Getting pregnant is a simple process, right? Sperm meets egg (assuming you dropped one), fertilization happens, implantation takes place, and voilà, you’re pregnant.

Well, yes and no. While the steps are correct, this process doesn’t always happen when you want it to, and for millions of women, it can take months, if not years, to conceive.

While having sex daily during your ovulation window might sound enticing, after several months, it can lead to a lot of stress, especially if the tests keep coming back negative. That’s why many women look to natural methods such as self-fertility massage to help increase the odds of getting pregnant.

Fertility massage is a type of massage aimed at improving health and fertility through the power of touch, according to Chinese medicine expert and acupuncturist, Tsao-Lin Moy.

“Physical touch taps into the nervous system and can release feel-good chemicals in the brain, increase circulation and lymph flow, bring awareness of the body and self, improve sleep, aid digestion, and provide stress relief,” she says.

This “touch” can involve massage techniques, including relaxation or Swedish massage, that can help:

  • improve circulation
  • relax the nervous system
  • relieve stress (a big issue with fertility)
  • promote overall health and well-being

It can also take the form of reflexology, which requires practitioners to massage points on the hands, feet, or ears to access the body’s organ systems.

Fertility massages often involve acupressure, which Moy says works by unblocking qi (or vital energy) flows along the meridian, or by pressing specific points related to an organ or body system to bring about balance.

Self-fertility massages are simply fertility massages you can do without another person or massage practitioner.

Scientists have yet to determine any proven research-based benefits of self-fertility massages. However, there are some anecdotal benefits worth considering.

For women, Moy says blood flow to the uterus and ovaries helps with reproductive function. For men, Moy adds that circulation to the testicles, as well as temperature, affects sperm production. “It is part of a system interconnected with the overall body’s health system,” she says.

Other purported benefits of self-fertility massage may include:

  • having a greater chance of success versus not doing anything (whether this is the “placebo effect” or not)
  • practicing self-care (so important when dealing with infertility)
  • developing more awareness of what’s happening within your body
  • relieving stress and anxiety around fertility
  • strengthening the mind-body connection
  • regularly improving circulation and lymph to the reproductive organs
  • becoming more proactive and empowered

We hate to be the bearers of bad news. But unfortunately, little to no research supports the idea that self-fertility massages help you conceive.

That said, massage offers numerous researched benefits in general. It may help you relax and reduce stress, both of which are important factors when trying to get pregnant.

Studies show that women with infertility are often at an increased risk of developing stress and anxiety.

Research also points to the relationship between fertility and the reproductive system in both men and women. Men may experience lower serum total testosterone levels, and women can have higher levels of a stress hormone called cortisol, which inhibits estradiol production.

If you’re dealing with fertility issues, there’s a good chance you’re also operating at a high stress level. Add in prolonged treatment for infertility, and you up the odds that you’ll also develop symptoms of anxiety and depression.

With that in mind, it makes sense that lifestyle modifications and natural stress relievers like massage may lead to reduced stress, anxiety, and depression.

If you tend to question the safety of everything when trying to conceive, you’re not alone. The good news with massage, says Moy, is that self-massage is quite safe, especially if the focus is to improve overall wellness, as well as focus on fertility.

That said, once you become pregnant, you should avoid these types of massage. Talk with your doctor if you want to continue general relaxation massages throughout pregnancy.

Femoral massage

A femoral massage involves massaging the inner thighs or adductor area.

  1. Seated, gently grab as much of your inner thigh muscles as you can, from back to front, alternating with each hand.
  2. Imagine you’re lifting a couch cushion to find something you lost. The goal is to improve blood and lymph flow back to the lower abdomen and reproductive organs.

Inguinal (groin) massage

  1. Lying on your back, place your palms where your legs meet your lower body (groin). You may feel a pulse with your fingertips. This is known as the femoral pulse, and you’re in the femoral triangle.
  2. Place gentle pressure with the surface of your index, middle, and ring finger until you feel a stronger pulsing sensation.
  3. Hold for 15 seconds and release the pressure.

Abdominal massage

  1. Lie on your back with knees slightly bent. You can use a soft pillow to support yourself. Your belly should be soft.
  2. Using your right hand, reach across the left side of your body at your waistline and hook onto your side muscles. Slowly drag your hand across your midsection, alternating from the left to right side and remembering to breathe. Repeat 9 times on each side.
  3. Place your hands on both sides of your waistline and move them toward your centerline using pressure to gather and pull your sides together. Imagine that your waist is a giant bouquet of flowers and your waistline is the long stems you’re gathering.
  4. At the centerline on either side of the navel, press down and stroke toward the pubic bone. Follow through with your palm, like you’re smoothing the wrinkles down the front of your shirt.
  5. Move your hands laterally along the inguinal line back to the side of your body at your waistline.
  6. Repeat the movement like you’re doing the breaststroke.
  7. You can use essential oils during your menstrual cycle, such as clary sage, to help mood and cramping. (Just don’t use full-strength essential oils on your skin, and always dilute them with a carrier oil.)

Another popular fertility massage is the Maya Abdominal Massage. Moy says this technique involves doing a sequence of abdominal massages to improve circulation and blood flow to the uterus and ovaries.

Experts recommend performing a Maya Abdominal Massage daily from the day after your menstrual cycle begins up to ovulation as part of a therapeutic self-care routine. Moy recommends learning the technique from a trained Maya Abdominal Massage therapist.

Performing a self-fertility massage may help reduce stress levels and allow you to relax, but don’t count on it being the reason you get pregnant.

Infertility is a complicated issue. If you’re under 35 years old and you’ve been unable to conceive for more than 1 year — or you’re 35 and older and unable to conceive for more than 6 months — it might be time to talk to your doctor.