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conception fertility pregnancy Reflexology

What is a short luteal phase? And why is it important when you’re trying to conceive?

The luteal phase is the 10 – 16 days between ovulation (release of an egg) and the bleed. The phase length is governed by the corpus luteum, a temporary endocrine gland which forms from the empty follicle after ovulation. The corpus luteum is responsible for the production of progesterone, which supports the development of any embyros until the placenta forms at about 12 – 15 weeks gestation and takes over.

If you are trying to get pregnant, a short luteal phase could hamper your attempts, as the progesterone needed to help establish a pregnancy may not be sufficient. You may have been diagnosed as sub-fertile or experienced early miscarriage.

A short luteal phase usually means your body is producing low quantities of progesterone. Signs of this include PMS, pre-period bleeding or spotting, cyclical headaches, weight gain, painful or lumpy breasts, heavy/long bleed.

Short luteal phases can be caused by many factors:

Stress (emotional, physical, illness, trauma, surgery) – the body can suppress reproductive hormones when the hypothalamus reacts to body chemistry changes

Undereating – another form of stress where the body reacts to being undernourished

Medical conditions – these may be undiagnosed, but coeliac disease and thyroid disease are known to be a factor

Can you improve a short luteal phase?

Yes. Changes to diet, lifestyle,specific supplements and targeted reflexology have shown improvements in lengthening luteal phases.

Balancing your cycle helps your body to work in harmony (remember homeostastis in my last post) and regulate itself.

What’s your luteal phase like?

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Babies conception families fertility pregnancy Reflexology research

What is the follicular phase (and why do you need to know about it when trying for a baby?)

Do you know what a follicular phase is (and why it’s important)?

The follicular phase is the first half of your monthly cycle. It can last between 7 and 21 days. Teens can have a follicular phase of up to 32 days!

It starts when a few follicles (6 -8) get to the end of their 100 day development to begin ovulation.

The follicle development is governed by the pituitary hormone FSH – follicule-stimulating hormone, which stimulates the follicles to grow. You have less FSH when younger, hence the likelihood of a longer phase, and more as you mature – leading to shorter or irregular periods.

FSH levels also contribute to how heavy or light your bleed is – the hormone stimulates estradiol which influences the thickening of the uterine lining. The more estradiol = thicker lining = heavier periods.

The maturing follicles stimulate the production of estradiol – oestrogen – which can promote feelings of wellbeing, happiness, libido by boosting your ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters of serotonin and dopamine. Oestrogen is also important for healthy skin, bones, muscles, brain, heart, sleep AND metabolism!

In short, the follicular phase of your cycle is likely to be the part where you feel most connected to yourself, feel happier and better able to cope with anything life throws at you, and if you’re trying for a baby – it’s the time when you are more likely to feel like having sex.

If you have PCOS (poly-cycstic ovary syndrome), you are likely not to be ovulating because the availability of the hormones you need to ovulate are suppressed by an over production of androgens like testosterone. Your body may be producing follicles, but they won’t be able to ripen because the FSH needed to mature them and move to oestrogen production is blocked by higher levels of testosterone and other male hormones. This means that the follicular phase just keeps going, without an egg being produced, making it very hard to conceive.

Can you regulate the follicular phase? Yes. Charting your monthly cycles is key to finding out what’s happening inside. As follicles take over 100 days to mature, three months of charts will give you great data on what has happened to get you to now.

This information can then be used to focus on changes that positively influence your hormonal balance. Amending your nutrition, lifestyle changes, specific supplements and targeted reproductive reflexology have shown improvements in regulating the follicular phase.

In a study conducted by the Association of Reproductive Reflexologists, the pregnancy rate for women with PCOS was 72% (live birth rate 57%), showing the effectiveness of regular reproductive reflexology treatments.

Balancing your cycle helps your body to work in harmony, and you to feel better.

What’s your follicular phase like?

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Babies conception fertility men Reflexology

Varicoceles

Varicoceles – what are they?

A varicocele is an enlarged varicose vein, or a bunch of them which affect the testicles. Usually there are some more visible veins in the testes, sometimes you can only feel them. They are more common the older you get.

Varicoceles affect the temperature of the testicles – making them warmer – which is a bad thing for sperm production. They are a common cause of lower sperm production or decreased motility, so can affect male fertility.

Commonly, nothing will be done about varicoceles unless they are causing considerable pain.

Varicoles can be uncomfortable – current NICE guidance recommends supportive underwear for management.

However, if you’ve already got warmer testicles, keeping them tucked up in cosy pants isn’t going to help with the temperature.

What can you do to improve sperm health and quality?

*Check out my 5 fertility tips for men.

*Keep the scrotum cool – specialist cooling pants are available from snowballsunderwear (this is one brand that I know of, there may be more).

*Contact a fertility specialist (me 👋) to find out more steps you can take to reduce the impact of varicoceles. Targeted fertility reflexology can help ease the symptoms.

Have you got a varicocele? What have you been told about their management, or the effects on your fertility?

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conception fertility pregnancy Reflexology

What is PCOS?

What is PCOS / Poly Cycstic Ovary Syndrome?

PCOS is a whole body hormone condition, not just a period problem.

When follicle sacs within the ovaries fail to develop properly, they can cause cysts on the ovary surface (hence the term poly = many and cystic = follicles). These can interfere with ovulation because the hormones needed to support ovulation are not working correctly.

It’s relatively common for women to have polycystic ovaries – and in fact teenagers are very likely to have polycystic ovaries and be considered ‘normal’.

Not everyone with these types of cysts has PCOS – unless you also have raised levels of luteinising hormone (LH) and testosterone.

PCOS is really a group of symptoms, related to lack of ovulation and higher levels of male-type hormones (androgens).

What are the symptoms of PCOS?

Irregular or late bleeds (irregular bleeds are typical of cycles with NO ovulation)
Long bleeds
Excessive facial or body hair
Acne
Hair loss
Weight gain
Infertility

Commonly prescribed treatment options for PCOS include the contraceptive pill, anti-androgen drugs, and metformin.

Some of these will not be suitable if you are trying to conceive or want to get your cycles regulated in a more natural way. They also rely on knowing which type of PCOS is driving your condition – i.e. insulin-resistant, post-pill, inflammatory or adrenal.

As a fertility reflexologist, I use a holistic approach, which includes sharing information on nutrition, lifestyle changes and supplements. I use fertility reflexology to help your menstrual cycle rebalance, reminding your body what it needs to do to reduce your symptoms and get those hormones properly flowing.

How can you help yourself? Lots of different things can help, but as above, find out what kind of PCOS you have in order to make the right changes.

Need help with that? Get in touch via the ‘book now’ button, or click here.

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diet exercise families menopause nutrition Reflexology relaxation stress

Reflexology for…. menopause

Let’s talk about menopause! Night sweats, day sweats, foggy head, interrupted sleep, totally un-plannable menstrual cycle, all the feelings….

It can completely change how you feel, and how you can cope. Lots of things can help – as a holistic therapist I can talk to you about simple lifestyle adjustments that can help you ride through this often stormy passage and give you tailored reflexology treatments to help your body balance itself.

Get in touch if you need to talk, email, call or book now!