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 Support in Early Pregnancy

Acupuncture support in early pregnancy can be a great alternative to ‘waiting and seeing.’

So you’ve just found out that you’re pregnant. Congratulations! You might only be 4 weeks along with your embryo no bigger than a chia seed.

You may have waited for years or months or it’s a complete surprise.

You’ve might have had your beta HCG tested and booked in your first scan, but it’s not for 3 more weeks…seems like a lifetime away.

You may have already read what seems like thousands of articles about women who have experienced miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies and you’re so scared about wondering what could happen in your pregnancy.

You’re feeling lost as to what you can do to support your pregnancy but there are a few natural things you can do.

First, take a breath. At this moment, all you know is that you have created the beginnings of a tiny human. This is wonderful!

Also plan to rest a little bit more than normal.  This doesn’t mean sleeping 10 hours per night or napping for 2-3 hours during the day. It just means slow down, pay attention to what your body is telling you.

Plan to eat warm, healthy foods while you don’t feel queasy just yet. This may change soon so enjoy.

You can of course start to read about what your body is going through and know what foods to be mindful of eating.

If you’ve experienced a miscarriage before or can’t stop negative thoughts, try replacing those thoughts with positive affirmations. Some examples:

  • I got this
  • I set my worries aside and I allow my body to do its job
  • I have within myself all the necessary resources to grow a beautiful, healthy baby
  • I trust my body
  • I am relaxed and calm (this one may need more repeating than most!)
  • I have complete confidence that my body is working perfectly

Another thing you can do, is make an appointment with an experienced acupuncturist, as early as 4-5 weeks.

“Acupuncture has been used for centuries to help women conceive, grow and give birth to healthy babies, naturally.”

Treatments are based on preventative care and support. They work to ‘uplift’ pregnancy energy which can help to hold a pregnancy in place. It can work to strengthen digestive energy to alleviate pregnancy sickness and can help you improve hormonal symptoms like headaches, constipation, low back pain  and emotional volatility – all common in early pregnancy.

Seeing an experienced healthcare practitioner in early pregnancy can also help you with reassurance. This doesn’t seem big…until you’re in your first trimester and you’re overthinking every single symptom and wondering whether you’re doing all you can to make sure your embryo becomes a healthy baby.

Gaining confidence in your body’s ability to nourish and support your  can make a difference for how you experience your first trimester.

So enjoy your positive news and please get in touch if you have any questions about your pregnancy.

Registered Acupuncturist and Owner of Gold Coast Acupuncture Clinic – The Point of Wellbeing

Laughing after Embryo Transfer Improves Your Chance of a BFP

I really just love that a bunch of researchers have made the effort and had the research funds approved to find out the answer to this question…does laughing after your embryo transfer improve your chance of falling pregnant?

Turns out the answer is yes!

So the researchers figured that IVF is stressful (we’re in agreeance here right?). They also found that stress can have negative effects on fertility (also in agreeance). He then discovered that laughing reduces stress (it’s a hat trick!). Therefore, why wouldn’t laughing improve your chance of falling pregnant?

The design of the study included a 15 min visit from a “professional medical clown” (fantastic occupation title!) just after the embryo transfer. While the women were still lying on the treatment table.

Each patient in the intervention group was visited by a professional medical clown immediately after their embryo transfer. “The routine included jokes, tricks, and magic and was performed on a one-to-one basis with the clown dressed as a ‘‘chef de cuisine.’’” (Friedler et al, 2010).

36.4% of these women fell pregnant as opposed to the group with no medical clown intervention, where only 20.2% of women fell pregnant. As far as statistics go, this is a significant finding!

We’ve all heard that ‘laughter is the best medicine’ and all over the globe there are laughing classes designed to improve health. I also found you can participate in laughing yoga!

In research, laughing has been found to reduce cortisol (stress hormone) and adrenalin, reduce blood pressure, blood sugar levels and cholesterol. It has also been found to boost the immune system and improve blood circulation – similar benefits to regular exercise.

Laughing can also increase endorphins (happy hormones) which helps manage pain and helps create a positive frame of mine. All very much needed throughout your IVF experience.

“Laughter is a highly complex process. Joyous or mirthful laughter is considered a positive stress (eustress) that involves complicated brain activities leading to a positive effect on health.” (sciencedaily.com)

Research into laughter’s effect on the body started in 1978 when Norman Cousins (not a doctor), was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and treated himself into remission (with the guidance of medical professionals) with laughter.

His study is still reportedly one of the first into mind-body medicine.

All kidding aside…(see what I did there?)

Laughter can improve your chance of falling pregnant with IVF. Research says so. 

From a Chinese medicine point of view, laughing helps move blood and energy. Stress through the IVF experience can cause energy to stagnate which results in pain, emotional upset and unsmooth uterine blood flow.

In ancient Chinese texts, it is also mentioned that joy (and therefore laughter) is an emotion strongly linked to healthy heart energy. Your heart energy is connected to your uterus energy for the purpose of growing your baby with love.

I would think it’s important to encourage yourself to laugh throughout your entire IVF experience, not just after transfer. As we have just learned, it has so many other health benefits.

It also doesn’t cost anything and doesn’t take much time. Sounds like an ideal natural support for IVF to me!

So don’t forget to find ways to laugh throughout your IVF experience :)

References: Friedler, S et al., 2010 The effect of medical clowning on pregnancy rates after an in vitro fertilisation and embryo transfer, Fertility and Sterility, vol. 95, no. 6, pp. 2127-2130

Getting More Sun Improves IVF Success

Vitamin D has long been linked to improved physical and mental health.

It is important for the production of hormones, bone health, a well working immune system, muscle function, heart health, respiration and brain development.

It has specifically been found to be a great predictor of success in IVF too with higher levels found to correlate with a higher chance of pregnancy success*.

In Chinese medicine, the sun’s warmth increases internal warmth and blood flow, which is ideal for improving medication delivery to your ovaries and blood delivery to your uterine lining.

Being outside is also a great way to feel relaxed.

So aim to get at least 30% of your skin (arms, legs and face) in the sun for 20-30 minutes per day for adequate amount of natural vitamin D absorption.

Of course, avoid the sun in the middle of the day to reduce excessive sweating, sunburn or heat stroke, especially after your embryo transfer.

Supplementation can of course help, but nothing beats the real thing!

 

Acupuncture to Prepare for IVF

You may have read or heard about the benefits of acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer.

Acupuncture has been found to improve blood flow to the ovaries and endometrium, settle uterine contractions, reduce stress on the nervous system and encourage relaxation.

For these reasons, research has found that having acupuncture immediately before and immediately after your embryo transfer can improve not just your chance of falling pregnant, but your chance of taking home a beautiful baby by up to 65%.

That’s great odds. Why isn’t everyone doing it? Or better yet, why isn’t everyone falling pregnant and taking home babies who have had acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer?

A closer look at the statistics shows that ten women need to be treated for just one woman to have this increased chance.

So basically, only 10% of women have a 65% chance of improving their IVF success when having acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer.

The difficulty we have, is that we don’t know which women are going to be more likely to get that 65% increased chance. It would be great to think that we might have a screening tool for this in the future, but it doesn’t look like that’s on the cards just yet.

What we do know though, is that your general health absolutely plays a role in your IVF outcome and perhaps more importantly, the health of your baby.

“Acupuncture can play in big role in improving your general health.”

Before acupuncture was known for its help with IVF, it had been used for centuries and continues to be used to help millions of people around the world maintain wellness and restore health.

Just a few of the things it can help with include; improving the health of your uterine lining, reducing pain, reducing inflammation, calming the effect stress has on your body, improving egg quality, increasing sperm count and movement and improving digestion.

Acupuncture is also safe and mostly pain free, especially when practised by a qualified practitioner.

So, if you wanted to ensure you are in that 10% of women who get the best outcome with acupuncture and IVF, finds ways to become the healthiest you can be. Start your acupuncture treatments three months before you start your IVF.

You won’t regret feeling healthier and you may just get that positive you’ve been hoping for.

Registered Acupuncturist

Founder of The Point of Wellbeing, an acupuncture clinic on the Gold Coast focused on natural support for fertility, IVF and pregnancy.