Tag Archives: Women’s Health

Understanding Your Gyn-Ecology

Do you know how many days your menstrual cycle is?  You’d be surprised how many women don’t.  The first step in taking charge of your health is understanding the length of your cycle.  The day you first experience menstrual flow, and not just spotting, is the first day of your menstrual cycle.   The above diagram illustrates the general changes in your body during your cycle.  If your patterns aren’t like the above graph, don’t fret – you are not the only one, and in fact, only a small percentage of women have the textbook 28-day cycle depicted above.  Naturopathic treatments are focused on bringing into balance any disharmonies in your cycle.  Signs that you can benefit from Naturopathic Medical care include painful menstrual cramps, blood clots, irritable moods, excessive menstrual bleeding, bleeding between your menstrual cycles, having a menstrual cycle which end too quickly, irregular menstrual cycles, fibroids, polycystic ovaries and endometriosis.  Your menstrual cycles play an important role in your health and despite popular belief, are absolutely necessary.

Fertility Woes

Just how many people are experiencing this, you ask?  Approximately 7.3 million American couples of child-bearing age have trouble conceiving a child.  This means reproductive concerns affect one out of every eight couples.  The reasons for reduced fertility are numerous and increasing, especially given that many young couples are having to put off starting a family because they are busy pursuing their academic careers and entering into the workforce much later than their parents or their grandparents.

My wife is going through fertility treatments, what can I do?

Your partner needs you!  Your involvement is key, even if you are not the one undergoing a treatment.  Depending on the fertility treatment your wife is undergoing, the procedure can be more invasive.  An easy way to offer support is by attending medical appointments with your partner as a lot of information can be disseminated in an appointment and can be overwhelming for one set of ears to absorb it all in one sitting!  Learning how to administer medications if required can go a long way in terms of support, as well as taking the time to just simply understand what your partner is being prescribed. Be an informed consumer and do your own research about various fertility tests and procedures. Local fertility support groups are valuable resources you may also wish to attend together.

I’m already seeing a Fertility Specialist, can I still work with a Naturopathic Doctor?

Yes! Your Naturopathic Doctor is quite happy to work with you and all other members of your healthcare team, so you can achieve all your goals.  The real benefit to seeking Naturopathic medical care even if you are skeptical, is that we can discuss strategies to improve your overall health, which in turn can only improve your chances of conceiving.

Supporting Husbands and Partners in the Quest to Overcome their Fertility Fear Factors

Reduced fertility in men today is far more common than people realize — the great news is that people are speaking about their health concerns more openly.  We are moving into an era where people are recognizing that reduced fertility in male partners is by no means indicative of a person’s virility or manliness – and this change in perception is freeing people and allowing them to seek care.  If you are someone who suspects you might have difficulty conceiving a child, both you and your partner are encouraged to seek Naturopathic Medical care, which at the very least, will be able to improve your overall health.

I have compiled a list of questions and answers for you, particularly since knowing what to expect and what questions to ask at your appointment can help you feel more at ease as you prepare for your appointment. Remember, whatever you discuss with your Naturopathic Doctor is kept confidential. There are no embarrassing questions you could possibly ask – so don’t hold back, and ask them all.

When should I see a healthcare provider?

Both partners should consider getting tested if pregnancy fails to occur after a year of regular, unprotected sexual intercourse.  A comprehensive work-up with your Naturopathic Doctor, Family Doctor or Fertility Specialist can can help uncover the causes of infertility, and can also detect other potentially serious medical problems as well.

What topics might my ND want to speak with me about?

There are several factors that may affect fertility that will be important to discuss.  Your Naturopathic Doctor will likely ask you about frequency and timing of sexual intercourse, duration of infertility and any previous fertility events, childhood illnesses and any problems in development, past or current illnesses (diabetes, cancer, previous surgeries), sexual history (including any sexually transmitted diseases), any exposure to toxins (such as chemicals or radiation in the workplace or home), history of any medications and allergies and any family history of reduced fertility.

What treatments may be prescribed?

Treatments are geared towards understanding what the cause of your problems are.  Your Naturopathic Doctor will offer many suggestions, some of which will include an examination of your nutritional intake, and a discussion around lifestyle and environmental factors that may be contributing to decreased fertility (ie. quitting smoking, reducing heavy drinking).  You may be counselled to incorporate the following nutrients  to increase sperm count, improve sperm quality and motility as needed: essential fatty acids, zinc, vitamin E, selenium, glutathione and arginine.  If you have a low sperm count, it may be recommended that you pace your sexual activity to accumulate sperm.

Going for a fertility evaluation can provoke a lot of anxiety, however your fertility issues can only be dealt with by seeking help.  Don’t let a fear of having your suspicions confirmed deter you; it is in your best interest to know what it is you are up against and what it will take to overcome those obstacles, particularly if you or your partner are in a time-sensitive situation.  You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by exploring your fertility care options – so do just that!

The Daddy of All Problems: Focusing on Sperm

What are the most common causes of reduced fertility in men?

A common question male patients have is whether fertility testing is invasive.  Let’s face it, for many men, medical testing (nevermind fertility testing) can conjure up some invasive, faint-worthy examination procedures. Testing, however, is usually no worse than a regular medical check-up with your family doctor. Depending on the specifics of your case, your Naturopathic Doctor may recommend, if you haven’t had it completed already, routine blood work check, a sonographic evaluation of your scrotum (which checks for any physical signs that may be causing reduced fertility), and a semen analysis (which checks sperm concentration, morphological features and sperm motility).

Navigating the Journey of Menopause, Naturally!

Dr. Judith Ancheta, Naturopathic Doctor cordially invites you to attend an enlightening, casual discussion on “Navigating the Journey of Menopause, Naturally!” with Whole Woman Network at their April 23, 2012 meeting. Please join us to learn more about the signs and symptoms which indicate you are transitioning into the next, exciting life-changing stage and about the hormonal changes, which are driving many of the symptoms you may, or are currently, experiencing (hot flashes, vaginal dryness, libido changes, urinary tract changes, mental and emotional changes). We invite you to learn about naturopathic strategies including the best medicinal foods, dietary strategies to employ, and a teaser on controversial topics such as menopause and hormone replacement therapy. As women, we naturally tend towards being life-giving towards others, and as a result of this, can put off well-deserved self-care. Aging women today are more wise, beautiful, active, happy, saucy and sexier than ever before! Join us as we celebrate one of life’s milestones and embrace aging, redefining together what this stage means in a woman’s life.

Details: Loblaws, 2nd Floor Meeting Room, 301 High Tech Road, Richmond Hill
Date: April 23, 2012
Time: 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Cost: Complimentary!

Suffer from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS)? Another Reason to Go Green!

The rate at which people are experiencing a barrage of health problems such as rashes, allergies, respiratory problems,  difficulties focusing mentally due to fragrances and a gambit of other chemical sensitivities to cleaning supplies, off-gassing clothes, furniture, varnishes, new carpets etc., is rising substantially.

There are at least two good reasons to consider purchasing organic clothing:  one, your clothing is intimately in contact with the largest (and arguably, most neglected) organ of the body, your skin!  Organic clothing has not been treated with harmful pesticides, insecticides and dyes, and is therefore not contributing to the pollution of your own body’s biological terrain.  Two, organic clothing made from natural fibers and materials are eco-friendly, are from renewable resources and is also *hopefully, socially conscious.

Persons who might benefit the most in making this conscious change are persons who have itchy, irritated skin, are constantly sneezing, coughing or congested, or persons who have multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS).  These persons may find organic clothing is an essential component of their self-care plan in reducing their exposure to the vast array of toxic chemicals that we are unknowingly (and now knowingly) exposing ourselves to every day.

When I think of organic clothing, the first eco-friendly material that pops into mind is hemp.  It was the original eco-fabric incorporated into t-shirts and denim.  It grows quickly and does not require the use of pesticides.  It is an environmentally positive crop, which means it actually improves the condition of the soil it grows in!

Organic cotton is grown without the use of herbicides, fertilizers or pesticides resulting in finer, naturally softer fabric with higher thread counts.

Jute, likely more commonly known to you as burlap or hessian, is produced from a plant that matures in less than 6 months and is therefore highly renewable.  Moreover, it is biodegradable and recyclable and a great alternative to plastic.  While this may not be your first choice for eco-friendly fibers against your skin because of its coarse texture, it is durable and breathable and is used in bags, shoes and jackets.  The camouflage suit (known as a ghillie suit) was initially used in the military for concealment.  For civilians, this material is used in camo jackets worn by hunters and serious paintball or airsoft participants.

Clothing (I digress a moment – as well as flooring in our homes) made from organic bamboo is another growing hot commodity amongst contemporary green clothing line designers.  It is a plant which you know grows readily in our households, without the need of harmful fertilizers and pesticides.  Material made from bamboo, does however undergo some degree of chemical processing by the time it gets to your wardrobe.

Lyocell fibers, whose trademark name is Tencel, are made from wood pulp cellulose.  Cellulose is a natural polymer found in the cells of all vegetation.  Although it is generally eco-friendly and environmentally sustainable, its soft and durable qualities making it desirable, it can undergo the same harsh chemical treatment conventional clothing undergoes from its natural fibers to your garments.

Other natural fabrics which are increasingly “all the rage” and are being incorporated into luxurious clothing designers’ green lines (and eventually percolates into the average persons’ wardrobe) include: aloe (Germany, Spain and Italy), modal (Beech tree cellulose), soy (“vegetable cashmere”) and yak (long-haired bovine that is indigenous to the Himalayan mountains).

We are becoming increasingly aware of the food we put into our bodies.  Perhaps it is also time we become conscious of the clothes we place against our skin.

Reconnecting to the Earth, Barefoot!

I was listening to an introduction on Earthing by David Wolfe.  For those of you who are new to this concept, it is this growing idea that speaks to how the widespread use of plastic- and rubber-soled shoes have contributed to our disconnection from the Earth and its natural electric charge.

While this idea may seem rather bogus at first, it is does offer an explanation as to why people feel so much better after kicking off their loafers and burying their toes in the sand, or after swimming in the cool ocean waters, or after having walked barefoot across a dewy lawn.  On a mechanistic level, it is thought that when we make direct contact with the earth’s surface, negatively-charged electrons from the earth are absorbed into the body and reduce free radicals and sites of inflammation (which are positively-charged).  It is only when these inflamed sites are neutralized that destructive action on healthy tissues is decreased.  If true, this simple concept would have incredible implications that may be utilized world-wide to help individuals experiencing chronic conditions such as Lyme disease, persons with chronic fatigue and even those with depressed mood disorders, autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular disorders, chronic pain and insomnia.

David Wolfe suggests that the advent of the modern day shoe is changing the natural infrastructure of our feet and ultimately our natural gait, and he has stated that he has noticed positive improvements since walking barefoot.  All that is needed is 20-30 minutes of direct contact with the earth on a regular basis!

For more information on this neat topic, you can read Earthing The Most Important Health Discovery Ever by Clinton Ober.

Spring Has Sprung…and So Have Allergies

It’s that time of year when patients waltz through the doors of my office, looking for natural alternatives for their over-the-counter (OTC) medicine cabinet staples – the most popular being Claritin, Allegra, Aerius, Reactine (oral antihistamines), Visine (antihistamine eye drops) and Sudafed (decongestant).

Not sure you suffer from allergies? Typical symptoms and signs can include an itchy nose, eyes, or mouth, sneezing, tearing of eyes, runny nose (post-nasal drip or rhinorrhea), swollen nasal cavities (rhinitis) and nasal and sinus congestion (rhinosinusitis). You may also get frontal headaches as a result of a sinus obstruction. If you also suffer from asthma, your symptoms may also include coughing and wheezing. Parents of little ones may also commonly report the chronic nasal obstruction in their child reliably precedes the complaints of a chronic inner ear infection (otitis media).

Seasonal allergens may include tree pollen (late-April through May), grasses and weeds (late-May through mid-July) and weed pollen (late-August through late-Fall). Perennial allergies affect sufferers year-round and are typically triggered by indoor allergens like dust mites, animal fur and dander, mould, feathers and/or cockroaches. Environmental exposure to pollution, perfume, aerosol sprays, cold air, humidity and second-hand cigarette smoke can further exacerbate seasonal and perennial allergies.

Interestingly, the allergies you experience are caused by a mishap or hypersensitivity of your immune system. While a properly functioning immune system is able to distinguish a true foreign invader from that of a “harmless” or innocuous substance, a person with a hypersensitive immune system will respond to the allergen with furry, initiate an immunological response when it comes in contact with IgE antibodies, and causes immune cells to release histamine, causing blood vessel dilation and smooth muscle contraction to varying degrees.

Several natural therapies that can block the allergic response or can target inappropriate inflammation at the root of allergic symptoms include:
Quercetin, a widely consumed flavonoid in the diet, and a potent inhibitor of allergic and inflammatory responses, which inhibits histamine release.
Butterbur, (latin name, Petasites hybridus) a shrub found in North America, Europe and Asia. Its antihistamine effect is comparable to Cetirizine, a popular antihistamine for seasonal allergic rhinitis minus unwanted sedative effects. It is also able improve lung ventilation and decrease bronchial reactivity.
Rosemary, whose medicinal constituent is rosmarinic acid, is able to inhibit alternate pathways of inflammation via the complement system. It is able to block cytokines IL-4 and IL-5 (protein messengers).

In addition to some of the above strategies, one of my natural favourites is the use of a netipot with warm saline water diluted with some of my favourite immunomodulating herbs, as guided by my patient’s concerns.

While OTC medications may be used to suppress unwanted spring time symptoms, they do not treat the underlying cause of allergies. Get a head-start on building your allergy strategy by asking yourself the following questions prior to your visit with your Naturopathic Doctor or other healthcare provider: What symptoms do I typically experience? When do my symptoms typically occur? Are my symptoms triggered while indoors or while outdoors? Before starting any course of treatment, particularly if you have moderate to severe allergies, it is important for you to begin treatment supervised by a regulated healthcare provider to ensure your safety.

Your Naturopathic Doctor can assist you in developing a plan that is most appropriate for you and may include management techniques, provide you with practical recommendations you can incorporate to alleviate and remove/avoid known triggers, as well as the suitability of sublingual immunotherapy to help desensitize your immune system to specific allergens.

Welcome Whole Woman Network!

I am very pleased to announce I will be participating in the Whole Woman Network’s Healthy Lifestyle Walking Club initiative!

Please feel free to contact either myself or Diana and Juliet, Whole Woman Network co-founders for details about joining a walking group in Richmond Hill, Ontario.

Whole Woman Network is a lovely organization facilitated by women, for women!  They strive to educate, empower, inspire and engage women (very much in line with the philosophy Naturopathic Doctors take!), regarding health and well being.  For more information, visit Whole Woman Network.

Please stay tuned for more information regarding a complimentary presentation Dr. Judy Ancheta, ND will be giving on menopausal health at the Whole Woman’s Network Meeting in April 2012!