The Body Doesn’t Lie

Do you remember the television series ‘House’ with Hugh Laurie. The sarcastic, grumpy but brilliant doctor who consistently claimed that ‘all patients lie’.

After almost 5 years in clinical practice, I would definitely agree….however (and this is important) very rarely is this intentional or deliberate.

hugh-laurie

As a side note, I don’t like calling people who come in to see me ‘patients’. I feel like it implies that you are unwell and that’s not always the case.

Back on track – in the times where we are taking many types of pain relief, antibiotics, hormone therapy and indigestion medications, we really don’t know our bodies very well.

But one of the most wonderful things about Chinese medicine, is body symptoms don’t lie. Pulses and tongues can’t lie ;-) So even if you’re unsure about your body symptoms, I can still work out what is going on and what we need to do to fix it.

Whilst I spend time asking you questions about your health and your symptoms. I am also checking these answers with specific signs I can read from your body.

The tongue is a great example – I can see how you digest your food, how you handle stress, how your fluid metabolism is working and your level of energy by having a look at your tongue. I can also see how you respond to treatment by assessing your tongue prior to treatment and after treatment.

tongue-map

Your pulse can also confirm these findings. I can feel your quality and quantity of energy in each organ and how they relate to your specific complaint.

Palpating specific areas of the body can give me an incredible amount of information too – the stomach can help diagnose infertility complaints, digestive complaints and general wellbeing. The tightness of specific meridians can give me information about how that particular organ is functioning and individual points can give me an incredible amount of diagnostic information about your body. Some points can be tight, can feel like there’s a bubble underneath, can feel soft, can feel ‘sluggish’ or be really tender for you.

The beauty of Chinese medicine and acupuncture is that we use all this information together to get a clear pattern of disharmony so we can treat your complaint uniquely for you. No one method of diagnosis is more important than others.

If you would like to know more about how Chinese medicine can diagnose and treat your particular complaint, please don’t hesitate to email me at info@thepointofwellbeing.com.au.

Paige x

CoQ10 and it’s Role in Reproduction and IVF

There is a fair bit of confusion surrounding CoQ10 and what its role is in reproduction. The confusion is because good quality evidence for dosage and length of time taking this supplement aren’t easy to find. Another reason for the confusion, is that there are two types of CoQ10 – ubiquinol and ubiquinone. They are both important but Ubiquinol is more readily used by the body.

A brief biology background on CoQ10. Within each cell in the body, there exists a small organelle called mitochondria. This part of the cell houses the energy required for that cell to function. It uses that energy for metabolism, transport and division. Mitochondria are similar to your petrol tank in your car and CoQ10 is like your petrol.

Each egg cell and each sperm cell has a mitochrondria and therefore requires CoQ10 for energy. The egg needs the energy to keep it moving through the fallopian tubes and a sperm cell needs energy to swim towards the egg, as well as the energy to fertilise an egg. The egg and sperm combined also need energy to continue cell division so they can form a healthy embryo and hopefully a viable fetus and then beautiful baby.

Even though this process is incredibly microscopic, it involves a huge amount of cellular energy to work. I suppose it would be similar to running a marathon….but for cells. If they don’t have enough energy, any stage of the fertilisation process could be affected.

So dosing CoQ10 can help with this process. There are very few contraindications for taking CoQ10, so it appears safe for most people. Those on warfarin do need to consult their specialist before taking it. I always recommend both male and female partners to take the supplement if possible and I generally suggest three months of taking it to make any significant changes. This advice is based on very preliminary research which can be updated when we have more information available. The dosage does depend on the person and their age.

For some people, taking it at night can keep them awake, so it is often best to take first thing in the morning.

Clinically, I have seen some great results with this supplement. It is safe and effective and has very few side effects. I would have difficulty not recommending this supplement for couples going through fertility treatment, especially if they are over 40 years old.

Image result for bioceuticals ubiquinol 300mh

Complementary Therapies for Labour and Birth – New Study

When it comes to complementary medicine, the scientific results for what to use to assist with a safe and natural labour, are very hit and miss. The reason for this, is that complementary medicine usually treats individuals and research studies look at large groups. So it’s hard to say for sure what single therapies work best on their own in large studies. Unfortunately small studies aren’t able to give enough weight to the result either – a constant problem with complementary medicine research and evidence based medicine.

However, with a rise in the rates of intervention in labour, particularly in Australia and other developed countries, more information is desperate.

So earlier this month, there was a new Australian study published looking into the effect of an integrative antenatal education programme to assist pregnant women through labour. The integrative part is the bit I like best. They looked at six different techniques including; acupressure, visualisation and relaxation, breathing, massage, yoga techniques and facilitated partner support.

They were looking to see what effect these therapies combined would have on the rate of epidural use, onset of labour, augmentation (added methods to bring on labour like manual membrane rupture or oxytocin medication), mode of birth and newborn outcomes.

They found that the implementation of these techniques together significantly reduced epidural use and caesarean section.

Other findings – although not significant, they also found that there was a reduced rate of augmentation, length of second stage labour, perineal trauma and resuscitation of the newborn.

For full disclosure – there were no differences found in spontaneous onset of labour, pethidine use, rate of postpartum haemorrhage, major perineal trauma or admission to intensive care unit. However, these may have been more physical or functional concerns associated with existing conditions and not able to be assisted with complementary methods.

Something they noted, is that the study did include a high number of ‘relatively wealthy, well educated women’ but it was also followed up with the discussion point that the highest rates of epidural use and caesarean section are amongst this same population.

Any complementary therapies that can help reduce epidural use and caesarean section numbers are a worthwhile investment in my opinion so it’s some exciting news. Not so much for the people already using these therapies because you’re already benefiting. But it will mean more women and families could be directed towards this style of protocol.

I do recommend all of these therapies with all of the pregnant women I see. Usually prior to 36 weeks because I find it can take some practice for some of the visualisation, yoga and breathing techniques. The great thing is, all of these therapies are safe. Safe pregnancies with healthy mums and bubs is the most ideal outcome.

For a link to the original article, click here.

Wonderful news!

Details of the techniques if you’re interested…

The protocol started prior to 36 weeks in combination with their usual hospital care and included:

  1. Visualisation – four guided visualisations rehearsed through the courses and given to participants on a CD to practice at home
  2. Yoga postures – five postures and movements practiced to encourage relaxation, physiological position for labour, opening of the pelvis and downward descent of the baby
  3. Breathing techniques – four breathing techniques were introduced: soft sleep breaths for relaxation between contractions; blissful belly breaths (BBs) which were used during contractions for pain relief; Cleansing Calming Breaths used following contractions during the transition period of labour; and the gentle birthing breath (GB) which was for use during the second stage of labour and encouraged descent of the baby avoiding active pushing and protection of the pelvic floor
  4. Massage – two techniques were shown to partners: the endorphin massage used between contractions, which is a soft technique and encourages endorphin release; and the stronger massage which is used during contractions for pain relief and focuses on squeezing the buttock, especially the piriformis muscle, to interrupt pain perception
  5. Acupressure – the use of six main points for use during labour selected from a previously published protocol. These focus on hormone release for labour progression, augmentation of contractions, pain relief, nausea and positioning of baby. For a free booklet on these acupuncture points and how to use them, head to Debra Bett’s website here.
  6. Facilitated partner support – used concept of working with pain and instructs partners to advocate for the labouring woman, promoting her oxytocin levels and minimising her stress with actions and techniques which are supportive for the birthing woman, and gives time for facilitated discussion and rehearsal by couples during the course.

pregnancy picture

Warm Your Womb to Improve Fertility

pregnant-woman-pic-blog

I’m sure all the lovely women I am treating are sick of me telling them to
keep warm! I feel like I say it hundreds of times a day, but for a very
good reason.

Cold in Chinese medicine is useful for very little when it comes to fertility
and women’s health.

A cold uterus is a huge problem for many women trying to fall pregnant.

Simply put, a cold uterus will not be able to grow and nurture a developing
baby.

But what can be done about it?

Lots!

Chinese medicine is all about balance, balance of the energy of the
body and its connection to the environment.

The balance of warmth in the body is really important for overall health and wellbeing.

Cold presents in the body similar to how it does in the environment,
it sinks, it is contracting, it tightens and it slows.

For women, this means cold moves downward to your pelvis and lower
abdominal areas including reproductive organs.

Cold tightens muscles and blood vessels and slows energy and blood
movement to your uterine lining and your ovaries.

You can present with symptoms of painful periods with clots where
warmth alleviates the pain, long menstrual cycles, small amount of
blood flow, severe headaches, low back pain, recurrent miscarriages, low
energy, low libido and many other symptoms.

These symptoms are often worse in winter as the body responds to the environment.

shivering-woman

There are two ways to look at treating cold in the uterus – either there is
an increase of cold energy and this needs to be removed or there is not
enough warm energy and this needs to be supplemented.

An increase of cold may have entered your pelvis during surgery in a cold
hospital room (something I see quite often after laparoscopic surgery),
too much swimming in cold weather, not being appropriately dressed in
winter or too much cold food.

Not enough warm energy is more of a chronic condition and may be due to
diet and poor lifestyle habits. It may also be due to chronic illness,
anxiety, stress or excessive amounts of antibiotics.

It’s important to know that progesterone, the hormone responsible for
maintaining lining in the second part of your menstrual cycle is the ‘warming’ hormone in Chinese medicine.

In women with low progesterone levels, it is particularly important to remove cold and increase warmth with acupuncture and moxibustion as well as adjust diet and lifestyle practices to improve the internal environment for conception and fetal growth.

Unfortunately, modern diets and lifestyle habits are contributing to this
cause of cold.

Many of my clients will know that I am not a fan of morning smoothies,
ice cream, acai bowls and juices, especially in winter and even more
especially during your period, in winter.

So a couple of tips

  • Eat warm foods
  • Avoid ice cold and raw foods, especially through winter
  • Keep your low back, abdomen and feet warm always
  • Hot water bottles, wheat heat bags and foots soaks are your new best friend
  • Find an acupuncturist to help warm your pelvis and low abdomen with acupuncture and warming moxa

Keeping your feet warm helps to warm all of your leg meridians which enter your pelvis.

If your feet are warm, your uterus will be warm and why wouldn’t a baby want to grow in a warm uterus?

warm-feet-pic

There are so many ways you can improve your fertility naturally to give
yourself the best chance of becoming pregnant.

Keeping your womb warm is just one of them :)

If you’d like to know more about how you can make these changes
to your lifestyle give me a call and book in for a private individualised
treatment plan.

(07) 5539 2362 / info@thepointofwellbeing.com.au

I’d love to help you achieve your fertility goals.

Warm regards,

Paige x

The Baby Business – My Thoughts

You may have watched or heard about ABC’s Four Corner’s program last week – The Baby Business. It was an entire 45 min dedicated to ‘blowing the lid’ on IVF, it’s processes, it’s side effects, the long term emotional and physical repercussions, the success rates and the fertility specialist’s role in looking after your best interests…and not those of the companies’ share holders.  I have just watched it. So many points of discussion. Here is the link to the show if you’re interested to watch it. I have summarised some thoughts and provided some suggestions below…

The concerns with IVF presented on the show:

  • Australia is generous with its medicare rebate to access IVF (in comparison to other countries)
  • There is no limit on cycles that are rebated my medicare
  • There is no age limit on cycles that are rebated on medicare
  • Women older than 40 who are accessing IVF has tripled in the last 10 years
  • Success rates for women older than 40 are potentially not being discussed openly and is much lower than we thought
  • There is a lack of transparency and information given for women or couples to make informed choices
  • Counseling is not offered during a cycle – only for assessment to access IVF
  • IVF companies are making incredible profits and have to work in the best interest of their share holders, not patients
  • Many patients are feeling like they are being sold false hope
  • There is fear around asking doctors the tough questions
  • Long term health implications of going through IVF

My comments in response to these concerns:

  • The show was really unbalanced in its view of IVF, although did point out some of the harsh truths that you may not have been told
  • One of the ladies interviewed has just published a book about her poor experience with IVF and I’m sure the program boosted sales
  • Keep in mind the doctors don’t own the IVF clinics – this wasn’t explained
  • Putting a more human spin on IVF, there may be many doctors and specialists out there to make a profit, but I have met many of the specialists on the Gold Coast and have heard so many warming stories of individual experiences of support and genuine concern that I definitely don’t think the show represented the majority of fertility specialists
  • The doctors are put in really difficult positions on many occasions – they see your hope, your desire, your life long dream of wanting children and they have all this medical information and equipment that could help you with that, why would they not try all they can within the boundaries of their medical knowledge?
  • We need to stop blaming clinics and doctors and start taking more responsibility – asking more questions, seeking help external to the clinic, seeking support

Suggestions for you:

  • Get informed, whether that be through the clinic or otherwise until you are happy with the amount of information you have to make an informed choice
  • Ask your doctor as many questions as possible – ask the hard questions like “what is the success rate of a live birth for someone of my age and health?” or “what is my risk of ovarian cancer”?
  • Listen to the answers – when living in hope, we often only hear what we want to hear
  • Do some research on the medication, the protocol, the side effects and if you have questions, ask them next appointment
  • If you don’t like the first fertility specialist you see, find another one, there are many to choose from
  • Take someone who is not as emotional invested as you to your specialist appointment – they can often give you a more balanced view of the appointment
  • Have a limit on your number of cycles – whether it be financial or number of cycles
  • Stop once you reach that limit – the further past your resources you go, the harder it is to stop because you have already invested so much. You need to be able to get off the ‘IVF Treadmill’ before you become so exhausted that you cannot continue
  • Plan a life without children – I know this sounds harsh. However, after years of focusing on IVF you may not notice the friends you’ve lost, the dreams relating to career, travel and sheer enjoyment you’ve lost, keep some of these things in focus will help keep your head space a little more grounded
  • Seek professional help. If your IVF clinic doesn’t offer a counselor or psychologist and you think you need one…make an appointment, don’t wait to blame the clinic for not organising it for you
  • But also, single stories are important…yours in particular. Try not to compare your stories to others
  • And remember, you are always doing the best you can with what you have available

One specialist on the show I found really interesting was a Professor who helped pioneer the technology for freezing eggs and embryos, Professor Rob Norman. He estimates that 40-50% of women going through IVF would fall pregnant naturally if they began to understand their fertility window (72% of women don’t know when they ovulate), tracked their cycle properly, lost weight and participated in an exercise regime or looked at ovulation induction before IVF. That’s a pretty big statement and confronting if true.

I would love to know your thoughts if you watched the show and if the program changed your direction about IVF. Send me an email at info@thepointofwellbeing.com.au.

Four corners

Aging and Environmental Factors Affect Embryo Growth

Recently, a comprehensive article was published in the respected journal, Fertility and Sterility detailing the effects of aging and environmental factors on egg, sperm and embryo growth and development. When you look at the statistics of IVF, the numbers aren’t great. Out of all eggs that are retrieved, only 7% of those will result in a full term delivery. So as you can imagine, there is a lot of research looking into how that number can be improved….not surprisingly many of the points relate to ways of being healthier in general but there was some interesting new findings. The article was technical and a bit tedious so I have done the hard work for you and summarised the important points below.

Aging and the Environment for Egg, Sperm and Embryo Health

  • positive environmental factors include; androgen supplementation (testosterone), healthy diet, exercise, nutritional supplements and pyschological interventions
  • negative environment factors include; aging, reduced androgens, oxidative stress, obesity, smoking, alcohol, oxidative stress
  • CoQ10 – antioxidant found to be very important for cellular energy and energy for cell division, reducing CoQ10 was associated with a reduction in the number of follicles, the recommended daily dosage is 600mg per day for at least 2 months prior to IVF
  • Androgen (eg, testosterone) – adrenal DHEA and testosterone decline with age and are associated with reduced number of follicles, increased cell death and reduced egg competence
  • Antioxidants – reduced antioxidants reduce embryo quality, affects sperm DNA fragmentation and it’s recommended for all men over the age of 40 years old to be supplementing, vitamin C is the most cost effective antioxidant, increase pomegranate, berries, chocolate, espresso, fruits and vegetables, turmeric, cumin, ginger and oregano
  • Obesity – associated with high level of oxidative stress in follicular fluid, moderate exercise was associated with 3 fold increase in clinical pregnancy, weight loss is recommended as well as supplementation of omega 3 and antioxidants
  • Smoking – for the female smoker it can reduce IVF success by half and increase miscarriage rate by one fourth, a similar trend was found even with donor eggs so there is a uterine effect as well as ovarian, for the male partner smoking is associated with reduction in IVF success, results in severe oxidative stress, recommended to high does antioxidants and quit smoking 3-6 months before considering IVF
  • Alcohol – reduces IVF success and increases miscarriage rates, suggested to avoid throughout IVF cycle
  • Caffeine – conflicting research, advise to limit consumption
  • AGEs (advanced glycation end product) – toxic end products from high glucose diets and ingestion of food at high temperatures, suggested to boil, microwave or poach food to cook to avoid
  • BPA (bisphenol A) – a chemical found in plastic containers, canned food linings and credit card receipts, high levels found to show lower implantation rates, also associated with miscarriage and reduced sperm quality
  • Exercise – moderate exercise recommended, found to improve egg and sperm function and IVF outcomes, also reduces oxidative stress, vigorous exercise can however reduce IVF success although not in obese women, men cycle more than 5 hours per week was found to reduce semen quality, proposing increased heat as the reason
  • Diet – recommendations include less red meat, less saturated fats, more seafood, more fruit and vegetables – similar to a Mediterranean diet
  • Omega 3 fatty acids – exist in large quantities in sperm membranes, early research shows it improves IVF outcomes, suggested to supplement with 1800 mg per day for 6 months to increase total sperm, motility and morphology
  • Stress – stress of infertility has been compared to having a diagnosis of HIV, depression and anxiety are negative factors for pregnancy outcomes, negative life events 12 months before IVF cycle predicted failure and reduced number of eggs retrieved, suggested that stress shifts blood flow to the heart, brain and muscles and away from non essential organs like ovaries and uterus, decreases in anxiety were associated with the greatest improvement in pregnancy rates, suggested treatments included cognitive behavioural therapy and mind body sessions to work on relaxation, stress management, lifestyle recommendations and group support, also to deal with cycle failures

These are all factors you can include in your IVF cycle to maximise your pregnancy outcomes. Acupuncture works well to improve blood flow and reduce your stress response to improve your pregnancy outcome. I cannot stress the importance of a healthy diet and good quality supplements in really improving your cellular energy. Science can only take you so far. Never feel like there is nothing else you can do to improve your chances of having a family through natural fertility or IVF.

Please let me know if you have any questions or would like further clarification about any of these points.

Paige :-)

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