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.


Dr Andrew Orr

(Reproductive Medicine & Women’s Health Specialist)

-Women’s & Men’s Health Advocate

-No Stone Left Unturned


Women’s Health Consultations with Dr Andrew Orr

Are you sick of Painful Periods?

Are you tired of the flares from Endometriosis?

Are you getting pain with sex?

Is your period irregular and messing with your life?

Are you getting bad acne?

Are you getting increased bladder frequency?

Are you getting some incontinence with exercise?

Are you sick of having to put up with mood swings and hormone imbalance?

Sick of being “Missed” and “Dismissed” by healthcare professionals and friends telling you that your symptoms are normal?

Are you just not getting the answers to your health and gynaecological issues?

Do you just want to get your quality of life back and be able to do everything you want to do in life?

Getting Help

Many of the health and reproductive issues women face are not normal, but more importantly many of issues can be managed and assisted with right treatments and management protocols. The problem for most women, is knowing who to see, and where to start, for Women’s Health Consultations on the journey to a better life and better health.

Let Dr Andrew Orr Guide You Through Your Health Journey

Dr Andrew Orr’s is a Reproductive Medicine & Women’s Health Medicine Specialist whose multi-modality treatment approach (using medical science and complementary medicines) has assisted and helped over 12,500 plus babies into the world and helped and assisted tens of thousands of women with gynaecological conditions such as Endometriosis, Adenomyosis, PCOS, Fibroids, Bladder & Bowel Issues, Pelvic floor instability and so much more.

Dr Orr has a special interest in conditions such as period pain, endometriosis, PCOS and menstrual irregularities. You can find out more on some of his social media articles.

If you need someone who cares, someone who listens and someone who specialises in Women’s Health Medicine & Reproductive Medicine issues, and can be your caring guide every step of the way through the challenges you are facing, then you need to book in a consultation with Dr Andrew Orr.

Dr Andrew Orr’s mottos are the “Period Pain IS NOT Normal” and he has a “No Stone Left Unturned” approach to every person he guides, manages and assists through their journey to a better quality life and better health.

Dr Andrew Orr has seen women from all over Australia and all over the world and can see you for a consultation in person, or through online services. Through easy to use online services, Dr Orr can now see anyone from all over Australia, or anywhere in the world. *(conditions may apply)

If you are suffering from a particular women’s health condition, or unknown health issue, Dr Andrew Orr is here to care for you and guide you through his step by step multimodality health management protocols and get you the help and care that you are so desperately needing.

* To find more please call Dr Andrew Orr’s clinic, or submit an online enquiry through the website.



The Silent Face of Endometriosis

She closes the door and enters the day, with the face that she wants the world to see. She is beautiful, she is vibrant, she is smiling, and she is ready to face what ever the day may bring.

She is immaculately dressed, her hair brushed so neatly and even though she doesn’t need it, she has her make up on, her lipstick applied so neatly and she is every bit the goddess that the world will see today and every other day as well. All this makes her feel good and helps her to go about her day. She is a daughter too some, a sister to others and a partner to her beloved. She is grace and elegance and she is every bit a woman and she it about to embrace her day.

But, while she is every bit the goddess, and a warrior, and her beauty knows no bounds, underneath her catwalk like composure, is another story that the world around her may never really know, or ever come to understand. It is something that they just cannot even see.

Today is like any other day for her, but today is the day that her hidden disease has decided to raise its ugly head. Unlike the beauty that we see before us, this inner demon has taken hold of her and nobody will know the torment that goes on beneath her skin and deep into every organ in her precious body. Today would buckle many and have many lose their way, but not her, she is a warrior and she will not give in.

While the constant anxiety and pain and mixed emotions scatters every cell in her brain, she remains composed and ever focussed and this is all that she will let the outer world see. Very few will know that today is not a good day, but even then those that know, will know that this will not stop her from going about her day.

There are days though, that none shall see her and these are the days that no matter how hard she tries to embrace the day, the disease within has its tight grasp around her and she just need to hide away and deal with the pain. On these days it is just all too much to bear and though she will not give in, todays battle is best not fought, and she just wisely knows today is the day to rest, heal and repair. She knows that sometimes to win a battle, it is best to not fight at all.

Today the flare of the disease within has sent aches to her muscles, sensitivity to her skin, aches to her head, cloudiness to her brain, deep pain to her bones and spine and pulsating pain to her womb. Her belly is swollen, like she is about to give birth and the intestines feel like that are being twisted and ripped apart. She feels nauseas, her head pounds like the worst every hangover and she feels like she is about to pass out. Even the most important bodily functions are just too hard and just too sore today. The disease tries to contort her, to stop her, but she remains upright and continues her day. She does not let the disease win and she will never buy into the label and let it confine her.

Some days are even more stressful, because her monthly cycle has appeared and has come with full vengeance and feels like flood waters through the place that a woman gives birth. On those days, she may even feel like she has given birth and what is bought forth, only few will ever hear about. Not even her partner may see what these flood waters bring and what she just felt like she birthed. That is secret women’s business and only talked about in private, or to the healthcare provider that may assist her from time to time.

She is loving, she is vulnerable, she is caring, she is giving, she is strong, she is fierce when needed and she is every bit the woman that the world knows a woman to be. Even at times of intimacy, she will still give her all and love with such passion and tenderness, but all the while her partner will never know that the pain that may be within. Some days are good, some days are bad, but that doesn’t stop her expressing her passion, her love and her womanly desires and love for her partner. Her heart is pure love and a good man will know how to love her and support her and care for her on the days where she needs gentle, loving, tender care.

Today may not be a good day, but she will brave the day just like any other and hide the disease crippling her within. She will not cry out in the open, she will not even make a fuss. Not many will know today is a bad day, because her courage and strength will get her through the day, just as it has every other day. You will only see what she wants you to see and that is a smiling, strong, vibrant woman about to go and conquer her day.

This is what I see through my eyes, of the strong, vibrant goddess that we all shall see. Because I know the war she is fighting, I see what many do not see. I see what she goes through and why she sometimes has to hide away. I see her wipe away the tears she sheds in silence. I see how restless she is when she tries to sleep. I see the mixed day of pain and emotions and how she tries to regain composure to overcome her day.

Through my eyes I don’t see weakness and someone who is fragile, or someone who gives in. I see a goddess, a mighty warrior, someone who can overcome and conquer all before her. Not by brute force, but by love, by compassion, by listening, by understanding and by knowing how to do what is needed and when it is needed. That is true strength, she is a true warrior and she shows what is it is to be a strong capable super woman. She will not let her kryptonite conquer her and she will overcome it and conquer it instead.

Through my eyes I will never really be able to know, or understand what she really goes through. I can never know what she endures each day. I can only but imagine what it is like to be in her shoes and walk the path that she walks most days. But I know that on days that she isn’t feeling her best, she will let the world see the best that she can be. She won’t fuss, she won’t cry, she won’t show any pain. She is a true warrior and she just puts on her makeup, puts on her lipstick, brushes her hair nicely, dresses eloquently and gets on with her day. Those are the days that we can support her and love her and help her get through her day.

This is the face of endometriosis and only those that suffer from this horrible disease will know what it is like to live in silence while the rest of the world is completely unaware.

Let’s end the silence for the strong warrior endo sisters and the next time someone tells you that they have endometriosis, remember that just because they look fine, they look vibrant, they look strong, they look like a beautiful goddess etc……

Just remember that they may be fighting the fight within and today may not be a good day.

This is for my loved ones with the disease and every one of the “endo sisters”

March is Endometriosis Awareness month, so please take the time to acknowledge those with the disease and let’s help end the silence and please remember my most important motto…. “Period Pain IS NOT Normal”

Take care


Dr Andrew Orr

Reproductive Medicine & Women’s Health Medicine Specialist

-Endometriosis Crusader

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Period Pain IS NOT Normal


Endometriosis Awareness Month-March 2018

The month of March is Endometriosis awareness month and I wanted to bring awareness about this disease where many women are missed and dismissed by multiple healthcare practitioners in the process.

Endometriosis is an inflammatory disease, by which endometrial like tissue grows outside the endometrium and affects 1 in 10 women. But while the current research says that 1 in 10 women are affected by endometriosis, as someone who specialises in endometriosis management, I believe that these figures may be grossly under exaggerated.

So many women suffer this horrible disease and many more do not even realise they have it. A significant portion of women with endometriosis are asymptomatic (meaning no symptoms). Women with this disease may take up to 10 years, or more, to be diagnosed after seeing multiple healthcare practitioners and specialists on the way. This amount of time to diagnosis is disgusting and just highlights how many women are missed and dismissed along the way. Many women are misdiagnosed as having Irritable Bowel Syndrome and other inflammatory disease states, when in fact the actually have endometriosis. I know that if this disease affected some of these so called healthcare practitioners, or if men had to endure this kind of pain, or their testicles were paining them all day, something would have been done about this disease long ago.

Meanwhile women with period pain caused by endometriosis have to live a life of pain, trauma and physical and emotional torment. Many of these women are barely getting through a day, let alone a whole month of exhausting symptoms related to this disease. Some are even at the point of suicide.

Endometriosis is mostly found outside the endometrium and can spread to the pelvis, bowel, bladder and intestines. It has even been known to get into the brain, joints, chest cavity, and around the heart. It has been found in nearly every part of the body.

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

  • Heavy Menstrual Bleeding
  • Irregular bleeding
  • Period Pain
  • Pain with sex
  • Ovulation Pain
  • Irritable bowel like symptoms
  • Bladder issues (UTI like symptoms etc)
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Swollen painful pregnant looking belly (known as endo belly)
  • Pain with bowel movement

I am a Reproductive Medicine and Women’s Health Specialist with over 20 years experience in the diagnosis, treatment and managing endometriosis. I have helped women all over the world with this horrible disease. I know all too well the trials and tribulations women have to go through before someone actually listens and gives these poor women a proper diagnosis and get them the help they so desperately need.

“Period pain IS NOT normal” and all too often women are told that period pain and other associated symptoms is normal and nothing could be further from the truth. We need to educate women and young girls that period pain is not normal.

I would like to see better education and awareness for the general public, but I would also like better education and awareness for all healthcare professionals. I want all healthcare professionals to know what the signs and symptoms of endometriosis are so that women can be referred for appropriate treatment and management. Early intervention and treatment is the key to treating this disease and managing it properly

No woman should ever be missed, or dismissed with this horrible disease every again. Let’s end the silence on endometriosis and bring awareness to every woman and healthcare practitioner on this planet that period pain IS NOT normal.


Dr Andrew Orr

Reproductive Medicine & Women’s Health Medicine Specialist

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Period Pain IS NOT Normal







What causes a burning sensation in the vagina and around the vulva?

A burning sensation in and around the vaginal, vulva area is a relatively common complaint that many women experience and something that is seen in practice very often. There are so many different causes of vaginal and vulva burning, including irritants, sexually transmitted diseases, atrophic vaginitis, thrush, lichen sclerosis, climates changes and is very common in peri-menopause and the menopause period. Each of the causes has its own set of symptoms and the treatments can all vary, depending what the cause it.

In this article we will look at the common causes of having a burning sensation in the vagina and around the vulva area. We will also look at treatments and management of these as well.

Before we start, it is important that women know that often people use the wrong term for the vagina and the surrounding area and often refer to a woman’s genitals as just being the vagina. It is important that we use the correct terms for a woman’s anatomy so that we can correctly identify were problems are.

The vagina is more the internal part of the female genitals and the vulva is the external part. Th Vulva is an umbrella term for the various parts of the external female genitals. These parts include:

  • Mons pubis – the fatty ‘pad’ that’s covered in pubic hair
  • Labia majora – outer lips
  • Labia minora – inner lips
  • Clitoris – small organ that’s packed with nerve endings
  • Urethral opening – which allows the passage of urine
  • Vestibule – area around the opening of the vagina
  • Perineum – area between the vagina and anus

Now that we understand the proper terms for the anatomy, lets have a look at what some of the common causes of burning sensation are.

Common causes of vaginal and vulva burning sensation

1.Skin Irritation

There are many things that can irritate the skin of the vulva and vagina when they come into direct contact with it. This is known as contact dermatitis.

Irritants that can cause contact dermatitis, inflammation and burning symptoms include non pH neutral soaps, certain fabrics, perfumes, vaginal hygiene sprays, some lubricants and allergens. As well as burning sensations, women may experience the following:

  • severe itching
  • redness and rawness and sometimes bleeding
  • stinging feelings and sensations of heat
  • pain and sometimes

The main way to treat irritation is to avoid whatever has caused the irritation in the first place. Avoiding the irritant and allowing the inflamed area and the skin to heal is one of the best things to do. Sometimes, a woman may require medications to settle the inflammation, or dermatitis down.

2. Candidiasis (Thrush, Yeast infections)

An overgrowth of bad bacteria in the vagina can lead to a burning, stinging sensation and one of the common causes of issues for women. Candidiasis, or thrush is very common in women and is causes through changes in the gut and vaginal flora and this then leads to overgrowth of bacteria, which causes many of the following symptoms

  • itching
  • soreness
  • pain during sex
  • pain or discomfort when urinating
  • discharge from the vagina (either white, or coloured)

Women are more likely to be prone to getting thrush if they are taking antibiotics, using certain form of hormones and contraceptives, have a weakened immune system, live in humid climates, have diabetes, are pregnant, or not cleaning themselves properly. High stress can also lead to changes in the gut and vagina flora and this can also lead to thrush.

Thrush is usually an antifungal medicine called azoles. Azoles can either be used internally into the vagina, or taken orally as a capsule, or both at the same time. Pre and Probiotics should be taken to help build up the good bacteria and women should take care with personal hygiene. Partners may also need to be treated to prevent further reintroduction of thrush via sexual intercourse.

3. UTI- Urinary tract infection

When a woman has a urinary tract infection (UTI), she will be likely to feel burning in and around the vagina when urinating. There may be other presenting symptoms such as:

  • needing to urinate more frequently, or have urgency to urinate
  • pain with urination
  • smelly, or cloudy urine
  • blood in urine
  • pain in lower stomach and radiating pain into the back and kidney area
  • feeling tired or unwell

When a woman has a urinary tract infection antibiotics will be needed and the antibiotics needed will depend on what the cause of the infection is. Usually an infection will clear up in around 5 days after starting a course of antibiotics.Repeat medication may be required if an infection returns.

4. Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is the most common vaginal infection in women aged 15 to 44. Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is a condition that occurs when there is too much of certain kinds of bad bacteria in the vagina, affecting the balance of good bacteria and flora. One of the main symptoms of BV is a burning sensation in the vagina, which can also occur when urinating.

BV does not always cause symptoms but when it does cause symptoms, besides a burning sensation, it can cause the following:

  • white or gray vaginal discharge
  • pain and irritation
  • itching and redness
  • strong fish-like odor, especially after sex (one of the key symptoms)

Having BV can increase a woman’s risk of STI’s and it can also increase her risk of miscarriage, once she is pregnant. If you think that you may have the symptoms of BV, you need to have it check by your doctor as soon as possible. BV is usually treated with antibiotics and you can use complementary medicines to assist in the treatment as well. It is a good idea to restore the good bacteria into the gut and vagina as well. This can be done through the use of prebiotic and probiotic bacteria combined.

5. Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis is a common STI and is caused by a parasite that is passed from one person to another during sexual intercourse. Many people may not know that have Trichomoniasis, but symptoms can present with a burning sensation and may  also present with  the following:

  • itching, redness, or soreness
  • discomfort when urinating
  • women can have vaginal discharge that can be clear, white, yellow, or green and with a fishy smell

Trichomoniasis can increase a woman’s risk of miscarriage, so it need to be treated asap. Trichomoniasis is treated by using certain forms of medicines called azoles.

6. Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is an sexually transmitted infection where bacteria called Neisseria gonorrheae infect mucous membranes, such as the cervix, uterus, and fallopian tubes. If a woman is infected with gonorrhoea she can experience vaginal burning when urinating, as well as the following symptoms:

  • pain when urinating
  • vaginal discharge
  • vaginal bleeding between periods

Gonorrhea can be cured with the right medical treatment and it needs to be treated with specific medications. Often dual forms of medication are used for effective treatment.

7. Chlamydia

Chlamydia is a common STI caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis and is  transmitted through sexual intercourse with someone who has the infection.

If a woman comes in contact with chlamydia through intercourse, many times she may be asymptomatic (meaning no symptoms) and this is why it is often known as a silent infection. When symptoms do occur it can cause a burning sensation in the vagina and surrounding area. There can be other symptoms which include:

  • increased vaginal discharge
  • pain with urination and pain during sex
  • bleeding during sex and between periods

Chlamydia can cause damage to a woman’s reproductive organs and can affect her fertility, so it is important to have this treated as soon as possible.  Chlamydia is treated using specific high dose antibiotics. Treatment may also require IV antibiotics and for someone to be admitted to hospital while these are being administered.

8. Genital herpes

Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted disease caused by skin-to-skin contact with a person with the herpes virus. Once a person has the virus, it stays with them for life. Sometimes the virus can remain dormant and then at certain stages of life (during stress, illness etc), it can become active and start producing symptoms.

If the virus becomes active, they might experience a burning sensation in the vagina, along with some of the following symptoms:

  • an itching or tingling sensation
  • flu-like symptoms
  • swollen glands
  • pain in the vaginal area, particularly when urinating
  • change in vaginal discharge

Painful sores, blisters, or ulcers may also develop after a few days. The symptoms of genital herpes can be treated with antiviral medication but once you have herpes, it cannot be cured. You just need to manage it and its symptoms.

9. Lichen sclerosus

Lichen sclerosus is a skin condition that affects the vulva area in women. Lichen sclerosus can cause burning sensation around the vulva area. It can also cause the following symptoms:

  • itching and tenderness.
  • Pain
  • Scarring
  • Wrinkling and white patches

Postmenopausal women are most susceptible to have lichen sclerosus. The cause is thought to be an autoimmune response of some kind, since the condition is associated with autoimmune disorders such as Graves’ disease and vitiligo. Treatment includes topical steroid creams, other medications, silica cream, zinc cream and regular medical monitoring. Lichen sclerosus is linked to an increased risk of vulvar cancer.

10. Menopause

Vaginal and vulva burning can be as a result of the perimenopause, or menopause stages of life. The shifting levels of hormones in a woman’s body before she enters menopause can affect the vagina and surrounding area. Burning sensations, in the vagina and around the vulva area is one possible result of these changes, especially during sex.

Some of the common symptoms of the perimenopause/menopause period are:

  • hot flushes & night sweats
  • difficulty sleeping
  • reduced sex drive
  • vaginal dryness
  • headaches
  • mood changes
  • Pain with sex
  • Atrophic vaginitis.

Not all women entering menopause have treatment to relieve symptoms, but there are often options available that a doctor, or healthcare practitioner, can outline, including hormone therapy. There are also many natural therapies that can help during peri-menopause and menopause stages of life.

What you can do to help yourself

Many causes of vaginal burning require medical treatment. If you are concerned, the best you can do is to see your healthcare practitioner. There are things you can do before seeing your doctor. Sometimes a ice pack or cold compress to the affected area can help reduce the burning sensation. You can also try some over the counter soothing creams, or antifungals.

Make sure you are practicing proper hygiene and cleaning the outer area of the vulva properly. Women should avoid using douches, which can affect the good bacteria and internal flora of the vagina.  Wearing cotton underwear and avoiding tight-fitting clothes can help reduce irritation in the vaginal area. It is also important to avoid products that could irritate the area further, such as perfumed soap, scented toilet paper, and sanitary products with deodorant, or a plastic coating.

Possible complications

Some causes of vaginal burning, such as urinary tract infections, BV, STI’s, lichen sclerosis can have some serious complications if left untreated. Cancer also needs to be ruled out so this is why it is important to have any symptoms of burning checked out by your doctor.

STI’s can affect future fertility and are also harmful to women who are pregnant, as they can affect their baby, or pregnancy. Many STI’s can cause preterm delivery and also increase the risk of miscarriage.

While some causes of vaginal and vulva burning may go away on their own over time, it is still important to go and get your doctor’s advice just to be safe. If your symptoms aren’t going away, are becoming worse, or are of a concern, then the woman should go and see a doctor as soon as possible. The longer you leave something, the worse it can get and the more issues it can cause, if left untreated. Many of the cases of burning sensation in the vagina and around the vulva will be relieved once the underlying cause is treated properly and with the appropriate medicines.

While medical options will be needed for some conditions, there are complementary medicines and complementary medicine modalities that may be able to assist your particular issue, or alongside medical treatments. Please always see a qualified healthcare practitioner and not use Dr Google, or take advice from friends or family for any medical advice.

Take care


Dr Andrew Orr

(Reproductive Medicine & Women’s Health Medicine Specialist)

-No Stone Left Unturned

Red wine protects your teeth and gums and helps your gut health as well

Researchers have now identified yet another reason why you should keep enjoying a glass of red wine. While Red wine stains the teeth, a new study says that it might protect your oral health at the same time. The findings were published in the journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry

The research was led by M. Victoria Moreno-Arribas and colleagues from Instituto de Investigación en Ciencias de la Alimentación in Madrid, and the Department of Health and Genomics at the Center for Advanced Research in Public Health in Valencia.

Polyphenols to the rescue

We already know plenty of reasons to have a nice glass or red and how good it can be for our health. A recent study said that it could help to keep the brain young, and previous research has tied it to hormonal health as well as heart disease prevention. Studies have also shown that drinking a glass of vino each day may help us to live longer as well. But as we always say, alcohol is good for us in moderation, not in excess and should be consumed with food and not on an empty stomach.

While know that red wine has many health benefits, new research from Instituto de Investigación en Ciencias de la Alimentación in Madrid, and the Department of Health and Genomics at the Center for Advanced Research in Public Health in Valencia have revealed red wine may protect against the formation of cavities and against gum disease.

Many of the health benefits of red wine come from its content of polyphenols, which are a series of micronutrients with antioxidant properties. We know that some of these antioxidants, such as resveratrol, can protect against action of free radicals, which play a key role in the cellular aging process.

But polyphenols are also super nutrients which help our microbiome and help with our good gut bacteria. Some polyphenols can be absorbed into the small intestine and there they interact with the gut microbiota and fend off bad gut bacteria that might threaten our health. The research team found that polyphenols found in red wine and grapes could have a similar, protective effect in the mouth, fending off harmful oral bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease.

What the researchers found was that the two red wine polyphenols caffeic acid and p-coumaric acid were most effective at repelling the harmful oral bacteria and preventing them from attaching to healthy tissue. They also found that phenolic metabolites, which are substances formed as the polyphenols start transforming in the mouth, suggested that these small products may in fact be the “active ingredient” associated with the polyphenols’ protective effect.

This is great news for those that like to have a nice glass of red and this research also adds to more health benefits of drinking red wine. But as said before, red wine is an alcoholic beverage and as such it is important not to overdo it either. What is your friend, in moderation, can also be your enemy in excess. The good thing is now you can enjoy a nice glass of red in moderation and know you are getting many health benefits from it, and also know that your teeth and gut health (microbiome), are being looked after as well.


Dr Andrew Orr

Reproductive Medicine & Women’s Health Medicine Specialist

-No Stone Left Unturned

Soft Drinks/Sweetened Drinks Reduce a Couple’s Chances of Conceiving by 30 Percent

Consuming just one sweetened soft drink a day reduces a couples’ chances of conceiving by more than 30 per cent, according to new research published in the journal of epidemiology in February 2018.

Men who drink at least one sugary softdrink/soda a day reduce their chances of fathering a child by 33 per cent, research has found.

Women who drink just one sugar-sweetened softdrink/soda beverage a day are 25 per cent less likely to become pregnant in any given month, the research adds.

Before you think about switching to diet soft drinks, or diet soda, you may want to think again. Studies have shown that diet drinks of any kind are actually worse than the ones containing real sugar. These diet drinks contain aspartame, which then gets converted to phenylalanine in the body. Phenylalanine is toxic and what we use to preserve dead bodies with. It can have a detrimental effect on fertility.

Previous research has also shown that eggs and embryos may fail to thrive in high blood glucose environments. Sugar and highly refined foods has also been linked to erectile dysfunction in men.

The researchers analysed 3,828 women and 1,045 of their male partners, who enrolled in the study between June 2013 and May 2017, and were followed until pregnancy or for up to 12 menstrual cycles. The couples were not using fertility treatments and had only been trying to conceive for six months or less.

The researchers from Boston University found positive associations between intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and lower fertility, which were consistent after controlling for many other factors, including obesity, caffeine intake, alcohol, smoking and overall diet quality.

Couples planning a pregnancy should be looking and lifestyle and diet before trying to conceive and consider limiting their consumption of these beverages, especially because they are also related to other adverse health effects.

In my comprehensive fertility program, diet and lifestyle choices are all covered along with everything a couple needs to conceive. No stone is left unturned with my multi-modality approach to fertility, where everything on a medical level, as well as a complementary medicine level is covered, alongside dietary and lifestyle management. This truly integrative fertility program has helped over 12,500 babies into the world and those numbers are increasing everyday


Dr Andrew Orr

Reproductive Medicine & Women’s Health Medicine Specialist

-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


Dr Andrew Orr

Reproductive Medicine & Women’s Health Medicine Specialist

-No Stone Left Unturned



Acne Can Be a Major Sign That You Have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common reproductive/endocrine disorder — and most common cause of infertility — affecting 9 -18% of women around the world. One of the major signs that you may have PCOS is acne on the face, or other parts of your body. Many women will have this one symptom overlooked and then have a major reproductive/endocrine disorder overlooked as well.

Despite the prevalence of this chronic condition, one-third of women diagnosed with PCOS saw at least three health professionals over the course of two years before receiving a diagnosis, according to a study from the University of Pennsylvania.

Polycystic Ovaries (PCO) is a characterised by multiple cystic growths on the ovaries. In large it is an endocrine and hormonal disorder, but it has potential to cause gynaecological and reproductive issues and these issues can be varied. Women with PCOS may not have cystic formation and just have symptoms that are part of the syndrome only (eg-acne, irregular cycle).  PCO and PCOS really are two different conditions, but now they are both put under the one title of PCOS and this actually isn’t correct. Some women only have the cysts (PCO), while others have no cysts but have the syndrome (PCOS). Some have both. The one thing that they all have in common is that they all have insulin resistance. The other thing we know is that there is usually a family member with the same condition whom has passed the condition on genetically. Often the family member passing on the genetic traits, doesn’t even know that have the condition in the first place.

Recent studies have shown that there are “major gaps” in education and support for women with these conditions (PCO and PCOS). We see the same thing with other gynaecological conditions such as endometriosis and Adenomyosis and why these conditions can take up to a decade to be diagnosed properly

As a Reproductive Medicine and Women’s Health Specialist I see these same issues with so many women waiting years to get a proper diagnosis and they have seen multiple healthcare professionals in both the medical and complementary medicine profession. It also creates confusion and anxiety for women who just want an answer to their condition and are not being diagnosed properly and also getting conflicting advice and treatment in the interim.

The signs and symptoms of PCOS are very clear and easily diagnosed, but many healthcare professionals end up focussing on one symptom, while overlooking the bigger picture and then these poor women get their condition missed.

Acne is one of the major signs of having PCOS and many women have his overlooked, or unaware that they may have a condition that could affect their fertility later on. If a women presents with Acne, irregular periods etc, I know there is a very good chance that she could have, or actually has PCOS. The problem for these women, as explained before is that healthcare providers and placing too much emphasis on only one of these symptoms, which is usually the Acne, or just that the cycle is irregular. Then women are then put on the Pill and these symptoms are masked for years, until they try and have a child and have difficulty doing so. The other issue is that the acne is often the focus, due to vanity reasons, and this is also why the many of the treatments for the acne are not working, because they are failing to treat the root cause of the issue. It just becomes one big vicious circle that goes round and round until someone finally diagnoses the actual cause properly.

Women with PCOS also have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes, metabolic syndrome and anxiety and depression, and studies have shown that the longer it takes for the condition to be diagnosed, the longer the patients condition begins to affect both their physical, emotional and reproductive health

The most common signs of PCOS are:

  • Absent, Irregular and Inconsistent menstrual periods,
  • Acne
  • Excess hair growth (some women can have hair loss too)
  • Central obesity

But many women with PCOS are of normal body weight and can actually be underweight too. It can affect women of any shape, weight or size. Some women with PCOS have regular menstrual cycles and can be fairly asymptomatic (meaning no symptoms) too

Just like endometriosis, women with PCOS are often missed and dismissed and the impact this has can be significant psychologically and also significant on their future fertility. There needs to be better health professional resources and international dissemination to improve diagnosis, education, management and reproductive and health outcomes.

I am always saying to healthcare professionals (medical and complementary medicine) that if you don’t know how to do your job properly, you don’t know how to diagnose conditions like PCOS or Endometriosis properly, or it is out of your scope of practice, get out of the way and refer these women onto people who are trained to diagnose and manage these conditions properly.

Lets, help put and end to PCOS and also put an end to Endometriosis and other inflammatory gynaecological conditions as well. Let’s break the silence and help women get the diagnosis and care they need. Early intervention and treatment is crucial for any disease state and let’s help women get this care sooner.

Take care


Dr Andrew Orr

-The Brisbane Baby Maker

-Women’s and Men’s Health Advocate


-“Period Pain IS NOT normal”

-“Leaving no Stone Left Unturned”

Lets Talk About Pain, Pain Medication, Dependency, Detox & Withdrawal Symptoms

Recently I did a post on over the counter pain medicines and how that as of February 2018, that some of these codeine based pain medicines, will now no longer be available over the counter in Australia. I know that in other parts of the world, these medications are not available over the counter anyway and in some countries even paracetamol is not available as readily as it is here in Australia.

The post surely did get people talking and it surely highlighted some very important points. It also highlighted how many people are in pain daily and something that I have known for a long time. I actually know that pain and people with pain conditions, aren’t managed very well. It also highlighted that many people are self managing pain conditions and that many do not realise that they in fact dependent on medications, alcohol and other drugs. Many also do not realise that the pain and symptoms they are experiencing daily, may in fact be withdrawal and dependence symptoms from their medications and substances they are using, including alcohol, and may have nothing to do with their condition at all. It is a very complex issue and there needs to be more education around this very sensitive issue.

Now, before we get started and before anyone tries to bring the personal/emotional side of things into this, I need to be very clear on this and set some boundaries up front. I need everyone to listen to this, so it is clear and that what I am about to say is coming from personal experience, clinical experience and someone who cares and is just trying to help with the right advice and right education around this issues.

So before we start I need to get a few things straight

  1. I have lived with a painful condition and have used pain medication and been dependent on pain medications. I have also withdrawn off pain medications
  2. I have loved ones who have pain conditions, who suffer daily and have also used pain medications to get through their day. Also know many of these have learned to manage and overcome their disease and pain too.
  3. People in pain, need help to get out of pain and pain medications are one way of doing this
  4. Many people who are in pain are actually dependent on pain medications and are completely unaware that they are dependent
  5. It is completely OK to take pain medication when someone is in pain. It just needs to be monitored a little better than it has been in the past.
  6. Please take the personal out of this and just sit back and listen
  7. I am not here to judge, or attack anyone
  8. This post is purely from heart, from caring and also about helping people with education so that they can get help if they need to
  9. The first part of any change and getting help is admitting you have an issue, or a problem, in the first place.
  10. The is no guilt, shame, or anything wrong with admitting you have a problem, or a dependency
  11. For the sake of this post I am going to used the word “Dependency”, rather than the words “Abuse” or “Addict”
  12. Perception is reality and sometimes ones perception is not reality, or based on all the facts
  13. Not all pain is from the withdrawal of medications either, but some of it could be.
  14. We are here to support people and care for people, not attack them. Anyone found attacking another on any posts surrounding this subject, will be deleted.
  15. Lastly, to get help, you need to see a qualified healthcare practitioner and you should only ever rely on information from a qualified health expert, not from your friends, your support groups, or anyone without a proper qualification in things to do with medical, medicines, or health conditions.

Right, now we have set the boundaries and we are clear, we can move forward and I can start explaining about pain, pain medications, pain pathways and also withdrawal symptoms

Before I start, I need everyone to open, his or her, minds a bit and think of how you feel when you have had some alcohol. Let’s not forget that alcohol is a drug and it can make you feel good initially and then not so good if you have a few glasses, or more. You can also become dependent on it too, and yes, it can be abused.

So, say you have a few glasses of alcohol, how do you feel while you are consuming it and shortly after?

This is for the average person, but most people would feel a little warm and tingling and feel quite good wouldn’t they?

But, even with a few glasses, would you necessarily wake up OK the next morning?

Some people might wake up semi OK, some might feel a little less than OK?

For some, a few are nothing because they are used to having way more. Some of these people may in fact be dependent and actually have an alcohol dependency.

So, say you have more than a few glasses of alcohol, how might you feel the next morning?

More than likely you may feel a little dusty, or for some, you may in fact have what we all know to be a hangover… is that correct?

You might feel really tired, irritable, nauseas, sore, have a headache, or a really bad head that feels like it might explode, and all the senses are just a little on hyper-drive and you would feel a little off??

Now that we are clear that alcohol can give you a hangover and make you a bit sick and that alcohol is in fact a drug, let me ask you this?

If alcohol is a drug and it can give you a hangover, even after one night of taking it, and taking just a few glasses of it, then why would not a medication, that can produce all the initial effects of alcohol, then not cause you a “Hangover Effect” the next day as well????

Just have a think about that for one second and let it really sink in.

Hmmmm, what are you thinking now?

Well, I am sure this is where we get some people going “But, but, but!”

Well there are no “But’s”. This is the hard but honest truth. Any drug, being prescription, over the counter, off the street and illegal, can cause you a withdrawal and hangover effect. Also, the longer you take those drugs, the more you take them etc, the more you need to take and the more dependent you become on them. This doesn’t mean I don’t get why people take these medications. I do get it and I get all the reasons behind it too. This is just to explain everything logically and properly to people so that they also get that they may not be managed properly and that they may also be dependent on medications, which are actually in the long term, making all their symptoms worse, or actually causing the ones they have now.

Just so people don’t forget, please go back to points 1 and point 2 in the ground rules I set before. I have lived with pain and I have loved ones who are in pain and yes, I have taken pain medications and so have my loved ones.

Ok, so we are now all on the same page and are clear here, yes, many of the medications that people are taking daily, or periodically, or once off, or chugging down by the packet load, or are actually causing them rebound symptoms and withdrawal symptoms, when those drugs wear off.

We also need to recognise that some people are only taking medications every so often, when they need them too and this is more for people who are medication daily, or frequently. But even still, people do need to be away of rebound symptoms from taking medications, even periodically.

When we talk about “withdrawal” and “rebound symptoms”, let’s all go back to the alcohol story. We know that the hangover symptoms occur because of a rebound and withdrawal affect from the alcohol messing with the symptom, causing dehydration, causing inflammation and then causing all manner of symptoms from nausea, headaches, tiredness and even muscle and joint pain. The same goes for when you take any pain medications, especially those that are opiates, or contain codeine, or convert to morphine in the body.

Are we all getting this yet??

Right, then lets move on.

Now, the longer you take a medication the more your body gets used to it and the more that you may have to take to get that same therapeutic affect on the body and the pain that you are trying to manage. But, the more you have to take, the more dependent you become on that medication and the more worse you are going to feel when the medication wears off and tries to leave the body. Then it is going to take longer to ween off the medication, when you finally realise that you are dependent and that you need to so something about it. That is if you have that realisation, or finally admit there may be an issue.

One of the things that I have mentioned many times before, is that sometimes the body has been in pain that long, that the body doesn’t realise that it isn’t in pain any longer, that you also need to turn that response off, because it has actually become a habit, rather than the body actually still being in pain. The other issue is that the pain medications may in fact now be what are causing the pain, through rebound symptoms and withdrawal.  This one is a bit tricky to explain to people, but in essence what we need to do is actually tell the body it isn’t in pain any longer, so that it switches off that response in the brain. To do that we need to detox an individual and then see what pain really does exist still and then manage those remaining symptoms. I will talk about proper medical detox further in the post.

Now let’s look at how pain medications, opiates and some elicit drugs work

Pain medications, Opiates and other pain relieving drugs, all change the way the brain responds to pain and they can also produce a “high” feeling by disrupting the reward and pleasure centres in the brain. This is why they can make you feel a bit stoned, or a bit light headed and why you should not drive, or operate machinery etc, while you are taking them. They can dehydrate and constipate you too, so this is why you should only take as directed and also make sure you drink enough water, take some electrolytes and take it easy too. Let’s not forget the serious side effects of medications that can put overload on your liver and other vital organs and actually shut them down, if taken for long enough, or in a super high dose.

The central nervous system, which includes the brain, cardiovascular and respiratory systems, has opioid and pain medication receptors that receive opiate drugs and other pain medications, and these drugs bring a variety of physical and emotional effects. Your heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, and body temperature are usually all lowered while pleasant feelings are increased. It can cause the opposite effect too, where some people get hyper-activated responses too.

Repeated use, or abuse, of pain medications, or an opioid drug, can actually change the way an individual’s brain chemistry works and then lead to physical and psychological dependence. The body may not feel “normal” anymore without the drug’s interaction, and withdrawal symptoms may start in between doses or when an individual stops taking the pain medication, or drug they are on.

What Are Pain Medication, Drugs and Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms?

Certain over the counter medications (such as codeine based meds), prescription painkillers, Opiates and heroin, can produce withdrawal symptoms just hours after the last dose, and the symptoms can last for a week or more. Sometimes these symptoms can be minor, but many times they can cause all manner of symptoms, which I will list below in detail. Some symptoms can be major and unassisted withdrawal may, or may not be life-threatening. When someone doesn’t withdraw properly it can also lead to relapse and further dependence on a medication, or drug. Medications and therapy, accessed in medical detox, may make relapse less likely. I’ll talk about why it is necessary to do a proper medical detox first, before seeing practitioners outside the medical detox model.

What Are Pain Medication ad Drug Dependency Symptoms?

Pain medication and drug withdrawal symptoms can last about a week, or even longer for some, and may include:

  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Depression
  • Muscles aches
  • Insomnia
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Anxiety
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Diarrhea
  • Bowel Pain and Rectal Pressure
  • Severe bloating
  • Fluid Retention
  • Sweating
  • Body aches
  • Runny nose
  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Many other symptoms not mentioned here

Detox and Withdrawal Duration

Withdrawal is the collection of side effects that occur when a drug is removed from the brain and body of someone who is dependent on it, while detox is the actual removal of the drug itself.

Withdrawal symptoms can last anywhere from a couple of days to up to a week or longer. For most pain medications and prescription opiates, withdrawal symptoms take shape 8-12 hours after the last dose and it peaks in the first 72 hours. The time within the withdrawal period depends on the medication, or drug taken. This is where rebound symptoms can occur.

The first week of withdrawal is typically the worst, but some symptoms may actually last longer. Symptoms typically last up to one month, but can linger for several months. Some effects can be permanent if there is a genuine abuse of a medication. Symptoms that can last longer than one week include tiredness, muscles aches and tiredness, depression, anxiety, and trouble with sleeping.

This diagram shows the withdrawal of these medications and time frames of side effects from withdrawal after the last dose is taken.

Medical Detox

Detox may begin before withdrawal symptoms start and while the drug is still active in the body. This way the drug can be safely removed. During medical detox, individuals are monitored around the clock for 5-7 days, vital signs are continually checked, and medications may be used to control more difficult withdrawal symptoms. If an individual is heavily dependent on pain medications, opiates, or took large amounts of the drug for a long time, or has a family or personal history of addiction, medical detox may last up to 10 days. Medical detox ensures that an individual is stable before moving on with a comprehensive substance dependence treatment and management program.

Relapse after a proper detox can increase the risk for a potentially life-threatening overdose since the brain and body may not be used to the same amount of drugs that was used before. Each year around 30,000 people worldwide die each year as the result of a prescription pain reliever overdose. Each year around 500,000 people worldwide seek emergency department treatment for a reaction to the abuse, or dependency of pain medications or drugs to help with pain. By decreasing pain medication side effects and dependency on these medications as drugs, an individual may be less prone to seek out these same pain medications and drugs again after detox. Medical detox can help sustain abstinence and potentially prevent a tragic, relapse-related consequence.

While there are non-medical forms of detox, I wouldn’t recommend someone doing these until a proper medical detox is done. Proper support and around the clock care is needed in the initial stages of a proper detox and this really cannot be provided out in private practice, or by complementary medicine practitioners during this initial stage. I am all for people seeing natural medicine practitioners and using natural medicines but this needs to be done after the initial medical detox. That first phase needs 24-hour care, medicines, psychological care and so many things that would be really hard to find out in a non-medical environment. There are some specialised centres that use a multimodality approach, using medical science and complementary medicines, but these are few and not always cheap to access either.

Sure, after the initial medical side of things, go your hardest and you should be seeking natural alternatives to pain medications and looking and diet and lifestyle choices to help deal with pain. You should also be seeking alternatives to pain medications and seeking therapies that can help manage your pain, such as acupuncture, herbal medicines, pilates, yoga, counselling etc. All these things are important for ongoing care and helping deal with disease states and ongoing pain. But if you have reached the point where you are dependent on a medication, or drug, you are going to need lots of help and you will need help with proper detox first. Please, do not think that those packet over the counter detoxes from a chemist etc, are a proper detox. They are just a herbal laxative that cleans out your bowel. Always speak to a qualified professional to get proper advice about detox and microbiome restore.

Having lived with pain and having actually properly detoxed off meds years ago, it wasn’t until I was off all meds and things managed properly while detoxing, that I realised that some of my daily pain, was actually withdrawal effect of my pain meds. I don’t think many people realise that this happens and all the nausea and migraines and headaches and increased pain, is actually withdrawal. Only once pain is managed well, a proper medical detox done and then a plan put in place, do people realise how much the meds were actually part of their daily struggle and it was all withdrawal. Then you can use proper pain management strategies and alternatives for pain and also preventative strategies too.

I hope this has given you all a better insight into pain, pain medications and withdrawal symptoms and if you aren’t being managed properly for your pain and pain condition, then you need to talk to your healthcare professional about this. Everyone’s pain and pain symptoms are going to be different, even if they have the same disease state, or inflammatory condition. This is why individual treatment plans are much more effective than a treating the masses approach.

I’ll do a separate post of some alternative to pain medications and drugs shortly, as it is whole post in itself. I will be collaborating with integrative medicine practitioner and mindfulness expert Rosa Bunn on this topic. 

In the meantime have a read of my post about me knowing what it is like to live with pain

I have written quite a few articles on pain and pain management and I urge you all to have a read of them all, so that it gives you some understanding of where I am coming from and also some helpful pain management strategies


Take care and if you do need help with pain and pain management and getting of pain medications, you can always come and see me and book in a proper consultation and I can help you and point you in the right direction too. Sometimes we all need a little help in the right direction and sometimes the first step is admitting you have a problem in the first place. Oh, yes, I also get that many of you have been missed and dismissed also and this is why you are where you are now.

Telling it how it is and keeping it real. I get it and I understand.


Dr Andrew Orr

Reproductive Medicine & Women’s Health Medicine Specialist

-No Stone Left Unturned