Road block for your health issue

Are you the biggest roadblock with your health issue?

One of the hardest things for people to admit is that they may be in fact the biggest roadblock when it comes to their health issue.

I know I have been, and it actually took me a while to admit it and be accountable for it too.

First… Let’s take the personal out of it

So before I begin talking about this issue, that will probably trigger people, I will again, as usual, ask you to take the personal out of this. This is not an attack on anyone, and it is purely to help those that need help in this area. At the end of the day, we are all accountable for our own health.

Finding your team

Now, before I really start, let’s not forget that there are so many people who have been missed and dismissed over the years, and the impact that has on ones physical and mental wellbeing.

I know with my own health issues, how long it took to find “my team” of people that could help me. Yes, I said team. I said team, because that is quite often what it takes to help many health issues, and why I now promote a multimodality/integrative medicine approach to any health issue.

Many have been missed and dismissed

I truly feel sorry for those who have had so many things missed and been dismissed along the way. It should never happen, but unfortunately it does. As I always say, there is good and bad in every profession, and not everyone is good at their job either.

Yes, there needs to be more education and awareness of certain health conditions, but at the same time, some people are part of their own issues too. We do need to face the facts that some people are really their own biggest roadblock to recovery. This is why I am focussing in on this issue for this post. Again, it is to help people, not about blaming.

Everyone is fighting a battle others do not know

Over my many years in practice, I have just about seen it all. I am sure there is more to see, but boy oh boy have I seen lots of things, and lots of people. Everybody is fighting a battle that nobody else knows about, and there are some who will always think they are worse than anyone else, when in fact, they are exactly the same, or not even near the worst. Some people do want to buy into the label of their disease, and be known to be the worst case anyone has ever seen.

Buying into the label that you are the worst case

I remember recently one of my patients telling me that there she was waiting for surgery in the hospital, and waiting in the pre-theatre waiting area. She explained that there was this one lady who was loud and was telling anyone who would listen how bad she was, and how the hospital file on her was so large. Well, so she thought.

So this patient of mine remained quiet as this other lady proclaimed about her large file the nurse was carrying and how often she had been in there. It was 1 folder and it was about half full. Then the nurse bought over my patients file, which was much larger, and then said to that she had to go and get the other folder that was already full. The loud lady almost stopped in her tracks.

Then she looked and my patient and said to her “ You have 2 folders?”… “no” she said…. “I have three” and then went back to minding her own business. Not a peep out of the loud lady again. But the point was, some people like to be known as being the worst, yet I always say to everyone, there is always someone far worse, but it is all relative at the end of the day.

But I have seen many practitioners

I’ve also seen many patients, that see multiple practitioners over the years and sometimes they are in the position they are in, because they actually never listen to the advice given too. Again, this is not to discredit anyone, but as someone who sees both sides, it does happen… and often.

When I do see someone whom has seen many practitioners over the years, and then goes on to say that nothing has helped them, I do always air on the side of caution. Of course, it could be possibly be true too.

Assessing someone properly

When I see a patient for a first time, there are many things that they have to do before I see them face-to-face. I get them to fill out lots of paper work on their health history and also do a psychological profile on them too. It is important to know where they are at emotionally. I then go over it all and then write up a 20-page report for them and give them all the recommendations and health management outlines too. They are also given a pack of information and resources on everything that they need to do.

It isn’t about just getting the health advice

I know with some of my own patients, many of them come and get the advice, and that is it. I know every so often I get mothers coming into a consult, or joining in on a zoom consult, on behalf of adult children mind you, and saying how their daughter is still in pain, or still has this, or that going on, and they want to know why. Often the actual patient is sitting there at the same time, alongside mum, explaining how bad everything is, and how nothing has changed. I usually let them have their rant, and then wait for the right time.

This is where I often sit back and smile and nod politely and then get out the 20-page report and their clinical notes. Then I have a look to see what they have or have not done, or taken and then just wait.

This is also where I calm the patient, and mother down, and empathise with their pain and symptoms and then it is my turn to speak.

“So … Mrs XYZ, I know you are concerned about your daughter, so let’s look through your daughters file and all the notes and report she was given”

“So…. Patient XYZ, remember when you first came in and we went over what you need to do, and everything was written out step by step?”

“So… Patient XYZ… I can see here you haven’t had any of your medicines yet?”

“So… Patient XYZ… I can see that you haven’t booked in any of the treatments yet?”

“So … Patient XYZ… I can see that you haven’t gone and had those investigations yet”

Then I usually let that digest and then go on to explain that nothing is going to change, if you don’t actually take your medicines, do the necessary changes, see the psychologist, get the tests and investigations and do what is needed to start improving.

I then explain that if you don’t actually do anything, how is something ever going to change?

This is usually where mum goes quiet, and then starts giving the daughter dagger eyes, and I have to then bring it all back in about being proactive, and today we are going to start doing what is needed.

I then tell them both I will check up and make sure the patient has started everything, and that they need to come back in a few weeks time and let’s start monitoring the progress. I always explain that how sometimes knowingly, or unknowingly, we can be our own worst enemy, and our own biggest roadblock.

It isn’t always someone else’s fault that you aren’t getting better

It isn’t the other practitioner’s fault they hadn’t got better; it was actually themselves not doing what was asked of them, thus hindering their own progress. Once this has been identified, and we do some work around this and the light bulb goes off, these people then get great progress.

I think I have heard every excuse on why someone has not done what he or she is meant to do, or has been advised to do. I’ve heard everything from “I’ve been too busy”… right through to “I have done that before and it didn’t work”

The thing is, we are all busy, and we may have done something similar before, but did you actually do it properly and consistently?

When I was my own roadblock

I remember years ago I had a niggling injury and my chiropractor said to me that I needed to do some stretches in between to help it heal quicker. I went home and did the stretches and it was staying pretty much the same. So when I went back he said to me “You mustn’t be doing the stretches I showed you?”

I said I was, and he was scratching his head. “Are you sure you are doing them everyday?”

The truth was I started out doing them everyday, but then I got busy, and it was sporadic, and when I really was honest with myself, I wasn’t doing what he had asked. So after that appointment I went home and I did the stretches everyday and guess what? … Yep it improved.

It is about going home and doing the recommendations

I think people often forget that when we see a healthcare practitioner, we are only seeing them for a short period of time, and it is really up to you to go home and then do the work in between. It is about being consistent with treatments, taking your medicines, doing the homework asked of you, getting the testing and investigations, changing your diet and other habits, and working on the emotional side too.

It is about doing everything that is asked of you and doing it 100%. We don’t just take 1 tablet of an antibiotic and expect it to magically help an infection. It is about doing and finishing the prescribed course. Sometimes several courses may be needed. But you get my point. It is about being honest with oneself and actually doing it. You can’t do things half hearted, or sporadic, because you just won’t get the results.

If after doing the prescribed treatment and not getting any better, then it is time to sit down and look at other treatments and bring in other things. But more often that not, if you stick to what you have been told to do, and be consistent, it will work.

If you change nothing, nothing changes

Just remember, that if you change nothing, nothing changes. Managing a health condition is like preparing and training for a marathon. You need to put in the work, do the training, eat the right foods, have the right mental outlook, get plenty of sleep, drink plenty of water, take your supplements, and do what ever is asked of you by the coach to get you over the line. Who knows, you may even win the race if you do it all properly.

Change requires you to step up and be the change

The same goes for your health, and health conditions. Do what your healthcare practitioner asks, take your medicines, change what needs to be changed, work on your emotions, change your diet, do that exercise and do whatever it is that is asked of you. Who knows, you might just win the race to help your health get better too.

Final Word

If you are having trouble with a health condition, and feel like nobody is helping you, or you aren’t getting any better, you can always call my friendly staff and find out how I may be able to help you.

Regards

Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Master of Women’s Health Medicine

-The Experts Program

 

 

 

Your Health Condition 1

Why It Is Crucial Not To Buy Into Becoming Your Health Label 

One of the things I always talk about with my patients who have a chronic disease state, or women’s health issue, or any health issue, is that it is crucial not to buy into becoming your health label.

The more we focus on a disease state, the harder it is to manage, and the worse all our symptoms become. Then the vicious cycle, and merry go round begins and never seems to end. The more we feed something, the bigger it grows.

There are now lots of research to back this up and why when treating disease states, pain, and other associated symptoms there needs a multimodality approach. You cannot separate the physical and mental aspects of a disease, and the impact that the mind can also have on a disease and its symptoms.

As per usual, when we talk about a difficult subject, which will probably trigger some, I always ask everyone to try and take the personal out of things. This subject is being discussed with the intent to help people, because it is a very important topic that needs to be talked about. This is seen very often in practice, and is often hindering people in them getting better, so it needs to be discussed.

The difference between Research and a Google Search

When someone is first diagnosed with a disease state, it is often understandable that someone would want to try and find a way to help their health issue. This is actually something I encourage all my patients to do. Part of what I do is educating patients how they can best manage their disease and also the importance and difference between good research, compared to someone’s google search.

Research, and a google search, are two totally different things and many people get this confused. I have talked about this often in many of my articles, and also explained why Dr Google is not a good place to get your health information from. Despite that, any free to the public research papers that may be out there are many years old, and now out of date. The other things is, unless you have done study in how to quantify good research, you could be taking some very bad research data and believing it to be true, when in fact it is complete rubbish. Research data analysis and terminology takes years to understand fully, and no google search is going to help anyone learn that.

That does not mean that one should not be educated and stop trying to find out about their disease state. But, there is a point when someone is constantly looking for answers, or then becomes obsessed with their disease and symptoms, that this can become very unhealthy. It can also lead to exacerbation of symptoms, increased mental health issues, lack of quality treatments and management, and over analysing even the smallest of symptoms.

Finding the right support

I know I am a big advocate of people getting support, but often we see people getting their health advice from the wrong areas, such as social media groups, who say they are support groups. The hard thing with many of this groups is that they are often run by untrained people, have no qualified health professionals to give proper advice, and many times they are focussed on the negative aspects of a health issue. This then leads to more negative thoughts, and can actually be a source of toxicity and holding you back from real professional help. It is a catch 22 situation and why people need to be careful which groups they join.

This is why people should only join professional support groups facilitated and mediated by health professionals, and people trained in a certain health issues. These groups are also moderated properly, and are kept to factual discussion and centred around positive solutions, rather than negative talk that we see in a great deal of groups.

Focussing on health issue can intensify symptoms

There is so much credible research about how focussing on our symptoms can have the negative consequence of increasing the intensity of the symptoms and also pain. This, in turn, can create more worry about the symptoms, which brings on more anxiety sensations, and increases our desire to focus on our symptoms even more. This is why it is important to work with health professionals to explore ways that you can start to decrease the amount of time spent focussed on health symptoms and worries, reduce reliance on addictive medications, and thus start to break this vicious cycle.

People who experience health anxiety will often find themselves scanning their bodies for signs of ill health and then worrying about bodily sensations. This is not to take away from people actually having very real symptoms from their disease state and health issues. To a certain extent, it is normal to be aware of bodily sensations and changes, and to pay some attention to potential health problems.

Identifying things that can trigger flares

People will have flares of symptoms from time to time, and often there can be no reason for the flare. But in practice, healthcare professionals are trained to ask the right questions and will identify things that cause flares too. Most times, a flare is causes by blowouts in diet, increased alcohol intake (binges), increased stress and anxiety, lack of quality sleep, dehydration, and over doing it. People can also get flare from withdrawal and rebound effects of some medications too. Stress and anxiety are some of the biggest triggers for people and why it is some important to look at the mental and emotion aspects of healthcare management too.

There may be many things that cause a flare and it is important to get help to identify what these are, and to help avoid these triggers in the future.

Retraining your thoughts to be more positive

If you are spending too much time focussing on your symptoms, or you find it difficult to stop thinking about these symptoms, you may need to start working on retraining your thoughts and attentions onto more proactive and positive things. This is where seeing a psychologist as well can help with reduction of symptoms and pain management too.

Unfortunately when we focus on our disease state, or health issue and its associated symptoms, this can actually amplify the intensity of the symptoms, and thus bring on more worry and anxiety symptoms. It can also amplify pain levels and decrease someone’s ability to cope. Chronic pain clearly affects the body, but it also affects emotions, relationships, and the mind. It can cause anxiety and depression, which in turn, can make pain worse. It is that vicious cycle again that need to be broken.

Coping skills to help you have a normal life

When we are focussed on our symptoms, it can take our attention away from everyday activities and even from important tasks. It can also affect their job and also their intimate relationships. It also takes away from actually seeking proper help and management of a disease state, or health issue, from a qualified health professional.

For example, have you ever found it hard to focus on a household chore, or focus on your work, because your attention kept wandering back to a particular area of your body, back to health worries, or back to a particular symptom?

Learning to retrain your attention is therefore an important step in overcoming your health anxiety. It will not only reduce the amount you focus on your symptoms and your disease, but it will also free up your attention to focus on other activities and experiences. It is about helping you have the coping skills you need to have a normal and productive life, rather than constantly focussing on your health issue, and then creating the vicious cycles around that.

Changing behaviours to help manage your health

Once you work with healthcare professionals to help you with coping skills, to assist you in not focussing on symptoms, and your health issue, you will then be in a better position to decide if you would like to change that behaviour. You are also in a better position to be able to deal with flares if they happen and also look at things that can help you better manage your health issue and symptoms. It will also help you with the constant reliance on medications, and painkillers etc, and help you to use them when you really need to.

Never try to manage your health issue on your own

This is why it is so important not to try and manage a health issue on your own, and seek the help of professionals who can help you with multimodality approaches to health management, and look at all the aspects of a health issue. This includes the physical and emotional aspects too.

You are not your disease and not your health label

You are not your disease and your disease does not define who you are. This is why it is so important not to buy into the label of your particular health issue. You need to not let your health issue control you and with the proper help, you can live a normal life, like so many others who have sort the right help already do. You can get your life back with the right help and right health management. Once you do the work, and experience the benefits, you will know it can be done and how much it can change your way of life.

Final Word

If you need help with a women’s health issue, or a particular health issue, you can always contact my friendly staff about how I may be able to assist you. There are also practitioners that are part of The Experts Program, whom we can refer you to and work in with as well.

Regards

Andrew Orr

No Stone Left Unturned

Master of Women’s Health Medicine

The Experts Program

References

  1. Bushnell MC, Ceko M, Low LA. Cognitive and emotional control of pain and its disruption in chronic pain. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2013;14:502–11.[PMC free article] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
  2. Blyth FM, Macfarlane GJ, Nicholas MK. The contribution of psychosocial factors to the development of chronic pain: the key to better outcomes for patients? Pain. 2007;129:8–11. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
  3. Aschbacher K, Adam EK, Crofford LJ, et al. Linking disease symptoms and subtypes with personalized systems-based phenotypes: a proof of concept study. Brain Behavior Immunity. 2012;26:1047–56. [PMC free article][PubMed] [Google Scholar]
  4. Breivik H, Collett B, Ventafridda V, Cohen R, Gallacher D. Survey of chronic pain in Europe: prevalence, impact on daily life, and treatment. Eur J Pain. 2006;10(4):287–333. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
  5. Scott KM, Bruffaerts R, Tsang A, et al. Depression-anxiety relationships with chronic physical conditions: results from the World Mental Health Surveys. J Affect Disord. 2007;103(1–3):113–120. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
  6. Closs SJ, Staples V, Reid I, Bennett MI, Briggs M. The impact of neuropathic pain on relationships. J Adv Nurs. 2009;65(2):402–411. [PubMed
what if they dont find anything

Surgical Intervention- “But what if they don’t find anything?”

One of the things I often gets asked is “If I have surgery, what if they don’t find anything?”
All sorts of things go around in people head, and rightfully so, but may think that if nothing is found that that their symptoms are all in their head. Not so.
Just because there is nothing found via surgical intervention, does not mean that there is nothing there, or there is no disease state. It just means it cannot be visually seen.
Here in this video I explain all this and more.
Stress and fertility

Busyness, Stress and Anxiety Affecting Fertility & Pregnancy Outcomes

It is now known that modern day busyness, stress, anxiety and depression can significantly impact a couples chances of conceiving. When helping couples with fertility and achieving a pregnancy, one of the biggest issues I see overlooked is a couple’s emotional health. During the assessment of anyone’s fertility, depression, anxiety and stress scores (DASS) should be taken into consideration. Other assessment methods to look at anxiety and heightened adrenalin should also be utilised. It is so important to touch base on the topic of emotional health and make couples (or those who are single) aware of emotional factors that may be affecting their chances of conceiving.

I always recommend seeing a counsellor/psychologist

I always recommend that everyone should check in regularly with a counsellor/psychologist, but less than 10% of people do. What many do not realise is that their underlying stress, anxiety and other emotional concerns are actually a big part of them not being able to conceive, and that looking after our emotional health is just as important as looking after our physical health. There is research to suggest that a parent’s emotional state can be passed onto a child via the sperm, eggs and the parental mode of inheritance. Everything we put in our body, physically and emotionally, can be passed on to the unborn child. This is crucial to understand before considering having children because at the end of the day, it could affect them greatly.

Identifying the impacts of busyness, stress and anxiety

Another common observation I see when people are trying to conceive is they are adamant that they are not stressed, yet their mood/stress scores say otherwise. Many people have normalised their busyness and running on high levels of adrenaline to the point where they do not equate their heightened emotional states as being stress or anxiety. From an outside perspective, I can physically see how anxious and stressed some people are, but it is often hard for people to self-reflect and understand their emotional state.

Control issues exacerbating anxiety and stress levels

Statistically speaking, women have a higher likelihood of being the driving force behind wanting a baby/family so it is easy to see why they may be more focussed or driven in this regard. This also means that they carry a lot of the stress that comes with that. Unfortunately it is becoming more common to see said people struggle with letting go of control and feeling out of control which leads to underlying stress and anxiety. Occasionally this too leads to stress and instability in their relationships, especially if their partner isn’t stepping up.

The one thing I try to explain to all couples is that when it comes to IVF or assisted reproduction, nobody is in control. Everything is timed and controlled by hormones and medications and nobody can control that. Trying to control everything leads to high stress levels, activated adrenalin, heightened anxiety, and a vicious cycle of feeling like more control is needed. The only thing people can control is what they put in their mouths (food, medications, and supplements), how much they exercise, and how well they care for their emotional health. That is it.

Making the changes you need to do now

So many people try to justify their actions and behaviours with statements such as, “I will slow down and make time for myself once I am pregnant, or once I have the baby.” Any parent will tell you that once a child is born, there is hardly any time for yourself and things get a lot busier. The reality is that you need to work on yourself now, while you have the chance. It is not only important for you, but also for your child.

One of the things I say to future parents is this: “If I gave you your baby right now, what would you have to do to ensure its survival and yours? What changes in your life would you have to make?”

I then let them sit and think carefully about it because in reality, it would mean many changes to one’s life. The honest truth is that despite change often being uncomfortable, changing your life is exactly what you have to do right now to create the baby as well. I also tell parents that if you don’t have time for yourself, to do self-care, or to work on yourself, then you really need to question if you have time to have a child too. I don’t mean this in a bad way. I say it with absolute care and understanding of how demanding life gets when one is a parent.

Counselling needs to be mandatory

This is why it is so important to do counselling whether you are going through IVF or trying to conceive naturally. It is my personal belief that for the benefit of the parent/s and the child, counselling should be mandatory as many issues of not falling pregnant actually stem from high stress levels, anxiety, adrenaline, and an inability to slow down. It all stems back to control, and then lack of control, which then creates anxiety and stress. There can also be relationship dynamic issues that need to be addressed prior to having a baby. All this and more is not a good recipe to make a baby, or achieve a successful pregnancy outcome.

Stress animals don’t conceive and it applies to humans as well

The one thing we know from basic biology is that stressed animals do not conceive or will not carry a pregnancy. Many of our breakthroughs in fertility medicine actually come from vet science, where animals have undergone IVF or forms of assisted reproduction. We often forget as humans, that we too really are just animals.

Numerous studies have indicated how anxiety, stress and heightened adrenaline (common states of existence for many people) have a detrimental effect on egg quality, sperm quality, embryo quality, implantation, and overall pregnancy rates.

How busyness, stress and anxiety affect fertility and pregnancy outcomes

Going through IVF, or just trying to fall pregnant, is often described as the most stressful event in the lives of some couples. This is even more heightened if there are difficulties in achieving a pregnancy. There is increasing evidence that psychological factors, such as busy lifestyle, stress, anxiety and depression, have a negative impact on IVF and pregnancy outcomes.

Research studies have shown that the high levels of stress, anxiety and depression are significantly related to the treatment outcome in IVF and also achieving a natural pregnancy (Expert Review of Obstetrics & Gynaecology.2008- See diagram for how stress affects pregnancy outcomes).

Stress pathway

The autonomic nervous system is affected by busyness, stress, anxiety and depression. This also leads to increased neuroepinephrine and increased epinephrine, which then leads to vasoconstriction and decreased blood flow into the uterus. It can also lead to increased stress within the uterus itself.

The immune system is also affected by increased Tumour Necrosis Factor (TNF), which is a cell signalling protein (cytokine) involved in systemic inflammation. The immune system is also affected by increase in Natural Killer Cells and increased activated T cells, which then lead to reduced implantation and a stressed uterine environment.

The indirect effects of stress are that people will drink more alcohol, smoke, exercise less, sleep less, eat more junk foods and generally have a poor diet and lifestyle, all of which have a direct effect on fertility also.

In summary

In summary, lifestyle interventions and taking care of one’s emotional wellbeing can help reduce stress, anxiety and adrenaline. This should be a priority for all couples trying to conceive, or for those having difficulties conceiving. Body-Mind Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine have long understood that stress, diet, lifestyle and emotional factors are a huge cause of infertility. Modern medicine and research is now validating this and advocating for proper preconception care. By addressing the known possible emotional and lifestyle factors that affect fertility by utilising preconception care and a multimodality approach (including counselling and psychology), people can greatly improve their fertility, successful pregnancy outcomes, as well as improve their overall health.

Final Word

If you are having trouble conceiving please call our friendly staff and find out how our fertility program may assist you in having a baby. Our fertility program uses a multimodality, ‘no stone left unturned’ approach which looks at both the male and female aspects of fertility, is used alongside medical interventions, and also gives you access to counsellors and psychologists who have a special interest in fertility.

Regards

Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Master of Reproductive Medicine

-The International Fertility Experts

-The Experts Program

References

  1. Paulson JF, Bazemore SD. Prenatal and Postpartum Depression in fathers and its association with maternal depression: a meta-analysis. JAMA. 2010;303(19):1961-1969. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.605
  2. Effects of caffeine, alcohol and smoking on fertility, http://yourfertility.org.au/resource/effects-of-caffeine-alcohol-and-smoking-on-fertility/
  3. Evans J, Heron J, Francomb H, Oke S, Golding J. Cohort study of depressed mood during pregnancy and after childbirth. BMJ. 2001;323(7307):257-60.
  4. Akioyamen LE, Minhas H, Holloway AC, Taylor VH, Akioyamen NO, Sherifali D. Effects of depression pharmacotherapy in fertility treatment on conception, birth, and neonatal health: A systematic review. Journal of Psychosomatic Research. 2016;84:69-80.
  5. Cesta CE, Viktorin A, Olsson H, Johansson V, Sjolander A, Bergh C, et al. Depression, anxiety, and antidepressant treatment in women: association with in vitro fertilization outcome. Fertility and Sterility. 2016;105(6):1594-602 e3.
  6. Sejbaek CS, Hageman I, Pinborg A, Hougaard CO, Schmidt L. Incidence of depression and influence of depression on the number of treatment cycles and births in a national cohort of 42,880 women treated with ART. Human Reproduction. 2013;28(4):1100-9.
  7. Ververs T, Kaasenbrood H, Visser G, Schobben F, de Jong-van den Berg L, Egberts T. Prevalence and patterns of antidepressant drug use during pregnancy. Eurpean Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 2006;62(10):863-70.
  8. Grigoriadis S, VonderPorten EH, Mamisashvili L, Tomlinson G, Dennis CL, Koren G, et al. The impact of maternal depression during pregnancy on perinatal outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 2013;74(4):e321-41.
  9. Deave T, Heron J, Evans J, Emond A. The impact of maternal depression in pregnancy on early child development. BJOG. 2008;115(8):1043-51.
  10. Ross LE, Grigoriadis S, Mamisashvili L, VonderPorten EH, Roerecke M, Rehm J, et al. Selected pregnancy and delivery outcomes after exposure to antidepressant medication. A systematic review and meta-analysis. Outcomes after antidepressant use in pregnancy. JAMA Psychiatry. 2013:1-8.
  11. Rich-Edwards JW, Spiegelman D, Garland M, Hertzmark E, Hunter DJ, Colditz GA, Willett WC, Wand H, Manson JE. 2002. “Physical activity, body mass index, and ovulatory disorder infertility.” Epidemiology 13:184-190.
  12. Palomba, S, Falbo A, Valli B, et al. 2014. “Physical activity before IVF and ICSI cycles in infertile obese women: an observational cohort study.” Reproductive Biomedicine Online, 29(1): p. 72-9.
  13. Ferreira RC, Halpern G, Figueira Rde C, Braga DP, et al. 2010. “Physical activity, obesity and eating habits can influence assisted reproduction outcomes.” Womens Health [Lond Engl] 6:517-524.
  14. Kucuk M, Doymaz F, Urman B. 2010. “Effect of energy expenditure and physical activity on the outcomes of assisted reproduction treatment.” Reproductive Biomedicine Online 20:274-279.
  15. Morris SN, Missmer SA, Cramer DW, Powers RD, McShane PM, Hornstein MD. 2006. “Effects of lifetime exercise on the outcome of in vitro fertilization.” Obstetrics and Gynecology 108:938-945.
  16. Green BB, Daling JR, Weiss NS, Liff JM, Koepsell T. 1986. “Exercise as a risk factor for infertility with ovulatory dysfunction.” American Journal of Public Health 76:1432-1436.
  17. Gudmundsdottir SL, Flanders WD, Augestad LB. 2009. “Physical activity and fertility in women: the North-Trondelag Health Study ” Human Reproduction 24:3196-3204
Menstrual issues traced back to age 13

Many Fertility & Women’s Health Issues Could Be Traced Back To Mismanagement At Around Age 13

Early this week,  I was talking with a colleague about how I would love to be able to see all women before they head into IVF, or see them when they were a teenager to educate them and help the with a better future for their fertility and gynaecological health.

My colleague then said to me “The issue is that most women are mismanaged at around age 13 and this is why they end up having fertility issues and ongoing gynaecological and menstrual related issues later on.”

The truth is, if we really to trace back the cause, or start of a woman’s fertility, gynaecological, or menstrual related issues, it would most likely be due to mismanagement at around age 13 when she first got her period. In this video I bring light to this very introspective, and very interesting topic that many probably have not thought about. It isn’t always mismanaged by the people you think it is either.

Let’s bring better education and awareness to women’s health issues because we know that early intervention and early management if the key to better future outcomes. It all starts with education first. Have a listen to my video on this very important topic (click on the youtube video link to watch

If you, or your daughter needs help with a menstrual issue, or period pain etc, please give my friendly staff a call and ask how I may be able to assist you.

Regards

Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Master of Women’s Health Medicine

-Master of Reproductive Medicine

-The Endometriosis Experts

-The Experts Program

Endo Belly

Let’s Talk About Endo Belly

Endo belly is a term used to describe the uncomfortable, often painful, swelling and severe bloating that’s associated with endometriosis. Many women with Endo Belly will look like they are pregnant, when in fact they are not.

All too often, Endo Belly is misdiagnosed as being something that it isn’t, and this is something we see with endometriosis in general. Too often women and missed and dismissed and misdiagnosed by those who do not have experience with endometriosis and those who are not really an endometriosis expert.

For this article I thought it was important to focus on the topic of Endo belly, as it is rarely talked about, but it’s often a very distressing symptom.

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue that’s similar to the lining inside the uterus, called the endometrium, is found outside the uterus where it doesn’t belong. Endometriosis is really just normal tissue, growing in abnormal areas, but it can cause debilitating symptoms and affect the life of suffers in many ways. (see -The Facts about Period Pain and Endometriosis)

Endometriosis is more than just period pain

Endometriosis is often only talked about in terms of period pain and we need to start talking about all the other associated symptoms such as Endo Belly. Many women with endometriosis suffer extreme gastrointestinal symptoms, severe bloating, abdominal pain, pain on bowel movement, pelvic and rectal pressure feeling, IBS like symptoms, nausea, vomiting, UTI like symptoms, mood swings, anxiety, depression, and a whole range of symptoms that affect their daily life. Endometriosis is more than just period pain and we need to start getting this information out there.

The interesting fact is that a significant portion of women with endometriosis are asymptomatic and do not have any symptoms at all. Many of these women are diagnosed by accident, or may not even be diagnosed at all. Even then it often takes up to 10 years, or more, for many women to be diagnosed and so many are missed and dismissed along the way. The only way to definitely diagnose endometriosis is via surgical intervention, and usually by a laparoscopy.

Endo belly is often missed and dismissed

Every day I see pictures of women with swollen belly’s posted in social media as many are just trying to get an answer to the swollen belly and other associated gastrointestinal symptoms that they experience often, or even daily. I also see many of them then misdiagnosed and given wrong advice, when as an expert in endometriosis, it is plain to see that these poor women are suffering an endometriosis flare and that they have endo belly.

So often women are misdiagnosed as having the following:

  1. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  2. Gluten intolerance/ and or Coeliac disease
  3. SIBO (Small Intestine Bacteria Overgrowth)
  4. Food intolerances
  5. PMS (premenstrual syndrome)
  6. Pregnancy

While some women may in fact have some of these issues in conjunction with endometriosis, or some of these conditions may be exacerbating their symptoms, the real cause of their swollen belly is endometriosis. If this is overlooked, which is often the case,  and their symptoms are never addressed properly and they will continue to have flares not matter what they do. Women with endometriosis could have the best diet in the world and still have endo belly and flare, if the endometriosis implants are not properly excised and regrowth of microscopic endometriotic implants suppressed from growing again. It is all about having a proper multimodality treatment and management approach when it comes to endometriosis and why it is important to see an endometriosis expert.

Women with Endometriosis need to see an Endometriosis Expert

The problem for many women with endometriosis is that they are not seeing a healthcare practitioner who has the appropriate post graduate training in women’s health medicine, and who is not an expert in endometriosis. Many are also taking advice of people in social media groups too, which also leads to wrong diagnosis, or misdiagnosis. It is a big issue and why so many women suffer for years, all because of the wrong advice, seeing the wrong person and not being managed properly by an endometriosis expert.

What are the main symptoms of Endo Belly?

The main symptom of endo belly is severe bloating, and swelling of the abdomen. This may also be associated with severe pain. Some women with endo belly may even need to be admitted into hospital to control their endometriosis flare and pain.

  • Endo Belly can be worse during, or right before your period, but flares can happen at any time in the cycle and by triggered by multiple factors.
  • Endo Belly is when the abdomen fills with air or gas, making it looks larger. It may also feel tight, or hard to the touch through the bloating of the belly. As mentioned previously many women with endo belly can in fact look like they are pregnant.
  • Endo belly can cause discomfort, pain, and pressure in your abdomen and refer into a woman’s back and pelvis. Endo belly can cause the stomach to swell for hours, days, or even weeks on end if not managed properly.
  • Endo belly is just one gastrointestinal symptoms of endometriosis. As previously mentioned, many women who experience endo belly often have other gastrointestinal symptoms, such as gas pain, nausea, constipation, diarrhoea, vomiting and pain on bowel movement. Some women even get severe bleeding from the bowel as well.

What causes Endo Belly?

Endo Belly is caused by inflammation in the intestines, caused by endometriosis, and build-up of dysbiotic bacteria that cause gas and the swelling of the intestines and abdomen. These dysbiotic bacteria also add to further inflammation in the gut/microbiome and why they need to be cleared and replaced with good strain specific probiotic bacteria. There is now good research to show the role of the microbiome with inflammation, weight gain and even mood disorders. This is why I recommend women with endometriosis and endo belly should be doing a proper microbiome restore, to address the dysbiotic bacteria and also increase the growth and colonisation of the good bacteria.

What Things Can Trigger an Endo Belly Flare?

Inflammatory based refined foods and foods that cause gas in the gastrointestinal tract and intestines lead to bloating and abdominal pain. Foods and drinks that are known to exacerbate endometriosis, cause gas and inflammation, and cause endo belly are the following:

  1. Legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils etc)
  2. Refined Grains (such as wheat, cereals, pasta, oats etc)
  3. Some vegetable (such as cabbage and Brussel sprouts)
  4. Products containing yeast (bread, beer, vegemite etc)
  5. Soft drinks and sodas
  6. Some fruits
  7. Alcohol
  8. Some forms of dairy

To help and assist endo belly as part of a multimodality approach it also usually require looking at a woman’s diet and making dietary changes. Fad diets have been shown to be of little benefit to women with endometriosis. Women with endometriosis and endo benefit from and individualised, low inflammatory based diet with lot of whole foods and cutting out pro-inflammatory refined foods. I recommend the PACE diet (Primal, Ancestral, Clean-Eating Diet) to all my patients with endometriosis, as they comment that it the most helpful in assisting their symptoms and overall health.

What can help Endo Belly

Endometriosis and endo belly need to be properly managed by an endometriosis expert and via a multimodality approach. This can involve surgical interventions, hormones, pain medications, complementary medicines, diet and lifestyle changes, counselling, pelvic floor therapy, exercise, meditation and mindfulness. All treatments and management of endometriosis and endo belly require an individualised care approach as women with endometriosis all have similar, but differing symptoms. Again, for proper care management an endometriosis expert with experience with endometriosis should be consulted to help you and assist you properly.

Final word

Endo belly refers to the painful abdominal bloating that’s associated with endometriosis.

Women can manage the symptoms of endo belly with a multimodality treatments mentioned above alongside dietary and lifestyle changes. It is important that endo belly is managed proper, by management of endometriosis, the underlying condition and underlying. This needs to be done by seeing an endometriosis expert, and working in with them to assist you manage endometriosis properly.

If you have abdominal bloating that’s painful, frequent, or lasts longer than a few days, be sure to see your healthcare specialist and see about getting a referral to an endometriosis expert, or women’s health specialist.

It’s also important to keep in mind that other conditions can cause a bloated or swollen belly. Your healthcare practitioner will be able to properly diagnose the cause and prescribe the right type of treatment plan. Please do not google your symptoms or take the advice of friends on social media. That can be dangerous and even be fatal if a serious health issues is missed.

If you do need help with endo belly and the associated symptoms of endometriosis, then please give my friendly staff a call and find out how I can assist you.

Regards

Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Master of Women’s Health Medicine

-The Endometriosis Experts

-The Experts Program

Men too deserve to be spoiled.

Let’s celebrate the gift of men too

I have been thinking about what I was going to say on this post and to accompany this saying. It is not always easy to explain the gift of men, especially in this day and age where men are often put down and many times even hated.
 
It is men’s health week so it is important to talk about men and it is a great time to talk about them as well. But even so, I have still found it hard knowing what to say and worrying about people being negative, which is not what I want to convey here. This post is about good men, so please let’s keep it to that and not negative projections.
 
But, before I continue, I urge each and every one of you (male or female) to read my favourite awaken man and writer extraordinaire, Daniel Nielsen’s post about The Awakened Man. I am going to put a copy of it in the comments section below. It will give you an insight into what a consciously awakened man is, and that they do in fact exist. It will give you an insight into the gift that this sort of man is also.
 
It is something that myself and many other men I know aspire to be daily and continually do the inner work to evolve and be even more consciously aware. It is also something that I have taught me son, and know he is the same. I want my son to believe that he is a gift too, as are everyone else sons. Remember that our son’s grown into men and how your groom them and teach them now has a huge impact on who they become. We need to remember that we want them to be an amazing partner to someone, not anything else.
 
The thing is, despite some of the negativity I see, men are as just as much a gift as women are. Men need to be told how special they are and adored for who they are too. All to often these days we see the emasculation of men and the negativity towards men going on, and it really needs to stop. While some (a small section) probably deserve it, many do not.
 
Despite that we should be leading and educating with kindness, compassion and understanding and showing those that need it the pathway to being a better man, not putting them down.
 
In many cases, not all, this negativity is purely genderising a projection of someone’s own hurts and traumas and unresolved issues within themselves. It just blaming someone else for ones own issues, and it adds to the divide and perception and more negative reinforcement, and that never helps anyone. Let’s face it, gender should not even enter into things. Humans are the issue and not a certain gender. We should not be generalising just because of our perception of a certain gender.
 
To be honest, I am the first one to admit that some men need to step up more (especially in my line of work where some guys need a rocket up their behind), evolve more and be the man that women are searching for, or need their partner to be.
 
Regardless, I do have to say that there are many guys who really know their own self worth and are doing all they can to be a better person each day. We also need to remember that not everyone has had good role models, and like some women, some men are just who they are, and where they are at, and just doing the best they can and are still descent human beings.
 
I know I have always tried to instil into my own son the virtues of being a gentleman and also being consciously aware. I don’t want him to think that he is seen anything other than a gift and to continue in being the amazing caring human being that he is.
 
I remember one of my proudest moments was one night we shared a train ride home. On the train there was this young girl sitting near us, who was a mess, and was drunk, and could not even find her purse, or even remember her password for her phone. She wasn’t in a good way. My son quietly got up and sat in front of her and politely introduced himself.
 
He then calmly asked if he could help her get her phone open, or help her call someone. The poor thing was crying and had lost her bank card and had no idea how to get home after the train ride. We got to our stop and my son said to me he was staying on the train and would be home later. I got off the train and waved him on and as I was I did hear two people making smart remarks about that he must be trying to win on to this girl. I knew this was not the case, and just kept my mouth shut and went home. Their opinion meant nothing, but none the less, the perception was there.
 
Later on that night when my son got back home, he told me he had made sure this young girl had got to her station, then had called for an Uber on his own Uber account, and made sure she got to her home safely. This was half an hour out of his way and he got back on the train and got home later on.
Later on I asked him how it all went and why he stayed on the train. He said “Dad, I helped her home because nobody else would have and something bad could have happened to her. I did it because that could have been one of my sisters, and I hope some other male would do the same for them”.
 
Seriously melted my heart to hear this and I realised then and there my job as a parent on one level was done. Honestly, ask yourself this… “Wouldn’t you want that kind of man looking after your daughter?”
 
If the answer is yes, then make sure you teach your son’s exactly the same and instil being a good man from a young age. Teach them to be a good future partner too.
 
I also felt some sadness knowing that things like this are not always seen and the good deeds of men are not always appreciated. There were the negative comments on the train by others. I didn’t want him to be subjected to the harshness of some people’s words, through their own past and own projections. I didn’t want him to be knocked so badly that he stopped being that man, regardless of the cruel words of others. This is why I am so passionate about telling this story today and getting people to not generalise about men, or the perceptions of men based on their choices, or projections of their past.
 
Men, real men, need to be valued, thanks, acknowledged, loved, adored and recognised for who they are too. Show your partners, your husbands, your brothers, your friends, or your sons, that they are a gift and deserve to be recognised for the gift that they are to the world as well.
 
Let’s not focus of the negatives and focus on the positives and be teachers of good men. If you are finding it hard to find “that man”, then maybe it is time to start being the mirror of what you are wanting in another. Just remember that we often receive what we mirror and men can’t be the blame for all areas in someone’s life. It is about working on ourselves and doing the inner work to be whom we are wanting to receive. It is about letting go of the past and opening the heart, allowing our self to receive, and being present to be the best version we can be.
 
So let’s see more posts showing the better side of men that are working on themselves, do treat women like a goddess, do all the right things, do the inner work and need to be recognised for who these men really are.
 
When was the last time you appreciated a man’s efforts, your man’s efforts, your brother’s efforts, your son’s efforts, and made them feel the way you would also like to be treated and valued?
 
Validation, kindness and care can be great teachers and motivators of men, and all humans alike.
 
It is time to restore the best qualities of women and men and acknowledge that we are all gifts no matter what gender, race, or colour of skin we are.
Opioid Crisis

Let’s Talk About The Current Opioid Crisis & Pain Prescription Crackdown

Recently there has been so much news about pandemics such as COVID 19, but nobody is talking about an epidemic that is causing more deaths than this global crisis. The Opioid Crisis is an epidemic is expanding on a global scale. In Australia, the rise in prescribing of pain medications, particularly opioids has increased signficantly. This is having has had devastating results, with the levels of harm and deaths due to opioid misuse rising exponentially.

In Australia, over three million people were prescribed 15.4 million opioid scripts in 2016–17. What is most concerning is that opioids now account for 62% of drug-induced deaths, with pharmaceutical opioids now more likely than heroin to be involved in opioid deaths and hospitalisations. In 2016–17 there were 5,112 emergency department presentations and 9,636 hospitalisations due to opioid poisoning, with three deaths per day attributed to opioid harm – higher than the road toll.(2)

The global crisis of opioid crisis is increasing and is very concerning. About 275 million people worldwide (5.6 per cent of the global population aged 15–64 years) used drugs at least once during 2016. There were an estimated 27 million people who suffered from opioid use disorders in 2016. Roughly 450,000 people died as a result of drug use in 2015. Of those deaths, about 118 thousands with opioid use disorders.

Overdose deaths contribute to between roughly a third and a half of all drug-related deaths, which are attributable in most cases to opioids. Lifetime prevalence of witnessed overdose among drug users is about 70%. There are effective treatments for opioid dependence yet less than 10% of people who need such treatment are receiving it. The inexpensive medication naloxone can completely reverse the effects of opioid overdose and prevent deaths due to opioid overdose.

Due to their pharmacological effects, opioids in high doses can cause respiratory depression and death.

In Australia today, unrelieved pain is a major issue. Up to 80 percent of people living with chronic pain are missing out on treatment that could improve their health and quality of life. Some of these people are dismissed and feel isolated and suffer constant pain, anxiety, depression and even attempt suicide. It is big issues that needs to be address.

Opioids and pain medications should never be regarded as the sole approach to people with chronic pain. They should be regarded as one component of a multimodality approach and management plan, and should only be used on a limited basis and monitored regularly so as not to develop and addiction.

A well-defined and well-structured multimodality management pain plan, set out be a qualified healthcare professional, is essential in improving pain outcomes, improving overall health and helping with the complications of withdrawal of pain medications and opioids.

In this video I talk about the current reforms here in Australia and the ongoing opioid crisis that needs urgent attention and people do need to be managed better on all levels.

Regards

Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Master of Women’s Health Medicine

-Men and Women’s Health Advocate

-The Headache, Migraine and Pain Experts

 

References

  1. Deloitte Access Economics (2019), The cost of pain in Australia.
  2. Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (2018). Australian overdose deaths are increasing – and the demographics are changing. News GP. Access online here.
  3. WHO- Information sheet on opioid overdose (click here to access)
  4. Pain Australia (fact sheets)

 

Lets talk about sex 1

Let’s Talk About Sex- How often, what’s normal & how to boost that libido

Sex is something that nearly every human on this planet gets to experience, and for each person, the experience of sex can be different. Many people have different perceptions on this important topic, so lets talk about sex, how often, what’s normal and how to boost that libido in those having issues.

As a healthcare practitioner who is a Master in Women’s Health Medicine and a Master of Reproductive medicine, I have to talk about the topic of sex on a daily basis. A lot of people come into my clinic (both men and women) with varying expectations and thoughts on what is normal, when concerning sex. Unfortunately a lot of people are way off the mark when it comes to a healthy sex life and what a healthy libido should be.

Libido is influenced by our health

If you do not have a healthy libido, there could be something wrong with your health. Yes, what you eat, think, do etc, all plays a part in your sexual appetite. But, we can all have differing libido’s and it is important to understand this and seek help if you are having issues. A healthy libido is a sign of a health body and healthy mind.

What defines a healthy sex life

The average healthy human being in a healthy relationship should be having sex at least 1-3 times per week, depending on age etc. I know a lot of you are lucky to be having sex 3 times per month.

What’s concerning about this is, some of these people are trying to have a baby and can’t understand why they aren’t falling pregnant. The answer is obvious, but, I’ll say it anyway, you have to have sex regularly to fall pregnant and it has to be at the right time. You need to be trying every day, or every second day of your cycle as we now know ovulation just doesn’t take place mid-cycle only.

Clinical research shows that more than 70% of people are ovulating before day 10 and after day 17 of their cycle. So if you are just trying it that small window of day 10-16, this could be the reason you aren’t falling. Btw, don’t stop having sex just because you are doing IVF. Sex (climax in particular) helps with implantation so stopping having sex is only hindering your chances of conception. I have talked about this is a previous post (click here to read)

We also now know that sperm also play a part in a health menstrual cycle as they help to trigger certain hormones to trigger ovulation and thus help with regulation of the menstrual cycle. It may explain why women using barrier methods of contraception have more issues with irregular cycles and menstrual issues. Not that we are promoting unsafe sex mind you. This is for couples in a healthy relationship. I have spoken about this is a previous post too (click here to read)

Why is climax/orgasm so important

Climax also stimulates blood flow into the uterus; helps trigger certain hormones and also helps with implantation. Climax also helps ones libido and it can even help in the treatment of depression.

We also hear the jokes about men and their ever-constant desire to have sex, but most of the time this is greatly exaggerated. In practice I am actually seeing that women are now the ones with the higher libidos and it is the men that are having all the problems. Stress is a big factor these days. We are also seeing many men with testosterone deficiency. Being overweight and unhealthy physically and mentally can be a factor also.

It has also been shown that regular sex, even if scheduled, actually helps with the libido and helps with the desire around wanting more sex.

Understanding differing libido’s

Men and women are different when it comes to libido and the desire around sex. Men need to understand that it can often take all day for a woman to arouse her desire around wanting sex. Men need to know that women need to be wooed, given playful thoughts, mind play and a place to feel safe to get her into the mood for sex. Guys, apparently helping out around the house also helps (hint, hint)

Intimacy is more than just sex

Remember sex is a healthy part of a relationship and a healthy libido shows good health. Sex is also a way of connecting with your partner and couples should find way to prioritise each other so that this connection happens regularly. It is also about intimacy and that sacred intimacy, which is on a whole other level to the physical act of just having sexual intercourse.

What affects a libido?

Many people do talk about having differing libido’s, or having trouble with libido, and it is important to understand what may be affecting ones sex drive.

So, what are some of the main things that effect libido?

  • The Pill – First and foremost, the pill for women. Anything that decreases fertility can decrease your sexual desire. The pill also turns off certain receptors responsible for conception, which can then turn off the libido.
  • Stress – Constant low grade, or high grade stress, is a big problem when it comes to loss of libido. It can cause impotence & erectile dysfunction in men and loss of libido and menopausal symptoms in women.
  • Medications – Drugs such as anti-depressants, the pill, anti-inflammatories, and lots of other medications can ruin your sex life. They can also delay or stop orgasm. There are some that can improve it too. Not many!
  • Alcohol and recreational drugs– This one is pretty self explanatory. We’ve all heard the saying ‘Fosters flop’ from drinking too much beer. Drugs such as marijuana, speed, and other illicit drugs can all impair libido
  • Sexual Abuse– A history of sexual abuse can definitely affect the sex life. This needs to be dealt with by speaking to a counsellor, psychologist or sex therapist.
  • Health Problems– Health problems such as Low Thyroid, Diabetes, being overweight, depression, eating disorders, can interfere with your libido and sex life.
  • STD’s– Some STD’s are often undetected and cause pain and discomfort during sex, which leads to not wanting to have sex. Many of these can be cleared up with medication so that your sex life can return to normal. Some STD’s are there for life but can be controlled. STD’s such as herpes and HIV don’t have to stop your sex life.
  • Gynaecological issues – Some gynaecological disease states such as Endometriosis and Adenomyosis can make sex painful and cause a lack of desire. Have a read of my article about painful sex. Women with PCOS can have low libido as a result of hormonal fluctuations and insulin resistance.
  • Diet– This is a big one. If you eat the wrong foods the body will respond accordingly. Your sex life can be ruined by what you put in your mouth to sustain your body.
  • Exercise– Over-exercising can stop you getting a period and cause fertility issues in both men and women. Reduce the exercise and the libido will respond accordingly. Exercise can also increase libido. It is about moderation.

Final Word

If you are having trouble with your libido there are many medical and natural products that have been shown to assist with low libido and help with a healthy sex life for both men and women. It is important that you talk to a qualified healthcare practitioner about issues to do with sex and libido. You need to see an expert who is trained to know issues that may be causing your particular issues. The can also give you dietary and lifestyle advice to help in this area too.

If you do need help with issues around sex and libido, please give my friendly staff and call and find out how I can assist you. I also have a great network of sex therapists, psychologists and medical specialists I work in with as well.

Regards

Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Master of Women’s Health Medicine

-Master of Reproductive Medicine

-The Women’s Health Experts

 

 

couple in love

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

Research has now shown that sex around the time of embryo transfer increases the likelihood of successful early embryo implantation and development.

Intercourse during an IVF cycle has the potential to improve pregnancy rates and there is adequate research to now back this up. We know that in animal studies, exposure to semen is reported to promote embryo development and implantation.

Intercourse may assist implantation

This is actually good news for humans as well as it shows that intercourse may act to assist implantation. Animal studies reveal that exposure to seminal plasma, the fluid component of the ejaculate, is particularly important for achieving normal embryo development and implantation. Animals that become pregnant through artificial insemination or embryo transfer without being exposed to seminal plasma have substantially lower rates of implantation than those exposed to seminal plasma (Pang et al., 1979; Queen et al., 1981; O et al., 1988; Flowers and Esbenshade, 1993), while rodents inseminated with spermatozoa prior to blastocyst transfer also have a higher rate of implantation compared with those not exposed to spermatozoa (Carp et al., 1984).

Intercourse may influence pregnancy success rates

A multicentre prospective randomised controlled trial was conducted through IVF centred around the world, including Australia. The study was conducted to determine if intercourse around the time of embryo transfer, or just before and embryo transfer in an IVF cycle, actually has the potential to have any influence on pregnancy success rates.

Participants in Australian IVF clinics underwent frozen embryo transfer (FET) and participants in Spain IVF clinics did fresh embryo transfer. Participants were randomised to either have intercourse, or to abstain from intercourse around the time of embryo transfer.

The study showed that there was no significant difference in the pregnancy rates between those couples that abstained and those that had intercourse. However, the portion of transferred embryos that made it to 6-8 weeks gestation was significantly higher in the women exposed to semen compared to those who abstained.

This landmark multi-centre international study showed that women who had sex around the time of embryo transfer, and who were exposed to semen around the time of embryo transfer, had increased likelihood of successful early embryo implantation and development.

Couples need to be having more sex during IVF cycles

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

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

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

Let’s be real and look at the facts

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

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

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

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

The answer is blood!

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

How do you get blood flow into the uterine lining?

The answer is that sex and climax stimulate blood flow to the lining to assist implantation and also prepare the lining for implantation. Nature has given us all the tools for healthy conception to take place, and yet many of us just aren’t using them.

Sex is more than just and egg and a sperm

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

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

Final Word

If you are struggling to fall pregnant, or need advice with preconception care, please give my friendly staff a call and find out how my fertility program, which has helped over 12,500 babies into the world, may be able to assist you too.

Regards

Andrew Orr

– No Stone Left Unturned

-Master of Reproductive Medicine

-Master of Women’s Health Medicine

-The International Fertility Experts

References:

  1. http://humre.oxfordjournals.org/content/15/12/2653.short
  2. Bellinge, B.S., Copeland, C.M., Thomas, T.D. et al. (1986) The influence of patient insemination on the implantation rate in an in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer program. Fertil. Steril. , 46, 252–256.
  3. Carp, H.J.A., Serr, D.M., Mashiach, S. et al. (1984) Influence of insemination on the implantation of transfered rat blastocysts. Gynecol. Obstet. Invest. , 18, 194–198.
  4. Coulam, C.B. and Stern, J.J. (1995) Effect of seminal plasma on implantation rates. Early Pregnancy , 1, 33–36.
  5. Fishel, S., Webster, J., Jackson, P. and Faratian, B. (1989) Evaluation of high vaginal insemination at oocyte recovery in patients undergoing in vitro fertilization. Fertil. Steril. , 51, 135–138.
  6. Franchin, R., Harmas, A., Benaoudia, F. et al. (1998a) Microbial flora of the cervix assessed at the time of embryo transfer adversely affects in vitro fertilization outcome. Fertil. Steril. , 70, 866–870.
  7. Franchin, R., Righini, C., Olivennes, F. et al. (1998b) Uterine contractions at the time of embryo transfer alter pregnancy rates after in-vitro fertilization. Hum. Reprod. , 13, 1968–1974.
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