Reversing Ovarian Age: Is it possible?

Low Level Laser Therapy for Infertility Treatment

Low Level Laser Therapy is widely used for anti-aging treatments today. This clinically proven method has been around in the anti-aging services for over three decades now. The way, in which these light works is by mimicking how the cells communicate with each other and thereby, boosting the ability to produce ATP. It’s to be noted that ATP is the vital energy source that has to be given to each cell to carry out the regenerative and repair functions. By administering the low level laser light, the ATP is found to be increased by up to 150%.

As LLLT is found to be effective in anti-aging treatments, various researchers across the world took it forward for treating infertility. Surprisingly, the anti-aging concept with a low level laser is also effective in reversing ovarian age. Thus, this therapy can be used as an adjunctive therapy to holistic methods or in-vitro fertilization. This treatment, which can be otherwise called as laser acupuncture has a strong potential to help attain their highest fertility potential while trying to conceive naturally or artificially.

How does LLLT work?

As mentioned earlier, the LLLT would help optimize the fertility in women by activating mitochondrial function and thereby, stimulating the production of ATP in the cells. In addition to this vital function, this could also help promote the circulation of blood, control inflammation (ovarian aging), and soften scar tissues. Note that these are the major causes of infertility today.

Ovarian Aging and Anti-Mullerian Hormone:

This, which is otherwise called AMH, is a substance that is being produced by the granulose cells in the follicles of ovaries. Anti-Mullerian Hormone is the credible barometer to measure the state of ovarian reserve in women. When these levels are low, then it would suggest that the particular woman’s ovarian reserve is greatly decreasing and hence, needs immediate attention. It’s to be noted that production declines and then stops when these ovarian follicles grow. There will be no AMH in the follicles of size more than 8 mm.

What does the Study say about LLLT for Infertility?

Now, coming back to LLLT for infertility, as mentioned about, ovarian reserve and AMH levels are intimately tied to optimizing fertility. Now, let’s see the scientific proof for the effectiveness of LLLT in treating infertility. A study that was performed in an IVF center in Japan that used LLLT in women with low or undetectable AMH levels. Out of 188 patients treated, almost 56% reported pregnancy and 38% reported live births. This study was conducted from April 2010 to November 2015 and the patients with low or undetectable AMH levels. They were administered with low-level laser light for the neck and the abdominal-lumbar regions. For better understanding, among 13 patients with 0.1 AMH level, five patients were found to achieve a clinical pregnancy and six patients gave births.

Although there are only a few studies on the effectiveness of LLLT, several case studies have been reported that the LLLT is effective is ovarian age reversal and thus, can be used effectively to treat infertility, especially in the patients with low AMH levels.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4126803/
  2. http://www.acubalance.ca/blog/how-laser-can-improve-your-fertility-four-fold
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3944482/
  4. http://www.acubalance.ca/resources/publications/low-level-laser-therapy-lllt-our-infertility-clinic
  5. http://acubalance.ca/laser/laser-lllt-for-fertility
  6. http://www.acubalance.ca/blog/laser-acupuncture-for-fertility-and-ivf-questions-and-answers
  7. http://www.acubalance.ca/ivf-acupuncture-for-embryo-transfer
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3944668/
  9. http://photobiology.info/Sawhney.html

What not to do when you have the flu

Here are the Top 3 things you SHOULDN’T do if you have the flu… and the three things you can do instead


Antibiotics kill your gut microbiome:
When you take antibiotics for an infection, they not only fight against that bacteria, but they also kill ALL the good bacteria in your gut. The long term effects of that are gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and IBS. And, these affects can last not only a few weeks or months but years!! Also, antibiotics don’t really help you fight the influenza virus. Scientifically, influenza is a virus not a bacteria. So, taking antibiotics (that fight bacteria not viruses) are a little bit useless.

Don’t take tylenol. Most people with the flu run for tylenol which helps to decrease the fever. However, the fever is the body’s natural response to a bacterial or viral infection that it is trying to fight off! So, decreasing your fever actually decreases your immune function and will lengthen your recovery time.  Also, a big down-side to tylenol is decreased ovulation and hence, decreased fertility in women.

Don’t drink orange juice, grapefruit juice, or any other juice. Why? When your immune system is under attack, it needs to be functioning optimally. And, sugar, of any kind decreases immune function. Fruit juices are concentrated sugar and will lower immune function further.

What to do instead?

  1. Get your immune function up with Elderberry. Elderberry extract has been shown to reduce the flu virus time from 7-10 days to 3-4 days. I would recommend either tea or extract – taken in high doses. For tea, drink 1-1.5 cups every 3 hours. For extract, take a teaspoon every 3-4 hours. You can read more about the benefits of elderberry in my last post.
  2. Wellness Formula: This is one of my favorites! You can find it at Whole Foods or a Health Store near you. I generally recommend 2-3 tablets every 3 hours. It has herbs that are anti-viral and anti-bacterial, as well as herbs that will help boost your immune system.
    Then continue at 2 tabs 3x a day for 3 days after your symptoms are completely resolved.
  3. Magic Socks. This is my favorite treatments of all time. It sounds a little funny but trust me, it works!

    How to do it: Take the cotton socks, run them under cold water. Wring the socks out well. Put them on your feet just before going to sleep for the night. Put the wool socks on over them. Yes, they have to be pure wool (SmartWool likely will not work)

    What should you expect? The socks should be dry in the morning. And, you should be feeling better (vibrant, energetic, etc).

    Continue doing magic socks for a day or two after full recovery. This will ensure you’re a 100% back to health!

  4. Optional: increase daily Vitamin C to 1000 mgs 3-4x/day. And, add in 5 drops of super potent oregano oil to your Vitamin C.

Don’t take the flu shot

What you should know about taking the flu shot before you get in line… 

The flu vaccine is often the norm. Between October and December, I got about 15 calls from my doctor’s office requesting that I come in for the flu shot. Ridiculous! The flu shot is a vaccine created from last year’s winning flu virus strain. However, there are many strains of influenza, and it’s unlikely that the most popular last year will be the one that most people will get this year. Quite the opposite actually! Rarely do flu strains stay consistent from year to year, so the flu vaccine is unlikely to protect you. More likely than not, it will do some damage because most flu vaccines contain mercury — which as you know is a harmful heavy metal, which if accumulated in your body can wreak havoc on your immune system and your hormonal system.

What to do instead? Drink elderberry tea. Research shows that elderberries have the ability to protect you from the flu better than a flu shot.

How does it work? It’s pretty cool! Elderberries create a coating on healthy cells to prevent the flu virus from invading healthy cell membranes. And, elderberries have been found to have anti-viral properties against at least 10 strains of influenza (not just one!).

You have options:

  1. Tea: make with 1 tablespoon of elderberries in 1.5 cups of hot water, steep for 20 minutes. Drink daily for prevention.
  2. Elderberry extract: 1 tsp daily, dilute in water or drink straight (it’s delicious!)

Other things to do to prevent getting the flu this year:

  • Make sure your Vitamin D levels are up to par. And if not, you can take a little Vit D (about 5000 IUs per day should do it). If you need to get your levels tested, you can order your own test here.
  • Take some extra Vitamin C. About 1000 mg per day is usually adequate.

 

Why didn’t clomid work?

To stimulate ovulation, many women are given clomid as the first line of therapy. Usually, you don’t need to see a reproductive endocrinologist but rather, your OB/GYN can prescribe clomid for you. However, it’s often not the magic bullet. It doesn’t work for many women who have underlying problems that haven’t been diagnosed.

– PCOS is a condition that is often under-diagnosed and has many poor responders. Although clomid is a recommended treatment for PCOS women, studies actually show that it performs poorly compared to many natural agents such as myo-inositol.

In addition, there are women with thyroid antibodies which makes them clomiphene resistant and has been connected to treatment failure and higher miscarriage rates.

Women with low ovarian reserve are not great candidates for clomid. Trying to release egg follicles from ovaries that are general low on follicles is like pushing a weak horse into the desert. I suggest seeking guidance from a specialist if you have low ovarian reserves. Please don’t deplete the reserve more by taking ovarian stimulants.

Side effects of clomiphene include digestive upset, dizziness, HAs, and visual disturbance. It can also increase risk of ovarian cancer. Last but not least, greater than 6 months of use has been shown to impair fertility.

Other pharmaceutical options for ovulation:

HCG injections are used to stimulate the ovaries to release a mature egg follicle. The problem is that HCG can over stimulate the ovaries and lead to cyst formation

Bromocriptine is a medication used to decrease prolactin levels that could support ovulation. This might be an option for some women, though there are natural ways to potentially support ovulation.

Herbs that can help increase ovulation naturally:

Vitex

vitex

Lemon balm

lemon_balm-2

Licorice

licorice-plant

Shatavari

shatavari

 

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Three ways to a healthy, happy uterus

Is your uterus on fire?

If you are one of the many women who have experienced IVF failure, implantation failures, or frequent miscarriages — you may have an inflamed uterus.

Inflammation has been connected to almost every dis-ease from heart disease to cancer to diabetes. Would it be any surprise that inflammation has an affect on your reproductive health and your ability to get pregnant? Decreasing inflammation in your body and your reproductive tract can go a long way to ensuring sustained fertility.

What can you do to decrease inflammation in your body? Here are my top 3 ways to make your uterus happy:
1. Eat a non-inflammatory diet FOR YOU. All people are not made equal. So, you really have to figure out the foods that are inflaming your body and cut them out. There are a few common ones for everyone though: sugar, processed foods, and toxic oils (meaning oils heated past their optimal and safe temperatures).
2. Vitamin E with mixed tocopherols. I have my own personal favorite brands… but, you can find a good mixed tocopherol formula that does not have a long list of “other ingredients.” That would be a great place to start. And, there are many studies that have been done on Vitamin E and inflammation; Vitamin E and heart disease; etc. Taking Vitamin E is essential for decreasing inflammation. Not only that, Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant so it can help preserve your fertility and optimize your egg health as well.
3. Increase your Omega 3 to 6 ratio. Supplementing with high grade, purified fish oils is a good way to increase your Omega 3s. And, you can also eat a more plant-centric diet, and reduce your intake of meat which is primarily high in Omega 6.

If you’re interested in getting personalized fertility support, you can schedule a Fertility Discovery Session with me here OR fill out my “How Fertile Are You Quiz” to get personalized insights about your fertility and learn about ways to work with me one on one.

Can I measure my fertility before it’s too late?

I saw an article recently titled “A new hormone test can give Utah women a glimpse of their fertility…” written in 2016. This article was about a hormone called AMH. And, what shocks me is that they called it a “new test” in 2016. This test is anything but new! More so, I want to dispel some misconceptions about this test.

AMH is anti-mullerian hormone. When this hormone and test were discovered, fertility doctors rejoiced that perhaps this was the test that they could use to predict the future. Was a woman to conceive and have a child or not?
However, the fertility world has stopped looking to this test as if it’s the holy grail. Well, it’s not a holy grail. But, when used correctly can be helpful.

First let’s understand more about this hormone in clinical practice:
1) Reproductive endocrinologists (REs) tend to only consider its validity after 35.
2) REs utilize this test to understand ovarian reserve in a woman and if she would be a good candidate for IVF treatment.
3) REs believe that even if this number increases, your fertility has not improved because “the AMH can fluctuate.” Many patients have called me in tears because their RE said that even though their AMH increased from 0.03 to 1.2, it means nothing and that they will only consider the lowest value.

Anti-Mullerian-Hormone-AMH

In my opinion, AMH is a reasonable marker for ovarian reserve. And, it’s true — ovarian reserve (i.e. how many eggs you are left with from when you were born) can never increase, and only declines. However, I have seen this value literally increase from what would indicate almost no reserves of eggs to plenty of eggs to have one child. What is happening here is not an increase in reserve, but rather, an improvement in the environment of the ovaries that allows eggs that were perhaps sleeping (and not visible to this test marker) to become awake and ready for action (now detectable by an AMH test). So, I think an increase in AMH is quite an indicator that things are moving in a positive direction.

However, AMH is not a good solo marker for ovarian reserve. As ovarian reserves decline, FSH (Follicle stimulating hormone) increases and estradiol can decrease or increase. So, AMH should never be used as a solo marker — but rather is a better evaluation of fertility when used in conjunction with FSH and estradiol.
These three combined, to a trained eye, can help determine fertility levels. There is not anyone that can tell the future — I believe that there is room for an educated, scientific guess. And, for women that are choosing to wait to start a family, this information can be crucial to making the right empowered decision for them.

If you’re in the place of trying to decide what to do or where you are in your journey to motherhood, reach out for support! You can schedule a free 15 minute consult with me to review your situation and what you can do about it.

 

If you liked this article, please share it. And, join my mailing list so I can keep you informed when I write my next post, or have a great interview or talk to share with you! I’m here for you on your journey from fertility to motherhood.

Some new interviews you’re going to want to hear…

On Jan 1st, I was featured in Fertility Fridays, with an interview about Post-Pill Detox and Fertility in all the different stages…

You can check it out here: http://www.fertilityfriday.com/draumatma/

 

And, one of my mentors was just interviewed For Women’s Wellness Radio about Mercier Therapy. You can catch that interview here:

http://www.bridgitdanner.com/blog/2016/1/6/addressing-pelvic-pain-and-infertility-with-dr-jennifer-mercier 

 

I hope these will support your fertility journey!

 

It’s flu season… is the flu vaccine worth it?

Lots of people take the flu shot to protect themselves during flu season. Pregnant women are especially warned that they are at higher risk and should definitely protect themselves. What most people don’t know however, is that the flu shot has mercury (thimerosal). Introducing your body to this toxin, used as a preservative in the flu vaccine, is really not recommended if you are trying to conceive or are pregnant. The other important note about the flu vaccine is that this vaccine is essentially based on last year’s most common viruses. The funny thing about viruses though, is that they mutate. So the likelihood of the same viral strain hitting twice in a row is unlikely. Basically, the flu vaccine uses outdated viral strains by the time it’s produced.

Before we jump into action items, I have a few things I want you to remember…

* Recognize that having a short cold or flu once a year is actually a sign of healthy immune function. Although, you don’t need to go out and intentionally get sick, if you do happen to get sick, know that this is a good thing. These short term, benign illnesses actually keep your immune system alert and active and may be preventing from other diseases like autoimmune disease or cancer down the road.

* The fever is a good thing, don’t suppress it! A fever below 103 degrees is actually a good thing. The fever is your immune system mounting a response to the virus. So, instead of taking tylenol to suppress your fever, I say help enhance your fever– it’ll do your immune system a world of good! But, this should be doctor-supervised… so find yourself a good Naturopathic Doctor who’s willing to give you some tools to enhance your fever and observe you through to the other side.

What can you do instead of taking the flu vaccine?

 

1) Elderberries. Drinking elderberry tea through flu season is probably better than the flu vaccine. Studies have shown that people taking elderberry were more protected against flu than people who took the flu shot. And, they’re delicious and high in Vitamin C.  You can’t go wrong with this!

elderberries

2) If you begin to have preliminary cold symptoms, take action! Don’t wait till you’re really sick. I have a variety of favorites that I would suggest having on hand:

– Vitamin C — take 1000 mg a few times a day (or, until you being to have loose bowel movements)

– Wellness Formula — take 2 caps or tabs every 2-3 hours

– Oregano oil (use caution if you’re pregnant) – 1-3 drops every 2-3 hours

 

3) Magic socks. This is one of my favorite home remedies of all times. And… the directions for this therapy are coming in a future post.

 

Till next time, peace and blessings. Stay warm. And, stay flu-free!

 

 

Birth control and fertility

Until you’re ready to have a baby, birth control is essential. And, on average, young girls begin having sex in the early teen years and often wait to have babies till their 40s. So, that’s almost 25 years of needing “protection” from what nature intended… babies! So, what to do till then? I have so many conversations with women about what is the best form of birth control and what won’t damage their fertility for later. Here’s the short and skinny version! Here, I’m only focusing on baby-prevention. It’s a whole different conversation to have around STD prevention– please note that this post will not address STDs and how to protect against them.

1) Pills — Oral contraceptives are highly effective at preventing pregnancy. Unfortunately, they do in fact expose your body to prolonged exogenous hormones and it usually takes a while to reset the body back to normal hormonal patterns. Even then, it may be more difficult to get pregnant for women who have used OCPs for many years. What you should know: If you choose this method, give yourself at least a year to two years buffer to regulate your hormonal patterns and detoxify your body before “trying.”

2) Merena IUD — This option is also hormonal. However, the exposure to the amount of hormones is lower and more localized. The benefit of this option is that there are usually few side effects but if you’re not getting your period on a monthly basis since having the IUD, know that this is affecting and impacting your future fertility– even if your doctor says it’s totally fine for you to not have a period every month.

3) Copper IUDs — This is a non-hormonal, local option, that usually doesn’t have too many side effects. Many women do have  severe cramps, at least for the first few months. Also, beware: copper IUDs can cause copper and zinc in your body to go out of balance, and hence potentially cause lowered immunity. Also, worst case scenario is copper toxicity.

4) Cervical caps — These are an easy option, that’s non-hormonal, and local. It does expose your body to a small amount of toxins from the spermicide, however, the spermicide is necessary– this increases cervical cap effectiveness to 99%. The downside? Well, men definitely don’t love it and it takes some getting used to.

5) Tracking and Rhythm Method– If done correctly, is 98% effective. However, on average, people usually do it well enough for only 90% effectiveness. So, if you’re going to use this method, it is critical to do it well and get some training from a pro before forging into it yourself! There are lots of great online training courses… if you’re like me, you’ll want the live trainings where you can ask questions and be engaged. I have found that books are not the greatest way to learn this method but it may be the right place for you. If you are interested in taking a class on this topic, I suggest one of the classes from Her Fertility with Hannah Ransom.

Do you clench your pelvis?

Have you ever clenched your jaw? Or felt your shoulders be tight? Similarly, lots of women clench their pelvic muscles. This clenching and restriction of the muscles often make it difficult to conceive. Why? Because clenching or tightness of muscles decreases blood flow. And relaxation increases blood flow. When speaking about fertility, blood flow particularly to the ovaries to help produce good quality eggs, and to the uterus to help the quality of the lining to help get blood flow to the embryo, are essential (and often forgotten).

Continue reading to find out how to get more blood flow to the pelvic organs. And, at the end, you’ll see a link to a really great blog I came across on the importance of the pelvic muscles along with some exercises you can do to relax your pelvic muscles.

 

pelvic-muscles

 

First, a little background. The female reproductive organs are tenuously located — the uterus in between the bladder and rectum and the ovaries hanging off the uterus attached by ligaments. Trauma to this area by a direct hit to the pelvis, emotional trauma, or surgical trauma can all cause minor restriction in these organs which are meant to be fluid. Often these constrictions will block the blood flow to the region. Signs and symptoms of blocked flow include: absences of menses, painful menses, prolonged menses, or lack of ovulation. In some cases, there can also be cysts on the ovaries and/or constant pelvic pain.

Because the female menstrual cycle needs to be in rhythm for fertility, the symptoms above are also common indicators of difficulty conceiving and carrying to term. Having a healthy set of ovaries and uterus require healthy blood flow to the area, followed by restored menstrual cycles free of pain and rhythmic abnormalities. Of course, ovulation, or the release of the egg from the ovum, is absolutely essential for conception.

Gynovisceral manipulation of the reproductive organs and stretching of the ligaments, will help to increase the blood flow, as well as restore fluidity of the internal organs. In theory, this would be great for fertility and pregnancy, right?

A small group of 48 women ages 28-42 that suffered from primary or secondary infertility, underwent Mercier Therapy (a gynovisceral manipulation technique) for at least two sessions.

Of the 48 women:

18 achieved pregnancy in the first 6 months post treatment

22 achieved pregnancy within the first year

8 did not become pregnant

Of the 40 women that achieved pregnancy, 32 used Mercier Therapy alone; six used IFV in addition to Mercier; and 2 used a clomid/IUI in combination adjunct to Mercier. From this, we can see that using gynovisceral manipulation to improve blood flow to the reproductive organs can be really helpful to health-fully conceiving AND that this therapy can be successfully used in combination with more conventional treatments for even greater success rates.

On the other hand, conventional therapies such as IVF and IUI are brilliantly able to compensate for the lack of appropriate reproductive organ function. Unfortunately, as advanced as reproductive science is, the success rates are still lagging behind. Most fertility clinics offer a 23-25% success rate for women under 40. Restoring function of the organs to as natural a state as possible has greater success — over 80% in women within a similar age group.  An integrative approach could actually yield even great results- though studies are still needed in this field.

Gynovisceral manipulation, or Mercier therapy, is a technique that significantly helps to restore proper function to the reproductive system. (It’s similarly useful for men but that’s coming in a future post!). There are also some other ways to increase blood flow in this blog: http://goop.com/the-secrets-of-the-pelvic-floor/

Would you like to learn more? There’s a great documentary film about Fertility that I came across, which touches on Mercier therapy so I have decided to rent the film to do a local screening in the Bay Area! If you live in the Bay Area and don’t already get my newsletters, you should sign up.

Ready to start your Mercier Therapy? Schedule a preliminary consult and we can talk about whether it would be a good fit for you.