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Iron levels & fertility

iron-non-pregnant-women

Optimal iron levels are so important especially if you are trying to conceive. Not only do you feel crap when you are anaemic but iron deficiency in pregnancy has been linked to thyroid disease & miscarriage.

More than one-third of pregnant women (35%) are iron deficient, placing them at increased risk of a thyroid disease (50% increased likelihood) that increases the likelihood of pregnancy complications such as miscarriage, according to this report from Belgian researchers: Iron Deficiency in Pregnancy Linked to Thyroid Disease

I should also add that low iron can increase your risk of developing postnatal depression as iron is essential for the production of neurotransmitters. Iron is also essential for the production of hormones as well as transporting oxygen to our cells (very important when trying to conceive).

However, never take iron supplements without being tested as iron can be toxic in high doses and it can affect the absorption of some medications. It’s also a good idea to be screened for haemachromatosis prior to taking iron as people with haemachromatosis can present with iron deficiency symptoms.

If iron levels are really low, I usually refer to a medical practitioner who can administer iron infusions as this is a quicker and more effective way to raise iron levels than with supplementation. For example, infusions can restore levels within 2-3 weeks whereas oral supplementation can take months or years. Unfortunately, iron infusions have a bad reputation for causing adverse effects but the latest iron infusions have very minimal side effects and can done as a walk-in/walk-in procedures in 20 minutes. They can be done in some GP clinics, public hospitals or through a private gastroenterologist.

Ladies, it’s time to address Rushing Woman’s Syndrome

Rushing WomanIt’s time to slow down our pace in life.  Women are constantly on the go, doing everything and being all things to all people. And you know what? It’s stuffing up our hormone balance.

We need hormonal balance. When they aren’t balanced, we feel fatigued, moody, irritable, depressed, lose our libido and gain weight. And not only are we suffering from our hormonal imbalances but our partners and kids suffer too. Dr Libby has done an awesome TED Talk on this very issue here

Lisa Curry made a brave admission on A Current Affair last night, that she believed her undiagnosed Rushing Woman’s Syndrome, was a major contributing factor to the tension in her marriage to Grant Kenny and their eventual divorce. If you didn’t see it, here’s a video link

I have often pondered how many relationship breakdowns are due to undiagnosed hormonal imbalances in both women and men (men are also rushing and suffering from low testosterone as a result). If one partner is fatigued, the other has to pick up the slack which causes resentment. If one partner is moody or irritable, it can affect the couple’s intimacy and emotional connection. Mismatched libido’s are another cause of tension in relationships. These are all things that can be improved by balancing our hormones, and a great relationship counsellor 🙂

So how does “rushing” affect our hormones?

The answer lies with our adrenal glands. These are the glands that are responsible for pumping out our stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol. To make these hormones, our body uses pregnalone which is also the same substance that it needs to make our sex hormones ie oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone.

It’s a survival mechanism too, because stress communicates to our cells that our lives are in danger, it’s not surprising that mother nature takes away our progesterone so we can’t get pregnant. The last thing a body’s wants to do is bring a baby into the world if its not safe. As a result, we become deficient in progesterone, which leads to oestrogen dominance, which leads to bad PMT, mood swings, bloating, weight gain, fatigue, thyroid imbalance, low libido and low mood. Our digestion also slows down under the influence of stress hormones so we can end up with bloating and irritable bowel syndrome. Did you know that progesterone has anti-anxiety and anti-depressant qualities? No wonder women feel anxious and overwhelmed premenstrually if their progesterone is low.

And this health problem not only effects women with kids. I am seeing a disturbing trend in women in their 20’s who have too much on their plate and are now suffering from adrenal fatigue and hormonal imbalances. It’s also a common picture I see in women who see me for fertility. The pace of modern life is certainly taking its toll on everyone.

Balancing hormones is my thing. It’s something that homeopathy can do really well. I am often amazed how quickly homeopathy can sort out hormonal stuff. Much quicker than herbs in my opinion, although in some cases, the combination of homeopathy and herbs is needed. If you can relate to this article, I recommend booking a consult with me.

In the meantime, make room for some self-care in your life. This can be a challenge because our culture conditions us to believe that we must be busy to survive and be a worthy person. Here are my top tips:

  • Acknowledge that your self worth has got nothing to do with how much you do
  • Be kind to yourself, our thoughts and unrealistic expectations of ourselves can trigger stress
  • It’s okay to say no if someone asks you to do something. Really, really ask yourself if you can fit that in or will you have to burn the midnight oil and waste your precious weekend time to get it done? What is your reason for saying yes to something? Is it because you don’t want to let people down or you feel you need to please everyone. STOP RIGHT THERE. Because that is the number one cause of Rushing Woman’s Syndrome which will only result in exhaustion and unhappiness.
  • Look for things that you can delegate or outsource to free up your time. You’ll be glad you did.
  • Give yourself permission to schedule time to yourself. It’s important for disease prevention.
  • Avoid time-wasting activities like social media (I struggle with this one).
  • Ensure you go to bed before 11pm and get 7 hours sleep (I also struggle with this one).
  • Allow 5-10 mins each day to either meditate to practice deep breathing as this helps to create a sense of calm within the body’s cells. It’s a proven tactic to support the adrenal glands in our crazy world.
  • Eat well, avoid skipping meals. Fill up on natural fats as they are our hormones building blocks
  • Make time to get a regular massage or acupuncture session or a relaxing hobby.
  • Look at your life, is it all work and no play? If so, reduce your workload to make time for relaxation and some social time with friends and family. This is vital to help refill your energy cup and prevent burn-out.

And lastly, you are enough, you don’t need to busy to prove that you are valuable to the world.

Yours in health & happiness,

Inez x

 

 

 

Case Study: Reversing Post-Pill Amenorrhea

No period for 4 years after stopping the Pill (post-Pill amenorrhea)

It’s not well known that a small percentage of women can experience amenorrhea (no periods) after coming off the Pill. This was the case for a lovely 25 year old client of mine who came to see me in 2011 for this very problem.


She had been taking the Pill since she was 18 years old and had stopped taking it 4 years prior to seeing me. But her period never returned during the 4 years after stopping the Pill, despite having a regular cycle previously.

She had tried other things like acupuncture, progesterone cream, diet changes and had all the medical tests “under the sun”. There was no evidence of PCOS and she was freaked out when doctors suspected serious pathology like a pituitary tumour. Thankfully, she was given the all clear. But this didn’t solve her absent menstrual cycle.

A friend who had recently conceived during my fertility program recommended that she come and see me.

And she was glad she did, within a month of homeopathic treatment, her period arrived – and a year later, she was still having a regular menstrual cycle. I had to laugh when she told me that she loves getting her periods every month:

I love getting my period, there is no pain, minimal to no PMS, it’s a breeze, it makes me feel like a woman after having no cycle for so long.

It’s a great case to share with you all as not many women are aware that post-Pill amenorrhea can be reversed with homeopathic treatment. Homoepathic remedies work by stimulating the body’s self-repair mechanisms which is ideal after stopping the Pill.

Remember, the Pill works in the following ways:

  • suppressing ovulation
  • changing the cervical mucus so it’s difficult for sperm to swim to the egg
  • changing the lining of the uterus so it doesn’t grow to its ideal thickness, and
  • changing the movement in the fallopian tubes to reduce the chance of sperm reaching the egg.

So the body needs to get all that working again after you’ve stopped taking the Pill. It’s quite scary isn’t it?

Fortunately, the human body can be amazing in its ability to restore balance which is why some women have no trouble with their cycle returning after stopping the Pill.

But sometimes the body needs help especially if the Pill has really suppressed things. Homeopathic remedies can be great for getting the body back to normal after stopping the Pill because they improve the body’s ability to get everything working again. It’s interesting that the impressive Liz Lalor Fertility Program was originally devised by Liz when she noticed a type of post-Pill infertility in her clients. By reversing the suppression, a woman’s fertility will return and she is more likely to get pregnant.

If you know someone who is experiencing post-Pill amenorrhea, feel free to share this post with them.

If you want to know more about the effects of the Pill on your health, I highly recommend reading the book The Pill: Are You Sure it’s for You?

 

Surprising benefits of using a menstrual cup

Serious? Really?

I get to talk periods a lot in my practice as a woman’s menstrual cycle tells me so much about what’s going on hormonally.

In order to assess if a woman’s flow is too light or too heavy, it helps to ask how often they need to change pads and tampons.

During these conversations, a small percentage of my clients have told me they use a menstrual cup which they absolutely love. It’s a one-off purchase so it saves lots of money and doesn’t add to landfill so it’s great for the environment. They say its easy to use and no different to inserting a tampon once they get the hang of it after a bit of practice at first.

I’ve always thouLunette cupght they sound really interesting, but I had doubts about whether they’d be messy or a hassle to change and empty or clean so I never took the plunge.

Then today, someone posted this menstrual cup comparison chart on a Facebook page, it was off-topic – but she thought she’d share it because it was a health-related page. Then the comments started rolling in, from women who are regular cup users and the majority saying they love the Lunette cup the most.

So I checked out the Lunette website and Facebook page, and then stumbled across a post on their FB page asking “what did you experience after switching to a Lunette cup?” and there were so many comments from women saying that their period pain had gone, their cycles were more regular, prolonged periods had become shorter, heavier periods had become lighter, less itching, and so on.

Serious? Really?

And you know what, it makes sense when you look at this chart:

Pads Tampons Toxic Chemicals

The chemicals, fragrances, pesticide resides, adhesives and bleach used in the manufacture of tampons and pads are endocrine disruptors, meaning they have the ability to upset our hormonal balance. So this has the potential to create hormone havoc, with irregular cycles, heavy periods, bad PMS etc.

Gosh it annoys me how much crap we are exposed to in our everyday environment. I used to believe that these things couldn’t affect us (ignorance is bliss, right?) but I see the effects of toxins in clinic constantly and the improvement in people’s health once their toxicity has been addressed. Just this week, one of my lovely fertility couples had a setback when his test results showed his sperm DNA fragmentation was “through the roof, the highest their fertility specialist has ever seen“, their specialist said it’s likely to be caused by toxicity, and he’s on the money, mostly likely due to the adhesives used in the patient’s workplace. Sad, but true, and I will be doing all that I can to help him to reduce his toxic load.

Anyway, I digress, but if you’re concerned about your exposure to chemicals and the effect on your health and hormones, consider trying a menstrual cup – here’s the product comparison chart again. If a cup doesn’t appeal, there are some organic, non-toxic sanitary products out there such as TOM Organic, Natracare, Anion, Cottons and even reusable, environmentally-friendly, cloth menstrual pads such as Wemoon

Stay safe sisters! Inez x

The Fertility Focus Telesummit

How exciting – so much fertile info all in the one place!

I’ve got something super exciting to share with you!  The Fertility Focus Telesummit 2014 is happening soon and will feature all the big names in the fertility world.

If you’ve been trying for a baby for some time, you’ll know how confusing and distressing the whole experience can be.  You want to know how you can improve your chances of success, but perhaps you don’t know where to look for answers…

I’m delighted to share with you the Fertility Focus Telesummit 2014 – an amazing “virtual event” you can attend for free! Yep, that’s right, for FREE.

The Telesummit will feature fertility experts from around the world sharing their knowledge and insights on a wide range of fertility subjects.  You can listen in to all the information-packed presentations online every day of the Telesummit for FREE, starting on 27 April 2014.

I’m personally looking forward to hearing my Aussie colleagues Nat Kringoudis and Gabriela Rosa speak as well as “The Period Fixer” Nicole Jardim from the USA.

Grab your free place now to attend this exciting event, and get fully informed about what you can do to improve your chances of having a baby here

Click here to read all about the Fertility Focus Telesummit 2014, including details of all the expert presentations, each covering a different aspect of fertility and all offering great advice, ideas and solutions to help you move further towards becoming a parent.

Here’s what previous attendees said about the Fertility Focus Telesummit:

“Well I followed some of the advice given from the last telesummit and am now pregnant!  I’m in my second trimester! So happy to have had a chance to listen to the telesummit. Thanks for offering it!” – Heather

“I was told at age 41 that my eggs were too old and IVF was the only way. When IVF failed something inside me was adamant that was not the way. Your Telesummit last year opened my viewpoint completely and through listening in and then following some of your speakers’ advice I became pregnant! Thank you so much Sarah for bringing me to a journey of discovery, acceptance, hope and joy.” – Roisin

“I was amazed by the amount of information shared in each of these sessions. I went from feeling hopeless to hopeful – how priceless is that! My impression was that there was a deep honoring of the many ways that woman journey through fertility and the lack of judgment towards how one does the journey was greatly appreciated.” – Anonymous

Be sure to sign up here for your FREE place at this event here

See you there! Inez x

P.S. Remember it all starts on 27 April so there’s not long to book your place. Visit the Fertility Focus Telesummit to sign up now.

P.P.S. Do you know anyone else who is struggling with fertility issues?  Please forward this post to them, as they won’t want to miss out on this amazing event!

Clomid – the ovulation wonder drug?

conceptionEvery now and then, one of my fertility clients will ask me about Clomid and whether they should take it. Usually they have heard of women having twins after taking the drug so they wonder if it’s the thing they need to boost their own fertility.

Clomid or Serophene (Clomiphene citrate) is a prescription medication used to induce ovulation.  It is usually taken daily for about 5 to 6 days in the early part of the menstrual cycle.

It’s anti-oestrogen

The most interesting thing about Clomid is that it is a synthetic hormone that has an anti-oestrogen effect on the body. By halting oestrogen production, it then tricks the pituitary gland in the brain to make more follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). This higher level of FSH then stimulates the development of several ovarian follicles so that you increase the number of eggs available for fertilisation.

So, the main issue with Clomid, is the fact that it is anti-oestrogen. Oestrogen is needed to produce fertile mucus and to thicken the lining of the uterus to nourish a potential pregnancy.  And that’s the thing – an absence of fertile mucus and a thin uterine lining can affect your chances of falling pregnant.

The stats

Clomid has a pregnancy success rate of 5-10% per cycle. Most women are advised to use it for 6 months which provides a 35-40% chance of pregnancy over that period.

The risks

Approximately, 10% of women who use Clomid will have a multiple birth. Some people dream about having twins or triplets but they do come with pregnancy and birthing complications, so in the medical world they are considered a risk.

Clomid also increases the risk of ovarian cysts – most cases the cysts will go away on their own although in a minority of cases they may cause internal bleeding or twist requiring surgery.

There is some research linking the use of Clomid for 12 months or longer to an increase in ovarian cancer.

There is an increase in miscarriage for pregnancies conceived with Clomid, with possible theories being that it can force the development of an egg that has chromosome abnormalities or the thin uterine lining caused by low oestrogen can make it less nourishing for a growing embryo.

The side effects

Many women report side effects associated with low oestrogen such as:

  • vaginal dryness
  • hot flushes
  • no fertile mucus or a thickening of it
  • mood swings & irritability
  • bloating
  • dizziness
  • skin rashes
  • blurry vision
  • breast tenderness

My take on Clomid

My view is because of it’s anti-oestrogen effects as well as the risks and side effects listed above, that the use of Clomid should not be taken lightly. In most cases, we can boost the ovulation process naturally.

However, it can be a wonder drug for women who do not ovulate and are non-responsive to natural treatment. In these cases, I can provide natural support for oestrogen production once the course of Clomid has finished.

 

Fertility: it’s worth the weight….

Yes I know Miranda Kerr has had a baby and other supermodels have too, but something that I have noticed in my natural fertility practice is that it can be very difficult to help skinny women to conceive.

My definition of skinny is a Body Mass Index (BMI) below 19 or 20 aslow body fat can cause low levels of gonadotrophin releasing hormone which can prevent ovulation. This lack of ovulation can cause some underweight women to have no periods, or to miss periods or to have a luteal phase defect – all of which can affect their ability to conceive both naturally and during IVF.

Fortunately, less than 5% of Australians are underweight and some may not need to gain weight if they are in good health. However, if you are struggling to conceive then I recommend that you try to gain some weight to reach a BMI of 19 to 20.

Poor diet, malnutrition, excessive exercise, eating disorders, low appetite and food aversions can all contribute to low body weight and infertility. If you feel that being underweight could be affecting your ability to conceive, then here are some healthy weight-gain strategies that you might like to try:

Choose more energy-dense foods (yes, the types of foods that people usually avoid when they are on a weight-loss diet). Go for high calorie foods such as full fat milk, avocados, nuts. High fat foods have twice as the energy of protein and carbs and will give you more calories. Although high-fat, high-calorie food is not healthy for most people, they may be essential for someone needing to gain weight. Choose healthy fats such as mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated rather than saturated fats.

Regular meals daily make meals a priority and take the time to have a meal. Aim for three healthy meals every day and try to eat more food within the first 20 minutes of a meal – such as eating the main meal first and leaving the salad and soup for later.

Large portions you can eat more at each meal by adding extra food to your plate or an extra piece of cheese on your sandwich, having milk from a bigger glass and eating cereal from a larger bowl. Expect to feel full after every meal.

Extra snacks eat more frequently to increase your calorie intake by including snacks in between your main meals – snacking on dried fruit, nuts and seeds is an easy way to add calories.

Juice and milk these drinks are an easy way to take in extra calories – drink more fruit juice and add more calories to your milk by adding in powdered products such as Sustagen.

Exercise to build muscles to gain weight, go for strength training activities and increase your calories to support that exercise. The combination of strength training and eating extra food will help you to gain both muscle and fat. An extra 500 to 1000 calories a day above your normal calorie needs will be enough to support you during exercise and to build extra muscle.

Bon appetite!

Recognise your fertile time

I highly recommend that all women read The Billings Method: using the body’s natural signal of fertility to avoid or achieve a pregnancy by Dr Evelyn Billings. By learning to recognise our fertile time, the Billings Method can be used to conceive a baby or avoid a pregnancy (with an effectiveness rate which is the same as the Pill but without harmful side effects).

The Billings Method has proved invaluable in the treatment of infertility when intercourse is timed to coincide with the appearance of fertile mucus. It is not uncommon for women to conceive using the Billings Method after IVF has failed. The Billing Method has an 80% or higher success rate for natural conception compared to the average IVF success rate of 47%.

It teaches women to recognise when they are fertile by being alert to when their body produces fertile mucus. All evidence supports the theory that no fertile mucus equals no pregnancy. Put simply, sperm cannot survive without it due to the acid environment of the vagina. The fertile mucus protects and nourishes the sperm, helping to retain their fertilising capacity for 3-5 days. It helps guide the sperm to the fallopian tubes and acts as a filter, removing damaged sperm cells.

On the other hand, if you want to avoid a pregnancy, recent trials of the Billings Method indicate a method effectiveness of better than 99% for contraception. This is because couples are advised to avoid intercourse when fertile mucus is present (or when there is bleeding as menstrual blood can obscure mucus should it be produced during a period which is possible during short cycles). This effectiveness rate compares well with other contraceptive methods: The Pill (99%); Mini Pill (96%); IUD (94-99%), Rhythm (53-86%). This just proves what scientific studies have shown us – that fertile mucus is essential for conception.

The Billings Method can be used during all phases of life – with regular cycles, irregular cycles, during breastfeeding or approaching menopause. To find out more read my article

The Pill and infertility

Can the Pill affect your fertility? Do a google search and most of the information and research will tell you no. For the majority of women regular menstruation will resume within a few weeks of stopping the Pill. However, the articles and research papers on the internet do not seem to consider the percentage of women who may be sensitive to the effects of the Pill.

There is clinical evidence to show that some women can experience amenorrhea (no periods) and that ovulation can be suppressed for up to two years or more after stopping the Pill. In some cases, the Pill can also change the cervix which affects the production of fertile mucus. Professor Erik Odeblad from the University of Umea in Sweden discovered that a post-Pill infertility was caused by a shrinkage of the crypts in the upper cervical canal that would normally produce fertile mucus. Without fertile mucus, the normal acid environment of the vagina is hostile to sperm and it cannot survive. In fact, there is a natural form of contraception called The Billings Method that is between 97-99% effective when intercourse occurs on the days when there is no fertile mucus. It is simple, no fertile mucus = no pregnancy.
One of the reasons that the homeopathic fertility program has a high success rate is because it can remove the effects of the Pill, stimulate ovulation and allow the body to start producing good quality fertile mucus again. The effects of the Pill and the quality of fertile mucus is a factor that is not addressed by fertility specialists so if IVF has not worked for you then you might like to consider the homeopathic fertility program.

Male Infertility

You are probably wondering why I am blogging so soon about healthy sperm but I have just discovered a really good website on all aspects of male fertility and men’s health at www.andrologyaustralia.org

It is estimated that about 1 in 8 couples in Australia will have troubles conceiving and are considered to be infertile. About one in five infertile couples the problem lies with the male partner and male infertility is the underlying reason for 40% of couples using assisted reproduction technologies such as IVF.

So what is male infertility? Quite simply it is when a man’s ejaculated semen does not contain sufficient numbers of normal, functional sperm to travel and fertilise the female egg.

When a man is diagnosed as being infertile, it can be devastating news but fortunately the majority will still have children. It is important for men to realise that the diagnosis is not related to their masculinity. There are so many things that affect sperm health such as smoking, alcohol, recreational drugs, sexually transmitted infections, tight-fitting underwear, spas and saunas, work environments, lubricants, excessive exercise, medications, injuries, illness, age, blockages, sperm antibodies, diet and nutritional deficiencies. Sometimes sexual problems such as erection or ejaculation issues can prevent couples from falling pregnant. Again this can affect a man’s self esteem but usually there is a physical or stress-related cause. Check out the Andrology Australia website for more information.

My approach to treating male infertility is with nutritional supplements and a homeopathic remedy. There are so many studies showing that nutritional supplements increase sperm count and health. A research trial of 45 infertile men showed that homeopathy significantly improved both the number and the quality of sperm. Homeopathy can also assist with any erection or ejaculation problems. Homeopathic remedies need to be individually prescribed by a registered homeopath. If you live outside the Brisbane area, you can find a registered homeopath on the Australian Homoeopathic Association’s website at www.homeopathyoz.org