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Female Reproductive System Needs

We address various topics here related to this system. They include:

Infertility

Infertility or the inability to conceive is a problem for many women. The most common cause of the problem in women is the failure to ovulate (release an egg). This is usually due to hormonal irregularities. Other common causes include damage to the ovaries or fallopian tubes or structural problems with the uterus (such as fibroids or endometriosis).

What you can do to help

You and your partner should eat plenty of whole foods rich in vitamins and minerals. This will ensure that the:

Increase intake of essential fatty acids (EFAs) which can stimulate the production of sex hormones. The EFAs are found in:

Vitamin C supplement of 500 mg twice daily and zinc at 15 mg daily.

If you have previously taken the contraceptive pill follow the recovery from the Pill diet. (see...)

Also see our recommendations for preconception care.

Menstrual problems

Common menstrual problems include:

What you can do to help

Vitamin B6 taken twice daily can help to prevent period pains. Also take one 50 mg vitamin B complex tablet daily.

Magnesium will help with period pains and should be taken at 200 mg daily.

Evening primrose oil and fish oils both at 500 mg per day can reduce period problems including heavy periods, pain and cramping.

Take iron at 5 mg daily (more if you tend to loose a lot of blood).

Take zinc at 15 mg to help in cases of heavy periods.

Take vitamin A (as beta-carotene) and vitamin B6 for heavy periods.

Bioflavonoids can help to balance the hormone levels and regulate the menstrual cycle. Take as part of a good vitamin C with bioflavonoids supplement.

Deficiencies of zinc and vitamin B6 can result in the absence of periods.

Premenstrual syndrome

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) relates to a range of physical and emotional symptoms and signs that occur between ovulation and menstruation. The physical symptoms include:

The emotional symptoms and signs can include being weepy, depressed, irritable, having mood swings and craving for sweets. PMS is thought to be primarily caused by hormonal imbalances and is often also associated with stress.

What you can do to help

Evening primrose oil has been effective in alleviating premenstrual breast tenderness, edema and skin problems. Take six to eight 500 mg capsules per day for at least four months. It is best to combine this with a multivitamin and mineral supplement.

Vitamin B complex will help with stress and nervous tension and should be taken at 50 to 100 mg per day.

Take vitamin C 500-1000 mg or more daily.

Magnesium taken twice per day at 500 mg will help with insomnia, palpitations and period pains.

Zinc should be taken at 15 mg daily throughout your cycle.

Chromium will help if the symptoms are related to blood sugar levels.

Limit the intake of sugar, salt, red meat and alcohol.

Eat fish, chicken, whole grains and legumes as the main source of protein.

If you smoke try to quit. (see.. for tips)

Reduce the intake of fats, particularly animal fats, fried foods, and hydrogenated margarines.

Increase your intake of fiber in the form of fresh fruit and vegetables (particularly leafy green vegetables).

If you experience sugar or food craving, eat small amounts regularly, with high quality protein snacks, such as, nuts, seeds, peas and beans, as well as, animal protein, such as, eggs and fish.

Take regular outdoor exercise such as walking and swimming.

Work on managing your stress levels.

Pregnancy related problems

Many women experience a variety of problems during pregnancy. These discomforts are largely related to hormonal changes in the body or because the body is under additional strain during pregnancy. Common complaints and findings include:

What you can do to help

Ensure that you get plenty of iron to prevent and treat anemia (see your health professional for dosages). Take vitamin C (500 mg per day) with the iron to aid absorption.

Folic acid (at lest 400 mcg per day) is necessary during pregnancy for the healthy development of the fetus.

Increase your fiber intake to help prevent constipation.

Eat plenty of foods rich in calcium and magnesium to help prevent cramps.

Vitamin A is linked to growth and it is now recommended that all pregnant and breast feeding women take supplements of vitamin A (as beta-carotene) (no more than 10,000 IUs per day) as well as vitamins D and C.

Zinc deficiencies during pregnancy are related to low birth weight babies and it is recommended that you take 15 mg per day.

Vitamins C and E and bioflavonoids, zinc and brewer's yeast will help to heal damaged vessels causing varicose veins.

Take acidophilus for thrush or eat plenty of fresh natural yoghurt.

Vitamins E, C and the minerals zinc and silica will help to prevent stretch marks.

Nausea and vomiting during pregnancy will usually respond to iron (5 mg daily), zinc (10 mg daily), magnesium (100 mg daily) and folic acid (200 mcg daily).

Menopause problems

The menopause marks the end of a woman's reproductive years and may be accompanied by many uncomfortable emotional and physical symptoms. Hormonal changes (a decrease in estrogen and progesterone) primarily cause the symptoms and signs which include:

What you can do to help

Evening primrose oil, linseed oil and vitamin B complex (50 mg daily) and zinc (15 mg daily) will assist with skin problems.

Magnesium is helpful for insomnia and other sleep problems. Take 200 mg daily.

Take magnesium and vitamin B complex for anxiety and irritability.

Vitamin E, linseed oil, acidophilus and vitamin B complex will help with lumpy and tender breasts.

Vitamin C 500 to 1,000 mg per day can be useful for constipation.

Coenzyme Q10 will be useful for the lack of energy and fatigue (check that you are not anemic if you are lacking in energy).

Vitamins C and E will assist with headaches and migraines associated with menopause.

Vitamin C will help regulate heavy periods, when combined with bioflavonoids. Vitamin A (about 1,000 IUs) zinc, iron and vitamin B complex will also help with heavy menstrual bleeding.

Selenium, as part of a good antioxidant, may help to reduce the hot flushes and night sweats, as will vitamin C which is more effective than HRT (hormone replacement therapy) in dealing with these symptoms.

Zinc, vitamin C (500 g per day) vitamin E (200 IUs per day) and magnesium will help with painful menstrual periods.

Vaginal thrush

Vaginal thrush is caused by an infection of the yeast like organism Candida Albicans. Candida occurs naturally in warm moist parts of the body and only becomes a problem when it becomes too prolific. Thrush commonly occurs after a course of antibiotics. These drugs kill off the intestinal bacteria that act to keep Candida Albicans under control.

The symptoms and signs of vaginal thrush include:

What you can do to help

About a week after any course of antibiotics take acidophilus to restore the healthy balance of bacteria in the intestines. This will prevent the Candida from proliferating and thus prevent the vaginal thrush.

Take yeast free multivitamin and mineral supplements particularly if you have recurrent vaginal infection.

A zinc supplement at 20 mg per day can help with the healing.

Other things that you can do include:

Hygiene

Clothes

Food

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References

Bland, J. 1996, Contemporary Nutrition. J & B Associates.

Davies, S. and A. Stewart., 1997, Nutritional Medicine. Pan.

Holden, S., Hudson, K., Tilman, J. & D. Wolf, 2003, The Ultimate Guide to Health from Nature. Asrolog Publication.

Pressman, A. and S. Buff, 2000, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vitamins and Minerals. (2nd Ed.) Alpha Books.

Soothill, R. 1996, The Choice Guide to Vitamins and Minerals. A Choice Book Publication.

Sullivan, K. 2002, Vitamins and Minerals: A Practical Approach to a Health Diet and Safe Supplementation. Harper Collins.

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