Tagged with 'Moenopause in Women'

Am I Ovulating? The Ins and Outs of Cycle Tracking

 Period Cycle Tracking
As a naturopathic doctor who works primarily with women’s health and hormones, the menstrual cycle is an aspect of health that comes up in most of my patient visits. With the menstrual cycle, it’s imperative to develop consistent and reliable tracking methods to obtain objective data to truly understand each patient’s individual experience, and monitor treatment progression and outcomes. In terms of ovulation, many patients think this only matters for fertility tracking or if you’re planning to conceive. But becoming aware of ovulation can provide so much more information about a person’s menstrual cycle and hormonal health. Knowing if ovulation is occurring consistently can help doctors diagnose Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), and determine treatment goals for patients with perimenopause and menopause, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), irregular menstrual cycles, and much more.  There's An App For That  For cycle tracking, I encourage my patients to choose a phone app to record their data. This can be a very effective way to track your cycle, basal body temperature, and cervical mucus. The following apps have been shown to have the best reliability and focus on the science of cycles: » Clue  » Flo  » Glow Ovulation  » Fertility Friend  » Fertility App The specific cycle parameters I suggest patients record/ track are: Day 1 of your period: This is the first day of a full bleed. Do not record spotting as your day 1. If day 1 is recorded consistently, this will provide information regarding cycle length and variability. Bleeding time/length and quantity: This will help determine if heavy bleeding is something we need to investigate.  PMS symptoms: Premenstrual symptoms are a result of our body’s response to fluctuations in hormones throughout the cycle (not the actual level of the hormone, as many might think). A lot of people experience symptoms such as bloating, breast tenderness, mood fluctuations, cravings, cramping, skin changes, and more during the luteal phase of their cycle (1-2 weeks leading up to their period). It’s important to record these symptoms as they occur; knowing if ovulation has happened is a key indicator that tells us if these symptoms are, in fact, due to fluctuations in hormones.  For ovulation specifically, we can also track cervical mucus:  » Record observations about your cervical mucus throughout the month.  » Egg-white cervical mucus that is sticky in consistency usually indicates ovulation and can happen between days 10–15 in the cycle. Other Tracking Methods  There are other ways that we can track and predict ovulation, such as kits, temperature tracking, and blood tests. It should be noted that there is a difference between predicting and confirming ovulation.  Ovulation Predictor Kits (OPKs): Ovulation predictor kits can be found in many stores and online. They are used to measure the level of luteinizing hormone (LH) that peaks right before ovulation occurs. Depending on the length of a person’s cycle, you start around day 11 and use the testing strips with urine every morning until you get a positive test (two solid lines). When your test is positive, this indicates that you will be ovulating in the next 24-72 hours this is a good time to make a note of that cervical discharge as well. There are circumstances, however, where these kits can falsely predict ovulation (e.g., PCOS patients have a consistently elevated LH hormone as the body tries to mature many follicles to ovulate throughout the cycle, leading to a false positive). Putting this all together can help us understand your cycle better. Basal Body Temperature (BBT) Tracking: Basal body temperature is a precise temperature measurement taken with a specialized thermometer every morning upon waking. Signs of ovulation include a 0.5-degree temperature increase due to the thermogenic property of progesterone, which occurs right after ovulation. Again, this method is best paired with tracking cervical mucus (looking for that egg-white consistency), as this is the gold standard for predicting ovulation between 10-14 days. Serum Progesterone Testing 7 Days After Ovulation: In certain circumstances, we can use serum blood testing of progesterone seven days after suspected ovulation to confirm if ovulation occurred that cycle. A level above 5–6 nmol/L can confirm ovulation; however, an optimal value around 30 nmol/L can make us confident that strong ovulation is occurring.4 This might be a test that’s recommended depending on a patient's goals and practitioner assessment.  Perimenopause Considerations  Tracking Your Cycle in Perimenopause: It is important to follow the same principles of cycle tracking as we approach perimenopause. Over the age of 40, a woman’s menstrual cycle becomes less consistent. An egg may not be released every single month, and this interferes with the producti ...

Feeling Your Best Through Menopause

Menopause in Women
“Sage and rhubarb are two herbal medicines that can help reduce hot flashes, and St. John’s Wort is a wonderful aid for mood support.” My friend looked over at me and said, “Well, I guess this is just how it is now.” She was going through perimenopause and experiencing the classic symptoms of hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and sleep issues. We live in a time where there are tools and resources to help women feel well during this important time of change, yet they often feel overwhelmed and lost on where to seek support. Women may believe they must simply accept distressing symptoms, even if they interfere with their quality of life. As a naturopathic doctor that focuses on helping women navigate perimenopause and menopause, I can assure you that this is simply not the case. The goal of supporting women through menopause is to help alleviate aggravating, acute symptoms and to create a long-term plan to support healthy aging and vitality. Every woman deserves a personalized approach when working toward health goals. 5 Tips to Ease Menopause Symptoms Building upon healthy foundations can make a positive impact on reducing your symptoms of menopause and supporting your health in the long-term. Avoid triggers for hot flashes, such as caffeine and alcohol. These substances, although delicious, can exacerbate hot flashes. Eat protein and good quality, healthy fats at every meal, such as avocados, olive oil, and nuts and seeds. Focus on eating complex carbohydrates and reducing your sugar. Incorporate foods into your diet that act as phytoestrogens, such as soy and flaxseed. These help to modulate hormones in your body.  Add omega-3s to your diet by eating fish, fish oil, and nuts and seeds.  Reduce stress, expose yourself to sunlight, and move your body daily. Hormone Replacement Therapy  As hormones begin to decline during perimenopause, women may start to experience a constellation of vasomotor, urogenital, and physical changes. Vasomotor symptoms can include bothersome hot flashes and night sweats. Urogenital symptoms may include vaginal dryness, pain, and urinary incontinence. Physical symptoms such as insomnia, mood and memory changes, and joint and muscle pain can also begin. Using hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can be an excellent option for alleviating many of these symptoms.  There are numerous forms and options when it comes to this treatment, and when chosen appropriately, it can have tremendous benefits that go beyond just symptom management. Hormone replacement therapy can also be supportive for long-term bone, cognitive, and metabolic health. With the right discussion on the risk and benefits of treatment with their healthcare practitioner, women can take control of their health and make informed choices around HRT. Let’s explore some of the options.  Bioidentical HRT   Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy simply means that the hormones used in treatment are identical to the hormones your body produces. Some bioidentical hormone preparations are standard and found in conventional pharmaceutical products, whereas other preparations can be personalized and made in compounding pharmacies for customized doses and forms. Synthetic HRT  The hormones used in this therapy are not identical in chemical structure to the hormones produced in your body. Many common hormone replacement prescriptions come in this form.  Both bioidentical and synthetic HRT can come in gels, topical or vaginal creams, patches, or be taken orally. Depending on the goals, health history, and preferences of each individual, there are pros and cons to each option. Although there can be some risks with HRT, the safety profile of these treatments can be very high and the benefits immense. Talking with a practitioner who is well-versed in the options is a good idea to determine which approach is best for you.  Natural Medicine  Natural medicine can have powerful benefits for supporting women in this important phase of life. It can be used in combination with HRT, or on its own for women who prefer a non-hormonal treatment option. Sage and rhubarb are two herbal medicines that can help reduce hot flashes, and St. John’s Wort is a wonderful aid for mood support. Optimizing your nutrient levels of Vitamin D, B12, and iron can be important for your energy and mood; melatonin and magnesium are supportive of sleep.  If you are struggling with vaginal dryness and pain, using a vaginal moisturizer that has hyaluronic acid can be extremely effective. The list of natural medicine that can be beneficial is extensive and is most effective when utilized in a personalized plan that fits your needs and goals. Naturopathic doctors are excellent resources to help you choose the right nutraceuticals and supplements to support your health.  Long-term Health   Along with supporting current health goals, menopause is a wonderful moment t ...