Facing infertility can leave couples and women feeling discouraged and overwhelmed, even those with strong resilience.
During these trying times, some circles swear by fertility massage therapy as a natural and gentle way to treat the body — but what does this involve?
A fertility massage usually involves a deep tissue massage of the abdomen to target the reproductive organs and surrounding tissue. Fertility massage therapy can also incorporate acupressure and basic relaxation techniques aimed at relieving stress in those hoping to conceive.
When properly and gently performed by a licensed massage therapist, this form of massage can be very relaxing and de-stressing (which can only be a good thing for your body and mental state while attempting to conceive).
Let’s learn a little more about what fertility massage involves and the benefits you can gain from it.
Fertility Massage Therapy
The nature of a fertility massage can vary from one specialist to the next, but this form of massage therapy generally combines techniques such as deep-tissue massage, acupressure, and common relaxation massages such as neck and shoulder rubs to help reduce stress and bodily tension.
Central to fertility massage is a form of deep-tissue massage focused on the abdomen.
This practice is thought to help boost fertility by some specialists as it involves increasing circulation around the reproductive organs.
Do Fertility Massages Really Work?
According to Cesar Diaz-Garcia, medical director at the world-leading fertility clinic IVI London, there is currently no research-based evidence to support the idea that fertility massage can help boost the chances of conception.
However, Diaz-Garcia does acknowledge the benefits of reducing stress on the body since very high levels of cortisol can impact hormone levels and inhibit bodily processes linked to ovulation.
One such study in 2015 reflects this, finding that some forms of massage linked to improved outcomes for IVF patients undergoing a blastocyst transfer.
At best, fertility massage can provide the benefits that come with a reduction in stress such as a boosted immune system and lower blood pressure.
Can Fertility Massage Help Me Get Pregnant?
While there is no research to confirm that fertility massage can increase the chances of conception, the expert opinion is that fertility massage can offer the valuable indirect benefit of reducing stress.
“We intuitively understand that when we are in high stress, fight-or-flight response, our body will preferentially select survival over procreation,” notes Yufang Lin, MD, integrative medicine physician at Cleveland Clinic.
“Massage has been shown to release muscle tension and reduce the psychological stress response,” she says. “It can be part of a comprehensive treatment plan to support fertility.”
Can Fertility Massage Improve Egg Quality?
According to FirstCry Parenting, the increase in blood flow prompted by massage can also send an increased supply of oxygenated blood to tissues in the pelvic bowl and the womb, which is thought to possibly increase egg quality.
Can Fertility Massage Induce Ovulation?
As stress can impact the hormonal system to the point of delaying ovulation, according to Seattle Acupuncture & Holistic Health, fertility massage may help to ensure this system is functioning properly.
Medical Director Cesar Diaz-Garcia also notes that the stress hormone cortisol can inhibit oestradiol (a type of estrogen needed to signal ovulation).
Fertility Massage Benefits
- Reduced muscle pain
- Helps to lower stress hormones
- Promotes relaxation, which may improve sleep
- Improved blood circulation (helping to deliver fresh blood to the uterus and cervix)
- An immune system boost
- The toning and strengthening of the uterus and nearby ligaments (helping to optimize fertilization and implantation)
- Helps to reposition a tilted uterus
- Helps break up scar tissue
- Improves endocrine system communication (the messenger system controlling how hormones are released throughout the body)
- Encourages the body to rid itself of inactive blood and tissues
Who Can Benefit From a Fertility Massage?
Fertility massage can benefit a broad range of women from those with gynecological and reproductive issues to those with emotional issues tied to fertility.
As this massage can help break down scar tissue, this can be helpful for women who have undergone abdominal surgery such as cesareans, hysterectomies, and procedures to address blocked fallopian tubes
According to Kennington Osteopaths & Physiotherapy, it may also offer pain relief, mental health benefits, and stress-relieving benefits to women with:
- Painful or irregular menstruation
- Debilitating pre-menopause/menopause symptoms
- PMT (Premenstrual tension)
- Sexual trauma
- Abnormal uterine bleeding
- Bladder or yeast infections
- Ovarian or breast cysts
How Is Fertility Massage Done?
The most common form of fertility massage (abdominal massage) usually takes anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour.
This involves making slow and gentle circular motions across the width of the abdomen using the whole palm and all fingers of both hands, working in a clockwise movement.
While a 30-minute massage session may focus solely on the abdomen, a longer session is likely to incorporate other areas of the body, such as the arms, legs, and feet, and Shiatsu deep tissue massage for relaxation and tension release in the neck, shoulders, and back.
Is Fertility Massage Safe?
Gentle fertility massage from a licensed massage therapist should be perfectly safe when you’re trying to conceive.
Fertility massage is not advised once you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant, as lying on your back for prolonged periods after the first trimester can increase the risk of stillbirth.
To be on the safe side, always speak to your doctor about prenatal massage first.
Is Fertility Massage Painful?
Fertility massage involves gentle pressure and should not feel painful.
Be sure to stop immediately if you feel any pain or discomfort during your massage, and always make your massage therapist aware of any relevant medical conditions beforehand to avoid aggravating your symptoms.
What Oil Is Used for Fertility Massage?
Castor oil is seen as a good choice for fertility massage as it helps soften underlying tissues and enhances circulation.
Its anti-inflammatory properties also result in natural detoxification of the area, according to Natural Fertility Info.
Other natural massage oils (not mineral “baby” oils) can be a great alternative to castor oil.
How Fertility Massage Changes Throughout Your Cycle
A good massage therapist will recognize that massage techniques should adhere to each stage of your reproductive cycle to give you the most comfortable and beneficial experience.
During menstruation, for example, massage should be at its most gentle with a light relaxing touch that doesn’t apply pressure to the sore and swollen reproductive organs.
At the pre-ovulation stage, deep tissue massage of the reproductive system is now appropriate and involves gentle manipulation of the womb and surrounding ligaments to help encourage pelvic alignment.
At post-ovulation and the two-week-wait, the womb will be very tender, so massage is normally avoided in this area in case of possible pregnancy.
Self Fertility Massage
There is also an option to perform self-fertility massages at home. All you need is a comfortable spot to lie down and a natural massage oil worked into your palms to warm up.
Start with slow and gentle clockwise motions around your belly button.
When Is the Best Time To Have Fertility Massage?
According to Dr. Robert Kiltz of CNY Fertility, massage is typically done in the window after menstruation but before ovulation as abdominal pressure may be uncomfortable for some during menstruation.
Overall, CNY Fertility suggests that for best results, a fertility massage regimen should begin 90 days prior to the start of any fertility treatment such as IVF or IUI.
How Often Should You Get a Fertility Massage?
If you are comfortable with it, experts recommend getting an abdominal fertility massage daily from the day after your menstrual cycle to the day ovulation begins as part of a self-care routine.
Mayan Fertility Massage
Mayan fertility massage is an ancient form of abdominal massage and has been used for centuries by native healers of Central America.
Mayan massage focuses on the ligaments that hold the reproductive organs together in the areas around the ovaries and uterus.
The belief is that a deep tissue massage targeting these areas can help these ligaments to become properly aligned.
Acupressure in Fertility Massage
Another technique that is often incorporated in fertility massage therapy includes the application of pressure to “acupoints” around the feet between the heel and ankle as this is believed by reflexologists to correspond to the uterus.
Acupressure fertility massage often uses pressure applied by the two middle-most fingers or first three fingers to certain points on the top of the foot and points between the ankle and heel as these areas have links with the fallopian tubes, uterus, and ovaries.
Acupressure Points for Fertility
Alongside the feet, some acupressure points for fertility that can benefit women and men, according to FirstCry Parenting, include:
- Between the belly button and sternum: may help to rid the uterus, bladder, and fallopian tubes of harmful bodily fluids
- On the forehead between the eyebrows: said to relieve migraines/stress headaches and improve pituitary gland function (associated with the release of female sex hormones)
- On the side of the knee joint: thought to help with low sperm production, insomnia, and depression
- In the pelvis crease where your leg connects to your body: this is said to help with erectile dysfunction
While fertility massage therapy can’t be relied upon as a scientifically proven way of conceiving a child or improving your reproductive health, the indirect benefits of stress relief can be very beneficial to your mind and body in such arduous times.
Higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol have a direct effect on many important bodily processes from your immune system function to your hormonal balance and menstrual cycle.
So, if nothing else, it makes sense to take advantage of a relaxing massage throughout your fertility journey.
Rebecca is a seasoned copywriter and researcher with over a decade of experience, specializing in parenting topics. With a passion for all aspects of raising children, from breastfeeding to potty training.