Smorgasbord Health Column – Female Reproductive System – Some of the more common health issues by Sally Cronin


This is not the first time I have posted this series and I intend to repeat every year. In this post I look at some of the health issues that women could experience in their lifetime but you will find separate posts on two key health issues later in the series.

Ovarian and breast cancer.

Research has made great inroads into finding viable treatments and a cure for both these cancers. They deserve to have their own posts.. on Thursday a guest post by ovarian Cancer survivor Karen Ingalls and next Monday a guest post by Judith Barrow who is a breast cancer survivor.

The message from both of these authors is that you need to get checked regularly and to be aware of symptoms is one that I am happy to keep repeating for new readers of the blog and also for those of you who have been with me for four years.

The fertile years 10 – 50 years old.

In this third part of the series on the female reproductive system a look at some of the health issues that might occur in the 40 years that it is active.  Every woman is unique and I can only give you averages when talking about events during a monthly cycle.

From the age of ten a girl is maturing towards becoming fertile. Puberty marks the start of an average of 40 years of one of the most miraculous, but also often inconvenient monthly cycles. Beneath our skin a complex series of actions are taking place to ensure the smooth running of this female process. Although the actual period only lasts an average of 7 to 10 days but can be shorter or longer, the process is ongoing for the full 28 to 32 days. The cycle can be different depending on a number of factors and will change as a woman matures.

The-Menstrual-Cycle-WThe menstrual cycle

There are a number of hormones, other than oestrogen and progesterone, involved in the menstrual cycle and the process is normally very precise and runs like clockwork to afford the very best chance of fertilisation of the egg.

There are three distinct stages that are orchestrated by the hormones, in sequence, and the whole cycle will take between 28 and 32 days to complete.

Stage one – Follicular phase day 1 – 13

During this phase the pituitary gland releases a hormone called FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) which will stimulate the egg containing follicles in the ovaries. In turn the follicles will release oestrogen which produces changes in the consistency of the mucus in the cervix resulting in a clear discharge mid cycle. This change help prepare the mucus to receive and nourish the sperm from the man.

Stage two – Ovulatory phase – approximately day 14

At this stage the level of luteinising hormone (LH) released from the anterior pituitary gland, dramatically increases or surges. LH forces the follicles to break open and release its egg into the fallopian tube. This is ovulation and takes approximately 24 hours.

Stage three – Luteal phase – day 15 to 28

After the follicle has released its egg it changes function and becomes a gland called the corpus luteum. This gland now releases the progesterone that will stimulate the growth of the thick and blood rich lining of the womb that might be needed if the egg is fertilised.

If the egg is not fertilised it dries up and dies and the lining of the womb is expelled through the cervix and out of the body as a period.

The health of the reproductive system.

Forty years is a very long time in body terms and it is hardly surprising that a system as complex as the reproductive function is not going to suffer from problems. These are either due to disruptions to the hormones in charge, or the organs themselves.

I know that you expect long posts from me but even I draw the line in covering all the health issues we might face over the years. Here are the headlines!

Conditions associated with the reproductive system

Many young girls and women suffer from PMS (Pre-menstrual syndrome) and in some cases this continues right up to menopause. This can be helped by changes in diet and exercise levels as well as some supplementation of specific nutrients and herbs.

Infertility is a problem that may not be discovered until a woman is in her late 20’s and 30’s and is actively trying to get pregnant but there are certain lifestyle and dietary issues as well as possible physical or hormonal reasons for difficulties in becoming pregnant. I will cover the basics under that heading.

Premenstrual Syndrome

PMS symptoms tend to occur at specific phases of the menstrual cycle, which are modulated by the changing levels in the female sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone. It is logical then to assume that any adverse symptoms are caused by some disruption to the balance between these two hormones.

PMS always occurs during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle when the luteinising hormone (LH) increases the production of progesterone and oestrogen in the ovaries. This phase in the cycle is specifically to encourage secretions in the fallopian tubes and womb to ensure the proper nourishment and implantation of a fertilised egg.

There are a number of theories that have been put forward to try and explain the various reasons why individual women suffer differing symptoms at this time from water retention to depression. Some studies suggest that it is a lack of progesterone that causes the problems with some women responding favourably to progesterone therapy and other studies finding that it makes matters worse. The common factor appears to be an imbalance of one or other of the two female hormones oestrogen and progesterone. I think the key lies in a number of factors one of which is that we are all individual and this includes our hormonal makeup.

I have worked with many teenagers and older women who were suffering from PMS and I found the best way to start was with diet and exercise with particular attention to any other influences such as Candida Albicans or stress. Many women respond very favourably to being treated for Candida Albicans, as some of the symptoms for this are lower back pain, depression and water retention. Candida takes over the intestines and healthy and friendly bacteria are in short supply. Bacteria in our gut is responsible for the manufacture of certain nutrients such as Vitamin K that plays a role in regulating our menstrual flow so it is logical that Candida could also contribute to PMS problems. You can find more information on Candida here.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-column-news-nutrients-health-conditions-anti-aging/

Some doctors prefer to put women on the contraceptive pill to help regulate periods and minimise PMS but I am still not happy about taking additional hormones without first trying the natural approach for at least two cycles. Talk to your doctor about making lifestyle changes first including reducing the amount of sugar in your diet. The recommended amount of sugar is 7 teaspoons per day.. It is easy with breakfast cereals, flavoured yoghurt etc to consume 14 teaspoons for breakfast.  Blood sugar levels are erratic and hormones are affected.

Infertility

Infertility can be devastating to a young couple who have dreamt of having a large family and assumed that it was going to be as simple as stopping taking the pill or any other form of contraceptive. Unfortunately, for some women, there are physical reasons why they are unable to either produce an egg in the first place or carry the fertilised embryo to full term.

Usually there are a number of factors involved that cause or add to the reasons behind a woman’s infertility.  Since these are also the more common health issues with the reproductive system in general it is worth focusing on them in this post.

  1. Hormone levels are not sufficient to stimulate the release of an egg from the ovary or for it to successfully implant into the lining of the womb.
  2. A woman is more than 30% over her ideal weight or severely underweight and this effects ovulation. There is a link between eating disorders such as anorexia where body weight is reduced for extended periods of time. The body switches off non-life sustaining body functions. If you cannot nourish yourself then you would not be able to nourish a foetus.
  3. Fibroids of the womb.
  4. Endometriosis where the normal tissue that lines the womb is found outside in other areas of the pelvis.
  5. Production of antibodies that attack a partner’s sperm and kills them before they can fertilise her eggs.
  6. Infections throughout the pelvis caused by Chlamydia or by appendicitis leading to damage and scarring of the reproductive organs.
  7. Age.

Hormone Imbalance

Abnormal ovulation results in irregular or absent periods. This is usually caused by a lack of co-ordination between the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, as these regulate the release of the hormones into the bloodstream.

If insufficient LH (luteinising hormone) or FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) is secreted then the levels of oestrogen and progesterone will not be high enough to begin the process of ovulation. This may require hormonal treatment but the first step is to ensure that diet and lifestyle factors are not playing a role in the imbalance.

Weight Issues

Extreme weight fluctuation can also cause periods to cease as this is linked to hormonal imbalances associated with diet. Being overweight puts incredible stress on all the operating systems in the body including the reproductive system. Most women who have been overweight since childhood are likely to suffer from irregular or no menstrual cycle at all. Even being slightly overweight can affect hormone levels and it is recommended that a women get down as close to her ideal weight as possible before trying to conceive. There is additional wisdom in this as a woman who is already over three stone overweight is going to add another three at least during her pregnancy which can add significantly to risks of complications such as Gestational diabetes, very high blood pressure and the need for a Caesarean delivery.

In nature, in times of drought or famine, certain animals will not only cease to ovulate but they will also stop the gestation of their young until such time as conditions improve. One of the long-term issues with eating disorders such as Anorexia is infertility, as there is insufficient nutrients being made available to manufacture the necessary hormones. Before trying to conceive anyone who is dramatically underweight should take a close look at their diet and seek professional help in building up nutrition, calories and body mass.

Fibroids

One of the staggering statistics is that one in four women will enter the menopause because of medical treatment, the leading one being a hysterectomy (removal of the womb and ovaries). The biggest single reason is fibroids, which are benign tumours inside and outside the womb. There are three general locations for fibroids.

  1. Subserosal –on the outside surface of the uterus
  2. Intramural – within the muscular wall of the uterus
  3. Submucous – bulging in to the uterine cavity.

The submucous location is rarer than the other two but is the one associated with failure to conceive and early miscarriage. If the other two types of fibroid grow too large however they too can have an effect on the reproductive system.

Fibroids-WNo one is entirely sure what causes fibroids to form. There are a number of factors and hormone imbalance is probably involved. However, our diet may also be partly to blame as many foods that we consume contain substances that mimic the way oestrogen affects the body – and these include growth hormones in milk, beef and chicken, pesticides on our food and even the plastics we use in our kitchens for storage. This leads to oestrogen dominance in a woman, which can then lead to a number of reproductive problems including the growth of these benign tumours.

There is also a genetic link and if your female relatives have tended to get fibroids then you are at risk of developing them too. The light at the end of the tunnel is that they nearly always shrink when you reach menopause but if they cause heavy and painful bleeding and are making your life a misery you should deal with them as soon as possible.

Endometriosis

Endometriosis develops when tissue resembling the endometrium inside the womb begins growing out in the pelvic cavity. The most common symptoms of this are painful sexual intercourse, period pains and infertility.

The endometrium is made up of blood, endometrial skin cells, glands and pieces of blood vessels and connective tissues. Although the endometrium is usually discarded and broken into pieces to be excreted in menstrual blood through the vagina, it can sometimes find its way through the upper openings of the womb that lead to the fallopian tubes. The ends of the fallopian tubes are open to the pelvic cavity and the pieces of endometrium can then attach themselves to any surface within the cavity and reform using all the components to grow and develop.

If the fallopian tubes are blocked and the ovaries are now coated with growing endometriosis there is little chance of an egg being produced and fertilised by a sperm – leading to infertility.

The usual treatment is to remove the lesions surgically or prescribe drugs that suppress the endometrium in the womb to keep it thin. This, in effect, creates a false menopause as it also suppresses the ovaries and the production of oestrogen. If you are hoping to have children it might have a long term effect on your ability to conceive.

Killer Mucous

When the body is not ovulating, cervical mucous has a role in killing any harmful bacteria trying to get into the body via the vagina. However, during ovulation a chemical change occurs which is designed to ensure the survival of the sperm on its way into the system. Some women react to their partner’s sperm, by developing antibodies instead, and killing the sperm as it fights its way towards the cervix.

Chlamydia

One of the more common causes of infertility today is an infection that has damaged part of the reproduction system. For example, Chlamydia is a bacterial infection transmitted sexually and is the most common of the STDs contracted by adolescents and young adults today. The biggest problem is that you may not discover that you have been infected until you are trying to have a baby because 75% of women and 50% of men have no overt symptoms and it is therefore known as a silent disease.

Left untreated, Chlamydia can spread and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) which rises through the vagina and the cervix before infecting the womb, fallopian tubes and the ovaries. The resulting scarring to the fallopian tubes can cause infertility and increase the risk of ectopic pregnancies (inside the fallopian tube).

In the rare cases where symptoms are present they can mimic other pre-menstrual symptoms and be ignored such as lower back pain, bleeding between periods, nausea and fever. However, if these are also accompanied by frequent urinary tract infections, chronic pelvic pain and vomiting it is necessary to consider that it is Chlamydia and seek medical attention.

Age

Fertility levels decrease with age in women. Although there have been some reports of women becoming pregnant during the change of life it is rare. Women are at their most fertile up to 24 years old but today many women are putting off having children, preferring to wait for career or economic reasons. It is estimated that one third of women over 35 will experience some problems getting pregnant and at least half will have severe difficulties.

Declining hormone production, lack of viable eggs and an accumulation of the other factors I have covered in this article will combine to cause fertility problems. If a woman has also smoked, drunk too much alcohol and not eaten a healthy diet she will add to the difficulties.

Dietary influences.

Our body has very specific needs and this includes essential nutrients that can be processed and distributed around the body to where they are needed. As always a varied diet with lots of fresh vegetables, lean protein, fruits and wholegrains is a great place to start… And need I say.. Cooked from Scratch without any industrialised sugary additives.

For those of you who would like to know more about the nutrients we need here is a directory where you will find the nutrient, what it is needed for and the foods that supply it.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-column-news-nutrients-health-conditions-anti-aging/

Thanks so much for dropping by and if you have a private question that you would rather not put in the comments section you can contact me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com

Please feel free to comment, reblog or share on social media and help get the message out.

©Just Food for Health 1998 – 2018

My nutritional background

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse by health books and fiction you can find them here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2018/

Smorgasbord Health 2017- Top to Toe -The Female Reproductive System updated – Some health issues to be aware of.


Smorgasbord Health 2017

This is not the first time I have posted this series and I intend to repeat every year. In this post I look at some of the health issues that women could experience in their lifetime but you will find separate posts on two key health issues later in the series.

Ovarian and breast cancer.

Research has made great inroads into finding viable treatments and a cure for both these cancers. They deserve to have their own posts.. on Thursday a guest post by ovarian Cancer survivor Karen Ingalls and next Monday a guest post by Judith Barrow who is a breast cancer survivor.

The message from both of these authors is that you need to get checked regularly and to be aware of symptoms is one that I am happy to keep repeating for new readers of the blog and also for those of you who have been with me for four years.

The fertile years 10 – 50 years old.

In this third part of the series on the female reproductive system a look at some of the health issues that might occur in the 40 years that it is active.  Every woman is unique and I can only give you averages when talking about events during a monthly cycle.

From the age of ten a girl is maturing towards becoming fertile. Puberty marks the start of an average of 40 years of one of the most miraculous, but also often inconvenient monthly cycles. Beneath our skin a complex series of actions are taking place to ensure the smooth running of this female process. Although the actual period only lasts an average of 7 to 10 days but can be shorter or longer, the process is ongoing for the full 28 to 32 days. The cycle can be different depending on a number of factors and will change as a woman matures.

The-Menstrual-Cycle-W

The menstrual cycle

There are a number of hormones, other than oestrogen and progesterone, involved in the menstrual cycle and the process is normally very precise and runs like clockwork to afford the very best chance of fertilisation of the egg.

There are three distinct stages that are orchestrated by the hormones, in sequence, and the whole cycle will take between 28 and 32 days to complete.

Stage one – Follicular phase day 1 – 13

During this phase the pituitary gland releases a hormone called FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) which will stimulate the egg containing follicles in the ovaries. In turn the follicles will release oestrogen which produces changes in the consistency of the mucus in the cervix resulting in a clear discharge mid cycle. This change help prepare the mucus to receive and nourish the sperm from the man.

Stage two – Ovulatory phase – approximately day 14

At this stage the level of luteinising hormone (LH) released from the anterior pituitary gland, dramatically increases or surges. LH forces the follicles to break open and release its egg into the fallopian tube. This is ovulation and takes approximately 24 hours.

Stage three – Luteal phase – day 15 to 28

After the follicle has released its egg it changes function and becomes a gland called the corpus luteum. This gland now releases the progesterone that will stimulate the growth of the thick and blood rich lining of the womb that might be needed if the egg is fertilised.

If the egg is not fertilised it dries up and dies and the lining of the womb is expelled through the cervix and out of the body as a period.

The health of the reproductive system.

Forty years is a very long time in body terms and it is hardly surprising that a system as complex as the reproductive function is not going to suffer from problems. These are either due to disruptions to the hormones in charge, or the organs themselves.

I know that you expect long posts from me but even I draw the line in covering all the health issues we might face over the years. Here are the headlines!

Conditions associated with the reproductive system

Many young girls and women suffer from PMS (Pre-menstrual syndrome) and in some cases this continues right up to menopause. This can be helped by changes in diet and exercise levels as well as some supplementation of specific nutrients and herbs.

Infertility is a problem that may not be discovered until a woman is in her late 20’s and 30’s and is actively trying to get pregnant but there are certain lifestyle and dietary issues as well as possible physical or hormonal reasons for difficulties in becoming pregnant. I will cover the basics under that heading.

Premenstrual Syndrome

PMS symptoms tend to occur at specific phases of the menstrual cycle, which are modulated by the changing levels in the female sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone. It is logical then to assume that any adverse symptoms are caused by some disruption to the balance between these two hormones.

PMS always occurs during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle when the luteinising hormone (LH) increases the production of progesterone and oestrogen in the ovaries. This phase in the cycle is specifically to encourage secretions in the fallopian tubes and womb to ensure the proper nourishment and implantation of a fertilised egg.

There are a number of theories that have been put forward to try and explain the various reasons why individual women suffer differing symptoms at this time from water retention to depression. Some studies suggest that it is a lack of progesterone that causes the problems with some women responding favourably to progesterone therapy and other studies finding that it makes matters worse. The common factor appears to be an imbalance of one or other of the two female hormones oestrogen and progesterone. I think the key lies in a number of factors one of which is that we are all individual and this includes our hormonal makeup.

I have worked with many teenagers and older women who were suffering from PMS and I found the best way to start was with diet and exercise with particular attention to any other influences such as Candida Albicans or stress. Many women respond very favourably to being treated for Candida Albicans, as some of the symptoms for this are lower back pain, depression and water retention. Candida takes over the intestines and healthy and friendly bacteria are in short supply. Bacteria in our gut is responsible for the manufacture of certain nutrients such as Vitamin K that plays a role in regulating our menstrual flow so it is logical that Candida could also contribute to PMS problems. You can find more information on Candida here.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-directory/

Some doctors prefer to put women on the contraceptive pill to help regulate periods and minimise PMS but I am still not happy about taking additional hormones without first trying the natural approach for at least two cycles. Talk to your doctor about making lifestyle changes first including reducing the amount of sugar in your diet. The recommended amount of sugar is 7 teaspoons per day.. It is easy with breakfast cereals, flavoured yoghurt etc to consume 14 teaspoons for breakfast.  Blood sugar levels are erratic and hormones are affected.

Infertility

Infertility can be devastating to a young couple who have dreamt of having a large family and assumed that it was going to be as simple as stopping taking the pill or any other form of contraceptive. Unfortunately, for some women, there are physical reasons why they are unable to either produce an egg in the first place or carry the fertilised embryo to full term.

Usually there are a number of factors involved that cause or add to the reasons behind a woman’s infertility.  Since these are also the more common health issues with the reproductive system in general it is worth focusing on them in this post.

  1. Hormone levels are not sufficient to stimulate the release of an egg from the ovary or for it to successfully implant into the lining of the womb.
  2. A woman is more than 30% over her ideal weight or severely underweight and this effects ovulation. There is a link between eating disorders such as anorexia where body weight is reduced for extended periods of time. The body switches off non-life sustaining body functions. If you cannot nourish yourself then you would not be able to nourish a foetus.
  3. Fibroids of the womb.
  4. Endometriosis where the normal tissue that lines the womb is found outside in other areas of the pelvis.
  5. Production of antibodies that attack a partner’s sperm and kills them before they can fertilise her eggs.
  6. Infections throughout the pelvis caused by Chlamydia or by appendicitis leading to damage and scarring of the reproductive organs.
  7. Age.

Hormone Imbalance

Abnormal ovulation results in irregular or absent periods. This is usually caused by a lack of co-ordination between the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, as these regulate the release of the hormones into the bloodstream.

If insufficient LH (luteinising hormone) or FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) is secreted then the levels of oestrogen and progesterone will not be high enough to begin the process of ovulation. This may require hormonal treatment but the first step is to ensure that diet and lifestyle factors are not playing a role in the imbalance.

Weight Issues

Extreme weight fluctuation can also cause periods to cease as this is linked to hormonal imbalances associated with diet. Being overweight puts incredible stress on all the operating systems in the body including the reproductive system. Most women who have been overweight since childhood are likely to suffer from irregular or no menstrual cycle at all. Even being slightly overweight can affect hormone levels and it is recommended that a women get down as close to her ideal weight as possible before trying to conceive. There is additional wisdom in this as a woman who is already over three stone overweight is going to add another three at least during her pregnancy which can add significantly to risks of complications such as Gestational diabetes, very high blood pressure and the need for a Caesarean delivery.

In nature, in times of drought or famine, certain animals will not only cease to ovulate but they will also stop the gestation of their young until such time as conditions improve. One of the long-term issues with eating disorders such as Anorexia is infertility, as there is insufficient nutrients being made available to manufacture the necessary hormones. Before trying to conceive anyone who is dramatically underweight should take a close look at their diet and seek professional help in building up nutrition, calories and body mass.

Fibroids

One of the staggering statistics is that one in four women will enter the menopause because of medical treatment, the leading one being a hysterectomy (removal of the womb and ovaries). The biggest single reason is fibroids, which are benign tumours inside and outside the womb. There are three general locations for fibroids.

  1. Subserosal –on the outside surface of the uterus
  2. Intramural – within the muscular wall of the uterus
  3. Submucous – bulging in to the uterine cavity.

The submucous location is rarer than the other two but is the one associated with failure to conceive and early miscarriage. If the other two types of fibroid grow too large however they too can have an effect on the reproductive system.

Fibroids-W

No one is entirely sure what causes fibroids to form. There are a number of factors and hormone imbalance is probably involved. However, our diet may also be partly to blame as many foods that we consume contain substances that mimic the way oestrogen affects the body – and these include growth hormones in milk, beef and chicken, pesticides on our food and even the plastics we use in our kitchens for storage. This leads to oestrogen dominance in a woman, which can then lead to a number of reproductive problems including the growth of these benign tumours.

There is also a genetic link and if your female relatives have tended to get fibroids then you are at risk of developing them too. The light at the end of the tunnel is that they nearly always shrink when you reach menopause but if they cause heavy and painful bleeding and are making your life a misery you should deal with them as soon as possible.

Endometriosis

Endometriosis develops when tissue resembling the endometrium inside the womb begins growing out in the pelvic cavity. The most common symptoms of this are painful sexual intercourse, period pains and infertility.

The endometrium is made up of blood, endometrial skin cells, glands and pieces of blood vessels and connective tissues. Although the endometrium is usually discarded and broken into pieces to be excreted in menstrual blood through the vagina, it can sometimes find its way through the upper openings of the womb that lead to the fallopian tubes. The ends of the fallopian tubes are open to the pelvic cavity and the pieces of endometrium can then attach themselves to any surface within the cavity and reform using all the components to grow and develop.

If the fallopian tubes are blocked and the ovaries are now coated with growing endometriosis there is little chance of an egg being produced and fertilised by a sperm – leading to infertility.

The usual treatment is to remove the lesions surgically or prescribe drugs that suppress the endometrium in the womb to keep it thin. This, in effect, creates a false menopause as it also suppresses the ovaries and the production of oestrogen. If you are hoping to have children it might have a long term effect on your ability to conceive.

Killer Mucous

When the body is not ovulating, cervical mucous has a role in killing any harmful bacteria trying to get into the body via the vagina. However, during ovulation a chemical change occurs which is designed to ensure the survival of the sperm on its way into the system. Some women react to their partner’s sperm, by developing antibodies instead, and killing the sperm as it fights its way towards the cervix.

Chlamydia

One of the more common causes of infertility today is an infection that has damaged part of the reproduction system. For example, Chlamydia is a bacterial infection transmitted sexually and is the most common of the STDs contracted by adolescents and young adults today. The biggest problem is that you may not discover that you have been infected until you are trying to have a baby because 75% of women and 50% of men have no overt symptoms and it is therefore known as a silent disease.

Left untreated, Chlamydia can spread and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) which rises through the vagina and the cervix before infecting the womb, fallopian tubes and the ovaries. The resulting scarring to the fallopian tubes can cause infertility and increase the risk of ectopic pregnancies (inside the fallopian tube).

In the rare cases where symptoms are present they can mimic other pre-menstrual symptoms and be ignored such as lower back pain, bleeding between periods, nausea and fever. However, if these are also accompanied by frequent urinary tract infections, chronic pelvic pain and vomiting it is necessary to consider that it is Chlamydia and seek medical attention.

Age

Fertility levels decrease with age in women. Although there have been some reports of women becoming pregnant during the change of life it is rare. Women are at their most fertile up to 24 years old but today many women are putting off having children, preferring to wait for career or economic reasons. It is estimated that one third of women over 35 will experience some problems getting pregnant and at least half will have severe difficulties.

Declining hormone production, lack of viable eggs and an accumulation of the other factors I have covered in this article will combine to cause fertility problems. If a woman has also smoked, drunk too much alcohol and not eaten a healthy diet she will add to the difficulties.

Dietary influences.

Our body has very specific needs and this includes essential nutrients that can be processed and distributed around the body to where they are needed. As always a varied diet with lots of fresh vegetables, lean protein, fruits and wholegrains is a great place to start… And need I say.. Cooked from Scratch without any industrialised sugary additives.

For those of you who would like to know more about the nutrients we need here is a directory where you will find the nutrient, what it is needed for and the foods that supply it.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-nutrition-directory/

Thanks so much for dropping by and if you have a private question that you would rather not put in the comments section you can contact me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com

Please feel free to comment, reblog or share on social media and help get the message out.

The other posts in the Female Reproductive System can be found in this directory.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-2017-top-to-toe/

©sallygeorginacronin Just Food For Health 2009

Smorgasbord Health – Ancient healing therapies – Reflexology


smorgasbord health

It is a couple of years since I posted a series on some of the Ancient healing therapies that are still being practiced today. I am reluctant to call them Alternative therapies as that is an expression that was coined by the medical profession back in the dark ages…up to the present day…. to describe healing that has been used for thousands of years but is beyond their comprehension.  This is not to say that all treatments today that are offered on the back of ancient healing is effective. Over the last twenty years or so I have come across some practices that I find very difficult to support.

To become an effective healer in any of the ancient practices you need to undergo stringent training and to have a broad knowledge of the human body. You also have to understand that even physical therapies that require a hands on application can have a profound effect on mental and emotional health. For example reflexology in the right hands can produce a release of emotions as well as alleviating pain and soreness in a particular region of the body.

The other aspect that it is interesting to note is that some of the ancient therapies such as acupuncture and reiki, are used on pets and they can prove to be very effective. Since animals to not experience the placebo effect, it does go a long way to prove in my mind that the treatments are genuinely beneficial to humans and animals alike.

WHAT IS REFLEXOLOGY?

Reflexology is a form of complementary medicine that was first practised over 5,000 years in China where it was used to correct energy fields in patients. There is evidence in the form of wall art that the Egyptians and Indians also used this form of healing in the same time period. The Incas are believed to have passed down their skill of reflexology to the North American Red Indians who used it extensively for healing and relaxation.

It really only came to prominence in the Western world in the last century when various physicians discovered that reflexology points when stimulated acted as a form of anaesthetic. A doctor in the U.S called Dr. William Fitzgerald developed these first points into vertical zones and connected them to specific organs and parts of the body. He wrote a book on Zone Therapy in the early 1900’s and was the forerunner of modern day reflexology therapy.

Later doctors added additional horizontal zones to the upper and underside of the feet and then to the hands. Other parts of the body such as the face and ears were explored as the connection between massaging certain points on the body and acupuncture became more apparent.

In the 1920’s a therapist called Eunice Ingham completed the chart of the feet and developed the method that today we call reflexology.

HOW DOES REFLEXOLOGY WORK?

As in acupuncture that I  will cover next week,there are a number of places on the body where pressure can be applied to benefit individual organs, systems and the structure of the body. This includes the hands and the ears but today I am going to focus on the feet which are the most common area of the body to be massaged.

In the feet there are reflex areas that correspond to all parts of the body and these areas are arranged in the form of a map on each foot. The right foot mainly corresponds to the right side of the body and the left foot to the left side with shared zones for central areas of the body. This enables therapists to be very specific about areas and conditions that require treatment. The important thing to remember with all natural therapies is that they work from the inside of the body to the outside of the body whereas conventional treatment tends to work from the outside in. In most cases this leads to the symptoms being treated and not the cause. Reflexology can treat the whole body internally and externally just by manipulating these specific pressure points.

Reflexology points

If you imagine the image of the foot from above with the toes facing away from you can get a clearer picture of the reflexology map.

There are horizontal zones running across the centre line of the toes and these pressure points relate to the face, sinus, teeth, gums and jaw on the left foot and the neck and brain stem on the right foot. Above the zone in the nail bed of the big toe is the zone for the head and brain and under the zone at the base of the toe is the zone for the neck.

Another horizontal band runs across the foot just slightly below the toes and this relates to the tops of the shoulders. Half way up the foot is a zone that can be massaged to relieve upper back problems and the zone around the base of the ankle controls the lymph glands, fallopian tubes and the groin area.

Along each side of the foot are smaller zones with specific roles in therapy. Along the outside edge of the left foot are the zones for the arm, lungs, chest and breast areas, elbow, waistline, knee and leg and lower back. Along the inside edge of the left and right feet are zones for the spine and the bladder.

On the bottom of the feet.

On the bottom of both feet you will find specific zones of varying sizes that are massaged to provide therapy for other parts and organs. On the underside of the left foot are the zones for shoulder, lungs, upper chest and back, diaphragm, gall bladder, ascending colon. Just under the last two toes is the zone for the inner ear. The big toe has a zone for the head and brain as well as one for the pituitary gland.

The underside of the right foot contains zones for the thyroid gland, eye, sinus, neck, ear, arm, stomach, spleen, transverse and descending colon and the small intestine.

Both feet share zones on the inside edge and centre which relate to the heart, solar plexus, liver, adrenal gland, pancreas, kidneys, spine, bladder, sciatic nerve and the lower back.

As in acupuncture the gentle manipulation of certain pressure points on the feet releases blocked channels in the body allowing healing to take place.

WHAT HAPPENS DURING A REFLEXOLOGY TREATMENT?

Your therapist should take a full medical history before beginning to treat you. You will then sit in a comfortable position with bare feet.

All the zones on the feet will be massaged usually using the side and end of the thumb to apply firm pressure. If there is a particular part of the body that is affected by pain or discomfort this will often be reflected in the specific zone for that area on the foot. A feeling of tenderness will be experienced that can ease with continued massage. The process should not be in any way uncomfortable and in fact many people find it very relaxing.

WHAT SORT OF MEDICAL CONDITIONS COULD REFLEXOLOGY HELP?

As with any alternative therapy, despite often having thousands of years of history, you have to be very careful about claiming that it works as a cure. Many patients find relief from stress, depression, fatigue, spinal problems, indigestion, Irritable bowel syndrome, hormone imbalance and sinusitis. It is also used for specific muscle and joint pain in conjunction with other complementary therapies.

ARE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS FROM UNDERGOING REFLEXOLOGY TREATMENT?

This largely depends on the extent of the original problem but there may be slight detox side effects such as mild headaches, diarrhoea, and possible congestion as the body tries to rid itself of toxins that have been released. It is a good idea to combine reflexology with a detox programme along the lines of last month’s plan combined with additional fluids. You might also experience some emotional side-effects and certainly if you have been under stress you might find yourself feeling either a little weepy.  You should certainly feel relaxed.

Reflexology and pets.

Sam enjoyed both reflexology and reiki healing which I will cover in another post. He would actively ask for a massage, not just on his tummy as many dogs do but he would come and sit with his back to me until he was touching my knees… I would then massage the edges of his ears (like in humans probably relating to certain parts of his body ) and then his neck gently and then down across the tops of his front legs and then down his spine… He would occasionally lift his paw and I would massage the pads of his foot and lightly inbetween..He would sit perfectly still for 10 minutes or so before getting up, stretching and moving off to go to sleep.

For those of you who are interested here is the link to Pet massage from last week. Good for them and good for you.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2016/07/11/pet-health-massage-for-your-pet-that-benefits-you-too-3/

Next time a look at Acupuncture which is a healing therapy that I have found to be very beneficial several times in my life.

©sallycronin Just Food for health 2007