A mirror image of a woman receiving a therapeutic massage.

The Benefits of Massage Therapy for Endometriosis

You may think of massage as a luxury only for spa days. But did you know that massage can improve the pain of endometriosis, and may even help with fertility?

What is massage?

Massage is an alternative therapy to relieve pain or tightness in soft tissues. This includes skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. A massage therapist presses, rubs, and strokes the tissue with light to deep pressure, depending on what is needed to bring relief.

Massage and endometriosis pain

Several studies have shown that regular massage gives short-term and long-term relief from the pelvic pain and muscle spasms of endometriosis. A small 2010 study found that severe pain was greatly reduced during and after the massage sessions.1

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In this study, the women were given 20 massages of 20 minutes over the course of 6 weeks. Each massage began with the hands and then focused on the stomach, sides, and back. Before the study, more than half of the women reported severe pain during and after their period. Right after their massage and for up to 6 weeks after, the women reported no pain.1

Another study from 2006 found that massage therapy reduced pelvic pain during menstruation and pain during sex.2

Massage and fertility

A study from 2004 found that massage therapy reduced pain and improved fertility for up to a year after the massage sessions. Fertility improved in both women who conceived naturally and women who got pregnant through in vitro fertilization (IVF). Both groups received between 10 and 20 hours of massage therapy that concentrated on the soft tissues of the pelvis, hips, and lower back.3

Different types of massage

Massage has been used for centuries to relieve pain and reduce stress. There are several different kinds of massage therapy. The most common form in Western countries is Swedish, or classic, massage. Other styles include sports massage, Shiatsu, Tui na, deep tissue massage, and clinical massage to release muscle spasms.4

Several studies have found massage helps people with other types of pain, depression, and anxiety, including those with fibromyalgia, cancer, digestive issues, headaches, and HIV/AIDS. Massage seems to help premature babies gain weight faster.4

Side effects of massage therapy

Typically, there are few risks to receiving a massage. However, some people must get a very gentle massage or avoid them altogether. People who need to use extra caution include those with cancer, osteoporosis, bleeding disorders, burns or healing wounds, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and the elderly.

Used properly, massage can play an important role in pain management and improving overall wellness in women with endometriosis.

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