Ovulation Predictor Kits, Which one should you use?

Which ovulation predictor kit should I use?

Many of my patients who come in seeking treatment for fertility, ask my opinion on which ovulation predictor kits (OPK’s) to use, what cycle tracking app is best, what prenatal I recommend, and so on.

I have put together a comparison of three OPK’s in order to provide some insight into which product may be the best one for you. You will also see my clear favourite as well.

The biggest complaint I hear from patients is the cost of these strips. When purchased in a pharmacy, they can range anywhere from $3-8 per strip. With repeated use over time, this cost definitely adds up!

Firstly, what is an ovulation test kit?

Ovulation test kits, or ovulation predictor kits, determine when you are ovulating by measuring the hormone levels in your urine. 

Ovulation is controlled by luteinizing hormone (LH). LH levels surge dramatically 24 to 36 hours before ovulation. After ovulation, they return to normal.

You can predict (with fairly good accuracy) when you are about to ovulate by pinpointing your LH surge. This is how OPKs work. They measure LH levels in your urine and compare them with a threshold to tell you if you are likely to ovulate soon.

OPKs work similarly to pregnancy tests in that they have two lines that form after immersing the test stick in urine.

When to test?

If you are unsure when you ovulate, it can be tricky to know when to start using the OPK’s so you’re not testing everyday and using more tests than necessary.

Check out this little info graph from Ovry:

Now, a product comparison:

Ovry

In terms of company and product values, Ovry was my preference. Female founded in Canada, with their products manufactured in North America, those were all ‘checks’ in the positive column for Ovry.

  • Strips are purchased through the Ovary website but delivered through Amazon.
  • A medium sized box comes with 24 ovulation strips and 4 pregnancy tests.
  • Purchase cost $47, which is is approximately $1.68 per strip.
  • Test strips are recommended to sit for 10 minutes.
  • Does not come with its own app connection, so if your memory is good then you can easily keep track of the progression of the line getting darker. Alternatively you would need to take pictures of the test results and store them on your phone.
  • Comes with small cup to collect urine sample, too small if you ask me!

Pearl Fertility

Pearl fertility is the first company I have seen to offer two different test strips to measure both Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FHS) AND Luteinizing Hormone (LH). While this offers more information, it is also more days of testing and more strips to use. This product is also sold in US dollars which is more costly for Canadian consumers (which all of my patients are)

  • Strips are purchased through the Pearl Fertility website.
  • Medium kit comes with 15 FSH strips,15 LH strips and 2 pregnancy strip tests.
  • Cost $40 US, which is approximately $1.60CDN per strip.
  • Comes with reusable strip holder, which can make collecting sample easier for some. (You pee directly on the stick instead of collecting into a cup)
  • Pearl Fertility has its own app to track your menstrual cycle and take in-app pictures of your test strip results. It uses the visuals of a flower opening to show when and where you are in your fertile window. This app does not store the images, so you cannot see the progression of the strip line darkening as you get closer to ovulation, I find this less ideal.
  • This is also the only app that suggested collecting first morning urine samples.
  • Test strips are recommended to sit for 10-15 minutes.

Easy@Home Premom

Easy@Home is my recommendation for ease of use and cost value. Considering the product and connected app function well, it is impossible to beat the price on this product.

  • Only available to purchase from Amazon
  • Best value – kit with 100 OPK’S and 20 pregnancy test strips.
  • Purchase price $40CDN – approximately $0.33 cents per strip *cheapest
  • Premom has its own app to track your menstrual cycle and take in-app pictures of your test strip results. This app stores all the pictures you upload, so you can see the progression of the test line getting darker, which I find helpful.
  • Test strips are recommended to sit for 5 minutes.

 

If you decide to give any of these products a try, I would love to hear how they work for you. I hope you find this product review and comparison helpful!

 

 

 

 

 

 

elimination

Proper Elimination to Balance Hormones

What does proper elimination mean?

To ensure proper elimination, a few key organs/systems in the body play a major role.

The liver, large intestine, skin and lymphatic system.

You might be thinking – what do these organs have to do with hormones? While they don’t produce hormones in the body, they are part of the integral system that helps metabolism and eliminate extra and unused hormones out of the body.

As human beings in the 21st century, we are exposed, now more than ever, to external hormones or hormone disruptors. Therefor, proper elimination is essential.

Some of those external hormones can be found in the food we eat, the medication we consume, the body products we use, and the cleaning products we are exposed to.

The bodies natural detox system

The body is intuitive and functional, and set up to properly eliminate on its own.

The liver breaks down hormones into smaller molecules and travel to the large intestine. There, they will bind with the food we’ve eaten and be limited via the stool.

The skin, the largest organ of the body, eliminates excess waste via sweat.

The lymphatic system clears cellular waste from the blood stream (lymph nodes are a concentration of this action)

Talking about poop in Chinese medicine

If you have been in my office, you have likely shared with me the frequency, colour and texture of your stool.

This is a major diagnostic tool to let me know the health of these elimination organs in your body.

Observing the stool is a daily opportunity to observe what is happening inside.

Importance of elimination

When the pathways of elimination are blocked, congested, or not functioning optimally, your body cannot get rid of toxins and excess hormones.

Increase of toxins in the body or higher levels or hormones can, of course, be disrupting to overall hormonal health in the body.

For a more comprehensive look at your bodies elimination process book a virtual or in person consultation.

Call 1-778-400-6360 to book!

 

elimination

stress and hormones

Managing stress to balance hormones

The bodies response to stress

Human bodies were designed to very effectively address stressful situations. The fight or flight response was a lifesaving mechanism back in the day.

Nowadays the body can feel the stress of a busy work week, a challenging coworker, traffic when you are late, but it cannot differentiate that your life is not on the line. So, not recognizing the distinction, pumps out all the same chemicals and hormones that it would if you were in fact, in a life or death situation.

The hormone cascade during a stress response

The hypothalamus and pituitary gland (both in the brain) are talking to each other and telling each other what to be doing when stress happens. They send signals down to the adrenal glands (sitting on top of the kidneys) to release a specific cascade of stress hormones.

Think adrenaline and cortisol.

Adrenaline boosts blood pressure and heart rate.

Cortisol sends glucose to your muscles so you can outrun danger.

When the body is in a constant state of stress, with elevated or unregulated adrenaline and cortisol levels, the perpetual state of ‘on alert’ can wreak havoc on your hormones.

If you read the previous blog post on blood sugar levels, you will know that mismanaged blood sugar is a stressor that can cause this effect in the body (see how its all related).

Over prolonged periods of time, this may lead to something that is called adrenal fatigue. This I often see in overworked people, CEO’s, single parents, or anyone in a longterm state of stress.

A few ways to manage stress in the body

As you have learned, there are internal stressors in the body, like unregulated blood sugar levels; and there are external stressors on the body, like job stress, traffic, finances etc.

As you would have read in previous blog posts, there are a few simple steps to help manage stress, although they may not always be easy.

Get enough sleep. This is wear your body rests, repairs, and manages inflammation.

Manage blood sugar levels

Exercise regularly  – high intensity or low impact will depend on your bodies needs and current symptoms

Meditation or flow state – even 1-2 minutes of meditation per day can be impactful. If meditation doesn’t feel right, find an activity that allows you to be focused, present and playful.

For a more comprehensive program to help your body manage stress, get in touch for a virtual or in person consultation.

Call 1-778-400-6360 to book.

 

stress and hormones

balanced hormones

Balanced hormones- for more than fertility

The importance of a healthy menstrual cycle

We all know the importance of balanced hormones, but do we really know why? Many of my patients come into my office thinking that the only reason to address hormonal imbalances or menstrual cycle challenges is if they want to get pregnant.

While, if that is a goal of yours, it is essential to address these issues, your menstrual cycle health has so much more to do with your overall health than just your ability to conceive.

Balanced hormones and a healthy menstrual cycle has major roles in

  • Cardiovascular health
  • Bone and joint health
  • Libido (sex drive)
  • Stress management
  • Adequate sleep

to name a few!

Hormone balancing basic

There are a few basic tools and steps I invite my patients to incorporate during their treatment plans to help reach their health goals.

The book titled ‘Womancode’ by Alisa Vitti, is one I encourage all my patients to read. It offers a step by step introduction to hormone balancing. It is easy to read and understand.

I will be elaborating on these steps in this blog series. Vitti breaks it down into 5 simple steps:

  1. Regulate blood sugar levels
  2. Address stress and the adrenals
  3. Proper elimination
  4. Understanding your menstrual cycle
  5. Living in alignment with your cycle energy

Simple, but not always easy

While the information I will be sharing with you about balancing hormones may seem simple at first, it is not always an easy adjustment if you are used to eating, acting and living a certain way.

I will be the first to admit, it is not always easy to see the correlation between these actions and our symptoms. With anything cycle related it can takes weeks, or even months, to notice any change. So, often times you will not see the direct benefit from your actions right away.

However, if you stick to these simple hormone balancing tools, with time, you will start to notice a change in your menstrual cycle, energy levels, and more!

 

 

 

As always, get in touch with any questions of concern you may have, or to book an initial consult either virtually or in person.

Call 1-778-400-6360 to book.

balanced hormones

Acupuncture During Pregnancy

Is Acupuncture during pregnancy safe?

Pregnancy is a transformational and exciting time in a new families life. It can bring so many different emotions and symptoms with it. From joy, anticipation, fear and worry, to nausea, fatigue, physical discomfort and more.

The first and most common question we get is “is acupuncture safe during pregnancy?”.

The answer is YES, absolutely.

By working with a trained and licensed care provider, and someone who specializes in pregnancy care, you are in good hands during your pregnancy.

With all the poking and prodding that comes along with pregnancy, getting stuck with needles voluntarily probably seems like the last thing you’d want to do. But when it comes to banishing some pregnancy woes, many moms-to-be sing the praises of acupuncture. 

A few of the benefits of acupuncture during pregnancy:

Acupuncture eases nausea

Pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting are common among women, particularly in the first and second trimesters. Acupuncture helps to ease the severity of these symptoms and support the body.

Acupuncture relieves pain

Women experience discomfort in all stages of their pregnancy, whether it’s pelvic pain, hip pain, lower back pain or ligament pain. Acupuncture is a safe, natural and effective way to improves these complaints.

Acupuncture reduces stress

Stress can have a negative impact on the pregnant body and the development of your baby. Acupuncture helps to calm the nervous system and reduce stress in the body which is beneficial to both mum and babe.

What can acupuncture during pregnancy treat?

During pregnancy, acupuncture has been shown to effectively treat the following conditions :

  • Miscarriage prevention
  • Morning sickness (nausea and vomiting)
  • Fatigue
  • Pregnancy induced hypertension
  • Breech and posterior positions
  • Edema (fluid retention)
  • Constipation
  • Acid reflux
  • Sinusitis
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Pain
  • Induction
  • Cervical Ripening

 

 

Stefanie Miska is a Dr. TCM, a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist with a practice focus on reproductive care. Call 1 778 400 6360 to schedule a consult.

 

 

cosmetic acupuncture miiko skin co

Cosmetic Acupuncture product highlight – Miiko Skin Co.

My favourite products to use during cosmetic acupuncture treatments

During cosmetic acupuncture treatments, and especially while doing gua sha, it is essential to have good (actually… great) quality products. This is why I swear by Miiko Skin co. and their line of facial serums.

Not only do they have products for every skin type, Miiko is also a locally owned business that prides itself in ingredient integrity and sustainability.

Your skin is the largest organ in the human body and can ingest many of the ingredients it is exposed to.

As you have previously read, facial rejuvenation acupuncture addresses imbalances from the inside out, and making sure you are using clean products on your face is a very important part of that equation!

“How come the picture of health has only included diet and exercise when there is evidence showing the ingredients we are ingesting everyday through our skin and lungs can contribute to obesity, hormone disruption, cancer, and cardiovascular disease”.

But wait… are you worried facial oil will just make your face MORE oily??

It might seem counter intuitive to use an oil based product to treat acne and oily skin types but have you ever heard of the phrase “fighting fire with fire”?

Your skin naturally produces oil and when it is chronically stripped of its oil with harsh soaps or oil-free products, it will go into overdrive to try and balance its oil production.

You do not need to worry about feeling greasy, this product absorbs quickly and immediately makes it look and feel more hydrated.

How it all comes together

When you come in for a facial rejuvenation acupuncture session, I will apply a facial serum to prep your skin for gua sha. This helps the gua sha tool glide smoothly over the skin to increase blood flow and circulation. Then you receive facial rejuvenation acupuncture and relax with the needles in for about 20 minutes.

You leave feeling refreshed, vibrant and renewed.

 

To inquire about local or virtual skin consults please contact us at 1 778 400 6360 / hello@stefaniemiska.com

 

Read more about hormones and skin care, on a guest blog post over at Miiko Skin Co. here.

 

cosmetic acupuncture miiko skin co

facial rejuvenation acupuncture

What is Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture?

What is Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture?

Facial Rejuvenation acupuncture is one part of the overall treatment plan when you come in for cosmetic acupuncture.

This cosmetic treatment is an extension of traditional acupuncture.  It can naturally help make the skin look younger, smoother, and all-around healthier.

Unlike injection procedures, facial acupuncture addresses not only signs of aging, but also the skin’s overall health.

But, how does it work?

During a treatment, tiny needles are placed in acupuncture points on the face. This causes micro trauma to the skin, which signals the body to send collagen, qi and blood, directly to the area to heal.

As the needle punctures the skin, it creates a wound, which is called a positive micro trauma. This sends your body into repair mode. Similar to micro needling, which uses hundreds of pricks through a rolling device, this is a similar function… just a little less intense (using less needles).

From a western medicine perspective, the bodies responds to these micro traumas by increasing blood flow and the production of collagen and elastin for wound healing. Due to the superficial level of the needles, it may also stimulate neurotransmitter production.

From the Chinese Medicine perspective, the acupuncture needles increase the flow of blood and qi to the area of insertion which enhances colour, vibrancy and has an overall ‘lifting’ effect.

Are there any negative side effects?

Facial rejuvenation acupuncture is very safe with minimal side effects.

Occasionally the face is flushed after treatment due to the increase in blood flow.

Very rarely bruising can happen, which clears up on its own within a few days.

Facial rejuvenation acupuncture is not only for people who already have wrinkles or problem skin

Many people prefer to get started early and take a preventative approach. As with any form of treatment, the earlier the better! This treatment is very effective at reducing the signs of aging and can be used preventatively, which can slow the onset of wrinkles and problem areas and will save money and time in the long run.

 

 

To inquire about local or virtual skin consults please contact us at 1 778 400 6360 / hello@stefaniemiska.com

 

facial rejuvenation acupuncture

gua sha

Gua Sha Facial Treatment

What the heck is gua sha anyway?

Traditional Chinese Medicine has used this treatment for a very long time and for a wide variety of ailments.

When I first learned about Gua Sha in acupuncture school, we used soup spoons and salsa lids to gentle scrape the skin until redness began to show.

Gua sha, which translates to ‘scraping’ is a healing practice in which the practitioner take a round edge, flat tool, and using a generous amount of pressure, pulls it across the skin to increase blood flow.

This redness is called transient therapeutic petechiae; while it is desired during body treatments, lighter and more gentle pressure is applied to the face to avoid this outcome.

I first started using this method in my practice for complaints such as physical aches and pains, cold and flu symptoms, and headaches.

It has gained popularity in recent years as the benefits of applying it during cosmetic acupuncture treatments has become more evident.

Using gua sha during facial rejuvenation acupuncture

When done on the face, gua sha can reduce fine lines and wrinkles, restore firmness and elasticity, promote a bright complexion, relieve jaw tension, reduce sinus congestion, promote lymphatic drainage, and decrease puffiness.

A recent study stated that gua sha increases surface microperfusion. Simply, this means increase blood flow (which as you might remember from my previous post – increases all those good things like collagen flow, into the skin tissue).

Facial gua sha is a wonderful way to aid lymphatic drainage out of the face and down the neck.

Is gua sha for me?

Gua sha is for everybody! (almost) If you have had botox or other fillers recently, or have broken skin or large areas of acne, best to check in with your practitioner.

Remember that the skin on your face can be sensitive and always better to start with light, gently pressure as you are learning.

I use gua sha as part of my cosmetic acupuncture treatments, and offer a quick tutorial for patients to continue this self treatment at home between sessions.

I also work with clients remotely who are looking for support for their skin. You can inquire about either of these services by calling 1 778 400 6360 or emailing hello@stefaniemiska.com.

 

gua sha