Reflexology for Women's Health Reflexology can aid women throughout all periods of change in their life, from the onset of menstruation and puberty, through to fertility, pregnancy peri-menopuase and the menopause. Each of these stages is a unique and powerful experience for a woman resulting in many physical and psychological changes. These hormonal changes are varied and can be very different for each woman. However, the body will often be in a state of imbalance throughout a woman's life and reflexology can help to ease any discomfort or gynaecological conditions that develop whilst encouraging the body's natural healing process. Reflexology can help alleviate symptoms of: Puberty When teenagers hit puberty they may experience a wealth of hormonal changes which will influence changes in their bodies and behaviour. The increase in oestrogen in girls and testosterone in boys can result in more oily skin leading them to be more prone to acne as well as sudden mood changes and changing emotions. It can be hard to know how to help your child at this stage in their life. Guiding them towards a healthy diet and encouraging them to exercising regularly can help. Reflexology is a great option to help balance the hormones, improve mood and is a safe therapy for all ages. PMS (pre menstrual syndrome/tension) PMS symptoms vary individually from woman to woman but typically include abdominal bloating, tender or swollen breasts, headaches, fluid retention, mood swings, anxiety, abdominal and lower back pain, nasuea, anxiety, irritability and fatigue. By stimulating the endocrine system, Reflexology can help balance the hormones, alleviating pain, anxiety, fatigue etc. Dysmenorrhea (painful periods) Most women do suffer some discomfort within the first few days of their periods, however, some endure more severe cramping and malaise. During a period, the uterus is contracting which can result in the cramping feelings often leading to anxiety and stress which can in turn result in continued pain. Coming off the pill or removal of an IUD can cause more painful periods. If menstrual cramps disrupt your every day life or if your periods suddenly become more painful than usual, particularly if you are over 25 years old it is important to speak to your doctor. This may be a sign of fibroids, endometriosis or Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). Reflexology is a great way to help reduce the pain caused by dysmenorrhea. Amenorrhea (temporary or permanent absence of periods) Primary amenorrhea is when menstrual onset is delayed at puberty and secondary amenorrhea is when periods stop having previously started. There are many reasons why your period may stop - extreme exercise, extreme weight loss or anorexia, stress, stopping the contraceptive pill, pregnancy, menopause, certain medications. Additionally, hormonal imbalance may affect your periods such as: - Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) which causes relatively high levels of hormones instead of fluctuating levels - Thyroid malfunction - e.g. hypothyridism (underactive thyroid) or hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) can cause amenorrhea - Pituitary tumours - a beingn tumour can interfere with regular menstruation causing periods to stop Regular reflexology sessions can help to kickstart your periods, as long as other lifestyle factors are not prohibitive. Menorrhagia (heavy periods) Menorrhagia refers to periods which are very heavy or with prolonged bleeding (usually longer than seven days), flooding and clots. Many women may experience heavy bleeding but to be defined as menorrhagia you are unable to maintain usual activities due to the severity of bleeding and cramping. Symptoms include soaking through tampons/towels every hour for several consecutive hours, using double protection continuously, needing to change protection during the night and symptoms of anaemia. There can be many causes including hormonal imbalance (PCOS, thyroid issues), ovary dysfunctuin, fibroids, polyps, medications, IUD etc. Endometriosis Endometriosis is believed to affect around 2 million women in the UK, most of whom are diagnosed before the age of 40 and is most common in women in their 30s and 40s. The cells that line the womb start to grow elsewhere - usually in the pelvis and around the womb, ovaries and fallopian tubes. Symptoms vary from woman to woman although most commonly include painful, heavy periods, pain in lower abdomen, pelvis or lower back, difficulty in conceiving, pain during and after sex and bleeding in between periods. Pain may be worse towards the end of a period. It is a long term condition that can impact your life. Orthodox medical treatments include using the contraceptive pill and surgery to remove the lining growing outside the uterus. Reflexology can help to manage the symptoms such as pain and any anxiety associated. It can also help the body pre and post surgery. Fibroids Uterine fibroids are a surprisingly common condition. Around 1 in 3 women develop them at some point according to the NHS, usually when they are aged between 30 and 50. They are fibrous, non-cancerous balls of muscle and tissue that develop inside or around the uterus. They range in size e.g. they could be the size of a grape or a melon. Many women with fibroids may be unaware as they may not experience any symptoms. Those who do suffer with symptoms may experience abdominal or lower back pain, heavy or painful periods, constipation, frequent need to urinate or discomfort during sex. Small ones often disappear on their own after age 45 with the meopause. Medication can help to shrink fibroids although surgery may be necessary. Reflexology can work alongside medication if required to alleviate symptoms and help pre and post surgery. Ovarian Cysts/polyps These are fluid filled tissue/sac that develop on or around the ovaries. They are often symptomless unless they grow large enough to bear down on the bladder or swell, therefore blocking the blood supply to the ovaries. Symptoms can also develop following a rupture. The menstrual cycle may become irregular or you may experience pelvic pain, painful intercourse, difficulty emptying bowels, frequent need to urinate, bloating or heavy, painful periods. Cysts may also impact fertility although not always. Menopause and Peri-Menopause Women are classed as Menopausal when they have not had a period for one year and their ovaries lose their reproductive function. The average age of Menopause is 51, however, it typically ranges between age 45 and 55 and can be earlier or later in life. Peri-menopause refers to the lead up to Menopause when women often experience many menopausal symptoms and periods become lighter or less frequent. Peri-menopause can last for months or even years and although some women have no symptoms, others suffer with many discomforts that can hugley affect their quality of life. Peri-menopausal symtpoms (and the severity) vary from woman to woman and could include:
loss of self-confidence
muscular and joint pain
itchniness of skin
Sometimes a woman's menopausal experience is reflective of her experience of her menstrual cycle throughout her life; if imbalances have been present and remain unresolved then it could be more likely she will experience further imbalance during menopause. Even when a woman has stopped bleeding, it is possible for her to experience menopausal symptoms for years to come. HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) is a commonly used treatment for peri-menopausal symptoms, however, it is not the only way to minimise discomforts. Reflexology can be an excellent way to help provide relief and make this transition phase as smooth as possible. As Reflexology is a complementary therapy and works alongside medical care, it can certainly be used as another tool to improve symptoms in conjunction with HRT should you wish to take this. It is also important to consider other lifestyle factors such as eating a healthy, balanced diet, exercising regularly, reducing alcohol intake and quitting smoking. Reflexology for Women's Health initial treatments include a health, diet and lifestyle consultation which will allow me to design a personalised treatment plan. We will discuss any concerns you may be experiencing and any symptoms that you may be having as a result. Whatever stage of your life the sessions can help bring your body into balance. At the end of the treatment I will offer homecare advice to prolong the effects of the treatment as necessary and we will discuss a treatment plan going forwards.
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