Through my Fertility Reflexology, I work a lot with women who suffer from Endometriosis. Clients report that Fertility Reflexology seems to have a calming effect on the pain, which is good news. It is also amazing for balancing the hormones and keeping them in check. I also have first hand experience with this condition myself ! But did you know that 1 in 10 ladies suffer from this chronic condition and the symptoms may differ for every woman. It usually starts at around sixteen years of age but can begin at any age.
There are some symptoms that distinguish Endometriosis from a normal period which you may not be aware of. These include;
- Bad pelvic pain (dysmenorrhea)
- Have you needed to take time off school, college our work because of the pain?
- Do you experience painful urination or bowel movements?
- Are you having issues trying to conceive?
- Do you experience pain during or after sex?
- Do you sometimes suffer with fatigue, diarrhoea, constipation, bloating or nausea especially during menstruation cycle.
- Have you got very heavy periods
- Do you vomit or faint with the pain ?
If you have some of these symptoms, then you may have Endometriosis.
SO WHAT IS ENDOMETRIOSIS?
Endometriosis is where the lining of the womb starts growing on the outside of the womb and can involve the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, colon, rectum etc. It has even been found in places like the brain and the eyes, so it can be very problematic. These deposits react to hormones like the lining inside the womb. They thicken, break down and bleed with each menstrual cycle causing such pain that can leave you on the couch for days. However, when these deposits bleed, the blood has nowhere to go and it becomes trapped causing adhesions which can then cause other pelvic tissues and organs to bind together.
HOW IS ENDOMETRIOSIS DIAGNOSED?
The most reliable way for endometriosis to be diagnosed is by having a laparoscopy. This is surgical procedure that can diagnose and treat this condition.
It is a low risk and minimally invasive procedure involving a long thin viewing instrument to be inserted via the abdomen wall through a small incision. This allows the doctor to see what’s going on inside and can remove cysts, implants and scar tissue that might exist there.
I’ve had this procedure done myself and I found the most uncomfortable part was the bloating afterwards from being pumped with air during the procedure. After a few days I was fine !
First of all, Endometriosis can be seen running down the family line so if someone in the family is suffering from the condition, the chances are, if you are suffering with heavy painful periods, you may have endometriosis too.
A big risk factor is the environment. Our exposure to toxins and pollution in the air and the water can have a negative impact on our endocrine system. If you live or lived in the country, you could be exposed to pesticides and other chemicals that are being sprayed on crops.
Think about the chemicals you put on your skin in the forms of soaps, shampoos, hair dyes and makeup. These may contain ingredients that will upset your endocrine system causing hormone imbalance. Using skincare that is as clean as possible will really help. I have an account with Neals Yard Remedies which sells clean skincare so if you would like to take a look at their products, then Visit my shop.
Other risk factors include using any plastics which contain BPA. These can also include using tinned foods which are lined with plastic, using cling film and check your water bottle. Also beware of non-stick pans as the coating on them can be toxic to the body.
Endometriosis and Fertility
Endometriosis can have a negative impact on your fertility, however if you have mild to moderate endometriosis, you can still get pregnant naturally. It can hinder fertility by covering or growing into the ovaries or by distorting or blocking the fallopian tubes. It can also hinder conception or the development of a fertilized egg. Fertility issues with regard to endometriosis can be improved after having a laparoscopy. If a couple still have trouble conceiving after getting treated with a laparoscopy, then Assisted reproductive techniques (ART) such as Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) may be suggested if there are no male factor issues. IVF/ICSI may be considered if there is a male factor issue.
Endometriosis & Diet
To fight inflammation and pain caused by endometriosis, you need to look after your gut. It is recommended to eat and consume a well-balanced diet that’s primarily plant-based which will improve the diversity of the microbiome in the gut. Take little steps if you want to try some of these recommendations !
- Whole, intact grains that are high in fibre are best as they are more slowly digested carbohydrates such as whole or cracked wheat, oatmeal, brown rice and wholegrain breads, cereals, pastas and crackers. If you have a predisposition to gluten intolerance, then avoid grains which contain gluten.
- Fibrous foods such as fruits and vegetables, especially those that are in season would be good to include in your diet. Also include beans and nuts.
- Foods rich in Iron such as dark leafy greens, broccoli, beans, fortified grains, nuts, and seeds.
- Omega rich foods are abundant in fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, herring, trout. Omegas can also be found in walnuts, chia seeds and flax seeds.
- Include antioxidant-rich fruit and vegetables found in a rainbow of colours such as oranges, berries, spinach, aubergine, blueberries and beets. Also, throw in dark chocolate !!
- Drinking plenty of water is a must to stay hydrated. I use a Reverse Osmosis system to clean the chemicals out of the water.
- Avoid trans fats as the more trans fat in the diet, the greater the chances of ovulatory infertility (Book Fertility Diet)
- Increase healthy fats in your diet such as olive oil, creamy avocados and nut oils whilst cutting back on saturated fats from red meat.
- Drink green tea to inhibit growths.
- Cut back on your coffee, alcohol and sugar intake.
Visiting a Herbal or Nutritional therapist would be good to get advice from !
My story !
Like a lot of ladies, I only found out I had endometriosis when I was trying to get pregnant. I had symptoms but I never realised what it was. I guess they crept up on me so slowly and I just lived with them. Unlike a lot of other ladies, the pain I had was bearable, but what wasn’t bearable was the pain on my colon every month. After a year of trying to get pregnant, I had a laparoscopy in the Rotunda Hospital where I was told that I had Grade 2 Endometriosis. They managed to clear the deposits of endo on my bowel and bladder and I really never looked back after that. However, I still wasn’t getting pregnant. I embarked on 2 IVF’s, one in the Rotunda and one in Sims, but unfortunately, both ended with a negative result 😢. It was a horrendous time.
We decided that we would do no more IVFs and headed straight to Adoption. This took 3 years to complete and we brought home our lovely baby boy to Ireland. However, we were only home 5 days when I discovered I was pregnant. Yes, you heard right. After 7 years of trying for a baby and never once getting pregnant, we discovered we had a baby onboard !!! We ended up with 2 baby boys in nappies, crawling around the place. Our family was complete.
After all our struggles in trying to build our family, I decided it was my mission to help other couples who are trying to get pregnant.
Endometriosis Association of Ireland
If you suffer with endometriosis and in light of it being Endometriosis Awareness Month, the Endometriosis Association of Ireland are running a number of Information Days which you might be interested in.
The first will take place on Saturday 20th March at 10.30am and 11.30am. There will also be a talk on 27th March at 10.30am
Here is a link if you want more information on these talks
So, if I asked you what Andrology is, would you know…… anyone ?
If I asked you what gynaecology is ? Yes, of course, everyone knows what gynaecology is.
So, if 50% of fertility problems are female and 50% are male, why do we all know what gynaecology is and not andrology ? This got me wondering, especially after watching Rhod Gilbert on Stand Up to Infertility which was shown on the BBC recently.
Is it because us as women, we tend to be more open about our issues, fertility or otherwise ? Are we more inclined to get things checked out with our doctors ? Are we more inclined to try all methods including complimentary therapies like Reflexology and Acupuncture ? Is it because fertility clinics can bypass men’s issues with advanced techniques like ICSI and Tesa so there is no need to get a more advanced check with an Andrologist ?
I think the answer is all of them and as a result, there is very little support for men who are faced with fertility issues.
And, the thing is, if a couple are under 35 and have been trying to conceive for a year, or if they are over 35 and have been trying for 6 months with no success, you need to get checked out. Getting the semen analysis done first is a quick, non-invasive test which will easily help to rule out issues from the male perspective before commencing on the more invasive procedures that women go through.
So, what is a Semen Analysis ?
This is a test which gives detailed information on sperm quantity and quality and therefore, your fertility potential. In the test they look at the following;
- That the ejaculate is the right PH of 7.2. A higher reading can indicate an obstruction or absence of sperm ducts
- The Morphology of the sperm i.e. the shape and size of the sperm. There needs to be above 4% of normal looking sperm.
- The Motility i.e. the most forward moving sperm. Above 40% is normal
- Sperm concentration should contain at least 15M/ml (millions per millimetre) of sperm
- Other cells such as white blood cells which could indicate an infection which can be treatable with antibiotics
- Anti-sperm antibodies which if in high concentration can make it difficult for the sperm to fertilise the egg.
Another bit of interesting information is that a poor semen result can be indicative of other underlying health issues such as diabetes, kidney failure and liver disease.
So, what can you do to improve things ??
- Keep your tackle cool by wearing loose fitting underwear and trousers
- Don’t use your laptop on your lap
- Do not take hot baths
- Smoking cigarettes and other substances can cause genetic damage thus affecting fertility
- Alcohol consumption especially in high quantities can affect sperm quality
- Caffeine intake has been shown to contribute adversely to sperm quality
- Taking recreational drugs is a no no
- Some medicines either prescribed by your GP or the pharmacy can affect male fertility. So check with your GP if you are trying for a baby
- Maintaining a healthy body weight by eating a balanced and if possible, organic diet (avoid pesticides)
- Cutting back on processed meats
- Eating a diet high in dairy can have an adverse affect on sperm
- Stress can have a limiting affect on sperm production by affecting hormones
- Moderate exercise will help
- To boost your fertility, have a daily handful of walnuts
- Be aware that men have a biological clock too !
- Anabolic steroids can have a severe affect on sperm production
- Cycling can have a negative impact on male fertility with the heat generated “down there” whilst on a cycle
- Taking Omega 3’s has been shown to improve sperm quality
From a Fertility Reflexologists point of view, Fertility Reflexology is great for first of all, reducing stress levels in the body and secondly, for stimulating the reproductive reflex points.
So, If you are looking for support with Male Infertility, Rhod Gilbert has set up a website called HIMFERTILITY.com It gives lots of information on tackling the issue of Male Infertility.
Watch Rhod chat about Male Infertilty below
Rhod Gilbert Speaks about Men's Fertility Struggles
If you are looking for support, you can also join Rhod’s group on facebook. Here’s the link
So, what is Fertility Reflexology ?
When I am carrying out a Fertility Reflexology treatment, what I am doing is working the reflex points of the endocrine system on the foot, in a very specific order, to correct any imbalances leading to infertility and thus significantly increasing your chances of having a baby. Each time I work a reflex point, signals are sent to the brain which sends communication signals to the hormonal system. These positively re-balance the organs and systems within the body and specifically the reproductive system. This process also removes blocks in the “energy pathways” also known as meridians, allowing the flow of energy to go exactly where it is needed.
Stress and anxiety can have a negative impact on fertility by raising your cortisol levels and affecting your chances of conceiving. I always start the treatment with a full Reflexology routine to balance the body and the mind before commencing on the Fertility part of the treatment. I also use Emotional Freedom Techniques (tapping) to help reduce stress levels and bringing about a positive mindset.
I have successfully worked with clients with the following issues;
- Hormonal Imbalances
- Inconsistent cycle
This would also be a good treatment for ladies going through the menopause.
Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)
Reflexology is amazing if you are trying to conceive naturally or embarking on IVF, ICSI, GIFT, Donor Egg, ZIFT etc. or any other method of assisted conception. It can support both members of the couple both mentally and physically leading towards a positive outcome by keeping stress and anxiety at bay thus giving the treatment the best possible chance of succeeding. The routines used will support you at every stage of the assisted reproductive process and will never harm the treatment. It is good to start fertility reflexology before embarking on your treatment.