This may be a thought that crosses your mind when you are reaching your mid 30’s or when you seriously want a baby.
As a culture, women are having babies later in life. The average age for first time mums in the US is 28, it was 26.3 in 2014. The 2016 CDC report found a first time rise in the number of births for women ages 30-34.
So if women are starting to have babies in their 30’s, and pregnant women at 35 are labeled as having “advanced maternal” or anxiety-provoking, “geriatric” pregnancies…
What can we do to preserve our fertility, other than freezing eggs?
Challenges with conception and carrying to full term affects 12.1% of american women , 7.3 million have tried invasive and expensive fertility treatments.
Our reproductive system is beautifully complex, functioning on precise timing and a delicate balance of hormonal activity, controlled by the nervous system and traveling through the blood. Any disruption within this system can throw the synchronicity off!
Manual therapy can be extremely helpful in promoting the health of your reproductive organs and the system as a whole. A healthy functioning organ, like an ovary and uterus, moves within a certain range of movement and it has motility (an intrinsic movement within the organ itself).
All of these movements or lack of movement can be assessed and treated by a skilled manual therapist practicing visceral (organ) manipulation.
When an organ has abnormal movement, it does not do its job well!
The function of the ovaries are to release 1-2 eggs per month, as well as releasing estrogen and progesterone, two important reproductive hormones. Ovarian restrictions can impact ovulation and create hormonal imbalances. (Harvey, 2010)
Fallopian tubes allow released eggs to meet potential sperm and enter the uterus. Blocked tubes will inhibit conception, restrictions on the outside can limit their movement and an egg may miss it’s opportunity to connect with a fallopian tube.
The uterus, when restricted in any direction can compress nerves and arteries. This compromises blood flow essential for supporting and nurturing a developing baby. During orgasm the uterus rhythmically contracts lifting upwards while opening the cervix, lack of movement or loss of cervical opening will adversly affect fertility. (Barral,1993)
What prevents these organs from moving?
- Scar tissue or adhesions caused by:
- Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
- Pelvic infection- STI’s, BV, yeast or pelvic inflammatory disease
- Any abdominal and pelvic surgeries
- Cervical cone biopsies or LEEP procedures
- Trauma- falls onto the pelvis/tailbone, seat belt injury, sexual abuse or an emotional trauma
- Abortion, D&C or Miscarriage
- Child birth and C-section
- Intrauterine Devices (IUD)
The good news is…
In 2015, a ten-year retrospective study of 1392 female patients diagnosed with infertility were treated using a whole body manual therapy approach.
The results are truly promising, 40-60% of the women were successfully pregnant, 43% with endometriosis and 53% with PCOS were able to get pregnant after treatment.
We need to be proactive about our reproductive health!
Having enjoyable sex, eating nutritious foods, regular exercise, lowering stress levels, taking supplements/herbs and acupuncture all support reproductive function.
However, if there is a mechanical reason why women or men are struggling with fertility, it can be treated by mobilizing the specific structures involved. It could potentially reduce a lot of anxiety and expense if manual therapy is tried first!
In cases where medical assistance is still needed, having a uterus that is fully mobile and receiving good blood flow will provide the most optimal environment for pregnancy and delivery.
Harvey, A. A Pathway To Health. How Visceral Manipulation Can Help You. North Atlantic Books, Berkley, California, 2010
Barral, J.P. Urogenial Manipulation. Eastland Press, Inc 1993, 2006