Equilibria
Leave this field empty
Page 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14  

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.

appointment_button

photoforwebsitesmallest

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,

One More (Very Good) Reason to Cut the Carbs

Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 7:58:28 AM EST by Alyssa Tait

 You’ve heard about carbohydrates and diabetes and obesity, but carbs and colon cancer? It’s not a link that usually comes to mind.

Even so, a study just out shows that high-carbohydrate diets can worsen prognosis after a diagnosis of bowel cancer. People with colon cancer who ate a high-carb diet after their diagnosis were more likely to have recurrence of the cancer.

It is thought that insulin, which is produced when the diet has a ‘’high-glycaemic load’’, as in a high-carb diet, causes the cancer to spread.

Reducing carbohydrate load in the diet has a number of health benefits in terms of weight loss or maintaining ideal weight, reducing sugar cravings and helping maintain a healthy lipid profile in the blood, thereby protecting the cardiovascular system. It may be that another benefit of keeping the carbs low has just been found.

There are a number of different approaches to keeping the carbs low in the diet, but the most healthful is to simply eat more vegetables – veggies for breakfast, lunch and dinner in conjunction with healthy protein sources. This may sound a little crazy when you’re used to your milk, cereal and toast, but with a little imagination and motivation, you are sure to reap the benefits.

For more help with finding the right eating plan for you – and practical ideas of how to manage it – get in touch for a naturopathic appointment.

appointment_button

photoforwebsitesmallest

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

Painful Sex and the Older Woman

Posted: Friday, January 9, 2015 at 8:52:09 AM EST by Alyssa Tait

Sex: whether talking about it, thinking about it, or doing it, it often seems as though our society is obsessed. But if you paid attention to how sex is depicted in our society, you could be forgiven for thinking it is only the young and beautiful doing it! The reality is that sex is part of life for the majority – including older women. And when a potentially rewarding aspect of life is not working well, it’s time to sit up and take notice.

Older women (in this post, meaning women after menopause) may experience changes in aspects of their sexual life. In particular, a natural decline in oestrogen can promote a thinning and ‘’shrinking’’ of the vagina and external genitals, known as ‘’urogenital atrophy’’ or ''vaginal atrophy''. This often leads to vaginal symptoms such as dryness, itching, pain with passing urine and pain with sex (although the latter can have more serious causes too, and should be checked by your doctor). An interesting survey run on menopausal women in the United States revealed the following:

  • 22% of women felt uncomfortable with discussing this issue with their partners
  • 57% of women avoided intimacy because of sexual discomfort and 31% of women stopped having sex altogether
  • 64% of women found sex painful and 30% found sex less satisfying due to discomfort
  • 65% of women reported a loss of libido
  • 35% of women no longer felt sexually attractive due to vaginal discomfort
  • 39% of men and women thought the effect of menopause on their sexual relationship was worse than expected.

This shows a pretty significant impact!

(Now - before I go on - I need to make the point that we should not jump to conclusions about the cause. While vaginal atrophy is the most common cause in this age group, other causes to consider include vulvodynia and vestibulodynia, and also vaginismus. All of these conditions are treated every day here at Equilibria). If you want to get an idea whether you could have vulvodynia, try my quick questionnaire here.

The researchers made the point that the major treatment for vaginal atrophy (a main cause of painful sex after menopause) is vaginal oestrogen cream or pessaries. Less than one-third of women with these symptoms used such a cream or pessary! Of those who did, over half found that it reduced pain with intercourse. Although figures are not known for Australian women, it is a point worth thinking about. A simple treatment for this is available and reasonably effective: vaginal oestrogen.

And why not just use vaginal lubricants? While I am a big proponent for vaginal lubricants and moisturisers (and stock the best available here at the practice) they do not address the underlying changes in vaginal atrophy (loss of surface cells, a change to a more alkaline pH, and shrinking of the vagina). Some women will do well with lubricants or moisturisers in conjunction with pelvic floor physiotherapy if there have been changes to muscle function. Some women, however, will notice better improvements through the use of vaginal oestrogen. Make this a starting point for discussion with your doctor.

 atoz_button

photoforwebsitesmallest

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 Pain - Do You Really Get It?

Posted: Saturday, August 16, 2014 at 7:07:16 PM EST by Alyssa Tait

You step on a thumbtack, and yow! – your body pulls your foot back faster than you know what hit you.

You accidentally touch that hot plate, and eeek! – you’ve pulled your hand back off it in the blink of an eye.

‘’Pain is the message your body part sends your brain when your body part is being damaged’’…right?

WRONG. This is a huge misunderstanding of pain, especially the area of chronic pain or persistent pain. It is a big mistake to make. If you misunderstand your pain, it can actually impede your recovery.

So what is pain, then, actually? Pain is what is PRODUCED by your brain and nerves (your central nervous system, or CNS) in response to a THREAT to the body tissues. That’s right, a THREAT. It does not have to be real or true damage. In fact, in chronic pain, it rarely is. Instead, your brain senses the body is in danger, and responds accordingly. It actually puts together an individualised pattern of pain in order to protect you from this potential threat. Believe it or not, this is what modern neuroscience research teaches us!

brainonfire

Of course if you have persistent pain, it is very important to have all the appropriate investigations done to rule out (or at least tease out) any causes directly related to tissue damage. If nothing can be found – or if pain is out of proportion to what would be expected for the specific tissue damage – then you can be sure that your central nervous system (CNS) is playing a big role in maintaining your pain.

The complex pattern of pain that your CNS puts together can involve a contribution from multiple systems in your body. As well as pain, you might have emotional or psychological changes (anxiety or depression), muscular changes (tense, sore muscles that are bracing you to deal with your pain, or run away from it) circulation changes (heat or cold in the sore area), tissue changes (weak or fragile skin in the painful area) and hormonal changes, which can affect your energy, sleep and the health of your whole body. All of this put together is like a big personalised puzzle of pain! Putting together the different parts of the puzzle is very important in overcoming the persistent pain.

In summary, persistent pain (or chronic pain) is complex but enormously changeable. In order to solve the puzzle of your persistent pain, you need to be able to put the pieces of the puzzle together, and bit by bit, see the picture clearly. Retraining the brain is an important part of resolving chronic pain; retraining the brain in chronic pain in the vulva and pelvis is a particular focus of mine as a clinician.

If you experience persistent pain – regardless of the cause – you need to address the central nervous system. You may benefit from a physiotherapy session dedicated to learning about pain and what causes it to persist – and how you can change this. When you book in for an appointment, mention you are wanting ‘’pain education’’ – and if you can, bring your loved one with you, so they can understand your pain as well. If you are a female and pain is somewhere in the pelvis, you can also start work on retraining your brain by using my e-book Outsmart Your Pain.

photoforwebsitesmallest

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

Link Between Prolapse and Osteoporosis

Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 7:59:38 AM EST by Alyssa Tait

Hot off the press…

… from the recent International Urogynaecology Association meeting in Brisbane comes some important health information for women: having a vaginal prolapse puts you at increased risk of low bone density or osteoporosis.

Two separate studies were reported – one an Australian study by Professor Pauline Chiarelli, and one a Japanese study by Abe and colleagues. They both had similar findings – that women with prolapse were more likely to have osteoporosis as well. However, they had quite different theories about why this would be the case.

Abe and colleagues proposed the possibility it could be to do with a change in collagen type (one of the proteins that makes up connective tissue, which is involved in both bone and pelvic organ support). They also highlighted a possible role of declining oestrogen impacting on both bone and the pelvic floor.

Chiarelli put forward the idea that osteoporosis could be related to prolapse in the following way: the reduction in height caused by osteoporosis could potentially put pressure on the pelvic organs, promoting prolapse.

Whatever the mechanism, it seems clear that vaginal prolapse and osteoporosis are linked. What can we get out of this? Keep active – this helps keep your bones strong and keeps your muscles going, which is important for both these conditions. If you know you have prolapse, consider getting your bone density checked, especially if you are approaching menopause. If you have low bone density, or a family history of osteoporosis, have your pelvic floor assessed by a pelvic floor physiotherapist and get onto a program to keep it healthy!

photoforwebsitesmallest

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

Reflux Medications: What Are You Risking?

Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 8:00:04 AM EST by Alyssa Tait

If so many people are on them, doesn't it mean they are safe?

Reflux, that burning feeling of ‘’something coming back up’’ your oesophagus after eating, is sometimes called heartburn but is technically known as GORD or Gastro-oesophageal Reflux Disease. A group of medications called the PPIs (proton-pump inhibitors) is commonly prescribed for symptoms of this. In fact, the prescription of PPIs is so common that they are in the top ten medications prescribed in Australia. Everyone and their dog seems to be on these! But are they actually safe long-term?

The Food and Drug Administration (or FDA, an American health body) has issued warnings about the link between PPIs and an infectious diarrhoea caused by a type of bacteria called Clostridium difficile. They have warned people to seek medical attention if they develop diarrhoea while on PPIs that does not resolve. PPIs work by blocking acid secretion in the stomach, which makes it harder to kill off harmful bacteria that enter your body.

Eight weeks after starting PPIs, there was an increase in bloating, flatulence, abdominal pain, diarrhoea and constipation in a 2011 study. After 6 months, a quarter of the patients had small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), a condition that can cause irritable-bowel type symptoms.

Because of the acid-blocking effect of PPIs in the stomach, absorption of important minerals such as calcium is also diminished. In 2011 the FDA issued a warning about increased risk of osteoporosis and fracture from PPIs. After a review of the research, they concluded that this risk would be minimal – as long as you only use the PPIs for short periods – e.g. up to 14 days, up to 3 times per year. Are you, like many PPI users, using them much more frequently and long-term than this?

Just last week, a study came through showing that use of PPIs also leads to low magnesium levels in the blood. This is not surprising to nutrition medicine practitioners, because good levels of acidity in the blood aids in the absorption of magnesium. This should be taken seriously, considering the number of annoying symptoms that can be improved with increased magnesium levels, such as muscle cramps, poor energy, poor sleep and anxiety or difficulty relaxing. However, the article reported a specific condition called PPI-induced hypomagnesaemia (PPIH) that could lead to severe symptoms such as tetany, seizures, convulsions and cardiac arrhythmia.

The bottom line is to consider carefully, and discuss with your doctor, how much you really need to take your PPI. Is it something that can be controlled with diet, changing your eating behaviour, losing weight or stress management? Consider your options carefully. If you do need to be on PPIs long-term, supplementation with magnesium is a must.

photoforwebsitesmallest

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:

Ovulation Pain or Mittelschmerz

Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 8:00:22 AM EST by Alyssa Tait

 Can you feel when you're ovulating?

That niggling pain is back again, low down in the left of your lower abdomen. It’d be nice to just sit down and put your legs up, but you’ve got to keep working.  That time of month again – no, you’re not due for your period for another two weeks! This is mid-cycle pain. Not only do you get period pain, but you’re hassled in the middle of the month by more pain! Why?

That cyclic stabbing pain in one side of the lower abdomen that some women experience is known as ‘’Mittelschmerz’’ (meaning middle pain) or ovulation pain. It is typically described as occurring at mid-cycle. However, this is dependent on the length of the cycle. It would be more accurate to say it occurs approximately 2 weeks before the menstrual period – that is, at the time of ovulation.

Ovulation pain tends to switch sides from month to month (depending on which ovary you are ovulating from, obviously). For most women it lasts a few hours or less – just enough to let them know they are ovulating. For some women, it lasts for more days. And for some very unlucky women, it is severe and can be accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea or even vomiting.

The precise cause of Mittelschmerz is uncertain. It may be due to the enlargement of the follicle before the egg bursts forth in ovulation, or the rupture of the follicle itself, with the spilling of its contents into the surrounding tissue. Whatever it is, if it is anything more than a minor nuisance, you may want to have it looked into.

Severe Mittelschmerz is often due to endometriosis, a condition where the inner lining of the uterus (the endometrium) ends up implanted in places it shouldn’t be. Endometriosis can only be definitively diagnosed with a laparoscopy – a relatively invasive procedure. Women with endometriosis usually have painful and heavy periods as well, and sometimes pelvic or abdominal pain at other times of the month. This can imitate irritable bowel syndrome.

In my experience, cyclical abdominal or pelvic pain is more likely to occur when there are ‘’tissue restrictions’’ around the organs involved (in this case, the ovary, fallopian tube and uterus). For example, endometriosis causes adhesions (scarring) within the tissue which causes it to tighten up and be less flexible. As your pelvic organs contain smooth muscle and are designed to be very mobile, these restrictions can result in you feeling things you shouldn’t (such as pain) – or feeling sensations more strongly than necessary. Tissue restrictions that can be palpated by an experienced physiotherapist are certainly present where there is endometriosis, but many women I see with these problems do not have a diagnosis of endometriosis (yet, anyway).  In my experience, ovulation pain, period pain and other pelvic or abdominal pains can be successfully treated by gently easing these tissue restrictions. This involves a form of tissue release known as visceral manipulation, or visceral-specific myofascial release. Visceral manipulation is very gentle and performed through the abdomen by a physiotherapist who has trained specifically in this technique. It can provide relief within just a few sessions.

Contact us for an assessment using this approach and possible visceral manipulation treatment, or just to make an enquiry.

contact_us_button

 

 

photoforwebsitesmallest

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

Stinging After Sex

Posted: Friday, January 9, 2015 at 8:51:00 AM EST by Alyssa Tait

That smarting, chafing feeling…what does it mean?

It really has a way of putting a dampener on things when you get stinging and discomfort after sex. After it’s all over, the vaginal entrance feels tender and irritated. It’s often worse when you go to the toilet to do a pee after sex. What does it mean, and what can be done about it?

A 2008 study for the Journal of Sexual and Marital Therapy looked at this very issue. The authors described  conversations with 24 women about pain after sex. All the women experienced stinging after sex, which they described as a burning or smarting pain. 70% of them had pain with passing urine after sex. Sometimes this will be a spontaneous stinging feeling, and sometimes it will be stinging on the toilet when peeing after sex.

stingingontoilet

So who were these women? They were all women with either (or both) vaginismus and vulvodynia. With all of them, their symptoms had started off as pain after sex (usually for around 2 hours). As time went on, they started having pain during sex (which they described as a ripping or cutting pain). Many of them eventually stopped having sex because it was too painful.

Painful sex is incredibly common. Vaginismus and vulvodynia (or provoked vestibulodynia) are conditions that may be present if you have pain with sex. Most importantly, don’t ignore the early warning signs! It is not normal for there to be stinging or burning after sex, with or without doing a pee. It is also not normal to have painful intercourse (known as dyspareunia).

If you are wondering whether you might have vulvodynia, try my quick Vulvodynia Self-Test. It's a super-quick questionnaire you can do here.

While much can be done to help vaginismus and vulvodynia, getting in early is even better. Don’t sit around hoping it will get better on its own. Seek help from an expert in vaginismus and vulvodynia.

Here at Equilibria, helping women with vaginismus and vulvodynia is what we do – day in and day out! So if you suspect you might have a problem, simply give us a call or drop us an e-mail.

contact_us_button

photoforwebsitesmallest

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

Tampon troubles...why they hurt or won't go in

Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 8:01:03 AM EST by Alyssa Tait

Problems with using tampons?

This is more common than you might think! Many women choose not to use them. They may find tampons difficult to use at the outset, when they first start using them, or problems may develop even when they used to find tampons fine to use before.

To work out likely causes of the problem – and therefore the solutions – we need to look at the main symptoms.

Problem: I can’t get the tampon to go in!

Many young women, when they first start using tampons, find that getting them in is not as simple as it seems in the instructions in the tampon packet! You might find you try every position they recommend: sitting on the toilet seat, standing with one leg up on the toilet seat, or lying down, and nothing seems to make a difference. You start wondering whether you are trying to put it in the right place…if only there was a map of the territory!

Solutions:

Study a map of the area – that is, a lifelike picture or photograph of the vulva! These are available in wonderful educational books such as The V Book and A New View of A Woman’s Body. Even better, take a closer look at the actual territory in question: use a large hand mirror to have a look at your own vulva! (Alternatively, lying in front of the mirror door of your wardrobe works well.) This may sound very ''1970s women's liberation'', but believe it or not, the feminists started encouraging women to do this for a good reason! If you don’t know what your vulva looks like, how are you going to know what’s normal for you? Finally, you need to investigate the territory. Have a look and see where the vaginal opening is. Experiment with gently inserting your finger. If you can insert your finger, you know where you’re going when you start to use tampons.

Problem: I know where my vagina is, but it just plain hurts to put the tampon in!

This is incredibly common in the women I see. I see women of all ages who describe how, when they first started to use tampons, it was painful and difficult. Some of them never persisted because they were so put off by this. Don’t worry! You’re not alone. If you do find it hurts, you probably have what is known as ‘’high-tone pelvic floor muscles’’. This means your pelvic floor muscles are too tense at rest, in the same way as someone working on the computer too much has high-tone neck and shoulder muscles. This makes them sore, tight and tense. No wonder the tampon won’t go in!

Solution:

Sometimes pushing your tummy out gently when you try to push it in will help. But if it doesn’t, don’t push it! You would benefit from seeing a pelvic floor physiotherapist specialising in pelvic floor pain. (This is our forte here at Equilibria!) You may have what is known as vaginismus, which is spasm of the pelvic floor muscles. This has many causes and you need the help and guidance of an expert.

Watch this space for Part II: When tampons won’t stay in.

Difficulties using tampons is a very common symptom I encounter in women I see. Make an appointment with me at Equilibria if this is a problem for you.

appointment_button

photoforwebsitesmallest

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

Coccydynia: The Can't Sit Down Syndrome

Posted: Saturday, August 16, 2014 at 6:13:20 PM EST by Alyssa Tait

Tailbone Pain and What Can Be Done About It

Can’t sit down without pain? You don’t realise how disabling this is until it happens to you.

Tailbone pain, or coccydynia (also called coccygodynia) refers to pain felt in the area of the tailbone – that is, right where you sit! It is almost always due to a trauma: a fall on the bottom while ice skating, rollerblading or skiing, and childbirth being some of the most common traumatic incidents I see.

Coccydynia after childbirth is terribly difficult to deal with – not least because you are trying to focus on getting the feeding right, and if you can’t sit because of pain, this is almost impossible.  Tailbone pain is more likely to occur with difficult deliveries, use of forceps, and use of the vacuum. Subluxation of the coccyx (i.e. the tailbone being moved out of position) is the most common cause of pain, but fracture is possible (albeit rare).

coccydynia

So what can you do about it?

Well, the obvious thing (that you have figured out already!) is to get off it – to reduce the pressure as much as possible.  Lying on your stomach is ideal. Sitting backwards on a chair (i.e. straddling the chair) and leaning forward into a pillow resting on the back of the chair can be a lifesaver. Doughnut cushions are controversial; I rarely recommend them, as in the postpartum period, they can increase the pooling of swelling at the perineum and make the whole area even more sore.

So how do you fix it?

I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but to fix coccydynia – that is, to really get rid of the coccyx pain and not let it linger on long-term – the best form of treatment is manual therapy. Unfortunately, the best way of accessing the coccyx is via a rectal examination. This sounds awful, but most people I see with tailbone pain get over the potential embarrassment quickly because they are so keen to get rid of the pain. It is easy to gently mobilise the coccyx during a gentle rectal examination, and to treat the tailbone muscles, which are usually in spasm.

Most sufferers of this debilitating condition are very glad they go ahead and have this form of treatment. It often only takes one to two sessions to dramatically improve things. It can be effective surprisingly quickly with people who have suffered from tailbone pain for a long time as well. I frequently see women who have had the pain for ten years, who are so glad to know that something can be done.

sittingcomfortably

Of course, it is important that you see a practitioner who is licensed to perform these examinations, and also skilled and experienced in the area. This is a service we provide at Equilibria.

As a postscript, I must add that a former patient of mine swears by a supplement I gave her for her tailbone pain! I will leave the last word to her:

''I have nearly run out of the supplement you have given me, and they have been an absolute treasure for me, when I get the pain in my Coccyx,

which I might add is not very often these days, but I would not like to be without them.'' (Mrs G, age 59).

photoforwebsitesmallest

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

The Healthy and Balanced Vagina

Posted: Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 4:25:02 PM EST by Alyssa Tait

Concerned that your vagina may be ''out-of-whack''?

There is a lot of talk about the importance of health and balance these days – and the vagina is no exception!

What makes for a healthy vagina? When the vagina is comfortable and there are no symptoms of abnormal discharge, unpleasant odour, itching, dryness, irritation or discomfort, the vaginal environment is likely to be in balance. (By the way, there are six key areas to focus on to resolve vaginal dryness).

A normal, healthy vagina contains high populations of good bacteria – mainly lactobacilli. These are similar to the ‘’good bugs’’ present in a healthy digestive system, but may be slightly different species. Higher amounts of lactobacilli are associated with reduced dryness in menopausal women, and those with more diversity of species had more dryness. In women of menstruating age, there is a reduction of lactobacilli during the menstrual period.

The lactobacilli help maintain a protective acidic environment in the vagina. The higher the lactobacilli, the lower the other bacteria. Where there is more variety of bacteria, the pH is higher (that is, the vagina is less acidic). So, the vagina is a case where less variety is actually a good thing! Lower amounts of lactobacilli in the vagina increases the risk of both sexually-transmitted infections and bacterial vaginosis. This can be associated with miscarriage or premature rupture of membranes in pregnancy. An increase in the ‘’bad’’ bacteria is present in what has been recently called ‘’aerobic vaginitis’’, which is a state of inflammation in the vagina.

What helps promote these good bacteria? Firstly, good oestrogen levels. Oestrogen helps promote lactobacilli, which keep the vagina acidic and help to fend off harmful bacteria. Interesting though, oestrogen also promotes the growth of thrush, which is why it is common to increase during pregnancy and while on the Pill. The acidic environment does not therefore fully defend against thrush, but certain species of lactobacillus do help resist Candida albicans (thrush) colonisation.

Secondly, avoiding artificial hormones and implants helps promote normal healthy vaginal flora. The balance tends to shift with the use of not only the oral contraceptive Pill, but the IUD (intra-uterine device). Studies have shown an increase in the harmful bacteria in the vagina, which does not occur when using condoms for contraception.

Thirdly, the balance of gut flora has an influence on the vaginal flora. As the vagina and the anus are in such close proximity, the bowel flora tend to ‘’migrate’’ to the vagina. It is therefore important to have a good balance of gut flora by eating fermented foods and/or taking probiotic supplements, as well as avoiding unnecessary antibiotics. Stress depletes the good bugs within hours, so this is our fourth important factor – improving stress management!

So what do you do when your vaginal flora is ‘’out-of-whack’’? It’s important to have a swab test with the GP if you have any symptoms of itching, irritation, change in discharge or pain with passing urine. There are also naturopathic treatment approaches for unbalanced vaginal flora, many of which have research studies to support them.

It is sometimes hard to know if your vaginal discharge is normal. This depends both on the general characteristics of the discharge, as well as how it might vary from what you've experienced previously. A few guidelines can help you work out if it is part of a healthy pattern of variation or not.

If you are concerned that you are out of balance from the vaginal perspective, make an appointment at Equilibria for tips on how to get this tested as well as possible treatment options.

If you would like to know more about achieving a healthy, balanced vaginal environment, go to our homepage and subscribe to our newsletter via the button below, ticking the box for ‘’Vaginal Health, Thrush and BV’’ for a series of free e-newsletters on the topic.

subscribe_newsletter_button

photoforwebsitesmallest

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
Page 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14