Physical Therapy for Fertility and Women’s Health: Meet Dana Sackar Holistic Therapies for Women's Health Series

When I first met with my endocrinologist I had yet to make changes in my lifestyle to help boost my fertility, aside from slightly decreasing my running. After our first IUI failed, I was determined to go out of my comfortable routine and make the natural changes I could, to increase my chances of seeing those two pink lines.

From that point on, I have been incredibly open to holistic therapies and seek them out before anything else. After my son was born, I looked into pelvic floor and c-section recovery therapies and found Dana Sackar of Flourish PT. I had my first session with Dana the week I was cleared by my doctor and have had such a wonderful experience that I am adamant every woman should see a physical therapist postnatal, regardless of the type of birth or the level of trauma you feel you experienced. In fact, in France, the government subsidizes this type of therapy! (Source)

Dana was lovely to answer my questions about her practice and how women can benefit from physical therapy in a myriad of ways.

Tell me about the services you offer

My focus is Women’s Health and fertility. I offer Mercier Therapy which helps women with fertility challenges, pelvic pain, endometriosis, irregular menstrual cycles, bladder dysfunction, sexual abuse trauma, childbirth trauma, and c-section recovery or other pelvic surgery recovery. Mercier Therapy involves mobilizing the pelvic organs including the uterus, ovaries, bladder, colon, and surrounding soft tissue to optimize mobility and blood flow in order to restore pelvic health.

I am also trained in craniosacral therapy which is very helpful for chronic pain, neck pain, low back pain, migraines, TMJ, and repressed traumas to name a few. CST is a gentle form of body work which works to release soft tissue restrictions that surround the central nervous system. By releasing these restrictions the body is able to self-correct and balance is restored within the body.

I also offer Zero Balancing, which is another form of body work and works to balance our energy and structure. This work is great for anyone suffering from tension anywhere in their body, as we connect with the bone and joints of the client to release held tension there. Anyone suffering from pain and/or postural issues can benefit from this work. Patients report feeling rejuvenated and restored after this work.

I am trained in visceral manipulation, which is like a gentle massage for our organs. We work to optimize the mobility of the organs in order to optimize their function. Those suffering from abdominal pain, digestive issues, fertility issues, and bowel/bladder dysfunction can benefit significantly from this work.

I offer lymph drainage therapy and often use this in conjunction with the above therapies. Lymph drainage therapy helps to improve the flow of our lymphatic system and immune system. It is a gentle, yet powerful therapy which helps to remove waste and toxins within our bodies. It is great for anyone suffering from soft tissue injuries, inflammation, post surgical recovery and scars. The work is very supportive to any healing process.

I perform Zen Shiatsu mostly for my prenatal clients. Zen Shiatsu uses gentle finger pressure along specific pathways called meridians. These are similar to the meridians in Chinese medicine. It is different from acupuncture as no needles are involved and the therapist uses intentional touch to open the pathways in order to release restrictions and promote relaxation and healing. It is helpful for many pregnancy symptoms including nausea, fatigue, heartburn, preeclampsia, bodily discomfort, muscle tension, edema, carpal tunnel, and insomnia.

Finally, I utilize EFT, emotional freedom technique, with many of my clients who have experienced trauma. EFT involves the patient actively tapping on certain meridian points to help move energy that is trapped inside the body. Emotions are energy in motion, but can get stuck inside the body when repressed and then physical symptoms can present. EFT is used as an adjunctive form of treatment and utilized along with other forms of bodywork mentioned above. I perform this treatment often when working with fertility clients, recurrent miscarriages, traumatic births, car accidents, and childhood trauma.

You often work with women trying to conceive. How does your work boost their chances of conception?  

Mercier Therapy works to naturally stimulate the ovaries, as well as mobilize the uterus to optimize function. When the uterus, ovaries, and/or surrounding soft tissue do not move properly due to scar tissue or other limitations, the reproductive organs cannot function normally and fertility issues arise. We work to restore health within these reproductive organs.

This therapy is wonderful for those trying to conceive naturally or in preparation for IVF. Mercier Therapy can help shorten the duration of IVF cycles needed to conceive. Those undergoing IVF must finish with our program prior to starting any stimulation drugs. The program consists of 6 hours of work and can be broken up to meet the patient’s needs. A study done in Sept 2012 involving a 4 year evidence based research indicated an 83% pregnancy success rate versus 29% for IVF. Mercier Therapy also has no harmful side effects. We love that!

When working with fertility clients, I also evaluate the mobility of their abdominal organs including the liver, kidneys, and spleen as it relates to reproductive function. Often times, the thyroid can be involved too due to hypothyroidism and/or Hashimoto’s so we work with this too. We work with the brain, especially the pituitary gland, which is the master gland and produces many hormones necessary for conception.

It is important to address many areas of the body when working to optimize the health and fertility of our clients. Education regarding diet, environmental exposures, and lifestyle are also key components to care. Finally, we work with the mental and emotional aspects involved with the fertility journey, and often will use EFT to help with this. When we remove the physical and emotional blocks, the body can heal and pregnancy can occur. It is a very holistic approach and each case is unique and treated with an individualized treatment plan.

You also have many prenatal clients. In what ways do you help them?

I often see prenatal clients due to complaints of back pain, sciatica, or women hoping for a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean). We work to mobilize the hips and low back to allow for a vaginal birth and to alleviate any complaints of pain. Also, many of my fertility clients who become pregnant see me during their pregnancy to minimize any complaints as their body and baby continues to grow. Our work is very supportive for a healthy pregnancy and I utilize zen shiatsu, zero balancing, craniosacral therapy, and lymphatic drainage as needed to achieve results.

What would you say are the top 2 reasons clients come to you?

Fertility issues and c-section recovery.

Tell me your favorite “success” story.

A 50 y/o woman with an extensive fertility history became pregnant after 2 sessions with me. She had many previous failed IVF cycles, along with unsuccessful donor egg transfers. She had numerous autoimmune factors and was working with the best reproductive immunologist in the city. Together we worked diligently to ensure that she had a successful and healthy pregnancy. She carried the baby to term and has a beautiful daughter who is now 1 y/o. Throughout her treatments we formed a very special bond and I am blessed to call her a friend.

What would you like women to know about physical therapy for fertility and women’s health in general?

That no matter what, women have options and hope. Physical therapy can be very effective and supportive for pelvic health issues and fertility. A holistic approach is always best no matter what route you take and always do your research! Let the little voice inside you be your guide to your best health.

Where can women get more information and how do they get started working with you?

Please go to my website www.flourishpt.com to learn more about me and our services.

I also recently did a podcast with Sarah Buino, LCSW, CADC, CDWF from Head Heart Therapy

Please see the link below:

https://www.headhearttherapy.com/podcast/entry/014-dana-sackar

Please feel free to call me directly at 847.736.8357 to discuss your needs and answer any questions you may have or you can email me at dana@flourishpt.com.

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