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Hormones + Periods

For many people, hormones and periods affect their quality of life, feelings, sense of well being and health. Many women have regular, non-painful periods through most of their reproductive lives. However, difficulties with hormones, periods and reproductive health are common:

  • 80 percent of women experience painful periods at some point during their menstruating life

  • Endometriosis affects 11 percent of women.

  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome occurs in 5-10 percent of women.

  • 11 percent of women of reproductive age experience infertility.

  • 40 percent of women seek medical attention for their menopausal symptoms.

  • 11-30 percent of women have a traumatic experience birthing their baby.

  • 14 percent of women experience post-natal depression and others have difficulties adjusting to the changes of becoming a parent. 

  • More than 50 percent of exercising women in New Zealand are at risk of relative energy deficiency in Sports (RED-S). 

At Ōtepoti Integrative Health we are passionate about supporting women with their hormones, periods and reproductive health because these conditions affect so much of the rest of your life.

We can help you with:

Endometriosis | Mate kirikōpū

Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus. The symptoms of endometriosis include:

  • period pain,

  • pain with sex,

  • pelvic pain,

  • heavy menstrual bleeding

  • bloating,

  • fluctuating bowel habit 

  • fatigue

  • low mood

  • reduced fertility. 

Endometriosis most commonly involves the ovaries, fallopian tubes and the tissue lining your pelvis. Rarely, endometrial-like tissue may be found outside the pelvis in the abdomen. Many women use medications or have surgery to manage this condition. 

In New Zealand, clinicians are encouraged to make diagnosis of endometriosis early so that management of pain can be optimised and surgery minimised. People with endometriosis are at risk of developing chronic pelvic pain so early diagnosis and management are key to improving quality of life. Laparoscopy should not be used for diagnosis only and only is advised if surgery for treatment is to be carried out. 

Vaginal ultrasound is the most effective non-surgical method of diagnosis. With a skilled sonographer stage 2 to stage  4 can be identified. As many women with endometriosis also have pain sensitisation of adjacent tissues in the pelvis such as pelvic floor, bladder and bowel, a interdisciplinary approach to endometriosis is the most effective way to manage this condition. 

An integrative approach to endometriosis includes education, lifestyle changes such as an anti-inflammatory diet, exercise, supporting sleep and stress management, and evidence-based supplements as well as medications as needed. 

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) | Huahua hua kūao

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a metabolic and hormonal condition that affects how the ovaries work, resulting in irregular or absent periods. It can also cause acne, facial and body hair growth, hair loss on the scalp, reduced fertility, issues with body image and depression.

The primary hormones involved with this condition includes insulin and testosterone. For many women their bodies have become less sensitive to insulin, meaning the body needs to rev up it's production of insulin to keep the blood sugars balanced. 

An integrative approach to endometriosis includes lifestyle management such as a lower glycaemic diet, exercise and adequate sleep to promote better insulin sensitivity, supplements such as inositol and medications such as metformin.

Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S)

Relative Energy Deficiency in Sports occurs in exercising people, where there is a mismatch between fuelling the body and energy availability to the body.  In New Zealand approximately 45% of women who exercise recreationally are at risk of low energy availability, especially teens and those participating in lean-sports. RED-S can be hard to detect especially for women taking oral contraceptives. Some common symptoms include:

  • Altered menstrual cycle - irregular cycles or skipped periods or delayed onset of periods in teens

  • Fatigue, low energy

  • Altered mood, poor concentration

  • Under-performance, failing to improve

  • Recurrent injuries

  • Loss of enjoyment from sport

  • Low mood

RED-S has important short and long-term health consequences including:

  • impaired bone health and strength and risk of stress fractures

  • irregular or absent periods

  • Inefficient energy metabolism

  • Lower infection resistance

  • Impaired protein synthesis - essential for muscle maintenance and body repairs

  • Cardiovascular health

  • Impacts psychological health including poorer resilience to stress.

RED-S is also associated with poorer sports performance including:

  • Reduced muscle strength

  • Reduced endurance capacity

  • Increased risk of injury during training

  • Slower recovery rate

  • Impaired judgement and concentration

  • Reduced coordination

  • Anxiety and depression – as a direct consequence of RED-S, but also from pressures of under-performing, being ill or injured.

  • Irritability, decreased engagement in activity and sports, or burnout.

We work with female athletes and those who train  to monitor and holistically treat RED-S to ensure they are training and fuelling their body sufficiently. We educate and empower you to work with your menstrual cycles and fuel your body for optimal health so you can focus on training and competing in the sports you love.

Sometimes you may benefit from HRT to support bone health while you get back on track. 

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