Dear Ann:

The letter from Boca Raton, Fla., regarding infertility brought back many memories. "Boca" said she had tried for years to become pregnant, and finally gave up and adopted. The very next month, she became pregnant. When she told everyone the great news, they said, "It happened because you finally relaxed." She said relaxing had nothing to do with it.

Thirty years have passed, but I remember the frustration of trying to conceive as if it were yesterday. My husband and I were part of the original fertility research group at the University of Washington Fertility Clinic, over 30 years ago. We endured four years of biopsies, medication, artificial insemination, temperature record-keeping, and countless other personal invasions because we wanted a family. Finally, we were dismissed as failures. The only reason given was that I didn't ovulate and that process could not be duplicated. We then decided to adopt.

By the time the adoption application process was completed, I was pregnant. That was the first of four pregnancies. Ten years ago, I was contacted by the U. of W. Fertility Clinic as part of a follow-up study. When I informed them of the resulting pregnancies, they told me stress can cause the pituitary gland to malfunction. So you see, Ann, there is indeed a valid scientific basis for the relationship between relaxing and fertility.

Been There in Seattle

You are not the only one to point this out. I heard from several readers who said the same thing. Keep reading:

From Santa Rosa, Calif.: I am an art therapist who works with people suffering from infertility. Well-documented studies show that stress can have a major effect on fertility. One study at Harvard Medical School showed that women who went through a 10-week stress-reduction program conceived at a 44 percent higher rate. You were right, however, when you said her fertility is nobody's business.

Nashville, Tenn.: My uncle and aunt were told by a number of fertility specialists that they could never have children. When my cousin and his wife were killed in a car accident, my aunt and uncle adopted their young son. After the adoption, my aunt became pregnant. But she didn't stop there. They ended up having 11 children of their own, plus the son they adopted.

Seattle: I am a nurse in an obstetrician's office. It happens so often it has become trite -- after failing to get pregnant for years and years, a woman will become pregnant soon after adopting. I do not have any actual statistics on this, but everyone knows someone this has happened to. Even doctors are beginning to admit the validity of the body-mind connection. I say "even doctors" because I suspect they don't want people to know how much healing can be done through the mind and spirit, without medical help.

Dear Seattle: I have long believed that what goes on in the head can have a profound effect on the body. Your theory that doctors don't want patients to know this is incorrect. In fact, many physicians use this approach in the healing process. Here's one more:

Dear Ann:

My parents were married for 11 years, and were told by fertility experts they could not have children because my mother was "barren," and my father had a low sperm count. They decided to take a trip around the world on the money they had set aside for the family they would never have. By the time they reached Australia, Mom was pregnant. They went on to have eight children -- two after she was 45 years old. So much for the experts, eh?

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