Women's Integrative Health

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Healthy Choices for Teen Reproductive Health

Every year thousands of teen girls have irregular menstrual cycles.  Today 1 in 10 women have PCOS – with PCOS often starting in the teen years.  Teens may also experience ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, sexually transmitted diseases, yeast infections and much more.  So what are some healthy choices for teen health?

Important Steps for Healthy Fertility in Your Teen Years

The tips below will help guide you to making smarter choices prior the beginning of any natural remedies, therapies or supplements.

1,  Get to Know, trust and love your body!

Learn about how both the female and male reproductive system function.  This will help you to understand what is going on daily and monthly in your body.  Remember – KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!  You know your body the best! Get to know all of your female parts, be able to identify them properly.  Don’t be afraid of your own body.  Listen to your body.  If you feel something may not be quite right with your menstrual cycle, or if you are feeling any sort of pain in that area, talk to someone about it.  Love your body the way it is; for all it does for you!

2.  Clear communication is key.

Do you have questions regarding your body or menstrual cycle?  Do you think something may be wrong regarding your fertility?  What is normal?  If you haven’t talked to your parents, or an adult that is close to you, or if you are a parent, it is important to have communication with your teen.  Find someone to help support you through the search for answers in regard to your menstrual health.  There are adults that can help guide you, give you confidence and a safe place to talk openly.  There is no shame in desiring to find answers about your own body.

3.  have the courage to ask for help

Once you have someone to talk to, be open, have confidence to ask questions.  How else will you get the answers you need if you suffer in silence? Let the person you wish to discuss the issues with know what the problem is.  If you are sexually active, be sure to to be open and honest with them about that part of your life as well.  Once you are sexually active, you have more responsibility in taking care of and protecting your fertility and menstrual health.

4.  Find a healthcare practitioner that you are comfortable with and fits your needs.

Have an adult help you!  If you are interested in natural, holistic healing methods, you will need to search for someone trained in those methods.  You may first need to see an ObGyn (Obstetrician/Gynecologist) to get regular pap smears/check-ups and to diagnose fertility problems.  Your family doctor may also be helpful in diagnosing a fertility problem as well.

In the teen years your body is experiencing rapid hormonal changes, body growth and development.  This time of great changes is different for each person. Every person develops at a different rate.  Each year may be vastly different from the last.

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Treating Thyroid Problems Naturally

Thyroid Function Must Be Controlled Before You Get Pregnant

Treating thyroid problems naturally right away is important if you are wanting to have a baby.  Preconception planning is essential to a healthy pregnancy for women with thyroid problems.  Women with untreated or neglected thyroid problems may affect their baby’s growth and brain development.  Untreated thyroid problems may also lead to infertility, miscarriage or a baby born with birth defects.

It’s important to see a doctor bout thyroid issues.  Make a plan with your doctor.  If you desire natural treatments it is important to speak with your doctor to see if that is a possibility for you.  Here I will present some ways to supplement and support proper thyroid function.  If you are interested in any of these, talk to your doctor – we can help with a plan of action to help.

Iodine Rich food sources

A diet rich in whole foods should always be the first way to support overall health, including thyroid health.  Poor diet and nutritional deficiency is one of the top reasons for thyroid problems.  Choose organic foods when possible, as the thyroid is very sensitive to environmental toxins.  Too much iodine can also cause goiter, so do not go overboard.  More is not always better.  It is about balance.  It is important to get a balanced amount of iodine in the diet.  People with hypothyroidism due to iodine deficiency may benefit from increasing the recommended daily allowance of iodine rich foods.

  • Raw cranberry
  • Whole-fat yogurt
  • Raw dairy products
  • Navy beans
  • Strawberries
  • Potatoes with skin left on
  • Himalayan Crystal Salt

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Solving Thyroid Problems Before Conceiving

Is Your Thyroid Impacting Your Fertility?

YES!  Solving thyroid problems before conceiving is more important than you think!  The thyroid is a very important gland for fertility.  Hormonal imbalance can act as a trigger for thyroid problems.

Let’s review how the thyroid functions and learn the different ways thyroid issues may affect your fertility.

The thyroid is a small butterfly shaped gland.  It is located just below the larynx, in the lower part of the neck.  The purpose of the thyroid gland is to take iodine from the foods we consume and convert them into thyroid hormones:  thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).  Thyroid cells are the only cells in the body which can absorb iodine.  The thyroid combines iodine and the amino acid tryosine to make T4 and T3.  T4 and T3, once released into the blood stream control our metabolism.  They thyroid is also responsible for proper growth, development and repair of the body.  It is extremely important for the development of the central nervous system.  The metabolism of every single cell in our body is dependent on thyroid hormones.  The thyroid produces about 80% T4 and 20% T3, but T3 has four times the strength of T4.

Our thyroid is controlled by the pituitary gland.  The pituitary gland is controlled by the hypothalamus.  When thyroid hormones drop too low, the pituitary gland releases Thyroid Stimulation Hormone (TSH).  The release of TSH stimulates th thyroid to release more T3 and T4.  Healthy regulatory release of T3 and T4 signal the pituitary to decrease the release of TSH.  The hypothalamus stimulates the pituitary gland to release TSH through the release of TSH Releasing Hormone (TRH).  This can be so confusing.  To break it down, the hypothalamus is like you – a person who can control the thermostat in your home.  The thermostat is the pituitary and the heat is thyroid hormones.  As the heat rises (thyroid hormones), it signals the thermostat (pituitary) to shut off.  As the heat decreases, it signals the thermostat to run again.  The control person (hypothalamus) sets the thrmostat (pituitary) to a regulate the heat (thyroid).

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Coming off Hormonal Birth Control – Part II – Natural Remedies for Bringing Back a Healthy Cycle

What is your goal after coming off hormonal birth control?  Is it a healthy menstrual cycle or wanting to try to conceive?  Either way, nourishing and supporting the entire hormonal feedback loop, egg health, cervical mucous and uterine health is the goal.

How can we do that?

Step 1:  Nourish and Cleanse

Natural Fertility Diet

Eating a whole food, nutrient dense fertility diet has been shown to increase the chances of pregnancy and helping to bring hormonal balance to your cycle.  Because hormones in birth control may affect our metabolism, digestion and nutritional levels, eating properly is going to be very important when on birth control as well afterward to replenish depleted nutritional levels.

Use of birth control containing hormones effects the levels of folic acid, riboflavin (vitaming B2), vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc.  It would be wise to take a good whole food multivitamin during and after birth control use to prevent nutritional deficiency and restore already depleted levels. Women using birth control consistently for 6 months or longer have been shown to have significant lower levels of tryptophan.  Vitamin B6 supplements can help normalize tryptophan metabolism.

Prolonged use of hormone containing birth control may also lead to anemia so you may also want to consider taking a whole food iron supplement.  Birth control also changes the pH levels in the vagina which may lead to yeast infection.  Taking a good probiotic supplement Lactobacillus may support the body in maintaining healthy vaginal flora.

Prolonged use of progestin has been shown to thin the bones so be sure you are eating adequate amounts of calcium rich foods like dark leafy greens, sesame seeds, seaweed, almonds, quinoa, and chia.

Fertility cleansing for liver, hormonal and uterine support

The body may greatly benefit from some gentle cleansing of the liver and uterus when coming off birth control.  The liver has to metabolize synthetic hormones and becomes overloaded and taxed during birth control use.  When a woman has not had a regular menstrual cycle for some time because of birth control use, it may need some herbal support.  Because progestin has been linked to thinning of the uterine lining, the uterus may really benefit from uterine tonic herbs.  These herbs also support hormonal balance and healthy cervical mucous.  For help with cleansing after hormonal birth control use – contact us below.  We can guide you on what herbs to use and how to start with a clean slate within the body that will help your body to respond and utilize other natural remedies better.

Step 2:  Herbal Support for Restoring Hormonal Balance and Promoting Ovulation

If you have tried to change your diet, are taking a whole food multivitamin and you still do not have a menstrual cycle yet, you may want to learn how herbs for fertility can help to promote hormonal balance, restore ovulation and bring back a normal menstrual cycle.  Restoring a natural menstrual cycle is also important for egg health.  Hormonal birth control prevents ovulation which can decrease egg health.  Our follicles require a normalized release of our natural hormones and adequate nutritional levels.  Synthetic hormones disrupt these which may impact egg health.

Once you have stopped using hormonal birth control, your body may be confused and in shock.  One day your body was receiving hormones and then suddenly it was not.  On top of that, your liver may still contain some of those synthetic hormones which may confuse the body further.

The following may help:

Tribulus terrestris

If you know you are not ovulating and you are struggling to get your cycle back, learning about this South Asian herb may help.  One study showed that 67% of women who were not ovulating began ovulating after using Tribulus.  This herb has been found to stimulate ovulation.  Tribulus has been used traditionally for hundreds of years to promote healthy fertility in both women and men.

Vitex

Vitex supports the hormonal feedback loop.  This herb also promotes and has been shown to regulate ovulation.  It has the ability to adapt to the individual hormonal needs of each woman.  Because Vitex has proven effective for a variety of menstrual issues, it may be a great choice to start off on the right foot to restoring a healthy natural menstrual cycle.  It has been shown most effective when used for 6 – 12 months consistently. Vitex is a remedy that has been shown to be very effective, but requires patience.  It can take some time to achieve desired results, especially when  coming off birth control.  This herb is specific to regulating menstruation.

Dong Quai

Dong Quai (angelica sinensis) is one of the most powerful female tonic and fertility herb.  Dong Quai tonifies and strengthes the uterus by regulating hormonal control, improving uterine tone, and improving the timing of the menstrual cycle.

Dong Quai works by promoting blood flow to the pelvis where it will stimulate an absent or scanty period. It also nourishes the blood, treats iron deficiency and anemia.  One of the best uses is it helps women who are not menstruating to invite their menstruation back.  The increased circulation also helps to strengthen and balance the uterus.

Maca

Maca is one of the best supportive tonics for our endocrine system; which controls and produces many of our hormones.  This root is very nourishing.  Maca root supports overall hormonal balance and may greatly support our bodies through times of stress.  An important factor when dealing with stopping synthetic hormones is the stress factor.  It is extremely stressful on our bodies to take synthetic hormones and then abruptly stop them.  Maca may help to restore hormonal harmony once again.

Step 3:  Restore Healthy Cervical Mucous

Once the menstrual cycle is restored, healthy cervical mucous production should be restored as well.  If you find you are still struggling with lack of cervical mucous, you may want to consider supplements that have been shown to help promote healthy Cervical Mucous production.

Cervical mucous production may be altered for some time as well since the hormones in birth control thicken cervical mucous for some time.  Supplements that have proven results for restoring healthy Cervical Mucous are Evening of Primrose Oil, Borage Oil, and L-Arginine.  Be sure to drink plenty of water daily.  Using a sperm friendly lubricant until your natural healthy cervical mucous is restored may be helpful.

Step 4:  Self Fertility Massage

This at home natural therapy is one of the most supportive ways you can heal a wide variety of fertility issues, while promoting healthy function of the entire reproductive system.  Self Fertility Massage promotes ovulation, supports communication with the endocrine system, improves circulation to the uterus and ovaries which strengthens the uterus and promotes healthy eggs.  It also supports the body in ridding of those excess toxins and hormones.  This type of massage is a great way to be directly connected to healing your fertility and menstrual cycle.

Be patient; be gentle with yourself!

The body goes through a lot of confusion and stress when coming off of hormonal birth control.  Be patient with your body and give it time to adjust to the intense hormonal shifts that have to take place.  Expect that you may feel sad, angry, depressed and simply “off”.  This is normal when any hormonal adjusting is taking place.  Be gentle with yourself and how you are feeling.  Know that you can work toward restoring your natural hormonal state and can move on to working toward a balanced menstrual cycle and/or toward trying to conceive through proper nutritional, herbal and natural therapy support.

If you would like help coming off hormonal birth control and with balancing your menstrual cycle, contact us below.  We can help with dietary, herbal and fertility massage as well as other techniques and protocols to regain a a healthy cycle.

Balancing Your Hormones after Using Hormonal Birth Control-Part I

I often hear from women that their cycles have been disrupted from the use of birth control containing synthetic hormones.  If we could educate ourselves and understand what they are doing to our bodies and learn of alternative methods of preventing pregnancy, it may be better for our long-term health.  We could prepare for conception in a healthier way and learn to balance our hormones after using hormonal birth control.

We now have more control than ever to choose when we want to have children.  Perhaps knowing the consequences of using hormonal birth control would be helpful when making decisions about birth control.

Choosing Birth Control Responsibly

Each of us owes it to ourselves and our families to research facts on long-term side effects of hormonal birth control use.  Having the understanding that it may affect our fertility and health later in life is important.  Getting pregnant – not getting pregnant – how will getting pregnant impact my life?  How will preventing a pregnancy impact my health?  Balancing those choices to serve our highest good is the question.  When choosing hormonal birth  control, ask yourself:

  • Is this something I am willing to use long-term or is it a short-term goal?
  • How will taking this impact my fertility?
  • Are there better or safer options?

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Can You Treat Inflammation Holistically?

I am often asked, can you treat inflammation holistically?  My answer is “Yes!”  By looking at the reason we are suffering from inflammation, we can develop a plan to treat the issue holistically.

Smoking and inflammation

It’s pretty common knowledge that smoking is bad for your health and contributes to the development and exacerbation of a slew of diseases.  Researchers have recently developed a theory as to why smoking is so closely related to so many inflammatory conditions.  Apparently nicotine is able to activate a specific kind of white blood cell called a neutrophil, and while normally neutrophils work to protect the body, they are also responsible for tissue damage due to excessive inflammation.  So one way to decrease inflammation is to quit smoking.

Conventional treatments for inflammation
Non-sterodial anti-inflammatory drugs (NASIDs)

As you might know, the most common over-the-counter treatment for inflammation is a drug called ibuprofen, or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID).  These can be amazing drugs for the occasional ache or pain, but they are not designed to be taken regularly and do not treat the underlying cause of inflammation.  Symptoms of NSADIS include stomach ulcers, hypertension and rashes.  Taken long-term or too often, they can be dangerous, linked to heart attacks, strokes and stomach bleeds.

Corticosteriods

Another common type of anti-inflammatory medication are corticosteroids.  These drugs work by suppressing inflammation-causes genes.  They often come in the form of cortisone injections, and can be very effective at decreasing inflammation.  They also come with a lot of side-effects and the body can also start to build up a tolerance.

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Allergies and Chronic Inflammation

Allergies and chronic inflammation go hand in hand.  Allergies are another common sign of chronic inflammation.  If you suffer from seasonal or year-round allergies, you have probably wondered why they seem to affect you but not some of your friends or members of your family.  It’s because people wit allergies have an immune system that is launching an immune response to harmless substances (like pollen), as if they are a threat to the body.  This activates an immune response and causes that annoying persistent sneezing, mucus, and inflammation.  The immune systems of your fortunate allergy-free friends is simply not perceiving those substances as harmful.

The body will provide a tone of subtle signs when someone starts to develop chronic inflammation, and this is where conventional medicine can sometimes fall short.  Your doctor will be well aware of inflammation caused by infection or injury and fully recognize autoimmunity and autoimmune disease, but they don’t seem to pay much mind to the subtle signs of chronic inflammation.  And if they do, they will prescribe a medication that will treat the symptoms and not the root cause.

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Inflammation and the Immune System

The Immune System

Our immune system is one of the most incredible and complex parts of the human body.  The immune system is able to recognize foreign substances such as viruses and bacteria that might do our body harm.  Inflammation and the immune system is responsible for many of our health issues today.

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Fertility food

Eating for Long-Term Health – Lowering Inflammation Is the Key!

Inflammation in the body causes or contributes to many debilitating, chronic illnesses.  These include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and cancer.

Eating a diet focused on anti-inflammatory principles not only helps protect against certain diseases, but also slows the aging process by stabilizing blood sugar and increasing metabolism.  Many people find they also lose weight by following an anti-inflammatory eating pattern.  Eating for long-term health by lowering inflammation is the key to reducing many health issues.

Incorporate these principles into your diet for optimal health:

Consume at least 25 grams of fiber every day.

A fiber-rich diet helps reduce inflammation by supplying naturally occurring anti-inflammatory phytonutrients found in fruits, vegetables, and other whole foods.  Seek out whole grains, fruits and vegetables to get your fill of fiber.  Best sources include whole grains such as barley and oatmeal; vegetables like okra, eggplant, and onions; and a variety of fruits like bananas and blueberries.

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Optimal Fertility and the Gut Health and Microbiome Connection

Digestion plays a role in the health of virtually every body system.  70% of your immune system cells reside in the gut wall.  Gut and digestive health are important for all couples trying to conceive.  Enhancing digestion can greatly aid men and women with fertility concerns.  An improvement in gut health may be the missing link to solving otherwise unexplained fertility.  Optimal fertility and gut health are closely related.  Do you have digestive problems?  Hopefully this information will help and pave the way for relief and new power over your fertility.

How Does Digestion Impact Fertility?

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