An Ancient Treatment Offers Hope

Sylvia was an extremely busy professional in her mid 40’s. She often complained of severe menstrual cramps due to endometriosis, for which a course of Chinese herbs and acupuncture had been prescribed. Every month, the pain improved gradually but Sylvia still admitted to taking over-the-counter pain relievers during her cycle.

One afternoon, she walked into the clinic with a smile that lit up the entire treatment room. Sylvia was pain-free and felt amazing for the first time in her menstruating life.  She had just returned from her first Arvigo Mayan abdominal therapy (AMAT) session. Not only was Sylvia’s cycle less painful, it was bright red and free of clotting.

As she explained the treatment in more detail, I was intrigued. How could this therapy achieve results in such a short time? Acupuncture and Chinese herbs worked gradually, and we certainly did not expect to see results like this in one visit.

Sylvia described her session as a sort of “physical therapy” for her uterus. The therapist used gentle yet firm strokes on her lower abdomen just above her pubic bone, encouraging blood flow and healthy uterine positioning. She then moved up to her stomach to calm the digestion and finally, turning Sylvia over, she stretched and massaged the lower back and tailbone. Since the uterus is attached to the lower spine by several ligaments and nerve endings, her circulation and pain were improved after the first session.

She was then taught a series of home self-care exercises to perform each night. Perhaps the most interesting part of the treatment was a traditional steam that Sylvia underwent with the therapist called a vaginal steam. Sylvia described it as feeling her entire body was warmed from inside. The therapist used herbs such as calendula, eucalyptus and lavender as part of the steam, and Sylvia draped herself with a blanket as she sat over a special stool with the center cut out. This allowed the steam to enter near the cervix and relax the perineal muscles.

I was intrigued, but was not convinced to investigate it further until three more patients came to the office after receiving treatment from the same therapist. The last one asked if I would undergo the training so she could combine it with her acupuncture sessions and I agreed. To this day, I am very appreciative of that patient, who became my first AMAT patient and now has a healthy baby boy.

Although Mayan abdominal therapy is practiced widely in Central America and Mexico, little is known about it in the United States. Research is currently underway to study the effects on infertility and dysmennorhea (painful periods) from major universities. Most of our patients are referred by their grandmothers, who grew up massaging their bellies and wearing fajas, which are traditional wraps that fit snuggly around the waist to support the back and uterine ligaments after birth. As South Florida is a melting pot of cultures, we’ve even had patients from as far away as Morocco who were encouraged by their mothers to “get the uterus lifted.”

They want their daughters and granddaughters to know this profound treatment that has been lost in the most recent generation of technology, drugs and surgery. After conducting our own research for the past year in the form of case studies submitted to the Arvigo Institute, we concluded that the majority of the women in our clinic requesting AMAT reported a drastic improvement in menstrual cramps, lower back pain, libido and cycle regulation. Almost all of these women had been diagnosed with endometriosis by their reproductive specialist and now were mostly asymptomatic. Those combining acupuncture and AMAT with IVF or IUI had higher pregnancy rates than those who were only treated with acupuncture.

We have now incorporated AMAT into every patient’s treatment plan who is seeking pregnancy or with a history of painful menses. Interestingly, our findings indicate that most of the women diagnosed with infertility that come to our clinic also have a diagnosis of a retroverted or “tilted” uterus. Each session is followed by a thirty-minute acupuncture treatment and infrared heat to the lower back or abdomen (depending on what stage of her cycle she is currently in.)