. Could hypnosis help with infertility, she asked? Yes, Dr. Amen told her, adding that focusing on mental health can be beneficial in dealing with infertility.

Dr. Amen’s experience with the couple offers evidence that fertility problems often begin in the brain with our thinking and the stress it can create throughout our bodies. In this blog, you’ll discover the basics about infertility, the brain’s role in it, and how managing your mind (including hypnosis) can help.

Instead of expensive IVF treatments, some cases of infertility may respond to a simpler and gentler intervention: medical hypnosis to relax the body and mind. Click To Tweet


One out of every eight couples–or 12% of married women–struggle to become pregnant or carry a child to term. The ability to reproduce goes to the heart of our sense of identity and well-being. Bearing children produces families and family units serve as stabilizing forces in society, with widespread consequences for communal and personal mental health.

Perhaps for this reason, the psychological impact of prolonged infertility can produce levels of depression similar to having a cancer diagnosis, studies have found.

Making matters worse, people facing infertility frequently keep their troubles to themselves amplifying a sense of shame and isolation. Those who choose to engage in assisted reproductive treatments—ranging from IVF to egg freezing and/or surrogacy—can find themselves further beset by the psychological and financial strains associated with these complex procedures that all too often fail. The negative impact can spill over to a couple’s relationship itself, widening the circle of despair.

Which is why it makes sense to begin by addressing the problem at the level of a patient’s thinking and mental health first.


Indeed, studies have revealed surprising facts about the brain’s role in reproductive health. For example, primate researchers discovered in 2013 that the ovaries aren’t the only producers of estrogen in the body. It also releases the hormone in another form, estradiol, from the hypothalamus region in the brain.

Estradiol is part of a feedback loop between the brain and a woman’s reproductive organs that regulate the menstrual cycle. To better understand this interconnectivity, researchers blocked estradiol from the brain and discovered that, without the hormonal boost from the brain, the primates’ bodies could not produce sufficient estrogen to release an egg.

“This shows the brain’s estrogen is a huge helper, necessary for the release of an egg that makes pregnancy possible,” one of the researchers wrote.


The good news is that, while reproductive interventions like IVF rely on complex medical technologies and surrogacy adds an outside partner to the parenting journey, mental wellness lies largely within the realm of an individual’s or a couple’s control. In fact, lowering psychological distress through cognitive-behavioral interventions, as well as relaxation techniques, can help raise pregnancy rates, according to the National Institutes of Health.

For this reason, Amen Clinics urges patients facing infertility to begin with psychological interventions intended to relax the mind, and thereby the body.

Approaches to this kind of healing are as numerous as the disciplines for stimulating mental and physical wellness, from yoga and psychotherapy to more esoteric approaches.

One National Institutes of Health study examined the effect of healing touch (HT), a non-invasive energy field therapy, on a 40-year-old woman struggling with infertility for 18 months.

After several months of the treatment, which stimulated reflexology points on the ankle intended to impact the uterus and ovaries—and also included positive affirmations—the woman conceived. The same touch treatment provided her with support throughout the duration of her pregnancy, eventually enabling her to give birth without painkillers, the authors reported.


As you saw in the introduction of this blog, the nurse who was having trouble conceiving asked Dr. Amen if hypnosis could help. “I explained to her that her fallopian tubes (the tubes between her ovaries and her uterus) were wrapped in smooth muscle,” Dr. Amen recalls, “and that stress hormones were probably clamping shut the tubes, making it much harder for her to get pregnant.”

To alleviate her stress, Dr. Amen put her into a hypnotic trance with deep relaxation messages focusing on her lower abdomen. After she made love with her husband, she also listened to a hypnosis tape Dr. Amen made for her.

Three months later, the couple conceived.

“It was such a joyful experience to see that healing the brain-body connection could be so helpful,” Dr. Amen says. “Too much stress affects the way your body functions, including its ability to reproduce. Scientific evidence shows that chronic stress causes hormonal changes that disrupt reproductive function.”


The takeaway is that the primacy of mental health cannot be understated on the journey to conception and healthy childbearing. Not only can it relax the body sufficiently to make way for pregnancy, but it can also help couples facing the sometimes-long journey of infertility with greater calm and less stress. No matter the outcome, a focus on mental well-being and relaxation, first and foremost—not as an afterthought—is a good place to start the journey.

Stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues can’t wait. At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, clinical evaluations, and therapy for adults, teens, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.


  1. Very Interesting.
    Would love to purchase Dr Amen hypnosis tape

    Comment by Lydia — June 11, 2023 @ 11:22 AM

  2. Hello Lydia, thank you for reaching out. To purchase hypnosis audio, visit

    Comment by Amen Clinics — June 12, 2023 @ 2:07 PM

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