Reflexology and Fertility: A conversation with Barbara Scott
By Barbara Scott
This article is an interview between Tambre Fertility Clinic, Madrid and Barbara Scott -July 2019
As we know, Assisted Reproduction is a multidisciplinary branch. This means that its treatments often integrate complementary therapies. Today, we approach reflexology and, for this, we wanted to take advantage of Barbara Scott’s and her colleague Harriet Combe’s visit to solve a handful of queries.
How would you define reflexology?
Reflexology is a form of complementary therapy that has been in existence for many thousands of years, and is still frequently used in its originating countries of Egypt, China and India. I always explain it to my clients as working in a similar way to acupuncture, in that we are working with energy that flows through the body in what are called ‘meridians’. These ‘flows of energy’ become blocked and the relevant affected part of the body becomes unable to function as well as it should. In acupuncture terms, needles are placed directly into these ’flows of energy’ and with reflexology we access them by working with precise areas called ‘reflex points’ on the feet, hands or ears. It sounds a little strange but there are now increasing numbers of pieces of research that show how effective it can be.
Why do you think holistic therapies are important with respect to infertility?
Fertility issues are complex and varied and can have many causal factors. Holistic therapists have the luxury of being able to spend time with patients, this allows them to explore many avenues that may have been overlooked, including the impact of stress. We know that stress can have a detrimental effect upon both the endocrine and therefore the reproductive systems in both men and women, so even managing stress levels themselves can have a beneficial effect. Having time with patients also allows them to explore the emotional aspects that having difficulties with conceiving can cause and this is so important to address and can make their fertility journey easier.
What do you love most about your profession?
As Reproductive Reflexologists, we use an evidence-based approach, which means that we rely upon medical tests to help us to determine where the underlying issues may be and these help us to plan effective and appropriate treatment. These may include relevant blood tests and semen analysis, we also use repeat testing to help us to measure ongoing progress. I absolutely love my initial consultation with each client, particularly when working with men too. Using a forensic approach to allow us to bring together all of the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle to find the ‘Aha’ moment, really makes my work worthwhile. And when we get a positive result, my heart sings for the patient.
We have been reading the several case studies you posted in your website and we noticed that you also encourage your patients to change their nutritional habits and lifestyle. Why are those aspects useful?
There is so much research that shows that nutrition and lifestyle can have both negative and positive effects upon fertility for both men and women. And we know that this is just as important for assisted conception and receiving donor eggs as much as for natural conception. I also feel that making small but significant changes can be very empowering for patients as they can feel that there is something constructive that they are able to do to help improve their chances of conceiving.
Do you often find people who do not “believe” in this set of methods?
We do tend to find that men are more sceptical than women about using any form of complementary therapy as part of their fertility journey. However, once we have met couples or singles at an initial consultation and they can see that we use a science-based approach we find that attitudes change. Although it can seem very strange to think that having your feet worked upon can have a beneficial effect upon the rest of your body, our data shows that 68% of patients conceived whilst using these techniques. That really speaks for itself!
How would you define your experience in Clinica Tambre during your visit?
I can only say how incredibly impressed I was with our visit, from beginning to end, everything has been carefully thought about. The clinic itself is patient-centred and provides a calm and thoughtful approach to ensure that stress levels are kept to a minimum. From the idea of providing individual ‘pods’ for the waiting area for patients to ensure privacy, through to the delightful ‘bedrooms’ for pre/post treatment was perfect. The thorough testing for each patient and an individualised approach to treatment speaks for itself in your success rates. As an organisation we have a passion for patient care and ensuring that the journey for each individual is as positive as possible, and it is evident that Clinica Tambre share that passion. I have no qualms at all in referring patients, knowing that they will be well taken care of.