Claim Check

Conceptual Sound?

Conceive CDs by Pharmonics.
Conceive CDs by Pharmonics. (By Julia Ewan -- The Washington Post)
Tuesday, May 3, 2005

Mood Music Couples struggling with infertility have a new -- albeit untested -- option: a "sound therapy program" that claims to enhance the odds of conception by reducing stress. The $29.95 double CD set, called Conceive, is made by Pharmonics, a New York-based musical therapy production company. The CDs, available online, are being marketed to childless couples trying to get pregnant. But fertility experts said there is no science to support the program's claim.

Back Notes Pharmonics president Sean Grace said he's not trying to raise false hopes. "I would never claim that anybody listening to Conceive who's having a problem will get pregnant," he said, acknowledging there is no proven link between music and conception. The CDs' eight 15-minute tracks combine quiet instrumental music with nature- and computer-based sounds meant, Grace said, to slow heart rate, lower blood pressure and induce "positive hormonal changes" in women. These changes, he claims, lower the levels of cortisol and other stress hormones that can impede fertility. He recommends that women listen to the tracks four days before and after ovulation for the most benefit.

Stress Buster? While some published research has linked stress and infertility, no well-controlled studies show a cause-and-effect relationship, other than through acute stress that interrupts ovulation and menstrual regularity, said Paul Gindoff, director of the IVF and Fertility Center at George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates.

Alice Domar, assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and director of the Mind/Body Center for Women's Health at Boston IVF, said she is most concerned that infertile patients who are desperate for help will be let down if Conceive doesn't work for them . "Infertile patients are very vulnerable [and] treatments are very expensive," said Domar. "If you think you could get pregnant by buying a $30 CD," instead of treatments like [in vitro fertilization] that cost several thousand dollars, it would be tempting to try, she said.

While some couples, Gindoff said, might find music soothing, most any quiet piece of music could do the trick, but couples shouldn't expect it will stimulate more than the ears.

-- January W. Payne

© 2005 The Washington Post Company