Physiotherapy is a health treatment that focuses on movement for better health. It is often recommended in rehab, especially after surgery or serious injury. But will improving your movement boost your performance in the bedroom? What if you have been trying to conceive but cannot? Here is what you need to know about physiotherapy and fertility.
Find the Cause of infertility
The medical definition of infertility is when a couple fails to conceive after a year of unprotected sex, or half a year if the woman is over 35. But that can happen for many different reasons. You should identify the cause of your infertility before thinking that you need a certain treatment. Knowing the source of your problem will help you determine what physiotherapy products are right for you.
There are many causes of infertility, including, but not limited to:
- Abnormal sperm shape
- Obstruction of the reproductive tubes
- Hormonal disorders
- Uterine/testicular disorders
- Old age
This article cannot guarantee that physiotherapy will improve your fertility. This is especially true if your infertility is due to something like a genetic issue. But if the issue is something physical, then physiotherapy may help. Consult a reproductive endocrinologist (RE), gynaecologist, or urologist to identify the cause of your infertility before deciding if physiotherapy is right for you.
Physiotherapy is more potent than you may realise. It can improve many (but not all) fertility issues. Even if your problem is hormonal, or you think something might be buried too deeply, physiotherapy can offer some surprising benefits.
Physiotherapy Unclogs Your Systems
One of the major causes of infertility is, in short, clogs in the system. Regardless of whether you are male or female, your reproductive system is comparable to biological plumbing. A clog or crease anywhere in those pipes can cause the system to not work as it should.
These systems are delicate. Do not attempt to fix any reproductive issues yourself; one wrong move could make the problem worse. Consult a medical professional before attempting to cure your infertility. Go into physiotherapy with all the information you can find.
Proper physiotherapy will undo those knots. If you know that “clogged plumbing” is your issue, you can ask your physiotherapist to help with those areas. Again, it is wise to figure out the cause of your infertility before taking further action.
Physiotherapy Improves Sex
Physiotherapy can also improve your fertility by making you more flexible. Any exercise that strengthens the hips and sides will help stabilise your hormone levels. If you know the cause of your infertility, you can tell your physiotherapist to give special attention to that area.
Improving flexibility not only improves fertility but also makes your sex more pleasant. Your physiotherapist will teach you how to move without feeling pain. Physiotherapy is meant for people recovering from severe injuries, so improving one’s lovemaking is easy by comparison.
If you are in pain during sex, physiotherapy can help. Consult a RE or a physiotherapist specialising in sexual pain to find the root of the problem and act accordingly. You should see noticeable improvements if you follow their instructions.
Physiotherapy Makes It Easier to Give Birth
Physiotherapy can also make it easier to give birth. Specifically, pelvic physiotherapy is often recommended before and after having a baby. These gentle movements make the entire process easier. Consult either a physiotherapist or a RE before creating an exercise regimen.
They also increase the production of the right hormones. As stated earlier, physiotherapy can smooth out the kinks in your reproductive plumbing. This increases your chances of conception by letting everything flow more smoothly.
On a similar note, injury around the pelvis may affect your fertility in other ways. Any exercises meant to decrease pain or otherwise treat that area may lead to improved fertility. Some of these exercises may be safe to try at home, but when in doubt, consult a professional.
Physiotherapy Decreases Stress
Stress can affect your performance in bed and your fertility. The biggest way stress affects fertility is by encouraging unhealthy habits. If you eat when stressed, there is a good chance it affects your hormonal balance, which in turn affects your fertility. Good physiotherapy reduces stress, easing bad behaviours, and the gentle motions make you feel more relaxed.
But stress also releases hormones such as cortisol and the enzyme salivary alpha-amylase. As the name might imply, salivary alpha-amylase is an enzyme secreted in the saliva when people are stressed. People with high levels of salivary alpha-amylase showed a 29% decrease in fertility in a 2019 study. Nobody knows the full impact stress and its related compounds have on fertility, but it is fair to say there is some correlation.
Stress can also decrease your libido, making you not want to have sex in the first place. That may not have been the initial problem but fixing it will only raise your chances of conception. Your RE may have other ideas to lower your stress levels and have more rewarding sex.
Physiotherapy Balances Your Weight
Along with diet, physiotherapy can help you conceive by decreasing your weight. Being overweight can increase your chances of hormonal imbalances. You may also be putting unnecessary chemicals in your body by overeating. Your RE and/or physiotherapist will probably ask about your diet if you are concerned about infertility; follow their diet and exercise plan instructions.
Physiotherapy is also great for general fitness. Since the movements are designed to be therapeutic, the strain is minimal. It can build flexibility, increase strength, and reduce your risk of heart disease. The healthier you are before having sex, the better.
The idea that being overweight leads to infertility affects both sexes. In men, being overweight can affect sperm production. However, the effects of being overweight are more noticeable in women. Important hormones such as follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinising hormone (LH) can malfunction if a woman is overweight. These hormones affect ovulation. Overweight women may miss periods and have other reproductive issues.
Please ask your RE for advice if you think your weight may be responsible for your infertility. They will tell you about the necessary steps from there. Other forms of exercise will probably complement physiotherapy.
Use Physiotherapy and Exercise in Moderation
Now that we know exercise and physiotherapy can help with infertility, we must add one more caveat: there is such a thing as too much exercise. Even though weight loss can help with fertility, too much exercise can decrease fertility. In the worst-case scenario, a woman may miss her period due to exercising too heavily.
Research is conflicted on how much is too much, but if your physiotherapist or RE gives you instructions on how much you should exercise, it is best to follow them. While recommendations vary, it is usually better to start small and work up rather than run a marathon if you have trouble jogging. Follow any instructions from your physiotherapist before taking drastic measures.
Other Pointers to boost fertility
Finally, here are some other solutions for infertility if physiotherapy is not enough:
- Consult a professional before undergoing any treatment. Make sure you know what the problem is before tackling it
- Stop using alcohol, tobacco, and steroids
- Read the fine print on your medications
- Change your diet. Switching to a leaner diet with fewer fats and carbs will both decrease your weight and increase fertility
- Have a bigger breakfast
- Track your periods (if female). This is a good idea in general, but it makes it easier to tell if you have an issue with your menstrual cycle
- Avoid “folk” methods of regaining fertility (for example, oysters). Some of them have scientific merit; others do not. Professional help should come before any form of traditional medicine.
Physiotherapy can do your fertility a lot of good but remember that it is not the be-all or end-all. Changes to your diet, increased exercise, and prescribed medications will also help bring your sex life back. Think of physiotherapy as one part of a larger plan to bring back your love life.
Conclusion of fertility & physiotherapy
Although physiotherapy can improve your chances of conception, it is important to consult a RE if you suspect infertility. A trained professional can tell you the cause of your infertility and what you can do to fix it. If they notice blockage, physiotherapy might be able to help. It can also help with other aspects of sex and giving birth. But sexual health is a delicate territory that should not be self-analysed or -treated. Always consult a trained professional.
Evan is the founder of Fertility2Family and is passionate about fertility education & providing affordable products to help people in their fertility journey. Evan is a qualified enrolled nurse and has expertise in guiding & managing patients through their fertility journeys.