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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.

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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

Minimising Pain Via Healthy Scars: How Nutrients Help

Posted: Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 4:34:24 PM EST by Alyssa Tait

Injury, trauma and surgery leave their mark.

It’s inevitable – scars are a normal part of the healing process.

Sometimes this is obvious – like Caesarean scars or the abdominal scar after a hysterectomy. These are easy to see (which doesn’t always make us happy! Scars that are painful are also obvious – like, for some women, episiotomy scars that make sex more painful.

Movement is an important part of healthy scar healing - you really need to play with your scars! However, an often-neglected factor in healthy tissue and scar healing is nutrition.

Why is nutrition relevant in scar healing?

Availability of certain nutrients has an impact on various aspects of healing and scar formation:

  • “Cleaning up” the initial inflammatory process
  • Preventing infection
  • Laying down healthy tissue
  • Manufacturing new blood vessels
  • Increasing the strength and flexibility of the scar

The “Clean-Up” and preventing infection

  • Vitamin A – immune effects for healthy inflammation
  • Vitamin C – acts as an antioxidant to “sweep up debris”; higher doses help counter constipation from pain medications
  • Zinc – deficiency results in poor healing
  • Bromelain – reduces swelling and pain, speeds up resolution of bruising
  • Protein – a deficiency results in prolonged inflammation and delayed healing
  • Glutamine – promotes healthy inflammation

Rebuilding the House: Laying down healthy tissue

  • Vitamin A and vitamin C – improves collagen production
  • Bromelain – speeds up healing
  • Glucosamine – leads to production of hyaluronic acid to hasten healing
  • Gotu Kola – a herb that increases collagen production

Getting the Plumbing In: Manufacturing new Blood vessels

  • Vitamin C and copper – help produce down blood vessels

Bouncing Back: Strength and flexibility of the scar

  • Vitamin A
  • Zinc – deficiency results in a weaker scar
  • Glucosamine – leads to production of hyaluronic acid for a stronger scar
  • Protein – a deficiency results in a weaker scar
  • Gotu Kola – a herb that improves strength of the scar

I was very aware of all of this when I recently had surgery for a broken ankle. This was a serious injury with a very decent scar. To cover my bases, I have taken all of the above nutrients each day in addition to a high protein, high vegetable diet. The body has amazing healing capacity – but it still appreciates a helping hand by having plenty of raw materials on-hand for rebuilding!

If you have had or are planning surgery, and want to really get off on the right foot, contact us at Equilibria for a tailored nutrient program.

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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

Adhesions: Why You Need To Play With Your Caesarean Scar

Posted: Saturday, August 16, 2014 at 6:31:38 PM EST by Alyssa Tait

Does your scar move how it should?

Try this: pick up the skin on the back of your hand, lift it up and drop it. Notice how stretchy it is? Good, healthy tissue, like a healthy body in general, MOVES. That’s right, mobility is as important for skin is it is for the rest of the body.

Scars, on the other hand, don’t have good natural mobility. Scarring, or the formation of tissue adhesions after injury or surgery, is a healing process. The priority for healing tissue is to become strong quickly to protect the injured area and prevent re-injury. Unfortunately, as part of this process, tissue becomes tight, stiff and inflexible. Scars become stuck to the tissue below, whether this be muscles, tendons, ligaments or even organs. How stuck they get depends on a lot of things: the part of the body; how deep the cut was; how well your healing process occurred (including how good your nutrition for healing was); how early you start movement rehab; how well you stick to your program; how much stretching you do, and more.

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I can give a personal example here. Twelve weeks ago I broke my ankle on both sides and had surgery. There is a scar of several inches on the outside of my lower leg where they inserted a plate. I dutifully followed the surgeon’s instructions and kept my ankle completely immobilised for two weeks, then introduced controlled movement in one plane only. Despite following the correct protocol, by the time I was allowed to walk on the leg again (at six weeks) the ankle was incredibly stiff and horribly painful to take weight or to move or twist in any way. Now, at twelve weeks, I need to do painful stretches every day for around 2 minutes at a time in order to get the movement back. As in any orthopaedic rehabilitation, this is a slow and painful process.

Now take abdominal surgery. If you have had a Caesarean section, this is exactly the same process. The obstetrician cuts through many layers to get to your uterus: the skin, the fat, the fascia (tight connective tissue wrapping) of the muscle, the muscle itself, more fascial layers and finally the organ itself. So the scar you see in your lower tummy, neat as it is, is only the tip of the iceberg.

Try an experiment. Grasp your lower tummy in your hands – thumb above the scar, fingers below. Now pick up the skin and move it around. Stretch it, wiggle it, lift it, move it every which way. Does it move easily and painlessly? Can you even lift it?

When scarring is adhered to the underlying tissues, it’s hard or even impossible to lift. The edges of skin you try to lift collapse inwards into the crevasse that is the scar, tightly bound to the what’s underneath. It’s all gummed up under there, restricting circulation and compromising your range of motion; it can be responsible for underlying muscle tension and spasm and even pain. This is a common source I see of “unexplained” pain, where all medical investigations have come up with nothing. If your pain is new since your surgery, and other causes have been ruled out, you need to get your physiotherapist trained in connective tissue manipulation to check this.

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It doesn’t feel nice to stretch a scar. In fact, it can feel quite horrible: it can sting, give you strange hypersensitive sensation and feel sore after you stretch it. But it is essential to get it as mobile as you can – and as much of this as possible needs to occur between the six-week and the twelve-week mark post surgery, because after this, scar tissue gets tighter (or stronger).

From the two-to-six-week mark, I massaged my strange-looking, bruised, hypersensitive leg with caution, trying to both remove swelling and get my nerves used to the sensation. From six weeks, when I tried “picking up” the scar, I realised how tight it had become – it was so “gummed up” I had almost no inward movement of my ankle. While this restriction is often less obvious in a Caesarean scar, it is absolutely an issue. I have seen many patients whose tight scar tissue is restricting their movement and promoting pain; in some, it’s even promoting dysfunction of the underlying organs.

Movement is essential for good health! And this goes for scars as well. If you are before the six-week point post-surgery, ask your physiotherapist for specific, safe mobilisation exercises for your scar. If you are past the six-week point post-surgery, get your scar moving vigorously. Pull it and stretch it every which way. Just play with it! For help with getting your tissue healthy and moving again, contact me 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

Adhesions: A Cry For Help From Your Episiotomy Scar

Posted: Saturday, August 16, 2014 at 5:27:31 PM EST by Alyssa Tait

I suspect we underrate the negative impact of episiotomy scars.

My last post was about scar tissue after surgery and how it can cause real problems, both in the short and long term. I used the examples of an orthopaedic surgery scar and a Caesarean scar. Both of these are considered major surgery, and when you really stop to think about it, it makes sense that they require some rehabilitation. (As an aside, nutrition has a big impact on healing of scars, and should be a major focus in the first three months after any surgery).

But what about perineal scars from childbirth injury? These include scars from episiotomy, OASIS (obstetric anal sphincter injuries), and all types of tears to the vagina and perineum, whether first-, second-, third- or fourth-degree. Won’t these types of scars benefit from rehabilitation too? Of course they will – in fact, I think we need to be much more proactive about this.

When the obstetrician gives you your six-week postnatal “clearance”, this is just the beginning. In fact, many women see their GP and have no perineal or vaginal examination at their six-week check-up. If they do have an examination, the aim is to ensure healing is adequate and there are no signs of infection. This quick check is not designed to confirm your tissue is back to its fighting best!

Many women I see, when they see their doctor for their six-week check, have not started having penetrative intercourse again yet. This is perfectly natural; not everyone feels ready by this point. However, when they are given the “all-clear” by the doctor, it comes as a rude shock when they first try to have intercourse two, four or six weeks later – to find that it’s horribly painful and not at all what they were expecting.

For some women, this initial pain with penetrative intercourse eases up quickly; for others it is mild or not significant in the first place. However, for a significant number of women, this pain is severe, persistent and very disruptive of their intimate relationships.

Pain with sex after childbirth is quite common, and in a way should come as no surprise. Think about this: you break your ankle and it is immobilised for six weeks in a cast or moonboot. Finally the day comes when it can be taken off. With joy and enthusiasm you throw your weight onto it – in fact, you don’t just try to walk, but jump off a high step and throw yourself into an exuberant set of dance moves. OUCH! It’s excruciatingly painful, isn’t it? Of course it is. Your body is not designed to go from zero to a hundred in the blink of an eye after a significant injury.

Well, an episiotomy or perineal tear is a significant injury to your vulva. While it might be mild and you get away with token, short-lived discomfort, you may be like many women I see for whom it is actually quite a hard road back to enjoyable, pain-free intercourse.  I often describe penetrative sex to women as being what a marathon run is to an ankle sprain. You wouldn’t jump straight into a marathon once your ankle sprain heals! But for some reason, women expect (or society expects us!) to be straight up for sex after the perineum heals postpartum. As I mentioned, some women have no ongoing problems. But if you find that the low-level discomfort (or strong pain) doesn’t get better and better each time you try, you need to get going with some perineal rehab!

The longer you leave this, the harder it is. A number of women I have seen with post-partum vulval pain and painful sex were so sensitive in the area of the scar they could barely stand light touch, let alone entry of their partner’s penis. This is more likely to occur the longer you leave it, and may involve sensitisation of the nervous system (where the brain, spinal cord and nerves become hypersensitive to touch and normal sensations become interpreted as pain: this is called central sensitisation).  The pelvic floor muscles become both tight/overactive and weak – not a good combination!

A good way to start to help this is some nice perineal massage daily with olive oil, apricot kernel oil or jojoba oil. You can do this yourself, and if you like, progress to allow your partner to do it. (You may need to have an agreement that nothing sexual proceeds from this, unless you yourself wish to initiate it.) If this does the trick, that’s fine. However, often more specific therapeutic input is required. A physiotherapist trained in connective tissue mobilisation and myofascial release can help your vulva and vagina restore its natural movement, flexibility and sensation. This requires specific training, and it’s worth enquiring of your physiotherapist whether they have this specific set of skills. With the right type of therapy, you can get back your good health in this area, get rid of pain, and restore the quality to your sexual experience. Contact me to get help for this.

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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

The Five Sources of Painful Sex (And Not One of Them Starts With "V")

Posted: Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 12:21:26 PM EST by Alyssa Tait

Vaginismus, vulvodynia, vestibulodynia, vaginitis, vulvar lichen sclerosus, vaginal atrophy, vulvitis…

Any of these might be names that your “painful sex” has been given, but they don’t tell you much about the root cause. Painful sex itself is medically termed “dyspareunia”- but again, if a doctor tells you that you have dyspareunia, it doesn’t leave you any wiser.

Even after you have been given a diagnosis (and many women never are), it is more important to understand the cause of your pain. While there is rarely one source of the pain, these are five areas that can contribute to the cycle of pain to ask your health professional about.

Skin.

vaginalepithelium_sm_sm

The external skin of the vulva or the internal skin of the vagina is an often overlooked source of pain. Raw, chafed, inflamed skin is painful to rub on your arm, so why would it be any different in the vulva or vagina? Sore, vulnerable and fragile vaginal or vulval skin can be due to many causes, including hormones, allergies, mucosal inflammation from other sources or nutrient deficiencies. Vaginal dryness can be a contributing factor, but is often not the only cause (or even the most important cause). Tight scar tissue in the skin from episiotomies is another source of pain with sex. Has your health professional ruled all of these out?

Nerves.

Nerves convey information about sensation to your brain. Sometimes, though, the nerves themselves get “caught up in the action” creating a type of nerve inflammation called neurogenic inflammation. This creates over-sensitive nerves, technically known as “peripheral sensitisation”.

Organs.

uterusandcervix

Tender or inflamed organs can be painful when pressure is applied to them. A problem with your bladder can give you pain with sex, especially in specific positions. Possibilities include urinary tract infection, urethritis or interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome. Irritable bowel syndrome can also cause pain with sex, as there is often significant pressure on the rectum and the small intestine through the walls of the vagina. Endometriosis is an inflammatory condition leading to formation of adhesions or internal scars, and a common cause of painful sex.

Muscles.

It is rare that I see a woman with painful sex who does not have some muscular cause as part of the picture. Stinging after sex can be an issue with the skin - but it can also be an early sign of problems with the muscles. It is important that all parts of the pelvic floor muscles, from the surface to the deep muscles, are assessed, as well as the deep internal hip muscles (obturator internus).  More commonly, it is assumed that muscles are the sole cause when there are other causes that need to be addressed as well. While muscular problems are important to address, it is rarely sufficient to work only on the muscular causes of painful sex.

Brain.

brainonfire

The brain causes of painful sex fall into two categories: the over-blamed brain and the under-blamed brain. In the over-blamed brain, it is assumed that stress, relationship problems and psychological problems are to blame for most of the painful sex. This is rarely the case. In the under-blamed brain, the contribution of the central nervous system to the maintenance of your pain is undervalued. Central sensitisation is the medical term for when your brain and nervous system are actually helping to drive your pain - and it does not mean you are being a hypochondriac! Your health professional should be able to describe the ways in which the brain acts to perpetuate pain. In this situation it is a must to retrain your brain. My e-book Outsmart Your Pain describes the brain’s role in your pain and how to break the cycle.  It can be ordered here.

Ask your health professional if they have ticked off all five sources of pain in your assessment.

They should be able to give you a rough percentage that each is likely to be contributing to your pain.

If identifying potential sources of the pain is important, it’s even more important to identify the processes causing your continuing pelvic pain – but that’s the topic for another blog post.

Now that you know what areas are involved, you may be interested in a brief summary of ten reasons why sex hurts. There may also be special considerations for pain with sex in the older woman. And let's face it, sometimes it can just be a challenge to track down that elusive libido!

If you would like to solve your painful sex – whatever “V-Word” it might have been called - contact us to make an appointment.

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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

Sex Selection of Your Baby: Can You Do It Naturally?

Posted: Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at 4:12:17 PM EST by Alyssa Tait

"Of course I just want a healthy baby...but...I wouldn't mind having a girl this time..."

Sometimes I am asked whether it is possible to increase the likelihood of having a girl as opposed to a boy, or vice versa. This is from parents who are grateful for the gift of a child and would love and welcome the child regardless, but (for example) have a gaggle of girls and would love a boy.

When it comes to assisted reproduction – for example, sex selection in IVF – this is controversial and ethically debatable. However, many people feel comfortable if this “odds increase” is based on natural methods, and often ask what I know about the topic.

Certain factors have often been cited as increasing or decreasing numbers of boy or girl babies born relative to the opposite sex. The most well-known of these is stress, the impact of which can be measured using a test done at home.

A recent study (Catalano et al 2013) after the 2011 eastern Japan earthquake found that in areas most affected by the disaster, there was a decrease in male babies conceived relative to females. Sadly, spontaneous abortion of male foetuses increased in Japan in the period following the earthquake.

It has also been proposed that boys born following a period of major stress (e.g. famine) grow up into a cohort of men who are relatively more robust because of a selective increased loss of male babies, thus acting as a “culling” of weaker males in utero.

Additionally, more female babies are born to women with what are perceived as “high-stress jobs” (Ruckstuhl et al 2010). However, this effect was blunted where there was a high-earning partner; clearly financial security can have a stress-relieving impact.

So, overall, stress seems to select for the birth of more girls than boys.

(Interestingly, no one has suggested purposely increasing your stress levels to increase the chance of a girl, as the above research would suggest – clearly, we are all stressed enough already!)

There are two main natural methods discussed for “sex selection” of the baby.

(This would more accurately be termed “increasing the odds of a particular sex”, but for simplicity’s sake, we’ll keep it at “sex selection”!)

One method of proposed natural sex selection is timing of sexual intercourse in relation to ovulation.

A second method of proposed natural sex selection is diet and supplementation.

These will be addressed in turn in future episodes of this Blog Series.

Interested in concepts related to fertility? Sign up for our Fertility Blog Series here.

Connective Tissue Dysfunction in Vulvodynia and Chronic Pelvic Pain Part 2: Evaluation and Treatment

Posted: Saturday, August 16, 2014 at 6:30:48 PM EST by Alyssa Tait

Connective tissue dysfunction in vulvodynia is often missed, and needs to be treated.

Confused about connective tissue? Picture a whole lot of fruit in a plastic bag, sitting in a bowl of jelly.

apricots, plums, grapes and so on. The fruit can be moved and jiggled around within the jelly, even within the plastic bag.

Now imagine a several layers of cling wrap around each piece of fruit. The wrinkles of the cling wrap stick to each other. The fruit doesn’t move so well. The jelly doesn’t get swished around so much, and hardens up.

Your muscles and organs are the fruit, and the connective tissue is the cling wrap.

If it gets tight and thick, it restricts movement. Any restriction of movement in your body, whether in muscles, skin, nerves or organs, can create dysfunction and pain. (The jelly is what is called the interstitial fluid of your body – the fluid you never noticed unless it increases, causing swelling and possibly pain and even abdominal bloating).

The connective tissue around the organs is called visceral connective tissue. Treatment of this connective tissue is known as visceral manipulation, and can be a very useful component of treatment of vulvodynia and chronic pelvic pain.

A specific type of connective tissue restriction will be very familiar to you:

The most common type of connective tissue restriction is a scar.

When scars are deeper in the body, they are often called adhesions (but they are the same thing by a fancier name). Connective tissue mobilisation is a brilliantly effective technique for tight scars and adhesions, which are sometimes playing a part in vulvodynia (especially when there has been surgery, such as an episiotomy or Caesarean scar, or endometriosis).

What does connective tissue mobilisation (CTM) feel like?

CTM feels like a skin-rolling type of massage. It can be very relaxing and soothing. It can also be quite uncomfortable, especially when there is dysfunction. In fact, if CTM doesn’t feel that comfortable, it’s probably a good sign you’ll benefit from it! Sometimes one side of your body will feel fine and the other uncomfortable – guess which one needs the treatment?

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However, slow and gentle is the key. Too much CTM too soon can stir you up – irritate local nerves, irritate the skin, even cause bruising. But the right kind and amount of CTM is wonderful for freeing up tight tissues and helping them move the way they should, improving circulation and skin condition and helping to desensitise your nervous system. The health professional treating your connective tissue should therefore be very familiar with your condition – and especially with central sensitisation – and plenty of experience in treating it.

Getting treatment for vulvodynia?

Make sure you ask whether your connective tissue has been checked, and if it would benefit from treatment. Treating your muscles, nervous system and connective tissue together and restoring their normal movement and function will get you the best results.

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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

Diet as a Method of Sex Selection of Your Baby: Some Early Studies

Posted: Tuesday, August 5, 2014 at 6:53:01 PM EST by Alyssa Tait

On the internet, information abounds about how eating a certain way could increase your chances of (for example) a girl baby. But concrete research with real people? That’s a little thin on the ground.

But first: why should what you eat influence who you conceive, anyway?

The theory is known as the “ionic theory”. Stolkowski and Choukroun explain this as the ratio of sodium and potassium to calcium and magnesium influencing ovarian metabolism – that is, the likelihood that the ovary will attract a sperm containing the X chromosomes (girl)  versus the XY chromosomes (boy). They report that higher ratios of sodium and potassium to calcium and magnesium results in a greater likelihood of a boy.

These authors had published a few studies and the abstracts can be found on PubMed. In 1980, they described using this method in 281 couples, 21 of whom were later excluded from the study. (It doesn’t explain why they were excluded – you hope it wasn’t because including their results would have affected the outcomes they reported). In any case, they reported “about an 80% success rate”.

In 1981, they published an article that reported that since using this method since 1970 in 47 births, only 7 of them failed to produce the expected sex. I am not sure how this relates to the previous study they published, which seemed to include much larger numbers.

In 1983, was a very small French study of 58 women. 45 of the women who followed the sex selection diet ended up with a baby of the “desired sex” – around 77%. An important point here is that the study was intended to be much larger – the authors tell us that 75% of the women dropped out (i.e. failed to follow the diet).

What all of these studies don’t tell us is, how was adherence to the diet measured? That is, how do we know who stuck to the diet? Do we know that dietary manipulation changes the minerals in the immediate environment of the ovary anyway? How were other factors controlled? Do we know that they were not combining this with “timing of intercourse”? If they were motivated to have a baby of a particular sex, they may well have sought out other methods to increase their chances. In research, this is known as a “confounding variable”.

While these figures sound promising, they are all based on retrospective analysis – that is, a reporting of what was done with a series of patients in a clinic after it was done. They are a great way of generating interest for further study – but prospective studies are a must for measuring more accurately (with less risk of bias) whether the outcomes are actually due to the intervention, rather than to other factors.

Exactly such a study was done in 2010 - and this is the topic of the next blog post in the series.
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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

An Interview with Alyssa Tait - Adhesions, Chronic Pain, and the Nervous System

Posted: Tuesday, September 13, 2016 at 1:14:04 PM EST by Alyssa Tait

It's not often someone gives me the floor for 45 minutes to talk about the web of connections linking adhesions, pain, visceral manipulation, the gut and the nervous system...

Stephen Anderson's questions were so thought-provoking, I just kept talking!

Here's the interview: Alyssa Tait on Pelvic Pain, Adhesions, and SIBO

This interview will either be a great cure for insomnia, or a useful insight into how my brain sees this broad and fascinating field.

We traversed the physical, the emotional and even the metaphysical!

Listen here.

We covered all sorts of topics...

...the curious pathway of my career and how it led me to visceral manipulation

...the emotions and your organs

...chronic abdominal and pelvic pain and visceral manipulation

...adhesions, and how they are more than just structural, but neurological as well

...endometriosis and how these adhesions differ from surgical adhesions

...central sensitisation in chronic pain and its links to visceral hypersensitivity in irritable bowel syndrome

....the power of the words "let's see" in therapy

Have a listen now!

Stephen's highlights and insights include...

....the power of the nervous system to increase neurological tone as a means of self-protection, and how this might impact the function of the organs

...the importance of engaging in fun, nurturing and nervous-system relaxing activities to take care of ourselves

....the need as practitioners to be careful with our language with our patients and not be "part of the problem".

Please listen, and give your rating or review on itunes!

 

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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
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