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Women's Health Issues
Women’s health is an important area to discuss because it helps a woman through the different stages in her life, as well as informing her about certain conditions and diseases that may occur. Educating women about life transitions is key to keeping a healthy, happy, and productive life. Below is a list of some of the conditions we treat at our clinic for women.
POLYCYSTIC OVARIAN SYNDROME (PCOS)
PCOS is when a collection of tiny cysts develops on a woman’s ovaries. These cysts do not cause any real issues unless they become big. Diagnosis of PCOS typically occurs during late teenage years or early adulthood when a woman presents with abnormal menstrual cycles and one of the following signs of androgen excess:
- Hirsutism (a.k.a., excess hair growth in undesirable areas of the body)
- Hair loss
- Abdominal/pelvic pain
- Areas of dark skin on the back of the neck
PCOS can be difficult to diagnose since no one single test diagnoses PCOS. 1 out of 10 women experience PCOS sometime in their life. PCOS often goes undiagnosed until these women seek treatment for infertility. It is important to seek early intervention for PCOS since effective treatment can reduce a woman’s chance of other conditions like diabetes, cancer, liver and heart disease.
Infertility means that a woman is unable to conceive despite having regular, unprotected sex after one year of trying. Some common causes of infertility include:
- Nutritional deficiencies caused by a malnourished diet (i.e., standard American diet rich in animal protein, processed refined food, low fiber)
- Toxin overload
- Elevated blood sugar levels/insulin resistance (i.e., metabolic syndrome, diabetes, PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)
- Long-standing mental stress
- Poor egg quality which can induce early menopause
- Thyroid disorder and other chronic diseases
- Ovulation disorders which cause irregular menses
- Drugs (i.e., tobacco, alcohol, caffeine)
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has successfully the chances of conceiving and sustaining a full pregnancy for centuries via its safe, natural, and cost-effective methology focused on boosting reproductive health. Research has shown that acupuncture and herbal medicine directly affects hormonal balance, improves uterine blood flow, regulate the menstrual cycle, improve the quality & quantity of viable follicles while creating a general sense of ease and well being.
When couples are having difficulty conceiving with or without reasons, like PCOS, pelvic inflammation, POF, or suffering from repeat pregnancy loss (RPL), we, at Advanced Health,
take a comprehensive approach to understanding the root cause and how to optimize one’s fertility. Traditional Chinese Medicine, manual osteopathy, and integrative functional medicine have often been recommended as effective solutions before moving to costly assisted reproductive therapies, such as Intra Uterine Insemination (IUI) and In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). By conducting functional medicine testing plus a comprehensive physical exam the underlying cause can be clearly determined and a personalized treatment plan provided. If assisted therapies (IUI, IVF) become necessary down the road, the services provided at Advanced Health can also be used in tandem since combining the best in Eastern and Western medicine optimizes one’s chances of conception and going to full-term pregnancy.
Menopause naturally occurs in a woman’s life when she has stopped menstruating for over one year. The average age of menopause is between age 45 to 55. Ten years prior to the official diagnosis of menopause (also called perimenopause) the ovaries have stopped regularly releasing eggs causing fertility to dramatically drop. During perimenopause a woman's body goes through many changes as it adapted to shifting hormone levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. For some, it can be associated with numerous unpleasant symptoms such as:
- Irregular periods
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal or urinary complications
- Mood swings or mood changes
- Changing feelings towards sex
- Osteoporosis (a.k.a., thinning bone density and quality)
At Advanced Health, we work with women to make their transition through menopause smooth, leaving them more energized without using HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) typically prescribed as the one-size-fits-all approach to treating menopausal symptoms. The problem is HRT causes significant harm with little good since they damage the liver and kidney function,
and are associated with causing cancer and heart disease. Through nutrition guidance, acupuncture and herbal medicine, we provide gentle and effective solutions which quickly and effectively subside menopausal symptoms, rebalance hormone levels naturally, and reduce hot flash, night sweats, irritability and insomnia without causing any side effects. These same treatments also help support bone density, heart health and the anti-aging process.
Endometriosis occurs when uterine cells grow outside of the uterus, such as in the ovaries, fallopian tubes, intestines, and other areas outside of the uterus. It is a very common condition affecting approximately 10 to 15% of women in the U.S.
Symptoms of endometriosis include:
- Painful menstrual periods
- Persistent pelvic/lower back pain
- Bloating, constipation, or diarrhea
- Pain during sex
- Excessive menstrual bleeding
- Pain during bowel movements or urination
Symptoms may differ from person to person since they are often dependent on the location of the endometrial tissue. Eastern medicine regards endometriosis as the sluggish movement of blood and energy inside of the body. Western medicine regards its cause as idiopathic and hence, causing it be mistaken with pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ovarian cysts, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It is important to get the right diagnosis in order to receive the most effective treatment. At Advanced Health we utilize the best in Eastern and Western medicine to both diagnosis endometriosis correctly and devise the most precise treatments. Our team of women’s health specialists, Dr. Bhandari M.D., acupuncturists Liuhong Xu and Dr. Jung Kim, manual osteopath Julie Duggan, and nutritionist Nicole Bianchi together and individually have demonstrated significant success rates for endometriosis by reducing the underlying inflammation, enhancing blood flow to the reproductive system, and removing stagnation.
IRREGULAR MENSTRUAL CYCLES
Women typically have menstrual periods every 28 days. They can fluctuate anywhere from 21 to 35 days, and typically last 4 to 7 days. An irregular menstrual cycle means that the interval between periods varies every month -- making it difficult to predict when to expect one’s period. It is very common for women to experience irregular periods which directly impact their daily life. Symptoms such as mood swings, depression, irregular spotting, heavy cramping, breast tenderness, headaches, heavy periods, no period, eating habits, anxieties, and sexual dysfunctions, are often related to the hormonal fluctuations that women’s body goes through every cycle. The nature of manual osteopathy and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is to bring hormones back into balance in accordance with a woman’s menstrual cycle. More specifically, it regulates the Chong &Ren meridians and optimizes liver, kidney, heart, and spleen function in order to rebuild a normal cycle.
Examples of abnormal menstruation are:
- Amenorrhea: when women's periods completely stop. This is normal if a woman is pregnant, breastfeeding, or has undergone menopause. Otherwise, the absence of a period for 90 days or more is considered abnormal. Amenorrhea may also be associated with other symptoms like hair loss, milky nipple discharge, headaches, vision changes, and/or excessive facial hair. Amenorrhea may develop because of other conditions like a genetic disorder, uterine, ovarian, vaginal, or brain abnormality; excessive weight loss, or infertility. Treating the underlying cause of amenorrhea typically resolves the menstrual problem.
- Oligomenorrhea: when a woman’s period occurs infrequently.
- Abnormal Menstruation: includes any of the following: having heavy menstrual flow; period lasting longer than 7 days; bleeding/spotting between periods, after sex, or after menopause.
- Dysmenorrhea: when a woman’s menstrual period is painful. Symptoms of menstrual cramps include any of the following:
- Dull, throbbing, or constant cramping pain in the lower abdomen
- Radiating pain travelling into the lower back and thighs
- Loose stools
The most common causes of irregular periods include:
- Eating disorders
- Excessive sudden weight gain or loss
- Intense stress or emotional problems
- Hormonal complications linked to poor liver, kidney, heart, and spleen functioning
- Excess stress
- Anatomic problems with the pelvic organs (i.e., uterine polyps or fibroids, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, PCOS, cancer)
- Medications (i.e., birth control pills)
- Medical conditions (i.e., anemia, other bleeding disorder)
- Pregnancy complications (i.e., ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage)
- Premature ovarian failure – when a woman stops having her period before age 40. It can be caused by cancer treatments or an underlying chronic illness.
It is important to seek treatment options for the following reasons:
- If you have missed at least three menstrual periods consecutively,
- If you have never had a menstrual period over the age of 18,
- If you have painful menstrual cramps which disrupt your daily life,
- If you have heavy menstrual periods.
If you have any questions regarding women’s health issues, contact Advanced Health office today. We are happy to help support you in your health journey for education is key to wellness.