Preserving Your Fertility When You Have Breast Cancer

breast cancer and fertilityBecause October is National Breast Cancer awareness month, we wanted to address the important topic of how you can preserve your fertility while fighting this horrible disease.  Unfortunately, breast cancer treatments can leave some women infertile.  This means that if you do plan to have children in the future, you should discuss your options with your doctor before beginning cancer treatments.

There are currently three ways in which doctors are working to preserve fertility for cancer patients.  The first is by using treatments that will produce embryos or eggs.  One example is in vitro fertilization (IVF).  With this procedure, you will take hormones to increase your egg supply.  The doctor will remove your eggs, fertilize them with the sperm of your partner or donor, and freeze them for later use.  Another method, which involves freezing unfertilized eggs, has met with mixed success and is currently not considered as reliable as IVF.

The second thing doctors can do for cancer patients is take steps to reduce the impact of chemotherapy on their fertility.  Some combinations of chemotherapy drugs are less likely to affect fertility than others.  For example, FEC and AC carry a smaller risk than CMF.  Unfortunately, for those over 40, all chemotherapies carry a greater risk of permanently stopping your ovaries from producing eggs.  Currently, scientists are researching the use of luteinising hormone blocker injections during chemotherapy. These injections temporarily stop the ovaries from working, and may shield them from the impact of chemotherapy.

Finally, doctors can try to preserve a patient’s ovarian tissue for future use.  This would involve a minor surgery in which some of your ovarian tissue is removed, then frozen.  After cancer treatment is complete, the healthy tissue is put back in place.  This procedure is relatively new and does not have widespread data, but has met with some success so far.

 

How to Get a Better Night’s Sleep

photo credited to fitsugar.com

photo credited to fitsugar.com

According to Prevention Magazine, regardless of if they have children or not, women tend to get less sleep than men overall, due to fluctuating estrogen.  During both menstruation and menopause, levels of estrogen, which helps promote sleep, are lower in the body.  Furthermore, symptoms associated with lowered estrogen, including headaches, cramps, and hot flashes, all do their part to interrupt a good night’s sleep.  Prevention offers several suggestions for combatting this issue.

  • While it may sound simple, researchers say the most important thing you can do to improve your sleep is to go to bed and wake up at the same times every day, including weekends. This puts your body’s internal clock on a routine, which will result in better rest.  If you are having a difficult time accomplishing this, try keeping a sleep diary in which you record these times to hold yourself accountable.
  • Quitting smoking can dramatically improve how well you are sleeping at night.  Researchers say smokers are 4 times more likely to not feel rested after a night’s sleep than non-smokers.  This is likely due to the amount of the stimulant nicotine in their bodies.
  • Keep in mind that when you exercise, your body temperature will stay elevated for approximately 4 hours.  Since this is not conducive to sleep, you should plan your gym visits accordingly.
  • Pay attention to the beverages you drink.  First, caffeinated beverages are a stimulant and can keep you awake at night, so they should be avoided after 2 p.m. each day.  Next, because your body actually wakes up as it finishes metabolizing alcohol, you should stop drinking alcoholic beverages at least two hours before your bedtime.  Instead, pour yourself a glass of warm milk, as research has shown it can aid in inducing sleep.

If you do wake up in the middle of the night, doctors recommend that as long as you are comfortable, you should stay in bed and perform deep breathing exercises to help you relax and fall back to sleep.

Herbal Remedies for Joint Pain and Inflammation

photo credit to lifemartini.com

photo credit to lifemartini.com

While we all feel some aches and pains as we get older, chronic pain can really take a toll on our quality of life.  According to Harvard Health Publications, individuals who suffer from chronic pain have three times the average risk of developing mood and/or anxiety disorders, and the resulting changes in disposition and behavior can lead to isolation as well as drug dependence.  While over the counter pain medicine is always an option, persistent use can have unwanted gastrointestinal side effects, such as stomach bleeding and ulcers.  If you are seeking an alternative, there are several herbal remedies you may wish to try.

  • Found in fresh pineapple, bromelain is an enzyme which is unique in that it is absorbed directly into the body rather than breaking down in the digestive tract.  You can maximize your pain relief by juicing the hard stem of the pineapple with aloe, ginger, and turmeric, and drinking it on an empty stomach.  Bromelain is also available in pill form.
  • Devil’s claw is a root containing iridoid glycosides, which are assumed to be the reason it eases the pain of osteoarthritis.  It can be made into tea, but it is available in pill and ointment form as well.
  • Turmeric is a bright orange root similar in external appearance to ginger.  In the United States, it is most frequently found as a dried and ground spice, but it is also available in capsule form and as a tea.  In a recent study, researchers in Bangkok, Thailand found turmeric eased arthritis pain as effectively as ibuprofen.
  • The bark of the white willow tree contains salicin, which is similar to aspirin, and it is very effective for headaches and back pain.  It can be taken as a tincture, through tea, or in capsule form.

If you are interested in trying any of these herbal remedies to ease your pain, please speak with your doctor first to make sure they are an appropriate treatment option for you.

 

Sources:

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-14693/top-5-herbal-remedies-to-reduce-pain-inflammation.html

http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/news/20030130/when-relieving-pain-raises-risk

Oils that are good for Your Skin

oils that are good for your skin

photo credits to: boldsky.com

Teenagers suffering from acne are often taught that oil is the enemy of healthy skin.  As a result, the habit of using only skin care products that are labeled oil free often carries into adulthood.  However, there is absolutely no reason to do so, as use of the right natural oils can actually improve your skin’s ability to heal, refine your skin’s texture, and even reduce the signs of aging.  Below is a quick primer on oils which are wonderful for your skin.

  • Acai oil is rich in antioxidants, which are critical for protecting the skin against free radicals and cell oxidization.
  • Argan oil, when used regularly, can reduce the signs of aging.  It simultaneously moisturizes the skin and gives it a tighter appearance.
  • Black cumin seed oil contains antioxidants and fatty acids. Therefore, its anti-inflammatory properties make it an excellent treatment for acne, dermatitis, and eczema.
  • Both black current oil and peppermint oil have anti-inflammatory properties which reduce skin redness.
  • Carrot seed oil contains beta-carotene, vitamin A, and emollients, all of which help stabilize cell turnover and soothe irritated skin.
  • Both chamomile oil and tea tree oil have antiseptic properties which help combat acne and fight infection.
  • Coconut oil reduces bacteria on the skin.
  • Flaxseed oil has essential fatty acids which soften skin.
  • Grape seed oil contains vitamin C, which helps to regulate oil production in the skin.
  • Olive oil contains vitamins A and E, which help the skin repair itself.
  • Rosehip seed oil helps reduce scarring with vitamin A and essential fatty acids.  It also restores moisture to skin which has been damaged by dry air or a windy environment.

To achieve positive results, these oils must be used in the proper ratios.  Therefore, before adding them to your skincare routine, it is advisable to speak with a dermatologist.

 

Sources:

http://sassified.com/16-amazing-oils-skin/

http://empoweredsustenance.com/top-skincare-oils/

Reasons to Get Your Body Moving

photo credit: www.blog.applefit.it

photo credit: www.blog.applefit.it

While we all know we should work out on a regular basis, quite often hitting the gym slides further and further down our list of priorities.  However, making time to work out can have many positive impacts on your life beyond simple weight maintenance.  Read on to find out how working out can help build a better you in addition to some muscles.

1)      It helps you sleep better.  According to the National Sleep Foundation, 67 percent of those who exercise regularly report getting a good night’s sleep, and these benefits are experienced regardless of the time of day the individuals choose to work out.  This is because exerting yourself physically helps to keep your body’s circadian rhythm in check.

2)      It is a natural mood elevator.  Studies show that riding a bike, running, or performing any other cardio workout two to three times per week at a moderate pace can increase your energy levels by 20 percent and decrease feelings of fatigue by 65 percent.  This is because after just 20 minutes of exercise, your metabolism is boosted and the amount of feel-good brain chemical dopamine increases inside your body.

3)      It keeps you from getting sick.  Research shows that working out two to three times per week will strengthen your immunity against bacteria and viruses, thus keeping you from getting colds or the flu as frequently as someone who doesn’t work out.  Exercise also reduces your risk of having much more serious long-term illnesses, such as high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and dementia.

4)      It can ease cramps!  Exercise triggers your body to release endorphins, which act as natural opioids in the body that can relieve pain.  In general, exercise increases the oxygen in your body’s cells, resulting in an all-over reduction of aches and pains.

 

 

Sources:

http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/10-reasons-to-work-out

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201205/19-reasons-exercise

Reduce Your Stress

photo courtesy of www.bodyapplicators.com

photo courtesy of www.bodyapplicators.com

With so much competing for our daily time, stress is a well-established part of the lives of many Americans.  However, it is not something we should continue to accept.  Chronic stress can have a negative impact on your sleep, digestion, weight, memory, skin, and heart.  Not to mention that many people adopt unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with stress, such as smoking, drinking alcohol to excess, overeating, or lashing out angrily at others.  If any of this sounds familiar to you, you are advised to take immediate steps to reduce stress in your life, as well as manage the stress you do have in a healthier manner.

The first step toward reducing your stress is to give your life an honest assessment, and move forward with the goal of avoiding any unnecessary stress.  In many cases, this comes down to simply being more assertive and remembering you can take control of your environment.  Does a certain coworker stress you out?  If so, it’s OK to not talk to them more than is necessary to get the job done.  Is there a topic of conversation that puts you on edge?  If so, you can refuse to discuss it.  Is someone putting more demands on your time than you can handle?  If so, know it is acceptable to tell them no.

Another positive step in the right direction to managing your stress is adopting a healthier lifestyle.  Avoid self-medicating with items such as alcohol and junk food.  Instead, it is very important to get enough sleep each night, as being tired exacerbates stressful feelings.  Completing at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three times per week is excellent for releasing your body’s pent-up tension.  A well-balanced diet, starting with a healthy breakfast, is key to keeping your energy up and your mind clear as for many, just being hungry can cause stress.  Finally and most importantly, if stress has become a serious issue in your life, you are encouraged to schedule an appointment with your physician to discuss it further.

Sources:

http://www.healthywomen.org/content/article/how-beat-stress-and-boost-happiness

http://www.helpguide.org/mental/stress_management_relief_coping.htm

Spring Cleaning

photo credit to cachevalleyfamilymagazine.com

photo credit to cachevalleyfamilymagazine.com

Traditionally, the season of spring marks a time of renewal, making it excellent for taking care of those pesky household chores left dormant in the winter.  If you have found yourself procrastinating on getting your spring cleaning done, now is a great time to move forward with it.  Don’t let your spring cleaning carry over to the summer!  The following tips will help you get started.

The first thing you should do is stock up on cleaning supplies. This will prevent you from having to stop in the middle of cleaning to run to the store for an item, only to lose your momentum when you return.  Good items to have on hand are rubber gloves, a large bucket, a scrub brush, microfiber cleaning cloths, paper towels, a mop, a vacuum cleaner, a broom with dustpan, and cleaning products.  If you are interested in creating your own cleaners out of all-natural ingredients, click here for recipes for an all-purpose cleaner, a window cleaner, a floor cleaner, and a mold and mildew cleaner you can create right in your kitchen.

Your next step is to create a plan.  This means actually writing down what needs to be done in each room of the house.  For example, “Kitchen: Mop floor, wash drapes, dust ceiling fan, clean windows, and clean out the cabinet under the sink.”  Once you have a task list, recruit other members of your household for some help with the chores.  Providing others in your house with incentives definitely helps.  For example, you could offer to treat everyone to a movie when the chores are done, or a gift card for their favorite store.  Finally, think about ways you can make cleaning fun for everyone.  This could be as simple as playing some upbeat music or creating a contest to see who can complete their chores the fastest.

Time Management for the Busy Mom

photo credit to sheknows.com

photo credit to sheknows.com

As a mom on the go, you may feel like there is just not enough time in the day to get everything done.  Are you so tired from housework, running your kids to various practices, and social obligations that you aren’t taking any time out to take care of yourself? If that is the case, read on for some tips for saving time in your day.

  • Put down your phone.  Between social media pages and online games, a quick glance at your phone can easily turn into an hour frittered away.  One way to minimize phone distraction is to turn off all of the alerts in your applications.  This way, your phone won’t buzz every time one of your friends posts a Tweet.  You can also consider using a tool such as HootSuite, which will consolidate all of your social media postings in one place for quick, easy catch-up.  Finally, set aside a specific, limited, designated time each day to spend on social media or gaming.
  • Consider efficiency.  Are you being as efficient as possible when running errands?  If you find yourself running to the grocery store several times each week, the answer is likely no.  Try planning your meals for the entire week out in advance, making a grocery list, and shopping for everything at once.  Not only will you save time on trips to the store, but you will no longer have to think about what to make for dinner each day during the week.  Another alternative for saving time is ordering groceries online.  Many supermarkets are now delivering food right to your doorstep and/or doing the shopping for you so you can just pay, put the groceries in your car, and go.
  • Examine your organization.  If you often find yourself searching for missing items, you are wasting valuable time in your day.  Think about things that are frequently misplaced, such as keys, eyeglasses, or shoes, and set up designated spots to place them in daily, so you will always know where they are.

Is There a Safe Way to Tan?

photo courtesy of shape.com

photo courtesy of shape.com

Summer is upon us, and as the weather warms, we start to bare more skin.  Many people love to have the bronzed look of tanned skin, yet at the same time, we know that tans can come at a steep cost.  For example, it is common knowledge that basking in the sun without sunscreen can result in major skin damage, including wrinkles and sunspots at best, and at worst, cancer.  For many years, people believed that tanning beds provided a safe alternative to lying out in the sun.  However, that has proven to be untrue over time.  In June 2014, the United States Food and Drug Administration ordered tanning bed manufacturers to place warnings on their products used by children under 18, due to concerns about skin burns and increased risks of deadly melanoma skin cancer.  Additionally, it’s been discovered that use of tanning beds can lead to Vitamin D toxicity, which can damage your bones, joint tissue, and kidneys.

So, does a safe way to tan exist?  According to an article recently published in U.S. News & World Report, the answer is no.  In this article, Jerry Brewer, the chair of dermatologic surgery at the Mayo Clinic, bluntly states, “Asking what’s a safe amount of tan is kind of like asking how much cyanide do you want in your breakfast.”  The article goes on to say the only way to tan safely is to use bottled skin tanner.  Luckily, self-tanning lotion has come a long way from its day-glow orange origins, and with minimal research you are bound to find one by a company you know and trust that works for you.

For best results with self-tanner, experts recommend that prior to applying, you exfoliate the dead skin cells off of your body, and lightly apply a layer or moisturizer to those rough patches on your hands, feet, elbows and knees.  You’ll find more insider self-tanner application tips on the Shape magazine website.

Tips for Intensifying Your Love Life

photo courtesy of  hideawayinn.com

photo courtesy of hideawayinn.com

One of the wonderful things about pleasure is that it is boundless.  No matter how wonderful your sex life is, there will always be room for it to be even better!  Below are some very simple ideas that can intensify your sexual pleasure.

  • Boost your own sexual confidence.  To have the best sex life, you need to be truly comfortable with yourself, which will allow you to be free and uninhibited.  You can increase your self-confidence by purchasing a new nighty, dancing naked in front of a mirror, or experimenting with new toy; just do things that make you feel sexy.
  • Don’t ignore the importance of foreplay.  Sometimes the best part of sex can be the anticipation of it beforehand.  Start in the morning by giving your partner a hot kiss and a bit of groping before you head out the door.  Greet them with more stroking when they get home. To cap it off, light some candles and reward your mate with a long, gentle massage as a prelude to the main event.
  • Don’t be afraid to try new things.  If you feel like you sex life hasn’t had enough variety lately, investigate some new positions.  A quick internet search will yield, quite literally, hundreds of new positions you can try.  Additionally, think about trying a new location.  Something as simple as seducing your partner on the sofa rather than the bed can add some spice to your session.
  • Take care of yourself.  It’s important for you to take care of yourself so that you have the proper energy and stamina for a healthy sex life.  This starts with a balanced diet, regular exercise, and the proper amount of sleep.  If you need motivation to exercise, consider this: Research shows that people who exercise regularly experience increased blood flow through their entire bodies, including their genital area, which can mean more intense orgasms.