Opioid Crisis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Regards

Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Master of Women’s Health Medicine

-Men and Women’s Health Advocate

-The Headache, Migraine and Pain Experts

 

References

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

 

pelvic floor hypertonus 1

What The Hell is Pelvic Floor Hypertonus?

Pelvic floor hypertonus is a condition that not many people hear about, or even know about. Often when we talk about pelvic floor dysfunction many people will automatically think of weak pelvic floor muscles often created from having children, or part of the aging process. This is where the pelvic floor muscles are too relaxing and need tightening and strengthening.

However more and more we are now seeing women, especially young women, with pelvic floor muscles that are too tight and non-relaxed and this is leading to chronic pelvic pain and other pelvic health and sexual health issues. This is called Pelvic Floor Hypertonus. For this article I will be talking about how Pelvic Floor Hypertonus affects women, even though men can have this as well.

What is Pelvic Floor Hypertonus?

Pelvic floor hypertonus occurs when the muscles in the pelvic floor become too tight and are unable to relax. Many women with an overly tight and non-relaxing pelvic floor experience pelvic health issues such as constipation, painful sex, urinary urgency, bladder issues and pelvic pain. Women with pelvic floor hypertonus may also have musculoskeletal issues that cause tightness and tension in surrounding hip, sacrum and pelvic muscles.

Pelvic floor hypertonus is not widely recognized and can often go on undiagnosed. It is certainly on the missed and dismissed list. Unlike in pelvic floor disorders caused by muscles too relaxed and are easily identified (such as pelvic organ prolapse or urinary incontinence etc), women affected by pelvic floor hypertonus may present with a broad range of nonspecific symptoms mentioned previously and below. All these related symptoms require relaxation and coordination of pelvic floor muscles and urinary and anal sphincters. Many of these symptoms can really affect the quality of woman’s life.

The signs and symptoms of pelvic floor hypertonus

The main and typical symptom of pelvic floor hypertonus is pelvic pain, or pelvic muscular pain. There can be a wide range of other symptoms including the following:

  • Urinary issues such as urge frequency, frequent urination or painful urination
  • Incontinence
  • Slow flow, hesitancy, or delayed start of urination
  • Constipation and straining when emptying the bowels.
  • incomplete emptying of the bowels
  • pressure feeling in the pelvis and rectum
  • pain in the pelvis, genitals or rectum
  • chronic pelvic pain
  • muscles spasms in the pelvis, or pelvic floor
  • low back pain
  • hip pain
  • coccyx pain
  • painful sex
  • vaginismus

If left untreated pelvic floor hypertonus can lead to long term health issues, colon and bladder damage and can also cause infection.

What causes pelvic floor hypertonus?

There is no one defining cause of pelvic floor hypertonus. Many things can cause non-relaxing pelvic floor muscles ranging from sitting too much, exercising too much, obesity, stress and also chronic inflammatory disease states. Here are some of the causes of pelvic floor hypertonus:

  • Endometriosis
  • Adenomyosis
  • Interstitial cystitis
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Pudendal Neuralgia
  • Vulvodynia
  • History of holding onto the bowels, or bladder too long
  • Over exercising and over exercising the core muscles
  • Being sedentary, or over-sitting too long
  • High levels of stress, fear and anxiety
  • Obesity or being overweight
  • Child Birth, or Birth Trauma
  • Injury to the pelvic floor
  • Sexual and emotional abuse
  • Surgery
  • Nerve Damage

It is very important to identify the cause of pelvic floor hypertonus individually and why it is so important to see a healthcare expert, or pelvic floor specialist that specialises in this area. As with many other inflammatory conditions, a multimodality treatments approach is needed and may involved several modalities, or practitioners working together to help the individual. A pelvic floor physiotherapist may also be needed to help with exercises to relax the pelvic floor along with other modalities such as acupuncture to help with pain, relaxation and stress relief.

What are some of the things that can benefit pelvic floor hypertonus?

As mentioned before, it is important to see a healthcare expert who can identify what the cause of the pelvic floor hypertonus is and recommend a management and treatment plan moving forward. This will usually require a multimodality treatment approach, which could involve the following:

  • Pelvic floor muscle relaxation techniques
  • Mindfulness and meditation techniques
  • Breathing techniques
  • Pilates and yoga to help with stretching
  • Advice on better bladder and bowel habits
  • Pelvic floor and core muscle releasing abdominal massage
  • Specific stretches for the pelvis, hips and sacrum
  • The use of vaginal dilators, and/or vaginal eggs to help with relaxing and stretching the pelvic floor muscles
  • Acupuncture to help with pain, stress and relaxation, alongside medical interventions.
  • Massage to help with internal scar tissue (done by a pelvic floor physiotherapist)
  • Warm baths and self care
  • Use of TENS and electro-neuro stimulators to help with pain
  • Biofeedback therapy
  • Pain medications and muscles relaxants
  • Complementary medicines (prescribed by a qualified healthcare professional)
  • Surgery

Outlook and importance of seeing an expert

The main goal of treating and managing pelvic floor hypertonus is to relax the muscles of the pelvic floor to relieve pain and other associated symptoms.

Although living with pelvic floor hypertonus embarrassing or sometimes painful, non relaxing pelvic floor dysfunction is a highly treatable condition. It is important that you talk to a healthcare expert in this area, or a pelvic floor specialist. It’s important not to self-diagnose your symptoms, or try to Dr Google your symptoms, because left untreated pelvic floor hypertonus can lead to long term pain and health issues and also irreparable damage.

There are many conservative management approaches that can be used before resorting to hard-core pain medications, muscle relaxants and surgery. Your healthcare expert will be able to discuss all these options and ongoing healthcare management and treatments with you. The main thing is booking a consultation with a proper healthcare expert to get a proper diagnosis.

If you need help and assistance with pelvic floor hypertonus, or pelvic pain, please give my friendly staff a call and find out how I can assist you.

Regards

Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Master of Women’s Health Medicine

-The Women’s Health Experts

 

 

EndometriosisAwarenessMonth 2020 1

Endometriosis Awareness Month – March 2020

This month is Endometriosis Awareness Month and it is so important to bring awareness to this disease that affects millions of women world wide.

1 in 10 women have endometriosis and those are the ones diagnosed. A significant portion of women with endometriosis are asymptomatic and many women do not realise they have it, or have been missed and dismissed along the way. This means the 1 in 10 women with endometriosis is grossly understated.

There is often up to 10 years or more to diagnosis, which means that many women are missed and dismissed before they are finally diagnosed. The only way to definitively diagnosed endometriosis is via surgical intervention (laparoscopy with histology). Scans and blood tests cannot definitely diagnose endometriosis.

The one message that all of us involved in the education and awareness of endometriosis want everyone to know is that “Period Pain” is not normal. While slight discomfort with a period may be normal, pain (especially bad period pain) is not normal. Period pain can be a sign of endometriosis.

While period pain is often the most talked about point of endometriosis, we also need to educate all that endometriosis just isn’t about period pain. There are so many other associated symptoms that we need to bring awareness to as well.

The common signs of endometriosis are:
Period Pain
Pain with intercourse
Ovulation pain
IBS like symptoms
Pain on bowel movement
Bleeding from the bowel
UTI like symptoms (without infection present)
Fatigue
Anxiety and mood disorders
Bloating (can be severe)- also known as endo belly
Musculosketal pain
Pelvic and rectal pressure feeling
Abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB)
Others

Endometriosis has hereditary links and it now thought to be genetic. Endometriosis is driven by estrogen, so even small amounts of exogenous estrogens will drive the disease. It is not from estrogen dominance and it is not autoimmune.

Endometriosis is basically normal tissue growing in abnormal areas. It behaves very much like cancer, but it is not cancerous. Endometriosis has been found in every part of the body and it can cause damage to multiple organs if it is not managed properly.

Many women with endometriosis are poorly managed, or are not being managed at all. This is why there needs to be more awareness about the serious complications of unmanaged endometriosis.

This month I will be focussing on the facts about Endometriosis and am also very excited be launching the first network of practitioners who are experts in Endometriosis called “The Endometriosis Experts”. There will also be a launch of other experts programs called “The PCOS Experts”, “The Women’s Health Experts” and “The International Fertility Experts”. Stay tuned for more exciting news to follow.

This month please also support Endometriosis Australia and the “Endo March” High Teas. I will be posting more information about these as well.

Lastly, if you have unmanaged endometriosis, or have bad period pain etc, please make sure you seek help for this. If you do need help, you can call my friendly staff and find out how I can assist you and more about my online, or in person consultations.

Please do not put up with period pain, or other menstrual related symptoms, or unmanaged endometriosis. Nobody can manage these symptoms themselves and why it is so important to see an Endometriosis expert.

Regards

Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Master of Women’s Health Medicine

-The Endometriosis Experts

serious complications of low iron

The Serious Health Complications Of Low Iron

In the last couple of weeks I have been talking about the serious complications of people not having their health managed properly. It seems to be a big issue and with my latest post, the issue of unmanaged, or undiagnosed low iron is also becoming a very serious issue indeed. So for this post I will be talking about the serious health complications of low iron.

Two thirds of body iron is present in circulating red blood cells known as haemoglobin. Each gram of haemoglobin contains about 4gms of iron and each ml of blood lost from the body results in a loss of about half a milligram of iron.

Bleeding is the most common cause of iron deficiency.  This could be from either a diagnosed, or undiagnosed gynaecological issues (endometriosis, adenomyosis, fibroids, polyps, other) or it could be from a parasite infection. It could also be from bleeding as part of a gastrointestinal issue, or part of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBS, Crohn’s Coeliac disease).

There could be other reasons for blood loss in the body, or reduction of iron and many of these conditions, and the conditions above, can go unrecognised and then cause iron deficiency anaemia. Some of these issues can be very serious, or even fatal.

Excessive menstrual losses are often overlooked with many women. This is something that should not happen and should be part of the questioning with any low iron status. The problem is, unless the menstrual flow changes, patients typically do not seek medical attention for heavy menstrual bleeding. Sometimes when a healthcare practitioner asks, these patients generally report that their menses are normal. It may be normal to them, but we need to educate women that heavy blood loss is not normal and can lead to anaemia.

Because of the marked differences among women with regard to menstrual blood loss (10-250 mL per menses), patients meed to be asked about their menstrual history and about a specific history of bleeding, blood flow, abnormal bleeding in between cycles,  clots, cramps, and the use of multiple tampons and pads. These are very important questions to ask and sadly many women are not being asked these questions, or having further questioning about their menstrual, or overall health, including dietary intake etc.

What is iron deficiency anemia?

Anaemia occurs when you have a decreased level of haemoglobin in your red blood cells (RBCs). Haemoglobin is the protein in your red blood cells that is responsible for carrying oxygen to your tissues.

Iron deficiency anaemia is the most common type of anaemia that women present with, and it occurs when your body doesn’t have enough iron. Your body needs iron to make haemoglobin. When there isn’t enough iron in your blood stream, the rest of your body can’t get the amount of oxygen it needs. Today in a recent post I talked about iron being like trucks, or the transporters of oxygen around the body.

While iron deficiency may be common, many people don’t know they have iron deficiency anemia. It’s possible to experience the symptoms for years without ever having it diagnosed, or the cause of the iron deficiency diagnosed either. It is a very serious issue that needs some serious attention.

In women of childbearing age, the most common cause of iron deficiency anemia is a loss of iron in the blood due to heavy menstruation or pregnancy. A poor diet or certain intestinal diseases that affect how the body absorbs iron can also cause iron deficiency anemia. Women who adopt a vegan diet will also be prone to being iron deficient and vitamin B12 deficient.

Disruption to the microbiome and leaky gut syndrome can also cause iron deficient anaemia too.

One of the best ways to treat the condition is through iron infusion, and also with iron supplements, or changes to diet. We also need to make sure the cause of the iron deficiency is addressed as well.

Symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia

The symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia can be mild at first, and some people may not even notice them. Many people are completely unaware that they may be low in iron, or are actually iron deficient.

The symptoms of moderate to severe iron deficiency anaemia include:

  • general fatigue
  • weakness
  • pale skin
  • Bruising easy
  • shortness of breath
  • Palpitations
  • dizziness
  • Strange cravings to eat items that aren’t food, such as dirt, ice, or clay
  • Tingling or crawling feeling in the legs
  • Tongue swelling or soreness
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Tachycardia
  • Brittle nails
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Sore joints
  • Brain fog and lack of concentration.

The serious complications of unmanaged iron deficiency.

Undiagnosed, or unmanaged iron-deficiency may cause the following severe complications:

  • Heart problems.If you do not have enough hemoglobin-carrying red blood cells, your heart has to work harder to move oxygen-rich blood through your body. When your heart has to work harder, this can lead to several conditions: irregular heartbeats called arrhythmias, a heart murmur, an enlarged heart, or even heart failure.
    Severe anemia due to any cause may produce hypoxemia and enhance the occurrence of coronary insufficiency and myocardial ischemia.
  • Increased risk of infections- Research has shown that iron deficiency anaemia can affect your immune system (the body’s natural defence system), making you more susceptible to illness and infection.
  • Motor or cognitivedevelopment delays- This mainly occurs in children. Children deficient in iron may exhibit behavioral disturbances.
  • Behaviour issues and mood disorders- Behavioral disturbances may manifest as an attention deficit disorder, or mood disorder such as : Depression Unipolar depressive disorder, Bipolar disorder, Anxiety disorder, Autism spectrum disorder, Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, Tic disorder, Delayed development and other some other psychiatric issues.
  • Pregnancy complications- Iron deficiency can lead to preterm delivery or giving birth to a baby with low birth weight.
    The neurologic damage to an iron-deficient foetus results in permanent neurologic injury and typically does not resolve on its own, or by supplementation.
  • Chronic Health Conditions worsened- In people with chronic conditions, iron-deficiency anaemia can make their condition worse or result in treatments not working as well.
  • Dysphagia (Difficulty swallowing)- This may occur with foods due to abnormal muscle and nerve control. This could result in choking. It can also lead to throat cancers.
  • Atrophic gastritis – This occurs in iron deficiency with progressive loss of acid secretion, and causes inflammation of the gastric mucosa with loss of the gastric glandular cells and replacement by intestinal-type epithelium, and fibrous tissue
  • Tiredness- As iron deficiency anaemia can leave you tired and lethargic (lacking in energy), you may be less productive and active at work. Your ability to stay awake and focus can be reduced, and you may not feel able to exercise regularly.
  • Fainting– Low iron can cause fainting and this could be dangerous in many situations, especially at work places, or working on machinery, or driving a car.
  • Cold Intolerance– Cold intolerance develops in one fifth of patients with chronic iron deficiency anaemia and is manifested by neurologic pain, vasomotor disturbances, or numbness and tingling.
  • Issues with Brain and Optic Nerve– Rarely, severe iron deficiency anaemia is associated with papilledema (optic disc swelling), increased intracranial pressure, and the clinical picture of pseudotumor cerebri. These manifestations are all corrected with iron therapy.
  • Migraines– Research has now shown that there are certain types of migraines caused by iron deficiency
  • Death – Caused by some of the issues mentioned above

The importance of proper management

Hopefully now everyone can see why iron is so important and that people with iron deficiency need to see their healthcare practitioner for proper help and proper management .  Iron deficiency anemia isn’t something to self-diagnose or treat. It needs to be diagnosed, treated and managed properly. In many cases an iron infusion is the best and quickest way to get iron levels back up. Have a read of my post about iron infusions. Click here

Iron infusions are the quickest way of getting iron levels back up

In the case of low, or severely low iron, supplements just are not enough. They take too long to get levels up and the damage to your body in waiting too long can also be serious.  Always see your healthcare practitioner, or specialist, for a diagnosis rather than trying to manage low iron on your own, or just taking iron supplements on your own. Overloading the body with too much iron can be dangerous too, because excess iron accumulation can damage your liver and cause other complications.

Final Word

This is why everyone needs to be managed by a properly trained healthcare professional with any health issue, especially low iron. If your practitioner is not able to assist you, please make sure you get a second or third opinion. Some practitioners may not be well versed in the serious complications of low iron, or know much about iron infusions etc.

If you do need help with managing the symptoms of low iron, you can call my friendly staff and find out how I can assist you. For more information please call +61 07 38328369 or email info@drandreworr.com.au

Regards

Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Master of Women’s Health Medicince

-Master of Reproductive Medicine

-Women’s and Men’s Health Advocate

 

 

Endometriosis complications

The Complications That Can Result From Unmanaged Endometriosis

A lot of the information about endometriosis, is more about it’s symptoms, time to diagnosis and future fertility outcomes. While it is necessary to educate people about these things, nobody is really talking about the serious complications of unmanaged endometriosis. This is not to scare people, or create fear, but at the same time it does need to be talked about and for all concerned to know how serious this disease state can be at its worst.

We know that many women are missed and dismissed when it comes to endometriosis. It often takes up to 10 years, or even more for some women, before they are definitively diagnosed. Some women are never diagnosed and end up suffering a terrible life because of it. Some women with endometriosis are asymptomatic (meaning no symptoms) and often only get diagnosed as part of fertility evaluation, when they may be having trouble conceiving.

The symptoms of endometriosis are easy to see

The symptoms of endometriosis are very easy to see, if someone knows what they are looking for and knows the right questions to ask. Sure, a definite diagnosis via laparoscopy is still needed, but there are some very clear-cut pointers that a woman may have the disease. But due to lack of education and lack of true experts in this area means that lots of women are missed and dismissed, and that is a fact.

The vicious cycle of mismanagement

But while there are inadequacies in the healthcare profession when it comes to endometriosis, not all mismanagement can be blamed on healthcare professionals. There are people who are not seeking proper help soon enough, and some not at all, and this can lead to long-term complications too. We also have women trying to manage their own disease through advice of friends, social media groups and Dr Google as well. This then creates one hell of a mismanaged cycle that does not help anyone.

I can see the issues from all points of view, especially those who suffer the disease. But as a healthcare professional with a special interest in Endometriosis, I have had my fair share of non-compliant patients too.

While many have been let down through mismanagement, lack of funding and education, being missed and dismissed etc, there are many women who are self sabotaging as well. I have seen many not take on advice, recommendations and proper management of their disease, that could help them, then these same people scream high and low that the system has let them down. There are some who are just happy to live with the disease, as it is their only way of seeking attention. This is a fact also and we need to talk about it.

This is what has prompted me to do this post so that all concerned get to know what the serious side of mismanaged endometriosis is. Sometimes it is only via the serious harsh side of reality, that all concerned may actually get some help and some serious attention be bought to this disease state.

The common symptoms of endometriosis

We know that many women suffer greatly at the hands of this disease. Women with endometriosis can get the follow common symptoms:

  • Period pain
  • Pain with intercourse
  • IBS like symptoms
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Chronic constipation
  • Chronic diarrhoea
  • Pain on bowel movement
  • Bleeding from the bowel
  • Chronic abdominal pain
  • Severe bloating (endo belly)
  • Chronic bloating
  • Aversion to foods (even if they are not the trigger)
  • Ovulation Pain
  • Ovary pain
  • UTI like symptoms (with no infection present)
  • Migraines and headaches
  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • Pelvic and rectal pressure feeling
  • Musculoskeletal pain
  • Chronic nerve pain
  • Fluid retention
  • Iron deficiency
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood disorders
  • Infertility
  • Other symptoms

Early intervention and management is crucial

Women’s lives are greatly impacted by this disease and it is important that not only healthcare professionals understand this but also sufferers of the disease. Early intervention and proper ongoing management is the key to helping this disease and everyone needs to be aware of this. Being missed and dismissed, or waiting too long to help, can really have some serious consequences if this disease is left to grow and spread and cause serious damage in the body

The serious consequences of mismanaged/unmanaged endometriosis

While we have talked about the common daily symptoms that many can put up with, we also need to bring attention to just how serious this disease can get. Let’s face it, it can and does spread like cancer and it can spread to every organ in the body. It has been found in the joints of bones, fingers, in the liver, around the lungs, around the diaphragm, around the heart, on the bowels, on the bladder, on the ovaries, on the pelvic, in the fallopian tubes, one the retina in the eyes and it has even found in the brain.

There is no doubt that this disease can be very devastating for anyone who has it, but what happens in the worst cause scenario, if it is left unmanaged.

The following can be serious complications of unmanaged endometriosis:

  • Haemorrhage from the ovaries
  • Ruptured ovaries
  • Ovarian torsion
  • Obliterated fallopian tubes
  • Ruptured endometrioma
  • Endometrioma infection
  • Pelvic infection
  • Obliteration of the pelvic cavity
  • Peritonitis
  • Sepsis
  • Compacted bowel
  • Obstructed bowel
  • Perforated bowel
  • Bowel haemorrhage
  • Torsion of the bowel and intestines.
  • Ureteral Obstruction (Blocked ureters)
  • Renal infection
  • Bladder obstruction
  • Painful bladder syndrome
  • Severe adhesions
  • Significant scar tissue build up
  • Significant fluid build up in the pelvic cavity.
  • Multiple organs adhered together
  • Diaphragmic adhesions
  • Liver damage
  • Perihepatic adhesions
  • Pericardial endometriosis
  • Cardiovascular events
  • Stroke
  • Chronic nerve pain
  • Pudendal nerve neuralgia.
  • Chronic musculosketal, or spinal pain
  • Arthritic like pain and associated symptoms
  • Chronic Migraine and neurological events.
  • Malignancies and cancers (rare but more research being done)
  • Hysterectomy
  • Recurrent miscarriage
  • Absolute infertility
  • Opioid dependency and addiction
  • Death from opioids medications
  • Complications from medications and hormonal treatments
  • Psychotic disorders
  • Mania
  • Incapacitation
  • Suicidal tendencies and thoughts
  • Suicide
  • Death (rare from endometriosis directly, but can be from associated factors related to endometriosis and also taking ones own life)
  • Other

Women with endometriosis need to see an “Endometriosis Expert”

This is why endometriosis needs to be managed properly and managed by a healthcare professional that specialises in the management of endometriosis and associated symptoms. You need to see and Endometriosis Expert.

People cannot treat, or manage the symptoms of endometriosis on their own. This is why it is so important to have the right care and also have a multimodality/team approach to endometriosis. No amount of google searching is going to help people treat endometriosis on their own. You need to find an endometriosis expert.

At the same time more education needs to be given to GP’s and other healthcare professionals about endometriosis. Too many women are being missed and dismissed because of lack of practitioner understanding and education at the front line. Women need to see healthcare professionals that specialise in endometriosis and endometriosis experts for this disease, not just a GP. Women also need access to advanced trained laparoscopic surgeons who specialise in excision surgery, not just a regular gynaecologist who is not advanced trained. I have talked about this often.

Endometriosis is not just about period pain

Lastly, we need to educate ‘all’ that endometriosis is not just about period pain. Endometriosis can present with many different signs and symptoms ranging from gastrointestinal symptoms, extreme bloating, bladder issues, bowel issues, IBS symptoms, migraines, fluid retentions, pain with intercourse, pain on bowel movement and so many other symptoms mentioned before. There is also the long-term impact on fertility for up to 50% of women too.

This is why early intervention and management of teenagers presenting with the disease symptoms is crucial. The longer the disease is left, the more damage it can do and all women deserve to be mothers (if they chose) and deserve a normal happy life. We also need to recognise the psychological impact of the disease and how this can present in someone with the disease as well.

Women are dying because of being mismanaged/unmanaged

Let’s face it, there are women dying because of this disease. Maybe not as direct result, but definitely indirectly. No woman should ever be pushed to the point where she cannot handle her pain and symptoms any longer and be only left with the choice of taking ones own life. This is exactly we need to bring more education to all about this disease. This means both healthcare practitioners and people with the disease itself too.

People need to be managed properly and by professionals. We need to start bring education and attention to this, so that people do not try to manage this disease on their own, and practitioners are held more accountable for dismissing women as well. Because if we don’t the complications of this can be very severe and sometime they can be fatal also.

Endometriosis awareness month is next month and I want to see all women with endometriosis being managed properly and seeking the right help. There are endometriosis experts out there who can help you if you have the disease and the associated symptoms. No woman should be doing this on their own.

Let me help you

If you so need help with managing endometriosis and the associated symptoms of endometriosis, please give my staff a call and find out how I can assist you. I have options for in-person consultations and online consultations. I use a multimodality/team approach and I also work in with some of the best medical healthcare professionals and surgeons in the country. I will always make sure you get the best care, best support and best management possible. I will also hold your hand every step of the way and make sure your every concern is listened to as well.

Regards

Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Master of Women’s Health Medicine

-The Endometriosis Experts

 

 

 

 

 

The No Uterus No Comment speech needs to stop 1

Why the “No Uterus – No Comment” speech on forums needs to stop!

In this latest video post I talk about why the “No Uterus-No Comment” speech on forums needs to stop.

As someone who is a Master of Women’s Health Medicine, a Women’s Health Expert, and work tirelessly to be a voice for women’s health issues (And a Male), I have a very frank and blunt discussion about some of the male bashing hate speech comments that get thrown around various forums.

Have a listen to the latest video blog on this very important topic.

Screen Shot 2020 01 10 at 4.53.57 pm

Follow up to my post about making healthy foods and also making excuses

Recently I did a post on how to make good food and doing it in bulk. I talked about how making good food is not hard and it is not expensive.

I also talked about the excuses people make around foods, around exercise and all the things I hear from people about why they cannot do something. So I did a post to call them on it.
But when I call people on something, it is not meant in a bad way. It is meant in a caring way, but firm, and with healthy boundaries. I do it because I care and I want the best for people and their health.

Most people were agreeing with me, but as with any post, you also get the people who misinterpret whatever one says and there are also the naysayers.

I have done a video as a response to my last post so people understand where I am coming from and why I have chosen to do this post.

Regards

Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Women’s and Men’s Health Advocate.

Bloating

Could Your Bloating Be Caused By Stress, Anxiety, or Your Busy Life?

Many people suffer from bloating very regularly and some suffer it daily as well. While the cause of bloating if often dietary or food related, many are unaware that stress, anxiety and their busy life can actually be causing their bloating too. In many cases, when food and dietary triggers have been ruled out, a big part of peoples bloating is actually stress and anxiety, or even being overly busy. For the sake of this post, I am going to put ‘busyness’ as the same category and stress and anxiety.

Stress, Anxiety and Busyness affects the whole body

Stress, anxiety and constant ‘busyness’ changes the body, not just the mind. Intense stress or anxiety can trigger stomach discomfort, including bloating. Some people may not realise that our mind and gut are linked. So with our busy, on-the-go lives, emotions we experience throughout the day, like stress, can affect our digestive system. As mentioned in a previous post, stress and anxiety can also cause and exacerbate pain in the entire body. (click here to read)

Stomach pain and bloating are more common in people who have stress as well as an underlying condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or other inflammatory gastrointestinal conditions such Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis. Bloating and abdominal pain is very common in women with endometriosis and is known as “Endo Belly”. This is very commonly exacerbated by stress and anxiety and also disruption to the microbiome.

While abdominal bloating is a widespread complaint, with many possible causes, unless the pain is intense or accompanied by other worrisome symptoms, it is usually safe to see if symptoms disappear on their own. But if you are ever worried, always consult with your healthcare practitioner as constant bloating can be a sign of serious health issues too.

How does stress and anxiety cause bloating?

There is now plenty of research and evidence that the brain and the gut communicate with each other via numerous systems (neural, hormonal and immunological) and do not function independently. Because of this interconnected relationship it means that if one system is ‘disturbed’, or ‘distressed ’it will result in the other system being ‘disturbed’ or ‘distressed also. In simplest terms if you have a busy day at work and it is stressful then mental stress at work = tummy upset. It really is that simple

When someone is feeling stressed and anxious, it may induce a variety of digestive issues and discomfort. Stress and anxiety produce an alteration in the contractility of the gut. This may then cause cramps or pain (increased contractility) and may influence bowel habits, which then causes constipation due to reduced GI contractions. This may then lead to someone being bloated. This could also lead to people also having loose bowels, or alternating bowel movements too.

Additionally bloating may occur without constipation and you could also experience increased heartburn as a result of your stress and anxiety. Decreased stomach emptying accompanied by increased oesophageal contractions may cause acid reflux. This increase stomach acid can then cause bloating and pain. It can also then lead to increase gut permeability and then further lead to leaky gut syndrome.

Reducing the effects of anxiety and stress on the gut

Thankfully, there are several things you can do to reduce the effects of anxiety and stress on your gut.  As I have often talked about, there is a direct link between our microbiota and our stress hormone system. Any alterations in our gut microbiota may lead to a heightened or suppressed hormonal response to stressful situations. I’ve talked about the effects of dysbiotic bacteria and bloating before. You can read one of my previous posts on this (click here)

This is why it is so important to do a proper microbiome restore, to not only to help with bloating and gastrointestinal issues, but to help with inflammation, the immune system and our emotions as well. Of course one still needs to look at their diet and what they are putting in their mouths too. Let’s not forget the impact of alcohol on our gut and digestive system too. I have done a post about this and to find out more (click here).

Identifying triggers

Besides a proper microbiome restore, the best approach would be to identify the ‘stress trigger’ or ‘anxiety trigger’ and try to remove it, or alter its impact, from your daily life, where possible. This can often be hard and will require the help of a qualified counsellor, or psychologist. It is important that people identify this and are real about needing help from a trained healthcare professional.

Use mindfulness and meditation practices

There are things people can do on their own to reduce stress and anxiety too. Mindfulness and meditation exercises can help to alleviate stress and anxiety and something people should practice daily.

Some examples could be the following. If you may get stressed by not being prepared for some activity at work like giving a presentation, just make sure that you allow plenty of time to adequately prepare and rehearse to prevent or reduce anxiety.

Another example could be that you might get stressed by travelling to work in overcrowded public transport. You could ride sharing to work, or give cycling to work a try.

If you feel yourself getting stressed out with any task make sure you take some time out from the activity. Go and sit quietly and just breathe and reassure yourself that everything is ok. You could make yourself a cup of tea, or listen to some soothing music. All these things can help but at the same time, may not always be applicable to all stressful scenario, or where you are anxious.

Final Word

There is more and more evidence now to suggest that many gut issues are affected by stress and anxiety. But, troubles with the gut can also cause stress and anxiety too. The gut-brain axis works both ways and we need for more people to know this.

This is why it is so important to look after our gut health more. We need to be managing our diets better, cut out inflammatory and refined foods, increasing pre and probiotics, managing allergies and intolerances, cutting back alcohol, managing stress and anxiety better, and avoiding foods that we know aggravate stomach issues and cause bloating and pain.

It is also important for people that experience bloating to realise that not all bloating issues are related to food, or their health condition. For many people, their daily bloating and pain is actually coming from either being overly busy, or from their high stress levels, or anxiety. It could be coming from all of these things combined too. If you do not know how to manage your bloating and stress and anxiety levels, it is best to book in a see a healthcare professional who can assist you deal with it properly.

If you do need assistance with bloating and abdominal pain, please call my friendly staff and find out how I may be able to assist you. You can also check out my posts on restoring the microbiome properly too. Something that could be very beneficial for all, especially after the Christmas and New Year festivities.

Regards

Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Women and Men’s Health Expert

 

mother and daughter 1

Parents, Don’t Let Your Daughters Suffer With The Wait & See Approach For Period Pain

One of the things I find myself saying to parents often is “Please don’t let your daughter suffer with the wait and see approach for period pain.”

The reason I often say this is because daily I get messages from parents, mainly mothers, asking if they should wait and see if their daughters pain (and other symptoms) is miraculously going to go away. Many of these young girls have been putting up with pain for months, or longer, and still many parents are using the “wait and see” approach.

Many of these messages often start with the story that their daughter is laying on the bathroom floor in excruciating pain. The stories usually add in that their daughters may also have symptoms of nausea, headaches, vomiting and even stories of these poor young girls passing out with pain.

Then there is the usual response of “I used to get period pain and associated symptoms like this and I just had to learn to live with it”

Then comes the question I always hear so often- “Do you think I should wait and see if this just goes away, or do you think I should take her to someone to have her checked out?”

I often have to bite my tongue when responding to questions and stories such as this. If my daughter was laying on a bathroom floor each month, and in excruciating pain, there is no way I would be waiting and seeing if her pain is going to miraculously disappear. The first time she had pain, I would be off doing something about it, and I would not be taking no for an answer.

Many parents suffered period pain themselves

There is always several ways to look at this and why I always offer an empathic response. Many parents were in pain themselves and went through similar experiences. Many of these same parents were told to suck it up and that this is what a woman has to put up with each month. So to them, this is reality. This is their norm. They suffered, so it is natural for them to believe that their daughter just has to wait and see and suffer it out too.

But, as I say to these parents, these symptoms that your daughter is experiencing are not normal. Period pain and all the other terrible associated symptoms are not normal. No woman, young or older, should have to put up with excruciating pains related to her cycle, or an undiagnosed gynaecological condition.

I then go on to explain that I have daughters and that there is no way I would wait and see, before getting help. I also explain that on a health perspective, there are many dangers in letting a young woman suffer such a horrible experience.

The cause of period pain could affect future fertility

I often have to explain the implications of leaving a disease and not intervening early enough. The explanation of by not getting early intervention could mean that they may not ever have grand children, is usually enough to spur many a mother into prompt action. But, it should not have to take these words to prompt someone into action.

Gynaecological conditions cause period pain

The facts are clear now. There is enough education out there. The simple fact is that period pain (and associated symptoms) is not normal and this usually means that there is an undiagnosed gynaecological condition causing the issue. One of the most common causes being endometriosis, or adenomyosis, or both combined. There could be other facts such as pelvic congestion syndrome, or worst still, though rare, there could be something more sinister such as cancer.

Sexually Transmitted Infections

The other thing that parents may not like to admit is that their daughter may actually be having sex and has a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI). I often have parents interject when asking if a teenager is sexually active. Many a parent answer “No” on the teenagers behalf, only to then learn that their little girl is having sex.

Sexually transmitted diseases (STI’s) can cause permanent damage to reproductive organs and future fertility if not treated early enough. The reality is that many young girls, and boys, are having sex at a very young age, regardless of what parents may believe. Parents do need to open to the possibility that their child’s pain could in fact be related to being sexually active.

The things parents need to know

The things I am trying to educate all parents on are the following:

  1. No matter what anyone tell you, health professional included, ‘period pain is not normal’
  2. Please do not use the wait and see approach when your daughter is in pain, and has been for months.
  3. Women do not needlessly need to put up with pain each month.
  4. Early intervention is the key to treating and managing any disease or health issue
  5. Teenagers are not too young to have endometriosis, or other gynaecological issues.
  6. Many gynaecological issues are hereditary, so if a parent had period pain, or a diagnosed gynaecological issue, then there is a good chance their daughter will have the same.
  7. Parents should not feel guilty, or blame themselves for passing on hereditary issues. All of us have faulty genes.
  8. Regardless of upbringing, or moral stances, teenagers are having sex earlier these days
  9. Teenagers can have sexually transmitted diseases
  10. The earlier intervention is enacted and proper treatment and health management administered, the better the future fertility and health outcomes are for young woman.
  11. Without early intervention, some parents may never become grandparents.
  12. General practitioners are no gynaecologists, so please make sure you get referred onto a proper specialist. If not, find another GP.
  13. If you don’t get help with the first healthcare practitioner you see, please remember the value or a second, or tenth opinion.

I do get that many parent’s have been led to believe that period pain, and other associated symptoms are just part of live and something that I woman just has to put up with. I am sorry for those that were told this and then have put up with this when they didn’t have to.

Period pain is not normal

Please know that you daughter does not need to put up with these symptoms. Period pain is not normal and early intervention is the key to help your daughter live a happy and pain free life. It could really also help save her from the heartache many women have to live with daily. It could also help with her being able to have children of her own.

Do not use the wait and see approach for period pain

Never use the wait and see approach when it comes to period pain and the other associated menstrual symptoms. You daughter will thank you one day and I am sure her children will thank you too. Lead by example so that your daughter can lead by example to daughter, or daughters too.

Final word

If you do need help with your daughters period pain, and other associated symptoms, please give my friendly staff a call and find out how I may be able to help. There are in person and online consultation available. Conditions may apply with online consultations. My staff will explain all this to you when you make your enquiry, or book a consultation.

Regards

Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Master of Women’s Health Medicine

-The Women’s Health Experts

 

 

 

 

Pelvic Congestion Syndrome 1 1

Let’s Talk About Pelvic Congestion Syndrome

Millions of women world-wide suffer from chronic pelvic pain. One of the causes of chronic pelvic pain is a condition called Pelvic Congestion Syndrome and it is not often talked about. I thought it was important to share this information to bring more awareness to this syndrome.

Pelvic congestion syndrome does share many of the same symptoms of endometriosis and adenomyosis and it important to have proper differential diagnosis and rule other causes of pelvic pain out first. Sometimes the varicose veins that cause pelvic congestion syndrome can be present alongside endometriosis and adenomyosis, or other pelvic issues.

In the past, a diagnosis of chronic pelvic pain left many women frustrated with few treatment options and a lack of available resources. Their doctors were often left perplexed, despite the endless negative laboratory test and imaging data as well as inconclusive consultations obtained.

In the last 10 years, improved medical understanding and increased awareness have lessened the confusion surrounding this condition and its distinct association with pelvic congestion syndrome (PCS). There are now more minimally invasive surgical solutions which give affected patients more treatments choices as well.

So what is Pelvic Congestion Syndrome (PCS)?

Pelvic congestion syndrome (PCS) is a chronic condition that occurs in women when varicose veins form below the abdomen within the pelvic region. Pelvic congestion is just like the varicose veins that some women have in their legs, but it affects the veins of the pelvis. Blood backs up in the veins, making them become enlarged and engorged. Pelvic congestion can also cause chronic pelvic pain in some women.

What are the symptoms of Pelvic Congestion Syndrome?

The main symptom of pelvic congestion syndrome is pelvic pain that lasts at least 6 months. The pain may be a heavy or aching feeling. Or the pain may be sharp. Usually the pain is only on one side, usually the left side. At times you may feel it on both sides. The pain is often worse at the end of the day. If PCS occurs in pregnancy it often first starts during or after a pregnancy. It may worsen after a later pregnancy.

Symptoms of Pelvic Congestions Syndrome can include the following.

  • Pain starts 7-10 days before your period
  • Pelvic pain is worse when you sit or stand
  • Lying down relieves pelvic pain
  • Varicose veins around the vulva, buttocks, and legs
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Swelling of the vagina or vulva
  • Tenderness of the abdomen
  • Pain during sex
  • Dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation)
  • Abnormal bleeding during menstruation
  • Backache
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Increased urination
  • Irritable bowel symptoms
  • Hip pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Aches in your legs

The syndrome often causes a constant dull pain in the pelvic area that is said to worsen at different times of the cycle and in different situations. Experts believe it can be the source of pain in up to 30% of women who have chronic pelvic pain.

How is at Risk?

It’s more likely to develop in women who have previously given birth, but it can be found in women who have not had children. It is also hereditary so if someone in the family has it, you may be at a higher risk of having it.

What Are The Causes of PCS?

It is still not fully understood what the cause of pelvic congestion syndrome is. There may be multiple factors and causes.

Enlarged veins in the pelvis seem to play a major role. These large veins do play a major role in those that have chronic pelvic pain, but many women have enlarged veins and no symptoms.

Pregnancy may increase the risk for pelvic congestion syndrome. This is because veins enlarge during pregnancy to support the increased blood flow. This can permanently enlarge the veins and lead to symptoms.

Just like endometriosis and adenomyosis, hormones may also play a role in pelvic congestion syndrome. It is though that estrogen may play a big part of this by making veins wider (dilates). We do know that estrogen does drive disease inflammatory states. We also know that PCS is less common after menopause when estrogen levels tend to be lower.. Other hormones may also cause veins to grow wider and cause symptoms.

Excess weight and increased body fat may also cause increased inflammation and estrogenic response that leads to pelvic congestion syndrome.

Other factors such as dietary and lifestyle factors may exacerbate this condition as well.

How is it diagnosed?

PCS can be quite difficult to diagnose, and will need a multimodality approach to be able to firstly diagnose this properly and then apply appropriate treatment. PCS often requires a multidisciplinary approach because the differential diagnosis is quite long and varied. As mentioned before, some of the symptoms are the same as other inflammatory conditions such as endometriosis and adenomyosis. Multiple diagnostic procedures are needed to eliminate other possible causes for your symptoms. These procedures can include:

  • Ultrasound
  • Laparoscopy (keyhole surgery)
  • CT scan
  • MRI scan
  • Venogram

Ultrasound is often preferred as the first step in diagnosing PCS, as it is possible to detect the varicosities as well as assess the blood flow. The only problem with ultrasound is that is that it may not always pick the varicosities up.

MRI may be needed, but even then, laparoscopy is the only procedure to definitely diagnose this condition. I often explain to women that if they have been in pain for a long time, the best option is a laparoscopy. This can also be used to exclude other pelvic pathology and also check to see if there is endometriosis etc too. Sometimes the varicosities may need to be tied off surgically as well and can be done via laparoscopy. Laparoscopy is the gold standard investigation of the pelvis and why it is the best option.

There may need to be input from other health professionals and modalities such as gynaecologists, anaesthesiologist, gastroenterologist, advanced trained laparoscopic surgeon, neurologist, haematologist, oncologist, psychiatrist, and urologist or urodynamic specialist may also be necessary. If someone sees a lot of this syndrome then they will be able to differentiate this without the need of involving too many other areas of medicine, but all other pathology and disease states do need to be carefully ruled out first.

When I help women with PCS, I have a very specialised team of healthcare professionals I work with that see this syndrome often and know what to look for very quickly and promptly. This is why it is very important to see the right people who know about these particular areas of women’s health conditions.

Treatments for Pelvic Congestion Syndrome 

Treatment for pelvic congestion syndrome is usually aimed at reducing and alleviating symptoms. Unfortunately, like endometriosis, there is no definite cure for the condition, and it can be challenging to treat if you don’t get to see the right healthcare practitioner, or healthcare team.

There are medications available to help relieve symptoms of PCS and these can include:

  • NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
  • chronic pain medications (such as gabapentin plus amitriptyline)

The most successful treatment currently is a minimally invasive surgical procedure called pelvic vein/ovarian vein embolization (PVE/OVE). This procedure blocks off the faulty varicose veins so that they can no longer enlarge with blood, thereby relieving the pain. that are believed to be the source of pain.

Embolization (PVE/OVE) offers a safe, effective, minimally invasive treatment option that is less expensive to surgery and less invasive. It is an outpatient hospital procedure which requires only conscious sedation. Once the procedure is performed, you can return home a few hours later the same day. Medical literature shows that the procedure provides complete or partial relief in approximately 90% – 95% of the cases. As with any procedure, there are risks, and not all women may be appropriate for this treatment option.

A laparoscopy may still be needed to definitely diagnose the varicose veins first, before embolization can be performed. This is why diagnosis and treatment of PCS does require a step by step multimodality approach. This is something that needs to be clearly understood.

Outlook

PCS isn’t a condition that is life threatening, but it does have the potential to significantly affect your quality of life. Symptoms such as chronic pain, pain during sexual intercourse, and dysmenorrhea can lead to a decrease in physical activity, loss of function, and depression. It can make daily life very hard and make it difficult to function in your personal and work life.

A diagnosis does not necessarily mean you will be affected to this extent and PCS varies greatly in terms of severity for each person. Not all women with PCS will have their daily life affected and some do not get pain at all.

The good thing is that there are treatments available to minimize the symptoms and help sufferers cope with this condition. It is important that you talk to your healthcare practitioner if you do have any of the symptoms of PCS.

It’s also important to talk to your healthcare practitioner about counseling, if needed, to help you cope with the significant chronic pain that can go along with having PCS. Chronic pain can impact on an emotional and psychological level and this can then lead to further exacerbation of pain. Many people just do not realise the impact the stress and emotions and mood disorders can have on pain conditions.

Last word

If you do have chronic pelvic pain and need assistance with diagnosis and management please give my friendly staff a call and ask how I may be able to assist you. I also work in with a good network of healthcare professions to help my patients get the best care possible. My motto is No Stone Left Unturned and I apply this to everyone that comes to see me for assistance with their health condition.

Regards

Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Master of Women’s Health Medicine

-The Women’s Health Experts