Reflexology and Infertility

Submitted by Kate Seldman Mon 05/02/2011

Could foot reflexology help resolve infertility issues? That’s the claim of some practitioners who have used this foot massage technique to help their patients get pregnant. Foot reflexologists believe that each of the feet contains a mini-map of the body, and that applying pressure to, or massaging, certain parts of the feet can affect the corresponding parts of the body. If a certain part of the foot hurts when it’s being massaged, that often means there’s a problem with the part of the body to which that area of the foot corresponds. Reflexologists perform foot massage without using oils or lotions. Recent articles published in UK newspaper The Daily Mail quote British actress Cathy Shipton as saying foot reflexology treatments helped her become pregnant. She had been trying to conceive for four years, and four months after she embarked on a twice-weekly reflexology regimen, she got pregnant. Jane Holt, a British reflexologist, is now conducting a two-year clinical study at the IVF unit at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth. She decided to begin the research when 13 out of 23 infertile women she’d treated conceived successfully. The study will examine 150 women who will receive either eight sessions of foot reflexology or a similar placebo foot rub over the course of two to three months. Only the reflexologist will know which women have been given which treatment. Previous research, however, has not indicated that foot reflexology can help women with fertility problems to conceive. A recent study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility involved 48 women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, a hormonal condition that can lead to lack of ovulation and infertility. The women underwent eight sessions of either foot reflexology or a similar massage therapy for 10 weeks. None of the women had received foot reflexology prior to the study. After the study, 11 of the 26 women in the reflexology group ovulated, and four of these women became pregnant. 10 out of the 22 women in the non-reflexology group ovulated, and two got pregnant. This evidence was too inconclusive to suggest that reflexology helped these women conceive.
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