Archives for February 2010

Endometriosis and Fertility

Endometriosis is one of the most common health problems for women, often associated with pain and infertility, yet is often misdiagnosed.  It gets its name from the word endometrium, the tissue that lines the uterus or womb. Endometriosis occurs when this tissue grows outside of the uterus on other organs or structures in the body, most commonly on the:

  • Ovaries
  • Fallopian tubes
  • Tissues that hold the uterus in place
  • Outer surface of the uterus
  • Lining of the pelvic cavity

According to the Endometriosis Research Center: “It is more prevalent than breast cancer, yet continues to be treated as an insignificant, obscure ailment… The average delay in diagnosis is a startling 9 years, and a woman will go through as many as 5 physicians before she is properly diagnosed and treated.”


The most common symptom is pain in the lower abdomen (pelvis) or the lower back, mainly during menstrual periods. The amount of pain is different for each woman, and does not depend on how much endometriosis she has.

Other symptoms of endometriosis can include:

  • Very painful menstrual cramps, which may get worse over time
  • Chronic pain in the lower back and pelvis
  • Pain during or after sex
  • Intestinal pain
  • Painful bowel movements or urination during menstrual periods
  • Spotting or bleeding between menstrual periods
  • Infertility or not being able to get pregnant
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea, constipation, bloating, or nausea, especially during menstrual periods
  • Click here for other related health problems

The symptoms of endometriosis diminish during pregnancy. Symptoms also tend to decrease with menopause, when menstrual periods end for good.

Associated health problems

Endometriosis growths are benign (not cancerous), but they still can cause many problems. To understand why, it helps to be familiar with a woman’s menstrual cycle. Every month, hormones cause the lining of a woman’s uterus to build up with tissue and blood vessels. If a woman does not get pregnant, the uterus sheds this tissue and blood through the vagina, IE: as her menstrual period.

Patches of endometriosis also respond to the hormones produced during the menstrual cycle. But misplaced endometriosis tissue and the cells it sheds have no way of leaving the body. Trapped between layers of tissue, they cause inflammation, scar tissue, adhesions and bowel problems. These growths expand over time, adding extra tissue and blood. This is why the symptoms of endometriosis often get worse.

As endometrial tissue grows, it can cover or grow into the ovaries and block the fallopian tubes. Trapped blood in the ovaries can form cysts, or closed sacs. It also can cause inflammation and cause the body to form scar tissue and adhesions (tissue that sometimes binds organs together). This scar tissue may cause pelvic pain and make it hard for women to get pregnant. The growths can also cause problems in the intestines and bladder.

Can I reduce my chances of getting endometriosis?

Because the hormone estrogen is involved in thickening the lining of the uterus during the menstrual cycle, you can try to lower the estrogen levels in your body.

  • Exercise regularly
  • Keep a low amount of body fat
  • Avoid large amounts of alcohol and caffeine
  • Try to keep stress levels as low as possible
  • Balance estrogen levels naturally. Read more here.


Pelvic exam. Your doctor will perform a pelvic exam to feel for large cysts or scars behind your uterus. Smaller areas of endometriosis are hard to feel.

Ultrasound. Your doctor could perform an ultrasound, an imaging test to see if there are ovarian cysts from endometriosis. During a vaginal ultrasound, the doctor will insert a wand-shaped scanner into your vagina. During an ultrasound of your pelvis, a scanner is moved across your abdomen. Both tests use sound waves to make pictures of your reproductive organs. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is another common imaging test that can produce a picture of the inside of your body.

Laparoscopy. The only way for your doctor to know for sure that you have endometriosis is to look inside your abdomen to see endometriosis tissue. He or she can do this through a minor surgery called laparoscopy. You will receive general anesthesia before the surgery. Then, your abdomen is expanded with a gas to make it easy to see your organs. A tiny cut is made in your abdomen and a thin tube with a light is placed inside to see growths from endometriosis. Sometimes doctors can diagnose endometriosis just by seeing the growths. Other times, they need to take a small sample of tissue and study it under a microscope.

HSG. Women with endometriosis who are struggling to get pregnant can undergo a structural study known as an HSG (hysterosalpingogram). This diagnostic test can be performed in as little as five minutes. The procedure is associated with cramping, but ibuprofen can be used to ease the pain. During the test, radiocontrast media is injected through the cervix into the uterus. An x-ray is taken to examine the internal contour of the uterus and check whether the fallopian tubes are open.


Conventional medicine states that there is no cure for endometriosis, but there are many treatments offered to deal with the pain and infertility.  A naturopathic/integrative medicine doctor will suggest a different course of action to clear up endometriosis based on diet, exercise, detox, addressing emotional stress, and/or natural progesterone.

Pain Medication. For women with mild symptoms, doctors may suggest taking over-the-counter medicines for pain. These include ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve).

Hormone Treatment. When pain medicine is not enough, doctors often recommend hormone medicines to treat endometriosis. Only women who do not wish to become pregnant can use these drugs. Hormone treatment is best for women with small growths who do not have bad pain. Hormones come in many forms including pills, shots, and nasal sprays. Common hormones used for endometriosis include:

  • Birth control pills to decrease the amount of menstrual flow and prevent overgrowth of tissue that lines the uterus. Most birth control pills contain two hormones, estrogen and progestin. Once a woman stops taking them, she can get pregnant again. Stopping these pills will cause the symptoms of endometriosis to return.
  • GnRH agonists and antagonists greatly reduce the amount of estrogen in a woman’s body, which stops the menstrual cycle. These drugs should not be used alone because they can cause side effects similar to those during menopause, such as hot flashes, bone loss, and vaginal dryness. Taking a low dose of progestin or estrogen along with these drugs can protect against these side effects. When a woman stops taking this medicine, monthly periods and the ability to get pregnant return. She also might stay free of the problems of endometriosis for months or years afterward.
  • Progestins. The hormone progestin can shrink spots of endometriosis by working against the effects of estrogen on the tissue. It will stop a woman’s menstrual periods, but can cause irregular vaginal bleeding. Medroxyprogesterone (muh-DROKS-ee-proh-JESS-tur-ohn) (Depo-Provera) is a common progestin taken as a shot. Side effects of progestin can include weight gain, depressed mood, and decreased bone growth.
  • Danazol (DAY-nuh-zawl) is a weak male hormone that lowers the levels of estrogen and progesterone in a woman’s body. This stops a woman’s period or makes it come less often. It is not often the first choice for treatment due to its side effects, such as oily skin, weight gain, tiredness, smaller breasts, and facial hair growth. It does not prevent pregnancy and can harm a baby growing in the uterus. It also cannot be used with other hormones, such as birth control pills.

Surgery. Women with severe endometriosis — many growths, a great deal of pain, or fertility problems — may consider surgery. Your doctor might suggest one of the following:

  • Laparoscopy can be used to diagnose and treat endometriosis. During this surgery, doctors remove growths and scar tissue or burn them away. The goal is to treat the endometriosis without harming the healthy tissue around it. Women recover from laparoscopy much faster than from major abdominal surgery.
  • Laparotomy  or major abdominal surgery that involves a much larger cut in the abdomen than with laparoscopy. This allows the doctor to reach and remove growths of endometriosis in the pelvis or abdomen.
  • Hysterectomy is a surgery in which the doctor removes the uterus. Removing the ovaries as well can help ensure that endometriosis will not return. This is done when the endometriosis has severely damaged these organs. A woman cannot get pregnant after this surgery, so it should only be considered as a last resort.

The Natural Path. Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D. states: “While modern medicine insists the cause of endometriosis is unknown and there is no cure, it can be relatively simple to treat and control the symptoms. The standard medical treatment involves taking synthetic hormones, such as the birth control pill, that stops menstruation and therefore stops the buildup of blood and endometrial tissue outside the uterus. But there are new ways of approaching endometriosis that are much kinder to the body and address an underlying problem that certainly relates to the condition.” To learn about turning the tables on endometriosis using alternative methods, click here or here, or speak to a naturalistic doctor for more information.

Emotional Support

You may want to consider joining a support group (online or in your community) to talk with other women who have endometriosis.

You can find out more about endometriosis by contacting at 1-800-994-9662. You also can contact the following organizations:

Endometriosis Association
Phone Number(s): (414) 355-2200
Internet Address:

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Phone Number(s): (202) 638-5577; (202) 863-2518 (for publication requests only)
Internet Address:

Endometriosis Research Center
Phone Number(s): (561) 274-7442
Internet Address:

Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Phone Number(s): 1-800-370-2943
TTY: 1-888-320-6942
Internet Address:

feature image credit.

Treating Ear Infections: Forgo the Antibiotics

Contrary to what we’ve been told up to now, antibiotics may not be the best medicine for your child’s ear infection!  A recent study in the British Medical Journal has shown that treating with antibiotics can actually increase the chances of relapse!  So what is the best medicine? Possibly no medicine at all!

CBS News reports that more than 75 percent of kids before the age of 5 have an ear infection, according to the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Ear infections have routinely been treated with antibiotics, but now, new research suggests the best medicine may be no medicine at all.  There is substantial evidence to show that about 80 percent of ear infections clear up without antibiotics, and with no ill effects.

What you may not have known is that most ear infections are caused by viruses, which are not treatable with antibiotics anyway.”  Everyone involved may have to work on their patience, but letting the ear infection run its course may be your best option.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is about to update its guidelines. The new “rules” will say that unless the child is very young or very sick, a doctor should employ “watchful waiting” — monitoring the child’s health. Your doctor might prescribe a safety net antibiotic prescription (SNAP) to be filled only if the child has not improved within 48 to 72 hours.

However, current guidelines suggest that some children should still get antibiotics:

• Are under age 2
• Appear seriously ill with fever of 102F or higher
• Have fluid dripping from the ears
• Have a double ear infection (both ears infected)

If you still don’t believe your child’s ear infection will heal best on its own, you should be aware of some side effects caused by antibiotic. The most serious side effect, she said, is antibiotic resistance.  In about 10 to 20 percent of children, Ashton said, antibiotics can cause upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea. Less frequently, they can cause rashes.

You want to avoid over-use of antibiotics to avoid antibiotic resistance, which makes the next bug tougher to treat. The next time your doctor prescribes amoxicillin, the most common one for kids, it might not work. Doctors would be wise to head this new research, but in 84 percent of cases, they still prescribe antibiotics.  It may be up to  parents to decide that antibiotics may not be the best medicine, and forgo.

“Pediatricians are now focusing on pain relief,” CBS News Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton said. “Children screaming in pain will not get relief from an antibiotic in the first 24 hours. They should be given ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol), and sometimes prescription ear drops can ease the pain.”

**Side Note: I only had one experiences with ear infections when my daughter was a baby, a few years ago. The doctor gave me a choice of antibiotics or a homeopathic remedy. I decided to try the homeopathic remedy, and it worked wonderfully. The ear infection may have gone away on it’s own, but the pain subsided very quickly and gave us no more problems!

In the Nick of Time: Mom gives birth in hospital lobby

Many people treasure the videos of their child’s birth, but they’re usually taken by a proud dad… Not by a surveillance camera!  Last week a British woman gave birth to a baby girl just inside the hospital lobby! It was a very cold mid-night drive and Dad just wanted to get indoors so he wouldn’t have to deliver the baby by himself on the roadside… They got there with 10 minutes to spare, but Mom fell on her hands and knees and couldn’t go any further! Baby Alice was delivered shortly thereafter by Dad and two midwives.

You can watch the family’s CBS News interview here!

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Did you have a birth that progressed so quickly that you couldn’t make it to your planned destination? Tell us about it!

Spring 2010 Maternity Fashion Trends

Maternity designers are gearing up for Spring, and popping out all sorts of new trends. The one that seems to be getting the most (negative) attention is the one-piece maternity jumpsuit.  Granted, it may be comfortable (nothing pulling around your midsection) but even the most beautiful non-pregnant gal will have a hard time looking good in a jumpsuit. And, as My hormones made me do it points out, Pregnant Girl who has to pee every 5 seconds has no time for a jumpsuit!

Ripe Maternity ‘Deluxe’ Satin Dress at Nordstrom

So what should you be looking for?  Here are some Spring 2010 fashion trends for the mom-to-be that won’t have you shuddering in horror!

Sugar Candy Shades: Silky, floating fabrics in soft, feminine colors will definitely breath a sense of spring-time into your wardrobe. Bring on the frills, ruffles, and pastels!

Candy Floss style via Made for Mums

Be Knotty! Knots, drapes, pleats, and other fun shapes reigned on the catwalks, says Made for Mums.

Maternity Dress - Tie Knot Dress

Drop-Waist Peasant Top by Old Navy; Tie Knot dress by Isabella Oliver

Cool T’s: When the weather starts to heat up, you’ll want some fun, comfy T-shirts to brighten up your outfit. The bright colors, draping, and graphics on these T’s keeps them from being boring!

T-shirts from the Gap

Eye-popping Prints: Dress your bump in flashy florals and bright geometric designs.  Let your wardrobe energize you this spring season!

Olian Maternity  'Adrienne' Dolman Sleeve DressOlian Maternity Beaded  Drawstring Top
Olian Maternity at Nordstom
Short Shorts (and not-so-short shorts): Your belly  may have ballooned, but you can still show off your leggy legs! If you’re brave enough, get yourself some edgy cuffed shorts. If you’re more conservative, some knee-length shorts should do the trick!
Super Shorts by Babes with Babies; Bermuda Shorts by Gap

If you can’t wear short shorts because you feel the need to wear compression stockings for dvt or just aren’t that thrilled with your ankles, then maybe jeans are a better choice.

Denim Jeans: More of a staple than a trend, jeans are always a great choice and look fabulous with just about anything. Now you’ve got lots of styles and colors to choose from, including stretch, skinny, bootleg, and flare.

James Jeans Maternity Bootcut Stretch Jeans at Nordstrom; Maternity Jeans by Gap

Age is not a Contraceptive: Pregnancy Warning for Older Women

Here’s an interesting statistic: Abortion rates for women aged 40-44 are just about the same as those for the under 16s, figures for England and Wales show.  In 2008, both of these groups had an abortion rate of four per 1,000 women.

Although there can be a number of reasons for this trend, experts fear that older women are ditching contraception in the mistaken belief that they cannot get pregnant past a certain age.  Yes, fertility does wane as you age, but women can still get pregnant well into their thirties, forties and even fifties.

So the Family Planning Association (FPA) has a new campaign ‘Conceivable?’ directed at women over 35 years old. It’s purpose is to remind women to stay vigilant about unplanned pregnancy and to keep using contraception until after menopause if they do not wish to become pregnant.

And here I thought it was common knowledge that until you stop menstruating, you can still get pregnant. Silly me.

Just one night of unprotected sex can result in pregnancy, even if you are way beyond your teenage years.  Emily James of Marie Stopes International said: “Many older women facing an unplanned pregnancy are completely shocked to find themselves in this position – many assume that their irregular periods are due to menopause, and are surprised to learn that they are in fact pregnant.”

Bottom Line: Talk to your doctor about age, menopause, and fertility, and be vigilant about unwanted pregnancy, no matter what age you are!

Source: BBC News

No such thing as “Baby Brain”?!

Yahoo health reports that, “Australian researchers said on Friday they had debunked the myth that a woman’s ability to think was impaired by pregnancy and mothering a newborn — a condition commonly referred to as ‘baby brain’.”

This follows another Australian report from 2  years ago saying that researchers have confirmed women do become more forgetful during and after pregnancy.

This time, the researchers analyzed the mental function of a group of women before, during, and after pregnancy, and reported no differences at all.

“I think that people have the tendency to blame the fact that they’re pregnant on normal lapses of memory which happen all the time to us anyway,”  said lead researcher Helen Christensen.  “Our results challenge the view that mothers are anything other than the intellectual peers of their contemporaries.”

Well, no one is saying that pregnant women and mommies are dumber than we used to be. We are just slightly more absent-minded and forgetful. I’m not sure that is something that can be accurately measured.

“Women often report problems with memory and reasoning after they become pregnant,” Christensen said. “But the latest findings from our decade-long study, the most in-depth to look at this issue, has proven they do not.”

Blame it on sleep deprivation, hormonal changes, or just normal memory lapses… I still think there’s something to it.  I tend to agree with blogger Kimmama who refuses to believe that “baby brain” was all in her head.  She’s thinking, and I’m thinking too, that clearly none of these researchers have been pregnant before!

The Daily Mail reports mentions research carried out last year by Dr Craig Kinsley, of Richmond University in Virginia, suggesting that giving birth actually leads to dramatic improvements in mental capacity. He says that giving birth actually produces a “surge of memory and learning ability that makes women more vigilant and alert.”

Like I said, we’re not getting dumber… we’re just… what was it I said?

10 Ways to Relieve Labor Pains

Well, really in my opinion there is only one way, and it works like magic. It’s called an epidural. Ok, just kidding (but not really)!!  However, if you are looking for drug-free ways to relieve labor pains, there are many techniques out there, and many women have had exhilarating (if not completely pain-free–sorry!) natural births. offers these 10 tips to staying within your “comfort zone.”

Indybel Birthing BallIndybel Birthing Ball

1. Find a Soothing Environment

Your birth setting must feel safe to you. It should have space to walk and bathe, as well as a variety of options to enhance movement, comfort, and pain relief: a soft bed, CD player, rocking chair, birth ball, low stool, and/or squatting bar. It should also have policies that encourage you to try a variety of positions. Access to appropriate medical care is crucial if problems arise.

2. Choose Your Team Carefully

Knowledgeable, caring midwives, doctors, nurses, partners, loved ones and/or doulas create a supportive birth team. When you’re treated with respect and patience, stress and inhibitions decrease, and you can more easily find your best coping mechanisms.

3. Learn About Labor

The more knowledge you have, the fewer surprises you will experience. Find out everything you can about labor from books, magazines, Web sites, videos, classes, a hospital tour and discussions with your health-care provider, doula, family and friends. Familiarize yourself with the procedures and customs at your hospital or birth center. Such discussions are best had before labor.

4. Express Your Fears

Are you worried about pain and labor, needles, medicines or losing control? Speak with a knowledgeable and trusted friend, childbirth educator or doula. Voicing your concerns can bring relief as well as practical solutions to your concerns. Stating your preferences in a birth plan can also help calm fears.

5. Practice Rhythmic Breating

Breathe fully in a slow rhythm during contractions. Release tension with each exhalation and try moaning. Also try taking quick breaths, about one every 2 to 3 seconds (20 to 30 per minute). Your partner or birth coach may be able to help you keep your rhythm with eye contact, rhythmic hand or head movements, or by talking you through contractions.

6. Use Imagery and Visualization

Focusing on something that makes you happy (like your partner’s face, an inspirational picture or favorite object) engages your senses and decreases your awareness of pain. Listen to music, a soothing voice or a recording of ocean waves, and imagine yourself in a relaxing environment.

7. Take a Warm Shower or Bath

A warm shower is soothing, especially if you can sit on a stool and direct a handheld showerhead onto your abdomen or back. Bathing in warm water is relaxing, and it may even speed up labor.

8. Keep Moving

Move around as much as you can. Walk, lean, sway, rock and squat. Some positions will be more comfortable than others.

9. Seek Relief with Warm or Cool Compresses

Place a warm pack on your lower abdomen, groin, lower back or shoulders during labor. A cold pack or latex glove filled with ice chips can soothe painful areas. Cool cloths relieve a sweaty face, chest or neck.

10. Indulge in Gentle Touch or Massage

Have your partner or doula massage you in whatever way provides the most relief for you.  Whether it’s someone holding your hand, stroking your cheek or hair, or patting your hand or shoulder, touch conveys reassurance, caring and understanding.

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