Jeffrey B. Russell, MD Board Certified Reproductive Endocrinologist, Infertility Specialist Yale University Trained
MASSAGE THERAPY and INFERTILITY
Stress and FertilityFertility requires a delicate balance of hormones to orchestrate the production, release, fertilization and implantation of an egg. This balance can be affected by many conditions within the body, including stress. "Stress, either low-level daily hassles or one-time big events, causes a release of hormones that can interfere with the delicate balance needed to create a new life," says occupational therapist Jennifer Bloome.President of www.Your-birth.com, Bloome says current research demonstrates that stress during an IVF procedure causes a decrease in the number of eggs developed, retrieved and transferred. Other research demonstrates that stress can cause changes in ovulation, changes in cycle length and tubal spasms."Not only does stress cause a physical reaction in the body, but also a mental reaction," says Bloome. "Stress can magnify the feelings of fear, worry, emptiness and anger. The combination of mental and physical reactions can lead to a downward spiral and an overall feeling of a loss of control. Techniques that help women work with and release stress can enhance feelings of control."Massage-based techniques and movement therapies help to break the vicious cycle by encouraging relaxation. More specifically, they can help relax tense muscles and tight connective tissues that may have been constricting blood vessels, and thus enable blood to flow more freely. Soothing massage helps reduce emotional tension, induce relaxation, calm stress-related conditions and may help women with hormone-related difficulties.
Soft-tissue MassageAbout 12 years ago, massage therapist Larry Wurn and his wife Belinda, a physical therapist, came across an alternative treatment for female infertility related to mechanical problems. While treating an infertile woman for low-back and pelvic pain, the therapists discovered their client became pregnant, after seven years of infertility. What made it especially interesting was the client had been diagnosed with two blocked fallopian tubes and had been sexually active the entire time. Intrigued, the massage therapists tried the same technique on eight other infertile women. Half of them became pregnant following the massage therapy.Wurn's treatment combines physical therapy with site-specific massage. They were encouraged by an early success rate of 50 percent treating female infertility with the process, according to Belinda Wurn. That rate has now climbed to more than 70 percent. "One of our latest cases was infertile for four years," says Wurn. "She came to us with two blocked fallopian tubes and one failed IVF. She had suffered two miscarriages, an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy and a failed attempt to open her tubes surgically, when she came for the therapy. She became pregnant after one week of therapy here and is due to deliver next week."Our patients usually have a history of either surgery, inflammation or trauma. The therapy addresses adhesions, spasm and mechanical factors that cause almost half of all female infertility. Patients often have a history of miscarriage, tubal blockage, difficulty with implantation, sperm or egg transport."The patent-protected therapy, called the WURN TechniqueSM, has been used on women throughout the United States and abroad. In one study of 22 women who had completed the program, 16 are now pregnant or delivered following treatment. "That translates into a preliminary success rate of 73 percent," says Larry Wurn.According to Marvin Heuer, M.D., president and research director of the medical research group Clin-Sci International, medical literature suggests 80 percent of abdominal and gynecologic surgeries cause adhesions. "Adhesions may form after an injury or inflammation, such as endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, bladder or yeast infection," he says. "Patients seem to appreciate the more natural approach with this therapy. Without surgery or drugs, there is a significant decrease in complications. The main side effect appears to be decreased pain."Gynecological researcher Richard King, M.D., helped design the present clinical trials. "If ongoing studies continue to produce results, there are positive implications for infertile women and patients with chronic pain or dysfunction due to adhesions," he says. Clinical studies are ongoing.The therapy may be used as the sole treatment, or in combination with other techniques, such as acupuncture, or with assisted reproduction techniques like intrauterine inseminations and IVF. Therapy alone was the primary treatment in 13 of the infertility reversals, according to Wurn. In three other successes, women had the therapy prior to IVF, to increase uterine receptivity. In six separate cases, patients reported the therapy cleared at least one fallopian tube that had been blocked prior to therapy.
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