Last month I talked about how castor oil packs can help with fertility and gynecological concerns. This month, I want to share another form of manual therapy that works well both on its own or with the castor oil pack. I first heard of abdominal massage or Mayan massage through a patient who had bad cramps with her period. She went to a masseuse who specialized in this form of manipulation and she was shocked how accurate the masseuse was in recounting her reproductive history (she had an ectopic pregnancy three years ago that resulted in significant scarring of her Fallopian tube and she has a uterus that is slightly tilted to the left and forward). Due to her previous pregnancy, her doctor performed a HGS and had told her about the scarring and location of her uterus but her masseuse detected all of that information with just her touch and no prior knowledge except that the patient had painful periods.
What is Abdominal or Mayan Massage?
This is a technique developed by Dr. Rosito Arvigo after apprenticing for over 10 years with one of the last Mayan healers. Mayan culture believes that the center of a woman is her uterus. The first step of the massage involves a vaginal steam with herbs. The herbal steam introduces heat to the uterus and encourages detoxification (Minahan, 2013). After the steam the massage therapist will begin to massage the abdomen, usually in clockwise circular motions radiating out from the belly button. Each therapist’s technique may vary depending on the goals of the patient. Typically, the masseuse will gradually get deeper into the abdomen or as my patient described it “it felt like she was reaching the table underneath me”. You will feel various degrees of intensity and it is important to communicate with your therapist if you are in pain or extreme discomfort. After the massage, the therapist will typically show you how to perform a less intense version of the massage yourself.
What is the massage good for?
Traditionally patients with painful periods or prolapsed uterus will seek out this therapy but all women can benefit from this treatment especially women trying to conceive. The uterus is held in place by a series of ligaments and as we age, those ligaments can stretch, shrink, become injured and displace the uterus from where it should be located. The results of a displaced uterus can include the following symptoms:
- Painful menstrual cramps
- Dark or brown clots during period
- Low back pain
- Start and stop periods
- Spotting anytime during cycle
- Frequent urination
- Chronic miscarriages
Abdominal massage increases blood flow to the reproductive organs and since our hormones travel through our bloodstream, improving circulation is critical to naturally help improve fertility. Much of what we do in our NYC acupuncture clinic is to promote circulation as well. The massage can also help move congested lymph fluid, increase oxygenated blood flow to the reproductive organs, increase immune function and maintain proper nerve flow in pelvic organs (McDonald, 2017). Numerous case studies show that abdominal massage has aided women with blocked fallopian tubes or endometriosis conceive either naturally or through IVF (Boyles, 2002).
Can I do the massage myself?
I strongly recommend to patients to seek out the skills of a professional first and have the licensed therapist show you how to perform a self-massage. If you cannot find a therapist near you, check out Cure Joy’s article on how to perform the massage yourself: https://www.curejoy.com/content/self-fertility-massage/
After you’ve learned the self-massage process, it’s great to do in combination with the castor oil packs. Check out my blog from last month to learn more! Learn more
Boyles, S. (2002) A hands-on approach to infertility: Patient massage treatment shows promise in difficult
to treat cases. WebMD: Infertility and Reproduction. https://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/news/20021023/hands-on-approach-for-infertility?printing=true#1
McDonald, D. (2017) Can this ancient Mayan massage technique increase fertility? Massage Magazine:
Technique Articles. https://www.massagemag.com/mayan-fertility-massage-technique-87497/
Minahan, M. (2013) Maya massage: A healing practice every woman should know, Huffington Post: The