Fertility and Pregnancy, Prism Blog, Sex & Relationships, Transgender Wellness

Does Sex Cause Miscarriages? Guest Post by Tynan Rhea of postpartumsex.com

This article should not be used to replace medical advice. If your doctor has advised you to abstain from sex for fear of miscarriage and you do not have any of the conditions listed below, you may benefit from a second opinion, further research, or asking your doctor to explain why it’s important for your particular body and pregnancy to abstain from sex as your situation may have unique variables that require important consideration.


Will sex cause a miscarriage? Short answer: NO! If you have a healthy pregnancy, sex will not cause a miscarriage. So why do so many people (including doctors) sometimes tell people to stop having sex in pregnancy if there is talk about a miscarriage?

It’s easy to come across resources that state if someone has a history of miscarriage their doctor may ask them to refrain from sex for the first trimester unless otherwise noted. There are a few problems with this suggestion.

  1. “Experts” often do not specify if the problem is with penetration or orgasms or both.
  2. A review of the literature on this topic concluded there is no scientific research that has been conducted to validate this concern in a healthy pregnancy.
  3. First trimester miscarriages are generally thought to be due to “a major genetic problem or the body’s ways of stopping a pregnancy that is not going to develop healthily… it can be the uterine environment itself somehow, but that has certainly nothing to do with sex itself. In all my medical training I can’t think of any reason why a [person] would need pelvic rest in the first trimester” (Dr. E. Queenan, personal communication, April 24, 2017).
Later in pregnancy there are some instances where pelvic rest (remember this means no penetration only, not necessarily orgasms or oral sex) may be recommended:
  • risk of preterm labour
  • placenta previa
  • placental abruption
  • cervical insufficiency
  • ruptured membranes
  • presence of sexually transmitted infections or viruses (and depending on the infection, condoms or barriers may be sufficient for protection. Consult with your doctor or a sexual health clinic if you’re uncertain).

The problem with the advice to abstain from having sex is that this often causes a lot of distress for people or negatively impacts intimacy in relationships. Connecting with our bodies or partners is vital before the tumultuous postpartum period! Sex isn’t the only way to do this, of course, and if you’re already not that interested in sex than that’s absolutely okay and normal. But for individuals and relationships where sex is an integral part of life, telling people to abstain from sex can be really harmful.

If your pregnancy is healthy and you want to have sex, enjoy yourself! And know that the loving relationships you cultivate with your body and your partners during pregnancy will only serve to benefit you and your family.


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P R O F E S S I O N A L   B I O: Tynan Rhea is a settler with German and Czechoslovakian ancestry. Tynan has a private practice online and in Toronto as a counselor, aromatherapist, and doula specializing in sex, intimacy, and relationships throughout the reproductive years. Tynan is also the founder of PostpartumSex.com. Tynan graduated from the University of Waterloo with a Joint Honours Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Sexuality, Marriage, & Family. They received their doula training from the Revolutionary Doula Training program and their aromatherapy training with Anarres Apothecary Apprenticeship program. Tynan approaches their practice from sex-positive, trauma-informed, anti-oppressive, and feminist frameworks. You can find Tynan on Facebook, Instagram @TynanRhea or TynanRhea.com


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


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Balance Your Hormones While You Sleep

 

How to Balance Hormones with Sleep.

Enough quality sleep builds our immune systems, repairs cellular damage, reduces inflammation in the body, and resets hormones (including regulating our blood sugar levels and stress hormones).  With chronic sleep deprivation (6 hours or less per night), our cortisol (stress hormone) levels begin to rise, negatively affecting not only our reproductive hormones, but also our thyroid hormones and our risk for a number of diseases, like heart disease, type two diabetes, cancer, and more. You may not think you need more than 6 hours of sleep, but your body does. Lack of sleep is responsible for 100,000 car crashes, 40,000 injuries, and 1550 deaths per year, as well as the Exxon Valdez disaster and Chernobyl nuclear accident!

Our bodies actually react to limited sleep in a similar way that they would react to starvation. Lack of sleep similarly stresses our systems, and actually increases our food intake. We feel hungrier when we’re not sleeping enough. Not only that, but our appetite for carbohydrates, especially sugar and junk foods, significantly increase. One imbalance in the system -lack of sleep- can therefore lead to a chain of negative effects in our bodies and in our lifestyles that can culminate in serious hormone dysregulation.

Insomnia has actually been shown to increase symptoms of menopause, PCOS, infertility (lack of sle, and other reproductive hormone issues.

The Rules of Restorative Sleep

  • Get to bed by 11pm. 10pm is ideal. When we stay up later than that, we get that ‘second wind’ effect, which is actually a boost of cortisol from our adrenals, preventing us from sleeping and -in the long term- causing adrenal fatigue. Setting a regular bedtime and wake-time can help us get to sleep and sleep more deeply.
  • Keep electronics out of the bedroom and don’t look at screens for 1-2 hours before bed, including your phone! If you use your phone for an alarm, turn it to airplane mode. Remember the saying: use the bedroom for only two activities, sleep and sex!
  • Sleep 8-9 hours in the darker fall/winter months and 7-8 hours in spring/summer. This is a natural seasonal rhythm for our bodies.
  • Keep your bedroom as dark as possible. No night lights or bright alarm clocks. Use thick curtains to block outside lights. Use a face mask if necessary.
  • Use ear plugs if you are bothered by sounds.
  • Eat a high protein breakfast within one hour of waking up to set a healthy melatonin-cortisol cycle for the day, ensuring you’ll be sleepy at bedtime.
  • Don’t use sleep medications, including Benadryl for sleep. They make you artificially sleepy, but prevent you from deeper more restorative rest. Alcohol can do the same thing so if you’re having trouble sleeping, avoid alcohol as well.
  • Make your bedroom cozy. You want to feel comfortable there, like you can’t wait to get to bed.
  • Manage stress levels during the day as much as possible. We all know what it feels like to be up at night ruminating over that exam or the work meeting or talk with our spouses that didn’t go well. Journaling, meditation, exercise, and other stress relief activities can help prevent this. Equally important is acknowledging our feelings, setting healthy boundaries, and asking for help when we need something. Vitamin B, D, and EPA, along with many herbs, can also be helpful for regulating stress levels.
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and other stimulants after 1pm. Better yet, avoid them altogether! It gives us false energy that prevents us from rest and can lead to adrenal fatigue if overused.
  • If you’re having trouble resetting your sleep cycle, ask your healthcare provider if you should try a melatonin or magnesium supplement before bed.

Resources:

https://www.healthstatus.com/health_blog/pcos/sleep-is-critical-for-hormone-balance-and-pcos/

https://www.medscape.org/viewarticle/502825

http://natural-fertility-info.com/problems-sleeping-hormonal-balance.html


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


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Endometriosis, Fertility and Pregnancy, Menopause and Beyond, PCOS, Prism Blog, Take Charge of Your Hormones E-Course, Transgender Wellness

10 Ways to Eliminate Cancer-Causing Estrogens

 

What are Xenoestrogens?

Xenoestrogens are hormones in the environment that mimic estrogen. Unlike naturally produced estrogens, when xenoestrogens enter our bodies they disrupt our endocrine systems, throwing our hormones out of whack and potentially causing cancer, especially breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, and prostate cancer.

Xenoestrogens are most commonly found in plastics, pesticides, beauty products, receipts, and many more household items. Some of them show up on ingredient lists or labels, like parabens, BPA, phlalates, BHA, red dye no.3, and PCBs.

10 Ways to Eliminate Xenoestrogens

  1. Don’t take receipts. Snap a photo with your phone or get an e-receipt instead.
  2. Use organic beauty products that are free of parabens. Use only nail polish that’s “5-free”.
  3. Skip the plastic bags. Use paper or reusable bags instead.
  4. Stay away from canned foods and drinks. Carbonated and acidic products like soda and tomato sauce are especially known for leaching BPA from cans.
  5. Don’t store food in plastic. Especially do not microwave food in plastic containers or styrofoam. Throw out plastic water bottles that have sat in a hot car. Switch to glass and stainless steel water bottles and food containers whenever possible.
  6. Switch to organic produce to avoid endocrine-disrupting pesticides. This is especially important for produce you can’t peel, like berries, spinach, celery, and greens. Always wash and peel non-organic produce if possible.
  7. Avoid processed foods, food dye, and food with preservatives, especially for kids.
  8. Don’t buy plastic baby toys, especially for toys that will end up being chewed on.
  9. Use chlorine-free and unbleached paper products, like tampons, pads, toilet paper, and tissues.
  10. Switch to biodegradable cleaning products like laundry detergents and dish soap. Skip the dryer sheets altogether.

All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


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How to Balance Your Hormones with Exercise

 

How to Balance Hormones with Exercise.

We all know exercise is good for us. We also know that too much of a good thing isn’t good after all. This applies to exercise too!

When we exercise, we put our bodies in a state of stress. Cortisol, the ‘stress hormone’, increases when we exercise just like it does when we experiences other forms of stress. This can be good, because cortisol helps to repair tissue damage caused by exercise. However, cortisol also breaks down muscle proteins, encourages fat storage, especially around the midline, and causes undue stress to our body systems, including our hormones. Stress from exercise suppresses the secretion of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicular stimulating hormone (FSH), the hormones that stimulate ovulation and sperm production.

This means that too much exercise can cause infertility, amenorrhea (no periods), irregular cycles, and other hormonal issues. Additionally, research has shown that too much exercise can decrease testosterone in all sexes, and can decrease estrogen and progesterone in women.

Wait, I thought this was about exercise being good for hormones?

It is! In moderation. Light to moderate exercise actually reduces stress, the opposite of intense training sessions. Gentle yoga and walking are probably best known for this. Brief sessions or cardio or high intensity interval training are enough to get your heart rate up and get the health benefits of exercise without causing unecessary stress to your mind, body, or hormones. High intensity interval training (HIIT) actually increases testosterone and balances estrogen and progesterone, the opposite of excessive training sesssions.

When and how to Exercise for Hormone Regulation:

  1. Sit less: Sitting too much has many negative health effects, from cardiovascular health to muscle tension to mental health. It also messes with your hormones, especially insulin, which controls our blood sugar balance and can throw estrogen and progesterone out of whack too. Fidget, stand at your desk, walk and talk, set your phone or computer to ping at you every hour to remind you to get up and stretch, do some squats while you are watching TV.
  2. Walk more: Walking is a wonderful gentle exercise that improves hormone balance without causing extra stress. It’s also beneficial for our mental health, which in turn affects our hormones.
  3. Hight Intensity Interval Training: As well as strengthening your lungs and heart, it boosts testosterone and growth hormone, and improves insulin sensitivity. All you need is 12 to 20 minutes, three times a week. That’s it!
  4. Yoga: Not only does it improve flexibility, it also lowers your level of stress hormones and helps improve your mood. Check out yoga poses for hormone balance here.

Once you start thinking about exercise as part of your lifestyle, rather than another item on your to do list, it will start to feel fun and even like self-care. You don’t have to add any extra time to your day to stand instead of sitting, you don’t have to give up your favorite tv show, watch it during your 20 minute HIIT session! You can take a walk instead of drinking that second cup of coffee in the afternoon. When you piece all of this together, you can make major changes not only to your hormone balance, but to your overall health and mental health.


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


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6 Ways Water Helps You Balance Your Hormones

 

We Are Water.

Water makes up 1/2 to 1/3 of our body weight. Our bodies depend on water for nearly all processes. When we’re not well hydrated, our tissues aren’t well hydrated, and this can disrupt our body systems, including hormone regulation.

  1. Water is necessary to flush out excess toxins and hormones. You know this if you’ve noticed that your urine changes color and smell depending on how much water you drink and whether you take medications or vitamins.
  2. Water is part of our blood, which transports hormones around the body and carries out the excess. Water flows through our kidneys and liver to process and excrete hormones and toxins.
  3. When we are dehydrated, our bodies automatically start a stress response because our bodies know that dehydration can be a life threatening situation. A stress response elevates cortisol hormone levels, sending all of our other hormones out of whack.
  4. Water is necessary in our bowels to keep our stools soft so that they can be excreted easily, rather than causing constipation. Remember that first lesson on fiber? Fiber can’t exit our bodies (taking all of our excess hormones and toxins with it) if we don’t have water to flush it out.
  5. Our brain needs water to properly control the release and balance of the hormones throughout our systems. If our brain cells are dehydrated, they don’t function properly.
  6. Water helps us maintain our temperature and hydrate and nourish our skin and other tissues. As such, it can help combat symptoms of hormone imbalance like night sweats, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and acne.

 

When and how to drink water:

We need to consume enough water to make up for water loss, through urine, bowel movements, vomiting, sweating, breathing, and skin evaporation. If you’re sick and have diarrhea or vomiting, or nasal discharge, you’re losing extra fluids. If you sweat a lot, exercise, or are in a very hot climate, you’re losing extra fluids.

To stay sufficiently hydrated, you should be drinking at least .5 oz of water for every pound you weigh. For example, if you weigh 140lbs, you should drink 70oz a day. Just divide your weight by two to find the ounces of water you should drink per day. This amount will be more if you are losing extra fluids. Caffeine and alcohol are dehydrating too, so if you consume these things you need extra water as well. This amount includes:

  • Water
    • 2 cups before breakfast, 1 during breakfast, 1 between breakfast and lunch, 1 during lunch, 1 between lunch and dinner, 1 during dinner, 1 after dinner.
    • 2 cups 2 hours before exercise, and 1 cup every 20 minutes while exercising
  • Lemon water
  • Sparkling water
  • Herbal tea
  • Soup
  • High water content fruits and vegetables, especially raw fruits and vegetables
  • Water ‘sole’
  • NOT juice, caffeinated beverages, soda or beverages with sugar added! These are not hydrating and not beneficial for hormone balance.

All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


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Healthy Fats

 

Fat is good for you.

Coconut oil has been getting a lot of attention lately, but after 30 years of being told otherwise, you still might have a hard time wrapping your head around the fact that fat can be good for you.

We are made of fats! Fat cells make up our bone marrow and are stored in our lungs, heart, liver, spleen, kidneys, and intestines. Our brain cells are made of fats called lipids and our hormones are made of lipids too. Lipids are an essential part of our immune systems and they reduce inflammation. They form the boundaries of each of our cells and, in fact, our cells can’t communicate with each other without lipids. Our bile (remember that from the last lesson?), which helps us break down the food we eat and absorb nutrients, is derived from lipids. Lipids are necessary for us to absorb and transport fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K. Plus, our ‘body fat‘ -which, by the way, is actually necessary for storing energy, maintaining blood sugar levels, cushioning our skeleton, and keeping us warm- is of course made of fat.

Every year, ten percent of our fat cells die and are replaced. In other words, we need to make a lot of new fat cells every year. Some of this fat we can make ourselves, but certain essential lipids can only be obtained through diet. We need fats in our diets to survive!

What does this have to do with hormones?

Our hormones are made of fats called lipids. Lipids are necessary for hormone production (we can’t make our hormones without fats). A moderate amount of healthy fats daily helps us regulate hormone production.

Studies in cisgender males have shown that consumption of saturated fats (like meat and dairy) and monounsaturated fats (like olive oil) may increase testosterone production.

Studies in cisgender women have shown that saturated fats (especially from meat and dairy raised with hormones) can increase estrogen levels. However, coconut oil and avocadoes, which contain a mix of saturated and unsaturated fats, can decrease estrogen levels.

Overall, focusing on monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats -especially omegas- and avoiding hydrogenated and trans fats is the best option.

Remember the last lesson, on fiber?

Bile is produced by the liver to help us digest fats. After it has done its job, bile binds to fiber in our digestive system which allows them to be secreted together, taking toxins and excess hormones with them. Eating a fatty low-fiber meal prevents this process from happening properly. For proper hormone regulation you must include BOTH healthy fats and fiber in each meal.

Which fats to eat:

YES! Non-hydrogenated monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats:

  • Sunflower, hazelnut, olive, safflower, avocado, cottonseed, peanut, sesame, and canola oils
  • Macadamias, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, peanuts, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and other nuts and seeds
  • Olives, avocadoes
  • Herring, salmon, mackerel, albacore, tuna, trout, goose, duck
  • Fish oil and cod liver oil supplements

YES! to certain saturated fats:

  • Coconut oil, coconut, and coconut milk, palm oil, avocado oil and avocadoes
  • Organic grass-fed dairy and meat products

NO to other saturated fats:

  • Dairy and meat raised with hormones
  • Processed meats like hot dogs, spam, processed jerky, deli meat, and salami

NO Trans fats and NO hydrogenated fats (trans fats are illegal now, but the FDA has given companies a few years to comply with the law):

  • Margarine, shortening, fast food, tv dinners, store-bought pastries and cookies, deep fried foods, many pre-packaged and freezer foods
  • Check the ingredients! Labels list hydrogenated fats under the ingredients and trans fats under the nutrition facts.

All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


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Endometriosis, Fertility and Pregnancy, Menopause and Beyond, PCOS, Prism Blog, Surgical Recovery, Take Charge of Your Hormones E-Course, Transgender Wellness

Fiber Fiber Fiber!

 

Everyone knows fiber is important, but do you know why?

You’ve probably heard that fiber is a good way to maintain regular bowel movements. Maybe you’ve even heard about its possible role in preventing colon cancer or that fiber is beneficial for immunity. You may not know that fiber can balance your hormones too!

Fiber moves our digestion along at a healthy pace, allowing us to properly eliminate waste products -including excess hormones- rather than reabsorbing them. It is beneficial to properly eliminate both naturally produced hormones and prescription hormones, such as those used for menopause or medical transition.

PMS, mood swings, headaches, acne, heavy menstrual bleeding, spotting between periods, fibroids, endometriosis, hot flashes, breast, thyroid, and prostate cancers can all be caused by an imbalance in hormones.

If you’re not having (at least) daily bowel movements, you’re not eliminating excess hormones as often as you should be and are more likely to suffer from these conditions.

Cisgender “women are more likely affected by constipation by threefold compared with men. The female colon is longer and has more twists and turns, like a rollercoaster… We’re more likely to overuse laxatives, leading to weaker bowel muscles. We’re more likely to have painful hemorrhoids, which occur in 40 percent of pregnancies, and to restrain from pooping in public places.” Sara Gottfried MD.

How does it work?

Every time we eat, our liver produces bile, a substance full of digestive enzymes and other ingredients that help us break down fats and other nutrients into smaller particles. Some of these smaller particles are toxins (from medications, preservatives, etc) and metabolic waste products (including excess hormones like estrogen) which are then soaked up into the bile. When you have adequate fiber in your diet, this toxin-filled bile binds to fiber and together they are excreted from the body through a bowel movement, taking those toxins and waste products with it.

If you don’t have adequate fiber, bile and the associated waste products have nothing to bind to, and they don’t move through your intestines as quickly. This allows those toxins and excess hormones to be reabsorbed into the blood stream and repeatedly recirculated through your system.

That’s not all! Fiber also:

What does this mean for our hormones?

If you don’t eliminate bile fast enough, the estrogen it holds is reabsorbed and your blood estrogen levels rise. “Those estrogens can stimulate the growth of abnormal cells” including cancer cells (Wisconsin-based nutritionist Karen Hurd), as well as increase the liklihood of endometriosis, PMS, and many other issues. The same holds true for other hormones in our bloodstream and the accumulation of these hormones can cause many different hormone imbalances.

How can I prevent this cycle and balance my hormones?

“A special kind of dietary fiber called lignin, present in flax seeds, beans and lentils, binds to estrogen in the digestive tract to ensure it is eliminated and not reabsorbed into our system. Dietary fiber also feeds the beneficial probiotic bacteria living in our gut and keeps them healthy. These probiotic bacteria are important because they can also prevent estrogen being reabsorbed from our colon back into circulation” (Dr. Amanda Tracy, ND).

Are you on board yet? Great! Let’s get started.

Tips for taking fiber:

Nerd out about fiber:

“There are two types of fiber, insoluble and soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber is found in the cell walls of plants and cannot be dissolved in water. This is beneficial as it adds bulk to stools by binding with water and acting as a stool softener to assist in moving it out of the digestive tract. Soluble fiber on the other hand dissolves in water and helps to slow the passage of food through the digestive tract, lower blood sugar levels, and reduce cholesterol. Both soluble and insoluble fiber are essential to a good diet” Brandy Augustine PhD. Soluble fiber also protects the intestinal barrier and contributes to a healthy microbiome.

The following foods contain soluble fiber (to support a healthy microbiome and steady blood sugar levels):

  • Oatmeal and oat bran
  • Rice bran
  • Barley
  • Apples
  • Oranges and other citrus
  • Strawberries
  • Pears
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Flax seeds
  • Berries
  • Chia seeds

The following foods contain insoluble fiber (to promote regular bowel movements and secretion of hormones and toxins):

  • Dark leafy greens
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Dried fruit
  • Broccoli, cabbage, asparagus, cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Onions
  • Turnips, beets, carrots
  • Apple skin

BONUS: The following contain prebiotic fiber (to support a healthy gut microbiome):

  • Legumes
  • Wheat, barley,
  • Potatoes
  • Rice
  • Bananas
  • Artichokes
  • Onions, garlic

Resources:

More tips for avoiding constipation and maintaining a healthy gut

http://dramandatracynd.blogspot.com/2013/02/fixing-your-hormone-problems-with-fiber.html

https://bodyunburdened.com/health-benefits-of-fiber/

https://experiencelife.com/article/fiber-why-it-matters-more-than-you-think/

http://www.brandyaugustine.com/journal/2014/7/7/3-ways-dietary-fiber-helps-maintain-hormone-balance


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


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Hair Brilliance with Chinese Medicine

Capture

Join me for this wonderful class, in collaboration with Berkeley Community Acupuncture. We will make a hair growth serum together in class, which you will get to take home and use, you will also receive a BCA’s Glow Tea for hair and skin!
$40
At Berkeley Community Acupuncture, 2880 Sacramento St, Berkeley, CA.

Sign up!


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


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Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

 

Acupuncture, Endometriosis, Fertility and Pregnancy, PCOS, Prism Blog, Sex & Relationships, Transgender Wellness

Acupuncture and Herbs for Reproductive Health and Fertility

Western treatments for reproductive health can often be frustrating and come with a lot of side effects. Acupuncture and herbs provide support to these western treatments to reduce side effects and improve success, as well as an alternative to more invasive western treatments. We happily work with MDs, fertility specialists, and other types of providers to provide you with the most well-rounded care possible.

Acupuncture and herbs may help to:

  • Restart the menses in amenorrhea
  • Slow a heavy flow
  • Ease cramps
  • Reduce PMS/PMDD and bloating
  • Prevent spotting between cycles
  • Inspire a more regular cycle
  • Regulate hormones and ease symptoms of PCOS
  • Ease symptoms of endometriosis and fibroids
  • Ease symptoms of fibrocystic breasts
  • Soothe vaginal dryness
  • Reduce pain with sex and increase orgasmic capacity
  • Improve prostate health and reduce swelling and inflammation
  • Increase erectile capacity
  • Improve ovulation frequency
  • Assist with restarting the menstrual cycle and promoting fertility after stopping testosterone
  • Assist with regulating hormones and improving fertility by soothing endocrine and autoimmune disorders, such as Hashimotos
  • Reduce some types of miscarriage risk
  • Ease morning sickness, edema, fatigue, and other symptoms of pregnancy
  • Reduce rates of some presentations of malpositioned fetuses
  • Prepare the body to start labor on time
  • Speed recover post labor or cesarean
  • Benefit lactation and reduce risk of mastitis
  • Soothe anxiety and post-partum depression to improve baby bonding

shutterstock_388058173.jpg


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

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Treating Post-Surgical Constipation

photo credit: Practical Cures on flickr CC

Constipation is extremely common post-surgery, especially in combination with constipating pain killers, less physical activity, and irregular fluid and food intake. Often a bowel movement is required before a hospital will let a patient go home, so encouraging this process is especially beneficial to get you home sooner.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is extremely useful for alleviating postoperative constipation. Studies have shown that patients receiving regular acupuncture post-surgery actually perform better (have more frequent, easier,  less painful, more complete bowel movements) than those taking laxatives or stool softeners.

Points on your arms, legs, and abdomen are most frequently chosen for this purpose, especially points on either side of your navel and points on the stomach and large intestine ‘meridians’ (lines along the body in Chinese Medicine, sort of like dermatomes).

Acupressure

Several of these points can also be used at home as acupressure points for constipation. Press each point lightly (no more than an inch deep for abdominal points, about the pressure of holding hands for arm and leg points) for about 30 seconds at a time:

Massage

Belly massage is also helpful. You can find a Chi-Nei-Tsang practitioner near you, or watch this video demo to perform a similar belly massage yourself. You can also refer to the illustrated steps available here. There are many methods of breathing exercises for constipation as well that massage your belly from the inside!

Herbs

Acupuncture can be complemented with some herbs that stimulate bowel motility like:

Nutrition

Hydration is key. Drink plenty of water and incorporate more warm foods and beverages to wake up your digestive system gently. Try ginger tea, hot water with lemon, and bone broth. If you urinate more frequently than every 2 hours you may be drinking too much or too fast. If you urinate less frequently than every 5 hours you are dehydrated!

Eat warm, easy-to-digest foods like rice porridge, oatmeal, and mashed sweet potato or yams. When you’re ready, try lamb or vegetable and mushroom soup. Give your family and friends recipes to make for you during your recovery, such as: Magical Mineral Broth, Congee, and Almond flour ginger cookies.


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

For more herbal estrogens, ideas, and resources see my previous posts: Feminizing Herbs and “The Basics.”


Further study:

  Acupuncture at ST25 and BL25   Acupuncture at LI11 and ST37   Acupuncture at ST25, BL25, LI11 and ST37   Medicine:oral use of mosapride citrate: 4-week oral use, 5mg, three times daily 0.5 hour before meal   Total
SBMs [1]
[units: times per week]
Mean (Standard Deviation)
  2.7  (1.9)   2.5  (1.7)   2.9  (2.0)   2.9  (2.8)   2.8  (2.1)
Bristol scale [2]
[units: units on a scale]
Mean (Standard Deviation)
  2.8  (1.3)   2.9  (1.4)   3.0  (1.5)   2.7  (1.4)   2.9  (1.8)
Degree of straining during defecation [3]
[units: participants]
0   5   8   9   5   27
1   63   60   68   59   250
2   68   69   58   72   267
3   30   35   28   31   124
no defecation   2   0   2   3   7

 

Acupuncture, Endometriosis, Fertility and Pregnancy, For Providers, Menopause and Beyond, Neuropathy, Prism Blog, Scar Reduction, Surgical Recovery, Transgender Wellness

Acupuncture for Scar Treatment

Why Should We Treat Scars?
Scars may not only be cosmetically undesirable, but may also have an impact on the health of the individual. This is especially true for very large scars; scars with abnormal coloration, lumpiness, numbness, tingling, itchiness, heat or cold sensations, achiness or pain, tenderness to touch, and muscle restriction.
Such scars and associated adhesions can indicate or lead to nerve and blood vessel damage, decreased range of motion and muscle strength, increased likelihood of future injury, and chronic pain (especially pins and needles, tingling, and numbness). Scars are especially notable on the torso, where underlying adhesions can impair bowel function, chronic pelvic pain or infertility, depending on the site of the scar.
In Chinese medicine, significant scars are considered to block the flow of the meridians, (similar to the nerve and blood vessel damage pointed to by Western medicine) causing not only pain and decreased circulation, but also potentially impaired internal organ function depending on the meridian affected.

Scar Treatment with Acupuncture and Herbs
Scars that are at least two weeks old can be treated with acupuncture and herbal medicine.
A 2014 study used local acupuncture (“surrounding the dragon“: using needles directly around and through the scar) with distal points (4 gates and ST36). After eight treatments in 5 weeks the scar pain had reduced from a 7/10 to a 1-2/10. Such treatments can not only reduce scar pain, but also help to break up scar tissue and adhesions, increase local circulation, and aid healing. This leads to flatter, smaller, less noticeable scars and a reduction of keloiding.
Moxibustion (a gentle warming treatment achieved by burning dried mugwort), may also be used. Small amounts of moxa may be burned directly on the skin -with a sesame oil cream as a medium to prevent burns- around the scar, or a stick of rolled moxa may be burned above the site to warm the area. Both methods are pleasant and effective.
Topical herbs can also be very beneficial for scar healing. It is generally best to apply your liniment of choice over the affected area before bed and cover with a tshirt (or other clean soft article of clothing depending on the site of the scar), so that it has plenty of time to soak in without washing or sweating which would interfere with product absorption during the day.

Which Topical Should You Choose?
  • Prism’s Scar Oil has frankincense and other essential oils that break up scar tissue in a tamanu oil base, a great oil for reducing the appearance of scars, including keloids.
  • Zheng Gu Shui is beneficial for deep scars that may have adhesions to underlying tissues (for example surgical scars). They can improve local circulation, healing of the scar and the area that was injured, and reduce associated pain. It is better for healing and restoring health to the area than for cosmetic scar reduction.
  • Wan Hua Oil prevents scarring, increases blood circulation, reduces swelling, and helps regenerate damaged tissues. Once the wound closes, massage the oil directly over the scar daily to prevent scarring and promote healing. This option is best to prevent cosmetic scars from surgery. It is also effective for scars from burns.
  • Aloe aids scar healing and reduces infection and swelling. If used during the healing process it can reduce the formation of scars. Be sure to use 100% aloe (fresh is best), not aloe with alcohol or other additives that can dry and irritate the area.
  • Ching Wan Hung oil promotes healing and new tissue growth, reduces scarring, and prevents infection. It is especially effective for scars from burns.
  • You can also use castor oil compresses, to break up deeper scar tissue and adhesions, but I don’t recommend this for new scars that are still healing (or any open wounds).

Note: Many people recommend the usage of Vitamin E on scars, but newer research shows that Vitamin E does not help reduce the appearance of scars, and in the case of surgical scars can actually make scars more visible due to the development of irritation or contact dermatitis.


Providers: read more about acupuncture scar treatments from Skya Abbate, DOM.

Additionally, my colleague, Dena Gold LAc, suggests a Japanese style version of surrounding the dragon that involved needling slightly outside the scar, towards and under under the scar superficially enough that the needle falls rather than roots. Dena also suggests checking the fire points of the channel the scar intersects and if they are tender, needle the metal and water points of that channel before treating the scar directly.


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


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For more herbal estrogens, ideas, and resources see my previous posts: Feminizing Herbs and “The Basics.”

 

Endometriosis, Fertility and Pregnancy, Menopause and Beyond, PCOS, Prism Blog, Transgender Wellness

The Soy Controversy

“Women consuming the equivalent of two cups of soy milk per day provides the estrogenic equivalent of one birth control pill… men who consumed the equivalent of one cup of soy milk per day had a 50% lower sperm count than men who didn’t eat soy. –Chris Kresser’s Paleo Code

Soy is often touted as a natural source of estrogen, but is it safe to use either for this purpose or as a food?

“About two ounces of soy products per day may be sufficient to ward off hot flashes and other symptoms” of menopause (Wright & Morgenthaler, Natural Hormone Replacement for Women over 45). However, as an estrogen source, it may not be the safest food option.

Soy is present in nearly every packaged and processed food in the U.S, in fact, the average American gets up to 9% of our calories from soybean oil alone. Compare this to about 2 teaspoons per day in China and 9 teaspoons per day in Japan, most of which is fermented soy, which neutralizes the toxins (like trypsin inhibitors that inhibit protein digestion and affect pancreatic function, and phytic acid, which reduces absorption of minerals like calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc) that are present in most of the soy we consume in the U.S. (Chris Kresser’s Paleo Code)

Unfermented soy also increases our requirement for vitamin D and B12 (the opposite of fermented soy which provides these vitamins!), and disrupts endocrine function (potentially causing breast cancer and thyroid problems). Processed unfermented soy often actually contains carcinogens as well. (Chris Kresser’s Paleo Code)

It is not fully known how soy consumption may impact synthetic hormones, and it’s nearly impossible to avoid all soy since it’s in most of the food we consume, but it would be wise for most people to avoid eating the major processed soy foods like tofu, soy milk, and soy protein isolate. Fermented soy still contains estrogens, but is not as disruptive (or potentially carcinogenic) to our natural hormones, and is probably a safe food for most people.

I would generally recommend that people transitioning towards the masculine side of the spectrum avoid soy foods, and for those looking for natural sources of estrogen, there are many safer feminizing herbs and foods out there. For example, “flax contains substances called lignans, which have been shown to have estrogen-like qualities” (Wright & Morgenthaler). A few foods have small amounts of identical-to-human hormones [about 1-2% potency of human hormones] (Wright & Morgenthaler), including:
Rice, apples, date palm, pomegranate (estrone)
French bean seedlings (estradiol)
rice, licorice (estriol)


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

Acupuncture, Endometriosis, Fertility and Pregnancy, Prism Blog

Contact Needling for Needle Phobia

Contact needling is a method of acupressure that uses a needle only on the surface of the skin, without puncturing, to activate acupuncture points. It is stronger than acupressure massage, but gentler than acupuncture. This makes it great for people who are afraid of or sensitive to needles, kids, and sensitive areas.

Sometimes a regular, single use acupuncture needle is used for this, and sometimes teishin or shonishin -types of high quality reusable metal implements specific to this purpose- are used. A teishin is illustrated in the photo to the right. As you can see it is much thicker than a regular acupuncture needle since it is used only on the surface of the skin. This allows it to gently stimulate the point without feeling sharp or uncomfortable. Various types of shonishin are illustrated in the photo below. These many shapes are most often used for working with kids who are too young to have regular acupuncture.

This method is perfect to use on sensitive points, such as fingers, toes, and the face. It is great for clearing a “foggy head” (like when you feel a cold coming on or you’re exhausted or studying too much). Using contact needling on the face and head for this feels great and can help you pay closer attention at school or work and prevent afternoon fatigue!


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.