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.

Acupuncture, Prism Blog

Why I Love Acupuncture, and You Should Too

Prior to being an acupuncturist, my background was in health education. I had also worked as a personal care assistant and receptionist at a chiropractic clinic. All of these experiences taught me that I wanted to be able to work with patients, and I wanted to have the tools to help them right then and there. I didn’t like western medicine, which tends to see the doctor as all knowing and doesn’t take into account patients experiences of their bodies and needs. Also, though I do a lot of health education in my acupuncture work now, I didn’t like just educating people, without being able to actually do anything for them. I wanted it to be a two-way street. I wanted to be able to provide them with care that would help them right away AND involve them in their own healing process. This led me to explore various alternative medicine fields.

I came to acupuncture specifically through a love of herbal medicine, sparked by my botanist father who taught me a deep appreciation for plants, and the women in my family who taught me the value of caring for others.

I had only had acupuncture once, on a whim, before starting acupuncture school and I didn’t really know if I’d like it. I’m sure some of you can relate!

I decided that if I didn’t like it, I’d just study the herbs and skip the rest of the program. It turns out I LOVE acupuncture and being an acupuncturist and I’m so glad I started this journey.

My favorite part of my job is watching people regain ownership of their healing process, reconnect with their bodies, and make positive changes in their lives.

Acupuncture is a holistic system that brings you back into balance by fixing the root of a problem rather than just the symptoms.

Some acupoints trigger a release of calming hormones, some rewrite pain pathways, some awaken the immune system, have anti-inflammatory effects, or increase circulation. Together, they help our nervous systems switch from ‘fight or flight’ (stress) mode into ‘rest and digest’ (healing) mode. This helps us keep calm, sleep well, build our immune systems, and repair cellular damage.

Most importantly, acupuncture helps people reconnect with their bodies and take true ownership of their healing processes.

Acupuncture makes small adjustments in your body to set you on the right path for healing. It’s your choice to continue to follow that path in between your treatments. Your body wants to heal. It likes getting a little reset so it can get back to doing what it does best. Acupuncture allows you to set your healing intentions and send you in the right direction to actually accomplish them. What a wonderful gift.

The more scientifically identifiable effects of an acupuncture treatment (including changes in nerve and pain pathways, as well as endorphins and other brain chemicals that are released) last about four days after a session. Notice how you feel over the first 3-4 days after your treatment, jotting down any improvements or symptoms that you notice, like increased energy, better sleep, better digestion, and improvement in whatever symptoms you came in for. This allows you to keep in touch with your body and understand what it needs, and also helps us understand how you’re responding to treatment.

When you listen to your body, follow the healing path that acupuncture lays out for you, and come in often, this truly allows the healing momentum to build up. Rather than bouncing back and forth between better after acupuncture and worse again between each session, you begin to improve and improve and improve. Each time you come in, you’re expanding upon what you’ve already accomplished and you can actually start to see dramatic changes in your mental, physical, and spiritual health. Even once you’re feeling great it’s important to come in for your monthly or seasonal ‘tune-up’, just to keep your body on the right track of healing so that you can continue to enjoy good health.

It can be really challenging to create new habits and let go of old patterns that don’t serve us. It is so much easier just to come in and expect your healthcare provider to fix you. And sometimes we can do exactly that. But mostly those kind of fixes are temporary; the lasting changes come with work that you do outside of our sessions as well. Acupuncture can help you get there by resetting your nervous system and helping you reconnect to what your body has been telling you all along.

What do you do to get the most out of your acupuncture sessions? Why do you love acupuncture?


Schedule your first acupuncture session now, at 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.

an elder lesbian
Acupuncture, Menopause and Beyond, Prism Blog, Surgical Recovery

10 Reasons LGBTQ Seniors Should Get Acupuncture

  1. LGBT older people face significant health disparities, “linked to a lifetime of stigma, discrimination, violence and victimization; higher poverty rates; a lack of access to LGBT-competent providers; and low rates of health insurance coverage” (Out & Visible). Therefore, LGBTQ older adults need even more access to healthcare.
  2. Acupuncture helps to protect the immune system and prevent the potentially dangerous infections that become more likely as we age.
  3. Acupuncture eases pain and arthritis as well as strengthening bones to prevent osteoporosis and injuries, so you can maintain mobility and reduce the need for surgeries and medications.
  4. Acupuncture lowers blood pressure and strengthens the circulatory system, preventing potentially life threatening cardiovascular events.
  5. LGBT elders “deal disproportionately with mental health concerns, which is a primary risk factor for social isolation” (Sage USA). Acupuncture reduces anxiety and depression, helps you to adapt constructively to change, and to move through grief.
  6. Acupuncture helps your body prepare for surgery and to heal faster after surgery, reducing complications and need for pain medications.
  7. Acupuncture does all of this without having to worry about drug-drug interactions!
  8. AIMC Berkeley is an LGBTQ safe space so you don’t have to worry about healthcare discrimination. “44% of transgender older people worry that their relationships with healthcare providers would be negatively affected if their gender identities were known, as opposed to 20% of LGB older people” (Autostraddle on LGBTQ Seniors).
  9. Treatment is determined based on the individual, not the illness. All the symptoms are seen in relation to each other leading to a unique treatment for each patient instead of cookie cutter prescriptions.
  10. You get more time with a practitioner than you would with an MD. With 60 minute appointments, Katrina can take time to really listen to you.

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.


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A picture of a bathrooom to demonstrage all gender restrooms
For Providers, Prism Blog, Transgender Wellness

3 Ways for Healthcare Providers to Respect Diversity

  • Avoid making harmful assumptions about your patient. Whether you’re assuming they’re straight, cisgender, uneducated, dealing with addiction, or any number of things, any time you’re assuming rather than asking and listening to your patient you aren’t giving them the care they deserve. (For example, don’t ask a patient about her boyfriend when she hasn’t told you her sexuality or relationship status. In fact, personal questions like this are really only relevant if your patient brings them up first.)
  • Listen to your patient’s primary symptom and make sure to address it, regardless of other things you’ve learned (or assumed) about their health during the interview. Regardless of drug use, body size, relationship style, gender identity, mental illness, or any other issue, your patient won’t come back if you treat what you’ve decided is most pertinent to their health rather than what’s most important to them. This may seem obvious, but these kind of mistakes happen a lot. (For example, don’t treat a patient for weight loss who has come to see you for headaches!)
  • First and foremost we are here for our patients’ health and well-being. Never ask a patient about changing their lifestyle or identity. Furthermore, make sure you are not using up their valuable appointment time by trying to educate yourself. Look things up online on your own time if you need to learn more and save appointment time for your patient.
  • Provide gender neutral bathrooms. 
    • Who can benefit from gender neutral bathrooms? Parents with children of a different gender, people with an attendant of a different gender, trans* people, and individuals with non-normative gender presentations.
    • Why are gender neutral bathrooms important for trans* people? When a bathroom is gender neutral, trans* people can use it without risking harassment or violence from people who think they are in the “wrong” restroom. Access to gender neutral bathrooms also prevents UTIs and other health issues caused by “holding it” until a safer restroom is available.

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.

 

A beautiful woman wearing a swimsuit and looking into the distance
Endometriosis, Fertility and Pregnancy, Menopause and Beyond, PCOS, Prism Blog, Sex & Relationships, Transgender Wellness

Ways Your Doctor Lied to you About Weight

What does weight have to do with health? Not much, it turns out.

Most people in our society believe they’re overweight. And many people are deemed overweight, or even obese, by doctors: did you know the definition of “overweight” for a 5’4″ tall woman is 145 pounds, even though the average weight for that height is 144 pounds? So if you’re one pound over average (aka almost half the population), you’re considered overweight.

Americans are afraid of fat because they believe it’s bad for your health. But it’s less related than you think. Contrary to common belief, there is actually NO correlation between body fat and atherosclerosis (fatty plaque in arteries). There IS however a correlation between amount of exercise and risk of diabetes, but NOT between body weight and diabetes. In fact, obese people who exercise live longer than thin people who don’t.

So what’s really unhealthy about fat? For one thing, it makes you less likely to get health insurance because obesity is a “preexisting condition.” Even if you can afford to pay for preventative care out of pocket, you’re a third less likely to get breast exams, gynecologic exams, and pap smears (but just as likely to get hands-off tests like mammograms) as thin women. This is probably due to both doctors’ and patients’ embarrassment at performing these tests, because of shaming around weight issues in our society. “Peter Muennig did research at Columbia University that found that being under the stress of constant shame and stigma over a long period of time was correlated with the same diseases with which obesity has been correlated” (Dances With Fat).

Doctors also often overlook the health concerns you actually came in for and just focus on talking about weight loss. You might come in to talk about a lump you found in your breast and your doctor won’t even do a breast exam until you’ve talked about weight loss options. So you could end up going months to years without knowing what kinds of health issues you’re dealing with. Even if you find a body-positive doctor, they may not have blood pressure cuffs, MRIs, or other test equipment that fits larger bodies so you can’t get the tests you need. So, though studies seem to show that fat women are more likely to get breast, cervical, endometrial, and ovarian cancer, but researchers have concluded that the lack of preventative care may actually account for this.

Dieting, too, can actually HARM your health. Dieting tricks your body into thinking that you are starving (and maybe you are!) so that when you do start eating real food again, your body automatically stores extra calories, so that it’s prepared for the next diet. This explains why many people gain more weight than they lost after each diet. This jumping back and forth between sizes is extremely hard on your body and can cause more health problems.

So what are the facts about our health? It’s true that getting regular exercise and eating plenty of protein and veggies and limiting sugar intake is better for your health. But this is true for everyone, regardless of body size. So, if we’re really so concerned about health, everyone should focus on eating a healthy diet and getting exercise, NOT losing weight!


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.