Hormones and Infertility

Birth control, family planning, infertility, PCOS

Hormones, infertility, PCOS, ovulation, fertility, IVF, IUI

For most women, starting a family is one of the most joyous times in life. For some women, however the pain of infertility can turn one of life’s greatest joys into an emotional and heart-wrenching endeavor.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Survey of Family Growth, an estimated 7.3 million women have used infertility services[1]. This number is staggering. Some may believe that these women are just unfortunately unlucky. However, if we look into infertility in more detail we may find that women can reduce their chances of infertility through a number of methods, many of which are naturopathic in nature.

Birth Control and Infertility

Birth control, family planning, infertility, PCOS

From pills to patches and shots to IUDs, the variety of birth control currently available to women has grown. In addition, approximately 62% of women of reproductive age are using one form of birth control or another[2]. Most studies will tell you that birth control does not affect fertility, however when we alter the natural way our bodies were made to function, there is always a risk that something may go wrong.

Most birth control releases hormones into the body. When birth control is used for long periods of time and then discontinued once a woman is ready to have children, hormonal imbalance may result in the body.

Hormonal imbalance is one of the leading causes of female infertility. Symptoms that one may experience as a result of hormonal imbalance include irregular menstrual cycles, excessive or little bleeding, the absence of menstrual periods for long periods of time, pelvic cramps and excessive weight gain or weight loss.

If you are considering the use of birth control, non-hormonal options are a safer bet if fertility may be a concern in the future. If you suspect that you might be suffering from a hormonal imbalance or fertility issues, Balanced Care can help. We will run a thorough hormone panel to help determine any imbalances. Once identified, natural remedies will be recommended to balance your hormones and improve fertility.

PCOS

PCOS, infertility

Polycystic ovarian syndrome, better known as PCOS, is a health detriment that many women experience. PCOS occurs when cysts grow on the ovaries. As a result of this growth, hormonal balance and menstruation are disrupted, making it hard to get pregnant.

The cause of PCOS is not well known, but your risk of PCOS can increase if you are overweight or if PCOS runs in your family. PCOS causes infertility problems because it can interfere with your ovulation cycle. Some women with PCOS will ovulate occasionally, while others don’t ovulate at all.

PCOS symptoms include irregular menstrual cycles, excessive hair growth, acne and obesity. Women who are of normal weight can have PCOS too. If you are having infertility issues and can identify with the symptoms of PCOS, you may benefit from getting tested. Once diagnosed, we can help you determine the treatment for PCOS that will be most beneficial to you. We do everything we can to use natural remedies for PCOS treatment.

Secondary Infertility

What often gets overlooked when discussing infertility is the fact that some women who are facing infertility are already moms. When infertility strikes while attempting to conceive a second or third child, this is known as secondary infertility. Women undergoing secondary infertility did not have fertility issues when conceiving their previous children.

Although secondary infertility can be correlated with age, sometimes there are bigger issues that go undiagnosed. To determine the cause, consult your naturopathic physician if you are still unable to get pregnant.

In addition to getting pregnant, women experiencing secondary infertility may also have trouble carrying a baby to term. Both of these issues are hard to deal with. After having successfully birthed children, some women may be in a denial with regard to their fertility issues. However, like any health issue, it’s best to not wait too long to seek treatment.

The Emotions of Infertility

Struggling with fertility issues is incredibly emotional. The disappointment and sadness can be very intense.

At Balanced Care we do everything we can to use natural medicine to increase your fertility. Our goal is to provide you with natural healing remedies and help relieve some of the stress and frustration you are feeling. Get started on your natural fertility journey today.

 

Katie Corazzo, naturopath, naturopathic doctor, holistic, homeopath

Dr. Katie is a Naturopathic Doctor practicing in Edina and Woodbury, MN. The goal is to address the underlying cause using natural medicines and nutrition. Call to schedule 612-564-2218.

 

 

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/infertility.htm

[2] https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr060.pdf

12 Ways to Know You are Ovulating

ovulation, fertility, infertility

Ovulation is the only time in your cycle that you can get pregnant, so it is crucial to know when you are ovulating if you are trying to conceive. This one small bit of information can drastically boost your odds of conceiving in any given cycle. Conception is a very complex process, so you will want to do everything you can to help it along. First, let us discuss what happens during ovulation.

Pregnancy Test, infertility, fertility

What is Ovulation?

In simple terms, ovulation occurs when the female body releases a mature egg for fertilization. This normally happens every cycle, regardless of whether the woman has had intercourse. If you have had sex within your fertile window, there is a chance that one very resilient sperm will make its way to fertilize the egg. This is not a given, though. The sperm’s journey is long and arduous, and there are no guarantees that they will make it. This is why it can take more than one cycle for any healthy, fertile couple to conceive.

Regardless of whether sperm were present during the fertile window. If the egg is not fertilized within 12-24 hours, it will degenerate and another cycle will begin about two weeks later.

Ovulation normally occurs every cycle, but its appearance may change depending on the woman’s cycle. Most women ovulate about 15 days before the beginning of their next cycle (next menstrual period). If you have a 28-day cycle, this means you will ovulate around day 14. If you have a 30-day cycle, you may ovulate around day 16. These are not hard and fast numbers, though. Even with a 28-day cycle, you may ovulate on day 12 or 16. This is why it is good to know the signs of ovulation. Being just a few days off can really make a big difference for your chances of conception. Learn more about ovulation here.

Signs of Ovulation

There are some common signs of ovulation that every woman experiences. All you need to know is how to look for them. Then there are some other ovulation symptoms that only some women experience. It is good to know about these because if you are one of those women, it can be another indication that you are ovulating.

ovulation, fertility, infertility, pregnancy

Cervical Mucus Changes – When you are ovulating, your body is preparing for that egg to be fertilized. A once hostile environment for sperm must become friendly. One way this happens is with cervical mucus changes. Hormones that control your cycle also change your cervical mucus. After your period you may not notice any cervical mucus (dry days). As you start entering your fertile window, cervical mucus increases and changes texture. At first, it will be sticky. Then it will be creamy. Then, when you are at your most fertile, there will be an increase of mucus that resembles the texture of raw egg whites.

Cervical Position Changes – As your body rolls out the welcome mat for any sperm that may enter during this time, it continues changing. The cervix sits higher in the vagina. It also softens and is wet with that EWCM (Egg White Cervical Mucus). At this time, the cervix, which used to be closed off, opens to allow sperm into the uterus. You should be able to feel for these changes, but it is a good idea to feel at various times in your cycle, so you can notice the difference.

Basal Body Temperature Changes – After ovulation, you may notice a temperature rise, your body temperature will increase by about one degree Fahrenheit. You may notice that your body temperature fluctuates throughout the day anyway, so the only way to notice such a change is to take your temperature first thing in the morning before you roll out of bed. Keep a pencil and paper at your bedside along with a thermometer. Chart these early morning readings and it should be easy to see when your temperature spikes.

Positive OPK Result – Ovulation predictor kits can tell you when your body is preparing to ovulate by detecting increased levels of Luteinizing Hormone (LH) in your urine. You can buy these tests over the counter at most pharmacies.

Saliva Ferning – When you are ovulating, your saliva changes. It’s not something you can see with the naked eye, though. You must use a microscope to look for a ferning (or snowflake) pattern.

There are other signs of ovulation that some women experience every cycle. These include:

  • Breast tenderness
  • Cramping pain
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Heightened sex drive
  • Sharper senses
  • Light spotting
  • Headaches and/or nausea

 

Once you can identify these signs, it’ll make it much easier to know when you are ovulating and get the timing right.

 

Author Bio: Phil Druce founded Ovulation Calculator in 2014 with the goal of providing easy to understand, science backed knowledge and tools to couples trying to conceive. He was inspired to do this after his own fertility battle.

 

The Insulin – Cortisol Connection

Adrenal fatigue

Do you have stress in your life? I think it would be fair to say that we are stressed at varying levels. But how does stress and insulin affect your energy, weight, cravings, or fat distribution? I talk about this with my patients all. the. time. Let me break this down.

stressed women, adrenal, fatigue, motivation, depression

First, let’s talk about insulin. Insulin is famous for its relationship with glucose. As a hormone, it shuttles glucose into fat, muscle and the liver to be stored for use at a later time. We eat various forms of sugar and carbohydrates → increases blood sugar → pancreas secretes insulin → insulin directs glucose into cells → blood sugar levels decrease. → Make sense ← Check out this 1 minute video for a visual:

 

Fat production is increased by insulin while burning fat is inhibited.Exercise, health, weight lift, running, cardiovascular

Insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes develop from a diet rich in processed foods and sugar. Eventually, if left unregulated, the pancreas will struggle to make enough insulin. This is prevented and treated with a proper diet and regular exercise. It really is that simple…Or is it?

Enter cortisol, insulin’s bestie. Remember that little thing called stress? Working too much, not getting enough sleep, life, kids, a marriage, bills to pay, a car to fix, a sick parent – we all have it. As you try to balance life, cortisol is there to help. Cortisol is released from the adrenal glands during times of stress to help you “survive”. The adrenals are part of the ‘fight or flight response’.

Chronic stress can cause a kink in the system. The adrenals start sending out too much or too little cortisol and at the wrong times of the day, resulting in adrenal fatigue. The consequence? Fatigue, sleep issues, weight gain (especially abdominal), and cravings.

stress, adrenal fatigue, anxiety

THE CONNECTION – if cortisol increases, so does insulin. A study looked at 766 Chinese men and women to see if cortisol and insulin are related. The study showed that the men and women who reported having “demands” and “insecurity” at work had higher levels of cortisol AND insulin resistance. The results “showed that chronic stress was associated with insulin resistance and may contribute to the development of insulin resistance.”

The reverse can cause problems too – when insulin is around cortisol triglycerides accumulate in the abdomen resulting in abdominal obesity.

Even if you are of normal weight or maybe a little over weight, but do not have insulin resistance, cortisol will still behave the same way for you.

Follow these simple tips to make the cortisol and insulin work FOR you and not AGAINST you:

1. Eat 3 meals per day with 1 optional snack ONLY. Snacking or eating several times throughout the day causes more spikes in your glucose and insulin throughout the day. Your metabolism will be A-OK with eating only 4x per day.

2. Find effective coping techniques to relieve stress – this will help reduce your cortisol and protect your adrenals. A bath, bike ride, meditation, walk, yoga, reading, painting or drawing are just a few ideas.

 

3. Stop eating so much sugar. Just stop! It is in everything so even if you think you aren’t eating it, you probably are. Indulge once in a while, but make sure it is very limited in your regular diet. Remember sugar spikes your insulin.

4. Eat balanced meals: tons of veggies, 4-5 ounces of meat or 20 grams of protein, and healthy fats.

kale, veggies, health, nutrition, holistic, naturopathic

5. Have 5-9 servings of veggies daily!

6. Sleep! Your adrenals need sleep to repair and recover from stress. A study showed that for every 1 hour of sleep lost per day there is an increase of .35 in body mass index (BMI). This is about 2 pounds in a 35-year-old female who is 5’4” and 160 lbs. Sleep duration may also be a predictor of weight gain, insulin resistance, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

PCOS, infertility, dysmenorrhea, irregular menses, women's health

 

 

Katie Corazzo, naturopath, naturopathic doctor, holistic, homeopathIf you are looking to dig deeper into this issue, please contact me for an appointment – I would love to help. We offer saliva hormone testing to help evaluate metabolic function with dramatic changes in patients energy, food cravings, weight, blood sugar, and overall healthy. I hope to hear from you soon! To schedule visits, including complimentary 15 minute in-person or phone visits at my Edina or Woodbury locations, visit this link.

 

 

5 Foods Needed To Balance Your Hormones

Hormones, bloating, constipation, cramping

Did you know that your diet can impact your hormones?! And I am not just talking about hormones like estrogen and testosterone, this includes thyroid and adrenal hormones too. The thyroid produces T3 and T4 to help regulate your metabolism. The adrenals are responsible for dealing with stress (cortisol) and blood pressure (aldosterone), but they also produce progesterone, DHEA, testosterone, and estrogen. A poor diet, stress, lack of sleep and a sedentary lifestyle can cause your endocrine system to be off balance.

Hormones, bloating, constipation, cramping

Why do I feel…?

  • Tired and unmotivated?
  • Easily overwhelmed?
  • Sleepy after lunch?
  • Very sensitive to cold or hot?
  • Dizzy when going from sitting to standing?
  • Stressed? (doesn’t everyone?!)
  • Insomnia or un-refreshing sleep?
  • Like you can’t kick your carb cravings

Do you ever notice…

  • Excess hair falling out?
  • Weight gain around your abdomen?
  • Heavy or painful menses?
  • PMS?
  • Irregular cycle?
  • Hot flashes?

If you answered “yes” to 3 or more of the items listed, your hormones could use a nutritional boost! Here is the list of foods that help support your ovaries, adrenals, and thyroid.

Broccoli, detox, health, resolution, weight, hormones

  1. Broccoli and his cruciferous cousins.

Your liver is the powerhouse behind all hormones, working behind the scenes to allow your hormones to express themselves when needed. Your liver also has to power through junk like sugar, processed foods, toxins, alcohol, excess fat, and even medications. Our liver needs all the help it can get and cruciferous veggies, also known as Brassica, are just the answer.

Broccoli and his other green friends contain sulphur compounds that support the detoxification pathways and fat metabolism. Glucosinolates which are metabolized to form  indole-3-carbinol or I3C and DIM in theses green veggies may help also prevent cancers like breast, cervical, colon, and prostate. But, not only are your liver and endocrine systems supported by these veggies, your bones benefit from the calcium and they lower homocysteine levels to protect your heart. Wow! So, which veggies do you need to include in your diet? Swiss chard, cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, watercress, radish, rapini, arugula, spinach, turnip, kale, and bok choy.

Tip: Cook them to destroy goitrogenic effects that can slow down an already sluggish thyroid. See this veggie recipe and this one too.

Seaweed, nutrition, health, hormones

  1. Seaweed

For those of you in Minnesota, I am not talking about the seaweed at your nearest lake. This is seaweed from the ocean that you might find wrapped around your favorite sushi roll, seaweed salad at a Japanese restaurant or in one of my favorite snacks – roasted seaweed.

Thyroid hormones production requires iodine and seaweed is very high in iodine. A deficiency can cause thyroid problems, goiter, and stunted growth in children.

Tip: Iodized salt and fish also contain iodine. Do not take an iodine supplement without checking with your doctor first.

Brazil Nuts, thyroid, selenium

  1. Brazil Nuts

6-8 brazil nuts (1 oz) provide 10x the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adults. Wow! But, why is selenium so important?

Remember our friend iodine from #2? Selenium helps attach iodine to the thyroid hormones. The thyroid has the highest concentration of Selenium in all the organs in the body. Selenium also protects the thyroid and aids in thyroid hormone metabolism. Anti-body (anti-TPO) levels in those with Hashimoto’s disease have been improved with Selenium supplementation as well.

Tip: You can also find our friend and antioxidant, Vitamin E in brazil nuts. 4 nuts per day is plenty.

PCOS, infertility, citrus, health

  1. Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and grapefruit.

Stress on your body triggers the adrenals to produce more cortisol. This is caused by  emotional (work, relationships, worry, anxiety, etc) or physical stress (illness, injury, exercise), lack of sleep, caffeine, and alcohol.

When there is excess or chronic stress, cortisol and sex hormones (estrogen, testosterone, progesterone) become imbalanced. Adrenal hormone imbalances can also contribute to weight gain, osteoporosis, weakness, weakened immune function, and irregular menses.

So, why citrus fruits? The adrenal glands and brain have more vitamin C than any other tissue in the body. During stress more vitamin C is used or lost. See the correlation between stress – lower vitamin C – greater susceptibility to infections? Citrus fruits, especially oranges are known for their high concentration of vitamin C.

Tip: eat the whole fruit including the skin (not the peel, but the fibers around the pulp) to gain the most nutrients and fiber from your fruit.

Diet, protein, PCOS, infertility, acne

  1. Protein

More protein and less sugar! The adrenal glands help with blood sugar regulation. When your body is stressed it makes more glucose (sugar) to give your body the energy it needs to cope with the stress. Because you already have enough glucose, you do not need to consume more, but need protein for energy. In fact, consuming too much sugar during times of stress puts even more stress on your adrenals, not to mention the rest of your body. Think about it…excess stress –> poor dietary habits and more sugar –> weight gain –> more stress. Stop the cycle by cutting out the sugar and increasing your protein intake.

Tip: Protein includes animal protein, but also beans, lentils, veggies like spinach, nuts, and seeds.

Thank you for reading and we wish you balance in your life and your hormones!

~ Dr. Katie Corazzo

Katie Corazzo, naturopath, naturopathic doctor, holistic, homeopath

Nutrition is essential to our health. If you continue to have hormonal imbalances and would like to seek out natural therapies with naturopathic medicine, call your local Naturopathic Doctor or Dr. Katie for a complimentary 10 minute consultation. She practices in Edina and Woodbury Minnesota, but patients come from all over the twin cities. Dr. Katie uses alternative medicine and holistic care to uncover the root cause of imbalance. We hope to hear from you soon! 612-564-2218

References:

  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23046013
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10403185
  • http://chealth.canoe.ca/channel_section_details.asp?text_id=4635&channel_id=44&relation_id=48472
  • http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/phytochemicals/i3c/

8 Tips to Improve your Fertility

couple

improve your fertility

Are you thinking about starting a family? Having problems with infertility? Frustrated that you aren’t getting pregnant as quickly as you thought you would? After treating many patients, I’ve put together 8 tips to improve your fertility. You can start today to increase you chances of becoming pregnant. Nichi with My Healthy Beginning was kind enough to post the blog on her site. Check it out HERE!

If you are struggling with fertility or infertility, I would love to help. Call or email me to set up a complementary 15 minute consultation ~ 612-564-2218 🙂

~Dr. Katie

Treating Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) Naturally!

Hormones and Infertility

Defining and Treating Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome – Naturally

Hormones and Infertility

Polycystic Ovaries vs Normal Ovaries

Have you ever experienced pain mid-cycle (“I thought cramps were only supposed to happen DURING my menses!?”)? Do you have acne along your chin? Are you experiencing hair growth in places you would rather not talk about? Is your cycle irregular? If you have answered yes to any or all of these questions, you may be suffering from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome better known as PCOS. Maybe you don’t have PCOS, but something is not quite right with your hormones. A combination of diet and herbs is helpful in not only treating polycystic ovarian syndrome, but also many women’s health issues. But first, let’s talk about common questions about PCOS and what to do about it!

What is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)?

PCOS is a complicated condition that occurs as a result of hormone imbalance that can be caused by a number of factors. As a result of the hormones being out of balance, numerous cysts can form in the ovaries. An imbalance of one hormone can throw off other hormones because our entire endocrine system works together. The hormonal shift can lead to many of the symptoms described below.

What are common symptoms of PCOS?

  • Acne – specifically on your chin and jawline
  • Hair growth – also specifically on your chin, but chest, abdomen, and back too
  • Pain during ovulation – cysts can rupture
  • Infertility – PCOS can cause fertility problems
  • Irregular cycle – if your hormones are off, this can throw off your cycle
  • Weight gain
  • Insulin resistance or diabetes – Insulin can cause an increase in free testosterone by decreasing sex hormone binding globulin production from your liver
  • Depression

How is PCOS diagnosed?

  • A comprehensive intake to discuss your symptoms, changes, and menstrual history
  • Physical exam to evaluate symptoms
  • Blood testing is recommended to evaluate hormones and blood sugar. Blood tests are also important to rule out other causes.
  • An ultrasound is needed for the final diagnosis. The ultrasound will be able to detect cysts on the ovaries. Generally more than 9 cysts can be seen on one ovary.

What are the long term effects of PCOS?

  • Infertility
  • Weight gain
  • Insulin resistance which can lead to type II diabetes
  • Increased risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Elevated blood pressure and cholesterol

Treating Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

What can I do immediately?

  • Start exercising  – weight loss can help rebalance hormones if you are overweight
  • Quit smoking
  • Increase your vegetable intake and reduce sugar intake
  • Start tracking your cycle to help determine whether you are “regular” or not

What do I do next?

  • Schedule a visit with me to discuss your history and begin lab evaluations even if you’re not sure whether you have PCOS or not, I can help make that distinction.
  • Learn how to treat PCOS naturally with dietary changes and herbs prescribed specifically for you
  • Start feeling and looking your BEST!

dr-katie

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