Causes of bleeding in between cycles

Why am I getting bleeding between my periods?

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.

What are the causes of bleeding between periods?

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:

Ovulation

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.

Implantation bleeding

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.

Miscarriage

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.

Termination

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 

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

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

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.

Emergency contraception

The morning after pill, or emergency contraceptives, may also cause bleeding. If bleeding persists, you should seek medical advice.

Certain cancers

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.

Stress

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.

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

Reproductive Medicine & Women’s Health Medicine Specialist

-No Stone Left Unturned

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Girl Taking Medication

Could You Be Suffering With Interstitial Cystitis?

Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a chronic inflammatory bladder condition in which there is persisting chronic pelvic pain, urinary frequency and urgency, bladder pain or pressure, and it can also resemble the symptoms of a urinary tract infection, but there will be no infection present. The pain can range from being mild to severe.

Worldwide Interstitial Cystitis affects up to 100 million people and it can affect both men and women, regardless of age. IC is also known as painful bladder syndrome (PBS), bladder pain syndrome (BPS) and chronic pelvic pain (CPP)

Women with interstitial cystitis may experience many of the same symptoms as those with endometriosis. Women can have both Interstitial Cystitis and endometriosis at the same time. Some people with IC may also have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Fibromyalgia and other pain syndromes

People with IC have chronic symptoms in the urinary tract that last more than 6 weeks in duration. Infection has not been identified as a cause of IC. Physical and emotional stress can worsen the symptoms of IC.

Interstitial Cystitis can cause the following symptoms:

  • Chronic pelvic pain that lasts 6 months or more
  • Symptoms affected by the menstrual cycle
  • Pain, pressure, discomfort or unpleasant sensation that may worsen as the bladder fills
  • Urinating often alleviates the pain and may give a temporary sense of relief;
  • Suprapubic pain or discomfort
  • Pelvic pain (lower abdominal pain), sometimes extending to the lower part of the back, the groin and thighs
  • In women there may be pain in the vagina and vulva
  • In men, pain in the penis, testicles, scrotum and perineum
  • Both men and women may have pain in the urethra and rectum
  • Pain with sexual intercourse in both men and women (dyspareunia)
  • Pain on ejaculation in men
  • Pain may worsen with specific foods or drinks
  • A frequent need to urinate (frequency), including at night (night-time frequency or nocturia)
  • An often urgent or compelling need to urinate (urgency)

The pain may be experienced as discomfort or tenderness or irritation or burning sensation in the bladder, in the form of spasms in or around the bladder, or stabbing or burning vaginal pain or simply a feeling of pressure on or in the bladder or a feeling of fullness even when there is only a little urine in the bladder.

In many people, the pain is relieved temporarily by urination, while other people may also feel strong pain following urination.

The pain or discomfort may be constant or intermittent. It may also be felt throughout the pelvic floor, including the lower bowel system and rectum. In some patients the pain may be very severe and debilitating.

Other people, particularly in the early stages, may have milder frequency with/without urgency and without a true sensation of pain. What they may experience, however, is a feeling of heaviness, fullness, discomfort or pressure.

Diagnosis

During the evaluation of potential IC, several tests may be completed to make a diagnosis. These tests may include taking a full medical history, completing a bladder diary, pelvic examination, including a neurological exam and urinalysis to rule out or diagnose an infection

Other diagnostic tests that can be carried out include:

Cystoscopy: This is performed inserting a tube, with a camera attached, into the bladder to evaluate the lining and to look for inflammation and signs of disease. A specialist may also evaluate the bladder capacity with a cystoscopy.

Urodynamics: The bladder is filled to test its capacity by measuring the pressure during filling and voiding. These tests evaluate the function of the bladder, urethra, and sphincter muscles.

Biopsy: During a cystoscopy, a biopsy may or may not be taken to rules out cancer or other inflammatory bladder conditions that can cause pain similar to IC.

Potassium sensitivity test: This is a test in which potassium and water are instilled into the bladder. In healthy bladders, pain is not felt with either solution. In cases of IC, however, pain is typically experienced when the potassium is instilled.

Diet

People with IC may be sensitive to certain foods and beverages. There is a range of items a person may need to excluded from their diet after receiving an IC diagnosis. This will be different for each individual but there are certain foods and drinks that an individual with IC should be aware of potentially needing to avoid. There are food and drinks such as:

  • tea and coffee
  • Soft drinks and soda (including diet drinks)
  • alcohol
  • citrus, citrus drinks and cranberry
  • artificial sweeteners
  • spicy food

Some people with IC may need to a food elimination diet over several weeks to see which specific foods and drinks may be exacerbating their symptoms. There are many foods that do not have an irritating effect on the bladder and contain vital nutrients to help fight disease. This is why elimination diets and specific dietary requirements need to be done under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

People with IC should also give up smoking if they are a smoker, as the chemicals can affect this condition too.

Treatment

The treatment of interstitial cystitis is complex and needs a multimodality approach to treat it effectively. It may require treatments such as:

  • Urodynamic Therapies
  • Physiotherapy with a specialised pelvic floor physiotherapist
  • Pelvic Floor Therapy (Kegels, Yoni eggs, Ba Wen Balls, internal TENS)
  • Surgery, including laser surgery
  • Neuromodulators, such as electrical nerve stimulators
  • Injections, such as Nerves blocks, Antispasmodics and Botox therapy
  • Pain medications- including narcotics, NSAIDS, Anti-inflammatories,
  • Hormone therapy, both oral and intravaginal
  • Antidepressants
  • Acupuncture
  • Pilates and Yoga
  • Exercise
  • Herbal Medicines, including Chinese Herbal Medicines
  • Amino acids, vitamins and antioxidants
  • Sex Therapy and counselling
  • Mindfulness
  • Adopting health sleeping habits

Your specialist or healthcare provider will discuss the best forms of treatment for your individual case. People with IC should also be referred to a Urodynamic and Pelvic Floor Specialist who specialises in this area.

Complications

Complications from IC can vary between individuals and why there is no one treatment fix all approach to this conditions. IC can affect a person life on so many levels. It can affect their bladder volume, their quality of life, their sex life, their libido and have an affect on sexual intimacy and it can also cause them emotional distress. It is a complex condition that can affect every aspect of a person’s life both physically and mentally and why a multimodality treatment approach is needed.

Causes

The exact cause of IC is not known, but there are several theories as to what triggers the condition. Some possible causes include:

  • Damage due to previous surgery
  • Defects in the lining of the urinary bladder that cause irritation
  • Overstretching of the bladder due to trauma
  • Pelvic floor muscle dysfunction
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Spinal cord trauma
  • Genetics
  • Allergy

IC is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects many people world wide. It cannot be fully cured and requires close clinical management and care. A multimodality treatment approach needs to be adopted that is suited to the individual. When this is done properly, people with IC can still have a good quality of life.

Recommended treatment usually involves diet and lifestyle changes, stopping smoking, drinking less before bedtime, and scheduling planned toilet breaks to ensure the bladder does not get too full.

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

Reproductive Medicine and Women’s Health Medicine Specialist

-No Stone Left Unturned

Dr Andrew Orr Logo Normal 20 07 2016

 

Bladder Endometriosis

What is Bladder Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition where tissue resembling the uterus lining grows outside the uterus, such as on the ovaries or fallopian tubes. Endometriosis can spread to every organ in the body and can grow inside, or on the outer surface of the bladder.This is what is known as Bladder Endometriosis.

To learn more about endometriosis and to learn about the symptoms of this disease, you can click on this link to find out more (Click Here)

If endometriosis forms in, or on the bladder, it that can cause severe discomfort and pain. It can also make a woman want to urinate more and also with urgency, pain, burning and frequency. There are other bladder conditions with the same, or similar symptoms, but endometriosis can also aggravate these conditions, or be present at the same time as well. I will discuss the other forms of bladder pain and interstitial cystitis, which can have similar symptoms to endometriosis affecting the bladder, or bladder endometriosis.

Prevalence
Bladder endometriosis is not common. Reports state that around 2 percent of women with endometriosis may have endometrial growths in their urinary system, with endometriosis growing in, or on the bladder. But even if endometriosis isn’t on, or in the bladder, it can still cause issues with the bladder and cause associated symptoms.

What are the Symptoms of Endometriosis in, or on the bladder?
One of the main symptoms bladder endometriosis is pain when the bladder is full and a woman needing to urinate more frequently. It can also cause symptoms resembling a urinary tract infection, but no infection will be found to be present.  Women do need to be aware that a significant portion of women with endometriosis are asymptomatic (meaning no symptoms) and may not be aware that they have endometriosis until they have investigations for another reason, such as not being able to fall pregnant.

Some women are more likely to notice symptoms of endometriosis around the time they are due to have their menstrual cycle.

Other symptoms of bladder endometriosis may include the following:
• More frequent need to urinate
• Needing to urinate urgently
• Feeling pain when the bladder is full
• Stinging and burning or painful sensations when passing urine
• Seeing blood in the urine
• Experiencing pelvic pain
• Having lower back pain, more on one side of the body

Diagnosis
The definitive diagnosis for endometriosis is via a laparoscopy as this is the gold standard investigation for investigating disease states inside the pelvic cavity. A biopsy is usually taken at the same time to check the microscopic implants of endometriosis, which cannot be seen visually. Normal ultrasound, transvaginal or abdominal, cannot diagnose endometriosis. Blood tests cannot diagnose endometriosis either.

If Endometriosis has spread inside the bladder a cystoscopy would be needed also. A cystoscopy is where a small scope is inserted into the bladder and the specialist can then see if there is endometriosis, or other inflammatory disease in the bladder lining.

The specialist will then see what stage the endometriosis is at. This is a staging system from 1-4, but this is only to let the surgeon know how much of the disease is present. The staging system does not have anything to do with pain levels, as pain levels “are not” related to the extent of the disease. A woman with stage 1 endometriosis could have more pain than someone who is stage 4, and someone who is stage 4, may not have any pain, or associated symptoms at all.

Treatment
There is no current cure for endometriosis. However, the condition can be managed through a multimodality approach that involves surgery, hormones, pain medication, physiotherapy, herbal medicines, acupuncture, yoga, pilates, diet, lifestyle changes, counselling and an individualised approach. Women with endometriosis need a team approach.

Surgery, via a laparoscopy, is the most common treatment, and definitive diagnosis, for those with endometriosis. If endometriosis had been found in the bladder transurethral surgery will be done at the same time. This involves a scope inside the bladder to cut away any endometriosis in the bladder lining. Sometimes a partial cystectomy is needed to remove an affected part of the bladder.
While surgery is a much-needed part of the treatment and diagnosis of endometriosis, it is not a cure. Endometriosis can, and often does, grow back again, even with the best medical forms of treatment.

Fertility
Bladder endometriosis does not have any effect on a woman’s fertility. However, endometriosis does grow in other parts of a woman’s body and reproductive system such as the ovaries, which may affect a woman’s likelihood of conception. But, endometriosis does not always affect fertility.

The Difference Between Bladder endometriosis interstitial cystitis
When endometriosis gets in the bladder it can cause very similar symptoms to another bladder condition called interstitial cystitis. This can often make it very hard to differentiate on symptoms alone. It is also very possible to have both interstitial cystitis and endometriosis present at the same. This is why further investigations are needed to definitively diagnose both these conditions.
I will do a separate post on interstitial cystitis so that people know more about this inflammatory condition that affects the bladder

Outlook for Women With Bladder Endometriosis
At present there is no real known cause of endometriosis and only speculation as to what the true cause is. We know that endometriosis is estrogen driven (not from estrogen dominance), but the most likely cause is probably due to genetic reasons and being a hereditary condition passed on through the parental mode of inheritance and then expressed into the body. The how, when and why will hopefully be answered in the not too distant future hopefully.

Women with endometriosis in the bladder do need to be careful and managed properly as it can cause kidney damage. There is also some research to show that endometriosis in the bladder can lead to cancer in the bladder, but this is thought to be very rare.

For now, anyone with endometriosis needs to be clinically managed properly through a multimodality team approach mentioned before. Let’s get more education out there so that women with this horrible disease have a voice and we end the silence for these women as well. Hopefully through education, funding and further research, this leads to the cure that women with endometriosis so desperately deserve.

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr                                                                                                                                            (Reproductive Medicine & Women’s Health Medicine Specialist)

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Period Pain IS NOT Normal

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Women with Endometriosis More Likely to Suffer Migraines

Besides endo belly, pelvic pain, period pain etc, one of the other symptoms I see women with endometriosis experience is migraines. While not all migraines are just related to endometriosis and can be from a variety of factors, having endometriosis could give you more of a chance of having migraines.

Recent research published in the Journal of Fertility and Sterility has shown that Adolescents with endometriosis are more likely to experience migraines than adolescents without endometriosis. While the focus was on adolescents, it would be safe to say that any woman with endometriosis may be more likely to suffer migraines as well.

In the research, it was shown that adolescents with endometriosis were more likely to experience migraines (69.3%) than those without endometriosis (30.7%)

Among those with endometriosis, age of when the period started was associated inversely with the odds of migraines. The research also found that women with endometriosis and migraines have more dysmenorrhea than those without migraines.

The research showed a linear relationship exists between migraine pain severity and the odds of endometriosis, suggesting heightened pain sensitivity for adolescents with endometriosis. Due to the strong correlation, patients who present with either condition should be screened for comorbidity to maximize the benefits of care.

While the research showed a relationship between endometriosis and migraines it is also important to rule out other factors that cause migraines too, if you have endometriosis. For sufferers of the disease, it is important not to just blame every migraine on endometriosis. Diet, additives, stress, tight muscles, sublaxations, nerve impingement, sinusitis and many other factors need to be ruled out as well, so that the actual cause of a migraine is not missed.

For sufferers of Migraines please make sure you read my article on how to banish migraines too.

https://drandreworr.com.au/banishing-headaches-and-migraines/

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

Reproductive Medicine & Women’s Health Medicine Specialist

-No Stone Left Unturned

Dr Andrew Orr Logo Retina 20 07 2016

Banishing Headaches and Migraines

A multi-modality approach was one of the best ways I found to help Headaches & Migraines

Many years ago I used to suffer lot of debilitating migraines and headaches. Actually if I did get a headache, I was thankful because that was never as bad as a migraine, that could make you bed ridden with a head feeling like ten hangovers accompanied with the vomiting and light sensitivity. Even when the migraine had subsided I still felt washed out and like a train had run over me. Thankfully I haven’t had a migraine for many years and all thanks to a combination of chiropractic, acupuncture and diet and lifestyle changes.

Like many migraine and headache sufferers, mine were most likely caused by a neck injury, or whip lash, along with blocked sinuses. Current research shows that most headaches and migraines have a neck injury or neck complaint as a predisposing factor. Some neck injuries could go back to childhood or even a traumatic birth and you might not even know about it.

While neck related issues seem to be a major cause, there are many other contributing factors such as poor diet and lifestyle habits. Too many high GI carbohydrate foods and highly refined foods that interfere with blood sugars, can also cause headaches and migraine. Certain chemicals and additives in foods can also exacerbate headaches and migraines too. Let’s not forget how alcohol can be a big factor in headaches and migraines too.

Lack of fluids and inadequate hydration can also be a big cause of headaches and migraines too. While water is important to hydrate us, water alone is not enough. We need to make sure we get electrolytes into us as well. These need to be proper electrolytes, not lolly water such as sports drinks such as gatorade and powerade.

An imbalance of hormones, or hormonal surges, can also cause headaches and migraines and can be a big problem for women around the time of their menstrual cycle.

One other area that is overlooked is that the sinuses are inflamed or blocked and the associated inflammation and blockage is causing pressure and pain and causing headaches and migraines. This is a big one for many people and sadly, all too often, it is overlooked. A simple CT scan of the paranasal sinuses can see if the sinus cavity is blocked. If the sinus cavity is blocked by polypoid disease, or obstruction, it may require surgical intervention.

Lastly the biggest headache producer of all….STRESS!

Stress will tighten up those shoulder and neck muscles and then constrict all the blood flow to the head and the next thing you know it is headache and migraine city.

Whichever way you look at it, headaches are caused from an imbalance in the body and need to be rectified. Unfortunately too many people use the band aid treatment of painkillers to try and deal with the mighty headache or migraine. Nobody can argue with the painkilling properties of a dose of panadeine forte or a pethidine injection. I’d had many a trip to the doctor to get a shot in the behind. It was either that, or my head felt like it was about to explode. Worse still the pain often gets that bad that dying would be a relief. Well, that’s how it seemed anyway. I’m sure anyone who has suffered a really bad migraine wouldn’t have minded ending it all to get out of pain.

The only problem with painkillers, is they really don’t look at fixing the cause of the problem. Not only that, all painkillers have long term side effects that can be very bad for your health and some medication can be very addictive.

Like any health problem you have to look at treating the cause and not just the symptoms. A headache or migraine is actually the symptom of a much bigger cause. The problem for most people is that they only treat this problem symptomatically or seek help when they get a migraine or headache. It is the good old band aid approach to health care.

So how do you treat headaches and migraines and try and prevent them from coming back?

The answer as I’ve said is using a multimodality approach use the ancient wonders of Acupuncture, the more modern practices of Chiropractic and addressing dietary and lifestyle changes. Of course any other medically related issues need to be ruled out too. Like any health related condition, the management of headaches and migraines require a series of treatments to fix this problem, not a one off when you are experiencing a headache or migraine. Unfortunately I used to be one of those people who only do something about my headaches and migraines when I was suffering one. This was until I learnt that if I had regular treatments while I didn’t have a headache, then the practitioners could get to the bottom of the cause of my problems and prevent a migraine from happening. I wish I’d learnt that lesson sooner.

You will also need to address any dietary, hormonal and lifestyle issues that may be also exacerbating, or causing your headaches and migraines too. You also need to rule out any medically related issues as well and this can be done alongside other treatment modalities at the same time.  This is how I now treat people and why I use a multimodality approach to assist people and give them the best results.

Just like many people have a misconception about getting Acupuncture, because they have a fear of needles or it may hurt, many people have misconception of Chiropractic. For one, just like acupuncture, it doesn’t hurt. and two, it isn’t about cracking bones. No bones are cracked, only gently realigned by expertly trained doctors whom have spent 5 years at university to do so. Before your first treatment, a good practitioner will usually take a series of x-rays to evaluate what needs to be done before ever adjusting the body. This way the practitioner can accurately and precisely pin point the exact cause of your particular problem. Just like with any healthcare professional, a series of questions is asked to get precise evaluation of the overall cause of your particular issue and then only after a treatment plan formulated, is the patient actually treated. Just like Chinese medicine, chiropractic looks at he cause of the problem to treat the symptoms. This is why they go so well together.

When I finally did get my headaches and migraines sorted, I found that it was a combination of acupuncture, chiropractic, diet and lifestyle changes that gave me the best results. This is why to this day that I firmly believe that with any health condition, headaches and migraines included, that a multimodality treatment approach is the only way to go. All of this can be done alongside medical treatment options as well. Of course the cause of migraines and headaches are different for each individual and this is why individual assessment and management protocols are needed for each person. This is why people need to see an appropriate healthcare professional and not try to manage headaches and migraines on their own.

If you need help with Headaches and Migraines, give our clinic a call and let’s assist you with getting the help that you so desperately need.

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

(Reproductive Medicine & Women’s Health Specialist)

-Women’s & Men’s Health Advocate

-No Stone Left Unturned

 

What Are The Signs & Symptoms of Iodine Deficiency?

Why does the body need Iodine?

Iodine is a water soluble mineral that is needed in our diet to ensure that the thyroid works properly.The thyroid gland uses iodine to make thyroid hormones.

Thyroid hormones play an important role in a wide range of bodily functions, including metabolism, bone growth, immune response, and development of brain and the central nervous system (CNS).

Iodine helps convert thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) to triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). This conversion is important for the thyroid to function properly.

Iodine is essential for brain development, bone health, healing, immune response, energy, metabolism and the development of the central nervous system. We also now know that we need iodine to help with pregnancy and fertility. Iodine deficiency during pregnancy and early childhood can also lead to developmental problems.

An iodine imbalance can lead to an overactive, or under-active thyroid.

Being deficient in iodine limits the ability of the thyroid gland to make hormones, causing hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism happens when a person’s thyroid does not produce enough thyroid hormones. Hypothyroidism can cause symptoms of fatigue, depression, forgetfulness, hair weakness, hair loss, dry skin, weight gain, cold intolerance and constipation.

Signs of iodine deficiency

According to new research published last year, it was estimated that about a third of people are deficient in iodine. Here are some of the common signs that could suggest that a person may have an iodine deficiency.

1.Weight gain

One of the most noticeable signs of an iodine deficiency is unexpected weight gain.

When a person has a healthy metabolism, they burn calories to give them their energy. Hypothyroidism, or a lack of thyroid hormones, can slow down a person’s metabolism and this can then lead to weight gain. It is important to remember that weight gain is not always a sign of an iodine deficiency. It may only be a symptom when weight gain cannot otherwise be explained. Eating foods that are highly refined and high in sugars are probably the most common form of increase weight.

2.Feeling weak & lethargic

When a person has an iodine deficiency, they may feel weak and lethargic. Hypothyroidism can slow down a person’s metabolic rate and then they burn fewer calories for energy. When they have less energy, the muscles do not work as efficiently and then the person would feel weak. But, feeling weak may also be from other factors such as lack of sleep, lack of essential nutrients, lack of food intake and nutrient deficiencies. This may also be a sign of other health issues and needs to be investigated if it goes on too long.

3.Feeling tired

Unexplained tiredness may be a symptom of iodine deficiency. When a person is iodine deficient their metabolic rate may drop and this could cause them to feel tired. But, feeling tired does not always mean a person is iodine deficient. As mentioned before, if a person is not getting enough rest, it is natural for them to feel tired. Feeling tried could also be a sign of iron deficiency, or other health issues, but, if tiredness is unexplained, it may be a symptom of an iodine deficiency.

4.Hair Loss

Hair loss is another possible sign that a person might have an iodine deficiency.

Thyroid hormones support the renewal of hair follicles and when someone has hypothyroidism, a shortage of thyroid hormones means the hair follicles stop being renewed. It is natural for hair to fall out, but it is normally renewed. But, while hair loss can be a sign of iodine deficiency, it can also be caused by other hormonal issues as well as stress. Stress is one of the most common causes of hair loss.

5.Drying skin

Having dry, flaky skin could be a sign of hypothyroidism, and can be the result of iodine deficiency. Thyroid hormones help with the renewal of new skin cells. A lack of these hormones and a deficiency of iodine, may cause dead skin cells to build up, sometimes resulting in dry, flaky skin. While dry skin can be caused by iodine deficiency, it can also be caused from other factors such as lack of hydration, lack of essential oils and other health conditions

6.Feeling cold

Iodine deficiency causes a lack of thyroid hormones, which can then affect a person’s metabolic rate to slow down. As their metabolism slows down, a person produces less energy to give the body warmth. A lack of energy and lack of body heat will mean a person is more likely to feel the cold. But, feeling cold isn’t always a sign of iodine deficiency and can be a sign of lack of circulation and other health issues.

7.Having a slow heart rate

Having an iodine deficiency may make a person’s heart beat more slowly.

When a person’s heart rate slows down, they may feel a bit dizzy, nauseas, or sick. It may also make them feel a bit faint. But feeling this way may also be a sign of other health issues, or it could also be a sign of a virus, or issue with someone’s cardiovascular system and needs to be checked out.

8.Learning or memory problems

Thyroid hormones are important for brain development and Iodine deficiency may cause a lack of these hormones, resulting in problems with memory and learning. Studies have shown that people, who are deficient in iodine and have lower level of thyroid hormone, may have parts of their brain being smaller and this then affects their memory. But while this may be the case, learning and memory problems could be caused from other health issues and need to be checked out properly

9.Pregnancy complications

Iodine deficiency may cause issues during pregnancy for the developing baby and it can be harder to get enough iodine during pregnancy. Not only does a women need iodine for herself, but she needs it for the growing baby inside of her as well.

Thyroid hormones are necessary for the healthy development of a baby before it is born. A lack of iodine and thyroid hormones may prevent the baby’s brain developing properly. It may also affect their immune system and affect their growth. If a pregnant woman’s body is too low in iodine it could cause her baby to be stillborn.

10.Heavy or irregular periods

Deficiency in iodine can lead to low thyroid hormone levels, which can then affect the levels of hormones that regulate a woman’s periods. Iodine deficiency can lead to periods that are heavier than usual, or the periods that are more or less often than usual. While, iodine deficient could cause abnormal abnormalities in a woman’s menstrual cycle, irregular or heavy periods are usually a sign of gynaecological conditions that needs to be evaluated by a specialist.

11.Swollen neck and goitres

If a person is deficient in iodine, the thyroid gland can become enlarged and this can then make the neck become swollen. This can lead to a condition called goitre. Abnormalities with the thyroid gland and hormones can also cause growths called nodules.

When the thyroid does not have enough iodine, it will try to absorb more from the blood and this then causes the thyroid to become enlarged, making the neck appear swollen.

Complications and diagnosis.

An iodine deficiency may happen when a person does not consume enough foods that are rich in iodine, or have adequate supplementation. This deficiency is more likely to affect pregnant women who need a higher intake of iodine.

Pregnant women and their babies experience the most serious complications of iodine deficiency. In the worst cases, it can lead to babies being stillborn or born with mental issues due to stunted brain development.

If you think you may be deficient in iodine you can go to your doctor and they can organise proper testing for you. The most effective way to diagnose iodine deficiency is via a urine test.

If you have a family history of thyroid issue, or are to conceive, or are pregnant, you should be supplementing with iodine based multivitamins or individual supplements. A person needs to consume 150 micrograms (mcg) of iodine each day to maintain a healthy level for their body. You should also be looking at eating iodine rich foods daily as well.

The following are good sources of iodine:

  • Seaweed
  • Cod, tuna, salmon and white fish
  • Plain Yogurt, Cheese and Milk
  • Iodized salt
  • Shell fish and oysters
  • Eggs
  • Dried prunes

Regard

Dr Andrew Orr

Reproductive Medicine & Women’s Health Medicine Specialist

-No Stone Left Unturned

 

 

Alternative Ways to Assist Pain and Help with Pain Management

After my recent posts of the management of pain, pain medications and how pain affects so many people lives daily, it is pretty clear that there are lots of people out there in pain. Worst still it highlights what I have known for many years, is that many people who are in pain, or have inflammatory pain conditions, are not being managed really well. Unfortunately many are also trying to manage their own pain conditions and may even be dependent on pain medications. Some of these medications taken long term may in fact be exacerbating their current symptoms, or actually making their pain and inflammation worse. Some of the medications may in fact by shutting off the body’s ability to know that it isn’t actually in pain anymore, but the body actually thinks it is. It is such vicious never ending cycle for many people and there seems to be no long-term, or short term, solutions for many who have to endure the physical and emotional consequences of all these things combined.

The one thing for sure, is that pain often isn’t managed well and there need to be more done to help those in pain. But, it also requires those in pain to seek proper help too. Again it is a bit of complex issue and many in pain often get dismissed initially as well, or are looked at as people who are dependent on pain medications just seeking more pain meds.

Pain does need proper management and if pain is not managed properly, it can do more damage than the medications health professionals, and the person in pain, are worrying about. But sometimes the blanket pain medication treatments don’t work, or they just aren’t enough, and this is why when it comes to pain, it need to be managed with a multi-modality approach. It really cannot just be all about taking medication, or telling people to just go and learn to live with their pain and all will be OK. It won’t be OK and we need to start to educate all concerned that there other options that may assist the current medical treatments and management strategies.

Let’s look at some of the alternatives to pain medications and how these things can help assist those in pain and can be used alongside medications to give better control of pain and also help in reducing dependency of pain medications.

1.Watch your diet

Eating the right foods may provide some protection from the symptoms of pain and the disease state that you may have. The role of diet in inflammatory conditions has been investigated in recent years due to the influence of diet on some of the processes linked to certain disease states that are causing pain and inflammation on a daily basis. Many of the so called anti-inflammatory diets out there are now outdated and have outdated nutritional and dietary advice that don’t really help much at all.

People in pain need to adopt an anti-inflammatory (grain free, primal, ketogenic style diet) to assist with settling any inflammation in the body and also helping the immune system.  This also needs to include prebiotic and probiotic bacteria to help with digestive function, immunity and gut health.  Regulation and restoration of gut function and the microbiome is so important and assisting with pain and inflammatory conditions.

Excess bad carbohydrates increase insulin response and this then causes the body to store fats and stops the burning of fat. This also leads to inflammatory conditions and more inflammation in the body. Excess body fat, now known as obestrogens (because it is estrogenic) needs to be controlled and managed through diet and exercise too. Excess fat and excess weight all lead to inflammation and stress on the body and this can also exacerbate pain and pain pathway.

Certain environmental estrogens, known as endocrine disruptors,  such as preservatives, plastics, pesticides and insecticides that can be ingested through certain nutrients have been suggested as risk factors for exacerbating pain and creating inflammation in the body too

2.Try complementary medicine and complementary therapies

Many people with pain and inflammatory disease states find symptom relief from using a range of different complementary and alternative medicines. There is some good solid research to show that certain natural medicines may help with the management of pain and inflammatory disease states and the associated symptoms. There is now some good research to support many natural medicines treatments such as Acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, vitamins, omega 3 oils, probiotics, chiropractic/osteopathy, Yoga, Pilates and more.

Out of all the natural medicine therapies, Acupuncture and Chinese medicines has been one of the most researched and have shown to be the most beneficial and to assist those suffering pain and chronic inflammatory disease and their associated symptoms. Acupuncture has been widely researched to assist with many pain conditions and is now even used in some emergency departments around the world, for acute and chronic pain. Chinese herbal medicines have been used for centuries for pain and inflammatory disease and modern research has shown that certain Chinese herbs and herbal medicine formulas may assist with pain and painful conditions.

Certain strains of prebiotics and probiotics have also been shown to help with the immune system, microbiome, bowel, and digestive associated symptoms of some pain conditions. Probiotics have also been shown to not only help with digestive and immune function, but also with the psychological function as well. It does need to be specific strains of probiotics though. Correction of the microbiome, but using pre and probiotics may assist in reduction of inflammation in the body and thus assist with pain and painful disease states.

There are also western herbal medicines and naturopathic herbal formulations that can assist with pain and assist with pain management. There are also certain amino acids and nutritional medicine supplements that have been shown to assist with managing pain and inflammatory conditions. Like any conditions, management need to be done on an individualised approach and what works for one person, may not work for another.

Chiropractic and Osteopathy have been used for centuries to assist with pain and pain conditions. By correction of the sublaxations and correction of posture, this can assist in better nerve functioning, better blood flow to muscles and also help with pain reduction and reducing inflammation.

Just like with medical treatments, when it comes to complementary medicines, it is important to find someone who is a qualified practitioner and who specialises in pain management. Just like in the medical model, this can also be hard to find. Please find someone who is a registered healthcare practitioner, or part of an association for qualified healthcare practitioners.

3.Boost intake of omega-3 fatty acids

The is lots of research on the health benefits of taking Omega 3 fatty acids and a diet high in these healthy fats. Omega 3 fatty acids may assist many inflammatory conditions such as depression, cardiovascular disease, arthritic conditions and many conditions where inflammatory processes are then leading to pain.

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

Eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, flaxseeds, almonds, and walnuts, may be helpful for pain and inflammatory conditions. Another way to get Omega 3 fatty acids is through supplementation, but please make sure you are using a practitioner only grade omega 3 supplement to ensure higher potency and better quality control.  Just remember, it is all about reducing inflammation.

4.Exercise

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

While resistance training and high intensity interval training may assist in pain management and reducing inflammation in the body, some of the more gentle forms of exercise, such as Yoga and Pilates, may also assist in reducing pain and inflammatory response in the body too. Yoga and Pilates can stretch and strengthen your muscles, help with core strength, help with circulation, which all may be beneficial for pelvic pain management and stress reduction.There has been lots of research into the benefits of Yoga and Pilates and how it can assist pain and inflammation.

No matter what exercise, you choose, exercise may help those with pain and inflammation in many ways, including:

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

Research has shown that those who engage in some sort of regular exercise have fewer symptoms of pain and less inflammation that those people who do not participate in regular exercise.

5.Managing Stress Levels

Stress and emotional factors are probably one of the most under rated causes of pain and inflammatory response. Stress and emotional factors are big factors in any disease and can make any disease worse. Not only can stress and emotional disorders be exacerbated by pain and inflammation, but so can pain and inflammatory symptoms be exacerbated by stress and emotional disorders, in a never-ending cycle. Pain and inflammation could contribute to making your stress levels, or emotion issues worse, due to the impact that the associated symptoms have on all aspects of your life, including family and personal relationships and work.

Stress management, Counselling, Mindfulness and Relaxation techniques may all assist in reducing stress and emotional disturbances that exacerbates inflammation and pain pathways and painful conditions.

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

6.TENS and Neuromodulators

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is an inexpensive nonpharmacological intervention used in the treatment of acute and chronic pain conditions. These small battery-powered devices deliver alternating current via cutaneous electrodes positioned near the painful area. The parameters of pulse frequency, and pulse intensity are adjustable and linked to TENS efficacy. TENS activates a complex neuronal network to result in a reduction in pain

Neuromodulation is the process by which nervous activity is regulated by way of controlling the physiological levels of several classes of neurotransmitters. Many pain management specialist now use a common form of neuromodulation involves using a device to deliver electrical current in therapeutic doses to the spinal cord to disrupt pain signals from the spinal cord to the brain, converting them to a more pleasant tingling sensation. This has been proven a safe and effective therapeutic approach for managing chronic pain of the arms and legs, neck and back often after spine surgery, or for other neuropathic conditions.

In Summary

It is important to know that people with pain and disease states that are causing chronic pain, will need a multi-modality, or team approach to deal with this disease. The team you need and modalities that you will need will be dependent on your individual symptoms. This will mean finding practitioners who will listen to you and also be open to trying some of the alternatives to some of the pain medications and opiates alongside pharmaceutical medications. As I said before, these alternatives may assist in treating your pain and managing your pain long term and also help with reducing some of the pain medications you may have been dependent on. Try and find healthcare professionals that can offer you a multi-modality approach for ongoing care and support and who also have a team of other people who specialise in the disease you are suffering from too. Again, the approach that you and your pain management specialist, or healthcare provider, choose to take will vary depending on your signs and symptoms.

Before starting any pain management, or new treatment, it is important to know all of your options and the potential outcomes of all of them and to know that the people that you are seeing are specialists in your condition and know how to manage the disease properly. That can often be the hardest thing to find and why you need to do your homework and see people who are specialists in this area of medicine. Too many people are missed and dismissed purely because they are just seeing the wrong people in the first place.

Lastly, if you are in pain and have a pain condition, please do not try and keep managing it yourself, or try to self-medicate. You need to be managed properly and should be getting the advice of a professional, not your friends, family or social media buddies. Pain needs to be managed and it needs to be managed properly and this also goes for pain medications as well. If you are still in pain and pain symptoms are getting worse, this means that you need to get something done about it because your disease may in fact be getting worse, or your body may not be responding to medication any longer.

Take care

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

Reproductive Medicine and Women’s Health Medicine Specialist

-No Stone Left Unturned

 

Knowing All Too Well What It Is Like To Live With Pain

I often get asked how I know so much about pain and living with disease state and pain on a day to day basis. While I am a man and cannot truly understand what it is like to have a gynaecological condition and the associated symptoms, I can understand how pain can affect ones daily life and how hard it is to manage a chronic disease state.

You see, I too have a chronic disease state that was missed and dismissed for many years. It causes me pain when the disease grows back and the inflammation gets bad. It has required me to have multiple surgeries, because it was missed for so long. Even though surgery helps, it isn’t a cure and the disease can grow back and then start causing pain and associated symptoms again. Sounds a lot like endometriosis doesn’t it?

While I don’t have endometriosis, I do have a disease that is very much like endometriosis and just this week I have had my 7th surgery for this disease.

My disease state grows in my sinus cavities and it can cause such excruciating pain in my head and make me feel really unwell. It’s really hard to use your brain to shut off pain, when the actual pain is in your head and it feels like my head is going to explode. If the disease gets out of control too much, it could cause extreme pressure and actually cave the bones around the sinuses inwards, so it can be dangerous.  I wish someone had listened to me and helped me earlier on so that I wouldn’t have to have been going through the surgery again.

But, I have learned to find the right team to help me. I have learned to manage pain levels using a multimodality treatment approach. I have learned that diet and lifestyle choices can help me manage my disease state. This is why when I talk to all of you, I understand what you all go through and why I am so passionate about telling you all the facts and helping you get the right help and intervention. They always say that to truly understand pain, you have to experience it yourself. Unfortunately I know all to well how pain can affect the whole body, not just where the pain is orginating from.

While I know first hand how bad pain can affect ones life, I have also learnt that the disease does not define me. I am not the disease and I have made a conscious decision to be proactive with my health and not live and breath the disease.

While it is good to be educated and proactive about your health, it isn’t good to live in your disease and let it overcome you and rule your life either. It is about getting up each day, making healthy choices, pushing yourself to move forward and remember that it is all about small steps forward, not matter what is going on.

I found the more I focussed on my disease, the worse things became and I got caught up in the pain cycle and the disease took over and it just made things too hard on both a physical and emotional level. Sure, there are days when you will have a bad day and that is ok. I know I had days where I had to take painkillers and just get on with it and nobody would ever have known how much pain I was in. Sure, there are going to be days when it doesn’t seem fair and that nobody can truly understand what it is like for you. The main thing is to not live in the ‘poor me’ syndrome and not let the disease define you. It is about overcoming the disease and being you again. It is about finding your team to help you. It is about finding that support you need and not buying into the diagnosis and living in the disease.

The more positive you are, the happier you are, the quicker you will heal and the treatments will work better too. Whatever you need to do, you just need to go and do it. If that means seeing a counsellor, seeing a pain specialist, seeing a gynaecologist, seeing a nutritionist, getting some acupuncture, seeing a physiotherapist, seeing a chiropractor/osteopath, taking pain killers, taking herbal medicines, or whomever and what you need that can help you, then you need to do it.

I also know all too well how hard it can be to get started, but when you get started and you keep going and you find the right team of people to help you, that is when you get the results. Never underestimate the power of positivity and never think that all is lost and get lost in your disease state and symptoms. Even if you make two steps forward and then one step back, you are still moving forward. Try and do something you love each day and try and find joy and positivity in your day. It is so important.

Lastly, never ever just take one opinion and always get multiple opinions about what you are experiencing. This is why I offer a multimodality approach for people and offer a multitude of services like a one stop shop. It is why my motto is “No Stone Left Unturned” because I dont want to see anyone be missed and dismissed. The reason I do a multimodality approach and use and integrative medicine approach, is so I can help people as much as possible on my own and then only have to refer for things like surgery and some other specialty areas that I do not do.

Please remember that pain, no matter where it presents in the body, is a sign of inflammation and a sign that something isn’t right. It is a sign that something needs to be investigated and managed and is you are being missed and dismissed constantly, then you need to find another healthcare practitioner, or a team of healthcare people that can help you moving forward and get some sort of normalcy back in your life. If you can’t find the right person, or team, then book in and see me instead. I’ll make sure “No Stone is Left Unturned” and I also understand what it is like to live with pain. You wont be missed and dismissed at my clinic. Don’t forget that I can do online consultations for people that live interstate, aren’t local, or live overseas. I can be your eyes and ears and be your guide and coordinator too. I understand pain.

Take care

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

Reproductive Medicine & Women’s Health Medicine Specialist

Women’s and Mens Health Advocate

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Period Pain IS NOT Normal

 

 

Early Intervention & Early Management Is Vital For Gynaecological Conditions & Menstrual Issues

By now many of you would know my stance on Period Pain not being normal and that the sooner you get the cause treated and managed the better one is going to be in their day to day life.

Unfortunately not everyone knows that Period Pain is not normal and neither are some of the other symptoms women get each month with the onset of their menstrual cycle. Having heavy bleeding, bleeding in between cycles, menstrual cramps, severe pain, irritable bowel like symptoms, dark clotting, ovulation pain, bowel and bladder pain and urgency etc, are all not normal symptoms that a woman should endure with her cycle. Getting these symptoms at any time of your cycle is not normal either.

Early intervention and early management is the key to any disease state in the body and this definitely applies to menstrual issues and gynaecological disorders. Once a disease is expressed into the body, it can be very hard to treat, especially if it is left a long time and then inflammation spreads to other parts of the body, or in close proximity to where the initial disease was first expressed.

One of the reasons that prompted me to do this post was after a young woman, now in her 30’s, had contacted me and thanked me for helping her back when she was in high school. Since then I have known all of her family well and helped with maintaining their health. At the time she was about 14 years old and showed all the signs and symptoms of endometriosis. She was in so much pain each month, when her cycle came, and she was often curled up on the floor with nausea and vomiting from the pain. Everyone, including GP’s etc, had told her this is normal and that she needed to get used to it. They also told her that she is too young to have endometriosis, or any major gynaecological condition.

That is so bad. Please, please know that period pain IS NOT normal and that teenagers are not too young to have endometriosis. To be honest, they are now finding endometriosis in young girls under 10 years old. Many gynaecological issues can start very early on in a woman’s life, especially if there are hereditary factors involved.  Gynaecological and menstrual issues can be passed from generation to generation, so if mum, or your grandmother, or someone in your family tree had menstrual issues, or a gynaecological condition, there is a good chance that you may inherit this as well.

The long and short of it all was that her mother was also getting frustrated at everyone not helping and somehow ended up finding out about me and ended up in my clinic. From there I got her into one of the advanced trained laparoscopic surgeons I work closely with as soon as possible and this is where stage 4 endometriosis was found and excised properly.  Without coming to see me, this poor girl would never have found the cause of her menstrual pain and associated symptoms. I then did all her management of her disease moving forward. The main thing that this young girl and her mother were worried about was how this was affecting her education and daily life, but how this could also affect her future fertility.

The one thing I know is that the sooner there is intervention and treatment, the better the prognosis for a woman’s future fertility is. The one thing I do know is that endometriosis doesn’t always cause infertility, but it can make it harder to fall pregnant, if it isn’t managed early enough. The longer you leave a disease in the body untreated, the worse it gets, and then the symptoms get worse and the worse the future outcomes may be.

Lucky for this young lady is that she did have early intervention and management and she has proudly messaged me to tell me that she has had her 3rd child and that she puts it all down to me helping her when she was younger. I have many women message me and tell me much the same thing. It is so important not to leave these things just because you are being told it is normal. What the hell is normal about being in so much pain that you feel like you could die?

All too often I see women having gynaecological conditions, like endometriosis, missed and dismissed and that the longer that the disease has been dismissed, the harder it is going to be to treat. That is a sad fact for many women and some will have to endure repeated surgeries due to being missed and dismissed and have a life of issues, if their issue isn’t managed properly either. Many have not seen the right healthcare professionals, or the right surgeon either.

I have discussed in many of my previous posts.  Please have a read of my previous posts about this subject and the seeing the right team of people. This is why it is so important to have early intervention and also see a proper advanced trained laparoscopic surgeon who specialises in the excision of disease states like endometriosis. Then there needs to be proper management and treatments and lifestyle changes administered to help with suppression of the disease state, helping with inflammation and improving quality of day to day life.

There needs to be a multimodality/team like approach to the management of women with gynaecological issues, as there is no one single fixes all approach, with any medicine. While surgery may be a necessary part of the overall management of disease states such as endometriosis, it isn’t the saviour that many perceive it to be. Surgery does not sure endometriosis and there is no cure for the disease at present time. Once you have it, it is there for good.

Surgery is a necessary but small part of the overall picture that needs to combine many other treatments and modalities to give the best outcome for a woman overall. Once the surgery is done you need to look at managing and suppressing the disease and this is done by lifestyle changes, dietary changes, acupuncture, physio, herbal medicines, hormone therapies, pilates, yoga, pelvic floor and core exercises and many other modalities depending on one’s individual symptoms.

When I treat women with gynaecological conditions, or menstrual issues, I make sure they all get an individualised, person centred, caring approach tailored to how they are presenting rather than a one treatment for all approach that many seem to get. You won’t get the results you need that way because we are all individuals with different needs and different symptoms overall.

Lastly, please remember that period pain and menstrual irregularities are not normal and that the earlier you get onto it and get it treated and managed, the better your future outcomes will be.

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

Reproductive Medicine & Women’s Health Medicine Specialist

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Period Pain IS NOT Normal

Can we always blame hormones being out of balance, for women’s health issues?

Often I see people posting that the source of all women’s issues is their hormones being out of balance. While sometimes this may be true, saying that the source of all women’s health issues is hormones being out of whack is not completely true. Sure, hormones may have a bit to do with it, but is it all erratic hormones?

Hey, it is good to blame something, but is it really fair to keep saying that women are all just an imbalance of hormones, when they are just having a bad day, or just don’t know why they are feeling the way they do?

The fact is that when I consult with women and they tell me that they, or their partner, or family etc, think they are a hormonal mess, I always have to tell them that this may not necessarily be so. More often than not, when I do my work ups on women, their hormones are actually normal and not out of balance at all.

So why would a woman be feeling like she is out of balance if her hormones are all in normal range?

Well, the answer to that is…. “How long is a piece of string?”

Yes, this is one of my favourite saying because, with any health issue, or imbalance in the body, you need to look at the individual and what the individual has been doing.

When I consult with women about these issues I will always go through a thorough history and testing with them and find out the following

  1. Are they stressed?
  2. Are they sleeping?
  3. Have they had a major upset in their immediate environment?
  4. Are they eating well?
  5. Are they drinking too much alcohol?
  6. Are you taking medications, or recreational drugs?
  7. Are they having too much sugar?
  8. Are they exercising?
  9. Are they taking time out for self?
  10. Is their partner the source of their moods and ill health?
  11. Do they have a gynaecological condition that has, or hasn’t been diagnosed?
  12. Have you had a health condition, or virus, or some other long standing health issue?

There are so many things that can affect a woman’s moods and wellbeing. Stress is probably the biggest factor, followed by lack of sleep and poor diet. High sugar intake also causes inflammation and can affect hormones, but it can just affect your moods. Poor diet and high sugars can also affect gynaecological conditions and affect an upcoming menstrual cycle too. Having a big drinking session on the weekend, or just a few drinks during the week can seriously affect your health, moods and motivations. Try not drinking for a month and see just how much better you will feel and how much better you wake up in the morning. A big binge drinking session on the weekend can affect you for a week afterwards

Lack of exercise can be another big factor in feeling tired. It is a catch 22 situation. When you are tired you don’t feel like exercising, but sometimes you are tired because you aren’t exercising. Exercise keeps the body feeling fit and moods better and your menstrual cycle better too. Not getting enough sleep can seriously affect your body on all levels.

Lack of sleep will not only make you feel tired, grumpy and teary, but it affects everything. Lack of sleep and too many bright lights in your room can affect your melatonin levels too. Melatonin is also responsible for conversion to serotonin, which is what helps moods as well

Too much stress and running on adrenalin does not help the body either. The body goes into this hyper-activated state and that can cause low grade anxiety and also affect the moods and the body’s energy levels. We also need to check if a woman is suffering depression and this is the cause of her health issues, or why she may seem out of sorts.

Then, you could have a gynaecological issue that is causing inflammation in the body and then being exacerbated by things you are doing in your life too. Some gynaecological issues are asymptomatic, but can cause issues with your health, your moods, your energy and yes, your hormones. But, many women with gynaecological issues actually have normal hormone levels, so it isn’t always hormones causing gynaecological conditions either.

At certain times of the year, we are more prone to colds and flu’s and viruses and these can affect our health, our energy, our moods and our systems as a whole. Some post viral symptoms are worse than the actual virus and can last long after the virus symptoms have subsided.

Chronic pain can also throw the body into a state of shock and affect both the moods and the bodies ability to function. Inflammation can play real havoc with a woman’s body and her health.

There are so many things that can affect a woman’s body and it as we can see, it can’t always be blamed on hormones. There are so many other factors to consider, which can affect a woman’s energy, her moods, her concentration and her daily life. So next time you are feeling a bit off, or a bit moody, or teary, or tired, don’t be so quick to dismiss it as just being hormonal. It may have nothing to do with hormones at all. If someone else tries to dismiss you as being hormonal, maybe it is time to be hormonal like and tell them where to go. Politely, but firmly of course.

If you are feeling like there is something wrong with your body, or you feel out of balance, it is a good idea to see your healthcare provider and get some basic testing done and delve a little deeper into why your body isn’t feeling the best it could be. I always make sure I get a thorough history off women and listen to all of their concerns so that they aren’t just dismissed as just having their hormones out of whack. They may be, but it is best to check first and that isn’t hard to do. I think too many women are just dismissed as being hormonal, or that it is hormones out of balance. Nine times out of ten, it is often something else. Let’s not forget that as we get older, we do start to slow down more too. But, let’s not talk about that one as that could be a whole post on its own.

Take care

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

Reproductive Medicine & Women’s Health Medicine Specialist

-No Stone Left Unturned