IVF Hypnosis

the magic of ivf hypnosis in the hands of a slim white woman wearing a white vest top and holding a beautiful shining light in her hands

Steph McGee

I’m a Trauma Informed Clinical Hypnotherapist on a mission to help. Hypnosis feels like a magic wand. But in truth? The real magic is you.

Research suggests that IVF Hypnosis can double, YES DOUBLE, your chances of successful Embryo Transfer. And given that IVF is notoriously stressful, whereas hypnosis is as sumptuous as a spa day?

You need your Hypnotherapist on speed dial!

But the magic doesn’t stop there…

Because while the 2006 study by Professor Eliahu Levitas showed that IVF hypnosis can approximately double the pregnancy rate.

Another study by Dr Alice Domar found that the use of Mind-Body techniques over 10 weeks resulted in a 55% pregnancy rate in a year compared to 20% in the control group.

And studies have also shown that anxiety and depression can prolong a fertility journey and in some cases, can even be the cause of it.

So even if you haven’t made any firm decisions about fertility treatment yet?

Using Hypnotherapy and it’s mind-body techniques in your attempts to conceive, might be a nice idea!

So in this post, I shall shine a light on what the evidence tells us. How it has informed modern hypnosis. And why using IVF hypnosis in combination with fertility hypnotherapy even before egg and sperm harvesting might be even more useful.

And as a Clinical Hypnotherapist, who used Hypnotherapy herself to get pregnant, I have more than my fair share of experience.

Disclaimer: People with certain conditions such as psychosis or epilepsy are not recommended to use any form of hypnosis, relaxation tracks, mediation or visualisations, without appropriate consultant care and may find that are recommended not to use it.

Table of Contents

 

What is Hypnosis?

Forget the swinging watches and mind control geeks in turtle necks.

Hypnosis is an altered state of awareness in which the conscious and subconscious mind focus on the same positive outcome and become more accessible to positive change. It’s a state in which new connections can be made or changed, lost learnings can be found (see the work of Dr Milton Erickson), and profound realisations of self can be made.

And whilst you might hear hypnosis compared to a normal daydream, or driving… with that strange realisation that you can’t remember the journey!

Clinical Hypnosis is more sophisticated and more clearly defined.

So unlike the wanderings of a daydream, or any fertility download, when you decide to work with a Clinical Hypnotherapist?

Your trance state is accessed more deliberately, more deeply and with a focused purpose.

And it is entirely focused on creating the positive changes your subconscious agrees you need.

Success rates when using Hypnosis during embryo transfer

The use of hypnosis during IVF was first researched, then documented in 2006 by Professor Eliahu Levitas MD et al. The study set out to establish whether hypnosis during embryo transfer would improve the clinical pregnancy rates of in-vitro fertilisation.

Of the two groups going through treatment?

The women that used hypnosis during embryo transfer had around double the success rate:

98 cycles with hypnosis resulted in:

  • 53.1% clinical pregnancy rate (58.4% per patient)
  • 28% implantation rate

96 cycles without hypnosis resulted in:

  • 30.2% clinical pregnancy rate
  • 14.4% implantation rate

So you can see why we’re so excited about the chances of conception being around double!

 

But what is IVF hypnosis and how can you use it?

During the E.Levitas study candidates were initially assessed for their potential hypnotisability, and they worked with a hypnotherapist in the room, DURING the embryo transfer procedure.

But we need to do it slightly differently (unless you want me sitting beside you on your big day!)

Well known for its benefits in childbirth, the menopause and painful medical procedures, self hypnosis for fertility follows the same basic structure:

So it takes 4 weeks to learn hypnosis.

In your first session we will start with the basics as I guide you into a deeply hypnotic state that I will ask you to practice at home. I can provide you with a guidance sheet and MP3s if needed.

Then we will build and develop your practice week by week.

IVF Hypnosis techniques include:

  • Eye Fixation into closure
  • Orientating yourself to yourself to the here and now
  • Orientating yourself to your internal world
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation
  • Sequencing & Induction into hypnosis
  • Gentle deepeners
  • Hypnotic Anchoring
  • Creating your ‘safe space’
  • Your Familiar place
  • Preparing your space for a guest
  • Indirect fear or stress release
  • Pain management (where applicable)
  • Breathing

I will ask you to do gentle, regular practice in between your sessions.

And we will plan how you can use it during your embryo transfer procedure.

 

How does it work?

It really is as simple a 4 week programme.

And just like making a baby, real hypnosis isn’t achieved in an instant.

Research suggests that using this gentle practice, helps reduce anxiety and stress, reduces pain and discomfort and even helps to the uterus stay still, which can aid implantation (rather than the body expelling it out with muscle contraction)

So over 4 one hour sessions (approximately weekly), through gentle repetition and hypnotic development, and your practice between sessions?

I want you to feel confident enough to hypnotise yourself as if I were with you on the day.

So that you can use your embryo transfer hypnosis to help you feel as calm and comfortable as possible. Helping to keep your mind positively focused and allowing any normal, less helpful thoughts to drift on by with no deeper meaning or effect. All helping your body to naturally soft, relax and unconsciously remain still.

 

The 4 week Hypnosis for IVF programme

Through conversation, we will start to construct your ‘safe place’ as I introduce you to hypnosis, giving you your first introduction to eye fixation, progressive muscle relaxation, induction, positive suggestion and a practice plan for the weeks ahead.

1. Find your Space and Breath

Through conversation, we will start to construct your ‘safe place’ as I introduce you to hypnosis, giving you your first introduction to eye fixation into gorgeous hypnosis, progressive muscle relaxation, induction, positive suggestion and a practice plan for the week ahead. And we will start to prepare your hypnotic space for a welcome guest.

Breathing and progressive muscle relaxation are a core part of finding inner harmony so by the end of this programme we want it to feel natural and instinctive. So that with practice, you will be able to apply this to everyday life, medical procedures and embryo transfer.

2. Colour me Calm

Hypnosis anchors are a powerful tool used to reduce both physical and emotional pain and connect you quickly and deeply  into a pleasant state of place, space or being. And whilst your practice will flow with these beautiful anchors, colour is the one that can connect a deeply reassuring sense of whatever it is you really DO want, to any emotional or physical discomfort you might be feeling consciously or unconsciously. Colour anchors are the ultimate feel good factor!

3. The Strength you Need

Good hypnosis needs coping strategies. Coping with fear or doubt, coping with pain or discomfort and learning to let go of anything that is unnecessary. Now that you are nicely familiar with your self hypnosis you will learn to let go & find strength, whilst staying calm, serene and deeply focused.

4. Reframe your Day

This is where the magic comes together! We will talk through your ET date, talk more deeply about how you can use your hypnosis on the day and run it through in a beautiful state of hypnosis.

How do I work with you?

All new clients start with an Initial Consultation.

Session are online via Zoom, so you can work with me from any where in the world. Past clients who have finally become parents have joined me from London, Surrey, the Middle East and Michigan.

But drop me a line if you are in Oxford and have a need to see me in person.

Your Initial Consultation is just a 45 minute 1:1 to talk about where you’d like to start, how I can help & get all the usual admin in place.

Or just drop me an email with any questions.

Book an Initial Consultation

Whenever you feel you might be ready to start? It all starts here, with an initial consultation.

The trouble with trying for a baby

I saw it in myself and I see it my clients. And my years of working with pregnancy and birth have told me it’s almost inevitable…

Because trying for a baby is fun at first. Single or with partner, there are plans, ideas, hopes and dreams.

It might start informally, just ‘not being careful’.

Then a few quirky things to boost your fertility:

  • Warm feet
  • Warm drinks
  • Loosing the ‘wet diet’ (Ask me, I’ve not written about it yet)
  • Head stands

If you’d like to learn more?

Read the 9 weird ways to get pregnant (that worked for me)

AND THEN IT STARTS TO GET REAL

With all the natural ways to boost your fertility…

Checklist after checklist. Following your menstrual cycles, recording your dates, tracking your LH surge, your basal body temperature, finding your fertile days and having sex (but not too much sex…) on your most fertile days, then waiting, waiting, waiting.

And the fertility tests…

After a year or so, 6 months if you’re ‘older’ and the fertility investigations start. Your medical procedures will likely include blood tests, ultrasound scan, fallopian tube check (which was a journey and a half for me), cis men get the semen analysis and some men need a lot of persuasion, STI tests and so much more…

AND IT ALL TAKES TIME

The decision to start In-vitro Fertilisation

There can be a flurry of excitement when you decide to start IVF. After all, the sense of freedom and letting go that comes with putting all your eggs in one basket (so to speak) feels good and finally you have a definite shot. With confirmed dates, confirmed procedures and a very firm plan.

But then it starts. The drugs arrive and the IVF stresses set in.

It’s normal to start thinking about the effects of the drugs & the medicalised process.

And it’s normal to worry about the money and find the endless appointments draining. Especially if your employer doesn’t have a fertility leave policy.

It’s normal to find the effects unpleasant.

And with miscarriage rates higher, clinical pregnancies before loss no longer blissfully in the dark, and the roller coaster of hopes and dreams potentially even more extreme than before?

It’s no wonder the UK Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA) require registered fertility clinics to offer counselling before treatment starts.

In short – it can feel a million miles away from all the natural fertility techniques you’ve become so familiar with.

So keep it as natural as you can during IVF

Whether you are having fertility treatment due to known problems, unexplained infertility, or are taking the straight to IVF route.

It’s useful to consider…

This is all about you being on that normal, natural path of growing, sustaining and nurturing your baby.

So if we start as we mean to go on?

This should be a path flowing with self care and consideration.

We want the calm parasympathetic hormones, that flow when you are feeling safe and relaxed. We want you free from stress, doubt and anxiety or as close as you can be.

So a few things you can do to keep yourself gently on the natural path:

  • Take the pressure off where you can, learn to say no, and let go of unnecessary stress (loosing news & social media apps are a very quick win)
  • Be kinder to the natural fears and feelings that arise, focusing on fear only makes it stronger
  • Allow yourself to love & be loved
  • Broaden your sphere of focus
  • Live life and resist the urge to hold back to your own detriment 
  • Empower yourself and speak up, ask questions and say what you need
  • Give yourself credit, no would could do this better than you
  • Treat yourself & enjoy ‘me’ time, because when pregnancy & parenthood come, you will be grateful you did

But how else can I increase my chances?

In practical terms, a few of the things I have found helps (and do your own research first):

  • Chinese Herbal Medicine
  • Acupuncture
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Reflexology
  • Aromatherapy
  • McTimmony Chiropractic
  • Lymphatic drainage
  • Clean diet
  • Gentle exercise
  • Fertility Yoga (and avoiding the classes with all those darn preggies)
  • Meditation
  • Relaxation tracks
  • Warm socks

And whatever you decide to do, make sure it’s easy and can become part of your routine. Forcing things in will only exacerbate the problem!

14 years on from my own fertility issues: I still use the wonderful things I did back then. So I book hypnotherapy when I need it, swear by my warm socks, have a regular chiropractor, turn to my Chinese Herbal Doctor for all my feminine woes, meditate every evening, do my exercise and eat clean when I want to.

So as well as all the things you are doing, both IVF hypnosis and Hypnotherapy can be a part of your complementary approach, supporting your fertility journey and your medical treatments.

Different to IVF Hypnosis, Hypnotherapy can give you time out, to adjust your focus. Or like my route to pregnancy, hypnotherapy can be the key to release perceived subconscious fertility blocks.

And hypnosis for IVF and ET can help you feel prepared for your procedure.

But will Hypnosis help me get pregnant?

Conception and pregnancy are a holistic state of body and mind.

We’ve all heard the stories… they took a holiday, or gave up and they got pregnant! Or the person in their 40s who knew IVF would be successful second time around.

I’ve worked with them myself!

We know that stress, mood and mindset can effect fertility.

And so whilst hypnotherapy can’t guarantee a pregnancy it can help you to:

  • Be less prone to stress & the effects of stress
  • Accept your situation, and soften your responses to it
  • Develop a more positive mindset

And crucially – hypnosis can focus your mind and body during embryo transfer.

 

 

IVF Hypnotherapy vs IVF Hypnosis

Let’s face it. The transferring of embryos is not where your story starts.

So while Hypnosis for your ET is a fabulous way to prepare for transfer, a course of Hypnotherapy sessions could be useful even earlier in your journey.

Lets just unpick this a little, and forgive me if you know.

Hypnosis for IVF is a 4 week programme of hypnosis. It is personally crafted self hypnosis that you learn & develop over a series of 4 weeks ready to use during embryo transfer.

Clinical Hypnotherapy is a talking therapy with hypnosis. So sessions are a comination of solution focused therapy, psychotherapy & mindfulness, with joyfully realxing, deep hypnosis.

And while a 4 week hypnosis programme is perfect preparation for your transfer?

Clinical Hypnotherapy has a deep therapeutic value and can be used to help with a much broader range of issues including worry, doubt, low mood, bad habits, insomnia, emotional out bursts, exhaustion, overwhelm and any of the other issues that can cause or be caused by the inability to conceive.

Hypnotherapy is described by the Complementary National Healthcare Council (CNHC) as a skilled communication therapy aimed at directing your imagination in a way that helps elicit changes in some perceptions, sensations, feelings, thoughts and behaviours.

And while there may be many more obvious things to do to help you get pregnant.

When you feel something deeper is holding you back, Hypnosis and hypnotherapy may hold the key.

 7 key ways Hypnotherapy can help IVF

So a 4 Week Hypnosis programme can help you prepare for IVF transfer, but Hypnotherapy for IVF is a bit different and filled to the brim with therapy. So depending on what you need, it can be just as helpful and it doesn’t have to be a case of choosing one or the other – you can have BOTH

So here are 7 Key Ways Hypnotherapy can help during your journey of treatment:

1. Needle Phobia

If you are scared of needles, the arrival of all those fertility drugs and needles will send fear running through your veins.

And you’re not alone. 1 in 10 people suffer from a needle phobia, and because there are different types of needle phobia, hypnotherapy can help in different ways.

People with a vasovagal phobic response, cannot loose their natural genetic response to needles (or blood), and should speak to their GP or fertility consultant about safeguarding.

For everyone else, Hypnotherapy can help.

The Rewind Technique is a light state of trance that can be helpful when your phobia is caused in main or in part by a specific event or events. If you feel this applies we can do an assessment in your initial assessment to check. Read more about Rewind Therapy here.

For everyone else, the mind-body knowledge and understanding of clinical hypnotherapy can help calm your phobic response.

2. Pain, and fear of pain

Fertility treatments can range from uncomfortable to unbearable. So it’s reassuring that hypnosis has been used for pain for centuries and it’s where hypnotherapy truly excels.

Physical and emotional pain are triggered by the same part of the brain it’s why our language of heartache and loss is so literal e.g. ‘I feel broken’ ‘My heart is in pieces’ ‘It’s grinding me down’.

So depending on how you feel both self hypnosis or hypnotherapy could help.

You will learn brain-body techniques to calm the pain response, and your understanding of pain will help inform your responses.

3. Grief and loss

Grief whether you have had a loss or not sadly seems to come hand in hand with fertility treatments. So if you feel like you are not coping, or not recovering as you would have thought, the techniques within hypnotherapy can be helpful.

It all depends on you and what you want, but Hypnotherapy sessions can help you rebuild your strength, take time to acknowledge your loss or let go of unhelpful thoughts or self blame.

And once the mind knows what you really do want, it has a wonderful way of helping you get there and you can take it as slowly as you like.

4. Trauma

Also known as the Trauma Rewind Technique, the Rewind Technique is a lighter state of trance, and a beautifully didactic therapy with a gentle simplicity, that aims to help the mind process stressful events that may not have been fully processed and are still creating strong emotional reactions.

Most people experience at east one trauma in their lifetime.

But for an unfortunate few, the event seems to stay ‘live’.

It’s almost as though the event is still happening or is stuck at the forefront of the mind. This can be extremely distressing, causing everything from flashbacks, dreams, intrusive thoughts, sleep disruption, hyper-vigilance, anxiety and long term, can even leading to anger, low mood or addiction.

And fertility is notoriously linked to trauma.

Even for people who’ve successfully had their baby, fertility trauma can still remain.

Rewind can help, in most cases, quickly, with fertility related traumas, e.g. past sexual abuse, violence, abortion and loss.

5. Tocophobia

You may never have had a phobia before, but a phobic response to pregnant people can start out of the blue (and it certainly did in my case!). But tocophobia is a fear of pregnancy OR BIRTH. And given the fight/flight/freeze response and its strong ability to protect. It might come as no surprise to you that you are not getting pregnant.

So this is something worth dealing with and again Hypnotherapy can help.

6. Stress, Overwhelm and Low mood

Fertility issues are stressful, treatments are tricky, and anxiety and depression are par for the course.

So if you are struggling, Hypnotherapy can help give you the space you need. It can help build you up, calm your stress responses, and start moving you towards where you want to be.

Sometimes it can be as simple as telling your subconscious mind what you need.

If you’re keep to learn more?

Try these 7 fertility hypnotherapy tips.

7. Emotional & Subconscious Blocks

It’s surprising how many people experience unexplained infertility feel this applies. But then I did too. Because when it feels like everything should be working, but something is holding you back? There’s a specialist type of hypnotherapy might just be perfect for you.

Integrated Parts Hypnotherapy is for people who feel something is off. It’s the therapy that helps when  And I tend to see it in the way you talk and the words you use! So if you feel it’s just a case of something needing a shift, Integrated Parts Hypnotherapy might be the therapy for you.

If you’re keen to learn more?

Read how Hypnosis Unlocked the Key to My Own Fertility Block.

Book an Initial Consultation

Whenever you feel you might be ready to start? It all starts here, with an initial consultation.

What the research says about IVF and hypnosis

Hypnosis is found to double pregnancy rates in IVF

  • A 2006 study by E. Levitas et al, set out to investigate whether hypnosis during Embryo Transfer contributes to successful IVF/ET outcome.
  • Candidates underwent a pre-hypnotic assessment to assess suitability for the study and ensure consent.
  • Both the hypnosis group and the control group were checked for matching criteria such as patient’s age, peak preovulatory E2 level, number of oocytes retrieved, and both the number and quality of embryos transferred.
  • The hypnosis group were asked to choose a very pleasant life experience to relive during the ET. The hypnotic state during ET was induced with the same eye fixation, relaxation, and permissive and indirect suggestions.
  • The patient was asked to consider the process of ET as the reception of long-awaited and very welcome guest(s).
  • The 98 cycles in the hypnosis group achieved a 53.1% pregnancy rate with an implantation rate of 28%. Whereas, the 96 cycles in the (no hypnosis) control group achieved 30.2% pregnancies with an implantation rate of 14.4%.
  • In conclusion, the study hypothesised that hypnosis relieves the sensation of stress and thereby reduces uterine activity (activity which at the time of ET has been shown to reduce implantation and pregnancy rates) and improves the interaction between the embryo and the uterus while increasing the chances of embryo implantation.

Hypnosis can reduce uterine contractions which can hinder IVF

  • A 1998 study by R Franchin et al, concluded that increased contractility at the time of ET negatively affected implantation and pregnancy rates in IVF
  • Results indicated that high frequency of Uterine Contractions on the day of embryo transfer hinder IVF-embryo transfer outcome, possibly by expelling embryos out of the uterine cavity.

Stress reduces conception chances but relaxation helps

  • A 1997 study by Lois et al compared the levels of stress hormone cortisol, to conception rates.
  • A higher level of cortisol was shown to significantly reduce the probability of conception during the fertile window.
  • And concluded that cortisol possibly exerts its effect through the sympathetic medullar pathway.
white female with long brown hair sitting in a brown leather chair and smiling at her toddler as he eats a pear

Conclusion

I used Hypnotherapy when I couldn’t conceive and amazingly, fell pregnant in my next cycle.

We were lucky in that there was nothing definitely diagnosed as wrong. But then again, we had the problem that nothing was diagnosed as wrong!

I’d suffered side effects from the fertility drugs and unlike many of my clients, In-vitro fertilisation was not a choice I was keen to take.

But however you feel about IVF? 

Take heart. The research of how success rates can be improved and how hypnosis helps should give us all hope.

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