Tag Archives: Reproductive Health

The Vital Link Between Fertility and Gut Health

The Vital Link Between Fertility and Gut Health

It’s common for women to go years without any inkling of an issue with their reproductive health, only to experience difficulties when trying to conceive. While there are many avenues to exploring and treating infertility, the first question your doctor has may be regarding your diet. In fact, fertility specialists often recommend that you make adjustments to your diet, but this isn’t always related to your weight. Often, dietary changes are intended to help you improve your gut health, which has a unique relationship with fertility.

At Arizona Gynecology Consultants, we frequently work with women who are struggling to conceive. If this describes you, our compassionate team will take a thorough look at your overall health and help you make the changes necessary to increase your chances of pregnancy. Gut health is often overlooked when it comes to fertility, but by improving gut health for infertility, you, too, may be able to conceive. Get started by learning more about the link between fertility and gut health.

The Gut and Your Health

The gut consists of more than just your stomach. The gut is actually a long tube that begins at your mouth and travels through your esophagus, stomach, intestines, and finally, your anus. Supporting organs include the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. Anything you swallow, including food, drink, and medications, travels through your gut, where it is digested. Nutrients are absorbed through the gut lining and into the bloodstream to be processed into energy before the waste is expelled at the end.

The Gut and Your Health

A crucial component of your gut includes microbes like the bacteria that populate your digestive system and particularly the large intestine. Microbes are responsible for aiding in gut movement, digesting foods, synthesizing and extracting vitamins and nutrients, and much more. Gut microbes also secrete an enzyme called glucuronidase, which allows estrogen to function properly throughout your body. A healthy microbiome, the collection of all the bacteria in your gut, can not only help you protect yourself from disease but also help you maintain your other bodily functions, including fertility.

How Can Your Gut Become Unhealthy?

There are several contributing factors that lead to an imbalanced gut:


Stress and anxiety can affect how your gut and brain interact with each other. Failure to conceive can be stressful, and your daily responsibilities and other stressors in your life can only make the problem more difficult to deal with. Worse, stress and impacts on the gut microbiota can cause serious disruptions in the chemical messengers responsible for maintaining important bodily functions, including gamete production, digestion, and more, causing a cycle of stress and physical issues. Stress can trigger symptoms in your gut by releasing stress hormones like cortisol, which directly interfere with gut microbiota. In turn, disruptions in gut microbiota can cause other conditions that increase stress.


Most women know just how essential it is to eat a healthy diet while pregnant, as the nutrients you consume can affect your child’s health long-term. However, diet is also just as important for your gut health, especially if you’re trying to conceive. Eating too much processed food, sugar, and other junk food can kill healthy bacteria in your gut, which are needed to ensure you are absorbing nutrients at the proper rate and producing the chemical messengers essential for all body functions.

Lack of Exercise

Exercise can be beneficial for both your physical and mental health. When you refrain from exercise, your gut becomes weaker, and you may even disrupt the delicate balance of microbes in your gut microbiota, making you more susceptible to various diseases and illnesses. Additionally, poor blood flow can prevent your gut from functioning optimally and inhibit your absorption of essential micronutrients for reproduction.


Drinking while trying to conceive can negatively affect your gut health, increasing your chances of infertility. For example, heavy drinking can lead to irregular periods, which can make it more difficult to conceive. Alcohol can also disrupt the gut microbiota, affecting the reproductive hormones so essential for conception and pregnancy.

How Fertility and Gut Health are Linked

There’s a link between fertility and gut health, and when your gut is unhealthy, you can experience problems with conception. In fact, gut imbalances can directly affect ovulation, ovary health, the fertilization process, the chances of implantation, and more. This occurs because the gut microbiome can be considered an endocrine organ in itself. It frequently interacts with sex hormones such as testosterone, androgen, estrogen, and estradiol, which support your reproductive health. Thus, when your gut health is compromised, the resulting sex hormone imbalances can lead to reproductive disorders or infertility.

An imbalanced gut microbiome can contribute to the following reproductive health conditions:

  • Cancers
  • Irregular Periods
  • Vaginal Infections
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Endometriosis

It’s important to note that poor gut health doesn’t only affect women. In men, poor gut health can affect sperm quality, which can lead to a double dose of fertility difficulties. The microbiome can affect the body’s ability to produce sperm, which could affect his ability to conceive with you.

Gut Health and Pregnancy Complications

It’s important to remember that the importance of gut health doesn’t diminish once you conceive. In fact, poor gut health can cause issues with pregnancy and inhibit embryonic development. Researchers have revealed that the important “good” microbes in the gut are also present in the reproductive tract, including the vagina, uterus, and even the placenta that nourishes the fetus. As a result, disturbances in the gut microbiota can cause disruptions in the microbiota in the reproductive tract.

Gut Health and Pregnancy Complications

Issues with these two interlinked microbiomes can negatively affect the fetus’ developing microbiome and may continue to have an effect after the baby is born. In addition, disruptions can cause infections, affect placental health, inhibit fetal growth and development, and cause premature birth. Babies born to mothers with microbiome imbalances have lower birth weights and decreased survival rates.

How to Improve Gut Health

If you’ve been having trouble getting pregnant, you may be able to make lifestyle changes to improve your odds of pregnancy. One of the simplest changes involves addressing your diet and lifestyle for gut health. Consider consuming probiotic and prebiotic foods, limiting alcohol use, improving your exercise routine, and addressing both sleep and stress.

Eat Probiotic Foods

Probiotic foods contain microorganisms that improve gut health when ingested. They are typically created from fermented food in order to add “good” bacteria into the body. Fortunately, probiotic foods have existed for thousands of years and are readily available in your local supermarket.

Probiotic foods to consider incorporating into your diet include:

  • Milk products such as yogurt, buttermilk, kefir, sour cream, and cheese
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kimchi
  • Kombucha
  • Miso
  • Tempeh

Probiotic foods

The listed foods have been shown to positively influence the gut microbiome and benefit the rest of your health, as well. When improving gut health for infertility, you can also consider supplementing probiotics if you can’t eat foods with probiotics naturally included. However, because there are plenty of probiotic supplements available, it’s important to choose those that specifically address infertility. If you decide to supplement probiotics, talk to your doctor and our team at Arizona Gynecology Consultants to inform your decision.

Suggested Reading: Keto Diet for Beginners

Eat Prebiotic Foods

Prebiotic foods provide a non-digestible fiber that feeds your healthy gut microbes. If you ingest plenty of probiotics but neglect prebiotics, your probiotics won’t provide any meaningful effects.

Prebiotics are mostly found in plant-based foods, including:

  • Oats
  • Rye Bread
  • Watermelon
  • Garlic
  • Asparagus
  • Onions
  • Chickpeas

To keep your gut in optimal health, consider incorporating the above foods into your diet. In doing so, your microbiome will remain healthy and able to process food and nutrients. Subsequently, you can take a prebiotic supplement if necessary. Both prebiotic and probiotic supplements come with one main advantage over other food sources: you can maintain a consistent dose of the supplement and tailor them to your specific needs. Supplements may also help treat reproductive tract infections while addressing your gut health. As previously mentioned, speak with your doctor and our team about supplementation.

Limit or Stop Alcohol Use

Alcohol can negatively affect your gut microbiome and cause complications with fertility. It can create microbe imbalances and even overgrowth, put extra pressure on your liver, and cause inflammation, so it’s recommended to lower your consumption while trying to conceive. To keep your gut as healthy as possible, consider eliminating most alcohol from your diet.

Exercise Regularly

Frequent exercise improves blood flow and oxygen absorption, which in turn helps your gut function better. You don’t need to do heavy lifting or run several miles daily – a 30-minute session of moderate exercise that raises the heart rate is enough to help your body stay healthy. Don’t push yourself too hard, and be sure to find some physical activity that can keep you physically and mentally fit.


Reduce Stress

We know this is easier said than done; infertility struggles can be stressful enough, and other outside stresses can further complicate things. However, increased stress results in higher levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, which can cause issues in the gut microbiota. If you can find ways to reduce your stress, your gut health and fertility may improve.

Fortunately, there are plenty of strategies to consider for reducing stress:

  • Exercise – Aside from its physical benefits for gut health, exercising can help reduce stress. By exercising even a small amount, your body will release endorphins that make you feel better and improve coordination.
  • Meditation and Mindfulness – Meditation and mindfulness practices allow you to focus on your breathing and break away from stressful distractions, helping you remain balanced and improve your mental health. You can practice meditation or mindfulness anywhere, though we recommend a quiet environment.
  • Yoga – Yoga involves stretching your body into different positions to help release tension and keep you focused on the present rather than on stressful contributors.
  • Counseling – If you’re unsure how to proceed with a stressful situation or are hesitant to discuss your infertility with others, speaking with a licensed counselor or therapist may help you navigate your situation and find a way forward.

We know how challenging it can be to reduce your stress, but doing so can help you improve your chances of conception.

Get Plenty of Sleep

An adequate amount of restful sleep every night is crucial in reducing stress and maintaining proper gut health. Some people find that they sleep better after taking steps to reduce stress. Sleeping properly allows your body, including your gut, to recharge and rest. Poor sleep can cause issues with the gut microbiota, while gut issues can lead to poor sleep. Doing what you can to interrupt this cycle can help you improve your chances of conceiving.

More Gut Health Tips

Prioritizing your gut health can be an essential step in addressing your difficulty in conceiving. Still, the exact route necessary to boost your gut health to increase fertility rates is still the subject of much research. Taking simple steps to improve your diet, like eating lean proteins, plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats while avoiding processed, high-fat, or sugary foods, is a great start. Then, add probiotic and prebiotic foods to help your microbiota flourish.

Remember: it’s essential to use caution and take your time when making any lifestyle change. Eating too many probiotic and prebiotic foods can cause an upset stomach and imbalances. Take your time and let your body slowly make adjustments.

Arizona Gynecology Consultants Can Help Address Your Infertility

For several years now, we’ve slowly begun to understand the link between fertility and gut health. Research is ongoing, and we may soon find new strategies for addressing infertility and gut health. Still, there’s a lot of information available already, and your gynecologist can help you determine whether an unhealthy gut may be contributing to your infertility struggles.

The compassionate medical team at Arizona Gynecology Consultants can help you evaluate your overall health and determine potential causes of infertility. Adjustments to your lifestyle and daily routine, including those necessary to address gut health, could help you become pregnant without the need for other interventions. For further help, view our Arizona gynecology services and schedule an appointment.


  1. Mei, Z., & Li, D. (2022). The role of probiotics in vaginal health. Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, 12. https://doi.org/10.3389/fcimb.2022.963868
  2. Viana, J. V., da Cruz, A. G., Zoellner, S. S., Silva, R., & Batista, A. L. D. (2008). Probiotic foods: consumer perception and attitudes. International Journal of Food Science & Technology, 43(9), 1577–1580. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2621.2007.01596.x
  3. Lundy, S. D., Vij, S. C., Rezk, A. H., Cohen, J. A., Bajic, P., & Ramasamy, R. (2020). The microbiome of the infertile male. Current Opinion in Urology, 30(3), 355–362. https://doi.org/10.1097/mou.0000000000000742
  4. Qi, X., Yun, C., Pang, Y., & Qiao, J. (2021). The impact of the gut microbiota on the reproductive and metabolic endocrine system. Gut Microbes, 13(1), 1894070. https://doi.org/10.1080/19490976.2021.1894070
  5. Harvard Health Publishing. (2019, April 19). The gut-brain connection – Harvard Health. Harvard Health; Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/the-gut-brain-connection
  6. Monda, V., Villano, I., Messina, A., Valenzano, A., Esposito, T., Moscatelli, F., Viggiano, A., Cibelli, G., Chieffi, S., Monda, M., & Messina, G. (2017). Exercise Modifies the Gut Microbiota with Positive Health Effects. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, 2017, 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/3831972
  7. Mayo Clinic . (2021, March 18). 12 Tips to Tame Stress. Mayo Clinic; Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relievers/art-20047257
Dealing With the Emotional Side of Infertility

Dealing With the Emotional Side of Infertility

This entry was posted in Health FAQs and tagged , on by .

Infertility can be a long and lonely road that doesn’t seem to have any end in sight. Additionally, it’s not something exclusive to those women who have never successfully become pregnant; infertility can affect anyone at any point in their childbearing years. For example, some women who became pregnant with ease earlier in life may later find that pregnancy seems impossible to achieve.

Regardless of how long infertility has lasted when attempt after attempt is unsuccessful, it can be an upsetting experience. For some women, it can seem as if they are destined to continue living the same experience over and over. Science tells us, though, that no matter how many failed attempts you experience, there’s still a chance of conception.

Let’s explore the emotional side of infertility and learn how hope and optimism can prevail.

The Emotional Roller Coaster of Infertility

Amidst all the ups and downs of hopeful optimism and feelings of defeat, women who experience infertility can find themselves at their lowest point. The repeated disappointment alone is enough to affect anyone’s mood, but when you add irrational feelings of failure, guilt, and shame, infertility can start to weigh heavy on your overall well-being. Furthermore, these are just the feelings we impart on ourselves.

Consider the external pressures from partners, parents, friends, news and entertainment media, and even social media; just going to the grocery store can be upsetting when it seems like everyone can reproduce but you. In this way, infertility can affect a woman’s mental health, confidence level, and self-worth.

Unfortunately, this is not an ideal environment for conception. While these feelings are common and are likely temporary, they can be detrimental to both your physical and mental well-being. Staying healthy and positive is optimal for anyone trying to conceive, but the time after an unsuccessful attempt can leave you exasperated and forlorn, awaiting the next window for conception to open.

Then there’s the two-week wait before you can take a pregnancy test. These two weeks can seem like an eternity, especially if you are hyper-obsessed with conceiving and worrying about every possible sign your body is giving you that might indicate you are pregnant. The anticipation and worry over failing again can easily lead to sadness or even anxiety and depression.

Suggested Reading: How to Treat Infertility

Techniques for Dealing with Infertility

If you feel that the emotional rollercoaster of infertility is causing or contributing to anxiety, depression, or both, it is recommended you speak with a professional counselor about how you are feeling. In addition, there are strategies for coping with the emotional stress of infertility that can help you deal with the emotional ups and downs of infertility. There are several recommended techniques that can help ease the emotional impact, alongside scheduling an appointment with Arizona Gynecology Consultants to provide a fresh perspective and insight into your infertility. In the meantime, try some of the following suggested practices.

Identify Feelings and Fears and Acknowledge Them

Keep a journal of your feelings and be honest with yourself. If you’re angry or sad, find a way to express your aggression in a healthy manner. It’s okay to cry; just don’t allow the sadness to consume you. Your feelings are legitimate, and you should not suppress them. Rather, you should release them when you need to and then move on about your day.

Put another way, after you’ve recorded your thoughts and feelings regarding your infertility in a journal, make a point of addressing them briefly and then leaving them there. Constantly rethinking your infertility is not healthy, so set aside a 20-minute time period each day to discuss how you feel with your partner or a friend. When you’re finished, try not to overthink it for the rest of the day.

Explore Healthy Hobbies and Pastimes

Physical activity and enjoyable hobbies

One way to keep your mind off your infertility and improve your mental health is to find active ways to spend your time and make it a point to do things you enjoy. Physical activity and enjoyable hobbies can improve your mood and morale. Physical activity can also be a great way to improve your physical health, expend energy during the day and help you sleep better at night, all of which can help improve your chances of conception. Finding ways to help others can also promote positive feelings and generate happiness within.

Create More Intimacy

If your relationship with your partner has been narrowed down to scheduled sex when it’s time to ovulate, consider the value of creating intimacy. Maintaining intimacy with your partner throughout the month can involve focusing on pleasure, not just conception. Work on maintaining closeness before, during, and after sex, as scheduled sex that is based only on ovulation can lead to feelings of abandonment by both partners. What’s more, intimacy doesn’t have to end with sex. Make a point to spend time being close both in and out of the bedroom to stay connected within your relationship.

Know Infertility Is Not Your Fault

Sometimes, it seems like everyone else can get pregnant without even knowing what luteinizing hormones are, let alone needing to take them to trigger ovulation. It can seem like your body is failing you, and it can be easy to blame yourself for your unsuccessful attempts to conceive. Remember: you didn’t do anything wrong. Allowing negative self-talk to take over and tank your self-esteem is not conducive to conception. The best way to expend your energy is by educating yourself on the facts about infertility and practicing new ways to cope with unsuccessful attempts.

Self-Care Is Essential

Taking time to relax, eat properly, exercise, and sleep well are all ways you can optimize your chances of getting pregnant. A worn-out body that is depleted of energy, vitamins, and nutrients does not create an ideal environment for conception. Take prenatal vitamins and make sure you are getting plenty of folic acid, then participate in activities for health, relaxation, and enjoyment, however that looks for you.

Stay Optimistic But Realistic

It is important to maintain a sense of optimism despite the challenges and setbacks of infertility. Set realistic goals that can provide you with a sense of achievement and also improve your chances of conception, such as eating better or getting more sleep. Achieving these short-term goals can make you feel accomplished and improve your outlook on your situation.

Find Your Flock

Joining a support group

One of the most effective ways to cope with any hardship is to find others who are experiencing the same issues. Joining a support group with other women experiencing infertility can minimize the loneliness and desperation many women feel when trying to conceive for long periods of time. Hearing that others are feeling the same things you are feeling can help you confront the stigma, self-guilt, and shame so often associated with infertility. You can also exchange ideas and learn new things about treatments and methods that can increase fertility. Plus, the ability to relate to another individual is a powerful mood booster.

Explore Your Options – Because You Do Have Options

If you’ve been struggling with infertility on your own, schedule an appointment with a knowledgeable gynecology practice like Arizona Gynecology Consultants. Your doctor can hone in on specific circumstances that may explain why you have not been able to get pregnant. Identifying and addressing an underlying issue may be all it takes to get on the path to optimizing your efforts to get pregnant.

Extenuating Infertility Stressors

While the above tips are great ways to adjust the way you approach thinking about infertility, there are a number of external factors you have much less control over that may create stress. These involve social stressors, financial stressors, and relationship stressors.

Social Stressors

Social stressors include a variety of ways people can make you feel when attending social events at which they are faced with a number of reminders about their infertility. For example, your parents or your partner’s parents may point out how long you’ve been trying to get pregnant in front of others or place pressure on you to have a child soon. Other family members may comment on how everyone else in the family has had a child except you. Social stressors could also involve facing friends, family members, and even strangers who have successfully carried a child while you are still waiting to get pregnant.

If you have discussed your infertility experience with others and have not established your boundaries, they may ask you for updates when you least expect it. In many cases, women aren’t prepared to talk about infertility in casual or public conversations and often would rather not address the subject.

Talking with friend

While it’s important to talk about your experiences and how you’re feeling, and you certainly have nothing to be ashamed of, if you don’t feel comfortable talking about infertility, set boundaries and don’t discuss it. Whether it’s your family, your in-laws, other friends, or strangers, politely change the subject or honestly let them know you would prefer to talk about it at a different time. Depending on your comfort level, you might suggest they call you later to discuss it in private.

Talking to your partner about how you both will respond to friends and family mentioning your infertility will make sure you’re both on the same page. Furthermore, talking about it beforehand and having a plan can allow your partner to save you from those moments when the conversation gets uncomfortable. Just remember to set a firm, clear boundary and stick to it.

Financial Stressors

Depending on your insurance, the root cause of your infertility, and the treatments you choose, infertility can certainly add a medical expense. Of course, the cost is worth it, but that doesn’t eliminate the extra expenses infertility can incur. Whether you realized ahead of time the financial changes fertility treatment would create for your budget or had no idea the potential cost of treatment, infertility almost always means you’ll need to reconsider your budgeting tactics.

If left undiscussed or unaddressed, the financial burden of infertility can weigh heavily on a relationship. Financial changes are normal with any change in your health, but it’s important not to let them come between you and your partner. Talk about ways you can offset the cost of infertility treatments and be practical about budgeting for medical bills. It is also important to maintain sight of the financial costs of infertility and keep in mind the potential expenses related to the multiple-birth pregnancies that are common with treatments like in-vitro fertilization (IVF) may end up costing you more for delivery down the road.

First and foremost, be sure to begin your infertility journey with some clarity regarding the cost of fertility treatments. The average cost of IVF is about $12,000, but depending on the geographical region, it can be significantly higher or lower than these averages. Also, this does not include testing or diagnosis costs. Spending this much money out of your household budget can understandably create stress and problems for couples dealing with infertility. It is important to keep an open line of communication and talk to a professional counselor if it seems to be a problem too big for the two of you to handle.

Relationship Stressors

Pressure from the outside world and from each other can bring about a great deal of stress in a relationship. Make sure you set aside time to nurture your relationship with your partner outside of infertility in order to maintain a loving and intimate relationship throughout your infertility experience. Remember that your partner might be feeling some of the same feelings you are feeling. However, they may not share your exact feelings, and that’s okay.

Relationship Stressors

The important thing is to acknowledge your partner’s feelings are valid and don’t get upset if they don’t have the same reaction you do when attempts fail or new treatments become available. Tell your partner how you feel and be honest about it. If you find you’re having trouble communicating with your partner about your infertility experience, you may want to talk to a mental healthcare provider to obtain marital counseling to get through this difficult time in your relationship.

Fertility Resources

There are so many great resources for women and couples going through infertility. These resources can provide information, support, and help in a variety of ways and cover many facets of the infertility journey. They can also be a great way to educate yourself, your partner, and your friends and family about infertility and what you’re going through personally.

Here are our favorite resources for those experiencing infertility:

Arizona Gynecology Services

maintain hope and positivity through

Above all, make sure you are constantly checking on your mental health, both for yourself and your partner. If you feel overwhelmed, depressed, constantly anxious, or unsafe, speak to a professional immediately. If you’re looking to gain a new perspective on your infertility journey, seek an appointment for Arizona gynecology services. Our approach to infertility and treatment options can help you maintain hope and positivity through one of life’s most daunting journeys.

References :

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3043157/
  2. https://www.webmd.com/baby/glossary-of-fertility-terms
Low Estrogen: What It Means and What Symptoms to Look For

Low Estrogen: What It Means and What Symptoms to Look For

Estrogen plays a significant role in a woman’s life. Estrogen contributes to reproductive health as well as regulating aging. Most women understand that estrogen levels usually decrease during perimenopause or menopause, a sign that they are leaving the childbearing years behind.

Sometimes, it can happen early, such as when a woman over-exercises on a regular basis (exercise addiction), or she suffers from an eating disorder like anorexia, and her body can no longer maintain estrogen levels.

Decreasing estrogen levels, although considered a normal part of menopause, may cause adverse effects to a woman’s body and her health.

Estrogen in the Body

Estrogen is most notably responsible for the sexual development of girls during puberty. These levels of estrogen fluctuate throughout a woman’s lifetime up until menopause, when low levels of estrogen completely prevent menstruation and ovulation.

Estrogen also regulates:

  • Changes in breast tissue during adolescence and pregnancy
  • Menstrual cycles
  • Body weight, by helping control metabolism
  • Development and growth of healthy bone tissue
  • Healthy cardiovascular activity

With so many effects on various parts of the body, it is important that estrogen levels maintain a healthy standard. Low estrogen levels can be a sign of age, but seriously low levels can have lasting negative effects.

Causes for Concern

Any condition that impairs the ovaries can reduce estrogen production. The most common risk factor for women is age. As women age, perimenopause and menopause cause the body to produce less estrogen. Estrogen levels can also decrease for various other reasons, including:

  • Premature ovarian failure
  • Congenital conditions: Turner syndrome
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Excessive exercise
  • Being severely under or overweight
  • Chemotherapy
  • Low functioning pituitary gland

Other unique cases can include excessive exercising and eating disorders such as anorexia. If a woman is more than 15 percent underweight, the body can no longer maintain normal estrogen levels. In order to maintain healthy levels of estrogen, a woman should maintain a healthy diet, lifestyle, and weight.

Physical Symptoms of Low Estrogen

Effects and Symptoms

As women approach the age of 40, they may wonder what symptoms to look for that herald decreasing levels of estrogen. Estrogen depletion can bring on a combination of hormonal and biochemical fluctuations that can lead to changes in the brain and nervous system.

Irregular Periods

Estrogen is the critical hormone in regulating a woman’s period and menstrual cycle. Low estrogen levels can cause irregular periods, including shorter or longer periods, light or heavier flow, spotting, or missed periods altogether.


Low estrogen directly affects ovulation. Without estrogen, ovulation will not occur making it difficult to become pregnant. This is considered infertility.

Hot Flashes and Night Sweats

The most common symptoms and probably the least liked, hot flashes and night sweats can go on for a long time: 7 to 11 years. They are caused by the hypothalamus which controls body temperature. When estrogen levels start going down, the hypothalamus can no longer regulate body temperature and even the slightest change can cause hot flashes or night sweats to bring the temperature down, or chills to bring it back up.

Insomnia and Fatigue

Estrogen produces serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain that triggers melatonin, a hormone that helps a person sleep. Once a woman goes into menopause, the depleted estrogen levels produce less serotonin and by extension, less melatonin. With the night sweats that interrupt sleep, fatigue and insomnia become the new normal.

Mood Swings

Hormonal imbalances, that often make teenagers moody and difficult, are back during menopause, making women grumpy. Add lack of sleep and it can get worse. Mood swings – laughing, crying, anger and upset – at the drop of a hat – are all part of the package.

Depression and Difficulty Focusing

Serotonin also affects mood and social behavior, as well as memory, sexual desire and function.  With lowered serotonin levels, depression, not just mood swings, can occur and it becomes more difficult to recover from it. Memory lapses and trouble focusing or concentrating are two more symptoms of low estrogen and serotonin levels. Some experts believe that they put women at a greater risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Physical Symptoms of Low Estrogen

The brain and nervous system are not the only parts of a woman that are affected by menopause and lowered estrogen levels. Of course, the reproductive system’s ability decreases with age as ovary function and estrogen levels go down. But the skin, heart, bones and urinary systems are also affected.

Dry Everything and Low Sexual Desire

Dry skin, dry eyes and a dry vagina are more signs of menopause and low estrogen levels. These can be allayed with moisturizing fluids, such as lotion, eye drops and lubricant (in that order). Unfortunately, reduced sexual desire comes from decreased estrogen and serotonin levels. Menopause also makes the vaginal walls thinner and they lose elasticity, coupled with vaginal dryness, sex can be painful.

The skin loses its moisture-holding abilities as well as its elasticity, leading to dryness, itching, and an increase in wrinkling and sagging. Also, it becomes more susceptible to injury, such as bruising, due to thinning of the skin and it doesn’t heal as quickly. Researchers are beginning to study the lack of estrogen as a possible connection to melanoma, a serious type of skin cancer.

The Heart Connection

As women get older, they become more vulnerable to cardiovascular issues, such as heart attacks, strokes, or other heart-related problems. Hypertension, or high blood pressure is the biggest cardiovascular risk for women in and after menopause. Normally estrogen increases levels of nitric oxide, which is a very powerful dilator of blood vessels, and dilated blood vessels are conducive to healthy blood pressure.

Lowered estrogen levels make hypertension an increasingly bigger factor in women.

Though this may not start until just before perimenopause, it can quickly increase until about age 60, when the new level of blood pressure stabilizes to a new norm.

The Beautiful Bones

After the age of 30, new bone production cannot keep up with bone loss and once menopause hits and estrogen levels decrease, women have an increased risk for low bone mineral density, osteopenia and osteoporosis. This bone density loss can lead to weakening of the bones and an increased risk for fractures and other injuries.

The Urinary System

No laughing matter, incontinence is one of the signs of decreased estrogen levels. Just as with the vaginal walls, the reduced levels of estrogen cause the urethra walls to thin, dry and lose elasticity. This causes the incontinence when coughing, laughing, sneezing or lifting heavy objects. It also leads to feeling the need for frequent urination and an increased risk for developing UTIs.

Weight Gain

Estrogen plays a significant role in weight management and how the body stores fat. During perimenopause and menopause low estrogen contributes to weight gain. Specifically women store more fat in their thighs and hips, which can change during menopause. Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly can help combat weight gain with low estrogen levels.

Diagnosis and Treatment for Low Estrogen

If any of the above-noted symptoms appear, the first step is to get a physical exam by a trusted physician who can review your medical history and symptoms. It may be necessary to do a blood test to check hormone levels. The doctor may also recommend additional tests to rule out other conditions that might be causing symptoms similar to low estrogen.

Synthetic Hormone Treatment

Hormone Replacement Therapy or HRT is sometimes recommended for women who do not have high blood pressure or other cardiovascular problems. There are various types of HRTs available, including one that combines estrogen with progesterone, a hormone that maintains pregnancy. There are side effects that need to be considered, but these can be discussed with a doctor, to determine which HRT is best.

Sometimes all that is needed are serotonin-boosting antidepressants for those women who end up suffering from depression more than the other symptoms.

Estrogen Therapy

Estrogen therapy is recommended by a doctor or medical expert. In some cases, small amounts of estrogen can be used to combat those who have had small changes in their estrogen levels, such as women who have had their ovaries removed. In other instances, estrogen therapy may be used to treat certain symptoms of perimenopause and menopause.

Natural Treatments

Natural remedies include natural food and soy supplements, maintaining a healthy weight and, in some cases, decreasing the intensity or frequency of exercise. Soy or soybean isoflavones are, at best, an alternative treatment for HRT, and at worst, a controversial treatment with increased risk for breast cancer. It’s best to speak to your doctor or healthcare professional before adding this or any supplement to your diet.

Exercise and eating foods rich in calcium and adding vitamin D supplements during and after menopause is a good way to maintain and increase bone density. Low-fat milk, cheese and dairy products, green leafy vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and okra, as well as soybeans and soy products such as tofu, are great for getting the extra calcium needed. It is important to remember that exercise must also be sufficient, but not excessive. Too much exercise and too little body fat can further decrease levels of estrogen.

Estrogen Overview

Reduced estrogen levels can cause many problems for women, including an increased risk of serious conditions, including heart disease, osteoporosis (softening of bone tissue), and obesity. However there are ways to lessen the symptoms and the impact of lower estrogen levels to a woman’s overall wellbeing, including her physical, emotional, and sexual health.

The sooner a woman can be screened for low estrogen levels, the better chance she has at combatting the negative effects listed above. AZGYN’s Gynecology Services and Minimally Invasive Procedures can be the solution for many women. They provide an assortment of general health practices and specialized services by expert staff and surgeons.

If you are a woman and suspect you have low estrogen levels, contact us for help today.

Skills Every Girl Should Know By 13

Skills Every Girl Should Know By 13

Puberty entails a host of physical and psychological changes. By the time most girls reach the age of 13, they are at one of the most pivotal phases of their personal development physically, mentally, and socially. Parents should take time during this important developmental stage to ensure their daughters know a few key skills for navigating the world as adults, especially when it comes to having self-respect and acquiring and maintaining an individual sense of self-worth.

Seven Skills Every Daughter Should Know

For many teenage girls, self-love can feel like a foreign concept. Constant bombardment from mass media telling girls how to look, act, and feel can create preconceived notions of womanhood that become increasingly difficult to break with age. Cultivating self-esteem is challenging for countless young people, but girls tend to experience social pressures that influence self-esteem more acutely than boys of the same age. Women should help their daughters learn a few key skills to help them flourish as adults.


Learning To Respect And Express Feelings

Repressed or mismanaged emotions can create significant challenges later in life. Young women often struggle with acknowledging and expressing certain feelings, and it is essential for parents to encourage respect and expression of the full spectrum of human emotions, not just the positive ones. Everyone encounters negative influences and tragedy in some form, and learning to process negative feelings is an essential part of cultivating a healthy adulthood.


Understand And Practice Self-Compassion

7 Skills To Teach Your Daughter By age 13For many 13-year-old girls, self-respect may seem like a difficult concept to fully grasp let alone put into practice. There is tremendous social pressure on young girls to please others, often at the expense of one’s own time, resources, and energy. Girls who learn to focus on pleasing others at their own expense often experience difficulties with self-care later in life. A life that revolves solely around making others happy is neither tenable nor healthy in the long run.

Self-compassion and self-respect are skills that require nurturing until an individual can put them into daily practice. Self-respect does not only apply to practicing self-care and valuing one’s own place in the world, but also refusing to accept disrespect from others. Girls who learn self-compassion early have a better chance of avoiding exploitative or abusive relationships.


Develop A Positive Body Image

Media portrays female beauty in some troublesome ways, and regardless of personal interpretations of the influence of media on adolescents, the media young girls consume ultimately shapes their worldviews. Parents can help their daughters overcome this by teaching them about their bodies and encouraging self-love from a young age. Girls often struggle with questions about sexuality and female health during puberty, and parents are in the best position to help them develop a strong personal body image and self-respect.

There is no “correct” way to look, despite what the media may portray that indicates otherwise. Parents should help their daughters recognize that it is okay for a girl to be different and perfectly acceptable to fall outside the realm of normalized beauty standards as long as she lives an authentic life and realizes that she is capable of anything as long as she is willing to do the necessary work.


Learn From Friendships

Parents should help their daughters recognize that their friendships should be models for what healthy relationships look like in the future. Young girls often develop strong friendships in the puberty years, and parents should help them understand ideas like conflict resolution, honest communication, and learning how to assert themselves in difficult situations. For female adolescents, self-empowerment is best learned through personal relationships and learning how to tell the difference between positive influences and negative ones.


Understand Feminine Health

Puberty entails a host of physical changes, and this can be a confusing and alienating time for girls around 13. Parents should make it a point to ensure their daughters know to ask questions and speak freely about the changes they experience, what they mean, and how to manage them effectively. Women generally undergo more regular medical screenings than men and at younger ages, and parents should do their best to prepare their daughters for the feminine health issues they will inevitably encounter.


Learn The Power Of Saying No

Consent is a crucial subject all parents need to discuss with their daughters. Practicing self-compassion extends to far more than ensuring time and energy to oneself; it also means knowing how to handle potentially dangerous situations. Puberty and adolescence generally involves most youths’ first sexual experiences, first romances, and the blossoming of friendships that can last for years or even a lifetime. Learning how to say no is a crucial skill for any young woman, and parents can start teaching their daughters the power of “no” at a very young age.

Practice Self-Care With Daily Habits

The habits young people learn in their formative years shape their daily lives for years to come. Those habits become difficult to break, so cultivating healthy ones as early as possible leads to the best results. Parents should take time to teach their daughters how to respect food, how to exercise appropriately, and how to practice self-care at a fundamental level with proper daily nutrition, adequate rest, and consistent exercise.

Putting These Lessons Into Practice

These skills will not only help young women cultivate self-respect and navigate difficult social situations but also empower young girls at one of the most important times of their lives. By age 13, a young girl has already shaped a great deal of her worldview and self-image, and the changes that come with puberty may be difficult but they also present a tremendous opportunity to lay the groundwork for a life of high self-esteem, healthy daily habits, and stronger, healthier personal relationships.

Is Heavy Uterine Bleeding Serious And A Sign For Surgery

Is Heavy Uterine Bleeding Serious And A Sign For Surgery?

Menstrual periods vary from person to person. While one woman’s period can be light and short, others can experience a heavy menstrual cycle full of cramps, back pain, and emotional turmoil. Most of these are not a cause for alarm; however, you might wonder if an extremely heavy flow is. Sometimes, the answer is yes.

While not all heavy flows are a symptom of an underlying health condition, there are certain signs that you should not ignore.


Arizona Gynecology Consultants has treatment options for heavy periods

Common Causes Of A Heavy Menstrual Period

Women are all made differently, and periods can change from month to month. Diet, genetics, sexual habits, birth control methods, and many other factors can change the flow of your period. However, there are a few common causes of heavy uterine bleeding that are not related to your daily life and may need medical intervention. A few possible causes are:

  • Hormone imbalance, such as PCOS
  • Pregnancy complications, such as miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy
  • Endometriosis and adenomyosis
  • Genetic bleeding disorders
  • Ovarian dysfunction
  • Fibroids or polyps in the uterus
  • Intrauterine devices
  • Uterine or cervical cancer

Menorrhagia is the medical term for abnormally heavy menstrual bleeding. Medical professionals define abnormal bleeding as any amount of period blood over 80 milliliters – typically about 16 tampons. Symptoms of menorrhagia include:

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding for longer than one week
  • Menstrual clotting with clots larger than a quarter
  • Anemia symptoms, including fatigue and shortness of breath

Usually, women with menorrhagia have to change their menstrual pads or tampons multiple times a day because the blood soaks through the products so quickly. Some women have to double up on their pads to ensure no blood seeps through them. Others might need to wake up during the night to change their pad or tampon. Their periods may even restrict their daily activities because of their heavy flow.

How To Treat An Abnormally Heavy Flow

Treatment for menorrhagia is based on a number of factors, including your lifestyle, your plans to bear children, your reaction to medications, and your overall health. Doctors treat menorrhagia through medications, surgery, and other procedures.

When you visit a doctor for menorrhagia, they will ask you about your menstrual cycles, medical history, and family background. They may also take a blood sample, an ultrasound, a Pap smear, or a biopsy to determine the cause of the heavy flow.

After your initial intake, the doctor can recommend a number of treatments:

  • Medications such as ibuprofen to relieve pain, oral contraceptives to regulate your cycle, and tranexamic acid to relieve bleeding
  • A hormonal IUD to reduce your uterine lining
  • Progesterone to fix a hormonal imbalance
  • Various surgical procedures

Risks Of Heavy Uterine Bleeding

There are certain symptoms associated with heavy uterine bleeding that you should never ignore. These symptoms can develop into potentially dangerous conditions.

You should seek medical attention for menorrhagia and heavy uterine bleeding if:

  • You experience any vaginal bleeding after menopause
  • You soak through at least one pad or tampon per hour
  • You bleed between periods
  • You experience any other form of irregular vaginal bleeding

Prolonged menstrual bleeding can lead to the development of anemia. When you bleed such a heavy amount, you’re losing vital red blood cells. When you lose these cells, your body uses up iron to make hemoglobin, a protein that helps blood cells carry oxygen through your body. However, this decreases your iron levels, increasing your risk of developing anemia.

Symptoms of anemia include:

  • Fatigue
  • Pale skin
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Unusually rapid heart rate

The symptoms of anemia alone are enough to cause difficulty in your daily life. Anemia can also lead to severe organ damage because the condition reduces the amount of oxygen that your body receives. Heart damage is especially common, since your heart will need to work harder to make up for your low red blood cell count. Pregnant women with anemia are at risk of premature birth, miscarriage, and low birth weight.

Surgery For Heavy Uterine Bleeding

If heavy menstruation is affecting your daily life, talk to your doctor. Menorrhagia surgery may be a way to transform this difficulty. Doctors may consider surgery depending on a few factors, including the severity of your condition. If you have a fear of surgical procedures, consider visiting Arizona Gynecology Consultants to find an alternative, noninvasive treatment for your condition.

Common menorrhagia surgeries include:

  • Focused ultrasound surgery, which treats bleeding from fibroids
  • Hysterectomy, which removes the uterus and cervix
  • Myomectomy, which removes fibroids
  • Uterine artery embolization, which shrinks fibroids by cutting off blood supply
  • Dilation and curettage, endometrial resection, and endometrial ablation, which all remove the uterine lining

Call Arizona Gynecology Consultants For Advice

Contact Arizona Gynecology Consultants today to discuss whether your heavy menstrual flow is a cause for concern. Our compassionate staff can schedule an appointment and offer advice on the best way to negotiate uterine bleeding until you see a physician.

What Is a Prolapsed Bladder and How Do I Treat It

What Is a Prolapsed Bladder and How Do I Treat It?

Many women after having children, going through hysterectomy, or undergoing the aging process experience symptoms that are not only uncomfortable but embarrassing. There are products available that can help alleviate the humiliation, such as adhesive strip underwear pads, panties or disposable underwear. But those can be costly over time and put a damper on style and spontaneity. If you think you could be suffering from what is called a prolapsed bladder or cystocele, there are ways to help minimize the symptoms and possibly reverse the condition, noninvasively.

The Physical Attributes of Cystocele

With cystocele it can feel as though your bladder is dropping. In a sense, it is. The bladder itself is a muscular-like organ, hollow, that resembles a balloon, expanding and retracting depending on the level of urine present. When a woman gets the urge to empty the bladder, urine flows from the bladder downward through the urethra and ultimately out of the body. The bladder is located in close proximity to other parts of the reproductive system, in the middle of both pelvic bones. Positioned alongside the urethra is the vagina, the connection point between the uterus and the outside. When prolapse happens, the bladder drops from its original position and protrudes into the vagina. As ominous as this may sound, many women who have the condition don’t know it.

Symptoms of a Prolapsed Bladder

There are many ways that the body provides an indication that a prolapsed bladder exists. Each woman is different and all symptoms don’t need to be met to have the condition.

Prolapsed Bladder Symptoms:

  • Frequent urination
  • Sensation of needing to urinate often
  • Bladder leakage from pressure put on the area (or from coughing, sneezing, laughing)
  • Partial voiding, when urine remains in the bladder
  • Increase in bladder infections
  • Pain in the lower back or pelvic area
  • Feeling of heaviness, fullness, or droopiness in pelvic area
  • Bladder coming through the vagina
  • Difficulty when inserting vaginal applicators and tampons

After you’ve gone through the above list and identified which symptoms resonate with your day-to-day, find details below that indicate the various stages of prolapsed bladder.

Stages of a Prolapsed Bladder

Depending on how extensive the bladder has dropped, the options in how best to treat the condition will be discussed and a treatment protocol will be determined. A visit with your Ob/Gyn or other healthcare practitioner will uncover the specific stage of prolapse.

Prolapsed Bladder Staging

  • Stage 1 – Mild condition, bladder has slightly extended into the vagina.
  • Stage 2 – Moderate condition, bladder has dropped to the vagina opening.
  • Stage 3 – Severe condition, bladder protrudes through the opening of the vagina.

Based on the type of symptoms, a doctor may want to insert a catheter through the urethra to measure how much urine is left in the bladder after voiding: this is termed postvoid residual. Other ways to examine the status of the bladder are through a bladder ultrasound using a transducer (creates sound waves for imaging) or an x-ray exam of the bladder, known as a cystourethrogram, that is done while a woman is urinating. The procedure does not require anesthesia though sedation is often an option.

If you are one of the many women experiencing any stage of bladder prolapse, it may come by you honestly.

Why Does the Female Bladder Drop Over Time?

Genetics do play a role in a woman’s predisposition to prolapsed bladder. In addition, hormones can also create the basis for its development. As we age, our natural levels of estrogen drop often compromising the vagina as estrogen strengthens the muscles that support it. Over time, the vagina weakens, and by the way of gravity, begins to fall. A repercussion to hysterectomy (partial and full) is the development of a prolapsed bladder. The National Institute of Health (NIH) studied the effects of hysterectomy on the female bladder and found a correlation. After these procedures, women will engage an immediate drop in estrogen production, which is often why some elect to include hormone therapy to their lives. However, this course of action may not circumvent the state of the bladder.

Other aspects of life may lead to a fallen bladder.

Prolapsed Bladder Causes

  • Excessive coughing
  • Physical activity that strains pelvic area
  • Vaginal births
  • Constipation and pushing through bowel movements
  • Obesity*

*While obesity can predicate a fallen bladder, diet or specific nutrition is not directly linked to the condition.

Options in Treating Prolapsed Bladder

The stage of prolapsed bladder will often dictate the treatment choices available to the patient. The good news is that for many women, certain exercises will not only prevent prolapse but can do much to reverse the condition.

For women who have severe prolapse, surgery may be necessary to lift the bladder away from the vagina and reconstruct the vaginal wall to adequately support the bladder. A surgeon, usually a urologist or Ob/Gyn will tighten the tissue that surrounds these organs. The post-op for the surgery is between 4 to 6 weeks.

For moderate bladder prolapse, patients can be offered a vaginal pessary that is inserted into the vagina. The small device comes in a myriad of sizes to fit each woman as needed, keeping the bladder in place while providing the vaginal wall the support required, preventing further damage.

Exercise, will often be the panacea for women who are amidst early-stage bladder prolapse and also serves as a continual strength builder for the treatment and prevention of this condition. Here are some ways to add bladder health to your everyday regimen.

Kegel A Falling Bladder Back into Place

A kegel a day keeps the bladder at bay

Strangely enough, there’s an exercise that can be done in the comfort of your car, your office or while sitting at the dinner table and no one will ever know you’re doing it. The exercise is called the kegel and it isn’t just for pregnancy. Men can find benefit from it too.

Meant to increase the strength of the vaginal wall and the ability to gain control over bladder control, kegeling can change your life for the better. The key to a proper kegel is to discern which pelvic muscles apply and to perform this exercise ritual faithfully up to 3 or 4 sessions a day for maximum benefit.

How to Kegel:

  1. Squeeze the genital muscles as if pulling them up from the inside.
  2. Each squeeze, should be able to (if desired) stop the flow of urine.
  3. Hold the squeeze for 3 full seconds.
  4. Release the squeeze.
  5. Repeat.
  6. Begin the exercise and complete 10 successions, to reach a total of 25 per day.

There is no reason to live with the discomfort and humiliation of a prolapsed bladder and its associated symptoms. Start kegeling. Seek a medical practitioner knowledgeable in this condition for a formal diagnosis and recommended treatment that will provide optimal results.

Why You Can’t Stop the Stream