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03 Mar Experiencing the First Signs of Menopause?

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Is it hot in here or is it just me? Do you find yourself asking this question more and more often?  Have you found yourself doing that thing you swore you would never do—fanning yourself with any piece of paper available? Or are you waking up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat? Maybe you’ve even noticed some vaginal dryness. Or noticed that you aren’t feeling quite as amorous as you used to?

You probably recognize many of these symptoms as signs of menopause. But you feel like you are too young for this to be happening yet. Do not panic. What you may not realize is that you may be experiencing the first symptoms of perimenopause.

As a woman, you will experience many stages of life. These stages occur when your body experiences changes in your reproductive hormone levels. As our bodies mature our reproductive hormone levels gradually starts to decrease and eventually stops. This is a very natural and normal process. If you are one of the lucky ones you may actually sail through this process symptom free! But if you are like most women you will have a range of symptoms as you move on to the next stage of your life. So stay calm, remember to take some deep cleansing breaths, and read on to learn what you can do to help you with this transition.

What is Perimenopause?

Everyone is aware of what happens to a woman who is in the menopause stage of life. But most women don’t know there is a stage before menopause— perimenopause. Perimenopause begins when your estrogen and other sex hormones begin to gradually drop. Perimenopause usually begins 3-4 years before menopause. It can start as early as 10 years before you actually reach menopause.

During this time your ovaries decrease the amount of estrogen they produce.  As a result, you will begin to notice some changes., You might see more of your hair on the shower floor. You might begin to have hot flashes or night sweats. You might notice that you are having trouble concentrating. Or you might be experiencing  vaginal dryness.  During perimenopause you are still able to conceive and have a normal pregnancy at this stage.1 Perimenopause is just mother nature’s way of saying you are getting ready for a metamorphosis—you are beginning your transition to the next wonderful stage of womanhood.

Menopause 

Typically around your mid-40s you will notice that your monthly period has become less regular. It will eventually come to a complete stop.2 You have entered menopause once you have not had your period for 12 months.3

Just before menopause your ovaries stop releasing eggs on a regular basis and estrogen production in your ovaries slows down. For most women this happens in their early 50’s. When this happens 75% of us will experience hot flashes.4

If you think about it, hormonal changes always have brought you new challenges. When you were younger the hormonal changes you were experiencing caused that monthly break out of acne. That morning sickness you may have experienced during pregnancy was also caused by hormonal changes in your body. So it makes sense that this drop in estrogen will cause you to experience some symptoms. You are not alone, as many other women your age are also experiencing these symptoms. This a natural normal process.

Natural Relief from Symptoms

Now that you understand what is happening in your body, you might be wondering what you can do to get some relief from these symptoms. Most of what Dr. Kate suggests for relief from perimenopause symptoms are things you are most likely already doing to maintain optimal health. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables, getting regular exercise and staying hydrated. Exercising regularly and drinking plenty of water are helpful since you are prone to gain weight during this phase of your life.

If you are experiencing hot flashes you might want to avoid hot and spicy food. Dress in layers in case you start heating up. You can remove a layer when you get hot and then after it passes you can slide that jacket back on and no one will be the wiser. You might want to consider limiting your alcohol and caffeine intake as these may make your symptoms worse.  Carrying excess body weight may increase your symptoms.

Weight gain is normal around this time of life as the changes in your hormones can make you more prone to weight gain. Also this is the time of life that your metabolism begins to slow down. You may still have aging parents to take care of and children at home still. You also may be trying to balance a thriving career. With all that you are trying to balance, it is easy to let healthy habits slide. If your favorite pants feel a little too tight, schedule a call with Dr. Kate. She has several nutritional plans designed to help optimize your health during this season of your life.

Make sure to make time for yourself. Engage in some form of movement that you enjoy and look forward to as part of your daily routine.

Yoga

Restorative, supported yoga poses have been found in clinical research to help alleviate the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause.5 A regular yoga practice may make a difference in how you transition into this new phase of life. If you are starting to have irregular periods, yoga may be a nice addition to your normal workout routine to get the added benefit of relief of symptoms. If you already have a yoga practice be sure to add in some restorative poses to your regular routine. Cooling and restorative poses, such as a standing forward bend or a wide leg forward bend supported by bolsters can help reduce irritability and tension.6 Dr. Kate is a fan of yoga, and practices herself. One of her favorite experiences is at The Yoga Movement in Dallas. Dr. Kate finds yoga to be restorative and helps bring her back into her body, so essential for healing.

In addition, consider meditation or tai chi. These ancient practices have been shown to ease some symptoms associated with menopause.7

Natural Remedies

This part of life has been experienced by women for thousands of years all around the globe. Naturally, nature has provided us with some ideas for relief.

Having trouble sleeping?  At this time and stage of your life, it’s likely your sleep is being disturbed just when you need it most. 8 Try adding some ginseng root to your favorite dish to help you sleep through the night. You can also try French Maritime bark extract also called ( Pycnogenol) which can be found in Thorne’s Meta-Balance. Studies show it helps with sleep and other side effects of menopause and perimenopausal symptoms after about 4 weeks.9

Black cohosh is a natural herb that can be ground up and has been found in clinical trials to ease symptoms of night sweats, hot flashes and mood swings by 25%.10 This supplement is often combined with St. John’s Wort for a more dramatic effect.

Experiencing vaginal dryness? Try adding soy to your diet. Eat that edamame at your local sushi restaurant. Adding soy to your diet with plant based estrogen may also help to alleviate vaginal dryness you’re feeling right now.11

There are several other supplements, such as dong quai, evening primrose oil, gabapentin, mirtazapine,, vitamin E, and wild yam, that have been used with some effectiveness. However, these supplements have not been studied in clinical trials.

As with all natural remedies use low doses and be careful. In this case if a little is working it doesn’t mean that a lot will not be better. Take the case of Ginseng. Take too much of it and you may not be able to sleep. Be aware of any interactions with anything else you might be taking. It’s best to try only one supplement at a time. Your beautiful body is going through its own metamorphosis so let’s not overwhelm it. If you are unsure where to start call Dr. Kate’s office for assistance.

Supplements

In addition to natural supplements, adding some specific vitamins and minerals to your diet may be helpful during this phase of your life.

Vitamin D is a wonderful vitamin.  Y If you are going through this beautiful metamorphosis, Vitamin D can be a key component. Recent studies have shown that for women in this stage of life Vitamin D can help your blood pressure, your lipid profile and blood glucose.12 You may think you are getting enough sunshine to get your required amount of natural Vitamin D. But let’s be honest, it’s winter and its’ been months since you have exposed your skin to the air.most of us are waiting for the days we can go out without a jacket. It’s best to add some Vitamin D pills to your diet. We, of course, recommend the Thorne Brand of Vitamin D as it contains no lactose or preservatives.

Estrogen is your hormone that protects against bone loss. The drop slow drop in estrogen your body is going through could also be causing a drop in bone density. Since bone loss can become a concern at this stage of life it’s a good idea to make sure you are taking a calcium supplement. The Menopause Bundle again is our top choice. Supplementation with the well-absorbed calcium encourages good bone density. Magnesium is also essential for maintaining normal bone density. In addition, magnesium helps maintain normal cardiac rhythmicity, healthy pulmonary function, and normal blood glucose regulation. Magnesium and calcium appear to work synergistically in the body. Both being necessary to maintain normal blood pressure, muscle contraction, and support for dysmenorrhea.

Is There a Cure for Perimenopause and Menopause?

Yes and no. It depends on why you are asking. If you are suffering from the symptoms, then yes. The symptoms of menopause will eventually fade. For 80% of us the symptoms of hot flashes will fade away like a memory after about 24 months. The lack of your period is permanent. No more tampons or pads.

If you are feeling blue about the end of the one phase of your life and a new one beginning, talk it out with a emotionally mature friend or therapist and remember this is a natural part of life.

If you are asking because of early menopause or are wondering about how this transition in life is affecting your fertility you should talk to a specialist. Those are best answered by Dr. Kate or your OB/GYN. Set up a time to talk to Dr. Kate.

Wishing you wisdom in this beautiful change of life.

References :

1.https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320228.php#how-pregnancy-occurs-during-perimenopause

2.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279311/

3.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507826/

4.https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/introduction-to-menopause

5.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3122509/

5.https://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/the-graceful-change

6.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3031101/

7.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23872254

8.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23447917

9.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK79338/

10.https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD001395.pub4/full

11.https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD001395.pub4/full

12.https://insights.ovid.com/crossref?an=00042192-201910000-00015

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03 Feb Suffering from PMS? Here are a few Natural and Holistic Options.

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You feel it coming. You just don’t feel like yourself. You are suddenly craving more sugar—those chocolates are tasting so much better. Suddenly those new skinny jeans are starting to feel a little too skinny.  Yup, it’s “that time of month.”

You probably know when your period is coming—the dreaded PMS time of the month has arrived. Are you dreading the days before your period because you just know you will be suffering! For some women, it’s not that big of a deal. We joke about our craving for sugar. We complain that our jeans are a little tighter. You know it’s a natural healthy part of life and it will pass. As many as 90% of us women experience the bloating, headache and moodiness we normally associate with PMS or premenstrual syndrome.1 

But for others, it can be debilitating. Up to 75% of women will suffer from symptoms that threaten their work life and relationships. Their symptoms are more intense from what should be a natural part of life. Did you know that 20% of women experience symptoms to the degree that warrants clinical treatment?2 Another 8% of us will suffer from symptoms so extreme that the problem has a new name PMDD or Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

How can you know for sure that it’s PMS? To know for sure your symptoms are being caused by PMS, keep a journal for three months to see if the symptoms are showing up at the same time each month consistently.  Be sure to track how severe your symptoms are. You can also schedule a call with Dr. Kate for more specifics, she would be happy to help.

What Causes PMS?

The real cause of PMS is simple. Your hormones are out of balance.

Your hormones have a natural balance. But regular everyday parts of our lives can cause our estrogen and testosterone to become out of balance. Too much sugar. Too many refined carbohydrates. Too much caffeine. Increased stress. You can even add hormones from dairy or meat products you eat. All these factors can cause you to have a hormonal imbalance. This hormonal imbalance may be affecting your PMS symptoms.  

When your hormones are out of balance your body tries to rid itself of the excess. Your liver does this for you. Sometimes your liver doesn’t do this job as well as it should. If in the past you drank too heavily, you could have damage to your liver. This could be preventing it from expelling your excess estrogen.

Gut biome is all over the news today. We are learning how a healthy intestinal environment affects our health in a variety of ways.  An unhealthy gut biome can be a factor in your PMS symptoms. For example, constipation or an imbalance in your gut bacteria can cause reabsorption of estrogen in the gut back into the blood even after your liver has tried to get rid of it. The estrogen then recirculates and creates that imbalance that is causing your symptoms.

What To Do?

Good news. There is  absolutely no reason to suffer. There are several natural, holistic ways to make this normal part of life a little more bearable.  

The first step is to clean up your diet. Cleaning up your diet will reduce the inflammation that may be affecting your symptoms. Within as little as 10 days you can reduce the inflammation in your body. Lowering the inflammation in your body can help ease symptoms.3 Eat a whole foods diet. Be sure to eat plenty of dark green vegetables.  Add in squash in the form of soups which are comforting this time of year.  Make sure your diet includes all colors of the rainbow in the form of  fruits, nuts and seeds. This will give you extra fiber and nutrients, such as calcium, and potassium needed to support healthy liver function to help with inflammation.

You know this next suggestion is coming, but as hard as it will be, ease up on the sugar. (I know this will be hard around Valentine’s Day). Sugar, liquid sugar (think High Fructose Corn Syrup),  and refined carbohydrates all convert to glucose in your body. This creates higher than necessary insulin levels which can be a cause of inflammation. The exact opposite of what you want to happen if you are trying to ease those PMS symptoms in a natural way.

Also, take a look at how much caffeine you are consuming. Caffeine in the form of coffee, tea, and sodas all have high levels of caffeine. And caffeine can also raise inflammation levels. Consider trying to drink herbal teas and more water.

Another area of your diet to clean up is your intake of dairy. Try eliminating dairy and see if it doesn’t help to ease your symptoms.  Consider substituting almond milk or oat milk for regular dairy. Sometimes the hormones in our dairy products will interfere with our normal hormonal balance.

Consider adding flax seeds to your diet. Flax seeds contain lignans that help balance hormone metabolism and block the negative effects of excess estrogens. 6 Add some flax seeds to your morning smoothie.

Not sure where to start with your diet. Schedule an phone appointment  to review your diet plan and to make sure you are doing all you can to avoid symptoms. Check out Dr. Kate’s Optimizing Menstrual Cycles meal plan to optimize your diet and health.

Will Supplements help?

You’ve cleaned up your diet but still feel like maybe something else might be helpful. Now might be a good time to consider some supplements.

A good place to start is with a good probiotic. A good probiotic, such as this one from Throne, is recommended. A good probiotic will help reset your gut biome.

Studies show that taking vitamins and minerals can provide much needed relief. Try taking some vitamin D, calcium, magnesium and try this vitamin B.4 B6 has been shown to relieve fluid retention and improve mood. Lack of magnesium in your blood cells has been shown to cause PMS symptoms. Magnesium helps to support healthy hormone function.

A high quality brand of Chasteberry fruit extract (Vitex Agnus-astus). Chasteberry fruit extract can help balance the hormones released by the pituitary gland. These hormones control your overall hormone function. Studies of over 5,000 women have found it effective.5 

Will Exercise Help?

You probably already knew this, but yes, exercising will help you feel better. Exercise increases endorphins which make you feel good. Try walking, biking, running, swimming, or dancing. Anything that helps with those good feeling endorphins are all good choices. Increased endorphins may help reduce cramps and bloating that come with PMS. No need to be an athlete, just the exercise that you enjoy the most will bring on those happy feelings.7

What About Stress??

Sometimes the stress of everyday life can build up and knock your hormones out of balance.  Stress can make your symptoms much worse. Make sure that you are working to control your stress level in healthy ways during this time of the month. It might be time to take up yoga. Studies have shown that 8 weeks of yoga may decrease cramps, decrease abdominal swelling, and increase your energy levels.8 

Not a fan of yoga, try meditation. Dr. Kate is a big fan of meditation. People have been meditating for thousands of years. Meditation can actually help cause changes for the better in your brain. People who meditate on a regular basis report feeling calmer. They also report increased self awareness.  Aim for at least 10-15 minutes a day to help ease your PMS/PMDD symptoms. There are so many options for mediation right now. Check out  YouTube Videos, apps on your phone, or a guided meditation class.  

Will Aromatherapy Help?

You love the smell of essential oils.  But can they help ease your symptoms? For centuries, women have been using plant oils to ease PMS and PMDD symptoms. Did you know that inhaling lavender oil has been proven to ease PMS symptoms such as depression and confusion?9  In addition to lavender, try chamomile  or other soft florals in your bath water or in a diffuser. These calming aromas travel through your nose to reach your brain where they can trigger a relaxed, calm, easy feeling. Clary Sage applied during massage to the back or abdomen has a mild sedative feeling and anti-inflammatory effects. Essential oils are a great addition to your bedtime ritual  to promote a good night’s sleep.

The Importance of a Good Night’s Sleep

Lack of sleep can cause you to feel fatigued but also cause you to be more sensitive to pain and more irritable. 33% of women complain that their sleep is being interrupted during that time of the month. So what can you do to make sure you are getting enough sleep. Consider self care in the way of a hot bath with some essential oils or soft floral flowers to help you relax before going to bed. A massage can keep those hormones level even which will help you sleep better. Try sleeping with a window open.  The more fresh air the better. Even in winter. As little as 10-15 minutes of fresh air can help circulate the air in the room. So if you can sleep with the window open, keep it open while your winding down and then close it before drifting off.

Music is Good for the Soul and Good for PMS/PMDD

Did you know that music has been shown for centuries to be able to ease pain. While any kind of music helps ease pain,  listening to classical music can help relax the body and even lower your blood pressure?   A little Bach, Vidaldi, or Beethoven could help in a natural way to ease the symptoms of pain, brain fog, and sleep disturbances.10  Dr. Kate curates thoughtful Spotify playlists for each part of your cycle.

Pop some classic music on while you float in your hot bath to relax your body and prepare yourself for a great night of sleep.

Can PMS/PMDD be Cured?

While some symptoms of PMS/PMDD may be addressed with supplements, lifestyle changes, and holistic health remedies, it’s important to remember that menses is a natural normal part of being female. It’s a part of our lives meant to be celebrated. Menstruation is self-care. This is a natural normal part of your life, not a time to dread every month. It’s a time for cleansing, rejuvenation and good health. Your period is a normal part of your life and should not debilitate you.

If you have tried several of the above suggestions but you are still suffering from PMS or PMDD schedule a call to check in with Dr. Kate. You and Dr. Kate can discuss all your options that have been shown to be effective in addressing PMS/PMDD.11 

References:

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07 Jan Do you think you might be struggling with Infertility?

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Are you struggling to get pregnant? Does it seem like all your friends got pregnant the first time they tried and you have been trying for what feels like forever? Afraid you might be dealing with infertility?

First—take a deep, relaxing breath.

Now ask yourself, have you been having regular, unprotected sex around the time of ovulation for at least 12 months and are under the age of 35? If you have not, keep trying! (See Preconception Care portion of this blog) By definition, you are not considered to be infertile until you have been trying for at least 12 months!  If you don’t know if you are ovulating (releasing an egg from your ovary about every 27-31 days), check out Taking Charge of Your Fertility.  After you read that book, choose one of the many great fertility charting apps and chart your cycles for a few months.  If you’ve been trying for a while and discover you aren’t ovulating, don’t wait any longer to seek help.  

The help I would suggest is from an ND from an accredited ND medical school who specializes in women’s health, hormones, and fertility.  Ideally the ND can also do your annual well woman care (breast exams, PAP, pelvic exam, blood work, etc.). If you live in a state where NDs aren’t licensed (like Texas), I would seek the help of your OB/GYN as well as an ND from an accredited ND medical school who specializes in women’s health, hormones, and fertility.  That is where I would start because it is important at this point to get a diagnosis (the reason you aren’t getting pregnant). The possible diagnosis might be endometriosis, PCOS, hypothalamic amenorrhea, hypothyroidism, diminished ovarian reserve, unexplained infertility, or something else. They may refer you to a fertility specialist for help with diagnosis. Once you aren’t getting pregnant and you realize you are in the midst of trying month after month, you need to know where the issue lies so you can address it. 

Just know that to get a proper diagnosis it may take some time (about 1-4 months).  Female hormones are complex and complicated and so are lives. You’ve got to get blood work, exams, and imaging. You ideally need to chart a few menstrual cycles to capture hormone labs on proper days. The man needs a semen analysis.  At this stage it’s been 9 to 15 months of wanting to be pregnant and not being pregnant. I know you want to act as fast as possible, but patience here is key. 

Ok, so you’ve got a clear diagnosis. You understand the problem.  Now decide what you are going to do. 

Let’s look through your options.

OPTION 1. Take 3 months to a year to naturally rebalance your body…

  • start ovulating regularly
  • improve egg quality
  • decrease inflammatory issues associated with endometriosis
  • regulate your thyroid
  • lose or gain weight to reach your healthy BMI range
  • address abnormal PAP results, with dietary and lifestyle intervention

After diagnosis:  This is when I believe appropriate holistic referrals should ideally take place:  chiropractor, acupuncture, womb massage, yoga, lymphatic massage, energy work, hypnosis, meditation teacher— the list goes on and on. It can turn into an anxiety-producing full time job—so going to just the specific providers you need can help to not break the bank and also allow you to live life outside of your fertility journey. Living life outside of your fertility journey is so important. If you have all the time in the world and all the money in the world, it can still be too many “cooks in the kitchen” for a body to handle.  

OPTION 2.  See a fertility specialist and immediately follow their approach—clomid, letrozole, IVF, IUI, ICSI, donor egg, donor sperm, embryo adoption, surrogate etc.

OPTION 3.  Decide on option #1 and accept that if option #1 doesn’t lead to pregnancy in 4-12-ish months then:

  • Move forward with fostering and/or adoption.
  • Move forward with higher force medical intervention offered by a fertility specialist and continue positive lifestyle habits.  (i.e. return to option 2)
  • Let go of plan/intention to become a parent and move on (decide to not pursue higher force medical intervention, foster, or adopt).

Preconception Health

While the decision to start a family was not one you took lightly, you might have skipped a few steps along the way. Getting rid of your birth control pills and your condoms were not the only steps you needed to take. Let’s look at good preconception health habits before talking about infertility. Making sure you have the right health habits in place before you try to conceive is critical.  

Preconception care is important to your health and the health of your future child. Preconception care is what you do to prepare yourself to become pregnant. Both parents working to achieve optimal health before conception means the higher the chance of healthy pregnancies and healthy babies.  Research shows that preconception and fertility care decreases your chance of miscarriage. Preconception care can increase your chances of a healthy full-term pregnancy. And straightforward labor, rapid recovery, and a decreased risk for postpartum depression. Along with successful breastfeeding. Over the years, we’ve found that women who commit to preconception care experience less first trimester nausea too! All good news!

One way to take care of yourself is to eat healthy meals. Want to read more about diet? We offer a great preconception meal plan found here.1    

Besides a proper meal plan, proper supplementation helps to support your health. We recommend a good quality prenatal vitamin.

Of course you’ve probably been taking a prenatal vitamin. It seems everyone knows how important they are these days.  But does the one you are taking contain enough iodine? Iodine supports fetus development. The new recommendation from the American Thyroid Association and Council for Responsible Nutrition states you need a supplement that provides at least 150mcg daily. Getting enough iodine is necessary for healthy thyroid production which supports fertility. Your body does not make iodine naturally on its own. You need to eat iodine-rich food. And take the best supplements.2  You also want a prenatal vitamin that contains an active form of folate (5-MTHF). Active folate is important when you are thinking about conceiving. It helps support DNA and other genetic material.

You also need a good balance of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids. Remember these are the fatty acids found in fish oil. Recent news has reported on how unsafe some fish we eat have become. It’s really best to get this balance of fatty acids from supplements. If your body is missing these essential nutrients it can affect your own health. Remember you want to be at optimum health to nurture a new healthy baby.

If you are part of Dr. Kate’s wellness programs you already know how important fish oil is. But do you know what part it plays in your pregnancy or your desire to get pregnant? A recent study revealed that the qualities of fish oil are important. Its components help to facilitate the development of the retina, brain, and your partner’s sperm. Your new baby is dependent on getting DHA from you during its formative months and that comes from fish oil. Fish oil also has anti-inflammatory properties. This may reduce preterm births and preeclampsia. The right levels of fish oil also may reduce the risk of your child developing allergies.  You want an omega-3 and omega-6 supplement that is high-quality and is easily absorbed. Make sure your supplements are pure—free from additives and heavy metals and purified from contaminants found in fish.

Besides fish oil, you need an active form of folate to help support that new baby that may be on the way. But did you realize 3 out of 5 of us have difficulty converting the traditional form of folate into active MTHF? Studies have shown if you are struggling to convert folate into the active MTHF you may also be struggling to conceive. Want to learn more about MTHF and why it’s important? There is a great article located here on the Throne website. There is a supplement that helps with this issue of conversion. It’s included in this bundle of supplements we recommend. These supplements will  get you to the optimal health you need before you try to conceive.  Want more info about methylation and MTHFR? Read this.

This combination—the right supplements, the right diet plan for your specific needs, good sleep, and exercise—will put you in the best possible health. Want more info about diet? Read this.

The “Silent Struggle”

So you are at optimal health and you have been trying to conceive for more than 12 months, but it’s just not happening. Infertility is not uncommon. According to this article, it affects 1 out of 6 couples.4 Some communities consider infertility a major health problem.5 

Infertility can also affect your stress levels. It is often called the “Silent Struggle.” Studies have shown that a diagnosis of infertility can cause the same level of depression as the diagnosis of cancer.6  It’s important to make sure you take care of your mental health in a natural and holistic way. Try deep breathing, meditation, and yoga. These can help if you are experiencing symptoms of depression.

What Exactly is Infertility?

Infertility is the inability to become pregnant regardless of the causes. Remember what you learned in biology class? Under normal circumstances, you ovulate and release an egg from your healthy ovaries. The egg travels through your fallopian tube to your uterus. On the way it meets your partner’s sperm and fertilization occurs. This meeting forms an embryo that travels to your uterus. There it implants in your healthy uterus to grow.

Sometimes something goes wrong during this process. Infertility is when something in this natural process does not happen naturally.

The Causes of Infertility

There are many things that cause infertility. It could be something going wrong with your partner’s sperm. It could be issues with your ability to ovulate. Or an unknown blockage in one of your fallopian tubes due to pelvic inflammatory disease or endometriosis. Or it could be physical issues with your uterus.7

Autoimmune disorders can impact fertility. A birth defect that has affected your reproductive tract could be another cause. Diabetes can also impact your ability to get pregnant. Growths, such as fibroids or polyps, in the uterus or cervix are also causes of infertility. Premature menopause in women may also be a cause of infertility.

The most common cause though is PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome). You can learn more about PCOS and its symptoms here.

What Are the Signs of Infertility?

The most obvious sign is that you have been trying to get pregnant for over 12 months with no luck. But there are other signs of infertility that are not talked about as much.

A common sign is an abnormal menstrual cycle. Is your menstrual cycle too long or too short? Irregular or absent? This could be a sign that you’re not ovulating. Lack of ovulation could be preventing you from getting pregnant.

If you have PCOS, as mentioned earlier, you might be struggling to get pregnant. PCOS is the most common sign.

Types of Infertility

You may not have realized that there are two types of infertility. There is primary infertility, the one most of us talk about. Primary infertility is the inability to conceive after a year without the use of birth control.

Then there is secondary infertility. This is when you had a child once before and now you are unable to conceive. Secondary infertility issues are similar to those for primary infertility. Secondary infertility can be just as difficult as primary infertility. But it can feel more isolating as family and friends may not be as understanding. Some risk factors for secondary infertility in this study were lack of prenatal care in the last pregnancy, first pregnancy before age 2, and stillbirths. So if this is your first pregnancy or your third, it’s important to maintain you and your partner’s health.

Infertility in Men

Like most things in life, women have a tendency to assume the reason they are unable to conceive is that there is something wrong with them. This most definitely is false.  Men can have infertility issues in equal amounts to women.10 Just like women, men can have a hormonal imbalance. The man in your life may also have a birth defect that has gone unnoticed until now. Some medicines can cause a male to be infertile.

Heavy use of alcohol, obesity, and good old-fashioned old age can cause infertility problems. It’s important to note that male infertility is on rise.11 What was once considered an issue only for women now equally affects the male population. Environmental or nutritional issues are among the suspected reasons.

Can Infertility be Remedied? 

Most likely the cause of infertility can be remedied and you will be on your way to parenthood. Checking with your doctor is the best way to increase your chances of getting pregnant. Usually, the earlier you and your partner start taking care of your mind and body in a natural holistic way, the better your chances for a healthy, happy pregnancy! If you want more information, please contact our office for a consultation. If you want to read more, there is more information in this article. We wish happiness on your journey to conceive.

References:

1.https://naumesnd.com/product/meal-planning-package-preconception/
2.https://www.thyroid.org/iodine-deficiency/
3.https://www.uptodate.com/contents/fish-consumption-and-marine-n-3-long-chain-polyunsaturated-fatty-acid-supplementation-in-pregnancy?sectionName=Reduction%20in%20preterm%20birth&topicRef=8350&anchor=H770131339&source=see_link#H770131339
3.https://www.thorne.com/take-5-daily/article/how-does-methylation-affect-fertility
4.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12537824
5.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4637117/
6.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6016043/
7.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25822387
8.https://naumesnd.com/2019/11/04/dr-kate-cares-about-you-and-can-help-with-pcos/
9.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3142220/
10.https://www.hhs.gov/opa/reproductive-health/fact-sheets/male-infertility/index.html
11.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4691969/

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02 Dec Are you suffering from Endometriosis?

Do you find yourself asking these questions? Why is sex painful— I thought it was supposed to be enjoyable? Why am I struggling to get pregnant? Why is my lower back killing me when I have my period? Why am I spending time each month attached to a heating pad? 

The answer to these questions could be endometriosis. 

What is Endometriosis? 

Endometriosis is a gynecological disorder affecting women, primarily those of reproductive age. It is defined as the presence of endometrial glands outside your uterus.1 Endometriosis is typically found in the abdomen and pelvis. Or another way to explain it, this is what happens when the tissue that is your uterine lining has made it out on to other organs in the body where it shouldn’t be. 

Endometriosis is fairly common with physicians seeing it affect more than 10% of their female patients a year.2 

There are holistic and natural approaches to endometriosis and addressing it early is best. No need to suffer from the symptoms if you don’t have to!

What Are the Signs of Endometriosis? 

Before talking approaches, let’s talk about the signs of endometriosis. There are several common signs of endometriosis3.

  • Lower abdominal pain is one of the most common signs of endometriosis. 
  • Mild to severe cramps during your menstrual cycle are another sign. 
  • Stomach and bowel issues such as painful bowel movements or pain during urination. You could also experience diarrhea, constipation, and bloating. 
  • Exhaustion is also a common sign for endometriosis.
  • Painful Intercourse could be another symptom. 
  • Excessive menstrual bleeding 
  • Painful pelvic exams

You also could have endometriosis and not have any symptoms at all. 

These symptoms are also signs of other health conditions. Now take a deep relaxing breath, if you suspect you have endometriosis make sure you check with Dr. Kate and your OBGYN to make sure you have the correct diagnosis. With the correct diagnosis, we can design a wellness guide for you. 

What Are the Causes of Endometriosis? 

While the medical community is still not clear as to what causes endometriosis,  the medical community does have some theories. One theory mentioned in this article4 is it develops in one of two ways. One way is the cells from the lining of your womb travel through your bloodstream. The other way is the cells move to your abdomen during your period through your Fallopian tubes. Your hormones or your immune system might be influencing factors as well. The immune system is supposed to protect our organs from tissue growing where it is not supposed to be. Sometimes our immune system just doesn’t work they way it is supposed to – especially if it is compromised in some way. 

What Happens When You Have Endometriosis? 

What has happened is that the tissue similar to your uterus lining is growing outside your uterine cavity. That tissue can spread over your ovaries, bowel, and tissue lining outside of where it’s supposed to be. The hormones during your normal cycle can cause the tissue to become inflamed and make you feel uncomfortable.  The tissue can grow and eventually breaks down and becomes trapped in your pelvic area. If this tissue was in your uterus it would be shed when you menstruate. 

What Are the 4 Stages of Endometriosis? 

There are 4 stages of endometriosis— ranging from mild to severe. What stage you are in depends largely on the location and size of the lesions5 seen during a laparoscopy.  The stages do not correlate with your symptoms or your ability to get pregnant. They are just a universally accepted scoring system.6

Can You Heal Endometriosis? 

While there is no cure for endometriosis, there are several ways you can address your symptoms. 

First and foremost, if left undetected endometriosis can cause infertility and you may end up with severe pelvic pain. Not fun! Keeping up with your annual gynecological exams, including pelvic exams (PAP is not the same as pelvic exam) is so important as that is how endometriosis is often spotted and diagnosed. Once you have been diagnosed with endometriosis, you can begin to plan your approach to more optimal wellness. 

Healing the body begins naturally. Your doctor may try to bring down the inflammation in your body by balancing your hormones. Your doctor may also recommend an anti-inflammatory diet with lots of fruits and vegetables. 

In addition to suggested meals and recipes, I encourage you to avoid or minimize alcohol.  You want a low glycemic plan that is rich in antioxidants, iron, and fiber, and free of refined sugar. Fiber is important to break down estrogen. 

Supplementation is also important. There are several natural supplements available to help ease your symptoms from endometriosis. Essential fatty acids and beta carotene supplementation may be helpful. Remember you need to make sure your supplements are free from fillers and made with the purest possible ingredients. We only offer the highest level of quality supplements7 shipped directly to you door. 

Endometriosis and Infertility. 

One of the most painful problems isn’t physical, it is emotional— infertility. Endometriosis has been shown to cause infertility. Between 25% to 40% of infertility issues are caused by endometriosis.8 The adhesion and scars left by the condition can block your Fallopian tubes. This makes it difficult for the sperm to locate the egg. Also, there can be complications with tissue on the ovaries that make normal ovulation difficult. 

There is good news. Having endometriosis does not mean that you cannot get pregnant and deliver a healthy baby. According to this study, as high as 50% of women with minimal to mild endometriosis go on to have healthy babies.9 Be sure to talk to Dr. Kate or your OBGYN about your changes of getting pregnant.

The Good News!

While the symptoms of endometriosis are painful, there is hope! Just make sure you are keeping up with those pelvic exams and if you suspect you might have endometriosis, make an appointment with your OBGYN. If you have been diagnosed with endometriosis, changes in your diet and adding in specific supplements can help address the symptoms. There is no need to suffer when help is available. 

Can you Prevent Endometriosis? 

You might reduce your chances of it developing by lowering estrogen levels in your body. Consult with your doctor about natural and holistic ways to accomplish this.  There is some evidence that regular exercise, more than 4 hours a week, could help.10 Consider cutting back to one glass of wine or one cocktail per day, as large amounts of alcohol has been shown to raise your estrogen level. Now is also a good time to watch your caffeine intake, as that coffee you are drinking may be affecting your estrogen levels as well. 11 While there isn’t a proven way yet to prevent Endometriosis, you can control the symptoms.   The earlier you address it holistically the better.  

To ease the symptoms of Endometriosis, please join our wait list for your first call. The first openings we have will be in March of 2020. 

References: 

1.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5737931/

2.http://endometriosis.org/resources/articles/facts-about-endometriosis/ 

3.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279502/

4.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279503/

5.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6257623/

6.https://www.health.com/sexual-health/endometriosis-stages

7.https://www.thorne.com/products/dp/super-epa-pro-60-s-1

8https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4286960/

9https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2941592/

10.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20567196

11.https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/95/2/488/4576834

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06 Nov SunBasket: organic produce + clean ingredients

I love to cook from scratch whenever I can but when life gets busy SunBasket helps us stay organic healthy and clean when time is a little crunched. Use this link to get $35 off your first order.

Paleo, Vegetarian, and everything in Between

Stick with a plan, or mix and match from any of the weekly recipes

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04 Nov Dr. Kate Cares About You and Can Help with PCOS

Women are the heart and health of the world. Many women want children but often can’t figure out why they can’t get pregnant. Other women are suffering from a variety of symptoms they don’t understand. The cause of both of theses could be PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome). This can be heartbreaking for patients and their families. 


Did you know that millions of women are currently suffering from PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)?  Could you be one of them? 


The effects of the symptoms of PCOS can range from mild to devastating. Do any of these feel familiar to you:


  • Are you having missed, irregular, or light period?
  • Weight gain around the tummy?
  • Thinning hair?
  • Do you have skin tags?
  • Or are you struggling to get pregnant?

PCOS might be the cause. 


What is PCOS? 

First, know it’s one of the most common issues for reproductive-age women.1 So don’t panic.


PCOS is a hormonal disorder that causes enlarged ovaries with small cysts on the outer edges. It is generally known as a reproductive disorder. It is often called a syndrome rather than a disease because it shows up as a group of signs and symptoms, rather than just one cause in the body. PCOS begins in a girl’s teen years. The symptoms range from mild to severe. 


What is actually happening in your body?  You don’t have the right balance of hormones you need to ovulate.  Hormones come from the brain, ovaries, or the pancreas. If ovulation doesn’t happen, your body can develop small cysts, or bumps.  Some women have many. Some have just a few. These cysts make hormones called androgens. Women with PCOS can have high levels of androgens.2 These cysts by themselves are not dangerous, but having PCOS can cause health complications.  And can be painful.


How Common is PCOS?

Pretty common actually. It is the most common endocrine disorder among women and often goes undiagnosed. PCOS affects over 7 million people. According to the PCOS Awareness website,3 that is more than the number of people with breast cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and lupus combined. It affects an estimated 10% of women who may not even know they have it. It is also the leading cause of infertility among women. 


What causes PCOS? 

Doctors don’t know exactly what causes PCOS, but they have some ideas. They do know that PCOS is caused by a hormonal imbalance. A hormone called LH, which comes from the pituitary gland, makes estrogen and testosterone. If it is off balance, or there is too much insulin in your pancreas, your ovaries can make too much testosterone.


Your genetics, insulin resistance, and chronic inflammation are all thought to influence your chances of developing PCOS. If you are frustrated by your fertility issues and wondering how you ended up with PCOS, know that it’s not your fault. It has a tendency to run in families. All the evidence points to genetic and environmental 4 factors. Check your family history and see if other women have experienced the same symptoms. It could be you that your mother, aunt, or cousin are suffering with the same symptoms or have in the past. 


Studies 5 have found that PCOS maybe more common in young girls who are also obese. Young women with obesity are at  risk of developing insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and PCOS later on in life. Why? Insulin builds up in their bodies. If it’s not needed it can increase their androgen level. High androgen levels can cause health complications. 


What are the first signs of PCOS? 

The first indication you may have an issue is missed or light periods.  Your hormonal imbalance is a good indication that you may have PCOS. 


Another sign is weight gain despite being on a healthy diet and having an active lifestyle. It appears that only ⅓ of patients with PCOS are at a normal weight or underweight.  


Changes in your hair is another sign. You might see some excessive hair growth on your face, chest or back. 6 This condition is called Hirsutism. Hair loss on the scalp or male pattern baldness can also occur. Hair where you don’t want it. And losing hair where you do want it!


Other signs of PCOS are lack of mental focus, brain fog, blood sugar issues, and hormonal imbalance. You may also feel tired despite being well rested.  


As if all this were not fun enough, difficult to treat skin conditions can arise. Often women will come in with darkened patches of skin on their neck, arms, or upper thighs.  Women also complain of oily skin and show signs of acne. The good news is it’s all addressable, potentially in a natural and holistic way. 


Is PCOS dangerous? 

It can be. PCOS affects more than just your reproductive health. PCOS is also associated with an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. Women with PCOS show a worsened cardiovascular 7 profile and can have an increase in heart related complications down the road. 


Women with PCOS also show an increased risk for insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes. Medical studies are being done to study the long term consequences of the metabolic issues that come along with PCOS. 


Women suffering from PCOS also show an increased risk for the development of endometrial cancer. If you have PCOS you have a 6 times greater chance of developing cancer. 8


Psychological stress and PCOS have been shown to be linked. A large number of studies have shown that women with PCOS are prone to suffer from depression, anxiety, or eating disorders. 9 In addition, women with PCOS have lower self-esteem and body satisfaction. 10


Women and teen girls can feel frustrated that they are living a healthy lifestyle, yet the associated weight gain, insulin issues, and other hormone imbalance symptoms make them feel out of control. They may not be aware they have PCOS and attempt to try to treat the condition themselves. Some may resort to extreme dieting or exercise causing further stress on the body. 


Infertility and PCOS. 

Having PCOS means your ovaries are not getting the right amount of hormone signals. Without these signals you are not ovulating on a regular basis.  Think about it as irregular egg production. Due to hormonal imbalances and poor ovulation, infertility is common for those with PCOS as well as complicated pregnancies and miscarriages. Having PCOS does not mean that you cannot get pregnant. In fact, most women with PCOS can and do get pregnant! Dr. Kate provides a holistic way to help restore your body to its natural process. All of this can be done with a phone consultation from the privacy of your home or office. 


Is There a Cure? 

There is not a cure yet, but there is good news! Consistent dietary practices and certain supplements have been shown to significantly improve PCOS. We offer a research-based, targeted health plan that provides holistic support for PCOS and is delivered straight to you. The nutrition guide and supplement regimen are easy to access, informative, and instantly implementable—and you can benefit from Dr. Kate’s trusted naturopathic approach wherever you are. Great for women who are interested in a holistic approach to PCOS but don’t know where to start. Click here to learn more. 


We also recommend lifestyle changes. 


Consider a balanced approach to exercise. The idea is to lower the stress response in your body.  Consider including some stretching and simple yoga poses into your daily routine. 


Practice good sleep habits. Sleep in a cool room under clean comfortable sheets and try to get 8-9 hours a night.  Do something relaxing to try to clear your mind before jumping into bed. Consider reading a novel or a warm relaxing bath. 


Try to maintain a sense of balance. In today’s hectic world, prayer and meditation can ease the stress on your body and mind and provide a sense of calm. 


A few diet changes may help. Consider reducing or eliminating the amount of sugar in your diet. This is not for weight loss. This is to lower the insulin response in your body. No radical diets—that will cause additional stress on your body. 


Choose lean, quality protein at each meal. Add more vegetables into your diet. Get as many colors on your plate as you can. Now that it is fall, make sure your plate is not all white with turkey and potatoes. Make sure to add some beautiful salads with oranges or cranberries and some nuts. Butternut squash soups are wonderful this time of year. 


Snack on small amounts of nuts or olives rather than grabbing processed foods. 


You have heard it before, but it bears repeating, avoid anything that comes out of a box, a bag, or Styrofoam. You are looking for whole, natural foods. Remember your dietary choices are nourishing your body. 


This might be a good time to consider giving up alcohol if it raises your blood sugar levels or affects your sleep.  A glass of wine or two in moderation won’t bother you, but if you find that you feel groggy in the morning, or you make poor food choices while drinking, you may decide to give it up all together. 


Don’t forget about what is happening in your gut. According to this study, 11 understanding what is happening in your gut microbiome may also be a way to alleviate symptoms.  You may need probiotics, prebiotics, or other dietary changes. Working with Dr. Kate through phone consultations can help you to understand what is happening in your gut. We are learning that the microbiome is responsible for so many different ailments. Navigating this information can be difficult on your own. Dr. Kate is here to support you on your journey. 


This is also the time to watch not just what you put not just in your body, but what you are putting on your body.  Toxins and BPA in your skincare and body products could be contributing to the disruption in your body. Read the labels on products.


 

References:

1.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29569621

2.https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos

3.https://www.pcosaa.org/

4.https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/pcos/conditioninfo/causes

5.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4820451/

6.https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos/symptoms/

7.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4820451/#B141

8.https://www.mdedge.com/obgyn/article/189950/reproductive-endocrinology/pcos-linked-increased-cancer-risk-premenopausal

9.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4820451/#B166

10.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4820451/#B83

11.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31513473

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