I first experienced abdominal massage when my acupuncturist performed tuina (traditional Chinese massage) on my belly in order to alleviate digestive issues I had been experiencing. The following day my belly felt slightly sore – as though I’d had an internal abdominal workout – but eventually all digestive symptoms improved, I had less tension in my abdomen and I felt better overall.
This inspired me to learn abdominal/sacral massage in the hope to help my fertility clients to not only conceive but to improve their digestive complaints/disorders which, from my clinical experience, very often go hand in hand.
With time I learned there is a close link between fertility and gastrointestinal health. This is because the health of the gut can influence fertility in many subtle ways. I often ask my clients how they feel about this area and I get answers like: ‘cold’, ‘I don’t feel anything’, ‘I never paid it attention’, ‘numb’, ‘tense’, ‘heavy’, ‘distended’, ‘gurgling a lot’. Such sensations are perceived as normal, however, they are often indicative of underlying digestive weakness. Others find it difficult to connect with this area, especially if they have had many abdominal/ovarian/uterine medical procedures.
With regards to improving fertility, some clients reported that after having abdominal/sacral massage they started ovulating and menstruating regularly. They also experienced less pain and had less clots during menstruation.
So, it is a wonderful way to naturally regulate and improve painful menstruation/ovulation.
Many cultures focus on the abdomen as a source of healing and power. According to Mayan beliefs a woman’s centre is her uterus. An incorrectly positioned uterus may impede blood, lymph and nerve flow causing blockages. They believe that abdominal massage that involves massaging the uterus helps to reposition the uterus and it’s holding ligaments to unblock the flow of blood, lymph and nerve supply.
What is it?
Fertility massage is a massage therapy that concentrates exclusively on the abdominal and sacral areas to optimise proper function of the abdominal organs in order to maintain overall health and support reproduction.
This deeply relaxing experience allows the body to relax, relieves stress, improves blood and lymph flow to the abdominal organs and allows the organs to adjust to their natural shape and space. It also helps to soften any scar tissue due to injury. It aims to keep the abdominal area healthy and strong.
What is involved?
The massage applies rhythmic movements and direct, gentle pressure on the abdominal area and sacrum. During the session abdominal organs such as the stomach, liver, gallbladder, diaphragm, small and large intestines, pancreas, spleen, bladder, uterus and ovaries are massaged, as well as the sacral area.
The session lasts about an hour. It is advised to wear loose clothing.
How does gastrointestinal health influence fertility?
In Traditional Chinese Medicine the Spleen and Stomach occupy a central role in physiology as they transform food and drink into something called ‘post heaven qi’. Post heaven qi nourishes all the organs and tissues and provides fuel/energy for the whole body to function optimally. If this function of the Spleen and Stomach is compromised the body may become weak and ill. Modern medical science also supports this theory. According to latest research in science, specifically in functional medicine, many chronic/autoimmune health conditions such as arthritis or MS can originate from poor digestion. In this view, the root cause of illness is not restricted to the breakdown of one body part or system but to the breakdown of the interplay among several systems and proper organ functions.
Regarding infertility, Chinese Medicine also supports the idea that the patient’s entire system has to work as optimally as possible for conception to occur. In this view, infertility is never treated in isolation but rather by correcting whole system dysfunction that might hinder optimal reproduction.
Some areas where weak digestion may affect optimal fertility:
Poor nutrient absorption:
If your stomach and intestines don’t work properly the body will be unable to digest food properly and absorb all the nutrients from food that are needed for all body systems to work efficiently.
Suboptimal hormone production:
If digestion and assimilation are compromised there will be shortages of vitamins and trace minerals available for several body systems and organs to produce hormones for healthy reproduction and pregnancy.
Toxins that are produced in the body are waste products from normal metabolic activities. They are excreted through regular bowel movements. However, if intestinal movement is sluggish in the form of constipation then wastes accumulate and toxins can get reabsorbed in the body and stored in tissues. This process can lead to feeling unwell. It can also upset the healthy balance of intestinal flora that are important for the proper functioning of the whole body.
The intestines act as a closed tube for waste to be excreted. However, when the cells that make up the intestinal wall become porous/open, often referred to as ‘leaky gut syndrome’, then unwanted materials such as undigested food particles and toxins can enter the blood stream. The immune system will get activated as it will recognise these molecules as ‘foreign/unwanted’ as they shouldn’t be there and it will try to get rid of them. If this process is prolonged and the immune system can’t keep up with the task then those ‘foreign’ bodies can get absorbed in tissues. The immune cells eventually will start to attack those tissues, causing chronic inflammation.
Gluten sensitivity, for example, can lead to not only inflammation in the gut but throughout the body. This condition can be the precursor for reproductive immunology problems in which the immune system becomes over active and rejects the implanting embryo leading to miscarriage.