The benefits of providing massage to your pregnant clientele have been well-documented, but what about clients who are trying to conceive? Is there a way massage can help these clients achieve their goal? According to some experts in the field, the answer is yes.
Key statistics from the National Survey of Family Growth for the years 2006 to 2010 report 10.9 percent (6.7 million) women between the ages of 15 and 44 are unable to get pregnant or carry a baby to term. Six percent (1.5 million) of women in that age category who are married are infertile and 7.4 million have used infertility services.
The causes of infertility are often unknown and can be attributed to either the male or female, and sometimes both. Granted there are certain conditions for which a massage therapist has no control, but one of the biggest factors can be alleviated through massage: stress.
Alice Domar, Ph.D., fertility expert formerly at the Mind Body Centre for Women’s Health at Boston IVF and founder of the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health, noted a strong correlation between stress and infertility. Not only does a woman become stressed when she’s trying to conceive without success, but if she and her partner decide to undergo in vitro fertilization (IVF), that stress level can be comparable to the stress of having a serious illness, according to Domar.
Massage offers a noninvasive and much less expensive therapy than IVF, which can cost in excess of $12,000 per treatment. The field has developed several techniques to help reduce stress, and they may work to restore a woman’s ability to conceive.
Randine Lewis, L.Ac., Ph.D., creator of The Fertile Soul Method™, experienced her own infertility problems. She found femoral reproductive massage helps to increase blood flow to the ovaries, increasing the chance of getting pregnant.
Larry Wurn developed the Wurn Technique, a combination of myofascial release, craniosacral massage, visceral manipulation, cranio-osteopathy and muscle energy. When he used the technique on some patients with blocked Fallopian tubes, they became pregnant. He asserts that the therapy breaks down adhesions, allowing conception to take place; he reports that a 2004 study found the Wurn Technique improved the rates of both natural and IVF conceptions, and several additional studies have been published at Medscape.
Meredith Nathan combined four elements to create the FEM (Fertility Enhancing Massage) Protocol. An integrated method of lymphatic drainage, myofascial release, acupressure, reflexology, breathing techniques, visualization and massage, the FEM Protocol helps to cleanse the body, enhance the blood, open the breath and relax the entire system.
Anecdotal evidence indicates that the Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy have shown positive results. Reflexive of typical massage but done with an intention, this technique invites the client to envision the uterus enveloping a fetus.
Nurturing the Mother™ incorporates cranial sacral massage, colon cleansing, deep pelvic work and reflexology to achieve physical and emotional balance, according to creator Claire Marie Miller. Massage therapists who have taken Miller’s three-day seminar on this method report a number of successful conceptions leading to live births.
Before performing any of the above techniques, a massage therapist should be adequately trained and also be aware of any associated cautions/contraindications.