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The Importance of Following Through With Advice, Treatments & Change

I see so many people who have been ‘missed’ and ‘dismissed’ and who have suffered in silence with their disease state.

But the biggest shame is when those that are offered real help, then do nothing with that advice and continue on the vicious, merry-go-round cycle of their disease.

My motto is “No Stone Left Unturned” and I apply that to every patient that I see. My initial consults are usually 1-2 hours in length and I also do lots of preliminary work prior to see a patient as well. I make sure all my patients are now only sent health appraisal questionnaires, but are also evaluated with mood and stress questionnaires for their mental health too. I really want to delve into every fine detail of a persons life to see what may be driving their disease state and symptoms. It is to also help with diagnosing those that have not been properly diagnosed either. I then write up a comprehensive report for all my patients, with everything they need to do, the changes they need to make, the medicines they need to take, the investigations and testing they need to have and all their step by step health management moving forward. No Stone Is Left Unturned as I mentioned before

As I mention in this video blog is that the greatest shame is those that come to get the advice and help and then do nothing with it. Just remember that if you do not change anything, or do the work needed, then nothing changes. The key to real change is actually within you.

If you so need help with a particular health issue, or you just aren’t getting the right answers and care, then please book in a time to see me and let me be your guide to better health and getting your life back to normal.

 

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17 Reasons You Should Having Regular Sex and Orgasms

Part of my job as a baby maker and women’s and men’s health specialist is to talk about sex, talk about climax and the benefits of this for a couple, or an individual.

Regular sex, or regular climax, can help have many benefits for an individual, with it helping everything from menstrual pain, right through to increasing pregnancy rates, regulation of the menstrual cycle and even helping moods, sleep and helping your live longer

Here are 17 reasons why you should be having regular climax, or regular sex and many of the health benefits that go with it.

1.It’s Exercise
It’s not necessarily a full workout, but it can be as good for you as moderate exercise. It raises your heart rate about the same as a brisk walk or a slow bike ride.

2.Good for a Woman’s Heart
Women who have sex a couple of times a week are less likely to get heart disease than those who have it once a month. Whether that’s because healthier women enjoy it more often, or because it helps protect a woman’s heart is unclear.

3.May Cure Your Headache
Say goodbye to the old standby “Not tonight, Dear. I have a headache.” It turns out sex can help with pain, and that includes some kinds of headaches, such as migraines. Not feeling frisky? Try: “Not tonight, Honey. I have a highly contagious stomach bug.” Works every time.

4.Lowers Stress
People who have more sex are less anxious when they’re faced with stressful tasks like public speaking or arithmetic. But according to the study, it only works when you have a partner — masturbation doesn’t count.

5.You May Live Longer
One study suggested that married women who climaxed more often had a slight tendency to live longer. Researchers aren’t sure if the sex actually lengthens your life or it’s just a side effect of a healthy lifestyle. But why take any chances?

6.Sharpens Your Mind
Sex has been linked to the making of new brain cells, and that’s a good thing. People over 50 who had more sex were better able to recall numbers and do basic math, and the difference was pretty big. It seemed to help men more than women, but both did better than those who had less sex.

7.Makes You Happy
You don’t have to overdo it — once a week is plenty. More than that, and the effect fades. But scientists only studied couples in committed relationships, so if you’re trying to meet your quota by picking up strangers at your local bar, all bets are off.

8.Bonds You to Your Partner
The hormone oxytocin is released during sex, and it sparks feelings of intimacy, affection, and closeness with your partner. That helps build a strong, stable relationship, which is good for everyone.

9.Keeps You Lean
The more sex you have, the slimmer you’re likely to be. Is that because more sex keeps you trim? Or because lean people have more sex? Scientists don’t really know, but all you need is a partner and a bathroom scale to try to find out.

10.Good for Mental Health
Adults in committed relationships who have more sex are less likely to be depressed or take medication for mental health issues. Orgasm also helps with the release of beneficial hormones such as oxytocin and these help us feel euphoric and also help with other endorphins in the body. These then make us feel better emotionally.

11.Helps Your Immune System
Move over, vitamin C. College students who had sex twice a week had more cold-fighting antibodies in their saliva than those who had sex less often. Couples who have regular sex have healthier immune systems and tend to be healthier overall.

12.Helps You Sleep
Orgasm triggers a surge of endorphins and oxytocin in both men and women, and that dulls pain and relaxes you. Both of those can help you sleep more easily, though according to scientists — and many women — the effect is more pronounced in men.

13.Lowers Risk of Cancer
Men who have more sex may be less likely to get prostate cancer, and women less likely to get breast cancer. Pregnancy and contact with sperm are both linked to the lower risk in women.

14.You Could Make a Baby
If you’re trying to have a baby, the more sex you have, the more likely you are to hit the right time of the month. But more sex may also prime women for pregnancy and improve sperm quality in men, which can speed things along. An egg has but 24 hours to be fertilized otherwise it dies. We also know that ovulation does not occur just mid-cycle either. Couples doing IVF also need to have regular sex as climax helps with implantation (by hormones and increased blood supply into the lining) and sperm also assist in helping with implantation as well. Many couples stop having sex during IVF and this is where they are going wrong.

15.It helps regulate your menstrual cycle
Regular climax nourishes the uterine and vagina with blood flow, but it also stimulates hormones, which help to also nourish the uterus, vagina and reproductive organs. Oxytocin helps with moods but it also helps with keeping your cycle regular. Research has also shown that sperm actually help to trigger ovulation.

16.Climax helps with Gynaecological issues and menstrual pain
Regular climax (not just sex with penetration) helps with increasing blood flow into the pelvic cavity, the uterine lining, vagina and surrounding areas which helps to keep your reproductive organs and muscles healthy. Hormones and increased blood flow also help with pain and circulation too. Climax helps with the microcirculation of the reproductive organs and also helps with keeping ovarian function regular and healthy too. As said before regular climax can help trigger ovulation, keep the cycle regular, but sperm can also help with this also. We do know that some women with endometriosis and adenomyosis do have pain with penetrative sex, but climax does not necessarily need for penetration to happen.

NB-  If you do have pain with intercourse, please make sure you get investigated properly as there are treatments and management to help this.

17.Helps Your Future Health and is Anti-Aging.
People who have more sex may have better quality of life — and not just now, but in the future, too. If you have an active sex life in middle age, you’re more likely to keep it up as you get older, which is linked to better health and happiness. Regular sex and climax is also anti-aging.

Final Word

Please remember that sex and regular climax has more benefits to it that the actual enjoyment part of it. It helps with intimacy, helps bring couples closer together and it helps with many other health benefits in the body. In practice I am seeing a huge disconnect with both men and women and their reproductive organs and this is why we are seeing so many issues with gynaecological conditions, couples not being able to conceive, relationships issues and issues with peoples health and lifestyles.

In a healthy relationship, couples should be having sex at least 1-3 times per week and if you are trying to have a baby, you should be having sex everyday and be going for it multiple times per day to increase your chances of conception. Maybe it’s time to turn off the TV, close the computer, turn off the mobile phone and spend more time in the bedroom with your own lives, then watching someone else’s. You will be healthier and happier for it in the long run.

Take care

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-Women’s and Men’s Health Expert

-No Stone Left Unturned

01 Dr Andrew Orr 1

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Endometriosis IS NOT an Autoimmune disease

There are many statements made about endometriosis and many of them are not factual. This goes for the statement that Endometriosis is an autoimmune disease. In this article I will explain why this statement is false, and not true, and the reasoning behind it.

Everyday I get people telling me all sorts of facts and fictions they have heard on Dr Google. As I always say to people, Dr Google is not a reliable source of health information, unless it is from peer reviewed medical sites. Even then these sites are pretty much restricted to the general public.

Many people are looking for the miracle cure for endometriosis, or the holy grail of causes of it, and why wouldn’t you if this was affecting your life. I know from personal experience with health issues, I do want to know what the cause is and how to treat it.

But like so many conditions many people face each day, sometimes there is no answer just yet. Sometimes we don’t have all the answers and that is just how it is. When this is the case for a disease, I always tell my patients to not get caught up so much on the cause, but rather do the known treatments and management to get better. This is what really matters the most. Plus, like any disease, we need to look at treating the individual and not treat the masses.

Many diseases like endometriosis need a multi-modality approach to treat them effectively and this how I treat my patients and why I have so much success with treating endometriosis. It is about employing the right treatments and treatments that work.

Endometriosis does not fit the classification of an Autoimmune Disease. 

What we do know is that endometriosis is made worse through diet and lifestyle and external influences. We also know that internally there are many things that exacerbate endometriosis too. Behind it all, it is an inflammatory based disease. Any inflammation in the body makes it worse. Plus, endometriosis itself can inflame the body too.

Endometriosis is very much an ‘autoimmune like’ disease, because inflammation is a major driving factor, but it isn’t an autoimmune disease. Endometriosis does not fit the classification of an autoimmune disease as it does not produce auto-antibodies. We also know that endometriosis is normal tissue growing in abnormal areas. Again not producing auto-antibodies.

What we do know

We know that retrograde menstruation is a big factor for some women, but we also know that retrograde menstruation isn’t a factor for others. What we do know is that estrogen is a big driving factor and that endometriosis is estrogen driven. It isn’t from estrogen dominance, or estrogen excess either. What we do know about endometriosis, is that like autoimmune diseases, it is also passed on via genetic and hereditary factors. But again, endometriosis is not an autoimmune disease and does not fit the classifications of an auto-immune disease at this stage.

Like many diseases we get in our body, we often have other disease states expressed at the same time and can be purely coincidental. Some can come from hereditary factors and people are just predisposed to getting this diseases and when the body is inflamed, it just causes this other diseases to be expressed too. If someone has an autoimmune disease and also has endometriosis, this does not mean that endometriosis is autoimmune. There are many women who have endometriosis and who do not have autoimmune diseases as well.

Inflammation is a driving factor 

If a woman has an autoimmune disease at the same time as endometriosis, this is purely coincidental, or it is another hereditary factor that may have been passed onto them through their parent. It needs to be treated independently and not as part of endometriosis. It is all inflammation at the end of the day, so addressing inflammation and immune response will not only help the secondary autoimmune disease, but it will also help the endometriosis.

I’ve talked about the facts and fictions of endometriosis before and we really cannot say endometriosis is an autoimmune disease, because there is no credible, or conclusive research to back that up at this stage.There maybe in the future, but at this stage there is not, so we cannot say that endometriosis is an autoimmune disease.

Is the immune system and inflammation a part of endometriosis? … It sure is

Is endometriosis and autoimmune disease? … It isn’t at this stage

Hope this helps to shed some more light on this disease that affects so many women around this world. Hopefully one day soon we will have all the answers and we can end the horrible world of endometriosis.

If you want to find out more about how endometriosis is not an autoimmune disease, have a read of this great article by A/Prof Jason Abbott from Endometriosis Australia’s page. Click Here

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-Women’s Health Expert

-Endometriosis Expert

-No Stone Left Unturned

-“Period Pain is Not Normal”

01 Dr Andrew Orr 1

 

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Endometriosis a burden on women’s lives

Research published in the Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care found that endometriosis affects women’s sex lives, personal relationships, work life, and emotional well-being.

Endometriosis often takes a long time to be diagnosed and affects all areas of a women’s life, a study has found. Endometriosis is a chronic, recurring disease that is experienced by approximately 10 per cent of women worldwide. This number could be greatly understated as many women have not being diagnosed properly and many women still think period pain is normal.

But, while period pain is part of endometriosis, a significant portion of women with endometriosis are asymptomatic (meaning no symptoms) and only get diagnosed when there is a need for fertility treatment.

Common symptoms include of Endometriosis
• Painful menstruation,
• Heavy menstrual bleeding,
• Painful sex
• IBS like symptoms
• Bladder issues (UTI like symptoms)
• Ovulation Pain
• Pain with bowel movement
• Chronic Fatigue
• Infertility

The Research Unit at the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, reviewed a number of papers that documented women’s experiences of endometriosis. The most common theme was that women had experienced delays in diagnosis.

Many women feel they are being dismissed and this is evident in the fact that it often takes up to “10 years, or more” for women to be diagnosed properly.

The study found that women were more likely to be diagnosed sooner when they approached their doctor describing symptoms as fertility-related rather than a menstrual issue.

The study showed that some women initially delayed seeking help for their symptoms because they believed all women had painful periods. When women revealed their symptoms to a family member, friend or medical professional their experiences were typically normalised as being what all women must endure. Period pain is not normal and all women need to know this.

The study also found that women often felt frustrated and angry at unsatisfactory experiences with healthcare providers, and had concerns about the effectiveness and side effects of treatments.
Women want their doctors to really listen to their experience and concerns. They want to explain the true impact of the condition on their lives, rather than simply rank their pain on a scale from one to 10, or be dismissed each time they try to have their doctor listen to what they are going through on a daily basis.

The study found that further research was needed to gain a comprehensive understanding of endometriosis as experienced by diverse groups of women.

This research will contribute to the improved health care of women with endometriosis in Australia, and around the world.

Too many women being ‘missed’ and ‘dismissed’

I see so many women who have been misdiagnosed, had symptoms missed and been dismissed for years and seen multiple healthcare practitioner, both medical and complementary.

There are clear-cut signs and symptoms that point to endometriosis and we need for healthcare practitioners to start to know this. We also need for practitioners and the public to know that endometriosis can only be diagnosed by a laparoscopy (surgical intervention) and that scans and blood tests, do not diagnose endometriosis.

Lastly, my message to all women is ….. “Period Pain IS NOT Normal” and people need to stop telling women it is.

There is too much BS out there about endometriosis and we need all women and all healthcare practitioners to start knowing the facts. 10 years, or more, to a diagnosis is unacceptable for any health condition. It means many women are being ‘missed’ and ‘dismissed’ along the way.  Let’s put an end to Endometriosis.

If you do need help with period pain, or help managing endometriosis properly, then please book in a consultation with me and I can help you get the help and proper care you need.

Regards
Dr Andrew Orr

-Endometriosis Expert

-Women’s Health Expert

-No Stone Left Unturned

01 Dr Andrew Orr

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

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

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

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

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

All I can keep telling people is that while ultrasounds can find some causes of gynaecological issues, there are many issues they cannot find. It also depends on the technician, or person scanning you too. I know that there are not that many specialised gynaecological radiologists and this is why many things do get missed. I have viewed scans that show abnormalities and the report says that everything is fine. This is why I will only ever read scans and not just reports.

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

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

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

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

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-Women’s Health Expert

-No Stone Left Unturned

01 Dr Andrew Orr

 

Could it be PCOS

Could you have PCOS and not know it ?

Nearly everyday I get young teenage girls, or women in general, coming to my clinic with bad acne and/or menstrual issues only to be diagnosed with PCOS.

For many this is a shock, because they have seen multiple doctors, natural medicine practitioners and even medical specialists whom have missed this very common gynaecological/endocrine/reproductive disorder.

I have previously done posts about it taking many years to get a proper diagnosis previously so please take a look at those posts. Click Here

The problem is many are unaware of the long-term implications on their health and their fertility.

So instead of doing a long post of what PCOS is and how to treat it etc, I am just going to do up a short post about what the signs and symptoms are and if you have 1-2 of the symptoms, there is a big possibility that you actually have PCOS.

Of course you need to come and see someone who specialises in PCOS, like myself, to help you have it confirmed, but we do need to bring about more awareness about this very common gynaecological/endocrine/reproductive disorder that affects many women around the world.

Signs and Symptoms that you could have PCOS
1.Acne
2.Irregular menstrual cycle
3.Skipped menstrual cycles
4.Extended menstrual cycles ( more than 30 plus days)
5.Lack of a menstrual cycle
6.Excess hair growth/Excess Dark hair growth
7.Hair loss
8.Irregular mid-cycle bleeding
9.Ovulation pain
10.Pot belly/ Fluid around the belly/Excess weight around the lower belly
11.Prolonged periods of PMS like symptoms
12.Chronic Pelvic Pain
13.Infertility

All these are common signs that you may have PCOS and you only need to have 1-2 of these symptoms to have it. Some may have all the symptoms while some may just have acne and a cycle that isn’t completely regular.

If you do have any of these signs, you do need to book in and see someone like myself, who specialises in knowing how to diagnose and treat and manage PCOS properly.

Acne is a big pointer to PCOS and often what people come to get treatment for, not realising that actually have a gynaecological/endocrine/reproductive issue.

PCOS is known to be a hereditary disease, but, we also know that diet, lifestyle and stress can be a big part of this disease state developing too.

PCOS can have long term affects on your fertility and can also lead to diabetes and other health complaints, therefore it is so important to get early treatment and early intervention.

In the mean time please have a look at my previous post about PCOS and how to treat it and manage it properly. Click Here

Lastly, please know that period pain and bad ovulation bad is not normal not matter what anyone tells you.

Could you have PCOS?

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-Women’s Health Expert

-No Stone Left Unturned

Dr Andrew Orr Logo Retina 20 07 2016

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Poor Diet, Stress and Sedentary Lifestyle ups Risk of Developing PCOS

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal/endocrine/reproductive issue  and is on the rise due to unhealthy food habits, low physical activity and high stress levels, a new study has found.

It has long been known that insulin resistance and poor dietary and lifestyle habits increase the risk factors for developing PCOS. While being overweight is a risk factor for PCOS, women can be of any body type and still develop PCOS. Women of all body shape can still have poor dietary and lifestyle habits and this is every increasing in our modern world.

Increased refined foods, increased refined grains, increased refined sugars and a sedentary lifestyle are big factors in developing PCOS and also other health conditions such as Diabetes and Heart disease.

We also know that high stress levels can lead to high cortisol levels and high inflammation in the body and then also be drivers of PCOS and many of the conditions that go with this disease state.

What is PCOS

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common hormonal/endocrine/reproductive disorder among women of reproductive age. Symptoms can include include

  • Irregular or absent menstrual cycle
  • facial hair growth and excess body hair (hirsutism)
  • Acne
  • Increase weight and increase body fat (all body types can have PCOS)
  • Infertility and difficulty conceiving

The condition has many physiological implications as well. It also results in emotional and psychological agony in affected women. For more information on PCOS, have a read of my page about “Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome”

A recently concluded study published on the 12th January 2019, has revealed that uncontrolled or untreated PCOS can raise the risk of diabetes, heart disease and infertility. It has also been concluded that psychological issues such as anxiety and depression can also be the consequence of untreated PCOS. This study fits in with many other recent studies and has prompted changes to PCOS guidelines.

The study was conducted on two groups — one group of 150 patients with untreated/uncontrolled PCOS and the other group of 150 women who had controlled PCOS. The study found that those affected with PCOS followed a poor lifestyle, consumed excessive junk food, had no or low physical activity, more intake of refined carbohydrates and high stress levels.

The study also discovered that there was lack of awareness among the affected women and about 40 per cent were seeking information online. This is a major cause of concern as there is a lot of misinformation on the internet and this is leading to women trying to self-diagnose and go off recommendations of friends and internet groups, rather than healthcare professionals who specialise in this area.

During the study, one group was taking probiotics along with maintaining good lifestyle, while the other group was only maintaining good lifestyle. While both groups showed improvement, the group taking probiotics had additional improvement.

Good gut health and restoring the microbiome is something that I have always promoted in women, not only with PCOS, but other gynaecological/reproductive issues as well. New research has shown that healthy levels of good gut bacteria not only help with restoring the microbiome and gut and digestive health, but also help with reducing inflammation, helping with a healthy immune system and helping with psychological health and wellbeing as well.

Women with PCOS need to be properly diagnosed first and then treatments require a multimodality approach with diet and lifestyle interventions as well. Women with PCOS also need to be properly monitored and managed by a healthcare professional and not go off self-diagnosis and recommendation of untrained people.

The long term consequence of mismanaged, or unmanaged PCOS can be damaging on many levels many patients are not aware of this. The problem these days is that everyone wants a quick fix, or a magic pill, and when things don’t seem to be working, they get impatient and either change treatments, or opt advice from untrained people, or friends and this can be very dangerous.

While self-education is very important, self-management can also be detrimental as conditions such as PCOS requires constant motivation, guidance and proper healthcare management. This was also highlight as part of this recent study.

The study also highlighted that the top 3 issues with PCOS were irregular periods, hirsutism and weight issues. Irregular periods, or absent periods affect about 7 in 10 women with PCOS. Hirsutism or the extra hair on face or other parts of body are seen in 70 per cent cases, while 70 per cent to 80 per cent of women with PCOS are either overweight or obese.

But, women of all body types can have PCOS so this also needs to be noted. Many women put off being investigated for symptoms of PCOS because they believe they need to be overweight to have this condition. There also older healthcare practitioners who still believe this to be the case and this is why it often takes up to 3 years for a woman to be properly diagnosed with PCOS.

There are also other symptoms of PCOS that are often overlooked. Acne, dark patches on the skin on back of neck and others areas, skin tags, hair loss, anxiety, depression, difficulty in getting pregnant, recurrent miscarriages and sleep apnoea are other symptoms that a woman may have PCOS.

What the study concluded

Besides the known factors such and diet and lifestyle, the study highlighted that many women with PCOS suffered in ignorance and isolation. Many women with PCOS are often take up to 3 years to be diagnosed and many are misdiagnosed on the way.

The study also showed that many women with PCOS were unaware of the long term fertility and health consequences, and many hardly have any information given to the about this disease. Many women with PCOS are dependent on internet, friends, other people with the disease etc, as their main source of information.

The study also showed that while routine treatments for PCOS are needed, they can be expensive and less effective than proper dietary and lifestyle control.  Poor diet and lifestyle and increased stress levels are a major reason for the rising prevalence of the disease.

In the study diet and lifestyle changes had a comprehensive impact in controlling other health problems like insulin resistance, diabetes, and hypertension. When women were overweight, or obese, and they reduced body fat, there was also improvement in the symptoms and their testing reports.

Probiotic supplementation also had an overall additional benefit in reducing the abdominal fat, LH:FSH ratio, total testosterone, LPS level, menstrual regularity and also preserving the gut and digestive function. The addition of probiotics to any treatment regime for PCOS needs to be looked at as it could be a new PCOS treatment modality in future.

There are many things women can do to help PCOS and the associated symptoms and the short term and long term health consequences of the disease. While diet and lifestyle interventions needs to be part of this and is the number one treatment for PCOS, women with PCOS do need to be carefully monitored by a qualified healthcare practitioner. This then ensures proper care, management and also accountability and also ensures the disease in properly monitored along with any other changes in symptoms. It also helps with monitoring future fertility and future health issues as well.

If you do need help in the treatment, management, or even diagnosis of PCOS, please give my clinic a call, or please a healthcare professional who specialises in PCOS.

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-Women’s Health Expert

-No Stone Left Unturned

Dr Andrew Orr Logo Retina 20 07 2016

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Why Iron Deficiency and Anaemia Should Be Take More Seriously

One of the common things I am seeing in women of all ages is iron deficiency and anaemia. Many women have very low levels of iron and are unaware of the dangers this may pose to their short term, and long term health. We are also seeing women being hospitalised and seek emergency help due to iron deficiency and anaemia and this highlights that there is inadequate management and detection of a very preventable condition. It also means that many women are not taking this matter seriously enough and often put off seeking screening and then aren’t having their iron levels managed properly.

I need to let all women know that having low iron can be very dangerous. It is something that should not be glossed over, or taken lightly. Iron deficiency can and does cause short term and long term health complications.

Iron deficiency can raise the risk of the following health conditions

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Osteoporosis
  • Compromised immune system
  • Increased risk of infections
  • Tachycardia
  • Heart failure
  • Enlarged heart
  • Lung problems
  • Muscle aches and cramps
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Delayed growth and development (mainly in children)

These are just some of the health issues that being low in iron can cause and it very important that we start educating all women and healthcare providers about the importance of iron.

What are the symptoms of Iron Deficiency and Anaemia?

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting, or feeling of feeling faint
  • Pale skin
  • Breathless
  • Frequent headaches
  • Palpitations or racing heart
  • Easily irritated
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Cracked, or reddened tongue, sore tongue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Strange food cravings such as wanting to eat dirt, or clay
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Brittle nails
  • Hair loss
  • Tingling, or crawling feeling in the legs

Iron deficiency is a very common cause of fatigue and other health issues in women and men, but is more commonly seen in women. Iron deficiency is also the most common cause of anaemia.

What are the causes of Iron Deficiency and Anaemia?

  • Heavy menstrual bleeds
  • Endometriosis
  • Adenomyosis
  • Fibroids
  • Polyps
  • Coeliac disease
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Stomach or intestinal ulcers
  • Pregnant and Breast Feeding Women
  • Certain Cancers
  • Vegetarians and Vegans
  • Eating disorders and food restriction
  • Girls going through puberty
  • Certain illnesses

Heavy menstrual bleeds and gynaecological condition’s such as Endometriosis, Adenomyosis, Fibroids and Polyps are some of the main causes of iron deficiency and anaemia in women. This is closely followed by dietary inadequacies and food and nutritional restriction.

Many women have undiagnosed gynaecological conditions which are the cause of their iron deficiency and anaemia. Some of these gynaecological conditions will require surgical interventions to be diagnosed properly.

How are Iron Deficiency and Anaemia Diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider can organise routine blood tests to test for iron deficiency and anaemia. These will include the following

  1. Full Blood Count (FBC)
  2. Iron Studies

These tests will provide the following information on :

  • The Total Iron level in your blood
  • Ferritin levels
  • Total iron-binding capacity (TIBC)
  • Iron saturations levels
  • The red blood cells size and colour (RBCs)
  • The white bloods cells (WBCs)
  • Haemoglobin
  • Hematocrit ( the percentage of blood volume that is made up of RBCs
  • Blood platelets

Other tests

There are other tests to check for the cause of iron deficiency and anaemia and these could include stool analysis (check for blood in stool), endoscopy and colonoscopy ( surgical intervention gastrointestinal bleeding) and laparoscopy (key hole surgery for gynaecological conditions)

Treatments for Iron Deficiency and Anaemia

Diet– A healthy diet that is rich in proteins, vegetable and iron rich foods is the best way to ensure your iron levels stay at optimum levels. A proper diet should include leans meats, seafood, nuts, seeds, healthy oils, green leafy vegetables and other coloured vegetables, and moderate fruit intake.

Supplements– Supplements will help to keep iron levels and vitamin B12 levels in optimum ranges. Iron supplements are very much needed if you are vegetarian, or vegan. There is now research to show that women who experience fatigue will benefit from supplemental iron, even if their iron levels and ferritin are within normal range. Those with heavy menstrual cycles, or those whom have inflammatory bowel issue should also be supplementing

NB- All iron supplements should be taken with vitamin C to help with absorption. Many iron supplements also cause constipation and therefore you should get a good one that does not interfere with your bowel habits and is more easily absorbed. Many of the mineral based iron products are not absorbed well and do cause gastrointestinal upset.

I always recommend a specific practitioner only brand to my patients because it is better absorbed, and it does not interfere with the bowel habits.

Iron Infusion– Sometimes when iron gets too low, supplements just will not be enough to get iron levels up to where they should be quick enough. This is where iron infusions can be very effective. Please see my post on when you need to use and iron infusion. (Click here)

Treating the underlying cause of bleeding

Supplements will not help if the cause of the iron deficiency and anaemia is from excessive bleeding. It may help a little, but it will not be enough. Even iron infusions will only be short lasting if you don’t treat the underlying cause of the bleeding issue. Extreme cases may even need a transfusion to get iron levels and blood levels back up to optimum.  This is why it is important to screen for underlying gynaecological conditions that can cause heavy and excessive bleeding.

If you are getting low in iron if means there is something wrong and there is a deficiency that needs to be addressed. Please do not take iron deficiency lightly and always be prompt to find the causes and restore optimum levels of iron in the body.

Prevention is a must

Prevention is always the best way to treat any health condition and this goes for iron deficiency as well. Ensuring you eat a healthy diet with iron rich diet is a great start. As said before, vegetarians and vegans are going to have to supplement and work really hard with their diet to ensure they get adequate iron. Even then it can still be hard as plant based foods just do not have the iron levels that meats, eggs and seafood’s have.

Make sure you also have lots of vitamin C in your diet to help with iron absorption and it is a good idea to supplement with vitamin C to ensure you get the right daily intake.

Final Word

If you do think you might be low in iron or have anaemia, please make sure you talk to your doctor, or your healthcare practitioner. Please do not supplement with iron without checking your levels first. Having too much iron can be dangerous and you also need to make sure you do not have hereditary high iron (hemochromatosis), which can present with the same symptoms as low iron.

If you are found to be low in iron, then please make sure you take prompt action to restore your iron levels and also make sure you are screened as to why you are low in iron in the first place.

Iron deficiency and Anaemia can be very serious and should never be taken lightly. Please always consult with your doctor, specialist, or healthcare practitioner for the most effective ways to keep your iron levels in healthy ranges.

Take care

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Women’s and Men’s Health Advocate

01 Dr Andrew Orr 1

 

 

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The Importance of Electrolytes

The reason for this post is to talk about Electrolytes and how important they are for the body. I also need to let people know what proper electrolytes are.

Electrolytes are so important for the body and we actually need to replenish them on a regular basis. Water alone is not enough to hydrate you properly and therefore we need electrolytes for proper hydration and to carry fluids around our body. They also have so many other important actions.

Every single one of us needs electrolytes to be able to survive. Many of our bodily functions require an electric current to function, and electrolytes provide this charge. Electrolytes are substances that help to conduct electricity when it is dissolved in water. These Electrolytes also interact with each other and the cells in the tissues, nerves, and muscles. A balance of different electrolytes, in the right ratios, is so important for everyone to function daily and to support optimum health.

What are Electrolytes and what do they do for us?

As mentioned before, electrolytes are chemicals that help to conduct electricity current in the body and they also regulate our nerves and help our muscles to function. They also help with the rebuilding of damaged tissue. Muscles and tissue rely on electrolytes to hydrate the cells and the fluid inside them. The heart, muscles and nerves cells also use electrolytes to carry electrical impulses to the cells and other parts of the body.

Their most important function of Electrolytes is hydrating the body, but they also help to balance blood acidity and blood pressure as well. Without proper electrolyte balance people can die. This is why they are so important and people need to know about them. As mentioned before, while water is important for hydration, electrolytes are just as important.

Common electrolytes include are sodium, potassium, calcium , bicarbonate, magnesium, chloride and phosphate. When these substances become imbalanced, it can lead to either muscle weakness or excessive contraction. All our muscles needs calcium, sodium, and potassium to contract. The heart, muscle, and nerve cells use electrolytes to carry electrical impulses to other cells.

These electrolytes also need sugar to help transport them and I will talk about this later. To maintain hydration, there needs to be a balance of electrolytes and sugar, in very specific ratios.

Symptoms of Electrolyte Imbalance

Symptoms will depend on which electrolyte is out of balance. The symptoms of electrolyte imbalances can show as the following:

  • Muscles Spasms and cramping
  • Muscles Twitching
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Excessive tiredness
  • Dry mouth and throat
  • Not able to quench ones thirst
  • Irregular heartbeat and palpitations
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Bone disorders and aching bones
  • Confusion and lack of mental clarity
  • Headaches and Migraines
  • Seizures
  • Numbness
  • Nervous system disorders
  • Convulsions
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Feeling faint
  • Dizziness
  • Moodiness and Irritability

Causes of Electrolyte Imbalances

There are many reasons for an electrolyte imbalance and especially those suffering from dehydration symptoms. These include:

  • Prolonged periods of illness, such as vomiting and diarrhea
  • Severe Dehydration
  • Not staying hydrated before and after exercise
  • Prolonged periods in Air-conditioning (due to drying affect)
  • Bladder issues (excessive urination, frequent urination, incontinence)
  • Pregnancy (due to frequent urination)
  • Kidney disease
  • Poor diet and nutrition
  • Incorrect acid and alkaline balance in the body
  • Congestive Heart failure
  • Cancer treatments
  • Some drugs, such as diuretics steroids
  • Eating disorders
  • Menopause
  • Age, as the kidneys become less efficient as we get older

Monitoring and Testing for Imbalances

If you are feeling any of the symptoms above, or have any of the known causes of electrolyte imbalance, taking a proper electrolyte solution is a good idea. If you are feeling symptoms of dehydration, you should take an electrolyte solution anyway.

There are ways to tests for electrolyte imbalances and these are more fined tuned for which electrolyte may be out of balance. This test is called a Electrolyte panel and this is used to screen for imbalances of electrolytes in the blood and measure acid-base balance and kidney function. Your doctor may order this test to also monitor the progress of treatment relating to a known imbalance. Many drugs and hormone treatments can affect our electrolyte imbalance and it is important to monitor these effects.

Oral Hydration Therapy

Most people will know of oral hydration solutions for dehydration, or after long periods of illness. This treatment is used mainly for people experiencing an electrolyte shortage alongside dehydration, normally following severe vomiting or diarrhea.

It is important to know what proper electrolyte solution is because some of the so called sports drinks (Powerade, Gatorade) are not electrolytes and should not be used as such. These are really just highly colored cordials with a bit of extra salt in them.

Those so called sports drinks are not electrolytes and are really over commercialized cordials. They are not even allowed to call themselves an electrolyte solution and nowhere on the bottle will you find the word ‘electrolyte’. They may be able to call themselves re-hydration fluids, but they cannot call themselves and electrolyte, because that would be false advertising. Any drinkable fluid can call itself a re-hydration fluid.

People taking these so called sports drinks thinking they are an electrolyte, could be seriously putting themselves in danger using them thinking they have a therapeutic value.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has approved a solution to be used in oral re-hydration therapy that contains:

  • 6 grams (g) of sodium
  • 5 g of potassium chloride
  • 9 g of sodium citrate

These are dissolved in 1 liter (l) of water and given orally.

There are now proper electrolyte solutions available through chemists and drugs store.

The ratios of Electrolyte solutions are important

When using a proper electrolyte solution, it is important that the ratios of electrolytes are in the right proportion. It isn’t just about taking an isolated electrolyte, especially when it comes to dehydration. The world health organisation has standards that these electrolyte ratios should be at, especially for proper hydration after illness.

Electrolyte levels can change in relation to water levels in the body as well as other factors. Important electrolytes are lost in sweat during exercise, if someone is urinating too much, through air-conditioning, illness, certain medications, taking hormones and so much more.

The most common electrolytes imbalances are usually sodium and potassium. The concentration can also be affected by rapid loss of fluids, such as after a bout of diarrhea or vomiting. Water alone will not hydrate someone after an illness and if someone is dehydrated. This is why it is important to get proper ratios of electrolytes into a person after an illness otherwise they could become severely ill, or even die.

Sugars Role in Re-hydration

These days people are worried about any solution that contains sugar. I often get people telling me they don’t want to have proper electrolyte solutions because they contain sugar. But, all electrolyte solutions need to have a certain amount of sugar in them. This is the one of the only times I will look at sugar in a positive light. Sugar plays an important role in replenishing and transporting electrolytes around the body and into cells. What many people do not understand is that rapid and effective hydration depends on the active co-transport of glucose and sodium molecules through the small intestine. In other words, this means that the sugar is needed to help you absorb the electrolyte. If there’s no sugar in your electrolyte solution, it will not activate the co-transport of glucose and sodium for your body to rapidly replace fluid and electrolytes you’ve lost through sweating, illness, or other factors. It is all about the ratios of what is in the electrolyte solution and these need to be very specific to have a therapeutic value.

When there is too much sugar, such as in these so called sports drinks, you can be left feeling bloated and uncomfortable. Too many of them can also put your diabetes risk up too.  Because there are not proper ratios of electrolytes in these drinks, you are not getting a therapeutic value out if it either. Research has shown that drinks with high sugar concentrations can lead to unpleasant feelings of fullness, and delayed emptying of the stomach. These sugar drinks can also lead to other health issues as well. Many of them are full of additives and colourings as well. This is why it is important to know what a proper electrolyte solution is, and know the difference between sports drinks and a proper therapeutic electrolyte drink

Coconut Water

While coconut water does contain some electrolytes, we cannot regard it as a therapeutic electrolyte. Too much coconut water can also cause stomach upset as well. Coconut water can be used as part of your daily hydration and is another way of maintaining some crucial electrolytes in the body.

Foods and Electrolytes

There are many foods that we eat daily that contain sodium, calcium, potassium, chloride and magnesium. It is still vital to have these foods to maintain electrolyte balance in the body. Just remember that when you are sick, or are severely dehydrated these electrolytes get depleted and this is why you need an electrolyte solution for rapid hydration.

Fertility, Gynaecology, Pregnancy and Electrolytes

Many of the hormones used in IVF and gynaecology can interfere with our electrolyte balance and why I recommend the use of electrolytes to my patients.

Long term pain, use of steroids, pain medications, hormones etc, can all interfere with certain electrolytes and their absorption into the body. Some medications and hormones actual cause depletion of crucial electrolytes too.

Electrolytes can help with pain management and muscle spasms etc, that many gynaecological conditions, such as endometriosis can cause.

Electrolytes are also needed for a dangerous condition called Ovarian Hyper-stimulation Syndrome (OHSS). This dangerous condition is caused by hormones hyper-stimulating the ovaries, which can lead to the painful and sometimes fatal condition. Yes, OHSS can kill you if it isn’t monitored and managed properly. One of the things that helps with the prevention, and the treatment of this syndrome, is proper therapeutic electrolyte solutions.

Pregnancy is also a time where electrolytes can be out of balance. This can be due to excessive urination and also because the baby stripping you of nutrients and electrolytes also.

If you are Pregnant, or undertaking IVF, or fertility treatments, have a gynaecological condition etc, electrolytes should be a part of your treatment and management.

Final Word on Electrolytes

Electrolytes are a very important and vital part of a person’s chemical makeup, and an imbalance can affect the body’s ability to function properly. Regular monitoring and consuming electrolytes after intense exercise, profuse sweating, illness and even certain medications can help to preserve your body’s levels.

So next time you are drinking lots of water and not quenching your thirst, it may be time to get some electrolytes into you. If you feel faint, or dizzy, or have muscles cramps etc, this could be one of the reasons also. We all need them on a regular basis. Just make sure they are a proper electrolyte and not the lolly water rip offs that line the supermarket shelves. Please remember to stay hydrated at all times and while water is needed for this to happen, electrolytes are a very important part of this also.

Take care and stay hydrated and healthy

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Women’s and Men’s Health Advocate

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Is it Endometriosis, or Adenomyosis, or both?

Endometriosis and Adenomyosis can often present with the same symptoms and many now believe they may be one in the same disease, just in different locations. Despite both of them sharing similar symptoms, there are pointers for properly trained professional to which disease may be presenting. Both diseases are often missed and dismissed as well. To learn more about Endometriosis, or Adenomyosis please click on the hyperlinks.

I have recently put up posts about hysterectomy not being a cure for endometriosis. It often causes lots of people to question this statement, because some uneducated healthcare practitioner has told them differently. Some may have had some relief from having a hysterectomy and now believe their endometriosis has gone.

Before I go any further, I do need people to know the facts. Hysterectomy DOES NOT cure endometriosis, but is can help Adenomyosis. There is no cure for endometriosis. I have explained the reasons why in my resent post Hysterectomy DOES NOT cure endometriosis. Please click on the hyperlink to find out the facts.

Many women who have Endometriosis, or Adenomyosis are often missed and dismissed for up to 10 years or more, before a diagnosis is made. This is due to the fact that many healthcare practitioners do not know the symptoms of these disease states, or dismissed them as being normal. That is a fact. This is why it is important to see someone who specialises in Endometriosis, or Adenomyosis.

With both Endometriosis and Adenomyosis, they share many common symptoms such as:

  • Painful periods
  • Pain with intercourse
  • Ovulation Pain
  • Dark and clotted menstrual blood
  • Digestive upset
  • Pain on bowel movement
  • Bowel or bladder issues
  • IBS like symptoms
  • Pelvic pain and rectal pressure
  • Infertility

What is the difference between Endometriosis and Adenomyosis?

The one thing that usually sets them apart is that Adenomyosis usually has more heavy menstrual bleeding, abnormal uterine bleeding and more flooding symptoms. Endometriosis can have this too, but usually adenomyosis presents with more blood loss symptoms and abnormal bleeding.

Endometriosis ‘cannot’ be definitively diagnosed via ultrasound, or MRI, but adenomyosis can be diagnosed via both of those methods. Endometriosis can only be definitively diagnosed via surgical intervention (laparoscopy). This is the biggest difference with the two disease states. The other thing is that both disease states can be present at the same time and quite often do.

The biggest issue for many women is that when one disease state it found, the other one is quite often overlooked, or misdiagnosed. Many women, and healthcare professionals, are unaware that both the disease states can be present at the same time and this is a real issue.

Hysterectomy will help Adenomyosis, but it ‘will not’ cure Endometriosis.

As I have mentioned earlier, hysterectomy does not cure endometriosis, but it can help adenomyosis. Many women have been led to believe that hysterectomy will cure their endometriosis and associated symptoms, but this is not true. Some women who have had a hysterectomy and then think they are getting relief from symptoms of endometriosis, but are actually getting relief from adenomyosis not being there anymore. It is just that they did not know it was there, they have never been diagnosed, and then believe their endometriosis is cured. Once the uterus is removed, the adenomyosis is removed too. Then all the adenomyosis abnormal bleeding, period pain and period related symptoms are usually gone as well.

The only trouble is, if a woman has been diagnosed with endometriosis, the endometriosis will still be there. That is a fact. Endometriosis does not miraculously go away after a hysterectomy. Endometriosis is not in the uterus. Some symptoms (usually the menstrual related symptoms) can settle for some people, but for many it does not. Regardless the endometriosis will still be there and can continue to grow and cause havoc elsewhere in the body too.

Proper investigation is important

When women come to see me for help with Endometriosis, or Adenomyosis, I always make sure they are investigated for both disease states. If a women has abnormal uterine bleeding, or heavy menstrual bleeding and they have only been diagnosed with endometriosis, I will always make sure that they are investigated to see if they have Adenomyosis as well. I will also screen for genetic issues such as Von Willebrand’s Disease and other pelvic pathology that may cause bleeding as well. It is also very important that women with both Endometriosis, or Adenomyosis, or both are are also screened for iron deficiency too.

Hope this explains a little bit more about Endometriosis and Adenomyosis and a bit more about which disease state hysterectomy will, or won’t help.

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Women’s Health Expert

Dr Andrew Orr Logo Retina 20 07 2016