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Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or Just Polycystic Ovaries?

Posted: Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 4:41:17 PM EST by Alyssa Tait

Is it possible to have polycystic ovaries and not have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)?

And conversely, is it possible to have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, but no sign of polycystic ovaries?

As you may have guessed, (as there needs to be a point to writing this blog post), the answer to both these questions is YES.

If you have a pelvic ultrasound and you are told you have polycystic ovaries from the images they can see, this in no way confirms that you have the condition known as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).

And likewise, you can well and truly have PCOS, even if the scan does not show up multiple cysts on your ovaries.

So what does it all mean? Are you supposed to have cysts on your ovaries, or not?

If you are of menstruating age and ovulating, the ovum (or egg) is produced from what is called “the dominant follicle” on the ovary. One follicle has to “win the race” to result in ovulation. If several follicles grow at the same rate, none of them win the race, and therefore ovulation does not occur. It is as though the system has “stalled” or “got stuck”. The appearance of the ovary will be of multiple cysts (i.e. polycystic ovaries). This can occur in any woman (including young teenagers) when ovulation is not occurring. So polycystic ovaries is a much broader situation than the specific “Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome” or PCOS

So what is PCOS exactly?

PCOS is a complex metabolic disorder involving hyperandrogenism (too much “male hormone” activity) and ovulatory dysfunction (i.e. not ovulating regularly), and an increased risk of insulin resistance. There is often (but not always!) overweight or obesity, and reduction in body fat is one of the most important ways of managing this genetic disorder. PCOS can neither be diagnosed by ultrasound alone, nor is it automatically ruled out if your ultrasound is clear!

And what can you do for PCOS?

Once a diagnosis of PCOS is established, nutritional therapies, lifestyle therapies and specific herbal medicines can play an important role in management. Herbal medicines should only be prescribed (and supervised) by a qualified herbalist.

To find out more, or to tell us about your situation,  contact us at Equilibria.

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About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

Accidental Bowel Leakage: What You Need to Know

Posted: Thursday, August 14, 2014 at 11:08:28 AM EST by Alyssa Tait

It’s one of the worst feelings there is: the sense you’re going to lose control of the bowels.

And if accidental bowel leakage actually occurs, it can feel like the worst calamity.

It’s human nature for this to be one of the worst fears. Control of our bodily functions is integral to our sense of dignity as adults. Loss of control brings with it the potential for deep shame and can make us feel either childlike (like before we developed control) or as though we are “old and worn-out” (which we dread, no matter what our age). And if loss of bladder control can feel disastrous, loss of control of the bowels is that much worse.

Accidental bowel leakage is often known as “faecal incontinence”.

If you have this problem, then giving it this label probably makes it even worse. It conjures up the most extreme possible images. In actual fact, accidental bowel leakage is a spectrum from the “barely there” mark or stain on the underwear, to the “worst case scenario” of loss of a full bowel motion in a public place. It can occur with urge (you needed to go but couldn’t get there in time) or with physical exertion (such as squatting or sneezing). It can occur with no sensation whatsoever – you go to the toilet and notice a mark on your underwear, having no idea it occurred. It can be so slight that there is not even a sign on the underwear – but you feel that awful sense that something is coming out, and when you go to the toilet, there is something to wipe away. Accidental bowel leakage also covers the problem of passing wind without meaning to, or when trying not to. This commonly occurs when bending over, squatting, or moving from sitting to standing, but can also occur with coughing, sneezing or even laughing (which has a way of immediately wiping the smile off your face).

Overall, accidental bowel leakage can appear in a variety of ways, and can be socially devastating – even if it is simply the fear and dread that it is going to happen. It can affect your life in so many ways. One young man I saw was a mechanic in the army and had to keep leaving his work to go to the toilet. His problem had occurred after haemorrhoid surgery. Another young girl who had severe bowel urgency while in hospital with a stomach problem went on to develop a chronic pelvic pain syndrome because she was “hanging on so tight” for fear of leakage. I have seen several people with full loss of bowel control from the effects of radiation for cancer. It can even occur in association with irritable bowel syndrome. And postnatally, loss of bowel control is cruelly prevalent, especially after injury to the anal sphincter, as in a third-degree tear or episiotomy.

Despite its devastating impact, research from last year showed that more than two-thirds of women with accidental bowel leakage do not seek help for it. Considering that this is treatable and often curable, this seems to me to be the real tragedy.

Watch this space for an upcoming blog post describing what can often be a simple solution for accidental bowel leakage.

If you are concerned about an issue you might have with your bowel, send me a confidential e-mail for advice.

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About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

Butterflies, ulcers and the irritable bowel

Posted: Wednesday, December 18, 2013 at 12:21:26 PM EST by Alyssa Tait

Why stress is so bad for your gut

It used to be generally held wisdom that stress gives you ulcers. Then a smart Australian found that a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori was able to directly cause ulcers. This was a pivotal discovery – but does it mean we should throw out the baby with the bathwater? It is important to acknowledge the extent to which stress really does harm your gastrointestinal tract. While other (often more direct) causes are continually discovered, don’t forget about stress!

So what are some of the negative effects of stress on your gut?

The concept of the ‘’brain-gut axis’’ is important here. The brain and the gut are very closely linked and the brain affects the gut in a variety of ways. However, the gut has a huge number of nerves – more than in the spinal cord. This is sometimes known as the ‘’gut mini-brain’’ or the ‘’second brain’’. This ‘’second brain’’ can initiate and perpetuate many of these effects itself – which is what makes gut function so complex

Some of the effects of stress on your gut are:

1)      changes in gastrointestinal motility

Stress affects the movement of food through your digestive tract. It can speed it up, slow it down or cause uncoordinated movement, resulting in spasms or cramps.

2)      increase in visceral perception

This means that stress makes you more sensitive. It makes you feel every little movement and every little sensation more strongly than normal.

3)      changes in gastrointestinal secretion

Stress alters the production of hydrochloric acid, digestive enzymes and bile. Normal amounts and normal timing of production of these is critical for healthy, comfortable bowel function.

4)      increase in intestinal permeability

Increased permeability of the intestinal wall is colloquially known as ‘’leaky gut’’, but is a well-established medical fact in various gut conditions and systemic conditions. It can increase your potential for allergic reaction and other forms of immune activation.

5)      negative effects on regenerative capacity of gastrointestinal mucosa and mucosal blood flow

The mucosa is the protective inner lining of your gut. Stress affects its ability to heal quickly, and affects the circulation that keeps it healthy.

6)      negative effects on intestinal microbiota.

Intestinal flora, or the ‘’good bugs’’ that keep your gut healthy,  get (deservedly) quite a lot of press. Stress depletes these ‘’good bugs’’ within hours.

7)      Immune effects

Mast cells are chemicals that translate the stress signals into the release of a wide range of neurotransmitters and proinflammatory chemicals called cytokines, which can significantly affect gut function.

Does all this sound like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)? Not surprisingly, interventions that target stress have been shown to help IBS. For example, there is strong evidence for the benefits of mindfulness meditation, cognitive behavioural therapy and gut-directed hypnotherapy in IBS.

I don’t want to imply that IBS, or other gut issues, are ‘’all in the mind’’. Future posts will focus on some of the specific pathophysiology behind IBS. However, the effects of stress on the gut should not be underestimated. It appears that the irritable bowel is…well, literally irritable!
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About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

Chronic Pelvic Pain - some media coverage at last!

Posted: Wednesday, December 18, 2013 at 12:22:26 PM EST by Alyssa Tait

ABC radio’s Health Matters show yesterday covered one of the most overlooked health problems in Australia: chronic pelvic pain.

One of my patients rang and let me know about it, for which I was very grateful. I downloaded the recording after work, and as I listened to it, I recognised in the stories things I am told over and over again in my clinic.

Despite the fact that everyone’s journey is unique, so many themes arise again and again: the physical suffering, the loneliness and social isolation, the despair at being made to feel like you’re crazy, malingering or exaggerating. The tendency to diagnose depression or anxiety when the symptoms don’t perfectly add up. The complete lack of awareness in a large majority of (otherwise capable) health professionals.

The symptoms that people mentioned echoed those of so many women and men I have seen over the years. To take just a handful of examples:

  • The constant burning pain
  • Being unable to sit down or find a comfortable position
  • The feeling of ‘’little cuts all over the vulva’’
  • The ‘’red hot poker up the backside’’ feeling

These symptoms are described to me every day by different patients, most of whom assume they are the only one who has them. But what I hear most commonly from my patients is

‘’Why did it take me so long to find you?’’

My patients have typically seen ten or more health professionals before me who either

  • Didn’t take the problem seriously
  • Didn’t recognise the symptoms
  • Didn’t refer appropriately
  • Wrote the symptoms off as caused by depression, anxiety, or a lack of sex life
  • Did not seem to care, and even seemed skeptical

It is a relief for people to finally find someone who understands chronic pelvic pain. To be frank, health professionals who really ‘’get it’’ are thin on the ground. The good news is that, because there are so few with good expertise in this area, those of us who understand it have good networks – so we know the people you need to see for the essential multi-disciplinary approach.

An important point raised during the broadcast as well as from listeners’ e-mails is that pelvic pain can have important identifiable medical causes, such as fractures and cancer.

However, when appropriate medical investigations have been done, and no clear cause has been found (and keep in mind a laparoscopy is required to definitively rule out endometriosis), then this is a case of chronic pelvic pain.

Chronic pelvic pain has many subtypes, some of which are diagnoses in themselves. There are also concepts that anyone with chronic pelvic pain will want to understand. You may want to investigate the following:

All of these are conditions I have successfully treated here at Equilibria for the past eight years.

I’m not sure how long the broadcast will be available for download, but it is thoroughly recommended listening.

Go to:

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/lifematters/pelvic-pain/4502250#comments

 If you are suffering from chronic pelvic pain, come in and get some help.

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About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

Coffee - could it be good for you after all?

Posted: Wednesday, December 18, 2013 at 12:23:39 PM EST by Alyssa Tait

You love your coffee. You’ve never wanted to believe that it’s bad for your bladder, bad for your arteries, and a crutch allowing you to work too hard.

So it’s been great to hear the good news stories about coffee being good for you after all...but can we trust them?

I owe the blog post idea to a friend who reported with delight that he’d heard from an expert on the radio that due to its health benefits, coffee should be drunk at a rate of six cups a day. As someone who quit coffee at age 16, and counsels women regularly to give it up for the sake of their overactive bladder, I agreed with him that this was worth some investigation.

A 2008 study of 30 000 people showed that 6 cups of coffee per day is not linked with increased deaths. Still, knowing that statistically, death is no more likely if I indulge in coffee is not quite enough to convince me to take up the habit. You could say the same about nose-picking.

Unexpectedly, some studies have found a link between coffee consumption and reduced stroke risk (but not if you are not already a regular coffee drinker). Others showed a less risk of developing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease with coffee drinking. And even more startling, drinking more than 6 or 7 cups a day reduced diabetes risk.

So, there’s no denying there seem to be some positive links between coffee and your health. However, the important thing to remember is that these are associations only – and an association is not the same as a cause-effect relationship.

It’s important not to oversimplify these findings. One theory about the effect on diabetes risk was that coffee contains magnesium, which is important for insulin regulation. This is an oversimplification. In reality, coffee is a diuretic, and by producing more urine, it results in increased loss of magnesium from the body. So if coffee does actually cause positive change (and remember, we can’t prove cause, only association), it isn’t because of this.(And by the way, magnesium has positive effects on your bladder).

Over-focusing on these findings also tends to make us ignore the big picture. It makes scenarios like these possible:

  • Despite the fact I have an enormous amount of visceral (abdominal) fat, I believe that drinking coffee will prevent me getting diabetes
  • I reach for that seventh cup of coffee because the scientists are telling me it’ll reduce my diabetes risk, but meanwhile, I increase my risk of bladder cancer and possibly osteoporosis
  • I deny any harm of my coffee habit – despite the fact I never have a coffee without a cigarette

It also focuses on serious diseases at the expense of general well-being and quality-of-life issues. For example, drinking coffee:

  • Increases the excretion or blocks the uptake of numerous essential minerals, such as iron, calcium, zinc and magnesium
  • Can reduce the quality of your sleep
  • Makes you pee more often, and for some, can make it harder to get to the toilet without leaking
  • Stimulates the bowel in some (but not all) people, which could be a good or a bad thing, depending on whether you tend towards diarrhoea or constipation (but is definitely not good if you experience any level of accidental bowel leakage)

Still, a scan of the research literature about coffee proves surprising. There seems to be no link with gout, and no link with bladder pain syndrome/interstitial cystitis. Even when it comes to your bladder control – incontinence and overactive bladder – there is not very convincing research evidence to convict coffee.

What’s the take-home message?

It seems that coffee is not necessarily the demon it is made out to be. It definitely improves your short-term mental performance, and is related in some way to a reduce risk of certain diseases (though we can’t say it directly causes this).

Having said that, research evidence looks at trends in a large population group. It is not the same as discerning an effect for yourself. That’s why I do suggest to all my overactive bladder patients that they have a caffeine-free trial. Many of them notice no difference whatsoever when they cut out coffee. Others notice a startling improvement, which drastically improves their quality of life, and  makes it all worthwhile.

This just shows that reporting of research, while essential, does not account for individual variations. Where there’s no risk involved, it’s always smart to test out the hypothesis on yourself. Feel better after a week off coffee?  Bladder problems disappear when you lose the coffee? Great. Cut it out. The proof is in the pudding.

 If you don’t see the benefits from losing the coffee, then don’t feel guilty about your coffee drinking. But be realistic. You’ll know if you’re using it as a crutch or if it’s linked with other poor health habits like reaching for a cigarette, eating too many biscuits, working too hard or being a couch potato. And please, if you do love your coffee, think about taking magnesium and zinc supplements to make up for your losses.

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About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

Should You Take That Pain Medication?

Posted: Wednesday, December 18, 2013 at 12:24:11 PM EST by Alyssa Tait

People with chronic pain are caught between a rock and a hard place.

On the one hand, they may not be that keen to take strong medications; on the other hand, just trying to get through the day can be a major challenge without having something to help them. And if the doctor prescribed it, surely that means it’s okay…?

A 2012 study looked at the prescribing habits of Australian GPs.  It studied the way GPs prescribe opioids, a strong class of pain relievers including morphine, Endone and others, in people with ‘’chronic non-malignant pain’’ (that is, people with chronic pain who don’t have cancer – cancer patients are a special group that need to be considered separately).

It showed that in the previous fortnight, GPs had prescribed long-term opioids for an average of 7 patients. They tended to follow guidelines on avoiding high-dosage or fast-acting drugs.

However, they were less likely to follow guidelines on strictly minimising individual and public harm, such as initiating the use of these strong drugs on a trial basis. 30% of GPs followed most guidelines for prescribing opioids.

Strong drugs have an important place in the lives of many people with chronic pain. Making sure you are getting the best outcome possible, though, is important. Has your doctor referred you to a physiotherapist experienced in chronic pain management? Has your medication regime been carefully examined? Make sure you know and are comfortable with the answers.

At Equilibria our expertise is in chronic pain affecting the vulva, vagina, bladder, bowel, gut and pelvis. Among others, this includes the rehabilitation of vulvodynia, vestibulodynia, interstitial cystitis, menstrual pain and irritable bowel syndrome. Contact us if you need help.

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About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

Epigenetics and Chronic Pain

Posted: Wednesday, December 18, 2013 at 12:25:00 PM EST by Alyssa Tait

How targeted nutrition can affect your pain experience

Epigenetics: it’s a bit of a buzzword floating around at the moment, but what does it actually mean?

Epigenetics is the study of how environmental factors influence what genes your body ‘’decides to express’’. We all know about our genes – in fact we often resign ourselves to a medical condition or symptom because it’s ‘’in our genes’’. However, it’s also the case that you can have the gene for something but not get the disease. This is because of epigenetics – the way our environmental influences affect our gene expression.

These environmental factors are not just the obvious ones: exposure to radiation from a nuclear disaster, exposure to chemicals in a factory accident, exposure to too many UV rays sunbaking on the beach. Environmental factors start in utero (that is, as a baby in the womb), and don’t stop as long as you are still breathing!

One important chemical processes in our cells that influence epigenetics is DNA methylation. The effects of diet on DNA methylation have been well studied. Your ‘’methylation status’’ greatly affects your likelihood of developing certain conditions that may be ‘’in your genes’’, such as heart disease, cancer and depression. The field of nutrition medicine (practised at Equilibria) focuses on optimising individual health via nutrition, and optimising methylation status is one way we do this.

A 2012 study in the journal Pain Medicine discussed the role of methylation and other epigenetic processes in chronic pain. Specifically, it focussed on how acute pain (which is normal in healing) turns into chronic pain (which is a living nightmare for millions of people).  How does epigenetics affect whether your pain will hang around and turn ugly?

Here are three mechanisms whereby improving your epigenetics (such as via nutrition) can reduce the transition of acute pain to chronic pain:

  • By altering your sensitivity to opioids, your natural pain-relieving chemicals
  • By altering the production of inflammatory chemicals, called ‘’cytokines’’
  • By altering how responsive your cells are to steroids (important hormones, such as vitamin D – so there’s a clear nutritional lead already!)

As a physiotherapist and nutrition medicine practitioner immersed in chronic pain, I treat people every day with chronic pelvic pain using not just physical techniques alone, but targeted nutrition strategies. It seems that research is heading more into this area. In the meantime, has your pain been affected by your nutritional status? I would be interested to hear people’s personal stories.

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About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

A Pain Up the Backside: Proctalgia Fugax Explained

Posted: Saturday, August 16, 2014 at 5:25:34 PM EST by Alyssa Tait

‘’A knife-like pain in the rectum’’...

’’A red-hot poker up the bum’’…

’’A feeling of being stabbed in the anus, which takes my breath away’’…

These are just some of the descriptions that my patients suffering from proctalgia fugax give.

Somewhat surprisingly for something so unpleasant, proctalgia fugax has a pretty straightforward cause.

It’s simply a matter of the anal muscles (part of the pelvic floor muscles) going into sudden spasm. In that way it is very similar to a leg cramp, foot cramp or toe cramp that you might get in bed at night. Not so coincidentally, this is often when episodes of proctalgia fugax occur – at night. Sufferers are often sleeping soundly before they are suddenly woken by an intense pain in the rectum, where all they can do is lie completely still and attempt to breathe while they wait for it to subside. Pain relief rarely helps. It’s simply a matter of waiting until the spasm relaxes. This may take a few seconds or minutes, or up to two hours.

However, night is by no means the only time that proctalgia fugax episodes occur. It is very common to be suddenly gripped by a painful spasm while going about your daily business.

Proctalgia fugax occurs because the external anal sphincter muscle, which surrounds the anus like an elastic ring or short tube, is ‘’overactive’’. It may be that you pull in the muscle unknowingly during the day, such as when you are stressed or emotional, and the fibres of the muscle shorten. When magnesium levels drop, as they do at night, you become prone to any sort of muscle cramp or spasm – including proctalgia fugax. It is common for proctalgia fugax to occur in people who are also prone to anal fissures, constipation, tailbone pain, irritable bowel syndrome chronic pelvic pain and painful sex. (At Equilibria, we not only treat the proctalgia fugax, but explain the links with these other conditions and treat them as well.)

Many people experience a one-off episode of proctalgia fugax in their life. Because it is so distressing, if it happens more than once within the space of a few months, it should really be treated – especially because it is usually exceptionally easy to treat. Treatment involves gentle stretching of the muscles, either via the vagina or anus. Sometimes malalignment in the sacro-iliac joints is contributing and treatment dramatically reduces tendency for attacks to return.

Additionally, magnesium can not only help the muscles ‘’normalise their behaviour’’, but the right form of magnesium taken at the time of an attack can often get rid of the pain almost immediately. (interestingly, magnesium issues can also be related to bladder problems).

Recognise these symptoms? Get in touch with us today for rapid and successful treatment.

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About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

Protect Your Baby from Allergy

Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 7:55:29 AM EST by Alyssa Tait

It’s something every mother-to-be dreads:

The idea of inadvertently passing on to your unborn baby something you’d rather spare them from, whether it’s your tendency to depression, your asthma or your food allergies.

Well, there’s good news: the science of epigenetics is revealing more every day about the positive influence we can have on our unborn babies.

Epigenetics is the science of how environmental factors act on genes, and influence whether the genes you pass on to your baby are expressed (‘’acted out’’) or not.

Are you a bit of an ‘’allergy ball’’? New research suggests you can reduce the risk that bub will grow up with the same problems you’ve had.

This study showed it was possible to reduce likelihood of eczema by 36%, and egg allergy by 38%.

And how did they do it?

Simple. They gave pregnant mums 800mg DHA and 100mg EPA from week 21 of pregnancy until the baby was born. The babies were assessed at one year of age. (The group who got the placebo tablet did not receive the same benefits for their babies).

So simple – why wouldn’t you do it? It’s so easy to take fish oils during pregnancy. It’s important, though, to take the quantities that were used in this study.

It’s also important to make sure any fish oil you take is not contaminated with mercury. For more information about how to find the right fish oil, contact us now.

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About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

A Draining Problem: Heavy Periods

Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 7:57:38 AM EST by Alyssa Tait

Anyone who experiences heavy menstrual periods knows how draining this can be.

Heavy bleeding, sometimes known as menorrhagia, is present in at least 15% of women.  Amazingly, most women just accept it as part of being a woman, and never do anything about it.

Were you put on the Pill for this?

The number of women who were ‘’put on the Pill’’ as young girls due to ‘’heavy periods’’- but without adequate medical investigation - continues to astound me. The Pill is not the out-and-out answer to heavy periods by any means. Because the Pill eliminates your body’s own natural hormonal cycles, any effect it has on reducing the heaviness of your periods is purely a ‘’Band-Aid effect’’. This is not to say that there is not a time and place for it! Unfortunately, however, it is used as a ‘’knee-jerk’’ reaction to heavy periods far too often, and risks and side-effects are sometimes not adequately weighed up. Heavy bleeding during your period can have many different causes, and it’s always important to have it investigated medically.

Just some of the potential causes of heavy bleeding include the following:

  • Growths, either benign or cancerous;
  • Endometriosis;
  • Clotting disorders, such as von Willebrand’s diseae;
  • Medications;
  • Thyroid dysfunction

Guess what two of the effects of heavy periods can be?

The first is easy - low iron (from all that blood loss). This can cause countless problems including exhaustion. The second is cruel: more heavy periods. This is because low iron itself can promote heavy periods! What a crazy vicious cycle.

Endometriosis deserves a special mention here.

Diagnosis of endometriosis can only occur via a surgical procedure. However, you may wish to fill out this quick self-test to see what your chances of having endometriosis might be.

Take care with treatment.

Treatment – whether you choose conventional medical, natural therapies, or a combination – should ALWAYS depend on the likely cause, so be wary of anyone – doctor or otherwise – who tries to institute a treatment without having tried to determine the likely cause.

Charting your cycles can be a great way to start tracking what is happening. This should be more detailed than just recording the days of your period. Learning the Billings Ovulation Method is a great technique for gaining insight into your reproductive health. This is also terrific if you are aiming to get off the Pill.

For a systematic method of approaching and helping heavy periods, get in touch with us at Equilibria.

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About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

Exhausted, Fatigued, Anaemic: Any Truth to the Low Iron Cliche?

Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 7:58:05 AM EST by Alyssa Tait

We’ve all heard of ‘’anaemia’’, or more specifically, ‘’iron-deficiency anaemia’’.

‘’Anaemic’’ brings to mind an image of a pale, wan, drawn person, so fatigued a gust of wind could them blow over. Then there’s the description ‘’a little bit anaemic’’, as in: ‘’I always get a little bit anaemic during my period…’’. It may not be quite accurate, but many women can identify with it! So we know that anaemia can be debilitating, and if a GP suspects it, they will order a full blood count, where chiefly the haemoglobin rating helps them identify this.

But what about when your haemoglobin is normal?

The GP tells you ‘’Well, you’re not anaemic, so I’m not sure why you’re so tired. Probably just the general pressures of life.’’ What then?

The next thing to do, if you really suspect that low iron is a problem (that big juicy steak makes you feel so much better during your period!) is to ask to have full iron studies done. This is the only way to get an idea of your iron stores.

Your iron stores reflect your ‘’money in the bank’’, whereas the haemoglobin represents the cash in your wallet. You might have fifty bucks in your wallet, but if that’s all the money you have in the world, you wouldn’t exactly call yourself flush with funds. On the other hand, if you have $50 in your wallet and a few thousand in the bank, you’ve got a bit of a buffer for if an unexpected bill comes along. Your iron stores, represented by the ‘’ferritin’’ level on a full iron studies test, gives you an idea how much buffer you’ve got in your overall iron status. If you’ve got enough to see you through the day, but throw in an unexpectedly hectic visit from relatives, you might find you’re feeling really drained…because you didn’t have any stores to back you up.

So if you are exhausted, fatigued, and have low libido, finding out your iron stores is essential. Your haemoglobin can look fine on a full blood count, but your ferritin can show up low in full iron studies.

But there’s more…new research confirms what I see in clinical practice all the time: just because your ferritin is in the ‘’normal range’’, doesn’t mean it’s high enough to not be causing fatigue. A 2012 study looked at menstruating women with ferritin below 50ug, who did not have anaemia. They were divided into two groups: one received 80mg/day of iron (the dose often used in anaemia) and the other received a placebo tablet. Surprise, surprise! The iron group resulted in the reported fatigue being cut in half. So, don’t rule out low iron causing your fatigue, just because you’ve been told you don’t have anaemia.

To help interpret your iron results, book an appointment now at Equilibria.

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About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter
Tags: iron, anaemia, libido,
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