Did you know that 1 in 10 of all couples struggle with infertility? This number increases to 1 in 7 over age 30 and 1 in 5 over age 35. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines infertility as the “failure to achieve clinical pregnancy after 12 month or more of regular, unprotected sexual intercourse”. There are multiple causes of infertility, considering both partners. In order for pregnancy to occur, sperm must be able to travel up through the vagina and uterus, and then through to the fallopian tubes. Then, in order for that fertilized egg, or ovum, to implant in the uterus, it must first travel through the fallopian tubes and into the uterus. Although the reproductive system is not made of skeletal muscle, like the muscles in our arms and legs, it requires the ability to MOVE and PROPEL important cells and tissues. Pelvic Health PTs trained in visceral mobilization can help to optimize chances of successful conception. This treatment is most effective when causes are linked to history of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, abdominopelvic surgeries and/or ovulatory problems.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) is often linked with history of infections, diagnosed by tender abdomen, sensitization to pain and significant resistance to antibiotics. The abdominopelvic region is encased by layers of connective tissue that have close relationships with nerves, lymphatic and blood vessels. These surfaces must be able to slide and glide against each other to maintain structural integrity and physiological function. Following surgical procedures to the abdominopelvic region, these tissues can become dehydrated and stuck. Blood flow to certain tissues can become restricted. Scar tissue further reduces mobility of tissues underneath and around it. This applies to surgeries that took place over our life, including appendix removal, endometrial excision, etc. Importantly, a small incision to the outside does not necessarily equal small disruption to the inside. Ovulatory problems can include Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), Thyroid Dysfunction and Hypothalamic Amenorrhea. These conditions may contribute to hormonal imbalances, impaired follicle maturation, implantation of embryo and sperm motility.
What do these conditions- PID, post surgical incisions and Ovulatory challenges- have in common? They are all linked to abdominopelvic inflammation. When infection, foreign materials, incision or tissue dysfunction are present, there will be an inflammatory immune response. We need these responses and they show that our body is working to protect us. However, if the above conditions mount a long term immune response, this will result in increased scar tissue and restriction over time. The goal of Pelvic Health PT is to get the client out of inflammation by treating tissue restrictions. If you may be struggling with infertility, please feel free to reach out and ask questions. If you are planning to undergo Assistive Reproductive Technology (ART), Physical Therapy may be a great way to help optimize your chances for success. Please let your therapist know if you have already completed ART or there is a chance you may already be pregnant, as your therapist will not use any techniques that could disrupt the process.