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Can Physical Therapy Help With Infertility?

by Caitlin Obara

According to the Center for Disease Control, about 10.9 percent of American women aged 15 to 44 suffer from infertility. While there are many treatment options available for improving fecundity, manual pelvic physical therapy has been shown to be effective at treating mechanical infertility caused by scar tissue. Here's more information about this option for increasing your chances of getting pregnant.

What is Mechanical Infertility?

To fully understand how physical therapy helps alleviate mechanical infertility, it's important to know what this condition is. Mechanical infertility describes an issue where the egg is prevented from interacting with sperm or from implanting in the uterus because of scar tissue called adhesions.

Whenever trauma occurs in the uterus or fallopian tubes, adhesions form over the damaged area to help the body heal. Unfortunately, these adhesions are not reabsorbed by the body after they're not needed any longer. The leftover scar tissue can cause problems such as compressing the fallopian tubes in a way that makes it difficult for the egg to pass through or pulling the uterus out of alignment and negatively impacting its function.

The result is a decreased ability to conceive. The adhesions may also cause pain and other uncomfortable symptoms that hurt a woman's quality of life.

How Does Manual Physical Therapy Help?

Manual physical therapy is a set of techniques and treatments aimed at reducing the size of the adhesions and treating associated symptoms that may also be contributing to a woman's difficulty conceiving. A couple of these techniques include:

  • Myofascial release which involves applying sustained pressure to the connective tissues in a particular area. It's a hands-on technique similar to massage.
  • Draining of the lymph nodes in the area to improve circulation of body fluids and immune function.

The physical therapist may prescribe additional treatments based on your specific needs.

Studies looking at the effectiveness of this treatment found it vastly improved a woman's ability to conceive. One study involving 53 women who received 10 to 20 hours of treatment ended with a good portion of the women conceiving within the following two years after the treatments ended. About 10 out of 14 women who wanted to conceive naturally did to within one year and 22 out of 25 women who want to conceive via IVF were able to do so within 15 months. Some women were unavailable for follow up interviews.

If you're having trouble conceiving and it is the result of mechanical infertility, talk to a physical therapist about whether manual pelvic physical therapy can help you.

For more information about physical therapy, contact a center like Bronx Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation.