Thursday, July 30, 2009

Male Contraceptive Shot Has Successful First Trial

Efforts to develop a long-term, reversible contraceptive for men have thus far been unsuccessful, but a recently completed study showed sufficiently promising results that further trials will no doubt soon be underway. The trial lasted 2.5 years and involved 1045 men in China. The mechanism by which this  contraceptive works is the same by which hormonal contraception for women works: if you interfere with the feedback loop that regulates the production of gametes (eggs and sperm), you can turn it off. In other words, you supply a form of the hormone that the body normally makes itself, and the body stops making it, and reproductive function stops. In this case, the men were given monthly administrations of a form of testosterone, which suppressed sperm production. Side effects were minimal, and sperm production returned to normal within 6 months of stopping the drug in all but 2 cases. But don't look for this to appear at your doctor's office any time soon. I found a nearly identical study conducted in 1996 that was also very successful.

Funny, one article describing the recent study said this:
"Previous attempts to develop an effective and convenient male contraceptive have encountered problems over reliability and side effects, such as mood swings and a lowered sex drive. "
Um, I'm sorry, but haven't women using hormonal contraception been putting up with those side effects, not to mention at least 2 dozen others, for, like, 40 years?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Couple of Questions about Cycle Health

I answered a couple of questions from a student today, and it occurred to me that the answers might be of interest to other people, so I decided to post them. Note: I don't take random questions! I would love to work with you if you want to learn more about your cycles, but you do need to make an appointment with me. For more info on private consults & classroom instruction, please visit my website

On to the questions:

(Q1) The first day of my period is always REALLY painful. I always get it around dawn, and the cramps and nausea force me to stay in bed until at least noon. Should I see someone about this? 

(A1)  It doesn't sound as though you have anything seriously wrong. One day of bad cramps is not at all unusual, and I don't think you *need* to see anyone unless you want some treatment. If so, as always, you have two options: the Western approach, and the non-Western approach. The Western approach would basically be drugs (over the counter pain-killers etc). And I'm not against them. Especially for women who don't have insurance, and/or who can't afford non-Western care (which is usually not covered), painkillers can be a cheap and effective solution. You have to make sure you don't take them on an empty stomach and follow label directions carefully. Some need to be taken with food and/or water, some require you to not lie down for 30 minutes afterwards, never exceed the maximum dosage, etc. Heat is also very helpful, applied directly to your belly in the form of a heating pad or hot water bottle. Now in terms of non-Western treatments, there are many options. Acupuncture and/or herbs would be a good place to start. You might also look at the nutritional recommendations in Marilyn Shannon's book, Fertility Cycles and Nutrition. The nausea might be from the pain or it might be from something else. Ginger can be helpful with nausea, and can relieve cramps, too. You can brew up strong ginger "tea" from fresh ginger (or Alvita teabags) when you know your period is coming, and keep it in the fridge so you don't have to make it that morning. Lastly, while I think it's important to try to relieve pain and discomfort, Katie Singer emphasizes that we don't give ourselves a lot of room to have our periods these days. If you're feeling guilty or dysfunctional because you're staying in bed with cramps, try to let go of that. Use the time to read a lightweight book, focus on your breathing, and in general give yourself permission to have a little downtime. Stress makes cramps worse. 

(Q2) Between milk and soymilk, which one is better for your cycle?

(A2) I'm not a big fan of either cow or soymilk, for environmental, nutritional, and animal-rights reasons. If you're going to drink cow milk, make sure it's grass fed, organic milk from pastured cows. Don't drink commercial cow milk. If you're going to drink soymilk, I wouldn't drink a lot of it, as there is some evidence that large quantities of processed soy products might impact human fertility. (On the other hand, there is also evidence that soy foods are good for the heart, protect against cancer, etc.) But soy is kind of an environmental disaster, and I don't think the types & amounts of soy we eat are natural or good for us. There are lots of other milks available now. You can find milk made from almonds, hazelnuts, oats, and hemp. Read the labels and beware of sugar - some of them are loaded with it. Personally I'm a huge fan of Blue Diamond plain, unsweetened Almond Breeze. 

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Why Doesn't My Doctor Know Anything About Fertility Awareness?

Hmmm. Could it be because medical schools are absolutely riddled with influence (and money) from pharmaceutical companies? It's not exactly news, but the scope of it is really depressing. This extends way beyond what contraceptive choices your doctor makes available to you.

Harvard Medical School considers influence of drug companies