These are some of the main Facts about PCOS
Dr Andrew Orr
-No Stone Left Unturned
-Women and Men’s Health Advocate
These are some of the main Facts about PCOS
Dr Andrew Orr
-No Stone Left Unturned
-Women and Men’s Health Advocate
The word “Barren” comes originates from the French word ‘Brehaigne’, which means not producing, incapable of producing offspring, infertility, infertile; sterile.
Sounds terrible doesn’t it?
Fortunately very few women are ‘sterile’ and the word “infertility” is often misused in our modern society. Nobody is truly infertile, unless they actually have reproductive organs missing, or have genetic abnormalities that will actually prevent conception from happening etc. When a couple is having trouble conceiving, we should really use the word “sub-fertility” instead of “infertility”
The problem with talking fertility, sub-fertility, or infertility is that we often reference, target, or even blame the woman. Yes, women are often the blame of not being able to conceive a child and therefore the myth of the barren woman still runs deep and is very much in existence and kept alive by all concerned today in our modern world.
But is conception and the ability to conceive a child inherently the fault, or responsibility of the woman?
The answer to that is “No!”, but there is still this expectation, or focus, that not being able to conceive all falls back on a woman. Sometimes women actually wrongly blame themselves, or wrongly take on that responsibility too. Some women will even take on that burden, to protect a partner, who may actually be the main issue. Then we now have an area of medicine that has its focus as being the woman, because women are the primary driving force for wanting to have a child. Hence the vicious cycle continues in this terrible loop and then many, practitioners included, buy into the myth of the barren woman and so the cycle continues over and over again.
Well, I am here to tell you that women are not the only part of having a child and that men play just as big a part when it comes to fertility issues and not being able to conceive.
No matter what you get sold, or what BS (bullshit) you are sold, while pulling on your ‘I need a baby heartstrings’, to make you part with your hard earned money, the fact remains, and will always remain, that it takes a sperm and an egg to make a baby. That is basic biology 101 and no matter what someone tries to tell you, sperm quality is just as important as egg quality in this equation.
Every day I see practitioners, both medical and in complementary medicine, focussing in on women as the primary focus of fertility and actually feeding the myth of the barren women by their very actions. Many times the men are overlooked, or ignored, or completely disregarded in the fertility equation. Not only is this unethical, to just treat and focus on the women when it comes to fertility treatment, but it is highly negligent as well. Men are not born with an inherent right to automatically be able to conceive and worse still, the male sperm levels have fallen by as much as 60% in the last 70 years, with sperm quality levels said to be dropping at an alarming rate.
So why is the focus, the burden, the guilt and the whole emotional baby roller coaster left solely to women?
Well, I have explained that practitioners are to blame, the fertility profession is to blame, society is to blame, guilt is to blame and last of all men are a big part of the issue too.
Men are often to reluctant passengers in the fertility journey and are often very happy to bury their heads in the sand and pass the responsibility of not being able to conceive onto a woman. Then many men are told their sperm is fine, when in fact it is far from being fine.
Over 50% of fertility issues are related to male factors and up to 85% of miscarriage issues may be related to male chromosomal, or DNA issues related to sperm. As I said before, research has now shown that the male sperm quality has fallen by up to 60% over the last 70 years and is actually on the decline. Men are often the bigger part of the fertility picture and it isn’t just the woman at all.
Semen analysis parameters are based on what is needed for Assisted Reproduction (IVF, IUI, ICSI) , not based on what is needed for natural conception and this is where some of the biggest issues lay. Misinterpretation of semen analysis and misinterpretation of parameters have many men believing they have OK sperm, when in fact it is far from being OK. With modern procedures such as ICSI, we only need a few single sperm to be able to fertilise eggs and this can still be considered ok, because at least there was some sperm to fertilise the egg in the first place. A few single sperm, or a few hundred sperm, or even a few thousand sperm is not OK when it comes to natural conception. We actually need a few hundred million sperm for it to be OK and even then they need to be motile and they need to be swimming properly (rapid progressive) and actually be of good shape (morphology)
While a semen analysis is often the first part of male fertility evaluation, it is also very limited. While we can look at morphology, motility, concentration, count etc, it does not tell us about the actual quality of the sperm inside. Many sperm may look ‘OK’ via a semen analysis, but inside their DNA integrity is poor and there are high amounts of DNA fragmentation and this can only be measured by a DNA fragmentation analysis. Even then, each time a man ejaculates, the quality of the sperm will be different and can differ by up to 20% in each ejaculate.
We also know that what a man eats, drinks and even his physical and emotional health will affect his sperm quality and that a man’s physical, dietary and emotional health can be passed onto his offspring through the sperm. This is why it is important for a man to get his physical and dietary and emotional health in check way before he tries to conceive a child with his partner.
We always say that the healthier a man is, the healthier his sperm is and the healthier the woman is, the healthier her eggs will be also. A healthy man and a health woman produce healthy babies.
I have been assisting couples with fertility and pregnancy for over 20 plus years now, and helped over 12,500 plus babies into the world, and I can tell you that conception is not just about the woman. It gets back to basic biology 101 that it takes a sperm and an egg to have a baby. Even when couples are having issues trying to conceive, or doing IVF, or however they are trying to conceive, there will be some issue on the man’s side and the woman’s side. Unless there is absolute infertility on one side, or the other, there will always be a bit of both the man and woman to work on to assist in being able to conceive.
While the myth of the barren woman runs deep in society, fertility clinics and through the guilt handed down from their fellow sisters and mothers, fertility issues and the right to be able to conceive ‘does not’ fall solely into the hands of a woman, far from it. Men are an equal part in the fertility equation and men need be held just as accountable when it comes to trying to have a baby, or if there are difficulties in conceiving. No matter what anyone tells you, a man needs to be part of treatment, management and support of the journey to have a baby. This is a big part in my multi-modality fertility program being so successful in assisting over 12,500 babies into the world. Fertility isn’t just the responsibility of the woman, it is the responsibility of the man as well and I make sure both the man and the woman are properly investigated, clinically managed and helped with treatments as well.
Dr Andrew Orr
-No Stone Left Unturned
-The Brisbane Baby Maker
Men, it is time to eat more nuts, to help your…. ummm… NUTS!
But this isn’t just about your family jewels, this is about helping with what they produce and helping you carry on your family tree. A diet rich in nuts has been shown to improve sperm count, motility, morphology and sperm DNA.
Recent research published in the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (July 4th 2018) has shown the men that regularly eat nuts have improved sperm quality and function and less DNA fragmentation in their sperm.
In many forms of traditional medicines, foods and the shapes of foods, often correlate to an organ in the human body. To give you an example, walnuts look like a lung and they also look like a brain. There are now research papers to show that walnuts may assist with brain function and help with lung function as well.
Many of the foods we eat may also assist fertility. Many of these foods may look like a reproductive organ, or contain seeds in them. Fruits such as dragon fruit and kiwi fruit look like the shape of a testicle, or an ovary and have seed in them, which traditional medicines often say are good for the seed (meaning eggs and sperm on a fertility level)
Hence it is no surprise that nuts, can help with… ummm… well…. a man’s nuts (reproductive organs)
This new research showed that the inclusion of mixed nuts (almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts) in a regular diet significantly improves the quality and function of human sperm, according to results of a randomized trial which measured conventional semen parameters and molecular changes over a 14-week study period. The findings, say the investigators, ‘support a beneficial role for chronic nut consumption in sperm quality’ and reflect a research need for further male-specific dietary recommendations.
Results firstly found significantly higher levels of sperm count, vitality, motility and morphology in the men randomised to the 60 g/day nut diet than in those following their usual diets free of nuts. Moreover, the subjects in the nut group also showed a significant reduction in their levels of sperm DNA fragmentation, a parameter closely associated with male infertility. Indeed, it was this change in the level of DNA fragmentation in the sperm cells by which the investigators explained, at least in part, the improvement in sperm count, motility and morphology.
Nuts are dense foods containing many antioxidants, omega 3 oils, amino acids and folate. This may explain why nuts are so beneficial to improving sperm quality overall. Antioxidants help with oxidative stress, which can be a big factor in DNA damage to sperm and poor sperm quality. Antioxidants and amino acids help with proper formation of sperm at the cellular stage and help prevent damage to sperm cells and help with repair and formation of the DNA of sperm as well.
There is much more growing evidence through research literature that healthy lifestyle changes such as following a healthy dietary pattern can assist conception. Healthy parents make healthy babies. It takes a sperm and an egg to make a baby and healthy men produce healthy sperm. This is why it is important for not only the woman to be healthy prior to conception, but for the man to be healthy as well. The health of the father is passed onto the child and there is growing evidence to support this now.
When it comes to fertility and trying to have a baby, males need to be an equal part of the equation. Fertility isn’t just a woman’s responsibility and fertility issues are not just related to women.
Dr Andrew Orr
-No Stone Left Unturned
European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. “A diet rich in nuts improves sperm count and motility: Improvements associated with better male fertility and explained by a reduction in sperm DNA fragmentation.”
Vaginal bleeding between periods can be common and is not generally a cause for concern. Most of the time women will get just very light pink coloured watery flow, or just some spotting. There can be many reasons why a woman would be getting bleeding between periods, which includes hormonal changes, injury, or an underlying gynaecological, or health condition.
While bleeding between your periods may not be cause for concern, on one level, the ideal situation is to not have any form of bleeding at all and if you do get bleeding between your cycle, it is a good idea to have this investigated, just to be on the safe side.
What a proper menstrual cycle should be like
I have done quite a few posts on what a proper menstrual cycle should be like, but I will go over this again just briefly
A proper menstrual cycle should be between 26-32 days in length and really only have about 3-5 days flow. Any longer than this can be too long and put a woman at risk of being low in iron, especially if this happens all the time.
The blood flow should be a nice red consistency, no clots, with no stopping and starting, and women shouldn’t have too many digestive disruptions, and really, a woman should not be getting pain with her cycle. A little bit of distention and knowing the period is coming is fine, but there should not be pain at all. If you have to reach for the pain killers and the heat pack, or are doubled up in pain, this is not normal and you need to get this checked out.
As mentioned before, there can be a variety of reasons for breakthrough bleeding, some of which are no cause for concern at all. Some however do need to be investigated.
Below are some of reasons for bleeding between periods:
When an egg is released from the ovary, it does create a tiny wound, through which the egg will then travel through the tubes and prepare to make its way to be fertilised, or then shed with the menstrual flow. At ovulation, this tiny wound can also create a tiny amount of bleeding, which can be seen as spotting during the ovulatory phase of a woman’s cycle.
When an embryo implants into the uterine lining and begins to grow, many women experience spotting around this time. This is called implantation bleeding. They may also experience some slight cramping at the same time and all of this is quite normal. Some women may then experience some lighter bleeding as the embryo grows further. They usually get some light spotting, which can be a light pink, or a brown colour. Sometimes it can be more like fresh blood. While this is normal, it is a good idea to get this checked out just to be on the safe side and to also put the pregnant mothers mind as ease too.
Bleeding between menstrual periods can be an early sign of a miscarriage. Many women may not even know they are pregnant and may be completely unaware they are having a miscarriage. While it is generally thought that once a woman reaches twelve weeks gestation everything is generally going to be ok, miscarriages can occur at any time during pregnancy.
After having a termination women can bleed for some time after the procedure, or taking the medication to start the abortion process. If bleeding continues and is very heavy, women need to seek medical advice.
Polyps are small growths that can develop in the uterus or on the cervix. They are often a cause for unexplained bleeding between the cycles. Polyps do need to be removed as they can prevent implantation happening and they can also turn cancerous if left behind. Polyps are a very common cause of bleeding between periods.
Fibroids, or myomas (also known as leiomyomas, or fibromyomas) are growths, or benign (non-cancerous) tumours that form in the muscle of the uterus. Up to 40% of women over the age of 40 years have fibroids and as many as 3 out of 4 women develop fibroids in their lifetime.
Fibroids can cause heavy bleeding, extended bleed and painful periods. They can also cause infertility, miscarriage and premature labour. In many women, they will not cause any problems at all. Fibroids are a very common cause of bleeding between the cycles.
Polycystic Ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a very common condition that can cause irregular periods, absent periods, and can also cause bleeding between periods. PCOS can also cause other issues such as acne, weight gain, infertility and hormonal and emotional disturbances.
Endometriosis or Adenomyosis
One in ten women are diagnosed with endometriosis and many more do not even know that they have it. Endometriosis and Adenomyosis are very closely related, with endometriosis usually being more superficial disease and not confined to the uterus, and adenomyosis being deep within the uterine tissue. Chronic conditions such as endometriosis and adenomyosis, can cause bleeding or spotting between periods. These conditions may also cause heavy or painful menstrual periods and cramps between periods. Adenomyosis will usually cause more bleeding symptoms along with pain etc.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
Some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can cause pain, vaginal bleeding and spotting. If you do suspect you may have a STI, you need to see your doctor for investigation and treatment.
Injury to the vaginal wall
During sexual intercourse the tissue of the vagina can be damaged and this can then cause bleeding. If the vagina is too dry, lack of arousal, and not lubricated enough this is more likely to happen. It can also happen if there is atrophy in the vaginal tissue as well. This is called atrophic vaginitis. This is more likely to be seen when a woman is going into menopause, or undergoing cancer treatments, or has diabetes.
Menopause or perimenopause
The menopausal stage of life and especially the perimenopause stage, can be a cause of irregular menses and irregular bleeding. It can also cause spotting, or heavy bleeding too. Perimenopause is the period leading up to menopause. This stage of a woman’s life can last for up to 10 years as hormone levels in the body change and can be unstable.
Hormonal contraceptives are a common cause of bleeding between periods. They can also cause irregular bleeding and this can be quite usual in the first 3 months of using the contraceptive. If a woman misses takin her oral contraceptive, it can also cause irregular bleeding, or a withdrawal bleed. Intrauterine Devices (IUD’s) like the Mirena, will often cause irregular periods and irregular bleeding in the first 3 months after it have been inserted. If bleeding lasts for longer than 3 months on any contraceptive, it is a good idea to seek medical advice and get investigated and managed properly.
The morning after pill, or emergency contraceptives, may also cause bleeding. If bleeding persists, you should seek medical advice.
Vaginal bleeding between periods can also be a sign of gynaecological cancers in women. Most bleeding that women get is not serious, but it still needs to be checked. Cervical cancer can affect women of any age. Bleeding between the cycle, or after intercourse, and pain after intercourse, or unpleasant smelling discharge can be symptoms of cervical cancer and these all need to be checked by your doctor, or gynaecologist.
Uterine cancer tends to occur in women over 50 year of age. One of the early symptoms of uterine cancer can be vaginal bleeding. Uterine cancer mostly affects women are in the menopause and no longer have periods, so this is why any bleeding after menopause needs to be investigate and seen as not being normal.
Yes, stress can cause abnormal bleeding and also interfere with a woman’s cycle. Increased levels of stress can interfere with hormones and this can lead to bleeding, irregular cycles, or pain with cycles too.
When to see a doctor
If vaginal bleeding between periods is heavy, persistent, or unusual then a woman should go and see a specialist, or a gynaecologist, who is a specialist in this area of medicine. As mentioned previously, while some causes of bleeding are not serious, some are and need to be properly investigated and properly managed medically.
Treatment and prevention
All women should keep a record of their menstrual cycle and when the period starts and how long it lasts for. Any abnormal bleeding should be recorded so that you can show your healthcare specialist if need be. Any abnormal bleeding should be investigated and the treatment will depend on what the underlying cause is.
Women should try and see their healthcare specialist for regular pap smears and regular check-ups for gynaecological health.
If women are getting small tears and bleeding caused from dryness in the vagina, then there are water based lubricants that can be used to help with lubrication and to moisturise the surrounding tissue.
There is no cure for gynaecological and reproductive issues such PCOS and Endometriosis, but these disease states can be treated and managed to give women a normal life. Proper treatment of these issues needs a “Team”, or multimodality approach using medical options, surgical interventions, pelvic floor specialists, acupuncture, herbal medicines, hormone therapies, and diet and lifestyle changes. It is about using what works for the individual and not a blanket one treatment fits all approach.
Last but not least, all women should know that period pain is not normal and that irregular bleeding really isn’t normal either. While most causes of bleeding are not life threatening, they still need to be investigated and checked out properly. Never ever put off seeing a specialist if you have abnormal bleeding.
Dr Andrew Orr
-No Stone Left Unturned
New research published in Human Reproduction, has found that those who follow a “Mediterranean” style diet at least six months before assisted reproductive treatment have a significantly better chance of becoming pregnant and giving birth to a live baby than women who did not.
As part of my Fertility Program, one of the first things I talk to couples about is the importance of a healthy diet that has adequate protein, lots of vegetables, seeds and nuts, healthy oils, adequate water intake, electrolytes and cutting out all the refined carbohydrates that cause inflammation. The hard thing is that I hardly see a couple following those health food principles, with many not even really knowing what a health diet is. The diet that I promote is a Primal based diet.
Previous studies have shown that when refined carbohydrates are cut out and replaced with proteins, essential fats and good carbohydrates, such as fruit and vegetables, that the clinical pregnancy rates shot up by 80%. (Fertility & Sterility 2012 Volume 98 issues 3 Page S47)
In this new study, researchers focussed in dietary patterns rather than individual nutrients, food, or food groups. They found that those who ate lean protein, more fresh vegetables, fruit, fish and olive oil, had a 70% greater likelihood of achieving a successful pregnancy and birth compared to women who didn’t follow this style of diet.
The research outcomes found that out of the 244 women in the study, 229 women (93.9%) had at least one embryo transferred to their wombs; 138 (56%) had a successful implantation; 104 (42.6%) achieved a clinical pregnancy (one that can be confirmed by ultrasound); and 99 (40.5%) gave birth to a live baby.
The most important message to come from the study is that women attempting to have a baby should be encouraged to eat a healthy diet, such as a Mediterranean style diet, because it may help increase the chances of successful pregnancy and successful live birth.
The researchers did note that when it comes to conceiving a baby, diet and lifestyle are just as important for men as for women. Previous studies from the same research group showed that male partners that adhered to the same sort had better semen quality.
A healthy diet is important for all couples prior to trying to conceive and should be a part of any preconception planning by all healthcare practitioners assisting couples with fertility. While this study focussed on improving assisted reproduction pregnancy rates, this style of diet should be adopted by any couple wanting to have a baby and should be implemented at least 6 months prior to conceiving. This is why it is essential for all couples to receive counselling and guidance on the importance of a healthy diet and having a healthy lifestyle as well. This is a foundation of my fertility program that has helped over 12,500 babies into the world and continues to help many more couples reach their goal of becoming parents.
Dr Andrew Orr
-No Stone Left Unturned
A new study shows that zinc deficiency can negatively affect the early stages of egg development, reducing the ability of the egg cells to divide and be fertilised. This may affect fertility “months” in the future and why preconception planning is so important for a couple. The researchers will be presenting their results at the American Physiological Society annual meeting at Experimental Biology 2018 in San Diego.
Millions of couples around the world struggle with fertility issues and the ability to conceive a child. While there are many factors that can make conception difficult, ovulation disorders and sperm issues are a leading cause of couples not being able to conceive. Researchers are finally looking into how vitamins, amino acids and micronutrients affect fertility and in particular the early stages of egg development.
The availability of micronutrients, through diet, amino acids, antioxidants and vitamin supplements, in the ovarian environment and their influence on the development, viability and quality of egg cells is now the focus of a growing area of research. Sperm also need micronutrients, antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients for optimal growth and development too. This is nothing new to me as this is something I have always focussed on for many years as part my fertility program and as a part of preconception planning and making sure that the couple are in optimal health before trying to conceive.
In human and mammals, the ovary is made up of thousands of structures called follicles, which consist of one oocyte surrounded by layers of support cells, known as somatic cells. At puberty, the body starts to prepare groups of oocytes for maturation, ovulation and fertilization. While a female grows groups of oocytes, which begin to mature each month, only one will be ovulated and have the chance of being fertilized. Many things can influence whether an oocyte will mature correctly and the go on to one day be ovulated, including the presence of sufficient levels of certain micronutrients. To date this has probably been poorly understood by many.
Scientists have recently found more and more evidence to show that zinc is a key player in oocyte development and have been assessing the effects of zinc on egg development extremely early on in the development and maturation of oocytes.
Previously Fertility research and treatment has primarily focused on the larger follicles, called antral follicles, which respond to signals from the pituitary gland to be ovulated. In humans, preantral follicles have to keep growing for about 90 days before they are ready to ovulate. This is why it is important to focus on egg and sperm quality months before conception is to take place, because this is when both egg and sperm are still growing and maturing and need vital nutrients to develop properly.
In this new research they have examined the smaller preantral follicles, which are still growing and don’t respond to the ovulatory signal yet. Previous studies showed that zinc levels are critical in the antral follicle, but no one had tested the effect of zinc deficiency on preantral follicle growth.
The researchers collected preantral follicles and then matured them in a special cell culture medium. They compared eggs matured in a zinc deficient environment to those grown with normal levels of zinc. The researchers found that preantral zinc deficiency:
The new research shows that zinc plays an important role in oocyte growth at an earlier stage than previously investigated, which is during development and before division. The research also showed why preconception nutrients are needed months before the eggs fully develop to give the best outcomes for a healthy pregnancy.
It is estimated that about 17 percent of the global population may be deficient in zinc, due to poor dietary intake their diet. But the estimate may not include cases of marginal zinc deficiency, where people may be getting zinc in their diet, but not enough for their recommended levels. People that are more susceptible to zinc deficiency are those with dietary and disease factors such as irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, gastrointestinal disorders and liver disease, those with eating disorders, those with certain dietary restrictions, such as vegetarians or vegans, who may not then be taking supplemental zinc.
Preconception planning, care and management is so important for a healthy pregnancy to occur and should start months before trying to conceive. This is to ensure that the sperm are in optimal health and quality and also to make sure that the egg quality is optimal and in the best quality it can be as well. This is what I do for all my fertility patients and is a crucial part in the high success of my fertility program that has now helped over 12,500 babies into the world.
Dr Andrew Orr
-No Stone Left Unturned
April 3, 2018 Researchers in the United Arab Emirates (UEA) have found that women who have Polycystic Ovaries Syndrome have an increased risk of uterine cancer, reducing their chances of fertility.
The researchers have also found that women, who are overweight, or obese, are also at increased risk of uterine cancer. Being overweight and obese also increases a woman’s chances of PCOS too, but not all women with PCOS are overweight.
A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute last year has shown that endometrial cancer diagnoses have increased in 26 of 43 countries, mainly due to increasing obesity cases which themselves have tripled in the last 40 years, according to World Health Organisation.
The experts believe that obese women are 10 times more likely to suffer from uterine cancer. Being overweight, or obese also puts women at risk of other diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
There are other factors involves such as an imbalance in the hormones with over-exposure to estrogens can lead to endometrial cancer. This could be due to endogenous causes such as Polycystic Ovaries Syndrome, or exogenous causes such as unopposed estrogens in menopausal hormone therapy if progesterone is not prescribed.
Some women may have genetic family syndromes that is predispose to uterine cancer along with breast, ovarian and other cancers. The causes of uterine cancer may be multifactorial, but this new research does help with screening of women who are suffering from PCOS, or who maybe overweight, or obese.
The researchers did find that regular exercise and healthy lifestyle choices can serve as a protection against uterine cancer, but can also help with PCOS and obesity.
The researchers did warn that women in reproductive years should not take symptoms of endometrial cancer lightly, since early diagnosis and treatment is an essential key to fertility preservation.
Once a condition that only affected women of advanced years, increasing clinical evidence now suggests that even women below 40 years of age can be diagnosed with uterine cancer.
The cancer cases are on the rise due to higher incidence of known co-morbidities such as obesity, diabetes mellitus and hypertension.
Symptoms of the endometrial cancer include:
Early screening is essential and women can safely consider fertility preservation provided that the cancer is diagnosed in early stages.
Fact around uterine cancer
Women who have PCOS, or who are overweight, should be seeking help with dietary and lifestyle management to help prevent them from other risk factors such as certain cancers. The number one treatment for PCOS is changing to a low GI diet and doing regular exercise. One of the major causes of PCOS is insulin resistance and this is a big factor in many who are overweight, or obese, or have type 2 diabetes. All of these issues can be controlled with the right management.
Dr Andrew Orr
-No Stone Left Unturned
Are you sick of Painful Periods?
Are you tired of the flares from Endometriosis?
Are you getting pain with sex?
Is your period irregular and messing with your life?
Are you getting bad acne?
Are you getting increased bladder frequency?
Are you getting some incontinence with exercise?
Are you sick of having to put up with mood swings and hormone imbalance?
Sick of being “Missed” and “Dismissed” by healthcare professionals and friends telling you that your symptoms are normal?
Are you just not getting the answers to your health and gynaecological issues?
Do you just want to get your quality of life back and be able to do everything you want to do in life?
Many of the health and reproductive issues women face are not normal, but more importantly many of issues can be managed and assisted with right treatments and management protocols. The problem for most women, is knowing who to see, and where to start, for Women’s Health Consultations on the journey to a better life and better health.
Dr Andrew Orr’s multi-modality treatment approach (using medical science and complementary medicines) has assisted and helped over 12,500 plus babies into the world and helped and assisted tens of thousands of women with gynaecological conditions such as Endometriosis, Adenomyosis, PCOS, Fibroids, Bladder & Bowel Issues, Pelvic floor instability and so much more.
Dr Orr has a special interest in conditions such as period pain, endometriosis, PCOS and menstrual irregularities. You can find out more on some of his social media articles.
If you need someone who cares, someone who listens and can be your caring guide every step of the way through the challenges you are facing, then you need to book in a consultation with Dr Andrew Orr.
Dr Andrew Orr’s mottos are the “Period Pain IS NOT Normal” and he has a “No Stone Left Unturned” approach to every person he guides, manages and assists through their journey to a better quality life and better health.
Dr Andrew Orr has seen women from all over Australia and all over the world and can see you for a consultation in person, or through online services. Through easy to use online services, Dr Orr can now see anyone from all over Australia, or anywhere in the world. *(conditions may apply)
If you are suffering from a particular women’s health condition, or unknown health issue, Dr Andrew Orr is here to care for you and guide you through his step by step multimodality health management protocols and get you the help and care that you are so desperately needing.
* To find more please call Dr Andrew Orr’s clinic, or submit an online enquiry through the website.
A burning sensation in and around the vaginal, vulva area is a relatively common complaint that many women experience and something that is seen in practice very often. There are so many different causes of vaginal and vulva burning, including irritants, sexually transmitted diseases, atrophic vaginitis, thrush, lichen sclerosis, climates changes and is very common in peri-menopause and the menopause period. Each of the causes has its own set of symptoms and the treatments can all vary, depending what the cause it.
In this article we will look at the common causes of having a burning sensation in the vagina and around the vulva area. We will also look at treatments and management of these as well.
Before we start, it is important that women know that often people use the wrong term for the vagina and the surrounding area and often refer to a woman’s genitals as just being the vagina. It is important that we use the correct terms for a woman’s anatomy so that we can correctly identify were problems are.
The vagina is more the internal part of the female genitals and the vulva is the external part. Th Vulva is an umbrella term for the various parts of the external female genitals. These parts include:
Now that we understand the proper terms for the anatomy, lets have a look at what some of the common causes of burning sensation are.
There are many things that can irritate the skin of the vulva and vagina when they come into direct contact with it. This is known as contact dermatitis.
Irritants that can cause contact dermatitis, inflammation and burning symptoms include non pH neutral soaps, certain fabrics, perfumes, vaginal hygiene sprays, some lubricants and allergens. As well as burning sensations, women may experience the following:
The main way to treat irritation is to avoid whatever has caused the irritation in the first place. Avoiding the irritant and allowing the inflamed area and the skin to heal is one of the best things to do. Sometimes, a woman may require medications to settle the inflammation, or dermatitis down.
2. Candidiasis (Thrush, Yeast infections)
An overgrowth of bad bacteria in the vagina can lead to a burning, stinging sensation and one of the common causes of issues for women. Candidiasis, or thrush is very common in women and is causes through changes in the gut and vaginal flora and this then leads to overgrowth of bacteria, which causes many of the following symptoms
Women are more likely to be prone to getting thrush if they are taking antibiotics, using certain form of hormones and contraceptives, have a weakened immune system, live in humid climates, have diabetes, are pregnant, or not cleaning themselves properly. High stress can also lead to changes in the gut and vagina flora and this can also lead to thrush.
Thrush is usually an antifungal medicine called azoles. Azoles can either be used internally into the vagina, or taken orally as a capsule, or both at the same time. Pre and Probiotics should be taken to help build up the good bacteria and women should take care with personal hygiene. Partners may also need to be treated to prevent further reintroduction of thrush via sexual intercourse.
3. UTI- Urinary tract infection
When a woman has a urinary tract infection (UTI), she will be likely to feel burning in and around the vagina when urinating. There may be other presenting symptoms such as:
When a woman has a urinary tract infection antibiotics will be needed and the antibiotics needed will depend on what the cause of the infection is. Usually an infection will clear up in around 5 days after starting a course of antibiotics.Repeat medication may be required if an infection returns.
4. Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)
Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is the most common vaginal infection in women aged 15 to 44. Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is a condition that occurs when there is too much of certain kinds of bad bacteria in the vagina, affecting the balance of good bacteria and flora. One of the main symptoms of BV is a burning sensation in the vagina, which can also occur when urinating.
BV does not always cause symptoms but when it does cause symptoms, besides a burning sensation, it can cause the following:
Having BV can increase a woman’s risk of STI’s and it can also increase her risk of miscarriage, once she is pregnant. If you think that you may have the symptoms of BV, you need to have it check by your doctor as soon as possible. BV is usually treated with antibiotics and you can use complementary medicines to assist in the treatment as well. It is a good idea to restore the good bacteria into the gut and vagina as well. This can be done through the use of prebiotic and probiotic bacteria combined.
Trichomoniasis is a common STI and is caused by a parasite that is passed from one person to another during sexual intercourse. Many people may not know that have Trichomoniasis, but symptoms can present with a burning sensation and may also present with the following:
Trichomoniasis can increase a woman’s risk of miscarriage, so it need to be treated asap. Trichomoniasis is treated by using certain forms of medicines called azoles.
Gonorrhea is an sexually transmitted infection where bacteria called Neisseria gonorrheae infect mucous membranes, such as the cervix, uterus, and fallopian tubes. If a woman is infected with gonorrhoea she can experience vaginal burning when urinating, as well as the following symptoms:
Gonorrhea can be cured with the right medical treatment and it needs to be treated with specific medications. Often dual forms of medication are used for effective treatment.
Chlamydia is a common STI caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis and is transmitted through sexual intercourse with someone who has the infection.
If a woman comes in contact with chlamydia through intercourse, many times she may be asymptomatic (meaning no symptoms) and this is why it is often known as a silent infection. When symptoms do occur it can cause a burning sensation in the vagina and surrounding area. There can be other symptoms which include:
Chlamydia can cause damage to a woman’s reproductive organs and can affect her fertility, so it is important to have this treated as soon as possible. Chlamydia is treated using specific high dose antibiotics. Treatment may also require IV antibiotics and for someone to be admitted to hospital while these are being administered.
8. Genital herpes
Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted disease caused by skin-to-skin contact with a person with the herpes virus. Once a person has the virus, it stays with them for life. Sometimes the virus can remain dormant and then at certain stages of life (during stress, illness etc), it can become active and start producing symptoms.
If the virus becomes active, they might experience a burning sensation in the vagina, along with some of the following symptoms:
Painful sores, blisters, or ulcers may also develop after a few days. The symptoms of genital herpes can be treated with antiviral medication but once you have herpes, it cannot be cured. You just need to manage it and its symptoms.
9. Lichen sclerosus
Lichen sclerosus is a skin condition that affects the vulva area in women. Lichen sclerosus can cause burning sensation around the vulva area. It can also cause the following symptoms:
Postmenopausal women are most susceptible to have lichen sclerosus. The cause is thought to be an autoimmune response of some kind, since the condition is associated with autoimmune disorders such as Graves’ disease and vitiligo. Treatment includes topical steroid creams, other medications, silica cream, zinc cream and regular medical monitoring. Lichen sclerosus is linked to an increased risk of vulvar cancer.
Vaginal and vulva burning can be as a result of the perimenopause, or menopause stages of life. The shifting levels of hormones in a woman’s body before she enters menopause can affect the vagina and surrounding area. Burning sensations, in the vagina and around the vulva area is one possible result of these changes, especially during sex.
Some of the common symptoms of the perimenopause/menopause period are:
Not all women entering menopause have treatment to relieve symptoms, but there are often options available that a doctor, or healthcare practitioner, can outline, including hormone therapy. There are also many natural therapies that can help during peri-menopause and menopause stages of life.
What you can do to help yourself
Many causes of vaginal burning require medical treatment. If you are concerned, the best you can do is to see your healthcare practitioner. There are things you can do before seeing your doctor. Sometimes a ice pack or cold compress to the affected area can help reduce the burning sensation. You can also try some over the counter soothing creams, or antifungals.
Make sure you are practicing proper hygiene and cleaning the outer area of the vulva properly. Women should avoid using douches, which can affect the good bacteria and internal flora of the vagina. Wearing cotton underwear and avoiding tight-fitting clothes can help reduce irritation in the vaginal area. It is also important to avoid products that could irritate the area further, such as perfumed soap, scented toilet paper, and sanitary products with deodorant, or a plastic coating.
Some causes of vaginal burning, such as urinary tract infections, BV, STI’s, lichen sclerosis can have some serious complications if left untreated. Cancer also needs to be ruled out so this is why it is important to have any symptoms of burning checked out by your doctor.
STI’s can affect future fertility and are also harmful to women who are pregnant, as they can affect their baby, or pregnancy. Many STI’s can cause preterm delivery and also increase the risk of miscarriage.
While some causes of vaginal and vulva burning may go away on their own over time, it is still important to go and get your doctor’s advice just to be safe. If your symptoms aren’t going away, are becoming worse, or are of a concern, then the woman should go and see a doctor as soon as possible. The longer you leave something, the worse it can get and the more issues it can cause, if left untreated. Many of the cases of burning sensation in the vagina and around the vulva will be relieved once the underlying cause is treated properly and with the appropriate medicines.
While medical options will be needed for some conditions, there are complementary medicines and complementary medicine modalities that may be able to assist your particular issue, or alongside medical treatments. Please always see a qualified healthcare practitioner and not use Dr Google, or take advice from friends or family for any medical advice.
Dr Andrew Orr
-No Stone Left Unturned