Is there Sex after Menopause?

You could really look at menopause as the beginning; the beginning of the next phase of your life.  This next phase could last 35 years or more.    So, are you interested in maintaining an active sex life after menopause?  If the answer is yes, then let’s make it happen.

Things might be a little different post menopause.  On the positive side, the fear of an unwanted pregnancy is gone, so you don’t have to pay attention to that at all.  Often, by menopause, if you had children, they are gone or have at least one foot out the door, so there is not as much constant attention to them as when they were young. Hopefully you are working at relaxing just a bit more.

For women, one of the most common complaints post menopause is vaginal dryness.  This change is associated with the natural decline of sex hormones. The vaginal tissues will need some extra attention to stay plump and moist.  There are some great natural vaginal lubricants such as coconut oil, or olive oil.  In our office, we carry a vaginal restoring lubricant made with rose essential oil (never apply undiluted essential oil to your skin or tissues).  There is also a natural product available from Dr. Christiane Northrup called Amata Vaginal Moisturizer.  This moisturizer is made with an herb from Thailand called Peuraria Mirifica, it works really well!

The next most common complaint is a decline in libido. you may need to spend some time building it back up.  I recommend a book, written by a fellow acupuncturist called Sex Again, by Jill Blakeway it is available from Amazon, as well as other sources.  It will give you some great ideas on how to re-charge your libido.

One recommendation Jill makes in Sex Again, is to seek care from an acupuncturist who is certified to prescribe Chinese Herbs.  We have a full Chinese Herbal pharmacy in our office, so we can create a custom herbal formula to address your specific complaints.

So, yes there is sex after menopause, it may take a little effort to get your sex life on track again, but I think you will be happy.

Take care, Ann

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5 steps to sleeping like a champion

 

 

I often get asked for advice on improving sleep or hear stories about how people have experienced insomnia for years and they’re looking for a magic pill to fix it. Unfortunately, there is no magic pill or improving or fixing your sleep; not sleeping well is symptom that your body is not functioning properly. I actually recommend not investing any money in supplements until you implement these 5 things:

 

  1. No electronic is the bedroom. This means, TV, cell phone and tablets. You can buy a cheap alarm clock an amazon.
  1. Disconnect for AT LEAST 30 minutes. Turn off the TV, put your phone on airplane mode or do not disturb and have some tea, do some stretching, take a walk, read a book or have some quality time with your partner 😉
  1. Get sunshine during the day! 15-20 minutes each day. Eat your lunch outside, or take a walk. If this is not possible because of your climate then supplement with Vitamin D but actual sunlight is best.
  1. Block that blue light! Out your phone and ipad on night shift mode, turn down the brightness after dark and downlowd f.lux (http://ift.tt/1iBXKqa) on your computers. Light is not your friend at night!
  1. Perfect your sleep environment. Your bedroom should be completely dark and reasonably cold. The perfect sleep temperature is 68 degrees Fahrenheit so get as close to that as possible.

There you go my friends, my 5 non-negotiables when it comes to improving your sleep. Make sleep a priority and I promise you wont regret it!

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How to avoid weight gain during menopause – here is what’s key

Menopause is a time of change; it signals the end of a women’s reproductive years.  But life continues.  Assuming a normal life span, each woman spends as many years post menopause as she does in her active reproductive years.  So, life is not over, it has actually just begun!!!!!

Our purpose here at Harmony + Health, is to help you through the transition so that you feel strong and healthy for at least another 35 years.

One thing many women notice during this time of change is weight gain, especially around the middle.  Weight gain is actually a natural process that begins, slowly, around age 30, it can just kind of feel like it catches up with you once you hit your 50’s.

 

So, what is a woman to do, if she does not want weight gain to get out of control.  It may not be realistic to maintain the same weight in your 50’s and beyond that you had in your 20’s and 30’s, but you do have the power to keep your weight at a level that is healthy for you.

 

There are two key things to focus on: maintaining (and building) muscle and making some modifications in what you eat. (notice, I did not say anything about dieting)

 

# 1 – Get Stronger

That subtle weight gain that I mentioned beginning at about age 30, is due to a slow decline in muscle mass.  It is a natural process.  With a decline in muscle, there is an increase in fat, it’s a matter of biology.  To slow the increase in body fat, you need to increase muscle.  I don’t mean, you have to enter a body building contest or anything like that, you just need to make a concerted effort to maintain muscle.

 

How do you maintain muscle??  Resistance training is the key, that means lifting weights.  When you put strain on your muscle, it thanks you by getting stronger.  And there are lots of advantages to having strong muscles.  No only will you slow weight gain, you will be able to do more for yourself and avoid fatigue, you will be steadier on your feet with less chance of injury or falling.  By placing a strain on your muscles, you keep your bones healthier and stronger (good-by osteoporosis).  Your joints will remain healthier longer. Resistance training even helps your brain!!You will feel more confident, and even look better in your clothes.

 

How do you start a resistance training program?  The safest way is to find a qualified personal trainer or a group training class.  These could be live and in person, or perhaps online. You might want to focus your search on finding a trainer or class that specializes in working with older adults.  Safety, and learning proper form will help you reach your goals without getting injured.

 

#2 – Modify your Eating Plan

 

OK, who wants to change the way they eat??  Often, we eat on autopilot, and we are still alive, right?  Well, I am going to suggest ditching the autopilot, and focusing more on what you are eating, to identify the foods that serve you and keep you strong and healthy, and limiting those that don’t serve you.  Here is the thing: there is no one size fits all way of eating that works for everyone.  So you will have to figure out what is going to work for you going forward.

 

How do you start?  You need to start by keeping a record of what you eat every day.  Yeah, that is going to require a bit of work.  You can write everything down, but that is kind of boring.  What I do is use an app.  There are several.  My favorite is Cronometer.  Other options are My Fitness Pal, and Loose It.

 

Keep track for about a week, don’t fool yourself, record everything you eat or drink.  The apps make it easy to search for or scan your foods.  After gathering info for a week, you can take a look at the information. Most important for now is your macros: the amount and % of your natural intake of protein, carbohydrate and fat.  You will also have a record of your daily calorie intake.

 

Ok, now that you have a baseline what to do?  For women in their 50s or over, the first place I look to make a change is in the % of carbohydrates.  If carbohydrates are 30% or more of your normal daily diet, shoot for 28 – 25% and see how you feel.  You can look at your info in the app and it will tell you where your carbs are coming from.  Try the lower carb level for a week or two.  Do you have the energy you need?  Has your weight changed?  You may need to make further adjustments from there.

 

For best results, you will want to use both strategies, getting stronger, and modifying your eating plan. If all this is too overwhelming, make an appointment with us.  We provide acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and health coaching, all of which can be used to help you meet your health goals, including maintaining a healthy weight, after menopause.

 

Take care,

Ann & Emily

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9 tips for improving male fertility

If fertility is on your radar you might have heard recently that the sperm quality of North American men is on a significant decline. There has been a 52% decline in sperm concentration and a 59% decline in total sperm count over a nearly 40-year period ending in 2011 which has dramatically affected fertility rates and early term miscarriages. Remember 1/3 of infertility and sub-fertility is due to male factor.

There is good news, though! Lifestyle factors have a huge impact on sperm count, morphology and motility! It takes approximately 90 days for sperm to be created so it’s time to implement some changes now! Here are 9 tips for improving male fertility:

 

1. Avoid processed foods, soy products and sugar.

 

2. Limit alcohol consumption and stop smoking marijuana and cigarettes!!!

 

3. Eat a variety of healthy fats including nuts and seeds, grass-fed butter, olive oil and coconut oil, fatty fish and avocados.

 

4. Supplement! A high quality multi-vitamin, vitamin C, vitamin D, fish oil and zinc.

 

5. Reduce expose to chemicals in your environment and body care products. Follow the dirty dozen for organic food, avoid plastic Tupperware and water bottles. Transition to more natural products avoiding BPA, phalates, parabens, synthetic colors and fragrance, BHA and BTA, petroleum and sulfates. Check your labels for these things.

 

6. Make sure to get adequate sleep, 7-9 hours. A good gauge is if you wake up feeling rested each morning and are able to get though the day without stimulants.

 

7. Exercise! 2-4 times a week with a mixture of cardio and resistance training is best.

 

8. Manage Stress. Simple ways to manage stress are taking a walk outside, reading something uplifting or inspirational for 10-20 minutes or journaling.

 

9. Avoid overheating sperm with things like laptop computers in your lap, hot tubs, hot yoga, saunas and tight brief underwear.

 

If you have questions or need help with improving fertility give us a call or email fertility@attainharmony.com

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Acupuncture and Fertility; A Perfect Pair!

The fertility journey is one that’s exciting, frustrating, and confusing all at once. Month after month you’re not sure how to feel; hopeful and excited! Then another period comes and now you might feel let down and frustrated with your body. We get it. We have been helping couples through this process for 8 years now. Each fertility journey is unique; here are 5 ways that acupuncture, and Traditional Chinese Medicine can help you!

 

 

  1. Reduce stress – This is number one for a reason, your body shuts down non-essential functions (like reproduction!) when it’s in a constant state of stress! Acupuncture calms the fight or flight response that occurs when stress is at a constant low level, like in our modern lives.
  2. Improves blood flow to the uterus- Acupuncture is all about blood flow! When it comes to your uterus this will result in a thicker, healthier uterine lining that will increase the likelihood of implantation.
  3. Improved ovarian function- This is related to both blood flow and hormone regulation. Acupuncture has been proven to restore ovulation in anovulatory woman and improve follicle quality which will increase chances of fertilization!
  4. Acupuncture directly effects your hypothalmus and pituitary – The hypthalmus- pituitary complex is the commander center for hormones in your brain. It regulates LH, FSH and thyroid hormones all of which effect fertility in a number of ways. Acupuncture “wakes up” this area of the brain so that it returns to homeostasis is something is off.
  5. Improves sperm! One third of fertility problems are related to sperm issues so it’s essential that male factors are addressed. Acupuncture has been shown to improve sperm quantity, quality and morphology. Lifestyle modification and herbs are also important to consider for male factor fertility.

 

 

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine helps with:

 

  • hormonal imbalance
  • unexplained infertility, amenorrhea, luteal phase defect, anovulation
  • endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), uterine fibroids & cysts, tubal obstruction, irregular menstrual cycles
  • recurrent miscarriage
  • advanced maternal age
  • male factor infertility

 

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Do you have to believe in acupuncture?

 

When I first started practicing acupuncture people would ask me if you have to “believe” in it for acupuncture to work. I laughed a little and said no.

 

Acupuncture has a physical effect on your body, regardless of what you believe. Your nervous system is stimulated, blood vessels dilate and tissue regeneration occurs. No belief necessary.

 

But I do think that belief plays a role in the natural healing process.

 

You have to believe in your body’s amazing ability to heal itself.

 

Chinese Medical Doctors has known for centuries that the body and mind are intimately connected; they cannot be separated. The body follows the mind and the mind follows the body. Because of this, belief in your ability to get well is a critical part of your healing journey.

 

Here is an affirmation that will help with this belief. Repeat it to yourself over and over again until you truly, deeply believe it:

 

Health is my body’s natural state of being.

 

Simple yet powerful.

 

Learn to separate your identity from your disease. You are not your depression, PCOS, autoimmune disease, etc. These things are occurring inside your body but they are separate from your identity as a human or spiritual being.

 

Health is my body’s natural state of being.

It truly is.

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Reducing chemical exposure

 

 

 

Chemicals are everywhere in our modern environment and while it’s impossible to avoid them all there are some simple things you can do to minimize your exposure. Chemicals can disrupt our bodies delicate hormonal balance and make it harder for our liver to detoxify. The more than 84,000 chemicals that are used in skin and body care products, household products, food and packaging are linked health conditions from headaches to cancer. Here are some products to be aware of when it comes to chemicals in your environment:

 

Plastic– Think plastic water bottles and Tupperware containers. Use glass or metal containers in place of plastic.

 

Cookware– Non stick cook ware is coated with a synthetic polymer called polytetrafluoroetheylene (PTFE) which should be avoided. Cast Iron or stainless steel cookware is best but here is come advice from the Environmental Working Group if you’re stuck with non-stick:

 

  • Never preheat nonstick cookware at high heat — empty pans can rapidly reach high temperatures. Heat at the lowest temperature possible to cook your food safely.
  • Don’t put nonstick cookware in an oven hotter than 500 degrees.
  • Use an exhaust fan over the stove.
  • Keep pet birds out of the kitchen — the fumes from an overheated pan can kill a bird in seconds. Learn more here.
  • Skip the self-cleaning function on your oven. It cleans by heating to high temperatures, which can release toxic fumes from non-stick interior oven parts.
  • Choose a safer alternative when buying new cookware.

 

Mattresses– Mattresses in the US contain toxic chemicals such as antimony, formaldehyde and flame retardants. The flame retarded chemicals off-gas while we sleep and end up in our bodies. Getting an organic mattress is a great place to start; mine is from Sleep EZ www.sleepez.com and has a wool layer that acts as the fire retardant, no chemicals needed!

 

Skin/Body Care Products– a lot of commercial manufactured products like face wash, lotion, shampoo and conditioner is full of parabens, phalates and synthetic fragrance which can all be hormone disrupters! We have a whole blog about this here. As a bonus look for brands which have a bunny on the label which indicates they do not test on animals.

 

Food– Eating organic is one of the best ways to reduce your exposure to chemicals. Agriculture in the US is widely sprayed with homicides, pesticides and fungicides. You can bet any processed, packaged food you buy is made with Genetically Modified corn or coy which is just covered in harmful chemicals. Even our meat products are not safe as cows from conventional feed lots are given hormones and antibiotics. At a minimum stick to organic for the dirty dozen and you animal products like meat and cheese!

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