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Reflexology and fertility

Updated on September 16, 2013
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Connecting the dots

Several years back, I went for a foot massage at a Chinese massage place. It was glorious, and the man doing the massage really worked at my feet. Admittedly, it was also pretty painful in some parts; although a ‘good pain’, if that makes sense.
Afterwards, the man told me he could feel that I had a lot of tension in the neck and back area too, and that next time, I should come for a neck and back massage.
At the time, I was very stiff in my neck and shoulders and kept getting migraines as well, from neck tension.
How did he know? He could feel through my feet.

Apparently we also ‘carry’ stress in our feet. About five years ago I went through an extremely stressful time, having to pack up my house and move on from a bad relationship. To try to de-stress, I went for many long walks, despite having seriously sore feet. The soles of my feet literally ached. I thought it was because of all the walking, until I went for a seriously hardcore shiatsu massage; this time to alleviate incredibly painful sciatic nerve pain in my lower back and down my left leg.
The shiatsu practitioner also told me I was carrying a huge amount of stress in my feet. This would explain all the pain I had been experiencing on the soles of my feet.

So, when I started on my journey of trying to conceive at the ‘ripe old age’ of 41, and read about how reflexology could help with fertility issues, it all made perfect sense to me.

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How reflexology works

Reflexology is an ancient healing practice that has been recorded as far back as 2400 BC. It has been practiced in Egypt, China and Greece for centuries.

The theory is that certain parts of the feet and hands correspond to certain parts, glands or organs in your body. So by applying pressure to those points on the feet or hands, we are stimulating the corresponding organ or area of the body.

Like acupuncture, reflexology focuses on bettering the flow of energy, or ‘chi’, through the body, and can direct energy flow to the areas of your body that need to be ‘unblocked’.
So for fertility purposes, the objective would be to stimulate the areas of the foot or hand that correspond with the reproductive organs.

Practitioners claim that by stimulating the feet or hands, that certain chemicals, such as endorphins, are released in the body, which reduces stress.

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During my research into how it works, I read about a woman called Jane Holt, who has been practicing reflexology for almost 20 years, at a hospital in Plymouth. She claims that reflexology has helped several of her female patients fall pregnant.
As she says, as well as stimulating the reproductive organs, reflexology also relieves stress. And as we know, stress is one of the biggest factors that can work against us when trying to conceive naturally.
She is currently conducting a clinical study at the IVF unit at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, which will be carried out over two years. She approached the hospital to conduct the study after 13 of her patients, who came to her with fertility issues last year, fell pregnant.

I also joined a couple of online fertility forums, and the subject of reflexology came up often ‒ always in a positive light. It seems that many women are swearing by reflexology, saying they are almost positive that it helped them fall pregnant. Some women claim to have been trying to conceive for years, naturally or with IVF, and they fell pregnant within weeks or just a couple of months of starting their reflexology treatments.
All these women also experienced a significant change in their menstrual cycle (becoming more regular and often less painful) as well as lower stress levels.

Despite the lack of 'clinical' evidence in the study of reflexology, it is certainly on the rise in modern times. A national survey conducted in 2005 shows that it is one of the most used therapies in Denmark, with almost a quarter of the population having been for reflexology treatments in their lives.
Given all the women on fertility forms that are trying this, with great results, I think the ‘proof’ is really out there. Like I said: nothing ventured, nothing gained.

My experience

My ‘fertility issue’ was that I was hoping to fall pregnant at what is termed an ‘advanced’ age, and I knew my body would need all the help it could get. I had been for blood tests to check my FSH (Follicle-stimulating Hormone) levels, and knew they were slightly higher than the preferred level should be when trying to conceive. This meant that my egg reserve was on the low side, and I needed to try everything possible to produce better quality (and quantity) eggs.

Along with visits to the acupuncturist, I decided to try reflexology as well. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

I went for weekly reflexology sessions, for about a month, and then every two weeks for three months after that, before falling pregnant!
I still cannot say for sure if it was the reflexology, the acupuncture, or the supplements I was taking (I took DHEA), but something definitely worked.

I was a lot less stressed after my reflexology sessions. I’m won’t say it wasn’t painful sometimes, because it really was very sore in parts. In one area, on the side of my heel just under my ankle bone, where the pressure point for the ovaries is, it was so painful when the practitioner pressed on it, I nearly leapt off the bed!

My practitioner also told me to massage my own feet, or to ask my husband to do it, on the spots that correspond to the ovaries and uterus. ‘You have nothing to lose,’ she told me, so I did; every night while watching TV, I applied pressure to the spots just beneath my inner and outer ankle bones (my husband got bored with it after one night...).

Note: I am not a healthcare practitioner. I do not diagnose or give treament to anyone. This article is based on my own research into fertility at an advanced age. Everyone is different, and we all react differently to treatments. It is up to you to contact a professional in your area for advice.

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