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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Metformin's Journey from Herbal Origins to Anti-aging Therapy

This is a picture of the Goat's Rue plant, which is the original source of the insulin sensitizing medicine metformin. It is also known as French lilac, not known to Hippocrates, but it has been used since the middle ages to reduce thirst and frequent urination, before these symptoms were known to be due to diabetes specifically. Once only used as a treatment for diabetes, metformin today is one of the most widely prescribed medications used in PCOS, infertility, weight loss, and to preserve cardiovascular health in those with metabolic syndrome.Studies prove that it can reduce a pre-diabetic's chance of becoming a diabetic. It is critical to realize that radical lifestyle and diet changes might do even better in early treatment of many of these conditions including diabetes and PCOS. Its chemical mechanism of action is quite complicated, but it has an effect on skeletal muscle to enhance it's uptake of glucose (sugar). Overall it leads to fat burning, decreased new production of sugar, improvements in how your liver handles fats and sugars, and decreased appetite. It also leads to shifts in the type of bacteria in the gut. These and other effects have thus led to metformin's gaining in popularity as an anti-aging treatment. Metformin can have side effects, especially GI, and thus it is not for everyone. Other issues can be that metformin can lower B12 levels, and most on it should discuss with their provider how to get adequate B12 levels or whether they need a pharmacologic boost in levels. Metformin can also interact with other medicines and that can interfere with the effectiveness, so that needs to be evaluated. Come in to Women's Health Practice if you have questions.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Here's What they Left Out of the New York Times Article on How to Wash Your Hair

It may be true that keeping lush young hair for years to come depends on how you treat your hair. The simplest mistakes of both processing and washing can damage hair, damage the hair follicles, and lead to hair loss. This New York Times on April 27th, 2017 ran an article about proper use of shampoos, conditioners and emphasized a gentle technique for drying that is Moroccan. Here are the anti-aging hair tips they left out:

1. Start with a scalp check, many of us remember to get spot checks for moles or pigment, but be sure a medical professional evaluates the scalp. Medical conditions of the scalp will be treated differently.
2. Use sun protection for your hair and scalp. Especially protect your part. Powdered mineral make-up may work for some, for health and anti-aging I recommend products with anti-aging in them as well. Skin Medica TDR at Hada Cosmetic Medicine is one of my favorites.
3. Circulation is the key to keeping all tissues healthy, so don't forget your scalp massage if you are going to less frequently wash your hair
4. Using the pre-wash oil trick may work for some, but for those with difficult skin conditions any neck or shoulder contact can lead to increased breakouts.
5. Wash your hair if you have visited a smoker
y or toxic environment, especially around tobacco smoke, smells are soaked up by hair.
6. Toxins do accumulate in the hair follicles over time. Testing the hair sounds like a popular way to find out your body toxins, but you can be tested for toxin exposure, usually through urine, which is what they suggest at Women's Health Practice.
7. Be mindful of your make-up, especially for those experiencing hair loss at the hair line, you need to think organic, such as Jane Iredale sold at Hada Cosmetic Medicine. And consider make up exposure to hair line when deciding whether to skip a re-wash.
8. Get the right swim cap, I suggest silicone, many companies make them. And figure out the right technique for putting on your cap and goggles, so that hair tugging is minimized.
9. Eat well, your nutrition will shine through in your hair.
10. Hydrate well, for some a bad hair day begins as a 'bad scalp day.'

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Vitamin C Deficiencies in Women


Vitamin C should be fairly available from a healthy diet fruits and vegetables, but it is more common than we think to be deficient. In some cases this is shown by the levels in our blood stream, but vitamin C can be less available than even the blood levels show as there are potential disruptions of our vitamin C nutrition by common health concerns and mistakes. Vitamin C is used for healing. If you are exercising a lot, if you have recently had a medical procedure, or sustained an injury. Vitamin C is important for fighting infections, cancers, and repairing and healing after an injury, and your body will burn through it's usual C supplies if you have had any recent illness or health issue. Not only will adaquate vitamin C help the healing, it helps fight the inflammation that causes pain. With the keeping your body from being deficient in vitamin C you can help reduce pain medication use.  Aspirin increases the secretion of vitamin C and thus reduces the ability of your cells to grab and use the vitamin C, thus it is just sent into the urine.  Women who haven't had their vitamin C levels checked might think about getting them measured. This can be measured by a blood level test or a functional tissue test


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A, B, C, D, and Now Our Attention is Brought to Hepatitis E

At Women's Health Practice we are finding more of our patients asking about their risk of Hepatitis. We welcome questions, can arrange for testing and can help infected women find treatment This awareness has extended mostly to questions about Hepatitis A, B, and C. We do suggest coming for a lab visit if you need Hepatitis C testing. 
But now there is new attention to the Hepatitis E virus. Hepatitis E virus is through some of the similar ways other infections get transmitted contaminated food and water (undercooked meats), blood transfusions, animal contact, and through mother-to-child transmission in pregnancy. Hepatitis E is of importance to some travelers as there are high rates in some parts of  Asia and Africa.. The disease can
be similar to other viral and viral liver infections with jaundice, feeling poorly, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and fever. Joint pains, itching or rashes can also occur. Blood testing can help determine what you have. A vaccine against Hepatitis E has been developed but is not yet widely available, and travelers should take precautions to avoid contact with local foods and waters in areas that are known to have high rates of infections of hepatitis diseases. Sexual transmission is not as likely, but anyone with high virus levels of any infection could theoretically pass any infection on sexually. Sexually transmitted disease protection is an important part of any infectious disease discussion and be sure to ask how you can be protected.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Gynecologist Guiede To Migraines

Your gyno is often the first to hear about your headaches and perhaps is going to be the one to diagnose you as having migraines instead of a headache.Your contraception, your nutrition, your supplements, your pregnancy treatment regimen, and even your cosmetic regimen might benefit from adjustment when you suffer from migraine headaches. So if you haven't thought to discuss this with your gyno, here are some things we consider at Women's Health Practice when you have migraines and your wellness regimens need to be adjusted. This post gives you ten very important considerations when treating your migraines

1.Diagnosis: 

If you have headaches, even if you have had them for awhile and have successfully self treated, come in to discuss what your symptoms are and why you may need a more specific diagnosis. This is always the first pathway to cure. Migraine sufferers do have headaches, but often they will have warning symptoms 'AURAS' as well. Some of the warning symptoms are vague and some are more typically recognized as migraines. These may be nausea, light adversity, odd sense of smell or even vomiting. These non-headache neurological symptoms that occur when the pain starts are known as auras. Gyneos are in touch with listening to you and helping to sort out when these symptoms may be related to hormonal changes or instead a symptom of migraine. Recent studies have shown that it is actually more common to have migraines without warning than with warning auras. But other women might have migraine symptoms that precede the actual headache pain by a day or even several days. And these symptoms may be those that are commonly recognized to be associated with migraines: like spots before your eyes, vision changes or, fatigue. Gynos classification of headaches is likely to follow the international classification from the IHS.

2. Cycle:

Be a tracker, if you are a woman between 15 and 55 you probably need to track your cycles. This has never been easier through apps, but even greater, it's never been easier to actually attach symptoms, like headaches, to the days of your cycle. 

Migraines that only occur with the menstrual period cyclic are called menstrual migraines. The risk of stroke in young women is low,and with or without migraines still low, but migraines with aura might be one of the more significant predictor of stroke, and might double one's risk. And if you have migraine, with auras, and take oral contraceptive pills gynos have said that your risk of stroke doubles,  the risk may double again if you have aura. However, hormonal based headaches can be managed by adjusting the hormone levels during the days of the cycle.   Menstrual migraines, can be just such an issue, since they are so hormone sensitive, perhaps they could be cured by the right pill. 

The hormonal reasons for menstrual migraines has focused as much as on the effects of estrogen hormone on headache as on the effects of the rapid lowering of blood estrogen levels in the days leading to the menstrual period. Estrogen levels build in the second week, peak around the ovulation, and then do drop off very rapidly just before the menstrual cycle. From cycle to cycle you may vary, and this may be a reason to carefully track your levels with proper estrogen testing. A a more rapid decline in estrogen in the late luteal  (second)of the menstrual cycle may predispose you to having migraines, and normalizing this can perhaps contribute to better control. Although all women have this estrogen decline, it may be the women who get migraines get more rapid decline than other women, producing the menstrual migraine trigger. Actually some of the hormonal fluctuations around ovulation can be as dramatic as the hormone fluctuations around the menstrual period and these fluctuations of the estrogen level can cause hormonal migraines as well. And up to 25% of women have menstrual migraines at least at some time in their lives!

3. Contraception:

The CDC publishes something every gynecologist reads: Medical Eligibility Criteria for contraception. Be mindful of the fact that your contraceptive choice will be influenced, but not prohibited by being a migraine sufferer. Hormonal contraception in the form of estrogen (so present in birth control pills, rings, patches) are prohibited if you have migraines with aura no matter what your age is. Although you can choose these methods when you are young and have migraines without aura, you may want to consider safer alternative contraception. Once you reach age 35 women without auras it is considered that you are in the most high risk categories. It mandates a yearly discussion and there are different guidelines for initiation verses continuing contraception. But the general recommendation: if you have migraines with aura, and are over the age of 35 then find another birth control method and get off your BC pills. We suggest thinking of non-medicated IUD. you have you can use POPs (progesterone only pills or the "mini" pill). You can probably safely use DMPA (depoProvera), INexplanon, and the Mirena IUD. So there are lots of good ways to contracept and get cycle control even if you have migraines. There are special types of migraines that may mean more work up, and may mean stroke risks, for that you do still have to have that discussion with your gyno before settling on the type of contraception. But don't give up on the idea of effective contraception just because a headache has you down! Correct contraceptive prescription can control cramps, help us normalize our weight, help keep us fertile, and you want your gyno to take all of these things into consideration, not just your headaches!

 4. Nutrition:

Nutritional management is critical to migraine management. This is pointed out by the American Nutritional Society. The levels of inflammation, the levels of nutrients, the presence of gut health will all affect whether you have migraines.. At various times of your life you will need changes to your nutrition. You need different vitamin levels if you are planning a pregnancy, starting hormonal medications, have PCOS, or  have become prediabetic. All of these nutrient levels can affect headache frequency and intensity. More normal weight women are being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in spite of being normal weight and not seeming to have the traditional risk factors for diabetes. Perhaps they have a poor body fat composition. This can be tested by DXA analysis at Women's Health Practice. In an article about this condition in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings they looked at the factors that cause the condition they now call the 'metabolically obese normal weight' individual and found that diet was the most important reason individuals find themselves in this condition, and for overall health we feel this diagnosis is critical. The key points in the article were that it is possible to be obese, and have too much body fact and be normal weight,  we have to use alternative definitions for metabolic obesity to identify these patients and help them resolve their condition, because they are at risk for cardiovascular disease, but we know it increases risks of many other conditions including migraines. For those women who have not been tested for this condition, we encourage them to have a consultation at Women's Health Practice.

5. Supplements:

When it comes to supplements, there is no one size fits all. At WHP we rely on your health history, your lifestyle, your nutrition and your testing to really help answer the questions regarding supplement use. And what is most important is to watch the research as it is rapidly evolving. One quick guideline is to definitely normalize your magnesium, and for some migraine sufferers that means getting pharmacologic, not physiologic dosages. At WHP, would like them to try the newest sleep combos as normalizing sleep often helps migraine treatment improve as well: melatonin (5 mg), zinc (11.25 mg), and magnesium (225 mg).

6. Pregnancy:

Migraines, your overall nutrition, your pregnancy hormone levels, and the types of medications you can use will all affect your risk of migraine worsening in pregnancy. Migraines in pregnancy can also be a risk factor for stroke, and unfortunately young women with obesity are having strokes during pregnancy in a rising number of cases. We have thought of this strokes as a disease of the elderly, there are two types but essentially the issue is lack of blood to part of the brain. Strokes are also very deadly. Women with high blood pressure are at risk, and so are diabetics,and those with high cholesterol,  other factors lead to clogged blood vessels can predispose a woman to stroke. There are conditions called thrombophilias that are essentially genetic conditions that alter clotting factors and increase risks like DVTs, heart disease, and stroke. This is how your gyno can help you prioritize when you are going to get pregnancy, and help you prevent pregnancy if you are working on your health first! Migraine management is an important part of this formula as you could also be at risk for other conditions that may be affected by migraines including thec onditions of preeclampsia, eclampsia, congenital heart disease, sickle cell anemia and migraines that can drive stroke risk as well Fertility and sex drive are both lower with high cholesterol, so risk of stroke and prevention of migraines is not the only reason to get your cholesterol in check as part of your wellness care, gyno before pregnancy can test you for them to see if you have one of these conditions. It is important to learn the signs of a stroke, and to realize that calling 911 is the best strategy if a woman thinks she is having a stroke.  Pregnancy planning visits are the best way to prevent many adverse outcomes, including migraines. There are many new guidelines regarding diabetes control, blood pressure control, medication prevention of preeclampsia, as well as overall dietary management and blood factor screening that can help you have a happy and healthy pregnancy.

7.Early Menopause:

Normal menopause is after the age of 40, and premature menopause, or very late menopause will affect your contraceptive risks according to your age. If you were safely using your pill, and now you have your 35th birthday, you may be surprised to know your gyno may view your risks in a whole different category. For most all women on oral contraception the risks are low, and it is acceptable to use your pills until menopause, and even into early menopause for some. If you smoke, if you become ill with a medical condition that is a contraindication to pill use, or have special considerations from your gynecologist, you may indeed have to be taken off the pill prior to the time of menopause, whether you have migraines or do not have migraines. Women in their late 30s and 40s can most likely stay on a contraceptive pill that is working for them. Smokers should not be on the pill after the age of 35. The CDC talks about contraceptives and their risks in benefits in their publications, the last being in 2013. If you have migraines you may also need to come off your combination oral contraceptive pills if you are over the age of 35. It is not known what is the average age of loss of fertility and ACOG and NAMS recommend women continue contraception until menopause or until the age of 50-55. Natural fertility, on average, wanes after age 41, but pregnancies are still possible much older, up to, about  age51. Furthermore oral contraception pills can control the irregular cycles of perimenopasue and other menopausal symptoms, and prevent women from having some of those wild hormonal fluctuations that can contribute to migraines.. Studies of breast cancer and birth control pills have been conflicting In general there are only weak links if linked at all. It appears that women over 40 or over 45 (depending on which research studies) have increased risks of breast cancer if they stay on the birth control pill. The important factor is to get on the contraceptive that works best for you and your lifestyle, and to do that the best, as we always say you should gab with your gyno yearly!

8. Exercise:

In general exercise is going to be an important part of your gyno's recommendation for controlling migraines, but there are patients who suffer from exercise induced migraines.  This may be related to other factors, and other aspects of your nutrition. For instance Vitamin C management can show strong improvement in many aspects of your health including your overall levels of inflammation, your headaches, and your exercise performance. Consider how this could help. You might be a candidate for Myer's Cocktails.

9. Genetics:

We know that your pharmacogenetics will govern how you respond to pain medication, and this will intern determine how well you are relieved by medication, or whether you are on a medication that can actually become toxic in your system. some women may be relieved by adding folic acid to their diet, but others it doesn't work. The reason may not just be the amount or the brand of medication. There may be a deeper reason that that and it could be up to your gyno to go deeper into your personal body chemistry. It is possible that your genetics do not allow for proper processing of your b vitamin pathways. Find out what your b vitamin pathways are participate in the Radar Study at Women's Health Practice.

9. Prescriptions:

Well aware that medications interfere with pregnancy and contraception, your gyno is well suited to help sort out competing prescriptions. Sometimes medication adjustments have to be made considering all these factors!

10. Botox

Already in a skin regimen that uses Botox? Or in one that doesn't? Your gyno at Women's Health Practice can discuss with you whether, based on your cycles, your contraception, your moods, and your headaches, perhaps we should think about whether to incorporate Botox, and whether to use the migraine treatments, along with your cosmetic treatments. All the botulinum toxins should work for migraine benefit, but only Botox brand has been studies. The use of onabotulinimtoxinA (Botox) has been used by injection for the treatment of migraines and tension headaches. The injections can be placed in one or more of several locations depending upon the severity of the symptoms and the location of the symptoms. Individual consultation is best when determining the amount of Botox injected, and the frequency of repeat injections. After many studies  evidence-based review published in 2008 by the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) concluded that botulinum toxin is probably ineffective for the treatment of single episode of migraine, this was reaffirmed in 2010, and 2016. Medical evidence that  Botox injection is effective for the treatment of chronic migraine, with some types of migraines responding better than others and in women your injector at Hada Cosmetic Medicine could help discuss this. Actually women are often successful. It seems to reduce the frequency of the headaches by 20-50%, and can be an excellent strategy if injected by an experienced injector. Based on some studies that were not as favorable, many insurance companies do not have this as a covered service, but it is sometimes possible that health savings plans can cover these services.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Signs That Your Menstrual Period Is Abnormally Heavy



The formal definition has to do with exactly how much blood you lose, which is very difficult for a patient to evaluate. Instead your gyno will determine heavy bleeding by the following questions: Do you have a need for double protection to manage menstrual bleeding?  Does your menstrual cycle flow cause you a sensation of “gushing” or “flooding”? Do you ever thoroughly soak one pad and/or tampon or more per hour for three or more consecutive hours? Do you need to arise at night regularly during your menstrual period needing to change the tampon or sanitary pad at night or do you regularly soil your bedding? Does your menstrual bleeding ever get so heavy that the it affects work, school, or social activities? The blood lost during a normal menstrual cycle is venous blood, it can clot, and usually appears dark in color. The amount of clotting may not be a very accurate sign of the amount of bleeding, but clotting can definitely cause pain as the clots passing the cervix cause the cervix to stretch and this stretch is what is hurting. Painful periods do not always have the same underlying cause as periods that are heavy. For women who have heavy menstrual bleeding, you may be interested in screening for one of the Clinical Research Trials at Women’s Health Practice. Call 217-356-3736.

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Vaginal Contraceptive Ring

If you are a female between the ages of 18 and 35 you may be eligible for a contraceptive ring investigational contraceptive medication study. Qualified participants will receive study-related medical evaluations and care at no cost. If interested, please call 217-356-3736.

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