Expanding the Family

August 9, 2018

When a Couple Had Trouble Conceiving, They Turned to Pelvic Floor Therapy

By Kylie Stanger

When Stephanie and Paul Chung, M.D., a hematologist-oncologist at Southern Ocean Medical Center, decided to expand their family, they figured they’d have no problem conceiving another happy, healthy baby like their daughter, Lily. But after years of trying, they began to think maybe they were meant to have only one child.

Stephanie consulted her OB/GYN, who ordered blood work and noticed that her hormone levels were low. The doctor suggested Stephanie seek fertility help, which was a step Stephanie and Paul didn’t wish to take. “I was a little bummed hearing that Lily would be an only child because I knew that she would love to have a sibling,” Stephanie says. “But we felt blessed that we had her, so we were grateful.”

RENEWED HOPE

Then Paul overheard a conversation while having physical therapy at Hackensack Meridian Health Rehabilitation – Manahawkin and learned that pelvic floor therapy might help. Jamie Scomak, PT, DPT, CLT, PRPC, a physical therapist at Southern Ocean, mentioned that she had recently trained at a conference to add another skill set in treating infertility. Pelvic floor therapy is a type of physical therapy that treats bladder, bowel and sexual dysfunction as it relates to the musculoskeletal system. Treatable problems affecting fertility include tight or weak pelvic floor muscles, injury from giving birth, scar tissue or misaligned joints. Paul shared the information with his wife, and they decided to try the treatment. Upon meeting Jamie, Stephanie instantly felt comfortable. She began having therapy a couple of times a week.

ADDRESSING PHYSICAL PROBLEMS

For treatment, Jamie used a research protocol created by a physical therapist in Florida that addresses fertility issues with the goal of helping patients conceive and carry a baby to full term. The protocol, accompanied by a home program, includes manual external and internal pelvic therapy techniques. For example, the therapist might manually manipulate the pelvic organs from the outside to reposition them and break up scar tissue. This increases blood flow and mobility, helping the body balance its hormones naturally. Working toward a healthier mind is also an important part of the program, as stress can be another barrier to fertility. “Physical therapy can help improve the chances of becoming and staying pregnant,” says Jamie. “It is a low-cost, low-risk and effective way to treat mechanical reasons for infertility.”

Just four months after meeting Jamie, Stephanie and Paul were expecting their second child. Today, they are the parents of a happy, healthy 2-year-old son, Alexander. “We were at the point where this was our last hope,” says Stephanie. “I would tell someone to try it. Jamie is so passionate and knowledgeable, and on top of that we had great results.”