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Female Friday

October 7, 2016

fertility friday, fertility, bloor west, toronto, naturopathic doctor, naturopathic medicine, alexsia prioloThis time last year I was in Europe on my honeymoon. I wish I was exploring Lisbon’s hidden gems, driving between Berlin and Munich and counting all the windmills on the way, or eating another lemon sorbet in Monterosso – but alas, I am studying for yet another exam. A few years ago I started up Friday Five, a curation of different links I enjoyed over the week. This reboot called Female Friday, is going to specifically focus on women’s health because I want you to be well informed with everything involving you and your lady parts.

Figuring out when you’re fertile / Check out my latest video to figure out when you’re ovulating during your cycle.

Menstrual Cups Revival / I’m not the only one who listens to podcasts during my commute, right? Why I didn’t do this during my 10+ years of riding the TTC I’ll never know, but now is better than never. Stuff Mom Never Told You is one of my favourite podcasts, and I was so happy that they discussed menstrual cups. What I found most interesting was that the cups has to be marketed to the midwife/vegan/alt med practitioner first because other women weren’t likely to try it. Which is true in my personal experience! When I was at York, the sexual health team (of HealthEd) was giving away TONS of these and at that point in my life – I was 100% NOT interested. Even during Naturopathic Medical school I went back and forth on the decision to try. I caved last year, bought one, and never looked back!

Does the birth control pill cause depression? / It’s true, hormones can affect your mood. I’ve read the study which was in JAMA Psychiatry and it seems pretty robust. The authors did note that the women not taking any form of contraceptive, were also at risk for being diagnosed with depression or prescribed an antidepressant. The most concerning part was that teenage girls were more sensitive to depression than women aged 20-34. I’m interested in knowing how many teenagers are going on the pill to prevent pregnancy, versus going on the pill for other reasons such as painful periods, heavy periods, acne, etc. Because if we can treat these underlying period problems, what effect will that have on women and depression.

What men need to know / I remember teaching my husband about periods when we were in high school. I’m not sure how many men retain that information, but it is important for them to know. While they may or may not want to know about the follicular phase or luteal phase, it is important to both of you to know about ovulation.

Clue / After learning that my favourite period tracker was sharing my information with 3rd parties, I’ve decided to test out another period tracker app. Clue interested me the most because it has a great website with tons of information and it was created by a woman (which I’m always happy to support!). It’s much less pink and flowery and more minimalist (which I love!). I wish I could import over 2 years worth of period info, but c’est la vie. Let’s see how this one flows (get it?).

Naming your period / Does your period have a name? Or should I say, does it bother you enough to warrant a name?

How Pokemon Go Can Increase Your Fertility

October 5, 2016
stagnation, period, period naturopath, naturopathic doctor toronto, toronto naturopath

Let’s be honest, you downloaded Pokemon Go during the summer (I did too!). In between seeing patients, I found myself walking more, trying to hit up all the Poke stops in the Bloor West area, and pushing myself to go that extra 200m to catch anything that wasn’t a Drowsee. I notice that every time I finish a good walk I feel incredibly refreshed, my mind is quiet, and my body feels nourished. You might be thinking “That’s great Alexsia, but what does this have to do with my fertility?” Well, this is where TCM concept of stagnation comes into play.

Stagnation

If you read my article on the TCM concept of the liver (read it here), you’ll remember that the liver has a big impact on our qi (energy) and helps it flow smoothly throughout the body. When women are stressed it can have a big emotional impact, lead to feelings of anger and frustration, and makes our period less pleasant.

YOUR MENSTURAL CYCLE

In women, stagnation has its biggest effect on our menstrual cycle. It can transform a normal healthy cycle into one where we experience symptoms of premenstrual pain such as abdominal cramping and breast tenderness, and impact the regularity of our periods causing them to be irregular or stop completely.

While it’s easy to pop an Advil or two to deal with the pain, eliminating the true cause will be much better for your fertility in the long run.

MOTION

Exercise has been shown to be an effective way to decrease stress, helps our body to produce qi and encourages it’s movement. Depending on your energy, you might benefit from a daily 5k run or a simple walk around the block. Because most women are under huge amounts of stress, it may be best to start with a short walk around the block.

This is why Pokemon Go is fantastic for our fertility. It gets us outside walking to each Poke stop, hatching eggs and catching anything but a Drowsee. As we’re walking, we’re actively letting go all of those unwanted feelings of anger and frustration, minimizing the those awful PMS symptoms, decreasing the amount of Advil and promoting a regular flow.

NEXT STEPS

Incorporating certain foods and exercise can do wonders to eliminate our stagnation. Acupuncture is an even better way to do that! Our bodies have specific points that when stimulated, actively work to move our qi. The best part: a single 30 minute session can do wonders when it comes to decreasing stress. If you’re interested in learning how acupuncture can optimize your fertility, book an appointment with me!

Hopefully you’ve come away with a plan of action! If you love learning about your body and period, be sure to sign up for my monthly newsletter called The Flow for great and informative content like this!

Nobody Tells You About These Period Problems

January 27, 2016
period problems, dysmenorrhea, painful periods, toronto naturopath, period naturopath, naturopathic doctor toronto

Experiencing your period isn’t as simple as seeing blood for a week on a monthly basis. It’s about knowing what’s normal and what isn’t. While all of our periods are different, we each have our own unique experience. Today I’m sharing four common symptoms that we’re taught to view as normal – but aren’t! 

Dysmenorrhea

This is a fancy word for painful periods. In fact, painful periods are the most common gynecological symptom affecting almost 45-95% of women! While many women think that pain is a normal part of their menstrual cycle, it can have negative effects on their daily activities (forcing them to stay home from school and/or work). 

Dysmenorrhea isn’t the same as PMS. PMS (premenstural syndrome) occurs a few days before your period, while dysmenorrhea occurs during your period (typically on your heaviest days). Symptoms can include abdominal and lower back pain, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, and dizziness and headaches.

There are actually two types of dysmenorrhea: primary and secondary. Primary dysmenorrhea is pain without a pathology (ie. a structural cause), and can be due to prostaglandin production, nutritional deficiencies, and diet and lifestyle factors. Secondary dysmenorrhea is pain due to an underlying condition which increases during menses. Causes can include: endometriosis, fibroids and cysts, infection, and even IUDs. While some cramping is common, if you consistently experience pain during your cycle – it may be worth it to speak to someone. Especially if you want to do something besides take a pain reliever each month (acupuncture is a great alternative).

Menorrhagia

If you’re consistently changing your pad and/or tampon after less than two hours, you are experiencing an excessive flow. But this is just one piece of the menorrhagia story – you may also be experiencing clots that are greater than 1 inch in diameter, and/or have low ferritin levels (this can be found out through a blood test). 

Keeping track of how much blood lost each cycle becomes very difficult – especially when using different sized tampons, pads, and liners! You can track your blood loss with this chart. Or if you’re using a menstrual cup, simply input the data on an app. Common causes of menorrhagia are an imbalance of hormones (ie. thyroid hormones), vitamin and mineral deficiencies, clotting disorders, and stress.

Metrorrhagia

This refers to bleeding between periods, or if you’ve passed menopause, bleeding during menopause. There can be a few causes including pregnancy, hormonal imbalances (like PCOS), endometriosis, polyps or fibroids, infections (like STIs), trauma, and cancer.

Amenorrhea

After ruling out pregnancy, an absence the menstrual cycle can be divided into 2 types: primary and secondary. Primary amenorrhea is reflective of women who are 14 years old, have not experienced any secondary sex characteristics (breast development and pubic hair growth), and have not experienced their menstrual cycle. Or it can be reflective of a 16 year old who has yet to experience her menstrual cycle, but has secondary sex characteristics. 

Secondary amenorrhea is reflective of women who have experienced their menstrual cycle in the past, but are no longer experiencing it. Causes can include nervous system changes, hormone imbalances, disorders of the ovary, outflow tract disorders (ie. infections), changes in weight, disordered eating, or exercise.

Next Steps

How many of these terms did you know? The best way to track any of these symptoms is to use a period app. My favourite is Clue, but you can use whichever works best for you! Once you have this information you can bring it to your ND, so they can get to the bottom of why certain symptoms are occurring with your period. 

Hopefully you’ve come away with a plan of action! If you love learning about your hormones and your period, be sure to sign up for my monthly newsletter called The Flow for great and informative content like this!