Fertility is a topic that often remains unspoken until it becomes a personal concern. Whether you're experiencing difficulties conceiving or know someone who is, understanding fertility is essential. According to the American Pregnancy Association, fertility is the innate ability to conceive or induce conception, while infertility is a reproductive system condition affecting approximately 10-15% of couples in the United States.
Factors Affecting Fertility:
Fertility becomes a topic of concern when conception takes longer than expected. Several factors are necessary for a successful pregnancy, including:
Healthy Sperm and Egg: The quality of sperm and eggs is crucial for successful conception.
Timing of Intercourse: Perfect synchronization of ovulation and other factors is necessary for conception to occur.
Unblocked Fallopian Tubes: Open fallopian tubes are essential for sperm to reach the egg.
Sperm's Fertilization Ability: The ability of sperm to fertilize the egg is a key factor.
Implantation in the Uterus: The fertilized egg must successfully implant in the uterus.
Embryo Quality: The quality of the embryo plays a significant role in fertility.
Fortunately, around 85-90% of infertility cases can be treated with conventional therapies such as drug treatments or surgical repairs of reproductive organs. In some cases, physical activity and manual therapy performed by pelvic physical therapists can assist with fertility, depending on the presentation of symptoms.
Recent studies have shed light on the connection between physical activity and fertility. Mussawar et al. (2023) found that vigorous exercise may negatively impact fertility, with women engaging in 3-4 hours of vigorous activity per week being 27% less likely to conceive. In contrast, 2 hours of moderate exercise per week showed a 15% increase in the odds of pregnancy. Ensuring that you replenish the calories lost during exercise is recommended to avoid caloric deficits.
Moreover, research by Wurn et al. (2008) suggests that patients with a history of fallopian tube occlusion or abdominal surgeries may benefit from pelvic physical therapy. This therapy can help alleviate myofascial, visceral, and ligamentous restrictions, potentially reducing fallopian tube obstructions.
Seek Professional Guidance:
If you have concerns about fertility, it's essential to consult your primary care provider. Both partners involved in conception should undergo assessments to evaluate sperm integrity, hormone levels, fallopian tube health, egg quality, and ovarian function. Medical professionals can provide guidance and discuss available treatments to support your journey to conception.
Remember, you are not alone in your fertility journey. There are options and support available to help you navigate this sensitive topic. By understanding the factors that influence fertility and seeking appropriate medical guidance, you can increase your chances of achieving your dream of becoming a parent. At IVY Integrative, you can work with one practitioner or build your own team of holistic practitioners! Start your fertility journey naturally either in-person or online. Check out our Get Started page to learn how to work with us!
Author: Dr. Mièka Bryan PT, DPT
FOR MORE RESOURCES ON WOMEN'S HEALTH, CHECK OUT:
American Pregnancy Association - What Is Fertility?
Mussawar, M., Balsom, A. A., Totosy de Zepetnek, J. O., & Gordon, J. L. (2023). The effect of physical activity on fertility: A mini-review. F&S Reports, 4(2), 150–158. Read the full article
Wurn, B. F., Wurn, L. J., King, C. R., Heuer, M. A., Roscow, A. S., Hornberger, K., & Scharf, E. S. (2008). Treating fallopian tube occlusion with manual pelvic physical therapy. Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine, 14(1), 18.
This information is generalized and intended for educational purposes only. Due to potential individual contraindications, please see your primary care provider before implementing any strategies in these posts.