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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”

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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

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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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New Year’s Microbiome Reboot & Restore

Most people often need lose the Christmas and New Years Cheer put on through all the goodies we all consume. This also means our gut and Microbiome and Gut health is out of balance and needs to be rebalanced and restored with beneficial bacteria.

Weed, Repair and Restore

This needs to be done properly and involves weeding out the bad bacteria, repairing the gut mucosa and then restoring the gut and microbiome with beneficial bacteria. These good bacteria also need the right food sources to grow and this is all part of repairing and restoring the microbiome/gut.

Microbiome Reboot and Restore Program

We are offering a Microbiome Reboot and Restore to help you with weight management, help your immune system and also get your gut and digestive system working properly again. It will also help reduce inflammation in those with chronic disease states and help with moods and healthy brain function too. The program also incorporates healthy eating principles.

Let’s start the New Year right by getting your gut health right too.

Please give the clinic staff a call for more details and pricing.

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Women and Men’s Health Advocate

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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

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Insights into Endometriosis

Recently I posted a story about endometriosis being aired on SBS television. I am sure many people watched it and it is great to see that sufferers are finally being recognised. It is important that sufferers are finally being recognised and that there is more education about this disease.

But, is education and awareness enough?

Well, ‘yes’ and ‘no’. I always say this when I am asked this question. Yes, it is great to get education and awareness out there, but what are we doing to support those who are struggling daily?

Any education and awareness about this horrible disease is great. It is a huge win for sufferers when we do see programs go to air and aren’t scared to ask people their experiences of living with a disease state.

I do think those that were involved and those that are driving this awareness need to be applauded. Getting media to listen is one of the best ways to bring awareness to the disease states such as endometriosis.

While there was lots of information shared, I do believe more could have been talked about. I was a little disappointed to hear that the opening line was more about associating endometriosis and periods. We know endometriosis and its symptoms can be there daily, not just around the menses. But, it does open up discussion for more programs and media recognition for those with endometriosis, or any gynaecological condition really.

I’ll talk about the good things, the not so good things and everything in between. Let’ have a look what was talked about and some of the things that should have been talked about as well. I do realise time constraint mean that not everything can be talked about either.

The important things that were talked about

  • Millions of women world-wide suffer this disease
  • Millions of suffers do have a wide range of symptoms that vary with each individual
  • Period Pain IS NOT Normal
  • There is no cure for endometriosis
  • Millions of women world-wide have been led to believe their symptoms are normal, when they aren’t
  • Women are being missed and dismissed daily and told to basically suck it up
  • Many women take more than 10 years to be diagnosed
  • GP’s and other healthcare people are missing the disease and also failing to refer on
  • Many women are misdiagnosed for other disease states such as IBS, gastro etc
  • When presenting for medical help, many women are told they just have a gastro virus, or it may be an ectopic pregnancy
  • Endometriosis affects the daily life of sufferers and their partners and family as well
  • Partners can be affected by watching their loved one go through this disease state
  • Intimacy and a happy healthy sex life can be hard for sufferers due to pain and associated symptoms
  • Many endometriosis sufferers have to take pain killers daily, just to get through their day
  • Endometriosis requires a laparoscopy to be diagnosed
  • Scans and blood tests cannot diagnose endometriosis
  • Women need a highly specialised surgeon when needing to have the disease diagnosed and cut out
  • Despite the best medical treatments available, women are still in pain daily
  • Many women will require multiple surgeries to deal with endometriosis
  • Despite multiple surgeries, women are still in pain and have all the associated symptoms of endometriosis.
  • Women will need hormones, pain medications, pain management and psychiatric help dealing to be able to deal with endometriosis
  • Often pain and associated symptoms are not managed well at all
  • Women who suffer endometriosis are holding down jobs and many people are unaware they are suffering this disease
  • Many women with endometriosis cannot hold down fulltime employment either
  • Women are not being told the facts about endometriosis
  • Many healthcare practitioner do not know the facts about endometriosis
  • Women of all shapes, sizes and colour have endometriosis
  • Endometriosis is just as common as many other well-known disease states, yet little is known about it.
  • Complementary medicines such as acupuncture and Chinese medicine may help women with endometriosis (although this was brushed over very quickly)
  • Genetics/hereditary links are now known to be a big part in the disease expression

Important things that were not talked about

  • Endometriosis pain and associated symptoms do not just happen around the menses
  • A significant portion of women with endometriosis are asymptomatic (meaning no symptoms) and are only diagnosed through needing to assess for other issues such as fertility investigations
  • Not all women with endometriosis will experience fertility issues
  • Pregnancy does not cure endometriosis
  • Hysterectomy does not cure endometriosis
  • Endometriosis is Estrogen driven and not caused by estrogen dominance
  • Progesterone in suppressive to the disease
  • Pain levels are not related to the extent of the disease
  • Teenagers are not too young to have endometriosis
  • Certain combined contraceptive Pills that contain estrogen, could be making the disease worse, or in fact helping mask and then drive the disease
  • The facts around endometriosis need to be standardised and more freely available
  • Despite the best medical treatment not working for some women, we need to educate about other alternatives, including complementary therapies
  • Women with endometriosis do need a multimodality (team) approach to manage their disease state and daily symptoms
  • There needs to be better funding to help women access all services they need for endometriosis and the associated symptoms
  • Too much surgery can be just as bad as not having surgery
  • The first surgery should always be a sufferer’s best surgery
  • Women with endometriosis need to see and advanced trained laparoscopic surgeon who specialises in endometriosis and is an excision specialist.
  • Not all gynaecologists are advanced trained and not all gynaecologist will be able to effectively manage endometriosis
  • Most of the good advanced trained surgeons do not do public work. Some do limited work, most don’t.
  • Women and healthcare practitioners need to be educated about the facts are endometriosis
  • GP’s and other healthcare providers who are the first point of call for women, should be better educated about endometriosis and the associated symptoms
  • Women with endometriosis can have adenomyosis, PCOS and other gynaecological diseases at the same time
  • Women who suffer bad symptoms of endometriosis have contemplated suicide, or had suicidal thoughts
  • Women with endometriosis will require help with depression, anxiety and other mood disorders
  • Many women with endometriosis are addicted to pain medications and opiates and are not monitored , or managed well
  • Many women cannot function without some of the pain medications and the alternatives that are not as addictive need to be discussed
  • Diet and lifestyle changes can help with reducing the symptoms of endometriosis and may help with reducing some of the inflammation driving the disease
  • Healthy gut bacteria and restoring the microbiome can help with some of the symptoms associated with endometriosis and the inflammatory processes around endometriosis
  • Exercise may assist with the symptoms of endometriosis

There are probably many other things that need to be discussed, but, for now this is a great start. Any awareness is a great outcome and again those that were involved need to be applauded and commended. The sufferers, the specialists, the partners, the families, the media people and everyone involved deserve to be praised for this story. We now just need to take it to the next level of education and awareness for the sake of those and their families that suffer from this horrible disease.

There is no cure for endometriosis and even with surgery and the best medical interventions; women will still suffer the daily consequences of the disease. The best way to treat and clinically manage endometriosis is with a multimodality (team) approach that requires many different modalities and medicines. While there is no cure, with the right interventions and management women can become asymptomatic (meaning no symptoms).  We now just need governments to provide better funding to this with endometriosis and those who will ultimately be involved in their care.

Let’s hope that with awareness and education, this brings further funding and changes. We also need for more programs to be aired on the media to talk about what women with endometriosis can do to manage their disease better and where to access the help they so desperately need.

Take care

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

– No Stone Left Unturned

– Endometriosis Expert

– Women’s and Men’s Health Advocate

Dr Andrew Orr Logo Retina 20 07 2016

Dr Andrew Orr Logo Retina 20 07 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why Early Puberty Is More Common Than Ever

In today’s modern world we are seeing more and more young girls going through puberty much younger than they used to. We do know that girls as young as 7 years old are getting their menstrual cycle and going through all the changes of puberty, yet these poor children aren’t able to fully comprehend the emotional changes that go with it, or what this means for them on a reproductive level. Researchers Blame Childhood Obesity, Endocrine Disruptors and I will discuss this at length for you all.

It wasn’t that long ago the average girl would begin menstruating around the age of 16 or 17. On average, the general consensus would have been that girls could be starting to begin menstruation around the age of 14 years old. By early 2000’s, that age had fallen to less than 13 years old and now it has fallen again to being as young as 7 years old.

What we forget is that even before a girl gets her first period, there are signs of maturation that signal impending changes, and these come even earlier. So actually, some of these girls are beginning their puberty phase when they are 5 years, or 6 years old. A generation ago, less than 5 percent of girls would see these changes in their bodies— being breast growth, body hair, acne, pubic hair and all the other things that go with puberty. But now many of these young girls are seeing this around 7 years old, with an average age being 8 years old, for all of these changes to start to happen. This is definitely becoming the increasing norm and some experts think this age is still falling. Some doctors see fit to begin assessing girls for puberty-related changes at age 6.

Early Puberty

Classically, precocious puberty has defined puberty that begins before age 8 in girls and 9 in boys, but this is no longer universally accepted. In general experts are now saying that 7 years old is now probably a normal age to have some signs of puberty. While they are some that may not agree, we do need to start asking the big questions as to why this is happening?

So far, researchers haven’t proven any physical risks that come with early maturity. Although this could pose a significant risk to their ongoing fertility, bone health and also be putting women into menopause earlier too.

Many researchers have suggested that the main risks that come along with precocious puberty are not biological. Recent studies have found that girls who began the process early had an increased risk of depression during their adolescent years. There are also social risks that can disrupt a girl’s healthy development.

Puberty can be very confusing and emotionally damaging for girls, as they may face “sexual innuendo or teasing” long before they’re ready for it, according to researchers and experts. Early puberty may change the way a girl behaves, along with the way others behave towards her. This could pose other significant risk factors such as early pregnancy, but also exposure to STI’s and many other things these young girls are too young and too naive to know. This could even lead to earlier use of alcohol and drugs as well.

Why Is It Happening?

One of the biggest issues for young girls, and women in general, is changes in diet and higher use of highly processed foods and high intake of grains. This leads to higher levels of insulin and then the body storing more fats and stops the burning of fats and this then also creates inflammatory disease in the body. High insulin levels also lead to higher levels of estrogen in the body too. This is leading to more children being overweight and problem with changes to hormones, their cycles and gynaecological conditions. Childhood obesity rates have increase exponentially in the past 30 years, with more than one-third of children and adolescents weighing in as overweight, or obese. What people fail to realize is these Fat cells produce estrogen ( now known as Obestrogens), which plays a central role in stimulating breast growth in girls, causing problems with hormones, causing gynaecological conditions and playing a major factor in them getting their cycles much younger.

Researchers and experts are saying that obesity is leading to earlier puberty and this theory is well supported by the fact that these girls’ breasts are developing at a much younger age, and the age at which they start to menstruate has declined. The ovaries control menstruation, signaling that earlier breast development may be occurring because of different variables such as diet and environmental factors

There may be are other factors at play, other than diet, lifestyle and obesity though. Girls at a normal weight have been starting puberty earlier as well, though at a lower rate than these girls whom are overweight, or obese. Chemicals known as endocrine disruptors, such as the phthalates used in the production of plastics, as another potential contributor to early puberty have been cited as the most likely cause. They mimic estrogen and also cause disruption to the reproductive function and could therefore cause precocious breast growth and issues with the menstrual cycle. We know that there are over 87,000 chemical found in our foods, plastics, and preservatives and even in our water ways from detergents and even small traces of the contraceptive pill making its way into our water we drink as well. Others have said stress during childhood can play a role in prompting puberty as well.

Many children now face far more stresses that did in generations gone by, with many children growing up in families with a lot of domestic violence, arguing at home, or violence in their neighborhood are more likely to develop earlier. There have been studies and research that has suggested that girls who grew up without their biological father were twice as likely to get their period before age 12.

Scientists are even researching prenatal variables. Researchers now know that the parental mode of inheritance, through genes, is one way parents health, diet and lifestyle is being passed onto children. One study found that overweight mothers who developed gestational diabetes while pregnant gave birth to daughters who would start puberty earlier in life, regardless of what the girls themselves weighed. But, we also now know that the sins of the fathers can play a part in a child’s development. If the father isn’t healthy at the time of conceptions, or has genetic abnormalities, or genetic issues, these can be passed through the sperm and then onto a child, who then is affected with this issues that get expressed later, or now early, in life.

Regardless of whether its cause is environmental, genetic, biological, or some combination, precocious puberty may be reaching a biological breaking point.

This is why we need to be more aware of our children’s health early on, but we also need to be aware of our own health, before conceiving too, as we can pass our genetic disposition onto our children.

Teenagers and younger women are not too young to have gynaecological issues

Early intervention and prevention is the centre of managing any issue such as this and this is why we need to teach our children better eating habit, having a healthy active body and also being in touch with their bodily functions and emotions at a young age

Period pain and menstrual irregularities are not normal and we need to teach young girls this. We know that teenagers and younger women are not too young to have gynaecological issues such as Endometriosis and PCOS. Please see our article of what a proper menstrual cycle should be like to familiarize you and your daughter with this. The earlier you get onto menstrual issues and gynaecological issues, the better long term prognosis they have for their health and future fertility overall.

If you or your daughter need help with menstrual issues and know more about better menstrual health, please book in and see me sooner than later. As I have said before, the earlier we start educating young women on what is right, then better is for them later on in life and for their future health and fertility

Take care

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

“The Brisbane Baby Maker” & “Women’s and Men’s Health Crusader”

-Leaving No Stone Left Unturned

Endometriosis Awareness Hysterectomy does not cure endometriosis

Hysterectomy Does Not Cure Endometriosis

One of the things I get asked to comment on often by women, colleagues, media etc, is “Will Hysterectomy Cure Endometriosis?”

Every time I hear the question asked, or hear of women being told that hysterectomy will cure their endometriosis, I almost cringe and have to stop myself from swearing. The fact is this, and I want everyone to know this. Hysterectomy “DOES NOT” cure endometriosis. It never has and it never will and I am going to explain why.

Endometriosis is typically not found in the uterus as it is endometrial like tissue that grows outside the uterus. Endometriosis is really normal tissue, growing in abnormal areas. It can grow on the bowels, bladder, pelvic wall, utero-sacral ligaments (USL’s) and it can spread to nearly every part of the body. It is also one of the most misdiagnosed disease states in women and can take up to 10 years to diagnose on average. Some women are never diagnosed and many take up to 20 years, or more, to be diagnosed. This means that a hell of a lot of healthcare people miss it along the way. That is a fact. It also means a hell of a lot of healthcare people do not know much about the disease as well. Another  fact as well. Let’s not get started on the surgical side of this either. I have explained this in other posts (Click Here)

The other fact is there is a lot of BS (Bullshit) put out there about endometriosis by uneducated healthcare practitioners, media and general public alike. Again this is a fact.

One of the biggest pieces of misinformation is women being told that hysterectomy will cure endometriosis and is the solution to all the symptoms they are getting. Not only is this not true, but it is downright reckless, misleading and bordering on negligence. It is also causing women to have a healthy uterus removed and many to undergo a procedure that is not even going to cure their disease. There is no cure for endometriosis at this present time.

Why Won’t Hysterectomy Cure Endometriosis

Firstly, there is no cure for endometriosis. That is a fact.

Secondly, endometriosis is outside the uterus. As I have said before it can grow on the pelvic wall, the bowels, the bladder, the ovaries, the fallopian tubes, the USL’s and it can spread to the diaphragm, the lungs, the pericardium, the heart and nearly every part of the body. That is the truth.

Now, if the disease is not in the uterus, how is taking the uterus out going to be a cure for the disease?

Well, it isn’t a cure and this is what we need for people to know. Sure, menstrual related symptoms like period pain, heavy bleeding, clotting etc may be stopped due to a hysterectomy and not getting a period anymore. But, that is it really. Endometriosis will still be there and so will many of the non-menstrual related symptoms. Worse still many then think, or have been told, that the endometriosis is gone and that the symptoms they are experiencing post hysterectomy are not from endometriosis. The fact is, the endometriosis is still there and those symptoms are still from endometriosis. Many women are then led to believe the symptoms are in their head, or then told to go and see pain specialist and suck it up basically. That is what happens.

The other thing is, many women who have pain with their menses and heavy bleeding may have another condition called Adenomyosis and may not even know they have it. Hysterectomy will help adenomyosis, because this is confined the uterus. So when women say they got relief from having a hysterectomy, they may have just had adenomyosis and not even known they had it. They may also just be having symptomatic relief from menstrual related symptoms from not having their period. Adenomyosis and endometriosis often go hand in hand too and many do not know they have both disease states. Many now believe they are one in the same disease, but just in different locations. But, regardless, endometriosis will still be there regardless of whether a woman has a hysterectomy, or not.

No matter what anyone tells you, hysterectomy will not cure endometriosis. If endometriosis has been diagnosed, then it will still be there regardless of the uterus being taken. This is what we need all to know. Many women are told hysterectomy will be the cure to their endometriosis only to find the symptoms come back again after the procedure is done. The women I feel sorry for are the ones led to believe that hysterectomy will be the great savior for all their symptoms, only to find out it isn’t.

Let’s not forget that endometriosis symptoms don’t always relate to the menses either. Women with endometriosis can be in constant pain at anytime in their cycle and pain can also be cyclic, regardless whether the period is due or not. “Endo Belly” can strike at anytime. Women can go from having a flat stomach one minute, to looking like they are pregnant the next minute, and then back again. Then we have all the other physical and emotional symptoms as well.  Hysterectomy is not going to fix any of that. Again hysterectomy will only help with the menstrual related physical and functional symptoms and endometriosis will still be there.

There is only one way to deal with endometriosis and that is via a multi-modality approach and manage the disease properly. I have written many articles about this and spoken about it at many seminars and events. If you want to find out more about how to manage endometriosis please click here 

I need every woman with this horrible disease to know that Hysterectomy WILL NOT cure endometriosis. No matter what anyone says to you, it won’t cure the disease. That is a fact and we need to start getting this information out there and stop those spreading the misinformation to be educated properly. If anyone tells you that hysterectomy will cure endometriosis, tell them they are misinformed. The endometriosis will be there still. If you, or someone else, needs to know the facts about Endometriosis, you can always direct them to my Endometriosis Facts Page or visit Endometriosis Australia’s page as well.

Let’s end the silence and also put an end to the misinformation as well. Lastly, always remember that Period Pain IS NOT normal either.

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Women’s and Men’s Health Expert

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