Women with Period Pain, Please Stop Eating Acai Bowls, here’s why…

Women with period pain, please stop eating Acai bowls…

A major cause of period pain in Chinese medicine is cold. Our bodies are designed to work best when warm. This means eating warm foods and keeping warm.

Your metabolic energy – the energy required for your body to function relies on this warmth. Kind of like a steam train relies on warm coal. Imagine putting ice in the engine firebox instead of coal.

Eating cold foods, being cold, not wearing clothes to cover your feet, back and low abdomen all contribute to reduced pelvic blood flow and pain.

Cold causes the body to constrict blood vessels and slow blood movement. When your period is due to start and this blood needs to move, it’s like the blood is ‘stuck’ and causes pain when it starts to move.

If you find putting a hot water bottle or a wheat heat bag over your abdomen helps with period pain, you mist likely have some type of cold stagnation in your pelvis.

We don’t notice this cold in our abdomen during the rest of the month because blood doesn’t need to move as much in the pelvis…until your period is due.

Imagine it like a delayed ice-cream headache…but in your pelvis. 

One of the worst ‘health crazes’ is Acai bowls. I seriously think they are a serious risk to women’s menstrual health. I cringe every time I see a young women sitting out the front of a popular Gold Coast cafe in winter with ugg boots on and a jumper….and eating an Acai bowl.

Do you know, that the main ingredient in Acai bowls is actually sugar filled sorbet? You are literally eating ice cream (plus some frozen berries) for breakfast. Not only are they incredibly high in sugar, but the cold is having an impact on your health.

If you suffer from period pain, you really need to stop eating these, especially in winter. You need to look at warm porridge, cooked eggs, warming broth, even soup for breakfast. Try this for a few months and you could notice an improvement in your period pain.

I wonder if a craze of warming breakfasts could take over the Gold Coast…

In Chinese medicine, I use acupuncture, moxibustion (a type of warming herb) and heat lamps to remove this cold and warm the pelvis to help with period pain as well as improve fertility.

Remember, a baby doesn’t want to grow in a cold environment either. It needs warmth.

So eliminate Acai bowls and any cold breakfasts and see how your menstrual health and your fertility changes.

I always love hearing from you, so if you want to let me know how you went with making these changes, please let me know!

 

Registered Acupuncturist and Owner of The Point of Wellbeing, a Gold Coast acupuncture clinic focused on improving women’s health, fertility and pregnancy…naturally.

Acupuncture Relieves Period Pain

Acupuncture relieves period pain…

I need to start this post with a sentence that might shock many women.

Period pain is not normal. It might be common, but it is not normal. 

Pain of any kind is a type of body signal, telling you something is wrong.

If this was understood more clearly, it wouldn’t be taking on average 11 years to diagnose endometriosis, a pelvic pain condition that is characterised by period pain.

The thing is though, period pain is not usually fatal. Women can and have lived their whole lives with period pain.

Unless you’re quality of life is severely diminished or you are having trouble conceiving, there aren’t a lot of mainstream treatments available to you, other than pain medication or the oral contraceptive.

Both have side effects and aren’t ideal if you’re trying to conceive.

 

From a Chinese medicine point of view, the arrival and the flow of your period occurs due to a number of carefully orchestrated blood and energy movements.

Anything that affects these blood and energy movements can result in pain.

There are a number of patterns of period pain we treat depending on your pain presentation.

For example, a cold, twisting type of period pain that comes on with your period, which is alleviated by a warm shower or wheat heat bag is a cold type of period pain. The cold constricts blood vessels, causing pain when blood tries to move.

Another example is a type of dropping, severe ache type of period pain, which worsens a day or two after your period. You have a blood deficient type of period pain. Your body doesn’t have enough vital essences and is aching in pain with the loss of more blood.

Last one, a stabbing, severe fixed pain that comes and goes even starting the day before your period is due is a type of blood stagnation pain. Blood is not moving as it should through your pelvis and so when it needs to move for your period to arrive, it gets stuck and causes pain.

There are others, but these are the main patterns I see. There are treatment methods for each of these type, depending on the rest of your presentation.

Acupuncture, used with a type of warming herb can warm the pelvis, alleviate pain, improve pelvic blood flow and circulation to alleviate period pain.

Some patterns respond really quickly and some take time. Dietary factors make a big impact too, as does your level of exercise and emotional wellbeing.

Research has found that acupuncture and moxibustion are effective, safe and cost effective treatment options for period pain with long term health changes.

Besides acupuncture, there are a couple of natural things you can do to treat period pain:

  • Warmth – a bath, wheat heat bag, hot water bottle
  • Keep your feet warm – warm feet helps pelvic blood flow
  • Keep your abdomen and low back warm (avoid midriff tops and layer up with singlets)
  • Take a good quality, practitioner brand magnesium, zinc and fish oils – all show great results in reducing period pain
  • Eat really good quality, warm, cooked nourishing foods
  • Castor oil packs
  • Eliminate cold breakfasts, cold smoothies, ice cream, juices and sorbets from your diet for at least 6 months
  • Eliminate dairy – dairy has been found to cause inflammation that worsens period pain

Keep in mind that your period acts as a kind of report card for your month of health.

If you’ve been eating a sugar loaded, alcohol filled, fatty food filled, dairy filled diet, sat on the couch all month and neglected your health, you will experience a worse period.

Give the healthy tips a go. If they don’t make a change within three months, get in touch with me and we’ll start making some more specific changes.

You may in fact have endometriosis, which could require surgery. You can still implement these health tips and seek acupuncture treatments for pain management and support as well as seek medical care from a medical specialist.

Don’t accept that you will forever experience period pain.

With love,

Registered Acupuncture and Owner of The Point of Wellbeing, a Gold Coast acupuncture clinic dedicated to supporting women’s health, fertility and pregnancy…naturally!

 

Acupuncture After Egg Pick Up

Acupuncture after egg pick up helps reduce some of the uncomfortable symptoms experienced after surgery.

Many women experience pain, cramping, bloating, constipation, increased wind, headaches, nausea, vomiting and tiredness.

Unfortunately, pregnancy can worsen these symptoms because the ovaries remain very active until about 13 weeks pregnancy when the placenta takes over hormone production.

A severe complication of IVF ovary stimulation is ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), a very concerning, possibly fatal condition which can develop after the ovaries have been overstimulated. It’s main symptoms include severe pain and bloating, fluid weight gain, vomiting and shortness of breath. Please contact your IVF clinic immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.

Treatments offered after your egg pick up usually include just pain relief and rest.

However, acupuncture can offer a natural, non pharmacological treatment option. Acupuncture helps to reduce pain, reduce inflammation, warm and stimulate blood flow to the pelvis and abdomen to reduce the severity of these symptoms.

As well as acupuncture after egg pick up, I recommend complete rest after your surgery. Keep up your water, warm protein and green vegetables as they can help with abdominal inflammation. Avoid carbohydrates and grains for a a few days post surgery too as they can increase bloating. Keep your abdomen and low back warm, keep up light exercise like walking too.

You will feel much better going into your transfer and the days following until your blood test.

Please get in touch if you have any questions – info@thepointofwellbeing.com.au

 

Warm wishes,

Paige

Registered Acupuncturist and Founder of the Gold Coast Acupuncture Clinic, The Point of Wellbeing

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

Acupuncture for Period Pain

Period pain in Chinese medicine can generally be caused by two things; stagnation or deficiency.

Stagnation is the easiest to understand as it is when the blood or energy in your body slows down or stops completely. It causes pain because blood and energy cannot flow freely. You will get symptoms of clots in your bleed, extreme focal type pain or stabbing pain on the first day of your period (because blood is trying to move and this causes you more pain) and increased mood and energy after your period has finished. That is, until your lining starts to build and the blood stagnation worsens before your next period. This is often how we diagnosis for endometriosis in Chinese medicine.

Deficient pain can be understood by thinking of a river run dry. There is not enough fluid, blood or energy to fill and nourish your body. Then, when your body needs to eliminate more blood at menstruation, it aches in pain at losing important substances. Symptoms of deficient type period pain includes feelings of ’emptiness’, dropping pain, a dull but persistent low abdominal ache or tiredness and muscle weakness during your period. This is often diagnosed when a woman suffers from thin lining.

So what can be done? Acupuncture is great, especially at moving stagnated pain. Treatments leading into your period can really help with reducing pain naturally by moving blood and energy in your lower abdomen. In the case of deficient pain, a well balanced diet including good fats and protein, along with some acupuncture and warming moxibustion to build your system of energy and blood will reduce your pain. This will take time though…but will be worth it. Other things you can do to help is yoga or stretching, light walking, anything which reduces stress, add in some supplemented magnesium support and keep your abdomen, low back and feet warm.

Remember that period pain is not normal, you don’t have to just ‘put up with it’!

Period pain

Ovulation Pain

ovulation pain

Pain is a protective mechanism for the body. It lets us know that something is wrong. Ovulation pain is no different.

Ovulation pain or mittleschmerz (‘middle pain’) is low, one sided abdominal pain that occurs around ovulation (or egg release). It is really commonly experienced in women of all ages in varying degrees. Some women experience a mild twinge, alternating between sides each month and some women get debilitation pain over days with vomiting and diarrhea. This can be a cruel form of irony when it comes to trying to fall pregnant. It can also become worse after giving birth because of the extreme drain this process has on the body, taking possibly years for the body to replenish itself without specific help. This may also be contributing to problems falling pregnant after your first child.Western medicine is unable to completely explain this physiological process, often attributing it to hormone fluctuations or fluid metabolism dysfunction.

In Chinese medicine theory however, ovulation is the exact moment where Yin (the nourishing, egg development and oestrogen dominant stage) switches to Yang (the growth and progesterone dominant stage). Yang energy quite literally bursts out of the follicle for the egg to begin its journey down the fallopian tube. When you have imbalances between Yin and Yang energy, pain and ovulation dysfunction occurs. A Yin and Yang imbalance can occur for a number of reasons; an energy or blood stagnation, a deficiency in energy or cold in the uterus. Each pain pattern presents differently and is therefore treated differently.

Acupuncture, moxibustion and Chinese medicine work really well to move stuck energy, increase energy and blood, remove cold from the uterus and balance Yin and Yang to reduce pain and encourage a healthy and pain free ovulation.

If you have any further questions, please contact the clinic on (07) 5539 2362.

*disclaimer – the information provided in this post is general advice only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for individual healthcare.