Endometriosis, Prism Blog, Surgical Recovery

10 Essentials for Surviving Endometriosis

OK, ya’ll, I’ve put a LOT of time and research into curating this list for you and I’m super proud of it! What is it missing? What future posts would you like to see? Email me to suggest topics!

I’ve suffered from endometriosis for as long as I can remember. Like most of us with endo, I wasn’t diagnosed until YEARS after my symptoms began. It has therefore taken me a long time to figure out how to live with this condition; I’m sure many of you can relate! I wanted to share some of the things that have made my life so much easier. I hope they help you too :)

These tips are also great for those of you recovering from vaginoplasty, hysterectomy, and many laparoscopic abdominal surgeries too!

  1.  Pelvic cushion: seriously the best investment for endo, or anyone with pelvic or tailbone pain. Pudendal neuralgia, coccydynia, and hemorrhoids folks will benefit from this as well. Use it every time you drive, anytime you’re sitting at home or at the office, or in a restaurant, theater, friends’ house, etc. Just use it, it’s so worth it!
    1.  Comfi-Life is the cheapest option, and is super effective. I like the gel-enhanced version over the slightly cheaper foam option. It’s a bit obvious that it’s a butt cushion, so not as great for travel, but great for leaving in your car, wheelchair, or office chair.
    2. If that one doesn’t work for you, try this more expensive option with a larger cut out. They also have a travel version, which is easy to carry, folds up like a weird purse, and doesn’t scream, “I have butt pain.” You can also, in a pinch, use a travel neck pillow, though they don’t work as well because they’re small.
  2. Sugar-free coconut flakes: because I always need a good snack and it’s hard to find travel-friendly options that work with my modified autoimmune protocol diet.
    1. Get these AIP certified coconut chips online; or Trader Joe’s sugar-free coconut flakes, which are just as good and cheaper.
    2. Or make them yourself with this AIP friendly recipe.
    3. More AIP snack ideas here.
  3. Standing desk: because sitting all day is pretty much the worst thing you can do for endo pain.
    1. You can get fancy adjustable ones so you can sit and stand, especially helpful if you tend to get worn out from standing too much. Here are some high end, midrange, and cheaper options.
    2.  Ikea also has an even cheaper option that fits in tiny spaces, but it doesn’t adjust. I have this one and like all the storage space it has underneath; I don’t have to have a separate storage area for work stuff.
    3. More tips on choosing a standing desk here.
  4. Castor oil compress
    1. Heat alone is super helpful for most endo pain. Combining it with castor oil is even more relieving. Castor oil supports lymphatic drainage and boosts your immune system activity to actually help digest endometrial implants, scar tissue and fibroids, resulting in less pain and inflammation over time! Here’s how to do it.
    2. Don’t use castor oil compresses during menstruation or if you might be pregnant. It’s best to use them daily at first, starting after your period ends and ending when it begins again. As you improve, you can start backing off to once a week except the week before your period, when it’s still best to do it 2-3 times. Commit to doing them for at least 6 months to get their full effect. You can reuse the oil-soaked fabric and keep it in the freezer between uses. Just let it defrost before using again! Replace it after about 7 uses. More information on using castor oil packs.
    3. Use a cold-pressed, hexane-free, paraben-free option like this one or this one which is available in most pharmacies. You can get the whole shebang as a premade kit like this, or get a cute set on etsy with this oil and flannel and tie on cover. You can add essential oils to your castor oil, but DO NOT use lavender or sage which are estrogenic. Check out this lovely local Chinese herb and CBD infused option, which we well at Prism (email me to order!).
  5. Foam roller
    1. Endometriosis can cause fibromyalgia-like hypersensitization of the myofascial system, resulting in muscular pain not only around the pelvis, but all over the body’s trigger points (aka acupuncture points, yep, we had those first). There are a bunch of different foam roller options. I recommend starting with a softer roller and progressing to a midrange one. Don’t go for the super firm options as causing pain can actually increase your body’s tension response! You can even get a collapsible travel roller. Here’s how to foam roll, and a video of a foam roller sequence for endometriosis.
    2. More exercises for improving endo pain: stretches and more stretches, fascial release techniques, tennis ball technique, pinky ball, MELT Method, Clear Passage Approach, yoga for endo, pilates for endo.
  6. Microwaveable hot pack
    1. I can’t tell you how many endo patients I’ve seen with belly and low back burns and mottled skin from too hot heating pads. Microwaveable heat pads (like this ginger infused one or this leopard print one) and hot water bottles (like this fleece wrapped rubber one or )are so much better because they start out at their hottest. You know immediately if it’s going to burn you so you can adjust (putting a shirt in between to reduce the heat, etc). Heating pads get hotter over time so you’re like a lobster in a pot of boiling water. You can burn yourself without even realizing it because you’re adjusting slowly to the heat. Stay away from heating pads! Burning yourself does NOT help your endo symptoms. Plus, the EMF emitted by electronic items isn’t great for your reproductive organs (don’t put your laptop on your belly or carry your phone in your front pocket either for this reason!).
    2. Check out these stick-on disposable heat packs too!
  7. Nausea relief
    1. Extra strength ginger, like in Dramamine natural, I find even more effective than regular Dramamine, and without side effects. Ginger chews can also work well, but I recommend staying away from sugar which can cause endo belly flare ups and inflammation (aka more pain)! Sea bands stimulate PC6, an acupuncture point for nausea, and are a totally natural way to prevent nausea. You can wear them all day.
  8. Enzymes
    1. Taking enzymes with meals can reduce nausea, ‘endo belly’, bloating, gas, constipation, and diarrhea, and allow you to digest foods that you otherwise would react to. I carry Enteromend in my office for this purpose.
    2. You can also take enzymes between meals to help digest scar tissue and adhesions. I carry Serramend in my office for this purpose.
  9. Crystal wand
    1. If you have chronic pelvic pain, pain with penetrative sex, pain with urination, pain with bowel movements, and/or referred pain (to your belly button, inner thighs, etc), you likely have pelvic floor tension that can be improved with a crystal wand or pelvic wand, . When we feel pain, we tense up around it to protect the area. This is great if we have an acute injury that needs protecting. Unfortunately, with chronic pain, we just keep tensing up and tensing up over time without ever relaxing our muscles, which actually just creates more pain. A crystal wand helps release pelvic floor ‘knots’ via the vagina and/or anus. It can be painful at first, so I recommend starting slow, working on one spot at a time, rather than overwhelming yourself and creating more pain (and therefore more tension). Here’s how to do it. If you have too much pain to use a crystal wand, you can start with vaginal dilators, which are more gentle. Pelvic relaxation breathing exercises are also excellent for this.
    2. To learn how to do this properly, and get even more tips personalized to your body, visit a Pelvic PT. Lisa Thompson PT, at Pelvic Health and Rehabilitation Center in Berkeley, CA is trans competent.
  10. Leggings that look like pants, and other endo-friendly clothing
    1. I personally love paperbag pants for this. My other favs: travel stretch pants, dressy sweatpants, eco-friendly stretch pants, wrap dresses, and wrap sweater dresses. My Chronic Style makes clothing specifically for endometriosis and pelvic pain! For men’s styles, check out these dressy men’s sweatpants and this list of comfortable men’s pants. Tips for choosing endo friendly clothing, and more endo-friendly options. How clothes can help you feel better about your endo body.

Schedule an appointment to learn more about managing your endometriosis and living pain-free! Call 510-394-2743 or schedule online.


This information is for educational purposes only, please consult a healthcare provider before exercising and always follow your surgeon’s advice.

Endometriosis, Prism Blog, Surgical Recovery, Transgender Wellness

How My Endometriosis Has Made Me A Better Provider for Trans Patients

I began my acupuncture studies wanting to focus in queer health, and this continues to be the focus of my practice. Having experienced my share of discrimination from healthcare providers–mainly from gynecologists–due to my sexuality and gender identities of my partners, I wanted to be able to serve my community better. I knew that my trans loved ones had faced even worse discrimination and ineffective care.

Because of my experience with horrible cramps, super irregular cycles, heavy bleeding, and month-long pelvic pain; menstrual health and hormone regulation were immediately interesting to me. I had experienced so much homophobia, and also just straight up dismissiveness, from gynecologists that prevented me from getting a diagnosis or the care I needed. I wanted to create a space for my patients who were dealing with similar problems, both in terms of symptoms and in terms of discrimination from the healthcare system.

I’ve done so much research in this area in order to have answers for my patients: what their options are, what to expect, how I can help, what they can do at home. I wanted to create a space where patients could come and know they would be heard, understood, and cared for. I wanted to be able to support all of my patients with reproductive and sexual health and hormone regulation, regardless of their gender identities or if they were medically transitioning. I sometimes think that the most important thing I do for my patients is simply be there, seeing them, listening to them, and understanding where they’re coming from. Simply creating a safe space is probably the most important thing my practice does.

After I had my surgery, which confirmed my diagnosis of endometriosis, I learned how difficult recovering from surgery can be, and how supportive acupuncture can be of that process. Because of this, and everything I subsequently researched and learned, my practice has evolved towards having a specific focus on supporting patients through gender affirming surgeries. Acupuncture is so helpful for reducing pain and swelling after surgery, easing constipation, promoting healing, reducing scar tissue, and improving function and sensation. Especially as most surgeons don’t do follow up with their patients, providing post-surgical care can have a huge impact on patient recovery times and making sure that you’re on track with your healing.

Through my extensive research on endometriosis, I also learned more about pelvic pain and pelvic health. All that I’ve learned is applicable not only to cisgender women with endometriosis, but to everyone with a pelvis. So many things in our lives can impact our pelvic floors, potentially causing serious pelvic pain, pain with bowel movements, pain with penetrative sex, pain with urination, pain with sitting, and more. Pelvic health after vaginoplasty, metoidioplasty, and phalloplasty is especially important. Working on the pelvic floor before and after these surgeries can do wonders for increasing function and sensation, reducing scar tissue and pain, and speeding healing.

I also learned that it’s not only cisgender women who have endometriosis. Trans men, of course can have endo as well, and it can even persist after they start taking testosterone and stop having periods. It can even persist after hysterectomy, especially if the ovaries are not removed, but even if they are removed endometrial implants may still be present and can respond to low levels of estrogen that are naturally produced by the adrenal glands (connected to the kidneys, present in every sex, and not removed during gender affirming surgery). Plus, we now know that cisgender men can have endometriosis. Studies of cisgender men undergoing estrogen therapy for prostate cancer have shown several cases of endometriosis, likely caused by the estrogen they were taking (read Ask Me About My Uterus: A Quest to Make Doctors Believe in Women’s Pain, by Abby Norman, for more on this). This implies that trans women, too, can have endometriosis, especially if they are taking estrogen. This is not just a menstrual disease and it’s not just a women’s disease. It’s a disease that can potentially effect everyone and every provider should know how to diagnose and treat it.

I think it’s natural that my health and my practice should be intertwined. I’m constantly learning and researching about my own health, and constantly learning and researching for my patients. All of this information builds on itself and my empathy for patient’s suffering and experiences in the medical system make me a better practitioner. I’m especially grateful to have such an amazing lineage of medicine backing me up. The best thing about acupuncture and Chinese Medicine is that, even for chronic incurable diseases, there’s always something you can do to make someone’s life better. There’s always something we can do to help our patients live happier, healthier lives.

Acupuncture is a holistic medicine. Even if I’m just supporting patients through surgery, I’m still addressing their overall health. Even if I’m just supporting a patient’s hormones as they start hormone therapy, I’m still keeping them in balance with what healthy means for their bodies at that particular point in time. It is a holistic system, tailored to a patient’s constitution and that’s why it works so well. We don’t just throw the same treatment at every patient with the same condition. Everyone’s healing plan is unique, just like each person is unique.

At Prism, we don’t make assumptions about what ‘healthy’ means for your body. We don’t expect your body to be any certain way based on your identity or how you look or your name or pronoun. We see you for who you are, listen to what you feel your body needs, and do our darndest to come up with solutions that will work for  you, to help you get your life back!


Ready to schedule a free consultation? Call 510-394-2743 or head over to our appointments page.


This information is for educational purposes only, please consult a healthcare provider before exercising and always follow your surgeon’s advice.

Supplements for surgical recovery, as included in Prism Integrative Acupuncture's post-surgical recovery toolkit
Prism Blog, Surgical Recovery, Transgender Wellness

Best Supplements and Herbs for Surgical Recovery

What Herbs and Supplements Help with Gender Affirming Surgery Preparation and Healing?

When preparing for your gender-affirming surgery, there are many natural remedies and supplements to speed healing and make your recovery more comfortable. Knowing what to take, and when to take it is important. Always check with your doctor and/or surgeon before taking any supplements or herbs.

Things to Avoid: 

When preparing for gender-affirming surgeries, there are certain herbs and supplements that should be avoided in the days leading up. While each individual is unique, I tend to err on the side of caution, recommending stopping all herbs and supplements seven days before surgery. Do not take any supplements that your surgeon does not approve. 

  1. Avoid vitamin E, fish oil, omegas, ginkgo, and garlic at least seven days before surgery, as these can act as potential blood thinners.
  2. Avoid St. John’s wort, feverfew, bai shao, devil’s claw, dan shen, ginger, dong quai/dang gui/angelica, goldenseal, saw palmetto, reishi, echinacea, ephedra/ma huang, kava, ginseng, licorice, and valerian at least seven days before surgery, as these can either potentially cause excess bleeding or interfere with anesthesia.
  3. Avoid green tea and chili peppers at least 24 hours before surgery, or longer if your surgeon advises. 
  4. Avoid teas that contain herbs like hibiscus or mulberry leaf, which may lower blood pressure or blood sugar, at least seven days before surgery.

Supplements for Pre-Op: 

Leading up to your surgery, treat your body to supplements and herbs that will lead to faster healing overtime. Taking care of your body before gender-affirming surgery is key to a positive recovery. These supplements can help get you there.

    1. Vitamin D: Having your vitamin D and iron levels tested during your pre-op blood work can give you more information on whether or not you should supplement with the two. If you do decide to supplement with vitamin D, take 2000-5000 IU per day with food if not included in your multivitamin.
    2. Zinc: Taking 30-50mg of zinc per day with food for four to six weeks leading up to your surgery can speed healing post-op.

 

  • One month before your surgery, begin to take:

 

    1. A multivitamin with 25-50mg of B vitamin complex to boost immunity and reduce stress on your nervous system.
    2. 50mg of CoQ10 a day to reduce the stress of surgery on the heart and improve recovery.
    3. 500-1000mg of vitamin C a day to aid with wound healing.
    4. Milk thistle to detox the liver to prepare for successful anesthesia.
  1. Probiotic: Two weeks before surgery, begin taking a probiotic blend with acidophilus and bifida to reduce the risk of post-surgical infection.

Supplements for Right After Surgery: 

Help your body heal as fast as possible with these three herbs and supplements, taken right after surgery if your surgeon allows, or as soon as you get home.

  1. Dramamine Natural: Dramamine Natural is just super concentrated ginger, which studies show can be just as effective as metoclopramide, a common anti-nausea drug, at reducing nausea.
  2. Vitamin C: Take 500mg of vitamin C to help flush out the anesthesia and encourage collagen growth and repair. 
  3. Tea: Make a nourishing post-surgery tea of nettles, oatstraw, horsetail (equal parts), and rosehips (pinch); full of nourishing vitamins and minerals that speed healing.

Supplements for Post-Op: 

Check with your surgeon about when to begin taking supplements after surgery. Some surgeons will recommend waiting a few days before restarting supplements and herbs. This supplement plan should last for one month post-surgery, unless otherwise noted. After your supplement plan, return to your regular supplements and herbs as recommended by your healthcare providers. Don’t take anything that interferes with your regular medications and don’t stop taking your regularly prescribed medications around surgery unless your surgeon directs you to do so.

    1. Herbs for constipation: If you’re dealing with constipation, senna, aloe, and burdock are all gentle herbal supplements for post-op. You can take them with your surgeon prescribed stool softeners.
    2. Fennel: Drink fennel tea for gas pains.
    3. Vitamin C: Take 300mg-1g of vitamin C per day to help with wound healing. Vitamin C is required by the body to make collagen, the connective tissue in the skin that helps healing and prevents blistering. It also helps to strengthen the immune system and fight off infection. A good way to get vitamin C is through rose hips and camu camu berries. You can stop taking this after two weeks, unless it’s already part of your regular supplement regimen.
    4. Selenium: Eat a brazil nut everyday to give your body selenium, which is necessary for healing.
    5. Bromelain: Take bromelain for inflammation and bruising. It boosts the immune system to reduce pain, bruising, tenderness. Bromelain should be taken in doses of 1000-1500mg three times a day on an empty stomach, which is necessary. You can stop taking this after two weeks.
    6. Quercetin: Another anti-inflammatory supplement is quercetin, which can be taken in 1000mg doses up to two-three times daily to reduce swelling and reduce the tendency to develop hypertrophic scars.
    7. Willow: valerian, kava, and poppy teas can help ease pain, although they shouldn’t be combined with pain medication.
    8. Tea: Make a post-surgery tea of burdock (to aid with constipation, skin healing, lymph circulation, and liver detox), red root and cleavers (to help with lymph circulation, skin healing, and swelling), horsetail (silica for skin healing), gotu kola (for circulation), nettles, and echinacea. 

 

  • CoQ10: 100-200mg, aids in rebuilding cell walls and protects the skeletal muscles in the body.
  • B6: 250mg two times a day to reduce swelling (or use a multivitamin). This can be stopped one week post-surgery, unless it’s already part of your regular supplement regimen.
  • Milk thistle: to detox anesthesia from the liver; do not take at the same time as other medications or herbs.

 

  1. Zinc: 30-50mg per day for wound healing. You can stop taking this after two weeks.
  2. Probiotic: with acidophilus and bifida to reduce the risk of post-surgical infection.
  3. Omega 3s: 2000-3000mg of omega 3, like fish oil, per day to reduce inflammation and improve circulation. This should be lowered to 500-1000 mg per day after two weeks.
  4. Arnica: 30C of homeopathic arnica five times a day to reduce pain, bruising, and swelling.
  5. Vitamin D: 2000-5000 IU of vitamin D per day with food.
  6. Healing skin salve: Make a healing skin salve to use after stitches are gone of aloe, calendula, comfrey, plantain leaf, selfheal, yarrow, rosemary, and sage

Remember: If you can’t eat, drink, and/or urinate, or have a fever, chills, an infection, trouble breathing, unusual bleeding, redness, feel unwell, or have a hot feeling in the surgical site, call your doctor or go to the emergency room. Ask your surgeon what signs you should look for regarding post-surgical complications.

Get acupuncture home visits in Berkeley, Oakland, and the greater Bay Area to improve your recovery: www.prismacupuncture.com/appointments

This information is for educational purposes only, please consult a healthcare provider before exercising and always follow your surgeon’s advice.

Acupuncture, Prism Blog, Scar Reduction, Surgical Recovery, Transgender Wellness

Can You Exercise After Gender Affirming Surgeries?

Exercise can be a great way to increase energy, keep your body strong, and help clear your mind. Treating your body kindly with modified exercise before and after surgery is especially imperative to assist in the healing process. However, it’s important to know how much and what type is okay. Today, we’re breaking down what types of exercise you can incorporate into your recovery routine and how they can help your body feel its best after gender affirming surgery.

Remember that this is just a guide. Only YOU know your body and your limits. While there may be movements that are uncomfortable after surgery, never do anything that causes you pain or causes you to bleed. Know your body’s limits and be sure to take care of it.

Pre-Op:

Prior to your surgery, it’s best to make time for daily exercise. While each person is unique, take time to discover what exercises feel good and prepare your body best for surgery. Since you likely won’t be able to be active for some time after surgery, it’s important to get your exercise in and make it count.

  1. Foam rolling: You can buy these in most stores or online and they can be used to help sore or tight muscles. Use a foam roller daily the week before surgery (or earlier than that) to soothe any tight muscles. Do what feels right for your body, but refer to this article for five beginner-friendly positions. 
  2. Core exercises: Core work can help your posture and strengthen your core. Here are some core moves to incorporate into your exercises before your surgery. 
  3. Stretching: Stretching isn’t just for before or after a workout. Stretching can help with tight muscles, improve flexibility, release tension, and more. Find a stretching routine that works for you
  4. Pelvic floor exercises: Prior to bottom surgery–like vaginoplasty, metoidioplasty, or phalloplasty–pelvic floor exercises can be extremely helpful in preparing the body. One exercise we recommend involves imagining you’re picking up a marble or closing a drawstring purse with your perineum. Pick it up, hold for a moment, then let it go. This exercise can both strengthen and relax your pelvic floor muscles prior to surgery. If you have any pre-existing pain or issues with urination, contact a pelvic physical therapist to discuss what’s best for your body. 

Post-Op:

After your surgery, you may notice your body feels and moves differently. It’s important to be sure to balance out your healing with both rest and movement to help your body in its recovery. Take each move slowly, paying attention to how your body is feeling.

  1. Slow walks: Unless you’re on bed rest (which may be the case for bottom surgery), try going for a slow walk around the block the day after surgery. If you’re on bed rest, start this the day you’re off bed rest. Bring a buddy with you to keep you company and assist you if needed. Rather than going for longer walks, go for shorter walks more often. A good rule of thumb is to aim for three one-block walks every day in the first week, then increase to a few blocks at a time if you’re up to it. Many doctors recommend you keep your walks short, around less than 15 minutes until two or more weeks post-op. 
  2. Ankle exercises: Start with pointing and flexing your toes 20 times every two hours. Then, make circles with your ankles 10 times in each direction to promote circulation and prevent deep vein thrombosis. This is recommended to be done every two hours while lying in bed. Ankle pumps are simply moving your ankle up and down. To do ankle pumps, plantarflex one foot as if pressing down on an imaginary gas pedal. Then, dorsiflex your feet by pulling your toes up toward your shins as if letting off the gas. Repeat with the other foot and alternate sides for 20 repetitions. This is great when you’re on bed rest, such as after phalloplasty, metoidioplasty, or vaginoplasty.
  3. Deep breathing: Not necessarily an exercise, but a great way to check in with yourself and your body. If at any point you need to relax, breathe through discomfort, or put your mind at ease, practice deep breathing through your nose. Let your belly and chest expand all the way from the tops of your shoulders to your pelvic floor, and sideways to expand your ribs. Feel the air fill your lungs and exhale slowly through the mouth. Do this however often you’d like, with a recommendation of two or more minutes, two or more times per day. Yes, this exercise is ok to do after top surgery (mastectomy, chest masculinization, or breast augmentation); you may feel some discomfort but should not feel pain.
  4. Shoulder rolls: With a surgeon’s consent, stand or sit comfortably with your arms relaxed at your sides. In a circular motion, bring your shoulders forward, up, backward, and down. Try to make the circle as large as you can and move both of your shoulders at the same time, doing this 10 times. If you have tightness across your incision or chest, start with smaller circles and increase the size as the tightness decreases. After your series of 10, switch directions and do 10 shoulder rolls in the backward direction. Bring your shoulders backward, up, forward, and down. You may find that the backward direction is a little tighter across your chest than the forward direction. Rest assured knowing that this will get better with practice.
  5. “Chicken wings:” Also called shoulder wings, these are done by placing your hands on your chest or collarbone, wherever is most comfortable. Raise your elbows upwards out to the side, limiting your range of motion as instructed by your healthcare team. Slowly lower your elbows. Do this 10 times, imitating a chicken wing, and then slowly lower your hands back down to your lap. If you feel discomfort while doing this exercise, hold your position and do the deep breathing exercise above. If the discomfort doesn’t go away, don’t raise your elbows any higher. If the discomfort does go away, finish the exercise in a range of motion that’s comfortable for you.
  6. Arm side circles: With a surgeon’s consent, stand with your feet slightly apart to help you balance. Raise each arm, one at a time, out to the side as high as you can. Gently, start making slow, backward circles in the air with your arm. Be sure you’re moving your arm from your shoulder, not your elbow, and keep your elbow straight. Increase the size of the circles until they’re as large as you can comfortably make them, limiting your range of motion as instructed by your healthcare team. Be sure to complete at least 10 full backward circles. If you feel any aching or if your arm is tired, take a break. Continue doing the exercise when you feel better. Slowly lower your arm to your side to rest your arm for a moment. Repeat the exercise at your comfort level, this time making slow, forward circles instead. 
  7. Hand pumps: These can help reduce swelling in the chest and should be done three times a day. Open and close the fists ten times, holding for a few moments in between. 
  8. Other exercises: Three slightly more advanced poses to help with surgical recovery are “happy baby pose,” “child’s pose,” and side bends. You can use a pillow under your knees in child’s pose if it’s uncomfortable. Wait to start these until you have surgeon approval as they require a little more range of motion. 

Remember: If you can’t eat, drink, and/or urinate, or have a fever, chills, an infection, trouble breathing, unusual bleeding, redness, feel unwell, or have a hot feeling in the surgical site, call your doctor or go to the emergency room. Ask your surgeon what signs you should look for regarding post-surgical complications.

Get acupuncture home visits in Berkeley, Oakland, and the greater Bay Area to improve your recovery: www.prismacupuncture.com/appointments

This information is for educational purposes only, please consult a healthcare provider before exercising and always follow your surgeon’s advice.

Prism Blog, Surgical Recovery, Transgender Wellness

Top Nutrition Tips for Successful Surgical Recovery

We all know to prepare foods ahead of time or have friends drop off meals since meal prep after surgery is difficult. But did you know that there are certain foods that can actually help you recover faster and have less post-surgical side effects?

Tips:

  1. Use a google calendar or care calendar like lotsahelpinghands to make a plan for friends to bring you meals, check on you, clean your house, walk your dogs, and help you with any personal hygiene tasks you can’t perform yourself. If you are traveling for surgery you can have friends sign up to order you meal delivery from apps like doordash or magickitchen. Extend your care calendar one week longer than you think you’ll need it. It’s easier to cancel than try to organize more help while you’re recovering. Have some canned soups and freezer meals on hand too just in case you find yourself stuck waiting a few hours for your next delivery.
  2. If you are traveling for surgery check out recovery centers in the area, like Trans Heartline in the Bay Area. They can provide meal prep for you during your stay!
  3. Use acupuncture to improve any preexisting issues (back pain, sciatica, constipation, prior scar tissue, pain from compression garments) that could be aggravated by the surgery, to improve surgical outcomes and the healing process. Plus, acupuncture boosts your immune system, improves your sleep, and helps you feel relaxed before surgery. Schedule an appointment now for $30 off when you mention this post!
  4. If you can’t eat, drink, and/or urinate, or have a fever, chills, an infection, trouble breathing, unusual bleeding, redness or hot feeling in the surgical site, or feel unwell call your doctor or go to the emergency room. Ask your surgeon what signs you should look for of post-surgical complications.

Recovery Foods:

  1. To prevent nausea, stick to broths, homemade sugarless jello, soups, overcooked soft veggies, vegetable juices, coconut water, fruits, and plenty of water. Avoid processed hospital food and sugar if possible. Bring water, ginger tea, and crackers or another easy snack to the hospital to eat right after your surgery.
  2. Avoid dried foods, jerky, chips, processed foods, dairy products, red meat, starchy foods, and sugar which can cause constipation.
  3. For urethra surgeries, avoid bladder irritants like tomatoes, caffeine, chocolate, citrus, carbonation, spicy foods, sugar, artificial sweeteners, processed foods, onions, and cranberry (can cause frequent urination), and drink exactly 8 glasses of water a day and avoid water before bedtime.
  4. For colon surgery, avoid colorectal irritants like seeds, whole grains, and stick to a soft food diet with plenty of fiber.
  5. If you are experiencing nausea stick to a liquid/soft food diet and drink ginger tea. For a low appetite, drink lemon balm tea.
  6. Eat plenty of lean protein (skinless chicken, eggs, beans, nuts, seeds), whole grains (quinoa, rye, whole wheat, oats, wild rice), vitamin C and fiber (berries, citrus, mango, papaya, tomatoes, peaches, melons, apricots, apples, dark leafy greens), magnesium and iron (pumpkin seeds), and glutamine and arginine (in bone broth).
  7. Drink 1+ cup bone broth daily for 2+ weeks post-surgery to speed skin and wound healing, especially for bottom surgeries.
  8. Avoid sugar 1+ week before as it depletes the immune system and prevents healing.
  9. Avoid large amounts of salt 7+ days before surgery to reduce post-surgical swelling.
  10. Avoid caffeine 48-72 hours before surgery as it impacts how your body processes the anesthesia.
  11. Avoid alcohol 1+ week before surgery as it impacts how your liver processes the anesthesia.

Get acupuncture home visits to improve your recovery: www.prismacupuncture.com/appointments

This information is for educational purposes only, please consult a healthcare provider before taking any supplements or herbs and always follow your surgeon’s advice.

Prism Blog, Surgical Recovery, Transgender Wellness

10 Tips to Help You Better Prepare for Surgery

There’s nothing worse than getting home from surgery and realizing you don’t have your prescribed painkillers or pre-prepared food that’s easy on the stomach. There are many things you can do in advance of your surgery to help yourself have an easier recovery afterwards. Here are some simple tasks to help you prepare.

  1. Pick up your prescriptions before surgery and take them with you to the hospital in case you need them on the way home. Bring some Dramamine natural (extra strength ginger) or surgeon prescribed anti-nausea med, water bottle, and an easy-on-the-stomach snack like crackers or applesauce to the hospital too. If you’re staying in the hospital, pack earplugs and an eyemask.
  2. Get a haircut that’s easy to maintain. Get your eyelashes tinted if that’s your thing and you won’t be able to easily put on makeup for a week or two (ex. breast augmentation or top surgery). Make sure all of your toiletries, easy to prepare food, medications, and other essentials are within easy reach for the range of motion you’ll have after surgery.
  3. Assign someone or multiple people to take you to surgery, stay in the hospital during surgery in case they have to speak with the surgeon, be there when you wake up, (visit you daily if you’re there for an extended stay), take you home, and stay with you for at least 24 hours after arriving home. Have a backup person in case your caregiver falls through, even if that person is your partner. Unfortunately it is not uncommon for breakups to happen around surgery time. If you are traveling for surgery check out recovery centers in the area, like Trans Heartline in the Bay Area.
  4. Use a google calendar or care calendar like lotsahelpinghands to make a plan for friends to bring you meals, check on you, clean your house, walk your dogs, and help you with any personal hygiene tasks you can’t perform yourself. If you are traveling for surgery you can have friends sign up to order you meal delivery from apps like doordash or magickitchen. Extend your care calendar one week longer than you think you’ll need it. It’s easier to cancel than try to organize more help while you’re recovering. Have some canned soups and freezer meals on hand too just in case you find yourself stuck waiting a few hours for your next delivery.
  5. For gender affirming surgeries, picture what you’ll look like afterwards and feel how that feels. Ask your surgeon for their outcome statistics and for photos of their patients pre and post surgery. Talk to multiple surgeons about their techniques if you can. I see patients who do this be much more satisfied with their results, rather than wishing they’d gone with a different technique or a different surgery altogether.
  6. Get your exercise in since you won’t be able to be as active for a while. Use a foam roller daily the week before surgery to work out any tight muscles. Do core work, work on your posture, stretch everything out since you won’t be able to move much for a while. Strengthen your pelvic floor exercises before bottom surgery (imagine picking up a marble or closing a drawstring purse with your perineum–and let it go–to strengthen and relax your pelvic floor); work with a pelvic physical therapist if you have any preexisting pain or urination issues.
  7. Avoid large amounts of salt 7+ days before surgery to reduce post-surgical swelling. Avoid caffeine 48-72 hours before surgery. Avoid smoking 6+ weeks before surgery (6 months minimum if grafts are involved), including no nicotine of any kind 1 month before and no marijuana 2-3 weeks before to promote healing. Avoid alcohol 1+ week before surgery. Avoid sugar 1+ week before as it depletes the immune system and prevents healing.
  8. Get a wedge pillow or other support pillows, heating pad, icepack, plenty of comfy loose clothes. Get a Tushy travel bidet to reduce wiping after bottom surgery. Set up a healing spot for yourself with easy access to a bathroom and all of your supplies handy.
  9. Wear loose easy pull on pants/skirt and a loose button-down shirt and slip on shoes. Bring headphones or a book to distract yourself in case you’re waiting a while for your surgery. Bring a small pillow for the car ride to cushion your surgical site from the seatbelt. Don’t bring valuables to the hospitals. Put your things in a small bag to have your buddy hang on to while you’re in surgery.
  10. Use acupuncture to improve any preexisting issues (back pain, sciatica, constipation, prior scar tissue, pain from compression garments) that could be aggravated by the surgery, to improve surgical outcomes and the healing process. Plus, acupuncture boosts your immune system, improves your sleep, and helps you feel relaxed before surgery. Schedule an appointment now for $30 off when you mention this post!

Get acupuncture home visits to improve your recovery: www.prismacupuncture.com/appointments

This information is for educational purposes only, please consult a healthcare provider before taking any supplements or herbs and always follow your surgeon’s advice.

An image of an acupuncturist giving a transgender patient therapeutic massage for chest pain from binding.
Prism Blog, Surgical Recovery, Transgender Wellness

Six Steps to More Comfortable Binding: Part Six

Guest blog from Sandy Baird DC of Riverstone Chiropractic


According to a Health Impact Study published in the Culture, Health, and Sexuality Journal, 97% of people who wear a binder experience uncomfortable side effects such as neck pain, shoulder pain, back pain, and trouble breathing.

Other than limiting the time you spend in a binder, changing/washing your binder often, and avoiding unsafe compression methods such as duct tape and ACE bandages, there are several steps you an take to decrease the discomforts associated with binding.

This collection of tips comes both from my personal experience wearing binders as well as my clinical experience in treating the musculoskeletal complaints that my clients experience from binding.

6. Power up your core

  • I’m not talking about getting six-pack abs or doing endless crunches.
    • When your deep postural core muscles are activated, your neck, back, and shoulders have to work less hard to hold you up.
    • Two of the best and most accessible exercises are core bracing and the dead bug.
  • Core bracing:
    • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the ground.
    • Find a posterior pelvic tilt (tuck your tailbone under to flatten your low back, versus arching your low back and having a big space between the floor and your low back).
    • It should feel like your pubic bone and your ribs are reaching for each other, even though your head and torso are relaxed on the ground.
    • Pull your belly button in towards your spine as if it could root ten feet down into the earth underneath you.
    • Now exhale fully while emphasizing this bracing.
    • Inhale and relax everything, allowing your belly to expand fully.
    • Exhale as you find the bracing again.
    • Repeat several times until you are comfortable finding this bracing.
    • This is the foundational movement to the dead bug.
  • Dead bug:
  • Lie on your back and bring your knees up to tabletop position (knees bent to 90, and shins parallel to floor).
  • Find a posterior pelvic tilt (tuck your tailbone under to flatten your low back, versus arching your low back and having a big space between the floor and your low back).
  • Slowly extend your right arm and left leg, and then return to the starting point.
  • Repeat on the other side for a total of 2×20.
  • If this movement is painful or challenging for you and you feel your low back pop up off the mat:
    • Return to a strong posterior pelvic tilt
    • Then shorten the lever arm of this movement by tapping your heel down to the floor instead of extending your whole leg out.

Check out previous blog posts for tips #1-5!

The stretches, self-muscle work, and strengthening exercises are from my full core and glutes strengthening program available for purchase at www.engineeringyourbody.com. And if you are interested in exploring muscle-work or joint adjusting to alleviate your muscle and joint pain, you can find out more about my practice at www.riverstonechiropractic.com.

In happiness and health,

Dr. Sandy Baird, DC

Oakland Chiropractor Sandy Baird

 


Bio:
I’m Dr. Sandy Baird, DC. I’ve been providing bodywork in the Bay Area for over ten years now. First as a massage therapist, and now as a doctor who combines soft tissue work with joint adjusting. I feel that it’s important for queers to have a safe space to have their bodies worked on. Many of us already shoulder a lot of extra stress and tension from being constantly judged, worrying about what bathrooms we should use, and having to actively resist and fight back for our rights as our new state of “normal”.


References:
Health impact of chest binding among transgender adults: a community-engaged, cross-sectional study: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13691058.2016.1191675

 


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our free hormone health mini e-course.

Sandy Baird DC of Riverstone Chiropractic providing queer inclusive LGBT chiropractic care for trans patients
Prism Blog, Surgical Recovery, Transgender Wellness

Six Steps to More Comfortable Binding: Part Five

Guest blog from Sandy Baird DC of Riverstone Chiropractic


According to a Health Impact Study published in the Culture, Health, and Sexuality Journal, 97% of people who wear a binder experience uncomfortable side effects such as neck pain, shoulder pain, back pain, and trouble breathing.

Other than limiting the time you spend in a binder, changing/washing your binder often, and avoiding unsafe compression methods such as duct tape and ACE bandages, there are several steps you an take to decrease the discomforts associated with binding.

This collection of tips comes both from my personal experience wearing binders as well as my clinical experience in treating the musculoskeletal complaints that my clients experience from binding.

5. Get adjusted

  • Tight or compressed muscles over time can:
    • Pull on joints
    • Create “stuck” spots in the spine
  • Even after you release the muscular tension:
    • These sticky fixations of the joints can remain
    • They limit range of motion
    • They cause pain
    • They cause sensations of tightness
  • Chiropractic adjustments are the only way to correct these fixations.
    • They can go a long way in terms of:
      • Relieving pain
      • Restoring motion

Look out for next week’s post for tip #6!

The stretches, self-muscle work, and strengthening exercises are from my full core and glutes strengthening program available for purchase at www.engineeringyourbody.com. And if you are interested in exploring muscle-work or joint adjusting to alleviate your muscle and joint pain, you can find out more about my practice at www.riverstonechiropractic.com.

In happiness and health,

Dr. Sandy Baird, DC

Oakland Chiropractor Sandy Baird

 


Bio:
I’m Dr. Sandy Baird, DC. I’ve been providing bodywork in the Bay Area for over ten years now. First as a massage therapist, and now as a doctor who combines soft tissue work with joint adjusting. I feel that it’s important for queers to have a safe space to have their bodies worked on. Many of us already shoulder a lot of extra stress and tension from being constantly judged, worrying about what bathrooms we should use, and having to actively resist and fight back for our rights as our new state of “normal”.


References:
Health impact of chest binding among transgender adults: a community-engaged, cross-sectional study: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13691058.2016.1191675

 


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our free hormone health mini e-course.

Sandy Baird DC of Riverstone Chiropractic providing queer inclusive LGBT chiropractic care for trans patients
Prism Blog, Surgical Recovery, Transgender Wellness

Six Steps to More Comfortable Binding: Part Four

Guest blog from Sandy Baird DC of Riverstone Chiropractic


According to a Health Impact Study published in the Culture, Health, and Sexuality Journal, 97% of people who wear a binder experience uncomfortable side effects such as neck pain, shoulder pain, back pain, and trouble breathing.

Other than limiting the time you spend in a binder, changing/washing your binder often, and avoiding unsafe compression methods such as duct tape and ACE bandages, there are several steps you an take to decrease the discomforts associated with binding.

This collection of tips comes both from my personal experience wearing binders as well as my clinical experience in treating the musculoskeletal complaints that my clients experience from binding.

4. Self-muscle work

  • Stress, tension, and anxiety can all manifest in muscular tightness.
    • There isn’t anything you can do to un-compress tissues that have been compressed all day, but there are some home-care exercises you can do to boost your resilience so you will best be able to handle the compression from a binder.
  • Foam roll your back muscles.
    • Sit on the floor with your legs in front of you, bend your knees and place your feet on the floor.
    • Place a foam roller horizontally across your mid-back and lean back against it.
    • Either cross your arms like you are hugging yourself, or clasp your hands behind your neck, and then use your heels to push into the floor to raise your hips.
    • Your head and torso will naturally lower as the foam roller moves upwards along your spine.
    • Find a rocking motion where your hips go up as your head and torso lower.
    • You can shift your weight to the muscles on one side of your spine at a time, or just keep things centered and get pressure on both sides at once.
    • After you have rolled out some of the tension in your back muscles, return your hips to the ground.
    • Reset the roller approximately at the level of your shoulder blades, and then inhale as you slowly extend your upper back over it.
    • Your head can drop back and down.
    • Exhale as you come back to the starting position.
    • This will create more general mobility through your thoracic spine (upper and mid-back).
  • Find a softball or tennis-ball-sized massage ball and some wall space.
    • Facing the wall, place the ball into the outer corner of your pec muscles (near the outside of your collarbone but before you get to your arm.
    • Roll through these chronically tight tissues until you find the tightest spot.
    • Hold pressure on that spot for about thirty seconds, remembering to breathe.
    • If you need more space for your face or your chest, you can move this exercise near a doorway and poke your head through the doorway.
    • If there is no doorway available, just place a yoga block between the ball and the wall to allow you some more space.

Look out for next week’s post for tip #5!

The stretches, self-muscle work, and strengthening exercises are from my full core and glutes strengthening program available for purchase at www.engineeringyourbody.com. And if you are interested in exploring muscle-work or joint adjusting to alleviate your muscle and joint pain, you can find out more about my practice at www.riverstonechiropractic.com.

In happiness and health,

Dr. Sandy Baird, DC

Oakland Chiropractor Sandy Baird

 


Bio:
I’m Dr. Sandy Baird, DC. I’ve been providing bodywork in the Bay Area for over ten years now. First as a massage therapist, and now as a doctor who combines soft tissue work with joint adjusting. I feel that it’s important for queers to have a safe space to have their bodies worked on. Many of us already shoulder a lot of extra stress and tension from being constantly judged, worrying about what bathrooms we should use, and having to actively resist and fight back for our rights as our new state of “normal”.


References:
Health impact of chest binding among transgender adults: a community-engaged, cross-sectional study: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13691058.2016.1191675

 


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our free hormone health mini e-course.

Sandy Baird DC of Riverstone Chiropractic providing queer inclusive LGBT chiropractic care of trans patients
Prism Blog, Surgical Recovery, Transgender Wellness

Six Steps to More Comfortable Binding: Part Three

Guest blog from Sandy Baird DC of Riverstone Chiropractic


According to a Health Impact Study published in the Culture, Health, and Sexuality Journal, 97% of people who wear a binder experience uncomfortable side effects such as neck pain, shoulder pain, back pain, and trouble breathing.

Other than limiting the time you spend in a binder, changing/washing your binder often, and avoiding unsafe compression methods such as duct tape and ACE bandages, there are several steps you an take to decrease the discomforts associated with binding.

This collection of tips comes both from my personal experience wearing binders as well as my clinical experience in treating the musculoskeletal complaints that my clients experience from binding.

3. Deep breathing and coughing

  • Before pulling on your binder for the day, build resilience in your lungs and rib muscles by taking three deep breaths.
    • If your mobility allows it, sweep your arms up overhead on your inhale, and gently lower your arms on your exhale.
    • During binding it may feel challenging to take very full breaths.
  • A centering meditation focused on connecting with your normal breathing pattern can be helpful in alleviating some of the anxiety that can come from feeling like you can’t get a deep breath.
    • You can create your own or download one of the many free meditation apps that are available to you.
  • After binding, take three deep breaths, then do three big coughs to clear any fluid that may be building up in the lungs.
    • This fires up the intercostal muscles, those little in-between-the-ribs muscles that don’t see a lot of activation due to being squished down under a binder.
  • Follow with another round of three more deep breaths and then three more coughs.

Look out for next week’s post for tip #4!

The stretches, self-muscle work, and strengthening exercises are from my full core and glutes strengthening program available for purchase at www.engineeringyourbody.com. And if you are interested in exploring muscle-work or joint adjusting to alleviate your muscle and joint pain, you can find out more about my practice at www.riverstonechiropractic.com.

In happiness and health,

Dr. Sandy Baird, DC

Oakland Chiropractor Sandy Baird

 


Bio:
I’m Dr. Sandy Baird, DC. I’ve been providing bodywork in the Bay Area for over ten years now. First as a massage therapist, and now as a doctor who combines soft tissue work with joint adjusting. I feel that it’s important for queers to have a safe space to have their bodies worked on. Many of us already shoulder a lot of extra stress and tension from being constantly judged, worrying about what bathrooms we should use, and having to actively resist and fight back for our rights as our new state of “normal”.


References:
Health impact of chest binding among transgender adults: a community-engaged, cross-sectional study: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13691058.2016.1191675

 


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our free hormone health mini e-course.

Two nonbinary queer patients of color kissing
Prism Blog, Surgical Recovery, Transgender Wellness

Six Steps to More Comfortable Binding: Part Two

Guest blog from Sandy Baird DC of Riverstone Chiropractic


According to a Health Impact Study published in the Culture, Health, and Sexuality Journal, 97% of people who wear a binder experience uncomfortable side effects such as neck pain, shoulder pain, back pain, and trouble breathing.

Other than limiting the time you spend in a binder, changing/washing your binder often, and avoiding unsafe compression methods such as duct tape and ACE bandages, there are several steps you an take to decrease the discomforts associated with binding.

This collection of tips comes both from my personal experience wearing binders as well as my clinical experience in treating the musculoskeletal complaints that my clients experience from binding.

2. Balance push and pull movements

  • Many trans-masculine folks hit the weight room to build up their pectoral muscles (chest muscles) in order to sculpt a more masculine physique.
  • But often during this quest to build a more muscular chest with pushing-type movements like the bench press or pushups, we neglect to strength-train our upper and mid-back muscles with pulling-type movements like:
    • rows
    • pull-ups
    • lat-pulldowns
  • This can lead to postural imbalances between the front and back of the body, which can add layers of pain and tension to a torso already taxed from the compression of a binder.
  • Not only is it important to balance upper-body pushing and pulling in the weight room, but also adding specific strengthening exercises such as:
    • The I-Y-T exercise
    • Rotator cuff external rotations with a band or a cable machine
  • These can greatly improve shoulder and back health and decrease postural strain.

Look out for next week’s post for tip #3!

The stretches, self-muscle work, and strengthening exercises are from my full core and glutes strengthening program available for purchase at www.engineeringyourbody.com. And if you are interested in exploring muscle-work or joint adjusting to alleviate your muscle and joint pain, you can find out more about my practice at www.riverstonechiropractic.com.

In happiness and health,

Dr. Sandy Baird, DC

Oakland Chiropractor Sandy Baird

 


Bio:
I’m Dr. Sandy Baird, DC. I’ve been providing bodywork in the Bay Area for over ten years now. First as a massage therapist, and now as a doctor who combines soft tissue work with joint adjusting. I feel that it’s important for queers to have a safe space to have their bodies worked on. Many of us already shoulder a lot of extra stress and tension from being constantly judged, worrying about what bathrooms we should use, and having to actively resist and fight back for our rights as our new state of “normal”.


References:
Health impact of chest binding among transgender adults: a community-engaged, cross-sectional study: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13691058.2016.1191675

 


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our free hormone health mini e-course.

Four queer patients of color, including masculine of center nonbinary transgender patients and trans men
Prism Blog, Surgical Recovery, Transgender Wellness

Six Steps to More Comfortable Binding: Part One of Six

Guest blog from Sandy Baird DC of Riverstone Chiropractic


According to a Health Impact Study published in the Culture, Health, and Sexuality Journal, 97% of people who wear a binder experience uncomfortable side effects such as neck pain, shoulder pain, back pain, and trouble breathing.

Other than limiting the time you spend in a binder, changing/washing your binder often, and avoiding unsafe compression methods such as duct tape and ACE bandages, there are several steps you an take to decrease the discomforts associated with binding.

This collection of tips comes both from my personal experience wearing binders as well as my clinical experience in treating the musculoskeletal complaints that my clients experience from binding.

  1. Practice daily movement and stretching

Increasing circulation and stretching key muscles in your body can help release some of the tightness that builds up from the daily postural stress associated with binding.

One possible routine would start with five minutes of movement of your choice (walking, dancing, jumping jacks, etc) to increase general blood flow to your muscles.

Then spend 30-60 seconds performing each of the following stretches:

  • Trapezius muscles:
    • From a seated or standing position, tilt your right ear towards your right shoulder, imagining your neck growing long towards the sky before settling into the tilt.
    • This should bring a stretching sensation into your left neck muscles and trap muscles (the chronically tight muscle between your head and your shoulder.
    • If you want more of a stretch, you can reach up with your right hand and gently apply a bit of overpressure, being careful not to crunch your head down, but instead allowing more length in your neck.
  • Pectoralis minor muscle:
    • Find a doorway you can walk through.
    • Bring your right arm up and out to your side like a goalpost
    • Then place your right elbow and right wrist against the doorframe.
    • Your elbow should be level with your shoulder.
    • Slowly lean your torso forward into the door opening while keeping your elbow and wrist in contact with the doorframe.
    • If this stretch creates any pinching sensation in your shoulder, you can alternatively lie atop a foam roller placed vertically along your spine (head and hips supported) and drop your arms out to the sides.
  • Side stretch:
    • Reach your arms overhead if that is available to you, or plant your hands on your hips.
    • On your inhale, reach and lean upwards and over to your left side.
    • If your arms are overhead you may want to grasp your right wrist with your left hand.
    • You should feel a stretch along the right side of your body through your ribcage.
  • Cobra stretch:
    • lying face-down, place your hands under your shoulders with your palms down and fingers pointing forwards.
    • Draw your elbows back and in towards your sides so your shoulders won’t hunch up by your ears.
    • Then press up gently until you feel a generalized stretch through the front of your chest and abdomen.

Look out for next week’s post for tip #2!

The stretches, self-muscle work, and strengthening exercises are from my full core and glutes strengthening program available for purchase at www.engineeringyourbody.com. And if you are interested in exploring muscle-work or joint adjusting to alleviate your muscle and joint pain, you can find out more about my practice at www.riverstonechiropractic.com.

In happiness and health,

Dr. Sandy Baird, DC

Oakland Chiropractor Sandy Baird

 


Bio:
I’m Dr. Sandy Baird, DC. I’ve been providing bodywork in the Bay Area for over ten years now. First as a massage therapist, and now as a doctor who combines soft tissue work with joint adjusting. I feel that it’s important for queers to have a safe space to have their bodies worked on. Many of us already shoulder a lot of extra stress and tension from being constantly judged, worrying about what bathrooms we should use, and having to actively resist and fight back for our rights as our new state of “normal”.


References:
Health impact of chest binding among transgender adults: a community-engaged, cross-sectional study: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13691058.2016.1191675

 


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our free hormone health mini e-course.

Supplements to support trans men while taking testosterone, including liver and cardiovascular heart health
Endometriosis, For Providers, Prism Blog, Surgical Recovery, Transgender Wellness

Supplements for Surgery

Supplements and Surgery:

You most likely know already that there are certain supplements and medications that you should avoid before surgery. Mostly these are supplements and medications that can cause excess bleeding, as well as those that can interfere with the anesthesia.

Surgeons’ opinions vary on which medications and supplements are okay and when to stop taking them. You should follow your surgeon’s recommendations to the letter. These suggestions will likely be more conservative than the ones you receive from your surgeon, because in holistic healthcare, we are interested in helping you achieve optimal health, not just the absence of disease. You can choose to follow these recommendations only if they fit with your surgeon’s recommendations as well. Do not take any supplements or herbs which you know you are allergic or sensitive to or which your doctor or surgeon has told you to avoid.

What to Avoid Before Surgery:

It is most important to avoid potential blood thinners for at least 7 days before and 3 days after surgery. Your surgeon may tell you to avoid them for even longer, depending on the type of surgery you are having. This includes any prescription blood thinners as well as garlic, ginkgo, vitamin E, fish oil/omega 3, and aspirin, ibuprofen, aleve, and other NSAIDs.

Some surgeons may also recommend that you avoid St. John’s Wort, dong quai/dang gui/angelica, feverfew, goldenseal, ginseng, ginger supplements, saw palmetto, reishi, echinacea, ephedra/ma huang, kava, licorice, and valerian for 7 days before and 3 days after surgery, as these can cause excess bleeding.

I tend to err on the side of caution, stopping all herbs and supplements (and any medications your surgeon tells you to avoid) 7 days before surgery.

Most surgeons say that tylenol is okay to take before surgery as needed, but don’t take it if you can avoid it since tylenol can be hard on the liver and your liver is already going to be stressed by the anesthesia. Check with your surgeon when deciding what to take.

Ideally, avoid alcohol, tylenol, and anything else that is hard on your liver 1 month before and after surgery to allow your body to safely process the anesthesia. This obviously does not apply if your surgeon prescribes or recommends tylenol before or after surgery.

Get plenty of sleep, exercise, stay hydrated, and avoid sugar (to keep your immune system healthy) in the month before surgery, and always!

Before Surgery Supplements:

There are certain supplements that can help you recover faster from surgery and risk less side effects. It is helpful to start taking these at least one month before surgery. Do not take any supplements that your surgeon does not approve and remember to stop your supplements one week before surgery.

Starting one month before surgery:
A multivitamin with 25-50mg of B vitamin complex
50 mg CoQ10/day: reduces stress of surgery on heart, improves recovery
500-1000mg/day vitamin C: necessary for wound healing, helps your body produce collagen
Milk thistle: detoxes the liver to prepare for successful anesthesia
2000-5000 IU vitamin D/day with food if not already included in your multivitamin

Starting 2 weeks before surgery, add:
30-50mg zinc picolinate/day with food: necessary for wound healing
Probiotic blend with acidophilis and bifida: reduces risk of post-surgical infection

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After Surgery

After surgery, start off with broths, including bone broth, fresh juices, soups, and other easy to digest foods like oatmeal. Green drinks and whole food based protein shakes are also great when you’re not up for eating real foods yet. Stay away from sugary drinks like gatorade and pedialyte, starches, breads, and crackers, as they can deplete your immune system and cause constipation.

After Surgery Supplements

As long as your surgeon says it’s okay, take 1000mg vitamin C as soon as you get home from the hospital and continue daily. Vitamin C is necessary for wound healing, helps your body produce collagen, and helps your liver break down the anesthetic.

Some surgeons will recommend waiting a few days before restarting supplements and herbs. As long as your surgeon says it’s okay, the day after surgery, start taking Resinall E from Health Concerns (three tablets three times per day, available by prescription from Prism) or 1000-1500 mg standardized bromelain 3x/day on an empty stomach. This helps speed recovery and reduce swelling and bruising. It is mandatory to take it on an empty stomach, otherwise it will just help digest your food but not have any effect on swelling and bruising.

Starting 3 days after surgery, add:
250mg B6 2x/day (or substitute your multivitamin if it contains B6): reduces swelling
100-200mg CoQ10/day: reduces stress of surgery on heart, improves recovery
Milk thistle: detoxes anesthesia from the liver
30-50mg zinc picolinate/day with food: necessary for wound healing
Probiotic blend with acidophilis and bifida: reduces risk of post-surgical infection
2000-3000mg omega 3 per day: reduces inflammation and improves circulation
Arnica 30C 4-5x/day: reduces pain, bruising, and swelling
2000-5000 IU vitamin D/day with food

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After one week post-surgery:
You can stop the B6/multivitamin, unless this is part of your regular supplement regimen

After two weeks post-surgery, you can stop taking:
Vitamin C or return to your usual dose
Zinc
Arnica
Bromelain
Lower your fish oil/omega 3 dose to 500-1000mg/day

One month post-surgery:
You are done with this supplement plan! Return to you regular supplements and herbs as recommended by your acupuncturist and doctors.

Happy healing :)


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.