For couples looking for an edge in dealing with fertility—or just a way to relax while “trying”—there are more options in massage and bodywork than ever before.
The research is clear: Getting a regular massage reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, lowers pain, improves immunity, and alleviates depression. But can massage help you get pregnant?
Perhaps, says Paul C. Magarelli, M.D., Ph.D., founder and director of Reproductive Medicine and Fertility Centers in Colorado Springs and Albuquerque. “There is enough data that shows massage improves blood flow and reduces stress,” he says, but then adds that it’s still not known whether massage will, for example, improve blood flow specifically in the pelvis, a key factor in fertility. Without more research, most fertility experts, including Dr. Magarelli, see massage as a harmless and beneficial way to cut tension. “Treatments that reduce stress—yoga, walking, meditation, massage, reading—all contribute to a sense of peace as patients go through the rollercoaster of infertility evaluation and care,” says Dr. Magarelli, adding that while “there are very little data to support massage’s role in getting pregnant, there is reasonable data to support its stress-reduction role in maintaining a pregnancy.”
These days, the bodywork and massage options for a couple wanting to get pregnant go far beyond your standard Swedish or deep tissue. And although there’s considerable variation in the three approaches profiled here, all share at least one goal: bringing the body back into health so fertilization, implantation, and pregnancy can happen as naturally as possible. At a first visit with a practitioner, expect an in-depth analysis of your physical and emotional health, past and present. Because few of these techniques have been scientifically studied, talk to your doctor before trying any if you’re undergoing IVF (in vitro fertilization) or other assisted reproductive technologies.
Mayan Abdominal Massage for Fertility
What it Is
There are several approaches to the traditional Mayan technique of abdominal massage for healing, but many American practitioners train in the holistic Arvigo Techniques taught by Rosita Arvigo, an herbalist and respected authority on Mayan healing traditions.
How it Works to Boost Fertility
“In about 90 percent of women, according to Mayan shamans, the uterus is displaced,” says Genevieve Siegel, L.M.T., a massage therapist at Reproductive Wellness in San Diego, California, and an apprentice to Arvigo. “A patient [with a displaced uterus] may say she has painful periods, dark blood at the beginning and at the end, a lot of vaginal discharge. If the uterus isn’t in place, nothing in her life will be right.” During a treatment, Siegel massages the belly (and then the back) using both hands; her aim is to guide the internal organs back into their proper placement using a scooping motion with her hands that travels up the pubic bone and lower abdomen, a method clients can use at home on themselves. “Taking your health into your own hands is the best way to heal,” says Siegel. After a treatment you may notice changes in menses, discharge, bowel movements, or urination. While practitioners do track case studies of patients, no research has looked at whether Mayan Abdominal Massage improves pregnancy rates.
What it Costs
A treatment, which lasts an hour or so, costs about $65 to $100. Treatments should be done no more often than twice a week, though you can do abdominal self-care every day. The technique should be avoided five days before and during menstruation. In addition, women should not have Mayan Abdominal Massage if they have an IUD; if they’ve had recent abdominal surgery; if they’re taking pain medication; or if they have any infection or cancer.
For More Information
Go to www.arvigomassage.com, or call 603-588-2571.