What’s the Difference between an Ovarian Cyst vs a Follicular Cyst

What’s the Difference between an Ovarian Cyst vs a Follicular Cyst

Many women may have follicular cysts but don’t have PCOS. Do you know how to differentiate between the two? In this artilce, I’d like to discuss how you can.

One of the main difference is in their size:

  • a follicle is 10mm or 2cm or smaller
  • a dominant follicle is 20-30mm or smaller
  • an ovarian cyst is larger than 30mm (3cm) in size

We don’t usually consider surgery unless a cyst is larger than 50-60mm (5-6cm) although that may depend on what the cyst looks like & what symptoms it causes. Ovarian cysts are so common that nearly every woman will have 1 at some stage in her life. Many women will have no problems related to a cyst.

There are 3 main groups of ovarian cysts:

  1. Functional (physiological) cysts. They form when the monthly ovarian cycle doesn’t follow its usual pattern. These form when the dominant follicle & corpus luteum do not behave as they normally would during a particular menstrual cycle. They are called either follicular or corpus luteum cysts.
  2. Follicular cysts form when the follicle does not release an egg but instead continues to swell up with fluid. In the same way, a corpus luteum cyst forms when the corpus luteum does not shrink away but continues to grow in size. Functional cysts are common & usually go away by themselves, but this can take 2 – 3 months. After the cyst goes away, the ovary usually goes back to working normally. From time to time, another functional cyst may occur. Not surprisingly, your period may not come at the right time in a cycle affected by a functional ovarian cyst. Often the period comes later than expected but it can come earlier. However, once the cyst has resolved, the menstrual cycles return to normal. Just remember, they’re common & mostly resolve by themselves without treatment.
  3. Benign (non-cancerous) ovarian cysts are also common.
    1. Dermoid cysts (aka teratomas) are benign ovarian tumors which contain many different body tissues – fat, hair, skin & even teeth. They occur mostly in young women & are even found in children. In women with a dermoid cyst, 10% will have 1 in both ovaries. Dermoid cysts are ‘growths’, but many grow so slowly (1 – 2 mm per year) that surgery is often not recommended unless they reach about 5cm.
    2. Cystadenomas are benign tumors containing clear, water-like fluid or mucus. On ultrasound, they often look just like functional cysts – the difference is that functional cysts usually go away over a few months while cystadenomas keep getting bigger over time. Once a cystadenoma is about 5 – 6 cm in size & has been there for several months (so it’s not likely to be a functional cyst), you & your gynecologist may decide to have it removed, as it may twist the ovary or burst in the future (but not common).

What about Polycystic Ovaries?

PCO means ‘many cysts on the ovary’ but the ‘cysts’ that are seen in this condition are not true cysts – instead PCO actually means having lots of small follicles (2 – 9mm). This is often normal for young women and is not usually Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), particularly if they have regular periods and no abnormal facial or body hair or have insulin resistance. However, if a woman only has a period every few months and/or she also has a problem with facial/body hair, acne, and blood sugar imbalances, she may have PCOS. In PCOS, the hormones don’t follow the normal menstrual cycle & has many small ovarian follicles. These are not true ovarian cysts and generally don’t require surgery.

What should I do if think I have an ovarian cyst?

If your symptoms are mild then you should see your GP, who will ask you about your symptoms and examine you. It may be possible for your doctor to feel a cyst by checking your abdomen or by vaginal examination. Your GP will most likely request:

  1. A pap smear if it’s due.
  2. A pregnancy test if there is a possibility you may be pregnant. A pregnancy in the wrong place (the tube, rather than the uterus) can give symptoms just like an ovarian cyst. This type of pregnancy is called an ectopic pregnancy. [see our Fact Sheet on Ectopic Pregnancy]
  3. A pelvic ultrasound– either through the tummy wall or else through the vagina (called a transvaginal US). A scan through the vagina is close to the ovaries and gives much clearer pictures than a scan through the tummy. A vaginal scan is not uncomfortable, especially since it doesn’t need a full bladder. Ultrasound is excellent at seeing a cyst on the ovary and working out what kind of cyst it is.
  4. Rarely, ovarian cysts can cause particular blood tests to become abnormal. Your doctor will decide if you need these tests.

Management of an Ovarian Cyst

If you have an ovarian cyst, managing it will depend on what type of cyst it is, how big it is, and what problems you are experiencing.  Functional cysts can be watched for a few months as they will usually go away on their own. You & your gynecologist may decide to have the cyst removed if it doesn’t go away on its own after 3 months, if it’s causing significant pain/pressure symptoms, if it’s quite big (more than 6cm) or if it’s a type of cyst that doesn’t go away by itself (like a dermoid).

What about taking the oral contraceptive pill?

Taking the pill won’t treat a cyst if it’s already there & it may go away by itself. It’s more like a band-aid to a long-term issue and the pill will block androgen production too. This isn’t a good thing because women need healthy testosterone production for bone health, libido, stamina and mood enhancement. Long-term affects to imbalanced hormone production in the future is also a risk, as well as blood clot formation. In the end remember that the pill only masks the root cause of the hormonal imbalances that are occurring in PCOS. Addressing your adrenal health, blood sugar imbalances and making sure your liver detox pathways are working optimally, is a good place to start. Your body is so intelligent. When one area is out of balance, another area is also. So begin by searching for the reason the cyst formation happened in the first place, will help your body be free to work and maintain its health naturally.  I’m here to help you discover where it all started.

Why Your Hormones Need Carbohydrates to Function

Why Your Hormones Need Carbohydrates to Function

Why Carbs are Good for Your Hormones

 

Low carb diets are all the rage right now in the nutrition and health world. And it’s true, cutting carbs can help with weight loss and health improvements for some people, mostly because of the caloric restriction.But for many people – women especially – keeping carbs too low for too long can have pretty unhealthy consequences, especially if you work out with any level of intensity. And even more so if you have hormone-related health issues like HPA axis dysregulation or hypothalamic amenorrhea, PCOS, hypothyroidism, adrenal fatigue and Hashimoto’s.

If you’re sedentary, your carb needs are generally lower than someone who is active. Those who don’t train regularly might be able to get away with less carbohydrates overall. And even if you do work out regularly, you probably won’t immediately feel the consequences when you first cut most carbs from your diet. It may take a few months to see the long-term impact, but at some point, you might start to feel spaced-out, sluggish, cranky and sick.

 

Low Carb Diet & Your Hormones

Eventually, restricting your carb intake too much can lead to many hormone-related issues such as:

  • decreased thyroid output (hypothyroidism)
  • increased cortisol output (abdominal fat)
  • decreased or increased testosterone (low libido and osteopenia)
  • impaired mood and cognitive function (brain fog)

If you already had a pre-existing hormone related condition before cutting carbs, such as hypothyroidism, PCOS, missed or irregular periods, or adrenal fatigue; eating too few carbs will only exacerbate your condition.  And if you’re under a lot of stress already, going too low carb can cause further HPA dysregulation and increase its symptoms.

Your carbohydrate intake is a critical part of the equation when it comes to balancing your sex hormones, losing weight, recovering from exercise, supporting your thyroid, boosting your energy, and so much more. You may be wondering how carbohydrates affect your adrenal health. Reducing carbohydrates excessively can affect stress hormone production in many people, usually causing a significant increase in cortisol. This will directly impact your energy levels causing them to plummet and eventually worsen pre-existing adrenal fatigue.

 

The Basic Chemistry of Blood Sugar

Any time we eat, our food is broken down into macronutrients, micronutrients, and water. This complex process allows us to derive energy from our food, obtain essential vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, and collect the building blocks needed to make our immune cells, hormones, and neurotransmitters.

Carbohydrates are found in many different foods, and in different forms. After we eat, blood sugar rises as carbohydrates are digested and absorbed. This triggers the release of insulin, which helps shuttle glucose out of the bloodstream and into our cells. Insulin is considered an “anabolic hormone,” meaning it promotes the storage of glucose and the conversion of any excess into its long-term storage form: fat. We also have hormones that help us tap into stored glucose or generate more. This occurs when our blood sugar is low or when we have increased energy demands.

So, what does this mini biochemistry lesson have to do with adrenal fatigue?

As the name implies, adrenal fatigue involves a dysregulation in our body’s stress response. Initially this leads to elevated cortisol, a stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands. As adrenal fatigue progresses, the dysregulation often leads to low cortisol. Now here’s the catch: Low carbohydrate diets have also been shown to be a stressor on our adrenals.

 

Common Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue

-Tend to be a “night person”
-Difficulty falling asleep
-Slow starter in the morning
-Tend to be keyed up, trouble calming down
-Calm on the outside, troubled on the inside
-Tendency to need sunglasses
–Chronic fatigue or get drowsy often
-Crave salty foods

Any time that you are not meeting your body’s needs for energy with adequate fuel, you put stress on your adrenals, since they act as your body’s shock absorbers (allowing your body to adapt to stress). This means that any caloric abuse or nutrition neglect is something that your adrenals have to make up for– by producing stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) to get you through the day. Usually, the more severe the adrenal dysfunction, the longer the adrenal stress has been going on.

Additionally, when you inadequately fuel your body, it stimulates the use of glycogen (stored sugar in the liver) for energy. Once your glycogen stores are depleted, tissue breakdown begins (the breakdown of proteins and fat to make glucose [sugar] for energy). This process of muscle catabolism releases amino acids such as cysteine, methionine, and tryptophan, which are all anti-metabolic to your thyroid. This happens because it’s the body’s way of being very intelligent,  by communicating with your thyroid, and telling it to turn down the conversion of active thyroid hormone in order to save your body from running itself into the ground.

 

How Many Carbs to Eat?

Here are my general starting points of the percentage of carbohydrates for hormone related health issues. But please keep in mind that your activity, stress, genetics and hormone imbalance will influence these recommendations:

  • For most women, I recommend a minimum of 25% of calories from carbs, particularly if you’re active.
  • For patients already dealing with an HPA Axis issue (“adrenal fatigue”), I start them at 30-40% calories from carbohydrates.
  • For women who are dealing with health issues surrounding fertility and hypothalamic amenorrhea, I recommend 40-50% of calories from carbs.

 

How do I  Know What MY Carb Needs May be?

In general, everybody has different dietary carbohydrate needs primarily depending on their activity levels and genetics, but also dependent on their age, gender, stage of life, and goals.

As I mentioned earlier, if you are sedentary you can likely eat fewer carbs and feel fine. However, if you regularly participate in intense, glucose-demanding activities like Crossfit, heavy powerlifting, and/or high-intensity interval training (HIIT), your body will begin to rely on stress hormones like cortisol to produce the glucose the brain and muscles need. When this happens, you may eventually develop symptoms associated with hormone related health conditions such as amenorrhea, hypothyroidism or adrenal fatigue.

 

Which Carbs are Best for YOU?

A hormone-supportive diet isn’t just about the quantity of carbohydrates. It’s also important to consider the quality of carbohydrates and the timing of when you’re eating them throughout the day. Choosing high fiber carbohydrates, such as those found in whole grains, legumes, and vegetables provide the essential nutrients needed to support proper hormone function. Also, the fiber in carbohydrates also helps slow the release of carbohydrates into the bloodstream, thus keeping blood sugar more stable. Whole grains are an incredible source of prebiotic fiber and have earned their rightful place in a diverse, healthy hormone based diet. They do this but maintaining your gut integrity, feeding your healthy probiotics foods they need to replicate and in turn create healthier hormones.

Another way to balance blood sugar is to make sure carbohydrates are paired with protein and/or fat at every meal and snack. Spacing carbohydrates out throughout the day is also important for adrenal function. This prevents blood sugar from dipping too low, which will also increase demand on the adrenals to release cortisol.

But to truly know which carbs are best for you, I’d recommend the Nirvana Diet™. I created this Diet to know exactly which foods, and in this case carbohydrates, you should be eating based upon your genetics. It takes the guess work out of knowing which foods are best for balancing your hormones!

The takeaway? Carbs are not the enemy. Eating quality carbs in balance with a whole food diet, can be supportive of all of your hormones in helping to regulate your body’s ability to stay balanced, happy, and regenerating stronger cells.

MTHFR Defects and Estrogen Dominance

MTHFR Defects and Estrogen Dominance

The Link Between Estrogen & MTHFR

MTHFR is an enzyme that adds a methyl group to folic acid to make it usable by the body. The MTHFR gene produces this MTHFR enzyme that’s also important for proper metabolism, muscle growth & glutathione production. If you have a mutation in MTHFR, you may have trouble effectively eliminating toxins from the body or balancing hormones.

 

How Does this Manifest in your Body?

  1. High cholesterol
  2. Difficulty getting pregnant/birth defects
  3. Estrogen dominance
  4. Low energy

But if you suffer from bloating, abnormal periods, acne, mood swings, fibroids, blood clots, endometriosis, PCOS or irritability, these symptoms are signs of Estrogen Dominance. And your body removes estrogen through the process of methylation. So if you have a defect in the MTHFR gene/enzyme, estrogen builds up making your symptoms worse.

 

What can You do to Help?

Though it isn’t possible to change a gene, there are things that can be done to minimize the potential for problems.

  1. Focus on gut health – It’s important to focus on gut health so that the body can absorb the nutrients from food as effectively as possible. This also helps avoid candida, which can make MTHFR related problems worse.
  2. Get your Bs – Supplement w/methylated form of B vitamins so that your body doesn’t have to “deal with the defect” & work around it. And if you’re in the area, stop by my office for a Mega Shot™!
  3. Detox – Give your liver a much needed boost to help with the clearance of hormones quicker. My Detox IV is perfect to help a sluggish liver get the necessary nutrients to eliminate easily and quickly.
Decoding your Periods

Decoding your Periods

Hello Everyone! Welcome to Regenerate You, I’m Dr. Nirvana.

Even though you’ve probably got the hang of your cycle by now, chances are that some menstrual mysteries remain in question. Maybe your cycle is super long or short, or it’s irregular, or it comes with side effects like PMS—and you wonder if what you experience each month is normal. Or maybe new issues have cropped up, like really awful cramps or a heavier flow.

It’s important to pay attention to what’s normal and what isn’t during your cycle, because changes can provide clues to your overall health. On this episode, I discuss the basic  information you need to know, to help clear up the confusion about your periods once and for all!

If you’re looking for additional advice, feel free to visit my blog here. You can also stay connected with me on my Facebook page @DrNirvanaHeals or on my Instagram @DrNirvana.

Please remember to subscribe!

 

And remember, when you regenerate, there’s a new you every day!

The Link Between Your Hormones and Anxiety

The Link Between Your Hormones and Anxiety

Welcome to Regenerate You, I’m Dr. Nirvana!

If you’ve ever felt confused by spiking anxiety shortly before your period begins, don’t worry: You’re not alone. Our hormones directly affect our anxiety levels. And it’s not just cortisol — a number of hormones can influence how stressed you’re feeling on any particular day. On this episode, I discuss the wild world of hormones inside your body — and info about how they can cause your anxiety. Plus some tips on what to do to balance them out. While it may be unnerving to think about the hormones your body is putting out, remember that it’s simply about going to the root cause. Don’t guess, but test your hormones to really know what your body is trying to tell you! To receive a B-vitamin or Bliss shot that I mentioned during the is episode, visit my Vitamin Shot Bar.

If you’re looking for additional advice, feel free to visit my blog here. You can also stay connected with me on my Facebook page @DrNirvanaHeals or on my Instagram @DrNirvana.

Don’ forget to subscribe to my Podcast!

 

And remember, when you regenerate, there’s a new you every day!

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The Difference Between Oral and IV Vitamins

How IV Therapy Benefits You More Thank Oral Supplementation

What if there was one thing in your body that had the power to control the way you look, feel and think? And what if supporting this one thing was the key to unlocking everlasting health? Sound too good to be true? I’m here to tell you that not only is this a fact, but it’s this vital organ in your body that serves as a common denominator for most of today’s health problems. I’m referring to your gut.

The current Merck Manual lists 14 main gastrointestinal disorders, with up to 14 subdivisions within each of the principle groupings (Beers, 2006). Add to this the finding that many other disease states affect the gastrointestinal tract significantly, and both give us a strong reminder that our gut has a major influence on our health. Intravenous (IV) therapy can be a useful adjunct to the oral treatment of gastrointestinal diseases.

This is because by the time symptoms of disease have made their appearance, it is sometimes too late for oral vitamins and minerals to make much difference. Nevertheless, these same vitamins and minerals, given intramuscularly (IM) or intravenously, can benefit many diseases. We know that the health of the GI tract affects the overall health of all body functions and the well-being of every individual. We approach the problem of disease as a problem of the cell. What the cell needs to be maximally healthy is always found in nature. However, to be effective, these nutrients must be admitted into the cell.

When given in high concentration, IV or IM nutrients enter the cell by sheer force of numbers. Administering nutrients in a concentration great enough to force those nutrients into the cell by means of a high-concentration gradient as well as the ability of the cell wall to absorb them, is highly beneficial. Highly concentrated on the outside, the cell membrane is semi-permeable meaning that it admits the nutrients into the cell due to the high-concentration gradient that was created.

The only way to obtain this high concentration is by IV or IM administration. With the GI cells, the IV route is especially useful for this purpose, because it’s immediately absorbed. When oral absorption is not effective, the parenteral route proves to be the most effective option.

So if you find yourself suffering from any GI issues (gas, bloating, acid-reflux), hormone imbalances, hypothyroidism, menopause, Hashimotos, or even trying to prevent the common cold; an IV would be the best option for you. And for every one of my patients, I custom-make each and every IV, so that you get exactly what you need. No cookie cutter recipes in my office!