Top Ways Acupuncture Boosts Fertility

Acupuncture combined with traditional medical care has shown time, and time again to help increase chances of pregnancy and boost fertility.

Acupuncture alone, or acupuncture combined with traditional medical treatment can be very effective. For example, studies have found that doing acupuncture along with the medication clomiphene (aka Clomid), have much greater rates of success than taking clomiphene alone. You can read a prominent study on that here.  Another treatment that has shown to have success using acupuncture as an adjunct is IVF. IVF is normally a last resort when it comes to getting a woman pregnant for many reasons –  including the fact that it is very expensive, highly invasive, highly time-consuming, and on top of all many women require more than one treatment for success! Acupuncture has been shown to greatly increase your chance of getting pregnant with IVF by as much as 50% or more! Pretty amazing odds.

So how does acupuncture boost fertility and help to enhance your chances of getting pregnant? Read below.

Promotes thickening of endometrium

A crucial step to getting pregnant is the fertilized egg implanting into the side of the uterus – aka the endometrium. Acupuncture promotes blood flow to the endometrium, which helps to promote thickening of the lining (where the egg implants) and also improves the integrity of the lining.

Decreases stress

Elevated stress in the body can completely throw off the normal cycle of hormones in women. Acupuncture has shown to decrease stress in the body, promotes calm and relaxation. Low stress is considered a vital component to fertility and getting pregnant.

Increases blood flow to reproductive organs

You can think of acupuncture as a way to ‘wake-up’ your ovaries. Increased blood flow to the reproductive organs helps to nourish developing follicles within the ovaries which is need to have normal ovulation.

Decreases chance of miscarriage

The majority of miscarriages happen before 13 weeks of pregnancy which is why it is generally recommended to continue acupuncture up until at least 13 weeks.

It is also important to note that you will want to see a skilled acupuncturist who specializes in fertility, because there are certain acupuncture points that could possibly correlate with miscarriage.

Balances hormones

Hormones are everything when it comes to getting pregnant, and if just one hormone is off, this can cause every other hormone involved with fertility be off as well. The major hormones in particular that acupuncture can help to regulate include thyroid hormones, progesterone, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), and cortisol (stress hormone as discussed above). If one or more of the above hormones are off, it can throw off your entire cycle and make getting pregnant harder – it’s amazing women even get pregnant with so many hormones that are involved that need to be precisely regulated 

Main takeaways…

More studies need to be done on the efficacy of acupuncture for fertility, but so far the studies that have been done are incredibly promising. I have also seen in practice how acupuncture has helped many women get pregnant either naturally or with fertility treatment, and is something I definitely recommend for women who are trying to get pregnant.

References

  1.  http://americanpregnancy.org/infertility/acupuncture/

  2. http://news.cornell.edu/stories/2003/04/decline-human-fertility-linked-global-warming-columbia-presbyterian-study-shows

  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22036524

  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25637159

  5. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/e565/11dddc2fa444187026b5118a06f72d02c4ba.pdf

About the author: Sarah-Kate is an Ivy League trained Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner with an expertise in women’s health and preventative healthcare. She considers nutrition and exercise to be the basis of well-being and is a strong advocate for daily physical activity and maintaining a healthy diet.

The Supplement You Should Be Using For Younger Looking Skin

The supplement that you should definitely be using for better skin is collagen peptides. There are so many products and supplements on the market that promise to give you beautiful, younger looking skin. Unfortunately, the majority of those claims are not rooted in science and have very little proof that they actually work. The benefits of collagen peptides on the other hand, have been tested and backed by numerous studies showing supplementing with them does in fact have benefits for the skin.

First of all, what is collagen? Collagen is the main structural protein of connective tissues including skin, meaning it is a main factor influencing the health and look of your skin. Collagen peptides are basically small pieces of collagen that have been broken up into a powder so that they can be easily absorbed by the body and be used to increase collagen protein in the structural tissues of the body. You can read more about collagen here. 

As we age, collagen synthesis declines and we also start losing collagen. Skin is the largest organ of the body, which is why when collagen starts to decline we will likely notice this change with our skin first. For this reason, supplementing with collagen peptides supplies the body with building blocks to increase production of collagen and prevent the signs of aging.

Firmer skin

As we age, skin elasticity decreases and our skin doesn’t bounce back the way it used to – an example of this is sagging skin of your face. Collagen is important for keeping skin elastic, meaning it helps to keep skin tout and firm rather than deflated. Supplementing with collagen has been found to significantly improve skin elasticity, even in as little as four weeks. [2].

Better hydration

Dehydrated skin looks dull, flaky, and can make fine lines appear more prominent. It has been found that supplementing with collagen greatly improves the moisture content of skin and decreases dryness. [3, 4].

Less cellulite

Collagen may even reduce the appearance of cellulite! Studies have found that supplementing with collagen may decrease the appearance of cellulite. You can read more about this here [5]

Less wrinkles

Numerous studies have found that supplementing with collagen resulted in decreased appearance of wrinkles. For example, this one study found that subjects who supplemented with collagen for 8 weeks had significant improvement in wrinkles specifically around the eyes. [1].

My personal experience…

I’ve been adding collagen peptides to my coffee every morning for a few months now, and I have definitely seen an improvement in my skin, especially with a decrease in fine lines around my eyes. I’ve also noticed that my skin has also been very clear and I’ve noticed a very even complexion. I take different supplements so I don’t know that the effects I’ve noticed in my skin are 100% from collagen, but I believe it has definitely helped to some degree.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24401291

  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23949208

  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4206255/

  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26362110

  5. http://www.jmnn.org/article.asp?issn=2278-1870;year=2015;volume=4;issue=1;spage=47;epage=53;aulast=Borumand

Probiotics For Women – What You Need To Look For

Having healthy bacteria in your body is incredibly important for preventing disease, preventing infections, and for helping you to feel your very best. You want plenty of good bacteria because it works for you by killing off harmful invaders, helps you to absorb nutrients, enhances your immune system, and even helps to digest some of your food. 

We know that probiotics can be incredibly beneficial, but it can be tricky and confusing when it comes to choosing a probiotic, plus probiotics can be expensive so you want to make sure you are getting the best! The first step to choosing a probiotic is to determine what you want from the probiotic.

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Below lists how to choose the right probiotic for you:

If you frequently get urinary tract infections (UTIs)

Studies have shown that both Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus rhamnosus can reduce and may prevent the incidence of UTIs. Studies have also shown that when antibiotics were taken with probiotics for treatment of an active UTI,  treatment outcomes were better for those who took the probiotic.

If you frequently have constipation

One strain in particular that has shown effective in numerous studies for reducing constipation is Bifidobacterium lactis. Other strains that may help with constipation include Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium animalis, Bifidobacterium longum,  and Lactobacillus plantarum.

If you have frequent vaginal infections

Bacterial vaginosis as well as vaginal yeast infections are often associated with low vaginal lactobacilli bacteria. A combination of Lactobacillus probiotic strains has been found to be most effective when treating vaginal infections. Strains that have been shown to be particularly beneficial include the following strains:

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus

  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus

  • Lactobacillus reuteri

Read more about the different studies on the strains of probiotics and their effectiveness here.

If you are having a hard time losing weight

If you’ve been having trouble losing weight and you feel constantly hungry, try using probiotics. Probiotics that have shown to help you lose weight include species of Lactobacillus, specifically Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus gasseri. VSL# 3 is a probiotic in particular that may help with weight loss because it has been shown to promote satiety by increasing GLP-1  (satiety inducing hormone).

If you are taking antibiotics

Antibiotics are sometimes necessary for large bacterial infections. Unfortunately, antibiotics will also kill off good bacteria which can lead to stomach upset and even weight gain and immune suppression. Start taking probiotics immediately when prescribed antibiotics and continue taking the probiotics for 2-3 weeks even after you have finished the course of antibiotics. Aim to take the probiotic a few hours from the antibiotic because there is the possibility of the antibiotic inactivating the probiotic – remember antibiotics kill bacteria and probiotics are bacteria.

If you are going to be traveling

The worst is to be having a great time on vacation or traveling, and then the next thing you know you have a stomach ache and diarrhea – not good! Taking a probiotic before your trip, during, and after can be helpful with preventing traveler’s diarrhea.

Strains that studies have shown to help with preventing diarrhea or traveler’s diarrhea include Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus casei, and Saccharomyces boulardii.

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About the author: Sarah-Kate is an Ivy League trained Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner with an expertise in women’s health and preventative healthcare. She considers nutrition and exercise to be the basis of well-being and is a strong advocate for daily physical activity and maintaining a healthy diet.

Top Reasons Women Should Exercise Daily

Exercise is important for both the mind and the body, and the benefits of exercise go way beyond just pure weight loss. It is especially important for women to remain active throughout the lifespan, and is best if an exercise routine is started earlier rather than later.

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Below lists top reasons to exercise daily:

Stronger bones

Women are especially susceptible to weak bones and osteoporosis with increasing age. Even though the effects of weak bones are not generally seen until after menopause, how you take care of yourself as a young women has a direct effect on your bone health when you get older. Weight bearing exercise is crucial for keeping bones strong. This means exercise that uses gravity to do work, such as strength training, walking and jogging.

Energy booster

Exercise is the simplest way to boost your energy in just a matter of a few minutes. When you exercise, this increases hormones in your body that make you alert and focused. This is one of the top reasons I encourage exercise in the morning so that you can utilize the effects of exercise all day long.

Better cholesterol

Exercise is one of the best ways to increase HDL cholesterol, which is “good” cholesterol. We want to boost HDL cholesterol basically as high as possible because it helps the body to breakdown and get rid of bad cholesterol in the body. A high HDL cholesterol is considered heart protective, while a low HDL cholesterol is considered a top risk factor for heart disease.

Decreases constipation

Exercise utilizes gravity to help pull things down – in this case it helps to pull bowel movement down so that you can be relieved from constipation.

Another reason exercise decreases constipation is because exercise decreases stress hormones and stress is a contributor to upset stomach and constipation. 

Decreases bloating

For the same reason exercise helps move bowels down to be eliminated, exercise also helps to remove gas buildup in the intestine.

Yoga may be especially helpful for bloating because of the twisting moves and abdominal exercises that will help to expel trapped gas.

Better sleep

The body is meant to move and be active, and moving it daily will help to get the body ready for sleep at night time.

Note that you should avoid vigorous exercise right before you want to go to sleep because exercise is stimulating and will cause you to be alert (as discussed above).

Lowers blood sugar

Exercise is the best natural way to lower blood sugar. The contraction of muscles during exercise allows the muscle cells to take up sugar from the blood to use for energy and to do work.

After you eat some carbs, make a point to take a walk after which will help to decrease the blood sugar response and funnel that sugar to your muscles.

Better use of insulin

Insulin is the hormone that is produced by the pancreas and its job is to take sugar from the blood and funnel it to muscle cells to do work, or to fat cells for storage. We want cells to be sensitive to insulin so that the least amount possible of insulin will be produced from the pancreas. If you are constantly eating carbohydrates and not exercising, this causes cells to be less sensitive to the effects of insulin, meaning more insulin is needed to do the same job. High insulin is a problem for a variety of reasons, including contributing to the onset of type 2 diabetes, weight gain, and hormone dysfunction. 1

Bottom line: If you love carbs, exercise needs to be part of your daily routine.

Prevents pain

When a tight muscle is pushed beyond its short limit, this can cause injury and pain. Exercise prevents pain in muscles and joints because it increases flexibility, increases range of motion, and strengthens muscles around joints.

Better mood

Exercise is the most effective way to boost mood quickly. Exercise causes chemical changes in the body that lead to the decrease of stress hormones and increase the feel good hormones.

If you know you are going to have a stressful day coming up, make a point to schedule in a workout that day to prevent feeling overwhelmed with anxiety.

References

  1. http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/fitness/get-started-safely/blood-glucose-control-and-exercise.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/

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About the author: Sarah-Kate is an Ivy League trained Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner with an expertise in women’s health and preventative healthcare. She considers nutrition and exercise to be the basis of well-being and is a strong advocate for daily physical activity and maintaining a healthy diet.


What You Need To Know About HPV

I get questions all of the time about HPV and there seems to be a lot of confusion about it. This is likely because women aren’ really informed about it other than seeing the commercials on the television about getting the vaccine. For this reason, I decided I would write an article that summed up what you should know about HPV and why we test for it.

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First of all, what is HPV?

HPV stands for Human papillomavirus and is a group of viruses that can be contracted during skin-to-skin and mucosal genital contact. It can be spread by all types of sex including vagina, oral, and anal sex.

Why we care about HPV

We care about HPV because it can cause irregular cells on the cervix, which can progress to cervical cancer. HPV has also been linked to other types of cancers such as anal, vulva, and oropharynx – but these are thought to be quite rare. HPV strains can also cause genital warts in the vaginal area, which can be uncomfortable and embarrassing.

There are two main categories of HPV

It’s important to note that there are two main categories of HPV: high-risk HPV and low-risk HPV.

High-risk HPV means these strains of HPV are most commonly linked to causing irregular cells on the cervix, meaning these strains are most commonly linked to causing cancer. The most notable of these strains are HPV types 16 and 18, which are strains of HPV that cause over 70% of cervical cancers.

Low-risk HPV means these strains of HPV have a very low likelihood of causing changes to the cervix or causing cancer. The HPV types 6 and ll cause up to 90% of all cases of genital warts. The annoying thing about this category of HPV is that these are the types of HPV that cause genital warts.

Your body can get rid of HPV on its own

The good news about HPV is that 90% of cases of HPV will clear up on their own, without any intervention. This is why you will be asked to be seen every 3 months or every 6 months for a pap and HPV test – to check the cervix for any changes and to check on the status of the HPV.

You probably didn’t just contract HPV

HPV can remain dormant in your system for many years before ever being detectable or ever causing problems. This is why it is important to note that if your test comes back positive for HPV for the first time this year and you’ve been with your partner for several years, this doesn’t mean it is coming from your current partner! You could have contracted it a long time ago – unfortunately there is no way to tell you when you contracted it.

Yes, you can still get HPV even if you got the vaccine

There are over a hundred different strains of HPV and the vaccine only protects against the most common strains. It depends which vaccine you get, but all vaccines protect against HPV types 16 and 18.

How to prevent HPV

The hard thing about preventing HPV is that it is extremely common, and currently there is no way to test for it in men. The best ways to prevent HPV are to limit the number of sexual partners, and to use condoms. Ideally your sexual partner will also have limited their sexual encounters to decrease their risk of contracting the virus and giving it to you. This is obviously much easier said than done.

What’s the difference between a Pap smear, HPV test, and STD testing?

There is some confusion when it comes to the Pap smear, HPV test and STD testing. Often all three of these tests are done at the time of your Pap appointment, but they are not all the same thing.

A Pap smear is a scraping of the cervix to look for irregular cells on the cervix. A Pap smear is NOT checking for STDs. The lab will only check for HPV along with the Pap smear if one of two situations:

  • One – your provider checks off for the lab to test for HPV from the Pap smear swab.

  • Two – the Pap smear came back showing irregular cells on the cervix, and the lab will then automatically check for HPV as the cause for this change.

STD testing is often added to your Pap smear appointment – may as well check since they are down there anyway! – but this is a different swab than the instrument used for the Pap smear and it is just a swabbing the vagina, not scrapping the cervix. It also important to note that the STDs that are checked for are chlamydia and gonorrhea – HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis are tested in the blood NOT in the vagina.

References

  1. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs380/en/

  2. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/infectious-agents/hpv-fact-sheet

  3. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs380/en/

  4. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/infectious-agents/hpv/hpv-and-hpv-testing.html

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What premium subscribers get

  • Access to all of my newest posts sent via email directly to your inbox.

  • An archive of all of my previous posts (ad free!) - bookmark, save, and revisit all posts to stay on top of your physical and mental health.

  • Never any ads or cheesy influencer type posts (sorry Instagram) - just what I truly recommend.

Tap the button below to get my early access and get ready to reach new heights with your diet, fitness, mindset and more (of course, cancel anytime!).

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About the author: Sarah-Kate is an Ivy League trained Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner with an expertise in women’s health and preventative healthcare. She considers nutrition and exercise to be the basis of well-being and is a strong advocate for daily physical activity and maintaining a healthy diet.

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