Sometimes it seems that everywhere we look there are babies and pregnant women. We spend most of our lives hearing that we should take precautions against accidental pregnancies and not really thinking about the steps involved in conception. We have our period and that’s about it … isn’t it?
Yet the truth is actually very different and it is not until we stop and think that we realise what a miracle pregnancy really is. We have all made those innocent comments to friends or family: “You’ll be next!”, “When are you going to have a baby?”, “Don’t leave it too long!”. No one really considers that behind the façade of joyfully playing with other people’s toddlers that the couple might actually be trying for a baby; that they may have been trying for some time. The reality is that having difficulties conceiving is much more common that we realise: it is an issue for around one in seven couples.
Unfortunately, there is no quick fix, no magic wand to speed up those moments when trying to have a baby. There are lots of medical options, but the time, money and emotional energy involved are immense and can put a strain on even the strongest relationship.
More research is needed to scientifically demonstrate the benefits of reflexology on conception. Most research to date has focused on qualitative outcomes, quality of life, stress, anxiety and pain and not on quantitative biochemical or physiological changes[i]. Research[ii] so far has found little scientific proof that reflexology can assist in conception. Nonetheless, people in Britain and Europe are spending more and more money on alternative therapies and anecdotal evidence is growing to demonstrate that reflexology can support conception in a number of ways.
- Time out: An hour away from daily life can give the couple time and space physically, mentally and emotionally to recharge their batteries.
- Control: Infertility is almost inevitably accompanied by feelings of stress, anxiety and an overwhelming sense of powerlessness. Reflexology can help couples feel that they are taking a little bit of control back and feel more positive.
- The nervous system: There is evidence to suggest that reflexology helps to modulate the autonomic nervous system; this controls systems that are under unconscious control such as breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure: tension eases and the body’s innate healing ability is given space to work.
- Stress reduction: When we are stressed cortisone and adrenaline levels increase and our body’s fight or flight mechanism takes over. This reduces blood flow to inessential organs and systems in the body: slowing down digestion, increasing our heart rate and affecting our immune system etc. Research by Denise Tiran indicates that reflexology helps to release oxytocin and endorphins, the body’s hormones for relaxation, counteracting the effects of stress and improving sleep.
- Balance: Reflexology helps the body reach homeostasis (a state of balance) so that all of its systems work to their optimum, creating a healthier environment for a possible pregnancy.
- Hormones and gynaecological conditions: Anecdotal evidence is growing to show that reflexology can help regulate menstrual cycles, and bring about improvement in gynaecological conditions such as polycystic ovaries, cervical problems, adhesions, anovulation, pelvic inflammatory disease, premenstrual syndrome, hormone imbalances, and endometriosis.
- Male fertility: Equally, there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that reflexology can have a positive effect on sperm quality (motility, count, morphology, and DNA fragmentation).
- The immune system: Reflexology has a detoxifying effect on the body, flushing out toxins so that they do not take hold and cause illness. This strengthens and balances the immune system, helping to ensure that it does not become overactive.
- Blood circulation: Reflexology helps to promote blood circulation around the body, aiding in the transportation of vitamins and minerals and ensuring blood flow to all areas of the body (including the reproductive organs).
- Sex drive: It has also been shown to help couples have an improved sex drive. This can help relations become more natural again, rather than a mechanical act solely to get pregnant.
If you want to find out more, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
[i] McCullough et al 2014 https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2014/502123/
[ii] such as that by Holt et al. Fertility and sterility 2009, http://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282(08)00791-7/abstract