Women who are trying to conceive a pregnancy can face hurdles, especially in today’s world of hectic schedules, delayed childbearing and increasing challenges with infertility. In vitro fertilization, also known as IVF, can be a valuable method for many women who struggle with infertility. However, IVF alone is not guaranteed success with achieving a pregnancy, with success rates of 20 to 25 percent.
Many women struggling with infertility and considering IVF wonder if there is any clinical evidence to support alternative infertility treatments. What they may not realize is that there are a number of these alternative methods available—including three that have been backed by peer-reviewed studies. One of these methods, known as Clear Passage® physical therapy, has been shown to help improve the reproductive health of women rendered relatively infertile due to a history of blocked fallopian tubes or endometriosis.
Read on to learn more about the alternative infertility treatments that are available and scientifically supported, including behavioral counseling, acupuncture, and Clear Passage® physical therapy.
The struggle of infertility, and the impacts of infertility on psychological wellbeing, have been likened by some researchers to the impacts of a cancer diagnosis. Studying the connection between stress and infertility is difficult, as it evokes a chicken-and-egg dynamic. Infertility, itself, has been shown to cause stress and anxiety among women trying to conceive. That stress and anxiety may then exacerbate an underlying infertility condition, though this connection is not definitive.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (also known as CBT) has been shown to help reduce anxiety and stress among infertile women. For example, Harvard scientist Alice Domar showed that when infertile women received 2 hours of a CBT group intervention weekly, for ten weeks, they experienced significant psychological improvement.
Outside of improving stress during an infertile period, cognitive behavioral therapy has been associated with an increase in pregnancy rates. Other researchers have examined the positive effects of counseling methods such as mindfulness-based stress reduction, emotion-focused, and problem-focused coping, relaxation, and support groups; however, CBT appears to be the most scientifically robust when it comes to reducing mental distress and boosting clinical pregnancy rates.
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medicine tradition that involves the placement of thin needles at specific points along the body to restore the balance of energy (Qi) within the body. Within the infertility treatment field, acupuncture performed directly before an IVF embryo transfer has been reported to increase IVF pregnancy rates, and other variations of this practice (such as acupuncture before and after treatment) have been advocated for, as well.
Scientists have studied acupuncture as both a primary alternative infertility treatment and as an adjunctive treatment for increasing the success of IVF. It is helpful in both arenas, with scientists pointing to specific mechanisms such as improved uterine and ovarian blood flow, modulation of the central and peripheral nervous systems, and its modulation of the psychiatric and immune systems. A systematic review found that clinical pregnancy rates were higher in groups of study participants who received acupuncture when compared to control or sham groups. However, the significance of the findings was limited by data quality.
One case study showed that acupuncture helped improve the sperm quality of a male after four treatments and reduce the presence of ovarian cysts in his female partner after seven treatments, resulting in a successful pregnancy after a year of trying to conceive unsuccessfully.
Clear Passage® Physical Therapy is a manual physical therapy method that focuses on reducing the adhesions that can form within a women’s abdominal and pelvic cavities due to infection, inflammation, endometriosis, or prior surgeries. This specific physical therapy method can reduce mechanical pain caused by adhesions and improve conditions such as female infertility. As such, it can be a valuable alternative infertility treatment, and it has been backed by scientific evidence.
To understand how manual physical therapy—also known as the Clear Passage approach or Wurn technique—can be a scientifically-backed alternative infertility treatment, it helps to have a basic primer on the most common reasons for female infertility. A condition known as “tubal factor infertility,” or a blocked fallopian tube or tubes, accounts for 25 to 35 percent of all cases of female infertility, per the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). Anatomically speaking, the fallopian tubes provide the connection between a woman’s two ovaries and her uterus. To allow for conception and implantation during a woman’s fertile window, an egg must pass from an ovary, through a fallopian tube (where it may become fertilized by a sperm cell), and then proceed into the body of the uterus where it must implant into the uterine lining. When a fallopian tube is blocked, both fertilization of the egg, and an egg’s journey to the uterus, can be prevented.
A common culprit when it comes to a blocked fallopian tube is adhesions. Adhesions are band-like strips of scar tissue that can be sticky and can cause internal organs to stick together. Adhesions can also wrap around critical reproductive organs, such as the fallopian tubes, preventing them from being functional. Many women are entirely unaware that they have adhesions until they begin trying to become pregnant. Their adhesions may have formed from a former sexually transmitted infection, or from an operation such as an appendix removal. Regardless of their precipitating cause, adhesions that involve the fallopian tubes or surrounding structures can cause tubal factor infertility, making it more difficult, or impossible, for a woman to become pregnant. Women can overcome this obstruction through a procedure to unblock the tube, or by removing the tube and undergoing an IVF treatment; however, both options are invasive. A natural, alternative way of reducing the blockage caused by adhesions, is Clear Passage® Physical Therapy. This manual technique can help reduce adhesions and unblock fallopian tubes in a non-invasive way, therefore improving a woman’s fertility and probability of achieving a successful pregnancy.
The scientifically backed physical therapy technique known as the Wurn technique, or Clear Passage approach, helps unblock fallopian tubes by gently focusing on areas in the abdominal or pelvic regions that may be obstructed by adhesions or micro adhesions. When adhesions become untwisted, a fallopian tube can become unkinked, and it can return to its critical role as a hollow passageway between an egg, a sperm cell, and the uterus. Co-developed by Lawrence and Belinda Wurn, the Wurn technique is supported by scientific data, and it is cited in many academic research papers. When technique practitioners are highly trained in specific manual maneuvers applied to a women’s abdominal or pelvic cavities that can successfully release a woman’s superficial and/or deep adhesions that may be impeding her reproductive function. When these adhesions are released, it stimulates the blood flow and lymph drainage of the essential reproductive organs such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus, thereby enhancing a woman’s chance of a successful conception.
The Clear Passage program has a pre-defined structure that allows it to be scientifically analyzed, validated, and implemented consistently at locations throughout North America and the United Kingdom. The usual Clear Passage treatment course requires 20 hours of therapy, which is usually distributed across five days. This enables the entire physical therapy course to be completed within a business week, making it ideal for people who must travel to reach a treatment site, or who are looking to take time off from a busy schedule to complete the treatment.
The Clear Passage® physical therapy approach has been scientifically evaluated for its impact on infertility success rates. Researchers who conducted a ten-year retrospective chart review found that the Clear Passage manual physical therapy approach successfully cleared occluded fallopian tubes in 60.85 percent of patients. Of those patients, 56.64% were able to achieve a pregnancy. The success rate of opening blocked fallopian tubes is even higher for women who have never had surgery on their tubes, at 68.9 percent.
For the subset of patients who suffered from endometriosis and likely had endometriosis-associated adhesions, researchers in the 10-year retrospective study found that 42.81 percent were able to achieve a successful pregnancy after the clear passage approach. A pregnancy rate of 39.3 percent was also realized in patients who had infertility due to advanced maternal age (AMA) as measured by high follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels.
The Clear Passage method can be used as a primary alternative to other more invasive infertility treatments. However, Clear Passage® is not used exclusively for women with infertility who are seeking natural fertility-enhancing options. Similar to the use of acupuncture as an adjunctive method for improving the success rates of IVF treatments, the Clear Passage method can also help improve IVF success rates, as well. For example, reproductive health specialists have found that combining manual physical therapy techniques such as the Wurn technique with a traditional IVF treatment course can enhance an infertile woman’s chances of successfully conceiving a pregnancy. Implementing manual physical therapy that targets adhesions before an IVF embryo transfer can improve the odds of a successful pregnancy by an impressive 50 percent. Researchers have also found that, in at least one case, a woman who underwent Clear Passage manual physical therapy before IVF not only benefitted from having a successful IVF pregnancy, but she also went on to have a successful natural pregnancy subsequently, which suggests that the effect of unblocking the fallopian tube via manual physical therapy was long-lasting.
The Clear Passage manual physical therapy approach is a valuable alternative infertility treatment for women struggling to conceive, and it can also improve the odds that a woman achieves a pregnancy using an IVF conception method. However, Clear Passage physical therapy has myriad other positive benefits, as well. For women who struggle with endometriosis, Clear Passage® Physical Therapy has been shown to decrease pain with sex and painful menstrual cycles. Research published in the Journal of Endometriosis showed that in two independent studies, manual physiotherapy was a non-surgical and non-pharmacologic treatment option, with statistically significant improvements in pain scales reported by women who received the therapy, with improvements persisting after 12 months. Fifty percent of patients reported complete resolution of their pain symptoms. Outside of the world of gynecology, the Clear Passage physical therapy approach has also helped prevent the recurrence of small bowel obstructions and improve the quality of life in patients who suffer from recurrent bowel obstructions, as well as children who suffer from chronic constipation.
Women who struggle with infertility can sometimes feel as though they must make a difficult choice between doing nothing to improve their condition or pursuing a physically invasive treatment method such as a surgical procedure. However, there are alternative infertility treatment methods that have passed scientific muster that are available to women who would like a more natural way to boost their fertility. These options include behavior therapy (like CBT), acupuncture, and manual physical therapy of the abdominopelvic region, such as the Clear Passage approach. These alternative infertility treatment methods can also help improve a woman’s odds of successfully conceiving a pregnancy within the context of an assisted reproductive regimen, such as IVF. Of these alternative infertility options, the method of manual physical therapy can also provide other benefits, such as decreased pain with sex and menstrual pain for women with endometriosis, as well as unblocking a fallopian tube to create an enduring improvement in fertility.
To learn more about the Clear Passage program, request a free consultation today.
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- Visceral and Neural Manipulation in Children with Cerebral Palsy and Chronic Constipation: Five Case Reports. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1550830718301927
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