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Posted by: Elizabeth Gott, 30 Jun 2006 8:14PM
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Aromatherapy/Massage during IVF treatment

Having recently completed and passed a VTCT Level 3 Aromatherapy course I would appreciate some advice with regard to the following question. I have recently been approached by a potential client who is undergoing IVF treatment, has anybody had similar experience of this request. All relevant information would be gratefully appreciated.


Carole Thomas
2 Jul 2006 2:21PM

Hi Elizabeth. That's a difficult situation. Personally I would 'play safe' and offer a gentle relaxing massage, avoiding the stomach, but I would not use aromatherapy oils. Example: One client came to me on a fortnightly basis for Aromatherapy. She did not tell me she was trying to get pregnant (not via IVF though). At one visit she declared she was pregnant so I explained that it was generally regarded as being inadvisable to use aromatherapy oils during pregnancy and we agreed to continue with relaxing back, neck and shoulder massages. Six weeks later she emailed to tell me she had suffered a miscarriage. I have not heard from her since! I can only suspect that she wondered if those aromatherapy massages might have contributed to her miscarriage. Personally I do not believe that my choice of oils would have had any effect on her early pregnancy at all - a vigorous stomach massage just might - luckily I did not work on her tummy at all, let alone 'vigorously' as I occasionally do for clients who suffer from constipation!!!!!!!!!. Its a difficult and emotional time when someone has to 'resort' to IVF and however frustratingly 'PC' we all have to be, its best to play safe. I have consequently updated my 'health check' and 'disclaimer' form to add to the question "are you pregnant?" to " Are you, or ARE YOU TRYING TO BECOME, pregnant?" Logically I am now considering adding the question "Are you 'trying' to become a Father?"!!!!!!!!! (Biggest Smile!) On the other hand, during such a stressful time surely a gentle, relaxing massage can only be totally beneficial! It is unforunate that we live in 'retributional' times when there is a tendency to find a 'culprit' for everything that goes 'wrong'. I can only smile at the memory that my mother had five children, had to work until the very last minute before the births, had to get down on her knees to scrub floors, my father used to rub her pregnant tummy and back with all manner of 'concotions' to ease the aches and pains..........and she never had a miscarriage!!!!!!!! Unfortunately I have to conclude...........when in doubt, leave it out! With Best Wishes. Carole
Edith Maskell
9 Jul 2006 4:18PM

Hi Your answer is in your first statement that you have recently qualified. ie your qualification is at the National Occupational Standard, ie a foundation skill. Working in pregnancy or possible pregnancy requires specialist knowledge. You are potentially dealing with two lives. Therefore, if in doubt, don't - until you have gained the additional knowledge. I agree that there is no evidence that massage, aromatherapy or any other therapy can "cause" a miscarriage but until that evidence is proven, as therapists (particularly inexperienced therapists) we must take responsibility and not meddle in matters within which we have no experience or training. We are in an era where we are encouraging the medical profession to have confidence in us and we can only do that if we act responsibly within the framework of our qualifications. Edith Maskell
Carole Thomas
10 Jul 2006 12:07AM

Elizabeth, don't get disheartened by our responses! Edith is right........you are at the start of your career as a massuese and aromatherapist - lots of experience still to be gained. You are wise enough to ask advice on this site. Well done! I've been practicing for over ten years and have more diplomas that I have the wall space to hang them on! I still err on the side of caution - your clients will respect and trust you for your careful consideration. I have many a time politely refused to massage a client for very relevant reasons. As Edith said, we really need to be very responsible if we 'complementary' therapists are to be accepted and recognised by the practitioners of allopathic medicine (aka the NHS!). Another example....... a new client, a strapping, muscular guy, filled in my extensive health-check form. He noticed the 'G5' style electrical equipment I sometimes use and asked if I would use it. "Not on the first session" I replied. "I prefer to use my hands to diagnose before using such equipment". I saw a small scar on his left pectorals and enquired what it was (not ticked off on my form re scar tissue, operations etc). "Oh", said he "that's just (JUST!) my pacemaker. I forgot to mention it!" I nearly had a heart attack thinking I might have used that electronic pulsator on his pecs! Carolexxxxxxxxxx
Elizabeth Gott
10 Jul 2006 8:22PM

Many thanks for your constructive, helpful and supportive replies. Realistically they reinforced what I had already thought myself, but it was nice to have those thoughts confirmed in a friendly manner. It's nice to know there are people out there that you can ask advice of when newly qualified!! As you say IF IN DOUBT LEAVE IT OUT! Once again many thanks Liz
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