How to cope with endometriosis and manage it moving forward

Endometriosis can be a challenging condition to deal with, both physically and emotionally. But with proper interventions and proper management and treatments after diagnosis, you can be shown how to deal with the associated symptoms of endometriosis and improve your quality of life. Please have a read of some of the best ways to cope with endometriosis.

Endometriosis can be painful disorder that is characterized by tissue that behaves like the lining of the uterus but that grows outside the uterus. Endometriosis is really normal tissue growing in abnormal places. This tissue can be found in various places, such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and pelvic lining, and even in or around the bladder and bowel.

Endometriosis affects around 1 in 10 women and girls and those are only the ones diagnosed. This mean these figures are grossly under-diagnosed and downplayed with many women not being diagnosed properly and those that do not even know they have the disease. Endometriosis can cause symptoms during the reproductive years, between the ages of 12 and 60, but it can show up in young girls under 10 years old too.  Many people with the condition remain undiagnosed and many more and missed and dismissed with many taking up to ten years or more to be diagnosed.

The main symptom of the condition is usually pelvic pain typically associated with the menstrual period. While women can experience some discomfort during their menstrual period, some of those with endometriosis describe pain that is worse than usual. For some it is actually unbearable. There are also other symptoms such as painful periods, pelvic pain, ovulation pain, pain with sex, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel like symptoms, bladder issues and pain and bleeding on bowel movement. This is why all women need to know that period pain is not normal, because many times, period pain can actually be a sign that a woman has an underlining gynaecological conditions such as endometriosis

There is no cure for endometriosis (not yet anyway), but there are treatment options and lifestyle changes that can ease your symptoms so that the condition does not interfere with your day-to-day life. The main thing with endometriosis is to manage the disease and try and create a quality of life moving forward. While there is no cure for endometriosis, it is possible for women to become asymptomatic (meaning having no symptoms) and this requires the right treatments and management of the disease and to see the right people from the beginning. Again, it all gets back to who you are seeing and their experience with knowing about endometriosis. This is one the biggest issues women face when trying to get treatment. Many just do not know much about the disease at all and why women are left to deal with the horrible symptoms. But with the right treatment and management, women can have a better life and be able to cope with this horrible disease.

Before we look at proper management for women with endometriosis, it is important that all understand the facts because there is so much misinformation out there and this is part of the bigger issue for women with this disease.

The Facts About Endometriosis

  1. Period Pain IS NOT Normal
  2. A significant portion of women with Endometriosis are asymptomatic
  3. Symptoms DO NOT correlate to the extent of the disease
  4. The only way to diagnose Endometriosis definitely is via surgical intervention
  5. There is NO cure for Endometriosis
  6. Having a baby will not cure endometriosis
  7. Endometriosis does not always cause infertility
  8. Endometriosis is Estrogen Driven and is not caused by Estrogen dominance
  9. The Pill, or Contraceptives DO NOT fix endometriosis
  10. You can have Endometriosis at a Young, or Older Age
  11. Hysterectomy does not cure endometriosis
  12. Endometriosis requires a multi-modality approach to be managed properly. You need a team for proper management
  13. Endometriosis IS NOT an autoimmune disease
  14. There Are Hereditary and Genetic links
  15. Endometriosis can cause many other issues in the body
  16. The first line approach for hormone therapy should be the use of progesterone only options
  17. Endometriosis needs to be excised (cut out) by an advanced laparoscopic surgeon, who has had extra years of specialised surgical training, and who specialised in the excision of the disease and specialised in the disease itself. Surgery should be performed by anyone other than an advanced laparoscopic surgeon and not by just a regular gynaecologist
  18. Not all women with endometriosis have suffered sexual abuse

 

What Women Can Do To Help Manage Endometriosis

1.Seeing the Right Specialist & Surgeon

First and foremost make sure you have seen someone who specialises in endometriosis and the management and treatments moving forward. You also need to make sure that your first surgery is your best surgery and that you have seen an advanced laparoscopic surgeon to ensure you have had the proper surgical intervention. This is many women’s biggest issue as they have not seen the proper surgeon initially and they aren’t seeing someone who specialises in the management of the disease moving forward.

2.Watch your diet

Eating the right foods may provide some protection from the symptoms of endometriosis. The role of diet in endometriosis has been investigated in recent years due to the influence of diet on some of the processes linked to the disease, such as inflammation, prostaglandin metabolism, and estrogen activity. Many of the so called endometriosis diets out there are now outdated and have outdated nutritional and dietary advice that don’t really help much at all. Women need to adopt an anti-inflammatory (grain free, primal, ketogenic style diet) to help with settling any inflammation in the body and also helping the immune system. This also needs to include prebiotic and probiotic bacteria to help with digestive function, immunity and gut health.

Certain environmental estrogens such as preservatives, plastics, pesticides and insecticides that can be ingested through certain nutrients have been suggested as risk factors for exacerbating endometriosis too.

Excess body fat, now known as obestrogens (because it is estrogenic) needs to be controlled and managed through diet and exercise too. We know that estrogen drive endometriosis and that any estrogens (dietary, body fats, environmental etc) needs to be regulated and controlled.

3.Boost intake of omega-3 fatty acids

Researchers have also found that the type of fat included in your diet makes a difference in your risk of endometriosis. Studies have shown that people whose diets were heavily laden with trans fats increased their risk of the expression of endometriosis by 48 % when compared with individuals who ate the least of these. By comparison, women whose diets were rich in omega-3 oils lowered their risk of endometriosis by 22 % compared with those who consumed the least amount.

Eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, flaxseeds, almonds, and walnuts, may be helpful for endometriosis. Women should also be supplementing with Omega 3 oils too. Just remember, it is all about reducing inflammation.

4.Exercise

Often, people who experience pain fear exercising, in case it causes more problems for them. But over time, regular physical activity may decrease the pain and discomfort that you feel. High-intensity exercise and resistance training can help to reduce the symptoms of endometriosis.

Exercise may help those with endometriosis in many ways, including:

  • encouraging the circulation of blood to your organs
  • maintaining nutrients and oxygen flow to all your body systems
  • decreasing estrogen production
  • reducing stress
  • releasing endorphins in the brain, which are pain-relieving, “feel good” chemicals

Women who regularly exercise may be likely to have the symptoms associated with endometriosis. Research has shown that those who engage in frequent high-intensity physical activity have fewer symptoms of  endometriosis than women who do not participate in regular exercise. High-intensity physical activity, such as running, swimming, weight training etc, may be beneficial for reducing your symptoms.

Low-intensity exercise, including Yoga and Pilates may provide some relief in endometriosis, too. Yoga and Pilates can stretch and strengthen your muscles, help with core strength, help with circulation, which all may be beneficial for pelvic pain management and stress reduction.

5.Managing Stress Levels

Stress is a big factor in any disease and can make any disease worse. Not only can stress be exacerbated by endometriosis, but so can endometriosis symptoms be exacerbated by stress, in a never-ending cycle. Endometriosis could contribute to making your stress levels worse, due to the impact that the associated symptoms have on all aspects of your life, including family and personal relationships and work.

Stress management, Counselling, Mindfulness and Relaxation techniques can help to reduce stress that exacerbates endometriosis-related symptoms and pain.

Women with endometriosis need to manage stress by using mindfulness and relaxation techniques. These can help you to increase your awareness of your body, refocus on something calming, and reduce the activity of stress hormones and inflammation in the body. It is all about learning coping mechanisms and what works best for you, not what works best for others.

6.Try complementary medicine and therapies

Many women with Endometriosis find symptom relief from using a range of different complementary and alternative medicines. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists also recommends that women try natural medicines to help with the management of endometriosis and the associated symptoms. There is now some good research to support many natural medicines treatments such as acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, vitamins, omega 3 oils, probiotics, chiropractic/osteopathy, yoga, pilates and more.

Out of all the natural medicine therapies, Acupuncture and Chinese medicines has been the most researched and have shown to be the most beneficial to those suffering this disease and its associated symptoms.

Certain strains of prebiotics and probiotics have also been shown to help with the immune system, microbiome, bowel, and digestive associated symptoms of endometriosis. Probiotics have also been shown to not only help with digestive and immune function, but also with the psychological function as well. It does need to be specific strains of probiotics though.

Just like with medical treatments, when it comes to complementary medicines, it is important to find someone who is a qualified practitioner and who specialises in endometriosis. Just like in the medical model, this can also be hard to find.

7.Medications

Your endometriosis specialist can provide you with a list of treatment options for endometriosis and outline the risks and benefits of each. They will take into account your age, your symptoms, whether you want to become pregnant, and any treatments that you have had previously. It is important to manage pain and inflammation so that you can have a life and to be able to function daily.

You may need to use different forms of pain medications on script, as well as those that can be purchased over the counter. Please ensure you speak to your healthcare provider about setting up a pain management plan when using medications

You will also need to look at hormone therapy to help slow down the growth and expression of the disease and microscopic implants and also help with the associated symptoms of the disease. Hormones will usually be in the form of progesterone only medications and gonadotropin-releasing hormone antagonists and agonists. You may be prescribed other hormones depending on your individual case and symptoms.

Although all of these hormone therapies are effective at treating endometriosis, but,  they all have different side effects. You need to talk to your doctor and pharmacists about the side effects and risk factors of any medications and hormones that you are taking.

In Summary

It is important to know that women with endometriosis will need a multi-modality, or team approach to deal with this disease. The team you need and modalities that you will need will be dependent on your individual symptoms. Try and find healthcare professionals that can offer you a multi-modality approach for ongoing care and support and who also have a team of other people who specialise in the disease too. Again, the approach that you and your specialist choose to take will vary depending on your signs and symptoms, and whether or not you would like to become pregnant in the future.

Before starting any treatment, it is important to know all of your options and the potential outcomes of all of them and to know that the people that you are seeing are specialists in endometriosis and know how to manage the disease properly. That can often be the hardest thing to find and why you need to do your homework and see people who are specialists in this area of medicine.

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

Reproductive Medicine and Women’s Health Medicine Specialist

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Period Pain IS NOT Normal

 

Incontinence, Bladder issues and Weak Pelvic Floor

Incontinence is often an embarrassing condition that will have more than a third of people suffering in silence because they are too embarrassed to seek treatment. Both men and women can suffer incontinence. Although patients don’t die of incontinence, they often can’t live a fully productive life, they may have to curtail their workload or change jobs. Many factory workers and school teachers are only allowed set times for toilet breaks, so patient with urge incontinence may have to change jobs. Patients who work in the military or the police force may have to resort to desk jobs. Too many women with incontinence stop having sexual intercourse, either because they are afraid they will leak during sex, or else they actually do leak, either at penetration, or at time of orgasm, which can be very disastrous. While men can also suffer incontinence, I am mainly going to focus on the causes of incontinence in women for this post.

Many people don’t seek treatment because they also believe that surgery is their only option. Nothing could be further from the truth and surgery should only be used as a last resort once conservative methods have been used and aren’t working. Even then, the surgical approaches used today are less invasive, are very effective and the recovery is very quick. It is not like it was 10-20 years ago. Keyhole surgery has really made major changes in this area and new surgical techniques are so highly effective.  I know people want to avoid any surgery, but sometimes it is needed and these days the recovery rates are so quick. A few days out of your life for recovery, can actually change your whole life. I just do not understand why anyone would put up with a life with incontinence, prolapse, or weak pelvic floor, when these issues are so easily fixed these days. I know many patients are so amazed at how easily their incontinence issues was fixed and how amazing they feel in getting their life back again. No more leakage when they laugh, cough, or exercise.

Some people never seek treatment believing that incontinence is just a normal part of life. Again, this is not true and all and I encourage anyone with incontinence to come and talk to me, or you pelvic floor specialist, so we can help treat you and can also refer you to the right people for treatment and management if needed. I know my pelvic floor/urodynamic surgeon is amazing and what he can do for women and these issues is amazing too. Then I just help with the management and strengthening moving forward.

Like I said before, surgery isn’t always needed. Many times conservative measures such as pelvic floor exercises, core strengthening, bladder toning, topical estrogen therapy, internal TENS (electrostimulation) and pulse magnetic therapy can all product fantastic long term treatment to this often debilitating condition, without the need for surgery. There are also some special rings and other devices that can be used to prevent leakage and support prolapsed bladder and also vaginal prolapse causing incontinence. Men with incontinence also have options at hand and these can also be explored well before surgery is needed. What people need to be aware of too, is that if you have been doing all the conservative treatments, and they aren’t helping, then it is time to get some surgical intervention. I think people think that pelvic floor exercises with fix all bladder and pelvic floor issues, and this doesn’t work, then there is nothing that can be done to help them. I need for all women (and men) to know that there is always help for bladder and pelvic floor issues and you just need to see a specialist, not just your GP.

On a natural medicine level, acupuncture has been shown to be very effective in the treatment and management of pelvic pain, prolapse and incontinence. Anyone with incontinence should be using acupuncture as part of their overall management. There are also Chinese herbal medicines that can help with toning the pelvic floor and bladder to help stop incontinence. Yoga and Pilates may also help toning of the pelvic floor and help managing incontinence, pelvic floor and post-surgical management of prolapse too.

Incontinence and bladder issues are defined as needing to pass urine more than 8 times per day, leakage of urine through cough, sneeze, urge, or without cause. It is important to seek help if you notice damp underwear, need to use pads because of leakage or are constantly running to the loo to pass urine.

There are many different types of incontinence with the main ones defined as stress incontinence, urge incontinence and voiding dysfunction/incomplete emptying. There is also mixed incontinence (mix of the 3 main ones) and also a term called overactive bladder syndrome which can be a mixture of all forms of incontinence. There are also inflammatory bladder conditions that cause incontinence such as bacterial cystitis and interstitial cystitis. Physical issues such as previous surgery, childbirth and prolapse can also cause incontinence too.

The first task for the clinician is to find out how severe the incontinence is, based on the frequency of leakage, whether the woman finds it necessary to use incontinence pads, and if so how many pads. Some patients may prefer to change their underwear more frequently, while others may tuck tissue paper inside their underwear, and just throw away the tissues whenever they are damp.

The classic feature of stress incontinence is that the patient leaks with coughing, sneezing, laughing, running, playing sport or lifting heavy objects

The classic feature of urge incontinence is that the patient rushes to the toilet with an urgent desire to pass urine, but as she gets to the loo and is taking down her trousers, the urine comes away from her- sometimes before she has even sat down. Unfortunately these patients cannot predict when these bladder spasms will come upon them, and therefore can’t really tell when they are likely to leak.

Nocturia is defined as being woken up by your bladder needing to go to the toilet- as opposed to being woken up by a crying baby, a snoring husband, or menopausal night sweats. However nocturia is age dependent. Nocturia is defined as waking 1 or more times per night if under 60 years of age

Typically this patient Voiding dysfunction/ Emptying difficulty has to strain to commence voiding (called “hesitancy”). She may also have observed that when she compares herself to other women urinating in the toilets at the movies or in airports, her stream seems poorer than others with the urine dribbling out more slowly. She will often also describe the sensation of incomplete emptying and may need to go back to the toilet within a relatively short time to re-void. Sometimes she will leak as she gets off the toilet, which is how she realises that she is not empty. This is called post-micturition dribble incontinence.

In males these symptoms most commonly occur when the prostate gland is enlarged- causing a relative urethral obstruction and making it more difficult for the urine to get out. These men have chronic high residual urine, so they end up going to the toilet very frequently in a vain attempt to empty out. They often dribble urine onto their clothes. When such men have prostatic surgery they usually find that their urine flow rate returns to normal and they usually stop dribbling.

We will also need to explore how inflammation of the urinary bladder leads to suprapubic pain, and consider the two main causes of this, Bacterial Cystitis and Interstitial Cystitis .It often feels difficult to treat incontinence in the presence of bacterial cystitis, because such patients are overwhelmed by frequency and urgency of micturition and they may experience disabling suprapubic pain. It is fixable with the right treatment though. It all gets back to who is managing you.

On the other hand, a separate cause of Urinary Pain, called Interstitial Cystitis, does not usually cause much incontinence at all- it just causes suprapubic (bladder) pain with severe frequency and urgency of micturition.

The overactive bladder (OAB) is a clinical syndrome, not a urodynamic diagnosis. It comprises frequency, urgency, and nocturia, with or without urge incontinence.

Gynaecological conditions such as Endometriosis and Adenomyosis etc can also cause issues with bladder and pelvic floor.

Please read my post on Atrophic vaginitis as this is also another cause of weakness in the pelvic floor and bladder and could be a cause of incontinence.

No matter what sort of incontinence you have, there is always an answer and a solution to your problem. Not all solutions are surgical either. More often than not some conservative treatments, some exercises and some acupuncture is all that is needed. Sometimes all some women need is some treatments with estrogen creams to help with tone in the vagina, bladder and pelvic floor

Surgery and now bionic devices are always an option for those whom have tried conservative options and aren’t getting the desired results. Surgery is often used because of quality of life issues. Again surgery these days is so effective and less invasive and the recovery is so much quicker due to keyhole surgery and new surgical interventions.

If you are experiencing incontinence or bladder issues, please book in and see me, or a good pelvic floor/urodynamic specialist, so you can be evaluated properly and see what is going on and implement the right treatment strategies to get your quality of life back again. Many times there may be an easy non-invasive treatment for your particular issues. Even when surgical intervention is needed, these days even this is less invasive than it used to be and the recovery and results are very quick.

Please read my post of Atrophic Vaginitis as well as this all ties into this area too, especially for those women in the menopause and post menopausal time of their life.

 

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

Reproductive Medicine and Women’s Health Medicine Specialist

-No Stone Left Unturned

– Women’s & Men’s Health Advocate

What Is Lichen Sclerosus?

Lichen sclerosus is a long-term problem of the skin. It mostly affects the genital and anal areas. Sometimes, lichen sclerosus appears on the upper body, breasts, and upper arms. For this article I am just going to talk about Lichen Sclerosus of the genital region (Vulva) and more around how this affects women and how it can be treated and managed. Lichen sclerosus can cause itching, pain and scarring of the affected areas, but there are treatments available that can relieve symptoms and prevent and treat scarring.

Who Does Lichen Sclerosis Affect?

While anyone can get lichen sclerosus at any age, women after the menopause have the highest risk. In fact, it is about 10 times more common in women than in men. It is possible, but rare, for children to be affected.

What Are the Symptoms?

Early in the disease, small white spots appear on the skin. The spots are usually shiny and smooth. Later, the spots grow into bigger patches. The skin on the patches becomes thin and crinkled. The skin may also be inflamed and red or ulcerated from scratching.

Skin affected by lichen sclerosus can tear easily, and there may be tiny fissures (cracks in the skin). When severe, there may be bleeding and blistering.Sometimes, the skin becomes scarred. If the disease is a mild case, there may be no symptoms. 
Other symptoms are:

  • Itching (very common)
  • Discomfort or pain
  • Bleeding

Genital lichen sclerosus

Lichen sclerosus that affects the vulva usually feels intensely itchy. There may also be pain, stinging, burning or discomfort, especially during sex or when urinating.

Lichen sclerosus is a chronic, or ongoing, condition, and over time it can lead to scarring. If this affects the vulva, it may narrow the entrance to the vagina, interfering with sexual intercourse.

Women with severe lichen sclerosus in the genitals may not be able to have sex. The disease can cause scars that narrow the vagina. Also, sex can hurt and cause the patches to bleed. However, treatment with creams or ointments can help. Women with severe scarring in the vagina may need surgery, but only after lichen sclerosus is controlled with medication. When the skin around the anus is affected, pain when emptying the bowels can lead to constipation.

What Causes Lichen Sclerosus?

Doctors don’t know the exact cause of lichen sclerosus. Some doctors think a too active immune system and hormone problems may play a role. In women, lichen sclerosus also seems to be associated with autoimmune diseases (conditions where the immune system attacks the body), such as lupus , alopecia and thyroid disease. It is also thought that people inherit the likelihood of getting the disease. There may also be a hormonal involvement as It is also more common after menopause, when there is less oestrogen in the body.

Lichen sclerosus is more likely to appear on skin that has been damaged or scarred from some other previous injury. Importantly, lichen sclerosus is not infectious and your partner cannot catch it during sex.

How Is It Diagnosed?

Lichen sclerosus can often be diagnosed from the appearance of the affected skin. It is important that your GP refer you to a pelvic floor/urodynamic specialist, reproductive medicine specialist or women’s healthy specialist that specialises in conditions affecting the female reproductive organs. Sometimes a referral to a dermatologist may also be needed also.

Besides visual diagnosis, a biopsy may be recommended to confirm the diagnosis. This involves taking a small sample of affected tissue for a pathologist to examine under a microscope. This allows specialists to make sure that it is not a different disease.

Treatment of lichen sclerosus

Treatment of lichen sclerosus is aimed at:

  • Relieving symptoms of itch and discomfort;
  • Healing the lesions (returning the affected skin to its normal colour and texture);
  • Preventing the development of scar tissue; and
  • Treating any scar tissue that has developed.

Medical Treatments for Lichen Sclerosus

Lichen sclerosus is usually treated by applying a strong steriod cream, or ointment to the affected area. This is usually applied daily for several weeks, or months, and then less frequently (once or twice per week) long-term to prevent a recurrence.

Corticosteroid ointment or cream should be applied only to the white patches and gently rubbed in. Try to avoid applying steroid to the normal surrounding skin to help prevent side effects.

Symptoms such as itch may improve within a couple of days of starting corticosteroid treatment. Healing of lesions generally takes longer.

Women with Lichen Sclerosis will need regular follow up consultations and management with their specialist while using these creams and ointments for a long time because they can cause the following

  • Thinning and redness of the skin
  • Stretch marks where the cream is applied
  • Genital yeast infections.

Sometimes, women just do not get better using this medication and there could be other things that could be stopping symptoms from clearing up. This could be from the following:

  • Low estrogen levels
  • Infection
  • Allergy to the medication.

Other treatments

If topical steroid treatment is not effective, your specialist may recommend other medications and treatments that target the immune system and help control inflammation.

  • Sometimes other medications such as Retinoids, or vitamin A-like drugs are used and your specialist may also recommend laser treatment.
  • If scarring has occurred, this does not usually improve with steroid treatment. Scarring in females that is affecting sexual intercourse or urination may be helped by surgery
  • There are also some new medical treatments that are presently being researched and providing some amazing results options and I will discuss at a later date. They are actually natural medicines that are being used as a medical treatments. All I can say is that I have seen the results of this new treatment option and I think it is going to help many people. At present on of my colleagues, Dr Philip Hall, is using this treatment to help women as part of a research project. I will update people when I am allowed to say more about this new treatment.

Natural Medicine Treatments

  • There are natural medicine treatments that have been shown to help Lichen Sclerosus
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine
  • Acupuncture
  • Homeopathy
  • Herbal Medicine
  • Nutritional Supplements
  • Diet and nutritional changes ( to help reduce inflammation)
  • Counselling ( to help with dealing with the long term affects of dealing with this disease)

Self-care measures for genital lichen sclerosus

The following self-care measures may help in the treatment of lichen sclerosus that affects the genital area.

  • Gently wash the area daily with warm water and pH neutral soap cleanser.
  • Try not to rub or scratch the area. This can sometimes be really hard when it is itchy and inflamed
  • Avoid tight clothing and any activities that may aggravate itching and discomfort, such as bike riding.
  • Your specialist may recommend you apply cream to gently moisturise and protect the area.
  • Women should use a mirror to become familiar with the location and appearance of their genital lesions, and to apply cream or ointment to the affected area of the vulva.

Complications and follow-up

If you have been diagnosed with lichen sclerosus then it is advisable to have regular follow-up appointments with your specialist every 6 to 12 months. In addition, genital lichen sclerosus is associated with a small, but important, increase in the risk of cancer developing at the affected site. Frequent check-ups are important to detect any cancers early on, when they can be more easily treated.

I have treated many women with Lichen Sclerosus in my years in practice and I do find that a multimodality approach is the best way to treat and manage this disease effectively. Sometimes you need to have a team to help treat this, just like many other diseases women endure.So many women are are at their wits end with this disease and all sorts of treatments that have not worked. I can say this if this disease is treated and manage properly, it can give women their quality of life back.

Take care

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

Reproductive Medicine & Women’s Health Medicine Specialist

Women’s & Men’s Health Crusader

-“No Stone Left Unturned”

 

 

 

 

Hysterectomy “DOES NOT” Cure Endometriosis

After my recent post about the misinformation people get told, I thought I would start with one of the biggest pieces of misinformation and one of the biggest lies in healthcare, women with endometriosis are told.

Many women are led to believe that hysterectomy is a cure for endometriosis and this is probably one of the most non-factual statements that many healthcare professionals are guilty of telling women. This is because they lack the understanding of the disease and lack knowledge of how the disease can spread to other areas of the body outside the uterus.

For the record, and this is fact, Hysterectomy DOES NOT cure, never has cured, and never will be a cure for endometriosis.

Most endometriosis is found outside the uterus and can be found in the pouch of douglas, utero-sacral ligaments, ovaries, intestine, pelvic wall, bladder and it can even spread up into the diaphragm, thoracic cavity, liver, pericardium, rectum and other parts of the body. It has even been found in the brain and distal joints such as the fingers.

All women with endometriosis need to know that endometriosis will still stay in the places mentioned above, irrespective if the uterus is removed, or not.

Many women will often comment that hysterectomy has cured their endometriosis and this is because they have been led to believe what their doctor has told them, they lack the understanding of the disease and they may have had some relief of pain usually associated with their menstrual cycle.

All hysterectomy will do for a woman with endometriosis is stop their menstrual cycle and any associated symptoms and pain associated with her menstrual cycle. Some women are also just lucky to become asymptomatic after hysterectomy too.

The type of hysterectomy may also help to slow the progression of the disease too. What many people do not understand it they there are two types of hysterectomy. One is a full hysterectomy, where the uterus and ovaries are removed and the other is a partial hysterectomy, where only the uterus is removed and the ovaries are left behind. It may be possible that a full hysterectomy, where the ovaries are removed, may in fact reduce some of the estrogen that is driving the disease and make someone asymptomatic.

The other gynaecological issue that many healthcare practitioners misdiagnose and overlook is Adenomyosis. Adenomyosis is an inflammatory disease deep within the wall, muscle and tissues of the uterus. Many now believe that Adenomyosis and endometriosis are one in the same disease, except Adenomyosis is deep within the muscles and tissues, where as endometriosis tends to be more superficial.

Removal of the uterus will in fact help Adenomyosis and help with the associated symptoms, such as heavy bleeding and pain. Many women actually have Endometriosis and Adenomyosis at the same time and many do not even know they have both diseases. Then when the uterus is removed, women experience less pain and symptoms, or no pain and symptoms, that was actually caused by the Adenomyosis rather than the endometriosis. Then these women are led to believe that they have been cured of endometriosis due to the resulting levels of pain and symptoms that are now gone. But, while their Adenomyosis may be cured (and I use this term loosely due to context), their endometriosis still remains. But if they are now asymptomatic, which many women are, they many not know that the endometriosis is actually still there. If you are one of these people I do need you to know that the hysterectomy has not cured your endometriosis at all and it is still there in your body. If a hysterectomy has cured your pain and associated symptoms is because of everything I have mentioned above. Again, hysterectomy DOES NOT cure endometriosis.

I also see the opposite of this in practice too. Many women whom have had a hysterectomy are still getting lots of abdominal pain, intestinal pain, bladder pain, rectal pain and others pains in the body. It is often hard for them to hear that their pain they are experiencing is actually from endometriosis, which they have been previously diagnosed with, yet believe has been cured due to the removal of the uterus and sometimes ovaries are well (partial, or full hysterectomy). The only way that many will actually fully believe you is after they have had further surgery and the disease is found and excised and their symptoms are stopped, or reduced. It is not until then, that these women will know what you have said to be true and that they have been sold the biggest lie on the planet.

The reason I wanted to speak about this is because I see so many women believing that hysterectomy (partial or full) will cure their endometriosis and have been sold the lie. Unfortunately many of these women are still suffering greatly and are often left wondering why, or are told it can’t be endometriosis as the uterus has been removed. It is so terrible to hear this and see this statement being spread as gospel by healthcare practitioners and even surgeons who know no better and do not understand endometriosis as a disease state. It is also hard to hear other women tell their fellow sisters the same lie, even though it is not really their fault and they actually do not know any better. I am writing this so the truth is out there and we get to stop this misinformation from spreading any further.

I hope this has helped you with getting some of the facts and see why so many women are told the one of the biggest lies in healthcare.

Oh and remember one more thing….  Period Pain IS NOT Normal, no matter what anyone tells you!

 

Take care

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

(Reproductive Medicine & Women’s Health Medicine Specialist)

Women’s and Men’s Health Crusader

-“The International Baby Maker”

-“No Stone Left Unturned”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Atrophic Vaginitis

Atrophic Vaginitis

Atrophic vaginitis is a vaginal disorder that usually happens after menopause. When estrogen levels fall, the vaginal walls can become thin, dry, and inflamed. This then causes the surrounding tissue to lose its elasticity and become atrophied. This can be uncomfortable. Gynaecological conditions such as endometriosis, adenomyosis and fibroids can make someone more prone to atrophic vaginitis as well.

As many as 40% of postmenopausal women experience symptoms of atrophic vaginitis after menopause, but only 20 to 25 percent will seek medical help. Many women will not seek treatment because they feel embarrassed due to the sensitive nature of the condition. Some women just put up with it believing it is normal. Untreated, it can affect a woman’s quality of life and even lead to increased risk of prolapse and other gynaecological and urological conditions. Many of the treatments are non-invasive and are very effective in a short amount of time.

Symptoms of Atrophic Vaginitis

  • vaginal dryness
  • pain during sexual intercourse, or dyspareunia
  • thin, watery, yellow or gray discharge
  • paleness and thinning of the labia and vagina
  • irritation when wearing certain clothes, such as tight jeans, or when on a bike seat
  • more frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs), or urinary tract like infections(which is from inflammation, with no infection present)
  • Vaginal Prolapse

Symptoms can also present in issues with the bladder and urination

  • painful urination
  • blood in the urine
  • increased frequency of urination
  • incontinence
  • increased likelihood and occurrence of infections, or irritation to the bladder that may feel like an infection

There may also be a reduction in pubic hair, and the vagina may become narrower and less elastic, which may cause a condition called vaginismus.

Causes

During perimenopause, menopause and post-menopause, a woman can have decreased levels of estrogen. When the ovaries stop making estrogen after menopause, the walls of the vagina become thin, and vaginal secretions are reduced. Similar changes can happen to women after childbirth, but these changes are temporary and less severe. These same changes can happen for women with endometriosis and adenomyosis and often why there can be changes to the wall of the vagina. Some of the medications used to help these conditions can also cause thinning of the vaginal wall and surrounding area. Many women with endometriosis, adenomyosis, fibroids etc, will have increased risk of atrophic vaginitis during the perimenopause, menopause and post-menopausal period.

Medications, or hormones, can be used as part of the treatment for breast cancer, endometriosis, adenomyosis, fibroids, or infertility to reduce estrogen levels. This decrease in estrogen can lead to atrophic vaginitis.

Other causes of atrophic vaginitis include:

  • severe stress
  • depression
  • Surgery, or treatment to the pelvic area
  • uncontrolled diabetes
  • rigorous exercise
  • chemotherapy

Other substances that can cause further irritation to the vagina are:

  • smoking
  • soaps
  • laundry detergents
  • lotions
  • perfumes
  • douches
  • tampons
  • yeast infections
  • condoms (due to latex allergy)

Diagnosis

The best person to see for this condition is a pelvic floor/urodynamic specialist, or a women’s health specialist. While you GP can help with diagnosis of this condition, it is preferable to see a specialist who has more training in this condition and can help manage this moving forward. A specialist will carry out proper examinations, be able to diagnose this correctly and ask about medical history. They may ask about the use of agents that can irritate the area and cause or aggravate symptoms, such as soaps or perfumes.

Your specialist will also do tests to rule out STI’s and other possible causes of infections such candidiasis, bacterial vaginosis etc. Atrophic vaginitis can make the area more susceptible to becoming infected. It can occur alongside an infection. A diabetes test may be performed to rule out diabetes. A biopsy may be taken to rule out cancer.

Treatment

The first line treatment is usually conservative treatments with topical estrogen creams inserted into the vagina and focuses treatment on the affected area. A low-dose estrogen cream can be used to stimulate rapid reproduction and repair of the vaginal wall, tissue and cells. Women should be shown how to insert the creams with an applicator and then use their finger to help disperse the cream properly to get good coverage of the vaginal wall.

Creams are much better than pessaries, because pessaries often do not disperse well and may only give coverage to a small area. These creams are also safe to use for those at risk of certain cancers, or who have had hormone dependent tumors.

Some women may also need to take Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), in the form of a tablet, gel, patch, or implant to supply estrogen to the whole body. These estrogens are effective, but there may be side effects. Patients should discuss the risks of long-term HRT (especially breast cancer risk) with their healthcare practitioner.

Some women may also need to use a water-soluble vaginal lubricant may help to provide relief during intercourse, for mild cases.

Regular exercise is important, as it keeps blood flow and genital circulation high. Pilates and yoga is very beneficial for the pelvic floor and core stability and should be part of a woman’s overall lifestyle management. Women in the perimenopause and menopausal periods of their life should be doing some form of weight baring and strengthening exercise regularly.

Diet is also important and very effective in the overall treatment of atrophic vaginitis, menopause and gynaecological conditions. A low GI/Low Inflammatory based diet should be adopted and it is important to see a qualified nutritionist to help set out the right individualized diet for you.

There are also herbal medicines, supplements, omega 3 oils, and other natural based formulas that can help with atrophic vaginitis. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are very effective in helping with atrophic vaginitis, menopause and gynaecological issues such as endometriosis and adenomyosis. There are many natural medicines and natural treatments that can help with pain, hormone regulation and micro-circulation for the vagina, uterus, bladder and reproductive organs.

Prevention

Regular sexual activity and stimulation of circulation to the vagina can help prevent atrophic vaginitis. It is more around climax helping, rather than just sexual activity, or intercourse. Some women have pain during intercourse, or experience dryness, so foreplay and being well lubricated can help this. Using a water-soluble vaginal lubricant can soothe mild cases during sexual intercourse. Masturbation and stimulation without intercourse to produce climax may help those women who have pain with intercourse, or who may not have a partner.

Regular climax and sexual activity can also show benefits for both the elasticity and flexibility of the region. Women who have regular climax and are sexually active report fewer symptoms of atrophic vaginitis when compared to women who do not regularly climax, or have regular sexual intercourse.

Regular exercise, such as Pilates and Yoga can help with the pelvic floor, vaginal tone, bladder and reproductive organs.

A low GI/Low Inflammatory based diet should be adopted and it is important to see a qualified nutritionist to help set out the right individualized diet for you.

There are also herbal medicines, supplements, omega 3 oils, and other natural based formulas that can help with the prevention of atrophic vaginitis and assist with circulation and hormone regulation.

Fast facts on atrophic vaginitis

  • Atrophic vaginitis refers to dryness of the vagina.
  • Symptoms include painful intercourse and an increase in urinary tract infections (UTIs), or urinary tract like infections (due to inflammation of the bladder, not from infection).
  • It is caused by a reduction in estrogen, normally following menopause or treatment with anti-estrogen drugs. It can also be caused from gynaecological conditions such as endometriosis, adenomyosis and fibroids.
  • Topical treatments and hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may help relieve symptoms
  • Around 40 percent of postmenopausal women experience symptoms of atrophic vaginitis, but many do not seek treatment.

If you you need help with any of the symptoms mentioned above, please book in to see me for a consultation and management. If you cant see me, please get your healthcare practitioner to refer you to a specialist for diagnosis, treatment and management of this condition and its symptoms

Take care

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

Reproductive Medicine & Women’s Health Medicine Specialist

-“The International Baby Maker”

-“No Stone Left Unturned”

 

What is Implantation Bleeding?


Implantation bleeding: Causes and symptoms

Implantation bleeding occurs when a fertilized egg attaches to the lining of a woman’s uterus to start the growth process of pregnancy. Some women’s lining can be more affected and be more prone to bleeding during a pregnancy. It is a normal occurrence in pregnant women, yet many women are completely unaware of what it is. Obviously it can be a bit worrying for anyone when they are bleeding during a pregnancy and I will discuss this later.

Some women may confuse the bleeding with spotting from menstruation, as the two can appear similar. What women also need to know is that getting a menstrual cycle, or the appearance of what looks like a menstrual bleed, does not mean you aren’t pregnant. You can have a bleed and still be pregnant.

Usually when it is implantation bleeding. The bleeding is very light and will usually require no medical attention. In some cases, however, implantation bleeding may require a visit to your specialist, midwife, or healthcare provider

What is implantation bleeding?

Implantation bleeding can just before the expected menstrual cycle, or around the early stages of pregnancy. It can also happen again when the embryos is growing and impacting on the lining of the uterus.  Again this is a normal part of pregnancy for many women. Some women may not get any bleeding, or signs of implantation either.

The process of implantation starts  shortly are fertilization. Once a sperm has fertilized an egg, it is called an embryo. The embryo travels through the fallopian tube towards the uterus. During this time, the embryo multiplies, becoming a blastocyst, which usually takes about 5-6 days to reach this stage. About 1-2 days after an embryo reaches blastocyst stage, it will then attach itself in the wall of the uterus and this is called implantation. During this implantation stage, the embryo can cause disruption the uterine wall and this then cause what we know as implantation bleeding. As the embryo grows even bigger, it can then cause further bleeding later on in the first trimester as well. While this is considered normal, it can cause distress for women and any bleeding should be checked by your healthcare provider.

Signs and symptoms

Implantation bleeding is one of the earliest easily identifiable signs of pregnancy. It is also a normal part of pregnancy and all women should be aware of this. As explained before, women can still have a normal menstrual bleed and still be pregnant. It is usually a lighter bleed, but some women can actually have quite heavy bleeds and still maintain a pregnancy. About 1 in 4 women actually have a bleed during their pregnancy.

Despite all that, there are some distinct signs and symptoms to help women identify implantation bleeding:

  • Early bleeding: Implantation bleeding will often occur a few days before the expected menstruation cycle. This is not always the case, however, and many women confuse the two. As discussed, it is not uncommon for women to actually get their normal menstrual bleed and still be pregnant. Never think that just because you get a period, that you cannot be pregnant.
  • Unusual coloured bleeding, or discharge: Implantation bleeding produces an unusual discharge that varies in colour from pinkish to very dark brown or black.
  • Very light bleeding: Bleeding and discharge caused by implantation will usually not last no more than about 24 hours. It can last a bit longer for some women though. Many women experience just a few hours of spotting or one spot or streak of discharge. Obviously any bleeding should still be checked by your healthcare provider.
  • Cramping: Implantation can also cause mild and temporary cramps. Some women who are doing IVF may also be on progesterone gels that can also cause bleeding and cramping too. Cramping and bleeding does not always mean a miscarriage. If you do experience this and are worried, please always consult with your healthcare provider.

Other signs

As implantation is an early sign of pregnancy, a woman may also experience other pregnancy-related symptoms. Early signs of pregnancy can vary from woman to woman and may include:

  • Mood swings
  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches and Migraine’s
  • Tender, swollen breasts
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Changes to the bowels (constipation, or loose bowels)
  • Heightened sense of smell
  • Food cravings and aversions
  • Increased body temperature

Treating implantation bleeding

Implantation bleeding is a normal sign of pregnancy and is not usually dangerous. Because of this, there is no need for treatment. As I have stated before, if you are unsure, you should always consult with your healthcare provider.

Bleeding caused by implantation usually clears up within a couple of days with no treatment necessary. Abnormally heavy bleeding may be a sign of menstruation or a pregnancy complication. As I have previously shared, some women who are doing IVF, may be on progesterone gels and other medications, which may also cause some bleeding and cramping. Some women with signs of abnormal bleeding may need the same medications to help with hormonal levels. Some bleeding could be a sign of something more serious so please consult your healthcare provider. If you are experiencing heavy bleeding along with pain, please present to your nearest emergency centre as this may be signs of a miscarriage, or ectopic pregnancy.

Complications of implantation bleeding

Implantation bleeding is not usually a cause for concern most of the time. It is just a sign of embryo implanting into the lining of the uterus.

Women who are still uncertain about whether they have experienced implantation bleeding should consult their healthcare provider and take a blood test to see if they are pregnant, or not. Please do not rely on home pregnancy tests as these can be inaccurate in the early stages of pregnancy. The most accurate way to determine pregnancy is to do a blood test. This is very important for women undergoing IVF treatment too. Too often women will do a home pregnancy test and think they are not pregnant, when in fact they are. The issue is that the home pregnancy tests won’t pick up pregnancy hormone in the urine if it is too early. This can cause a woman much distress at the time and then when she finds out later on through the blood test, that she is actually pregnant. Please never rely on urine based home pregnancy tests.

Please note that if you experiencing heavy bleeding during any stage of pregnancy that this can be a sign of a complication and women should seek medical attention.

If you need help with irregular bleeding, miscarriage, fertility, pregnancy or any advice for Women’s health issues, please call my staff and they will be able to let you know what consultation, or program is best suited for you. Please call my clinic on +61 07 3832 8369

 

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

Reproductive Medicine & Women’s Health Specialist

-The International Baby Maker

-Women’s and Men’s Health Crusader

“No Stone Left Unturned”

 

 

Why Sperm Is The 51st Shade of Grey

Recently I have put up some serious posts about sperm and sperm quality and the importance of not storing it up, because it actually makes the sperm quality worse. It was intended for people trying to actually have a baby, but many of those still practicing, and not making, loved the post as well.

It is still good to promote healthy sperm production and reproductive function, even if you aren’t trying to have a baby.

But, while my post did raise a few eye bows, and caused a few giggles, or “There you go dear, I told you we need to have sex more often”.

However, I did see that there were some major misperceptions around the topic of sperm. So, I thought I’d better educate you all on the finer details of sperm

Biology 101 tell us that it takes a sperm and an egg, not just an egg (as many people seem to forget), to make a baby. The trouble is,over 50% of fertility issues are related to poor quality sperm and 85% of miscarriage issue are related to a man’s swimmers. So what do guys do when they hear this?

Well, they bury their heads in the sand and say “My boys are fine, I just know they are” and guzzle some more alcohol, that has their swimmers having two heads, two tails and swimming around like a drunk man in a pool. Guys are shockers when it comes to keeping their sperm healthy and why I will always be in business for fertility services.

But besides the downside of men and sperm, there are some good points to sperm, but most of the time Dr Google has you all believing things that just aren’t true at all.

So lets look at the facts about Sperm.

  1. Sperm can help fight depression in women– Research has shown that have oral sex, or unprotected sex (not that I advocate this unless in a healthy relationship), have less depression, have healthier moods and have healthy immune systems and are happier in general. Sperm helps increase oxytocin, prostaglandins and seretonin in women according the The State University of New York study.
  2. Sperm can make you more fertile – Semen isn’t just vehicle for carrying sperm – it also plays a crucial role in triggering ovulation, according to a new study.Scientists have discovered the protein in the sexual fluid acts as a hormonal signal on the female brain.This triggers the release of other hormones that signal the ovaries to release an egg.
  3. Sperm can help Embryo Implantation– Studies have shown that sperm actually assist in embryo implantation via several chemicals and hormones. Yet many people are told refrain for having sex after IVF. I can tell you that you need to have more sex and not listen to the BS and listen to the research that proves otherwise.
  4. Storing up sperm does not make it better– Research has shown that regular ejaculation improves sperm quality and the resulting transport of seminal fluids. (as was told to you in previous posts). Storing it up, does not make it better, it makes it worse. Regular ejaculation also helps the prostate.
  5. Sperm do not last for days– On ejaculation into a woman, most of the 300-500 million sperm that set off are dead within an hour and only about 5-10 single sperm actually survive the journey to the tubes, where many more half of those die off once more. Sperm are killed by acids,killed by the woman’s immune system, die in the uterus, get lost in the uterus, die on the tubes and so on. Only the fittest survive the race to pregnancy. (The human body series BBC)
  6. You can cook with it– Yep, there are cooking books that use semen to cook recipes with. (Natural Harvest – A Collection of Semen-Based Recipes). Where semen is described as “Semen is not only nutritious, but it also has a wonderful texture and amazing cooking properties. Like fine wine and cheeses, the taste of semen is complex and dynamic” Well there you go, crack open the bottle of grange now.
  7. Sperm is good for your skin– Sperm contains minerals such and zinc, vitamin C, prostaglandins, collagen, vitamins, amino acids and many other health things to help with skin. Bioforskning, a Norwegian company, has synthesized the compounds into a facial cream. According to Bioforskning, the cream Spermine is 30 times more effective than vitamin E and can delay the aging process by 20 percent. However, nature’s most natural facial cream can cost you a whopping $250. I’d like to see them try to market that at Myer 🙂
  8. The first sperm under a microscope- Antonie van Leeuwenhoek was the person to view sperm under a microscope. It’s a bright day in 1677, in the city of Delft, and Antonie van Leeuwenhoek is making love to his wife. But moments after he shudders with orgasm, he hurries out of bed to grab his microscope. After all, he’s not just spending time with his wife: he’s running an important scientific experiment at the request of the Royal Society in London. Sounds like nothing much has changed for some men. Now some are just rushing to watch the footy.

Well, there you go. 8 things Wikipedia can’t tell you about sperm. The good, the bad and the down right outrageous. You heard it hear first. The doc provides you news that other people are to scared to report. I hope all of you have a great up and coming week. Pardon the pun. Life is too short to be serious, about a serious topic.

References

1.http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2190863/Semen-good-womens-health-helps-fight-depression.html

2.http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2191495/Does-having-sex-make-women-fertile-Semen-trigger-ovulation-mammals.html

3.http://humrep.oxfordjournals.org/content/15/12/2653.short?rss=1&ssource=mfr

4 & 5. World Health Organization. WHO Laboratory Manual for the Examination of Human Semen and Sperm – Cervical Mucus Interaction (4th Edition). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK (1999)

6. Human Body Series (BBC) – Conception

7.http://cookingwithcum.com

8. http://www.medicaldaily.com/extraordinary-things-you-can-do-sperm-242190

9.http://rstl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/9/101-111/121.full.pdf+html

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

Reproductive Medicine & Women’s Health Specialist

The International Baby Maker and Women’s and Men’s Health Advocate

-No Stone Left Unturned

Exercises For Better Sex

Exercises for Better Sex

Being a Baby Maker, I thought it’s was time to talk about what you can do to have better sex. While good food, healthy lifestyle, mindfulness and reducing stress can help with improving the sex life and your libido, many exercises can also benefit your sexual health too. These exercises also have other benefits, while making feel good and feel healthier at the same time.

1. Cardio – Getting physical can ramp up the pleasure for you and your partner. Any activity that gets your heart beating faster and you breathing harder, from brisk walking to cycling, can boost blood flow — including to your nether regions. That’s a plus for both genders: stronger erections for men, and greater arousal for women (a whopping 169% more in one University of Texas study).

2. Weight training– Using compound lifts such as dead lifts, squats, bench press etc, all add to strengthening your core, burning fats and strengthening your whole body. They also increase testosterone and other hormones, which help with improving sex drive; increasing orgasm intensity and making you feel good at the same time.

3. Swimming– Harvard researchers found that male and female swimmers in their 60s had sex lives similar to people 20 years younger. Swimming builds endurance, boosts blood flow, improves flexibility and strength, and slashes stress. It also burns some serious calories, a plus for anyone who’s overweight (extra pounds lower libido), especially obese men with erectile dysfunction.

4. Core & Abs Work– A strong, flexible core underpins most everything you do. That includes performing between the sheets. Bonus: You may be one of the lucky people who can have an orgasm while exercising — sometimes called a “coregasm.” It tends to happen during core-strengthening workouts like crunches. Pilates is a great way to work on core and abs.

5. Kegels, Ba wan Balls and Yoni eggs– Kegels was developed to treat urinary incontinence, these strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, and that means explosive orgasms. But Yoni eggs and Ba wen balls have been around for centuries to help with developing muscles in the vagina and pelvic floor and also helping with lubrication, increased circulation and also stimulation of certain hormones such as oxytocin (the love hormone). These exercises and eggs/balls can also help with gynaecological conditions such as Adenomyosis and endometriosis too. Women may be more familiar with Kegels, but probably less familiar with Yoni Eggs and Ba wen balls, but Kegels exercises can also help men prevent premature ejaculation.

6. Plank– This is a perfect way to strengthen the deepest layer of your ab muscles (transversus abdominis), along with your upper arms, thighs, and buttocks. These muscles help stabilize you so you can stay close to your partner when and where it counts most. Do it once a day, and build up to 60 seconds or longer. If it’s too challenging on your toes, try balancing on your knees instead.

7. Cat/Cow Stretch– Think of this yoga pose as another form of foreplay. It limbers your spine, helps get you into an even breathing rhythm, and improves focus — so your mind stays in the moment. Move with a steady flow, so that each rounding up (the cow part) takes a full breath out and each arching downward (the cat part) takes a full breath in.

8. Pelvic Thrusts – Whether your favourite position is missionary or cowgirl, this move is a key part of it. But powerful pushes can be exhausting when you’re out of shape. Work your glutes, calves, and hamstrings to build stamina and flexibility. Pelvic thrusts also sculpt your booty, so you feel good and look good.

9. Better Together– Couples who sweat together stay together; so make an exercise date with your significant other. Studies show that challenging physical activities spark arousal. You’ll be more attracted to your partner post-workout, too. Coordinate your actions (for example, run at the same pace) to strengthen your emotional connection even more.

As I always say to couples, is that having a healthy sex life is so important to a relationship and so vital to connection for the couple. Healthy couples have healthy sexual function and healthy libidos, so healthy diet, mindfulness and a healthy lifestyle is so important to maintaining a healthy sex life. Healthy couples also have healthy babies.

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

Reproductive Medicine & Women’s Health Specialist

-Leaving No Stone Unturned

“The International Baby Maker & Women’s and Men’s Health Advocate”

 

Endometriosis Awareness- Ending The Silence

Endometriosis Awareness

This month is Endometriosis awareness month and I have been invited to be a guest speaker for Endometriosis Australia and their endometriosis awareness campaign called “Ending the Silence.” Our aim is to bring awareness about this disease that is often overlooked. It is an issue myself as an endometriosis expert feels very passionately about. I treat women suffering from this disease every day and I hope that one day, endometriosis can be a word of the past.

Through awareness and education, let’s try and get women the early intervention and help they need sooner, rather than later.

What is Endometriosis
Endometriosis, which is an inflammatory gynaecological disease, by which endometrial like tissue grows outside the endometrium. It can spread outside the endometrium into the pelvis, bowel and intestines. It has even been known to get into the brain, joints and around the heart.This disease affects 1 in 10 women, often causing immense pain for them.

According to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologist Guidelines for the Management of Endometriosis, it can cause the following symptoms:

Heavy Menstrual Bleeding
Period Pain
Pain with sex
Ovulation Pain
Irritable bowel like symptoms
Bladder issues
Chronic fatigue
Pain with bowel movement

The disease can also cause other symptoms such as :

Bloated belly that looks pregnant around your period (known as endo belly)

Bloated belly that looks pregnant and you are told it is from certain foods, but it isn’t, or may be a combination of food and inflammation from endometriosis (also known as endo belly)

UTI like symptoms that aren’t a UTI

Bleeding from the bowel with your period

Low Iron with no explanation

Being told you have IBS, but you don’t have IBS

Migraines/Headaches that are worse around your period

Irrational mood swings

There are so many other symptoms that could also be pointers to endometriosis.

This disease can also play major havoc with hormones and the libido. Many women with can have pain on intercourse which further lessens the desire around sex.
Women with endometriosis often have painful periods and can’t get out of bed, so if you experience this, there is a good chance that you actually have it.
Women with endometriosis can also have other hormonal disturbances such as mood swings, fatigue, restlessness etc. They can also have other symptoms such as migraines, headaches, dizziness, constipation, pain with bowel movements, joint pains and all manner of symptoms created from the inflammation that endometriosis is caused by and also creates

How Many Women Suffer from Endometriosis?
Endometriosis has now reached an all time high in its ever-growing presence. While the current research says that 1 in 10 women are affected by endometriosis, as an endometriosis expert, I believe, as do many others, that these figures may be grossly under exaggerated. Research also shows that a significant portion of women affected with endometriosis are asymptomatic (no symptoms) and may only ever get diagnosed if they are having issues with having a baby, or they may never be diagnosed at all. In addition to this, many women diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome actually have endometriosis and not IBS.

Many women have also been told period pain is normal and hence many never seek help for a condition that can be debilitating on their life and those around them. Women who suffer period pain and other menstrual related symptoms caused by endometriosis are often ‘missed’ and ‘dismissed’ by multiple healthcare professionals and it can take up to 12 years from onset of symptoms to a definitive diagnosis being made. Women with period pain caused by endometriosis have to live a life of pain, trauma and physical and emotional torment. Many of these women are barely getting through a day, let alone a whole month of exhausting symptoms related to this disease. Some sadly even turn to suicide.

The Western Medicine Approach on the Causation and Treatment of Endometriosis
To date, Western medicine does not know how or even why it occurs. The only solution that has been offered in the past was to laser it. This usually has a recurrence rate of up to 80%. Recently many doctors have been treating this disease by excising (cutting it out), which offers better relief with less recurrence. I do need to stress that when a surgeon is needed, it needs to be done by an advanced trained laparoscopic surgeon, who has had extra specialised training, and is an expert in endometriosis excision and management, and is not just any gynaecologist. This is where many go wrong and haven’t had the disease treated properly.

Despite the increased success in treating endometriosis through a surgical procedure, it still usually recurs in a majority of women.

So why isn’t the medical option alone working?

Primarily it is because they are just treating the symptoms and not the cause. You can take away most physical symptoms very easily, but if the real cause isn’t addressed at the same time, you have no chance of a full recovery. This includes emotional factors. In addition, many of the hormones that women are put on after surgery, mask the problem and can actually make it worse. By actually stopping the period, like many of these hormones do, there is an increased risk of further endometriosis growing. Sure, while you have no period, you have no pain or symptoms, but internally it is still there waiting to flare up again. Oral contraceptive pills containing estrogen must be avoided as they only add to making the problem worse. Progesterone only options should be looked at rather than a combined pill, if using hormones. These treatments also have limitations that include side effects in some women and contraceptive action for women desiring to conceive.

The Traditional Chinese Medicine Approach on the Causation & Treatment of Endometriosis
Firstly, I can only pass on what the Chinese have known and studied for 10,000 or more years, much longer than western medicine. They had the body and its internal organs mapped out longer before medical science in the west did.
In Chinese Medicine, they believe the liver governs the menstrual cycle, and that it also governs our emotions.They believe that through poor diet, lifestyle, medicines, environment etc, that these can then cause disruption to an organ in the body. Emotions such as anger, frustration, resentment, stress, irritability etc, can also cause the liver to be in disharmony. In Western Medicine terms, we know that poor diet and emotional factors can unlock predisposed hereditary issues, or dispositions through DNA recoding. Yes, diet can affect your DNA coding and so can emotional issues. Similarly we can reverse some disease states, and reprogram DNA coding through a healthy diet and fixing our emotional health.

When the liver is in disharmony, the Chinese believe it can cause blockages in our system. Western medicine now also believes that emotions can cause physical symptoms and we often see this is psychiatric, or body-mind medicine. These blockages then cause what we call stagnation. The Chinese believe that when the Qi (energy) becomes stagnant, it causes what they call Liver Qi Stagnation, and this is the cause of many gynaecological conditions such as endometriosis and PMS. As the Qi stagnation is left long term, it then affects the blood and turns it stagnant too. Imagine damming a river and the longer the water sits, the more stagnant it becomes because it no longer flows. This is where the Liver Blood Stagnation comes from and what they believe endometriosis is manifested from. When we look at endometriosis, it does present as blood clotting and pain. Basically it is like a varicose vein that has all that old, stagnant blood in it. The circulation is no longer moving and the blood now turns dark and causes pain.

Chinese medicine believes that not only is diet and herbal medicine needed to move the stagnant blood and help prevent the disease coming back, it also believes that the emotional component behind it also needs to be addressed. In Chinese medicine they use lots of warming and blood thinning herbs that are also anti-coagulants, but are also anti-spasmotics. The Chinese medicine also has herbs to help the liver function and also help with emotional wellbeing.

Chinese VS Western Medicine
The only difference between Chinese Medicine and Western medicine is the treatment principles. Chinese medicine looks at treating the cause of the issue, which means the symptoms get sorted by addressing the cause. Western medicine only treats symptomatically and therefore the cause of the issue is often not treated. That huge difference is why Chinese Medicine does get such great results. But like anything, it also depends on who you see and their experience in that field. But, I must stress that both medicines are equally as important and both are needed to get the best results possible. It is about a team effort and using a multi modality approach. It is also about finding your right team too. I will talk about this now.

Dr Andrew Orr’s Recommended Approach to Treating Endometriosis
Endometriosis has a highly variable disease state, and thus a multi-modality approach is needed to treat it. Targeting different pathways is likely to be important to move toward precision health (personalized medicine) in endometriosis. People with endometriosis need a team of people looking after them, not just one person and one approach.
For severe cases you will need to see a good advanced laparoscopic surgeon to get as much of the endometriosis excised (cut out-not lasered). Surgery is a much needed option if the pain is severe because it helps get rid of the endometriosis that can be seen. However, it does not deal with the microscopic implants of endometriosis that can’t be seen, and this is why endometriosis is likely to occur again. This is where the Chinese Medicine can help. You then use the Chinese medicine to treat the microscopic implants of endometriosis and stop it progressing further and therefore treat the cause. This will be the primary treatment after surgery and help stop it from recurring. This can be done along side medical hormone treatments as well.

Following the correct diet can also aid this healing process. The modern Western diet consists of many foods with high GI levels, causing inflammation to the body and therefore fueling conditions such as endometriosis. There are all sorts of diets out there attesting to be the cure for endometriosis, but half are them are actually making it worse. Unless the diet is about reducing grains, high GI carbs, sugars, and increasing proteins, then it isn’t going to help endometriosis.

Lastly, see a good counsellor. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine will help both the physical & emotional side, but sometimes solution-based talk therapy is needed for the best results. I provide clients with a list of preferred gynaecologists and counsellors within my appointments with them.

To support my view on the treatment of endometriosis, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists guidelines for treating endometriosis now states that Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine is a recommended therapy. A multi modality approach really can help, but for anything to work more effectively, you too, have to make a commitment. It is also about finding your team and the team of people right for you too.

Who I am and Why this Means so Much to Me
I am a Reproductive Medicine and Women’s Health Specialist, and an Endometriosis Expert with over 20 years of experience in Women’s Health Medicine and treating and managing endometriosis. I know all too well the trials and tribulations women have to go through before someone actually listens and gives these poor women a proper diagnosis. I also have loved ones with this disease and have also lived with a chronic painful disease too. While I may not fully understand and feel what women with endometriosis actually goes through, I do know what it is like to live daily life with a painful chronic inflammatory disease that can rule your life on every level.

The one thing I do want all women to know is that “Period pain IS NOT normal” and all too often women are told that period pain is normal. Nothing could be further from the truth. We need to educate women and young girls that period pain is not normal.

I have a motto of “Leaving No Stone Left Unturned” and I apply this to every patient I see with period pain, and those potentially suffering from endometriosis. I would like to see better education and awareness for the general public, but I would also like better education and awareness for healthcare professionals. I would like to see all healthcare professional use my motto and make sure that no woman is ever missed, or is dismissed with this horrible disease ever again.

I would like to conclude with one last message “ Women need to know that period pain IS NOT normal and that early detection and early intervention and treatment is the key to treating any disease properly.”

Lets end the silence about this horrible disease. Please support Endometriosis Awareness and this month please support Endometriosis Australia with their High Teas to promote endometriosis awareness. These High Teas will be run nationally on March 25th and in every capital city and some smaller cities also. Please see the Endometriosis Australia website for details (www.endometriosisaustralia.org)

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

The Brisbane Baby Maker, Endometriosis Expert and Women’s Health Crusader

“Leaving no Stone Unturned”

“Period Pain IS NOT normal”

Time to Set The Records Straight about Endometriosis, Period Pain & Other Gynaecological Issues.

There are so many misperceptions and wrong information out there about period pain and gynaecological conditions that cause period pain and it really gets annoying hearing people get told the wrong information and false information. It is time we get people the help they need and stop people having gynaecological conditions missed and being dismissed also.

So lets set the records straight

  1. Period pain is not normal, no matter what you have been told, or who has told you this.
  1. Period pain is often the sign of gynaecological conditions such as endometriosis, adenomyosis or other gynaecological issue. It could also be a sign of something more sinister.
  1. Women who have endometriosis can also be asymptomatic (meaning no symptoms) so because you do not have pain, does not mean that you do not have it.
  1. With endometriosis, symptoms do not always correlate to the extent of the disease. Some women have only small visual pockets of it and this can cause extreme pain and inflammation, while women whom are riddled with it may have little, or no pain at all. It is not about the amount of the disease when it comes to pain profiles and classifications around pain and disease management. The classification system and grading system is just for a surgeons reference only and to gauge how much was found.
  1. Scans and blood tests cannot diagnose endometriosis. There are some specialised scans that can diagnose deep infiltrating endometriosis only, but even then, they are not 100% accurate, or a definitive diagnosis. There are very few people trained in this form of ultrasound too. Most women with endometrosis have the superficial disease, which cannot be diagnosed with specialised ultrasound , or normal ultrasound at all. Blood tests will definitely not diagnose endometriosis, or many other gynaecological issues either.
  1. The definitive diagnosis for endometriosis and other pelvic pathology is a Laparoscopy ( usually combined with hysteroscopy and dye studies) combined with histology (tissue from a biopsy). At the time of laparoscopy the visual disease is usually tidied up and removed at the same time, along with any adhesions and other pelvic pathology found.
  1. Not all gynaecologists, or surgeons can perform proper surgery needed for the removal of endometriosis. This requires an advanced laparoscopic surgeon to do this kind of work and not every gynaecologist, or surgeon has these skills. Many gynaecologists have very limited surgical skills when it comes to major gynaecological issues such as endometriosis. Just because someone has had surgery before, doesn’t mean they have had someone specialised to deal with the disease properly. This is a big mistake many people do not realise. You also always need to ask if the surgeon has advanced laparoscopic training and they excise (cut out) the disease, not burn it. You also need to ask their experience in treating and managing the disease state that you have been diagnosed with, or suspected of having. Some endometriosis may be so widespread it may need multiple surgeons, such as bowels surgeons, and in some cases it may need a gynaecological oncologist who can excise very fine parameters because of their training of cancer removal. Many women think they have had the disease removed when in fact their surgeon was unable to fully remove all the disease because it was out of their scope of practice.
  1. Teenagers are not too young to have endometriosis, or other gynaecological conditions. Early intervention and management of the disease is crucial and should not be left until later in life under any circumstances. Please do not let teenagers put up with period pain and have someone tell them it is normal.
  1. Surgery does not cure endometriosis. But it does help to control the spread of the disease and the inflammation because of the disease.Surgery can offer great relief from pain symptoms though. But the real treatment comes from trying to suppress the regrowth of the disease and microscopic implants (not visible to the eye via surgery) post surgery and this is what I do in my treatments.
  1. Pregnancy does not cure endometriosis, or period pain. In many cases, it can make it slightly better for a while, but most of this is due to women not having their period for an extended amount of time. It does not cure endometriosis and this is a widely spread myth that needs to be corrected
  1. Endometriosis is not an auto-immune disease. Lately there has been talk that endometriosis is an autoimmune disease because of its inflammation links. Yes, it is an inflammatory disease and reducing inflammation in the body will help it, but it is not an auto-immune disease and does not fit the classifications of an auto-immune disease either.
  1. Gynaecological conditions should be seen to by a specialist in that field and not just by a GP. While GP’s are a much needed part of healthcare, but they are just a general practitioner, they are not a specialist and a referral to a properly trained specialist should be obtained for any suspect gynaecological condition, or matters pertaining to period pain, or pelvic pain. This saves conditions being missed, or overlooked, or misdiagnosed
  2. Hysterectomy does not cure endometriosis. Most of the time endometriosis is outside the uterus and can be anywhere in the pelvic cavity. It can be on the bladder, the bowel, the fallopian tubes and it can even spread to anywhere in the body. Endometriosis has been found in the joints, around the heart, the brain and even in the eyes. Taking the uterus out is not going to cure endometriosis.

Lastly, Dr Google and many of the forums people use are not usually reliable sources of information, or a diagnosis for period pain, gynaecological conditions such as endometriosis, or any other gynaecological conditions. Only a properly trained Reproductive Medicine Specialist, Gynaecologist, Fertility Specialist, or Women’s Health Medicine Specialist can give you proper advice and education about gynaecology and matters that pertain to women’s health. You next door neighbour, your friend, your Facebook buddies are not reliable sources of information, unless they are fully qualified healthcare professional. There are some good sites out there, but even so, you still need to get advice of a proper healthcare professional and not just some person on a forum, or internet site.

I hope this helps people understand the importance of the right information and education and seeing the right people and getting investigated and managed properly. I see so many people have things missed, dismissed and overlooked and I just want to help people get the right advice and right treatments and be given the right information to save people on the heartache that many I have seen have had to endure.

If you are someone who needs help with gynaecological issues, then please get them to come and see me, or someone else who specializes in this. You can also contact Endometriosis Australia to find out who the best specialists and surgeons are. They have some great resources too. (www.endometriosisaustralia.org)

My motto will always be that “Period Pain is Not Normal” and my other motto is “Leaving No Stone Left Unturned” when it come to healthcare and helping people. If someone tells you period pain is normal, or you have to put up with it, or suck it up, you are seeing the wrong person, so please then go and see someone else.

Take care

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

(Reproductive Medicine & Women’s Health Medicine Specialist)

“The Brisbane Baby Maker” & “Endometriosis Expert”