Ultrasounds and blood tests have limited value for diagnosing some causes of period pain and menstrual irregularities

I know I have said this often, but it seems that every day I get another email saying that “I have period pain and I have been to the GP and done scans and bloods tests and he/she says that there is nothing wrong”

The problem is that there is something wrong and the first thing wrong is that someone was told that there is nothing wrong, when they have only had very basic testing done

The second thing wrong is that most of these women are not being referred onto an appropriate specialist, which is what good sound ethical practice is. This is why some conditions like PCOS are taking up to 3 years to be properly diagnosed and conditions such as endometriosis are taking up to a decade to be properly diagnosed. It just should not happen

I can’t begin to tell you how many women I have seen over my years in practice, that have been told that there is nothing wrong with them, or that the practitioner hasn’t found anything, when really all they have done is a basic scan and a few random blood tests. Then when these women are properly investigated we end up finding all manner of issues. Yet, these women were told that there is nothing wrong

All I can keep telling people is that while ultrasounds can find some causes of gynaecological issues, there are many issues they cannot find. It also depends on the technician, or person scanning you too.

Gynaecological issues such as endometriosis, cannot be diagnosed by ultrasound and can only be diagnosed by surgical intervention, in the form of a laparoscopy. Then, as I have said many times too, it all depends on the surgeon you have seen. If your surgeon isn’t an advanced trained laparoscopic surgeon there is a very good chance you may not have been investigated properly. I have mentioned this in one of my previous posts.

Even some cysts,PCOS, polyps and other masses can be missed on scans and let’s not even talk about blood tests. Sure, some hormones levels can be a pointer to a certain issue, but they are not an accurate diagnostic. To be completely honest, many women with serious gynaecological issues will have normal hormonal levels and have completely normal blood results. This can even happen in certain cancers and why some of the cancer markers are now not being used as definitive diagnosis.

I can tell everyone that I have seen many gynaecological issues being missed, and women being dismissed over the years, and it still happens on a daily basis. If you have menstrual issues, or are in pain daily, or just with your menstrual cycle, and you are being told everything is fine, then you need to get a second opinion and a referral to a specialist.

Better still, come and book in a consultation with me and I will help you get you sorted and managed properly.

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

Reproductive Medicine & Women’s Health Medicine Specialist

-No Stone Left Unturned

 

Asking the Right Questions about Period Pain & Gynaecological Issues.

I didn’t know how I was going to start this post, or begin to talk about what I am about to talk about, other than I got some inspiration after a text message, and a phone call later on,  from my eldest daughter yesterday. I will talk about that soon. But let’s talk about some of the phone calls and messages I get from people every day and how some of these messages gives me a heads up into what may be going on for these people and then getting them in for a proper consult and the right help.

Every day I get phone calls, emails, Facebook messages etc, from women (young and older) who are experiencing period pain, menstrual issues, and other related symptoms and nearly all of them have the same story. I have been to the GP and I have had blood tests and scans and they say that there is nothing wrong. It happens so often and it is like there is a script written for these poor women who just want to get out of pain and get some sort of normal life back. I get so annoyed when I hear this repetitious line. Not at the people telling me, but knowing that these poor women really haven’t been investigated properly at all and probably won’t be unless they come and see me.

Yesterday I got a text that I really wasn’t expecting, as it was from my eldest daughter.

It read “Hey Dad, is endometriosis hereditary?”

To which I replied “Yes it can be, why?”

I anxiously awaited the next reply and thankfully she was asking on behalf of a friend. But this poor friend had been experiencing really bad period pain and had basically had blood tests and scans and been told that everything was normal. Apparently one of the scans showed some fluid in the Pouch of Douglas (POD), which can actually be a sign of endometriosis and inflammation. Worse still, this poor girl’s mother actually has endometriosis and nobody is putting two and two together and asking the question “I wonder if the daughter may have it too?”

Well, there is more than a good chance that she does have it and thank goodness my daughter actually knows the signs and knows that scans and bloods tests cannot diagnose many gynaecological issues, especially endometriosis. Lucky my daughter also knows that you need to see an advanced trained laparoscopic surgeon who specialises in the excision of endometriosis and has done years of extra surgical training to specialise in these disease states. The good thing is that she knows that you cannot just see a regular gynaecologist to get this done.

But, not everyone is as fortunate as my daughter to know this and help her friend to come and see me to help her see my surgeon and then I can help her with management of the disease, if found (which is highly likely) after the surgery. The other good thing is that my daughter knows there is no cure for endometriosis and that surgery isn’t going to fix the problem either. She knows it will help, and is needed, but after the surgery, the management post surgery is the most important, for disease states like endometriosis. Unfortunately not many people know this and don’t have the disease managed properly post surgery. Women with endometriosis and some other inflammatory gynaecological issues will need a team approach, or a multimodality approach  post surgery, because even with the best medical intervention, it really isn’t enough and why so many women have the disease and symptoms return, or may still be in pain and have other recurring symptoms. There is never a one treatment, one pill, fix all approach to disease states such and endometriosis. This is where so many go wrong.

One of the main issues for women can be that they really have not seen the right healthcare professions, especially the right surgeon and unfortunately this is many of the women that have had surgical intervention. This one is so important.

Whenever I get messages from women in pain, or I consult with women who have period pain and all the other associated symptoms, there are some standard questions I ask, to know if they have been given the right information, been diagnosed properly, or seen the right surgeon.

  1. I always ask “what tests have you had done?” – I know that if they have only had blood tests and some scans, then these women have not been investigated, or diagnosed properly.
  2. Then I usually ask “Have you just seen your GP, or have you seen a specialist?”– Most of the time many women have not been referred onto a specialist and have only just been seen to by a GP. This is one of the biggest issues women face when it comes to gynaecological conditions. GP’s are just general practitioners. They are not gynaecologists and definitely not advanced trained laparoscopic surgeons. The best thing any woman can do is ask for a referral to a specialist and a good GP should know to do this anyway. This is one of the biggest reasons that women from all over the world take up to a decade to be diagnosed with disease states such as endometriosis. On a daily basis women are missed and dismissed and told there is nothing wrong, go on the pill, or that they have some inflammatory bowel condition, when in fact they have endometriosis, or adenomyosis, or some inflammatory gynaecological issue. Btw, this isn’t to put GP’s down, unfortunately this is what happens to so many women and why it often takes up to a decade for women to be diagnosed with diseases such as endometriosis. This is an unfortunate fact and it needs to change.
  3. Then I ask “Have you had a laparoscopy?”– One of the most common responses is “What is a laparoscopy?” and that way I know they haven’t had one done. A laparoscopy is the gold standard investigation of the pelvis and the only way to properly diagnose disease states and causes of period pain, such as endometriosis.
  4. If the woman has had surgery I then ask “was the surgery done publically, or privately?” – This will tell me a few things. It will let me know if it was just done be a public surgeon, who probably isn’t an advanced trained laparoscopic surgeon. The issue is that there really aren’t that many advanced trained laparoscopic surgeons that do public work, and even if you strike the jackpot and do happen to get one, there is a good chance they are only in a teaching role to instruct a trainee surgeon to do the surgery anyway. But mostly women do not get an advanced trained laparoscopic surgeon in the public system. It is sad, but true unfortunately. Many times the first surgery in the public sector is purely investigative too and no excision (disease removal) is performed. This means that the woman has to come back for further surgery, or surgeries.
  5. If they the woman has had surgery done previously by a private specialist then I usually ask “Who was the surgeon that did your investigation and surgical procedure?” – Sometimes I can ask if the surgeon was an advanced trained laparoscopic surgeon and the patient usually will respond to not knowing, or even know what I was talking about. That usually gives me a clue that it most probably wasn’t, but then I can go and check the specialists qualifications online and see if they are, or most probably aren’t, an advanced trained laparoscopic surgeon who has done years of extra specialised surgical training.

All those 5 questions can tell me much about what some of these poor women have had done, or haven’t had done, and then I can formulate an appropriate treatment plan and management for these women moving forward. It is always hard explaining to the ones that have had surgery before that they haven’t seen the right surgeon and that they are going to need further surgery. The hardest thing for me is seeing women on support pages about to have their first surgery and I always worry that they aren’t seeing the right surgeon and if they don’t, there is a good chance that they are still going to be going through the same issues, over and over again, until they find the right person to help them. If only I could see all these women before they did anything, so that they can be given the right information and the facts and be managed properly.

The good thing is that when I do get to see women who chose to see me, I can explain to them the  facts and the right information and then why and how with a proper surgeon, that it can make a huge difference to how they are feeling and their recovery and management post surgery. I can also explain how surgery really is necessary, but is only a small part of their overall treatment and management of their disease moving forward. I can also explain the facts around their disease moving forward too and make sure that women under my care are given the right information, the right investigations and right management going forward.

This is why my initial consultations take about an hour and a half and we go over everything from their health history, medical history, hereditary issues, diet, lifestyle, surgical intervention, medications, natural medicines, blood tests, scans, investigations, sleep, sexual health, libido and everything that a woman needs to know about her particular issues. It is also about listening to a woman’s concerns and complaints and really hearing what she has to say and is experiencing. Then I formulate a treatment plan and management and 20 page report of findings for them for what we are going to be doing to help them moving forward. I also give them a step by step treatment plan of treatments and medicines etc they will need too. That is why my motto is “No Stone Left Unturned”, because there is no stone left unturned and I also make sure they see the right people (surgeons and anyone else that they may need to see). If there are things that I can’t do (surgery etc), I make sure that my patients only see the best people and then I can help manage the rest of their disease state for them.

I wish I could see every woman before that went for any investigation, or surgery, so I can point them in the right direction and help them manage their gynaecological condition properly. This is why I am so passionate about doing my posts on social media, or giving time for charity events to talk about women’s health issues and gynaecological issues such as endometriosis, adenomyosis and PCOS. It is why I do healthcare practitioner education and seminars to help educate them better too, so that they can help their patients better and not miss and dismiss them.

I just hope that I can help those who have not been heard and that have been missed and dismissed. I also hope we can get people to listen to the things I have presented above and also help women get a voice, be heard and get government listening and get more education to younger women too.

Lastly, I cannot say it often enough….. Period Pain “IS NOT” normal and if you, or your daughter, or your sister, or your mother, or cousin, your best friend, or anyone you know has period pain, especially bad period pain and other symptoms, please, please, do not tell them that this is normal. It is not normal and they need to come and see me, or another healthcare professional who specialises in women’s health and gynaecological conditions, so that they can be investigated properly and have their issues managed properly too.

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

Reproductive Medicine & Women’s Health Medicine Specialist

-No Stone Left Unturned

 

 

 

No Bad Carbs + Increased Protein = Increased Fertility & Increased Pregnancy rates

I know I talk about it all the time, but a good diet, and I mean a good diet (not half hearted, I am trying to do it diet), can actually increase your fertility and pregnancy rates

Every day I get people ask me “What can I do to increase my fertility and my chances of pregnancy?”

Well, I always say “How long is a piece of string?”, but while there are many things that people can do to increase their fertility, one being start of my fertility program, the other important one is starting with a good diet. That is one thing “You” are solely responsible for and something “You” can do for yourself. This is for the couple too. Not just the woman.

Healthy couples produce healthy babies. That means health men produce healthy sperm and healthy women produce healthy eggs and the combination creates healthy embryos that go on to become healthy babies. It really is a fact. Even for same sex couples, a partner should be supporting their other half in the journey and at the end of the day a healthy diet is going to help everyone live longer to enjoy their children later on, and hopefully grandchildren too.

Obviously there is a lot more to it, and why in my fertility program I cover “everything” for the couple,  but this is one way to ensure your body is ready to have a baby. This is also part of my PACE (Primal, Ancestral, Clean Eating) diet that I have formulated.

Recent studies have shown that when the bad carbohydrates are removed and the protein increased, that the clinic pregnancy rates shot up by 80%. Yes… a massive 80%

The other thing that is important is that eating this way also improved the embryo quality. Blastocyst development was higher in the high-protein group than in the low-protein group (64% vs 33.8%), as were clinical pregnancy rates (66.6% vs 31.9%) and live birth rates (58.3% vs 11.3%).

Reducing carbohydrates and boosting protein intake can significantly improve a woman’s and couples chance of conception and birth according to the research presented at the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) several years ago.

The effect is “at the egg level,” said lead investigator. He presented the findings here at American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists 61st Annual Clinical Meeting.

Carbohydrate-loaded diets create a hostile egg and embryo environment even before conception or implantation, he explained.

“Eggs and embryos are not going to do well in a high-glucose environment.” By lowering carbs and increasing protein, “you’re bathing your egg in good, healthy, nutritious supplements,” he said.

These studies demonstrate how little many in the reproductive medicine and fertility profession know about the effect of micronutrients in our diets on various aspects of reproduction.

These studies demonstrate a field wide open for future research and shows how bad carbohydrates (refined grains, refined sugars etc) have an inflammatory effect that affects fertility and pregnancy outcomes and also detrimental to IVF outcomes.

This is why I always promote a grain free, primal based diet (PACE Diet) to all of my patients, especially my fertility and gynaecology patients. It is an essential part of my overall success rate and why I have been able to help over 12,500 babies into the world and help many with gynaecological issues as well.

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

Reproductive Medicine & Women’s Health Medicine Specialist

-The International Baby Maker

-No Stone Left Unturned

Coffee Reduces Liver Disease & Helps You Live Longer

Coffee is one of the most popular drinks on the planet and many of us wake each day to go and drink a cup, or two to get us going on our day. Coffee is always one of the things that many people can see as a bad thing and is often the first thing they cut out when going on a supposed health kick. Interestingly coffee is often cut out long before alcohol is and this often tells us where peoples mind sets are engrained. Regardless, there have been numerous studies to show the benefits of coffer and its use in the prevention of many disease states and even certain cancers. The good news is that a newly published studies show that it may reduce the risk of liver disease by 70 percent. This is not the first time coffee has been shown to have a beneficial effect on the liver. Recent research has shown that a few cups of coffee per day can actually prolong your life.

Interesting Facts About Coffee

It is interesting that in Chinese medicine, they believe that bitter herbs and bitter tasting foods can actually help the liver. This has been known for thousands of years. Guess what property coffee’s taste is? Yep, you guessed it…. Bitter. So the Chinese medicine doctors of old knew many things long before modern research.

Liver disease is a silent killer and many people do not know they have it until it is too late. Liver disease kills millions of people each year around the world and much of the problems gets back to alcohol and a diet high in refined sugars, refined grains and highly processed refined carbohydrates. Too many refined carbohydrates and sugars cause the body to store fats and stop the burning of fats and then we store those fats and people end up with heart disease and fatty liver disease.

The good thing is that if you cut out all those bad refined carbohydrates, eat a healthier diet, cut back the alcohol, do some daily exercise and have a couple of cups of coffee per day, then your risk of liver disease, and heart disease, drops dramatically. There could be a reduction of up to 70% for those that adopt these practices.

Next time you think about ditching the coffee for your next health kick, you may want to stop and think about that just a little bit more. Coffee is known to have many vitamins, minerals and amino acids. It also has other properties as well. But this is from good coffee bean, not instant coffee, which is full of preservatives, dyes and colours.

If you truly want to go on a health kick, or detox,  ditch the bad carbohydrates, the sugars and the alcohol and keep the coffee instead. Your liver will thank you for it.

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

Reproductive Medicine and Women’s Health Medicine Specialist

Women’s and Men’s Health Advocate

-No Stone Left Unturned

 

Vitamin D Increases Fertility & Assisted Reproduction Success Rates.

New research has concluded that there is a relationship between a woman’s vitamin D status and the success rates of assisted reproduction therapy(ART), which includes IUI, IVF and ISCI. While this is research is nothing new, and something I have been promoting for years, finally it is now official. Women trying to conceive should be taking vitamin D supplements, eating vitamin D rich foods, and getting a healthy dose of the sun daily.

Infertility, or what we call subfertility, is becoming an increasing problem and affects millions of people worldwide. More and more people have to turn to assisted reproduction therapy (ART) which now means more and more people are having to use IUI, IVF and ICSI.

The problem is that even with assisted reproduction therapy (ART), at best the success rates are only around 25- 30% on average, and that depends on the clinics individual success rates. Some clinics are also inflating and bodgying success rates to bring in unsuspecting customers.

While there has been much advancements in assisted reproduction (ART) such as IVF and improvements in success rates, the success rates have also started to stagnate. This is why couples need to look at all options to help increase those success rates and this is why I have set up a fertility program that can boost those success rates by as much as 96.1% *. This is why what I do has helped over 12,500 babies into the world and why couples need to look at a multimodality approach to increasing their chances of conception.  I often explain to couples that it is like preparing for a marathon; because that is what doing ART can be like. You need to prepare the body (both the man and woman), get the right diet, get the right nutrients, prepare mentally, prepare physically and basically get the bodies into the best shape possible to give the best success. Nobody should ever run a marathon without adequate preparation and the same goes for assisted reproduction.

Vitamin D and reproduction

Researchers across the board know that there is room for improvement in ART success rates. A range of potential factors are being explored, and some scientists have turned their attention to the potential role of vitamin D. While vitamin D is something that needs to be explored, and something that I give to my patients, it needs to be combined with other things mentioned above. It isn’t just as simple as taking Vitamin D and all your fertility problems are gone. But, it is one of the things that can help increase your overall success rates and should be used.

Most of our vitamin D supply is generated in our skin after exposure to sunlight. We do get some from our diets as well. This means that individuals who live in colder or darker environments are more susceptible to lower vitamin D levels, or those who regularly wear clothes covering the majority of their skin, and those who rarely go outside. The problem these days, many of us have jobs that require us to be inside most of the time and therefore were aren’t getting enough sunlight. The current figures actually show that up to 97% of Australians, and most probably other countries like the US are the same, are actually vitamin D deficient. The other issue is that even though some of us do get out in the sun, it actually needs to be at a certain time of the day, for optimal absorption. The optimal times are 10am and 2pm in the afternoon. The thing is, most of us aren’t getting out in the sun at these times.

A link between vitamin D and fertility has been theorized for many years and based on a number of observations and studies.  This is one of the reasons I have been promoting the use of Vitamin D for more than 20 years now, for those who are on my fertility program. For instance, vitamin D receptors and enzymes have been found in the endometrium. This is why Vitamin D is also good for women with gynaecological issues such as endometriosis, or adenomyosis. It is good for any gynaecological issue really. Vitamin D deficiency has been shown to increase the risk of pre-eclampsia, pregnancy-induced hypertension, gestational diabetes, and lower birth weight. Vitamin D is also essential for a health immune system and reducing inflammation in the body too.  It also helps with bone health.

We have also seen that in animal studies, vitamin D deficiency causes poorer fertility and reduced function of the reproductive organs. Many of our breakthroughs in medical science, actually come from animal studies first, especially when it comes to ART and IVF. Many cows and other animals are now impregnated using ART and advancements in this area have helped with human studies.

Vitamin D deficiency and lower success rates

Getting back to the feature studies, Vitamin D was shown to help women undergoing IVF, or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), frozen embryo transfer, or both.

All the participants’ vitamin D levels were checked by blood test. What people need to know is that many of the reference ranges still used  are actually under review and that if levels of vitamin D in the blood are under 100 Nmols\L, then you need to be supplementing. Anything under 75 Nmols/L is actually deficiency in vitamin D.

This analysis of the current research showed that when women, who underwent ART and had adequate vitamin D levels, were “one third’ more like to have a successful live birth compared to those who were deficient. When compared with women who had insufficient vitamin D concentrations, those with sufficient amounts were “46 percent more likely” to have a clinical pregnancy, and “34 percent more likely” to have a positive pregnancy test result.

Vitamin D is something that I promote and all of my fertility patients are on, as well as other beneficial supplements, diet, emotional support, medicines etc. Before you run off trying to buy vitamin D just remember it is just one thing that can help, and it isn’t a miracle cure, but, it can help. Lastly, before using any supplementations, please consult with a qualified healthcare professional and please don’t self-prescribe, or buy products of the internet. Make sure you buy practitioner dispensed supplements only, which are known to be of the highest quality and not filled with all sorts of things such as heavy metal, low levels of arsenic, toxic fillers etc, which is what some supplements off the internet can have.

 

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

Reproductive Medicine and Women’s Health Medicine Specialist

-The International Baby Maker

-No Stone Left Unturned

The Truth About Natural Killer Cells & Miscarriage

On a daily basis we get people, who are having failed IVF cycles, calling my clinic looking for some miracle pill, to supposedly eradicate the body of natural killers cell and wipe them off the face of the planet in some war like rage, all because they have been told this will bring an end to their fertility woes.

I wish it was that easy and when my staff go on to explain that treating natural killers cells (uterine killer cells), and especially looking at the cause of natural killer cells (uterine killer cells), is complex, there is no one miracle cure, nor some magic pill, people get annoyed and hang up the phone in a huff ,without listening to the reasons why.

One of the things I always say, when people ask me about regulating natural killer cells for fertility purposes, is “How long is a piece of string?”

This is because this subject is very complex and there are many reasons why natural killer cells may be impacting implantation. So, hence the response is always going to be “How long is a piece of string?”

While Natural killer (NK) cells have an important role in the early responses to viral infections, they have also been linked with failure of pregnancy.

Increasingly, clinics are offering blood tests, at an increased cost to the patient, to measure the number and activity of circulating NK cells. As a result of these investigations, many women are offered treatments such as steroids, intravenous immunoglobulins, and tumour necrosis factor blocking agents. The scientific rationale for these tests and treatments, however, is not always supported by our current knowledge of the function of uterine NK cells.

So, I thought it was about time I set the records straight on the BS information, that seems to being handed around as gospel, by money hungry fertility clinics run by big health conglomerates, and by the rotten Dr Google, about natural killer cells (uterine killer cells) and these supposed miracle pills, that will miraculously fix someone’s fertility issues.

Let’s Look at the Facts about Natural Killer Cells Relating to Miscarriage

  1. There is no miracle pill, or one supposed miracle treatment, or a one pill solution to treat, or get rid of natural killer cells. You do not want to get rid of NK Cells.
  2. Natural Killer Cells are a natural part of the immune system designed to target inflammation, kill of cancer cells, kill off bacteria and protect the body from harmful invasion of foreign organism
  3. There is huge difference between natural killer cells that are circulating in the blood stream, compared to uterine killer cells
  4. Uterine Killer Cells are in large numbers during a pregnancy to protect the embryo
  5. Natural Killer Cells are only in large number and are only being sent out by the immune system because there is some inflammatory process going on in the pelvis, or the rest of the body
  6. You cannot regulate Natural Killer Cells numbers unless you first address the inflammatory process that is causing them to be in high numbers in the first place (Eg- Inflammatory gynaecological conditions such as PID, Endometriosis, PCOS, Adenomyosis, Adhesions, STI’s, CIN, HPV, Herpes etc)
  7. Many people have not had the proper initial fertility investigations and testing needed to actually fall pregnant in the first place and looking at Natural Killer Cells, before all that proper testing etc is done, is actually not assessing the patient properly.
  8. If you do not treat the cause of the Natural Killer Cells being in high numbers, you will not be able to reduce the numbers of Natural Killer Cells that are actually doing the job they are meant to do, which is …. Protect the Body.
  9. Many of the so called treatments for Natural Killer Cells, regarding fertility, have never been approved for such treatment and research on it is still inconclusive.
  10. Some of the treatments being proclaimed as miracle cures (Intralipids etc) are purely money making exercises that are preying on the vulnerability of people who have been told wrong information and have this perception of some killer being inside their body attacking their embryos.
  11. Intralipids have never been proven to treat Natural Killer Cells and are derived from highly inflammatory soy based compounds, which then in turn can cause more inflammation.
  12. The drugs used in the treatment of Natural Killer Cells are steroidal based and carry many side effects and are for more harmful to the body that any natural killer cell will ever be. The steroids are also a category C drug that has been shown to have an effect on the neonate
  13. Steroids, such as Prednisone, do work on regulating NK cells, but they do so by suppressing the immune system, thus compromising a person’s immunity. There are also risk to peoples minerals by using these long term and there are also other side effects to the body.
  14. Natural Killer Cells are there to protect the body, not hurt it.
  15. Natural Killer Cells are only attacking embryos because they are seen as foreign body as well and when they are there trying to kill of the diseases and issues causing inflammation in the body, they just happen to kill of any other foreign organism and inflammatory processes at the same time
  16. Again, to address natural Killer Cells, you need to address the inflammatory process as to why they are in high numbers in the first place
  17. The perception around Natural Killer Cells being this “thing” killing off embryos in the body is misguided and is actually not a true representation of what Natural Killer Cells actually do. It is purely often used to tug on the heartstrings of unsuspecting patients, who are highly emotive and clinics use these emotions to get them to pay for treatments that have never been fully proven to work.
  18. The name “Killer Cell” is too often exploited in the wrong context by many in the fertility world
  19. Blood tests cannot measure the number of Natural Killer Cells in the Uterus, Only a biopsy can do this.
  20. A Natural Killer Cell (uterine killer cells) Biopsy has to be done between the 24th and 28th day of your menstrual cycle to give the best results.
  21. Blood tests can only measure the circulating NK cells in the body and not the uterine killer cell activity, which can be the cause of recurrent miscarriage. So, if you have had a blood test, it is not measuring what is needed. Everyone will have circulating NK cells in their blood stream.
  22. The percentage of CD56+ NK cells in peripheral blood in normal healthy individuals varies from 5% to 29% (2)Despite this, more than 12% NK cells in women with infertility or miscarriage has been arbitrarily defined as abnormally raised and used as an indication for treatment (4)
  23. The percentage of NK cells in blood can be affected by many factors including sex, ethnicity, stress, and age too.

Natural Killer cells (Uterine killer cells and other NK cells) are the main immune cell-type found in the uterus. Their numbers increase through the menstrual cycle to peak at the time of implantation. If an embryo does implant, NK cell numbers increase further to 70% of all cells.

Uterine NK numbers start to decrease at around the 20 week mark of pregnancy and are all but absent at the end of pregnancy.

Natural killer cells acquired their name as a result of the initial test used to identify them in vitro. Unlike T lymphocytes, NK cells are able to spontaneously kill cells in a non-MHC restricted manner.

Regrettably, this is a misleading name in reproduction, and the powerful image of maternal cells attacking the fetus is emotive and easily exploited. None the less, these NK cells can kill off the embryo at early stages of pregnancy, but there is nearly always a reason why. That reason is inflammation in the pelvic cavity and uterus. This needs to be addressed to regulate the number of NK cells, not some notion of killing off the “Killer Cells”.

Types of Inflammation causing high Natural Killer Cells (Uterine Killer Cells)

  • Endometriosis & Adenomyosis
  • PCOS/PCO
  • Fibroids, Myomas
  • Vaginal Infections & Bacteria
  • STI’s
  • Cancer, Trauma, Localised Lesions & Others
  • Stress

Yes, stress can lead to a compromised immune system, which then leads to high TNF (Tumor Necrosing Factor) and increase Natural Killer Cells, which then leads to prolonged increase activated T Cells, and this then causes reduced implantation of embryos.

This is also a reason why any inflammation in the uterus or pelvic cavity needs to be addressed to help fix this issue and one of the reasons why any woman having fertility issues needs to be investigated and treated properly. This needs to involve proper differential diagnosis, proper pathology testing, genetic testing and surgical investigations such as laparoscopy prior to any further fertility treatment. A laparoscopy is the gold standard for addressing and treatment of issues in the uterine and pelvic cavity.

Natural Killer Cells (Uterine Killer Cells) can be a part of recurrent miscarriage, but we need to stop the misinformation and perception of them being some killer organism that isn’t meant to be in the body. They are meant to be in the body and the name is all too often exploited by many to offer unproven treatments and medications by clinics trying to increase profits.

If you want to regulate and treat natural killer cells (relating to recurrent miscarriage) properly, you need to find out what is causing them to be there in the first place. There is no magic pill to get rid of Natural Killer Cells. You cannot rid the body of Natural Killer Cells anyway. They are meant to be there. You can only regulate the amount of killer cells doing their job and you need to find out why they are in higher numbers in the first place. This is usually because there is some sort of inflammation, infection, bacteria, or malignancy going on in the body that has not been investigated properly in the first place. Let’s not forget that stress, yes stress, increases the amount of Natural Killer Cells in the body too.

At my clinic, I have a proper Natural Killer Cell protocol and treatment plan that is individually tailored and looks at the “cause” of high number of Natural Killer Cells and makes sure that proper investigations, testing and treatment are administered to treat the person properly. This can also be done alongside current medical protocols such as the Bondi protocol, or California protocol.

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

(Reproductive Medicine & Women’s Health Medicine Specialist)

-The International Baby Maker

-No Stone Left Unturned

References

  1. Moffett-King A. Natural killer cells and pregnancy. Nat Rev Immuol 2002;2: 656-63.[CrossRef][Web of Science][Medline]
  2. Pijnenborg R, Vercruysse L, Hanssens M, Van Assche A. Incomplete trophoblast invasion: the evidence. In: Critchley H, MacLean A, Poston L, Walker J, eds. Pre-eclampsia. London: RCOG Press, 2003: 15-2615. Parham P. NK cells and trophoblasts: partners in pregnancy. J Exp Med 2004;200: 951-5.[Abstract/Free Full Text]
  3. Hiby SE, Walker JJ, O’Shaughnessy KM, Redman CWG, Carrington M, Trowsdale J, et al. Combinations of maternal and paternal innate immune genes influence the risk of pre-eclampsia. J Exp Med 2004;200: 957-65.[Abstract/Free Full Text]
  4. Aoki K, Kajiura S, Matsumoto Y, Ogasawara M, Okada S, Yagami Y, et al. Preconceptional natural-killer-cell activity as a predictor of miscarriage. Lancet 1995;345: 1340-2.[CrossRef][Web of Science][Medline]
  5. Ntrivalas EI, Kwak-Kim JY, Gilman-Sacchs A, Chung-Bang H, Ng SC, Beaman KD, et al. Status of peripheral blood natural killer cells in women with recurrent spontaneous abortions and infertility of unknown aetiology. Hum Reprod 2001;16: 855-61.[Abstract/Free Full Text]
  6. Bisset LR, Lung TL, Kaelin M, Ludwig E, Dubs RW. Reference values for peripheral blood lymphocyte phenotypes applicable to the healthy adult population in Switzerland. Eur J Haematol 2004;72: 203-12.[CrossRef][Web of Science][Medline]
  7. Kwak JY, Kwak FM, Gilman-Sachs A, Beaman KD, Cho DD, Beer AE, et al. Immunoglobulin G infusion treatment for women with recurrent spontaneous abortions and elevated CD56+ natural killer cells. Early Preg 2000;4: 154-64.
  8. RCOG Scientific Advisory Committee. Immunological testing and interventions for reproductive failure. London: RCOG, 2003. (Opinion paper 5.)
  9. Scott JR. Immunotherapy for recurrent miscarriage. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2003;(1): CD000112.
  10. Daya S, Gunby J, Clark DA. Intravenous immunoglobulin therapy for recurrent spontaneous abortion: a meta-analysis. Am J Reprod Immunol 1998;39: 69-76.

 

 

What You “Can” Eat During Pregnancy

A while back, I put up a post to see what people thought that you (can) and (can’t) eat during… pregnancy, or if you were trying to fall pregnant. It was really interesting to see what foods people thought you could not eat during pregnancy. It is really interesting that most people want to tell you want you can’t eat, but hardly anyone tells you what you can eat during pregnancy and while trying to fall.

What prompted this post was that a while back I overheard one of my staff and lovely mother to be, talking to another mother to be about what she has been cutting from her diet while she was pregnant and how her food choices were so limited.

I heard all kind of wonderful things from not eating any seafood; not eating any cold meat, not eating soft cheeses, not eating eggs, not eating nuts and nearly the whole food pyramid was being added.

What many people don’t know is that I actually have a background in food science and that I used to teach about bacteria and food hygiene and the nasty consequences of what bacteria can do to the body.

Most pregnant women have the number one fear of foods containing Listeria. It is a rare form of bacteria but it can be fatal (very rare) to a lady if she is pregnant and cause issues such as miscarriage. So not discounting it at all and some countries around the world do not have the food hygiene standards we have here in Australia. We only see about 5 cases per million people in Australia. Basically there is about 0.3-0.4% chance of getting it and we all make such a big deal about it. Again, this is not to discount it either. Listeria can be found in unpasteurised products such as diary and cheese and can be found in some forms of deli meats mainly. To be honest, it is usually the home made/backyard deli meats and cheeses you really have to watch, with regards to hygiene and bacteria.

But if a health issues such as Listeria poisoning is so rare, why do we make such a fuss about it and not warn women of other potentially worse factors that cause more cases per year, and can be potentially fatal too. The problem is if women only hear about the foods they can’t eat, many of them are going to be nutrient deficient all for the fear of a tiny chance of listeria causing an issue with a pregnancy.

The truth is, other bacteria such as Salmonella, Shigella and Camphyobacter have a higher rate of infection per year than listeria ever will and nobody ever talks about them. There are over 25,000 cases of these combined and most of the spread is through person to person contact, not just foods themselves. Basically many food poisoning cases are actually from bacteria being on your own hands, which then at some stage end up in, or near your mouth. This is why smokers are at higher risk of food poisoning. To be honest, shopping trolley handles are probably one of the most unhygienic places you can put your hands on and probably cause more bacterial health issues than anything. Money can be the same.

Then we have a far wider implication of gestational diabetes, which account for about 15,000 plus, pregnant women per year, with an annual increase of 5% per year. When someone eats sugary foods, highly processed foods, grains etc during pregnancy, that are a major cause of diabetes, nobody says a thing. Yet mention the word Brie cheese, cold meats etc and everyone goes nuts. Oh yes, we now mention ‘nuts’ and people go nuts too. Again this is not to discount that some people have true allergies to nuts.

So what do pregnant women really need to know and what can you eat?

Basically the same food hygiene that is needed when you aren’t pregnant is to be observed when you are. There only needs to be a little bit more caution, not an ‘OMG’ stay clear of everything, that unreliable Dr Google, or ‘Someone’, has told you. I would love to know who ‘Someone’ is because he, or she, causes a lot of problems. Remember temperatures between 5 and 60 degrees C are you danger zone area. This is why foods need to be stored below 5 degrees and heated over 60 degrees C.

So what can you eat?

  • So basically you can eat any deli meats as long as they are cryo-vacced and in date. Cryovacced means the air has been taken out and not even bacteria can live in an non-oxygenated environment.
  • You can eat all seafoods as long as they are cooked and fresh.
  • You can eat all cheeses but need to be more careful around the soft cheeses. New research actually shows that small amounts can be beneficial for you. If you cook soft cheeses there is definitely no issue. Just don’t eat cheeses from unpasteurised sources.
  • You can have any form of pasteurised milk or UHT milk.
  • You can have soft serve ice-cream as long as the place you are getting it from looks hygienically clean. Maybe not a good idea to get them from the old ice-cream trucks that aren’t checked regularly by food standards.
  • You can eat nuts and now there is evidence to show that mums not eating nuts during pregnancy may now be the cause of nut allergies.
  • You can definitely eat eggs and you just have to make sure they aren’t raw. Boiled eggs, poached eggs and fried eggs are all fine. Egg custard is fine because it is cooked
  • You can eat all meats if they are cooked and you don’t have to char it until it resembles an old leather shoe. Medium is fine. You just need to cook all chicken right through because all chicken contains salmonella and cooking it kills it.
  • You can have coffee and tea and you just need to limit all caffeine to no more than two cups per day (remember tea has as much caffeine as coffee)

Basically the healthy food pyramid I teach at my clinic needs to be applied.

1. Take a good practitioner only Multivitamin, Omega 3 Oils, prebiotics and probiotics daily

2. Eat 2 handful of nuts daily or two tablespoons of healthy oils

3. Limit you grains to one serve (only) per day or cut them completely (best)

4. Eat 2 pieces of low GI fruits per day

5. Protein with every meal or snack

6. 3-5 serves of veggies or salads per day (just not from a salad bar)

7. 8 glasses of water

8. 2 serves of electrolytes per day when pregnant

9. 30 -45 minutes exercise 2-3 times per week

# No diet drinks or artificial sweeteners, or alcohol at all

Remember food is to be enjoyed and so is pregnancy. Don’t get too caught up in all the worry of what you can’t eat and look more at what you can eat and stick to those foods.

Take care

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

(Reproductive Medicine and Women’s Health Medicine Specialist)

-Women’s and Men’s Health Advocate

-No Stone Left Unturned

Alcohol Decreases Fertility & Makes Gynaecological Conditions Worse

In today’s modern society, alcohol has become the cornerstone for social engagements, business dinners and after work relaxation. It is important to realise however, that alcohol can directly impact the fertility of both males and females. In males it can decrease sperm quality, reduce testicular size, decrease libido and cause impotence, all of which can impair fertility. In females it has a more systemic response, affecting the reproductive hormones, leading to abnormalities in the menstrual cycle and an increased risk of miscarriage.

Many men and women these days are actually consuming copious amounts of alcohol and may think that their drinking habits are normal, when compared to others around them. When people do things on a regular basis, it becomes their normal. But truth be told, many people’s drinking habits, both men and women, are actually in the realms of alcoholism. The impacts of that are far reaching and fertility and gynaecological conditions are definitely impacted by alcohol consumption.

Effect of Alcohol on Conception for Men

Fecundability refers to the probability of conception during a particular menstrual cycle. It is dependent on the reproductive potential of both partners. Alcohol decreases fecundability by its effect on sperm quality and quantity. Men who continue to consume alcohol on a regular basis, can decrease their sperm motility, morphology and their DNA in the sperm. All of which are important factors in achieving fertility. While outwardly a man’s sperm may look OK, many forget that inwardly, the sperm DNA could be highly fragmented and unless this is tested every ejaculation, you will have no idea how bad the sperm actually is. A one off DNA fragmentation analysis does not mean the sperm each time is OK. It only measures the sperm from the ejaculate that was tested and sperm quality can change by as much as 20% each ejaculation.

Testicular size is also affected by alcohol intake; and can also affect sperm production. Alcohol is a depressant of the central nervous system (CNS), and can disrupt the autonomic system of the CNS. These effects are temporary and short lived. Abnormal sperm production is also temporary and also can resume after abstaining from alcohol.

One study, this one looking at couples going through IVF treatment, found that for every additional drink a man consumed per day, the risk of conception not leading to a live birth increased by 2 to 8 times. This was especially true if the drinking occurred within a month of the IVF treatment.

Effect of Alcohol on Conception for Women

In women, alcohol affects fecundability, by disrupting the delicate balance of the menstrual cycle. Clinical research data published in the “British Medical Journal” suggests that women, who drank socially, 1-5 drinks per week, were at a greater risk of decreased fecundability when compared to women who remained abstinent. These findings underscore the importance of remaining abstinent while attempting to conceive.

Alcohol disrupts the hormonal imbalance of the female reproductive system, leading to menstrual irregularities, and even Anovulatory cycles, (menstrual cycles where ovulation fails to occur). Menstrual pain can directly be linked to the amount of alcohol consumed in the lead up to the menses and consumptions of alcohol, even small amounts, exacerbates most gynaecological conditions. These changes can drastically decrease a woman’s chance of becoming pregnant and thus affect fertility.

Alcohol effects fertility in both partners, and can do so in so many ways. For couples who desire to have a baby, it is best to stay away from drinking completely. Presently there is no safe limit of alcohol intake; even socially acceptable amounts of alcohol can affect fertility potential and outcomes. Moderate drinking (1-2 drinks in one sitting) is probably okay, especially if you reserve those drinks to a few times a week, instead of daily. However, if you’re going through IVF treatment, or trying to conceive naturally, you might consider cutting out alcohol for the time being. A woman that is trying to concieve, or trying to improve a gynaecological issues, or menstrual issues, should not be consuming more than 4 standard drinks per week. A male who is trying to conceive, or have sperm quality issues, should have no more than 2 standard drinks in one sitting and be having at least 2 alcohol free days per week. These are all part of the healthy drinking set out in health department and government safe drinking guidelines.

Trying to conceive is a special time in a couple’s life, it should be filled with love, devotion and safe health practices, which means a healthy diet and lifestyle and having a healthy mind too. It also means having healthy drinking habits as well.

Decreasing alcohol, having bete foods and looking at a healthy detoxification program is also a great idea for those trying to increase their fertility and get their reproductive systems working better. Healthy eggs and health sperm make healthy babies. Healthy reproductive systems also mean better menstrual cycles and better testicular health too.

Safe drinking everyone

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

(Reproductive Medicine & Women’s Health Specialist)

– The International Baby Maker

-Women’s and Men’s Health Advocate

– No Stone Left Unturned

Sex Around The Time of Embryo Transfer Increases The Likelihood of Successful Early Embryo Implantation and Development.

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One of the things that I  promote is that regular sex is so important for our fertility patients, on so many levels. Sometimes the obvious eludes some people though

One of the things I see quite regularly is that couples doing Assisted Reproduction (ART) are abstaining from sex fearing it will affect their chances of conceiving. Actually the opposite is true. By not having sex during ART cycles (IUI, IVF etc) you are affecting your chances of conception.

I have often spoken about the importance of sex and orgasm assisting implantation in other posts and there is so much medical research to back this up

Let me ask the question “If you were trying naturally, would you stop having sex for fear that conception has taken place?”

Then why would you stop having sex around an ART cycle?

Let’s face the facts, implantation takes place in the uterus, and not the vagina, and no man is that well endowed to even penetrate the cervix, so…. Let’s get a grip here

The question to ask is “What does an embryo feed off and need to successfully implant?”

The answer is blood!

Think of a tick borrowing into skin to feed off its host.

How do you get blood flow into the uterine lining?

The answer is that sex and climax stimulate blood flow to the lining to assist implantation and also prepare the lining for implantation!

Nature has given us all the tools for healthy conception to take place, and yet many of us just aren’t using them.

This article shows that sperm are also beneficial in assisting implantation and exposure to semen around the time of embryo transfer increases the likelihood of successful early embryo implantation and development.

http://humrep.oxfordjournals.org/content/15/12/2653.full

Don’t forget that regular sex during this time not only helps assist implantation, but it also helps with the bonding process and physical connection process during this stressful time. Many couples split up because of losing this connection during the ART process and sex is a way of keeping that physical and emotional connection. Sex also tells your body you are also preparing to conceive on another level too.

For those doing IVF etc, next time you are doing an ART cycle maybe it is time to start doing things the way nature intended to give you that boost you so desperately are needing. Time to go and get busy people.

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

Reproductive Medicine and Women’s Health Medicine Specialist

-The International Baby Maker

– No Stone Left Unturned

Do you suffer pain with sex? (dyspareunia)

Do you suffer Dyspareunia?

Pain with sex, Intercourse pain, or dyspareunia, can cause problems in a womans life and it can be a cause of problems in couple’s sexual relationship. In addition to the physically painful sex, there is also the possibility of negative emotional effects. Then even when a woman may feel aroused and wanting sex, the fear of the pain can cause the whole process of wanting sex to stop.

How many people get Pain with Sex

It is estimated that about 20%-25% of women suffer vaginal pain with foreplay or intercourse. Pain can be acute, intermittent or chronic and can stem from a wide variety of causes that will be covered shortly. Unfortunately when women complaining of pain during sex, they are often dismissed as being inhibited, having psychiatric issues, or merely just making it up to get out of having sex. Many men would like to boast that it is them being well endowed that is causing the problem (they wish) but in fact if your partner is in pain, then you need to actually stop and listen to the reasons why. The fact is most of the time, their symptoms are related to legitimate medical issues that need to be investigated and treated accordingly. So guys, get your hand of it and start listening to your partner if she says she is getting pain.

What causes pain with Sex (Dyspareunia)?

In many cases, a woman can experience painful sex if there is not sufficient vaginal lubrication. There could be many reasons for this and one that is commonly seen in menopause. When this occurs, the pain can be resolved if the female becomes more relaxed, if the amount of foreplay is increased, or if the couple uses a sexual lubricant. Issues like this can easily be overcome, but there are some medical and gynaecological issues that could be causing the pain and being very much overlooked.

So what are the other causes of Pain with Sex

Endometriosis – This is a condition in which the endometrial like tissue (lesions) that lines the uterus grows outside the uterus. It can cause all sort of pain in the pelvis, bowel and rest of the body, but it can cause pain with sex. It is one of the leading conditions that does cause pain with sex. Many women with endometriosis may not have symptoms of it, or may only have one symptoms like pain with sex. Symptoms do not correlate to the extent of the disease either. Some people with small amounts get lots of pain, while others can have lots of it and have no pain. Endometriosis can only be properly diagnosed via surgery (laparoscopy)

Adenomyosis – is a condition which is very similar to endometriosis. It is a conditions in which the inner lining of the uterus (the endometrium) breaks through the muscle wall of the uterus (the myometrium). Adenomyosis can cause menstrual cramps, lower abdominal pressure etc, before the menses and can result in heavy periods.  It can also cause pain with sex. The condition can be located throughout the entire uterus, or localized in one spot

Vaginismus-  This is a common condition. It involves an involuntary spasm in the vaginal muscles, which closes up the vagina and prevents penetration from happens. It is sometimes caused by fear of being hurt.

Vaginal Infections-  These conditions are common and include yeast infections such as thrush and candida and these can cause inflammation to the vagina and cause pain with sex and also localized bleeding.

Vaginal skin conditions– Dermatitis around the vulva and also a condition called Lichen Sclerosis can all cause pain with sex due to the inflammation of the skin.

Problems with the cervix (opening to the uterus). In this case, the penis can reach the cervix at maximum penetration. So problems with the cervix (such as infections) can cause pain during deep penetration.

Problems with the uterus. These problems may include polyps, cysts, fibroids etc that can cause deep intercourse pain.

Problems with the ovaries – Problems might include cysts on the ovaries, or tubal disease.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) – Often referred to as penis injected disease. With PID, the tissues deep inside become badly inflamed and the pressure of intercourse causes deep pain.

Ectopic Pregnancy – This is a pregnancy in which a fertilized egg develops outside the uterus, or into the tubes. It can cause immense pain and even death if not death with properly.

Menopause- With menopause, the vaginal lining can lose its normal moisture and tone and become dry. The vagina, uterus and surrounding organs can all suffer atrophy, which can cause bleeding and pain. It can also cause prolapse.

Intercourse too soon after childbirth, or surgery – Trying to have sex too soon after childbirth, or a surgery,  can cause pain during sex.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s) – These may include chlamydia, genital warts (HPV), genital herpes, or other STI’s.

Injury to the vulva or vagina- These injuries may include a tear from childbirth or from a cut (episiotomy) made in the area of skin between the vagina and anus during labor.

How Can Painful Sex In Women Be Treated?

Some treatments for painful sex in women do not require medical treatment. For example, painful sex after pregnancy can be addressed by waiting at least six weeks after childbirth before having intercourse, or when a women feels she is ready again. Make sure to practice gentleness and patience. In cases in which there is vaginal dryness,  or a lack of lubrication,water-based lubricants will help. In the cases of some conditions such as menopause, topical estrogen creams may be needed to bring tone back into the vaginal wall, along with lubricants during sex.

Some of the conditions such as endometriosis, PID, fibroids, or trauma to the vagina and will require surgery and adjunct therapies such as hormones and other medications.

Other issues such as vaginal infections, bacterial infections, skin conditions, STI’s etc may just need medications such as antibiotics, antifungals, steroids and other medications for their treatment

Some conditions like vaginismus, or psychological traumas (sexual abuse), may require a person to see a counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist, or sex therapist.

There are also natural medicines such as Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal medicine, naturopathy, herbal supplement etc than can help with pain, either on their own, or in combination with medical treatments and talk therapy

If you do have pain with sex, you need to go and speak to your healthcare provider, or seek the help of a gynaecologist, or women’s health specialist.

Pain with sex is not normal, and you need to find out the cause of these issues and not put it off. At my clinic, I can help you if you are having pain with sex.

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

Reproductive Medicine & Women’s Health Medicine Specialist

-No Stone Left Unturned