Health Archives - Medshield Movement

What are the main causes of infertility?

February is Reproductive Health Month in South Africa, raising awareness about many crucially important issues surrounding reproductive health. Here we look at what the main causes of fertility are.

There are a plethora of reasons why you may be struggling to conceive and millions of people around the world face the same challenges. But let’s first break down what the term “infertility” actually means.

Infertility Defined

According to the World Health Organisation, infertility – in the medical sense – is a disease of the male or female reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a pregnancy after 12 months (one year) or more of frequent unprotected sexual intercourse. It is also estimated that one in every six people experience infertility at some point in their lives. There are also two classifications:
1. Primary Infertility – when a pregnancy has never been achieved.
2.Secondary Infertility – when at least one prior pregnancy has been achieved.

The Most Common Causes of Infertility

In men, the most common causes of infertility include issues with the ejection of semen, low levels or the absence of sperm or the abnormal shape and mobility of the sperm. In South Africa, it’s easy to book a male fertility analysis. All you need to do is speak to your GP who will request that a test is conducted at a PathCare or similar institute.
For optimal results and to ensure consistency should a follow-up be required, the sample should be delivered after three to four days of abstinence, but not longer than seven days. Your doctor will then help you interpret your results.

In women, infertility may be caused by a wide range of abnormalities of the ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes, the endocrine system, among others. Untreated STIs or complications of an unsafe abortion or pelvic surgery may also have an impact. Disorders such as endometriosis, septate uterus, fibroids and polycystic ovarian syndrome may all impact fertility.

However, it’s important to note that it might not always be scientifically possible to know what might be the cause of infertility. Lifestyle factors such as smoking, excessive alcohol intake and obesity can impact fertility. Additionally, pollution and toxins could have an effect on sperm and egg quality.

If you have been struggling to conceive, speak to your medical doctor about further testing or alternative methods.

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Have you been for mole mapping? Here’s why you should…

February is typically the hottest month in South Africa and with International Cancer Day on the 4th, we draw attention to some preventative measures related to skin cancer this month. Mole mapping is one of these – read more below on why you should go.

Mole mapping is a crucial tool in the early detection of melanoma. But what is a melanoma exactly and why is this important? “I lost my step father to cancer in 2014,” says Amy Hopkins, one of our #MedshieldMovement ambassadors. “In 2014, he developed a melanoma. While attempts were made to remove the physical melanoma on his arm, it turned out that the cancer had already spread internally to his brain and he died a few months later. He had a number of moles and his own father had passed away from cancer, but he’d never been for mole mapping. It was a big learning experience for me.”

What exactly is melanoma?

Melanoma is a kind of skin cancer and is often referred to as the most serious skin cancer because it has a tendency to spread. Melanoma can develop within a mole that you already have on your skin or it can appear suddenly as a dark spot on your skin. Melanoma also typically starts on the skin that’s often exposed to the sun. Most melanomas are caused by exposure to ultraviolet light (UV light).

How can mole mapping detect melanoma?

By regularly monitoring your skin for changes, dermatologists can identify potential issues and provide proactive treatment. Mole mapping – which uses photography to track changes to your moles over time – will alert your dermatologist to the earliest possible stage of melanoma development. Early detection is important, because the skin cancer can then be removed before it spreads to other organs in your body.

Who should consider going for mole mapping?
Your skin is your largest organ and it’s essential that we all look after our skin. Most humans have pigment lesions – spots or growths on the skin caused by melanocytes. These cells produce melanin – the substance in the skin that gives skin its colour or pigment. These “pigment lesions” include moles, freckles, birthmarks and age spots. If you have a history of skin cancer in your family or if you’re concerned about your skin, it’s worth consulting with a dermatologist.

 Read more:

If you want to know more about how much SPF to use, read here.
Another important preventative measure that women can take against cancer is to go for annual pap smears. Read why here.

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The Colourful Palette of Health | Exploring Colour Psychology for Well-being

Today, we delve into a fascinating aspect of environmental psychology: colour therapy and colour psychology. Understanding how colours influence our mood, thoughts, and behaviour can be a valuable tool in our journey towards better health and well-being.

The Science Behind Colours

The study of colour psychology, as explained by Sally Augustin, PhD, explores how different hues, saturations, and brightness levels affect our mental and emotional states. This scientific exploration, though relatively new, has roots in ancient cultures where colours were used for healing and emotional influence.

Sir Isaac Newton’s experiments in 1666 laid the foundation for our understanding of colour. He demonstrated how white light when passed through a prism, separates into all visible colours, each with its unique wavelength.

 

Colour Theory in Practice

Colour psychology goes beyond aesthetics. It’s about how colours can stimulate or soothe us. Bright, warm colours like reds, oranges, and yellows evoke energy and happiness, making them ideal for spaces like dining rooms and kitchens. In contrast, cool colours like blues, greens, and purples offer a calming effect, perfect for bedrooms and relaxation spaces.

Chromotherapy, or colour healing, suggests that colours can have a physiological and psychological impact. For instance, blue might calm an agitated person, while red could energise someone feeling low.

The Impact of Hue, Saturation, and Brightness

Augustin emphasises the importance of hue, saturation, and brightness in colour psychology. Hue refers to the colour itself, saturation to the purity of the colour, and brightness to the amount of white present in the colour. The right combination can create spaces that foster relaxation, concentration, or energy.

 

Cultural Perspectives on Colours

It’s crucial to recognise that responses to colours are also shaped by culture and personal experiences. For example, while white signifies purity and innocence in Western culture, it represents mourning in many Eastern cultures.

 

Colours and Their Associations

– Red and Orange: Evoking warmth and stimulating appetite.

– Yellow: A colour of joy, warmth, and positive thinking.

– Green: Soothing and easy on the eyes, often used in educational and medical settings.

– Blue: Energising, yet calming, and linked to clarity of thought.

– Violet: Balancing stimulation and calmness, and fostering imagination.

– Black: Associated with power, rebirth, and drama.

– White: Creating a sense of space, openness, and a blank canvas for creativity.

 

Chromotherapy in Healing

Historically, cultures like the Egyptians and Chinese practised chromotherapy. Today, it’s seen as an alternative treatment where colours like red stimulate, yellow purifies, and blue soothes. A 2020 study even suggested its effectiveness in combating compassion fatigue among ICU nurses.

 

Colour in Urban Renewal

Ingrid Fetell Lee’s book “Joyful” highlights the transformative power of colour in urban spaces. The revitalisation of Tirana, Albania, through vibrant murals, demonstrates how colour can foster community pride, safety, and joy.

As members of the Medshield community, we can integrate colour psychology into our daily lives to enhance our mental and emotional well-being. Whether it’s choosing the right colours for our living spaces or embracing the therapeutic qualities of colours, this knowledge empowers us to create environments that support our health and happiness.

Join us as we continue to explore innovative ways to boost your journey towards a healthier, more joyful life. 

Article references:

  1. https://mhanational.org/surroundings/color-psychology-explained#:~:text=Bright%2C%20warm%20colors%20 
  2. https://www.shondaland.com/live/body/a33463636/the-impact-of-color-on-our-well-being/
  3. https://www.verywellmind.com/color-psychology-2795824 
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My baby has eczema, what do I do?

Help! My baby has eczema – now what?

Many infants and small children develop skin irritations, including rashes and eczema. Here’s how to identify if it’s eczema and the best ways to treat it.

 Is it definitely eczema?

Here’s a list of symptoms to look out for:

  1. Is your baby’s skin dry and itchy? Your baby may consistently scratch or rub the affected areas.
  2. Is your baby’s skin red and inflamed? The skin affected by eczema may appear red, inflamed or irritated.
  3. Is your baby developing rashes? Eczema can cause red or brownish-gray patches of skin, and these patches may develop small, raised bumps that may ooze or crust over.
  4. Are the skin irritations commonly appearing in these places: on the face, especially the cheeks and chin, as well as on the hands, wrists, elbows and behind the knees?

How do I treat this with home remedies?

If you suspect that your baby has eczema based on the above, here are some things that you can do immediately to alleviate the symptoms.

  1. Avoid using harsh soaps, detergents or creams that may exacerbate the condition. Choose hypoallergenic and fragrance-free skincare products specifically designed for babies with sensitive skin.
  2. Regularly apply a hypoallergenic, fragrance-free moisturiser to keep your baby’s skin hydrated. Moisturizing is crucial in managing eczema and preventing flare-ups.
  3. Dress your baby in soft, breathable fabrics. Avoid wool or synthetic materials that may irritate sensitive skin.
  4. Keep your baby’s nails short to prevent scratching, as scratching can worsen eczema and lead to infections. Consider using mittens or clothing with fold-over cuffs to protect the skin.
  5. In dry climates, consider using a humidifier in your baby’s room to maintain appropriate moisture levels.

When do I need to go to a doctor?

If your baby’s symptoms persist, get worse and you start to notice swelling or oozing fluids, it’s advisable to seek expert medical attention. Take note of the following symptoms:

– If your baby is experiencing significant discomfort, sleep disturbances or distress due to eczema, consult with your GP for guidance and medication to assist with managing these issues.

– If you notice signs of infection, such as increased redness, warmth, swelling or the presence of pus, consult a doctor immediately.

– If you suspect that certain foods, environmental factors or substances may be triggering or worsening eczema, it may be time to consider allergy testing.

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 Embrace the Active Lifestyle: Discover the Profound Benefits of Staying Active

Hey everyone! I’m Henri Schoeman, and I’m here to share with you the incredible benefits of leading an active life. As a professional triathlete and Olympic medalist, I’ve experienced firsthand how staying active can transform your life in countless ways. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or just starting your journey to a healthier, more active lifestyle, this blog post is for you. Let’s dive into the world of fitness and explore the profound advantages of being active.

Physical Health

One of the most obvious benefits of staying active is improved physical health. Regular exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and boost your cardiovascular health. Exercise strengthens your muscles, bones, and joints, making you less susceptible to injuries and pain. Additionally, it enhances your flexibility, balance, and coordination, allowing you to move with ease in your daily life.

Mental Wellbeing

Exercise isn’t just about physical health—it also has a profound impact on your mental wellbeing. When you work up a sweat, your body releases endorphins, often referred to as “feel-good” hormones. These endorphins reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, leaving you with a positive and uplifted mood. Regular physical activity can even enhance cognitive function, improve memory, and boost creativity.

Increased Energy Levels

Contrary to what you might think, staying active doesn’t drain your energy; it replenishes it. Regular exercise improves your overall fitness and stamina, making everyday tasks feel easier. When you’re active, your body becomes more efficient at producing and utilizing energy, so you’ll feel more invigorated throughout the day.

Quality Sleep

Sleep is essential for both your physical and mental health. Staying active promotes a better night’s sleep by regulating your sleep-wake cycle. It helps you fall asleep faster, enjoy deeper, more restful sleep, and wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

Weight Management

If maintaining a healthy weight is one of your goals, being active is a game-changer. Exercise burns calories, helping you shed unwanted pounds or maintain your ideal weight. Additionally, a well-rounded fitness routine, which combines cardiovascular exercises, strength training, and flexibility exercises, can help you shape and tone your body.

Social Interaction

Being active often means participating in group activities, sports, or fitness classes. This offers an excellent opportunity to socialize, make new friends, and strengthen existing relationships. Sharing a common interest in physical activity can lead to lasting bonds and a strong support system.

Longevity

Studies have consistently shown that an active lifestyle is associated with a longer, healthier life. Regular exercise reduces the risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. It also promotes better mental health and a higher quality of life in your later years.

Increased Confidence

Engaging in physical activities and witnessing your progress can significantly boost your self-esteem and confidence. Achieving fitness goals, whether big or small, instills a sense of accomplishment and self-worth that transcends into other areas of your life.

There’s no denying the incredible benefits of being active. From improving your physical health and mental wellbeing to enhancing your social life and increasing your longevity, an active lifestyle has the potential to transform your life in countless ways. So, whether you’re inspired to hit the gym, start a new sport, or simply take more walks in the park, know that every step counts toward a healthier, happier you. Embrace the active lifestyle, and you’ll discover a world of benefits that will enrich your life in ways you never imagined.

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The 5 best new year’s resolutions you can make for your body

Making new year’s resolutions can feel overwhelming! But if you’re going to make some commitments to yourself to live a healthier life, here are the top five to focus on.

1. Regular Exercise

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous exercise with an ideal of 300 minutes. Ideally you want a mix of strength / weight training as well as cardio exercise and a mix of low and high-intensity workouts.
What does this look like practically at a minimum?
– a 30-minute jog / run 5 days a week
– a 30-minute run 3 days a week + 1 hour of strength training
– a 30-minute swim 2 days a week + 2 x 45-minute strength sessions 

If this seems daunting, do more moderate movement for longer, ie: go for an hour walk five days a week.

2. Eat Well 


This means having a balanced diet and mindful eating habits. Include a variety of vegetables, fruit, lean proteins and whole grains into your eating plan. Limit your sugars and salts and for healthy eating habits that include meal-planning. When you approach your meal, be present while you eat and eat mindfully.
Does this seem overwhelming? We have a list of great tips to help you kick-start a healthy eating plan. Read this. 

3. Sleep Better

Having good-quality sleep will mean better overall health, physically, emotionally and mentally. Aim for between 7 and 9 hours a night. Some people naturally need more sleep than others. To help set you up for sleep success, establish a good sleep routine and create a healthy sleep environment: dark, quiet and cool. 

  1. Manage Stress

Commit to a stress-management programme to promote living a life with a greater sense of well-being. All of us are responsible for how we manage our mental health and there are steps that all of us can take to live a more stress-free, content and happier life.
Include mindfulness exercises into your daily life: meditation, deep breathing, yoga or any other activity that you can identify that helps you to unwind and relax. Managing stress is crucial for maintaining good mental and physical health. Our mental health is also naturally in a better state when we also stick to the above goals: eating well, sleeping better and regular exercise. 

 

  1. Hydration Health

Promoting hydration health might seem insignificant to the previous five points, but relooking at your hydration habits can make a huge impact on your daily life. If you want to know the signs and symptoms of being dehydrated as well as what you can do to ensure healthy hydration habits, read this here.

Remember that the key to successful resolutions is to make them specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). Consider starting with small, manageable changes and gradually building upon them over time. Track your progress and celebrate your achievements along the way. If you have specific health concerns or conditions, always speak to your medical doctor before making major lifestyle changes. 

 

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10 tips to kickstart your healthy eating routine

While we believe that any time is a good time to start living a healthier life, a new year is often seen as a time to make a fresh start. If you’re wanting to relook your eating habits and create a healthier lifestyle and eating plan, we have great tips to set you up for sustainable success. 

These 10 tips to help you kick-start your new healthy eating routine are small changes that anyone can make. 

  1. Set realistic goals
    Don’t start off by setting yourself up for failure. We recommend focusing on small, sustainable changes that will lead to long-term healthy eating and living habits. 
  2. Take a mindful approach
    When it comes to how you meal plan, what you purchase at the supermarket, how you fill your plate and even how you approach eating as a practice, be mindful. 
  3. Shop Smart
    Choose whole unprocessed foods as far as possible. Opt for whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats and nutrient-dense foods. Choose a variety of coloured vegetables and fruit for a range of nutrients and vitamins. And read the labels on packaging to check for hidden sugars and excess salts. 
  4. Limit sugar and salt intake
    Approach your new healthy eating plan with an audit of the amount of sugar and salt you have in your diet. There are many hidden salts and sugars in pre-made and packaged foods. Try seasoning your foods with herbs, citrus and spices instead of salt. If you’re used to reaching for chocolate bars, try a piece of fruit instead. A dietician can realy help create a tailored plan for you. 
  5. Create a balanced plate
    Each meal should contain a mix of macros: proteins, carbs and fat, with a large portion of your plate filled with vegetables. 
  6. Check your portions
    It might be especially hard coming off the festive season, but try to dish a smaller portion and enjoy your plate of food mindfully and then wait a period before seeing if you really need more. 
  7. Drink enough plain water
    Have a big glass of water before each meal and drink enough throughout the day to ensure you’re properly hydrated. Water is also essential for digestion and nutrient absorption.
  1. Meal plan like a pro
    Set yourself up for success – especially during the week – by meal planning. This wil help you avoid last minute unhealthy food choices. 
  2. Snack smart
    Make sure that you have healthy snacks available in your fridge, pantry, desk drawer, handbag etc – wherever you may need them! Fruit, nuts, vegetables and hummus, yoghurts etc. 
  3. Practise patience
    Acknowledge that seeing sustainable results takes time. Be patient and kind with yourself on this journey. Don’t get discouraged by “slip-ups” – they will happen and they don’t mean that it’s “the end”. Focus on progress not perfection. 

We recommend speaking to your medical doctor or a dietician before making any major changes to your diet and lifestyle. A dietician can also help tailor-make a meal plan that’s not only sustainable, but that really supports your individual needs.



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How Do I Know If I’m Dehydrated?

Other than the bathroom test (we know you know), here are ways to know that you might be dehydrated and how to easily up your water intake so that you can spend your festive season feeling great!

There are some obvious signs that you’re dehydrated, including feeling “thirsty” and having dark urine. But, really, we should be nipping those in the bud!

Here are more subtle signs that you’re not drinking enough water:

– Your urination is infrequent. Ask yourself “when last did you urinate”?
– Your mouth feels dry.
– Your skin is dry.
– You feel a sense of fatigue or general tiredness / lack of energy.
– You may feel dizzy or light-headed.
– Your heartbeat may be more rapid.
– You may experience muscle cramps, especially when exercising.
– You have a headache.
– You’re moody or feel irritable.

All of these could be signs that you’re dehydrated! The good news is that you – most of the time – you can remedy the situation fairly quickly.

Immediately have a big glass of water and include electrolytes if possible. Sip plain water at regular intervals throughout the day and front load your water, so that you don’t wake up in the night too often.

If you’re drinking alcohol, we alternate alcoholic beverages with glasses of water to help maintain adequate hydration levels and lessen the effects of a hangover.

If the symptoms above persist or worsen, you may need medical attention. Pay special attention to small children and any older family members who may not be drinking adequate amounts of water.

 

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 Tips To Burn Extra Calories Over The Festive Season

Many individuals pick up a few extra kilograms in weight over the festive season. If you’re on a weight-loss or weight-management programme, we have some tips for burning extra calories during the holidays to help keep your programme or diet in check.

Tip 1: Add in active activities

Organise festive season activities for the family that involve movement. This could be walks, hikes, beach or lawn cricket or soccer, surfing or bodyboarding, beach bats or sign up for padel or tennis round robins.

Tip 2: Include short workouts
We have a great 15-minute and 30-minute summer workout programme that requires no equipment! Check them out here.

Tip 3: Check portion sizes

The festive season often equates to an abundance of food. If you’re watching your weight, choose a smaller plate or smaller portion sizes to help monitor calorie intake.

Tip 4: Pile on nutrient-dense foods

Skip the fast foods and crisps where possible by making sure you have easy access to healthy snacks, like crudites and low-calorie fruits (blueberries) and make sure the majority of your plate is filled with healthy veggies.

Tip 5: Stay hydrated
Start each day and each meal with a big glass of water and don’t forget to sip plain water in between.

Want to know how you can tell if you’re not drinking enough water? Read this article <link to dehydration article>

Tip 6: Dance the night away!
We’re serious – dancing is a fun way to burn calories and have a good time! Encourage others to join in and even make it a fun group activity at home.

Tip 7: Get enough sleep

While the festive season often includes late night, being tired will certainly lead to craving sugary drinks and fast food. Try to maintain getting enough good-quality sleep where possible.

Consistent small changes can really go a long way to living an active healthy lifestyle. It’s important to consult with your medical doctor before making any significant changes to your exercise routine or diet. A dietician can also help craft a tailor-made, sustainable eating plan that works with your lifestyle.

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Struggling With Insomnia? Try These Tricks

Here we break down what insomnia actually is, what you can do to prevent it and what to do if you experience it during the night.

First of all, let’s break down what insomnia is. There are two types: primary and secondary.
Primary insomnia is not related to any other health condition and is often related to lifestyle factors such as stress or poor sleep habits. Secondary Insomnia is linked to an underlying health condition such as depression, anxiety and chronic pain or it could even be a side effect of medication.

Common symptoms of insomnia include:

– Persistent difficulty falling asleep.

– Waking up frequently in the night and having trouble staying asleep.

– Waking too early (ie: 2:30am) and then not being able to go back to sleep.

– Experiencing non-restorative sleep, so you’re always tired when you wake up.

Symptoms of the above can include: excessive fatigue during the day, moodiness, irritability, anxiety and difficulty concentrating.

The good news is that there are options for treatment for both primary and secondary insomnia. When dealing with primary insomnia, the first thing to look at is caffeine and alcohol intake. Try to limit consumption of both or limit close to bedtime.
Additional tips include: creating a consistent sleep schedule and relaxing bedtime routine, so that your body starts to know that it’s time to “go to sleep”. Make sure that you create a comfortable sleep environment that is dark, quiet and cool. And try to limit your screen time before bedtime.

If insomnia persists, we advise speaking to your medical doctor and seeking our cognitive-behavioural therapy with a qualified therapist, which has been proven to help address negative thought patterns and behaviours associated with insomnia. In some cases, doctors may prescribe sleep medication for short-term relief.

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