INCREASING FERTILITY WITH WISDOM OF THE WOMB: THE QI PHASE

While there are many studies that prove that ancient womb wisdom, including acupuncture, plant medicine and womb massage do indeed promote fertility, many women still questions how and why they work.  I’ve created this four-part post to familiarize you with each phase of your menstrual cycle. You will learn how Wisdom of the Womb can help to promote fertility during each phase, as well as gain tips and pointers that you can implement yourself to help to increase your own fertility.

While I do recommend some common herbal formulas for each phase, please note that each woman has very specific needs.  I highly recommend that you take our Virtual Herbalist Quiz or schedule a call with one of our fertility specialists to help you decide exactly which formulas and supplements are right for you.

QI

This is the phase in our cycle during which ovulation should occur, usually between days 12-16.  It’s considered a time when we need an abundance of qi, or energy, as ovulation requires a burst of energy to release the egg from the follicle.  Our body also requires enough qi to encourage the egg to travel from the ovary through the fallopian tubes and into the uterus. Without adequate qi, the egg might instead implant in the fallopian tube wall.  On our basal body chart, we’re looking for a spike in temperature, remaining elevated for at least 2 days. This is a good indicator that we have, indeed, ovulated, as ovulation allows for a release of progesterone, which is warmer than estrogen in temperature.  If you see a slow to rise temperature on your BBT chart, this is a good indication that acupuncture and herbal medicine can help you. Ovulation might be occurring, but it might not be reaching the uterus in time for fertilization to take place.

HOW ACUPUNCTURE AND HERBAL MEDICINE IMPROVE FERTILITY:

  1. Increase the body’s qi to allow for ovulation.

  2. Remove stagnation that could impede or delay stagnation.

  3. Increase production of fertile cervical (egg-white) fluid.

  4. Mid-cycle is a great time to come in for acupuncture, to encourage ovulation.  A formula that I recommend often is Jade Moon Phase 3, which helps promote ovulation.

Fertile Mama Tea, one of Ariele’s Apothecary’s line of Artisanal Small-Batch Blends, is a highly effective blend that supports the female reproductive system, especially for those looking to increase fertility and become pregnant. Rich in calcium and magnesium, it strengthens the uterus, balances hormones, soothes and cleanses the liver, promotes circulations and tonifies the blood. Not intended for pregnant women.  If you experience painful periods, heavy bleeding, cramps or PMS, switch to B*tch’s Brew Herbal Tea at mid-cycle, or around Day 14. An Apothecary favorite, B*tch’s Brew is a delicious yet therapeutic blend for PMS relief. To reduce PMS and cramping or pre-period insommnia, anxiety, breast tenderness and more, begin drinking this hormone-balancing blend 10 -14 days before your period is expected, or enjoy throughout the entire cycle.Supports uterine health, strengthens the liver, balances hormones, encourages healthy blood flow to reduce cramping and relieves stress and anxiety.

PHASE 3 TIPS:

1. Move your Body

While running or intense aerobic activity is usually not recommended when fertility is an issue, Phase 3 is a good time to get moving.  A brisk walk is the perfect exercise for this time.

2. Eliminate Dairy

If ovulation tends to be an issue, consider eliminating dairy, ideally for the entire cycle.  If you are sensitive to dairy, it can create mucus (we see it as dampness, in TCM) that can stagnate your energy.  It’s like your body trying to function in pea soup. Sugar and refined flour can also increase dampness in the body.  Instead, consume foods that encourage the movement of qi, like garlic, scallions and chives and leafy green vegetables.

3.  Get Busy!

I would think it’s fairly obvious, but you’d be surprised how many women only have sex with their partner once ovulation has already occurred and they see a smiley face on their ovulation test.  I like to think of the egg as a major diva. Waiting until after you ovulate would be like Mariah Carey getting onstage to an empty auditorium, with people filing in through the doors only after she’s begun performing.  Fill that house with sperm, ladies! The egg wants to arrive to be greeted by those little guys! If you tend to ovulate on Day 14, start having sex every other day beginning on Day 8 through day 16.

While these posts are mainly focused on helping women to improve their fertility, it is important for our partners to be tested too if you have been trying unsuccessfully to conceive for a while.  Acupuncture and herbal medicine can improve sperm quality, count and morphology. During this time in our cycle, it could be helpful to do a post-coital semen analysis. That means going in to remove the sperm from your body to see how the sperm fares in your cervical mucus.  It sounds a little invasive, but it’s a really simple test that can tell us a lot.

Learn more about supporting the energetic of the Qi Phase.

INCREASING FERTILITY WITH WISDOM OF THE WOMB: THE YIN PHASE

While there are many studies that prove that ancient womb wisdom, including acupuncture, plant medicine and womb massage do indeed promote fertility, many women still questions how and why they work.  I’ve created this four-part post to familiarize you with each phase of your menstrual cycle. You will learn how Wisdom of the Womb can help to promote fertility during each phase, as well as gain tips and pointers that you can implement yourself to help to increase your own fertility.

While I do recommend some common herbal formulas for each phase, please note that each woman has very specific needs.  I highly recommend that you either schedule a call with one of our fertility specialists or take our free virtual herbalist quiz to give you personalized recommendations based on your specific diagnosis.

Yin:

With Wisdom of the Womb, the Yin Phase is the time in your cycle, after your period, during which your follicles are developing.  It roughly corresponds to the follicular phase of your cycle, or about Days 5-12. Yin is considered the cooling and nourishing and more feminine aspect of your body, corresponding to estrogen in Western Medicine.  During this phase, it is important to keep cool, emotionally and physically. Focus on nourishing and nurturing your body. If we’re really stressed or agitated, we might see a spike on our basal body temperature charts, which can indicate sporadic follicular development.  If we’re perpetually stressed, we might even have a shortened follicular/ yin phase and premature follicular development. The uterine lining is also being rebuilt after being shed in phase 1, so again, we really need to nourish our body to promote that growth. If you’re over 35, it is especially important to focus on balancing your body during this phase of the cycle.  Our estrogen levels decrease with age, and this is the part of the cycle where we often see this depletion of estrogen affecting our fertility.

How Wisdom of the Womb Improves Fertility

  1. Nourish the blood and yin to allow for later growth of a thick and juicy uterine lining.

  2. Increase blood flow to the uterus.

  3. Improve quality of follicles (Lowering FSH levels – Yes, it is VERY possible)*

  4. Increase number of follicles developed in an IVF cycle.

  5. Replenish your body’s blood and yin that is lost during Phase 1.

  6. A formula I recommend often for my patients is Health Concerns Fertile Garden.

Yin Phase 2 Tips:

1. Chill out.

Literally and figuratively.  If you’re taking your basal body temperature, it’s ideal to see temperatures that are all at least .5 degrees cooler than temperatures in your luteal phase.  Recognize that agitation, stress and anger can all cause a release of cortisol that can definitely impede fertility. Take long walks, practice deep breathing and meditation.  If you’re finding it really difficult to relax and let go, Catecholcalm is one of my favorite supplements to help your body balance your Cortisol levels and relax without the use of sedatives.  I also developed Fertile Mama Tea, which is a highly effective blend that supports the female reproductive system, especially for those looking to increase fertility and become pregnant. Rich in calcium and magnesium, it strengthens the uterus, balances hormones, soothes and cleanses the liver, promotes circulations and tonifies the blood.

2.  Slow down.

While it’s always great to encourage the flow of qi, this phase is really about building — both the uterine lining and healthy follicles.   I wouldn’t encourage running or any high intensity exercise during this phase. Exercises that promote and increase Qi and Yin, like Tai Qi, Qi Gong, and Yin Yoga are best for this phase.  These exercises can also increase blood flow to the uterus.

 3. Sleep!

Please sleep!  This is probably the most important thing I can suggest for you.  The night is considered the yin time, and in order to replenish and support our body’s yin, we need to sleep.  If we’re awake and active and doing a more yang activity during the yin time, instead of replenishing yin, we’re burning up more of our body’s yin reserves.  Sleep sleep sleep. Please sleep. Aim for 7-8 hours a night.

4.Nourish

During the Yin Phase, it is important to try to replace some of the nutrients lost during the Blood Phase of our cycle.  It’s the perfect phase during which to eat some grass-fed red meat, but any dark meat is great — duck, dark meat, leg poultry meat.  If you’re vegetarian, eat an abundance of Go Ji Berries and Golden Berries, and consider taking a supplement that boosts Yin and blood, like Energizing Iron.

Learn more about the energy of the Yin Phase and Follicle Health.

INCREASING FERTILITY WITH WISDOM OF THE WOMB: THE BLOOD PHASE

While there are many studies that prove that ancient womb wisdom, including acupuncture, plant medicine and womb massage do indeed promote fertility, many women still questions how and why they work.  I’ve created this four-part post to familiarize you with each phase of your menstrual cycle. You will learn how Wisdom of the Womb can help to promote fertility during each phase, as well as gain tips and pointers that you can implement yourself to help to increase your own fertility.

While I do recommend some common herbal formulas for each phase, please note that each woman has very specific needs.  I highly recommend that you either schedule a call with one of our fertility specialists or take our online virtual herbalist quiz to give you personalized recommendations based on your specific diagnosis.

Blood:

It might not sound pretty, but the blood phase is such an informative phase in our cycle.  So many women see their menstrual cycle as this phase only — the time during which we actually have our periods.  During this phase we are shedding our uterine lining.

  • Is there pain?  

  • Are there clots?

  • Is menstrual blood heavy or light?

  • Is menstrual blood dark or red?

  • Do you feel better or worse once your period starts?

  • Do you experience diarrhea, dizziness or hot flashes with your period?

  • Do you get a headache, breast tenderness or yeast infection with your period?  

I learn so much about my patients during this phase of their cycle.  Women always seem surprised that while it is common, it’s not actually a sign of a healthy reproductive cycle to have cramps and pain and other intense PMS symptoms.

How Wisdom of the Womb can Improve Fertility:

  1. Promote complete shedding of the uterine lining so that no stagnant blood remains.

  2. Build your overall blood so that the loss of blood doesn’t leave you feeling depleted and deficient.

  3. Reduce cramping, pain and other PMS symptoms that may be indicative of a stagnation of your body’s qi (energy) and blood.

  4. A great formula during this Phase is Jade Moon Phase 1: Regulate.  It helps to invigorate the flow of blood while replenishing lost blood.  If there are lots of clots, cramping* or dark blood, then Jade Moon Phase 1: Invigorate is recommended.

  5. B*tch’s Brew Herbal Tea is also highly-effective at encouraging healthy menstrual flow.  An Apothecary favorite, B*tch’s Brew is a delicious yet therapeutic blend for PMS relief. To reduce PMS and cramping or pre-period insommnia, anxiety, breast tenderness and more, begin drinking this hormone-balancing blend 10 -14 days before your period is expected, or enjoy throughout the entire cycle.

  6. Supports uterine health, strengthens the liver, balances hormones, encourages healthy blood flow to reduce cramping and relieves stress and anxiety.

Phase 1 Tips:

1. Go with the flow.

Encourage your body’s natural flow of blood.  If you’re able to use pads instead of tampons, even for part of the day and night, it can not only really let you know more about the quality and amount of your menstrual blood, but also keep your blood flowing in the direction it should  — down and out. This is also a good time to forego yoga inversions like headstand and shoulder stand.

2. Twist & Shout

We want to really encourage the complete shedding of the uterine lining during this phase, so yoga twists can really help to squeeze out any stagnation of blood.  It’s also important to release any emotions that may have been building up.. go for a run, have a good cry, punch a pillow. It’s important to focus on release and letting go during this time.

3. Warm it up

Because we want to encourage movement during Phase 1, warming foods that are nourishing and invigorating are beneficial.  Try ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and cloves. While we may crave ice cream, it’s especially important to avoid cold or iced foods, as cold causes contraction and we are trying to promote expansion and release.  One of my favorite treats is to warm rice or almond milk with some of the spices I’ve listed above added, plus a little bit of agave. It totally hits the spot.

Putting a heat-pack on your lower abdomen or low back during the blood phase can really help if you experience menstrual cramps.  In acupuncture sessions during this phase, I especially like to use Moxa or Moxibustion, a warming and invigorating herb placed on the lower abdomen.

*If you experience severe pain during your period, it is extremely important to seek some form of holistic treatment to diagnose and treat the imbalance.   There is an old saying in Chinese Medicine that translates as “With pain, there is stagnation. With stagnation, there is pain.” Basically, if you have pain, it means that something is stuck.  In the case of menstrual pain, it’s usually your blood. Even if you know the cause of your pain, such as endometriosis, treatment to encourage movement of blood will help to prevent worsening of your condition.  Pain medication and muscle relaxers just mask the symptoms, but do little to correct the stagnation.

Learn more about energetically supporting the Blood Phase.

When to Have Sex to Increase your Chances of Getting Pregnant

When I first started treating infertility in my acupuncture practice 15 years ago, one of the first things I realized was that many of my patients felt uncomfortable or embarrassed to ask a really important question, a question that could determine whether or not they would get pregnant that cycle:

When should they be having sex?

Once I decided that this was one of the first conversations I needed to have with each and every fertility patient, I discovered that most of my patients were waiting until they knew they were about to ovulate to have sex. This is usually way too late!

It’s important to remember that while the egg is only viable for about twenty-four hours, the sperm actually live for five days. Imagine that your egg is a magical queen (because she is). Waiting until you’re about to ovulate to have sex is almost like Beyonce starting to perform while the audience is still trickling into the theater. Just as Beyonce should be arriving on-stage to a packed house, your egg should be bursting forth into a completely full house, with tons of sperm vying for her attention. Imagine her disappointment if she arrives to just a handful of sperm.

I have an easy formula to help ensure that you are ovulating to as many viable sperm as possible, to maximize your pregnancy success rate.

Beginning the day after your period ends, you should have sex every other day until you ovulate. Let’s say that you have your period for five days. You should then have sex on days 6, 8, 10 and 12. If you know you ovulate on day 14, for example, you’ll also have sex for 3 consecutive days surrounding the day that you ovulate. So for a day 14 ovulation, you’ll have sex days 13, 14 and 15. Then, you’ll skip a day, and have sex again on day 17. Any sex after day 17 is optional.

I’ll give you another example for a later ovulation. If you know that you tend to ovulate on day 16 and your period lasts for 6 days, you’ll have sex days 7,9,11,13,15,16,17 and 19.

Here’s one more example so that it’s really clear. If you have a 3 day period and tend to ovulate around day 12, you’ll have sex on days 4, 6, 8 and ten and then surrounding ovulation on days 11, 12 and 13.

Make sense?

My patients tend to ask me why they need to start having sex so early if the sperm only lives for five days. It’s true that day seven sperm is no longer viable by day sixteen, but it’s important to remember that sometimes we ovulate early. We don’t want to “waste” a whole cycle just because we ovulated early that month. If you happen to ovulate on day 12 that cycle instead of day 16, you will still be ovulating to a “packed house” of sperm. Your egg will still feel like the magical queen she is.

Now of course you can use this formula even if you aren’t sure exactly when you’re going to ovulate. You can just have sex every other day. But it is helpful to have a sense of when you ovulate to really take the most advantage of this formula. If you haven’t been tracking your basal body temperature with a basal thermometer, it’s incredibly helpful so that you know when you’ve ovulated. Usually, post-ovulation, the temperature elevates by at least a half of a degree, or .5 degrees. An ovulation predictor kit (OPK) can also be helpful.

Some other useful tips to increase your chances of conception:

  1. Avoid any store-bought lubricant that might contain ingredients that negatively impact sperm. Olive oil is a very safe and effective lubricant that everyone seems to have on-hand.
  2. Both partners should avoid recreational drugs or alcohol when you’re trying to conceive. They have a tendency to negatively impact the fertility level of both cervical mucus and sperm motility.
  3. Especially around ovulation, it’s important to reduce or even remove completely both sugar and dairy from your diet. Both sugar and dairy tend to stagnate our energy. It’s important to keep your energy moving as smoothly as possible so that the “bursting” of ovulation can occur. It’s great to get in a cardiovascular exercise right when you’re about to ovulate.
  4. This might be a "touchy" subject, but it's ideal for your partner to conserve his sperm so that he's only ejaculating during sex with you during this time period. The skipping of a day is actually for the purpose of sperm regeneration, so that there is as much sperm in each ejaculation as possible.
  5. My patients always ask me about eating pineapple. I’ll answer that question here: The core of the pineapple is very high in Bromelain, which can help with implantation. So, if you’d like to help promote implantation, you can buy a ripe, ideally organic pineapple and cut the core into 5 equal pieces. Please don’t eat the pineapple itself -- it has way too much sugar. Share it with your friends instead. Starting the day that you ovulate, eat one piece of the core for five consecutive days. Once you’re done and five days has passed, do not eat any more pineapple core. Too much bromelain can actually increase movement of the blood to the point that it can dislodge an implanted embryo, so just stick to the five days post ovulation.
  6. I know that “trying-to-get-pregnant-sex” has a tendency to lose all the fun, spontaneity and even enjoyment of good old sex. So as much as is possible, try not to stress about getting the schedule “perfect.” Stress pumps cortisol into our body, which throws all of our other reproductive hormones out of whack, which is a general bummer for fertility. While I know it might not be realistic for me to tell you to try to just have fun and have sex, I’m going to say it anyway. Just try to have fun with sex. Try as much as possible to avoid letting it become another thing about this whole process that stresses you out. I recognize that you might hate me for even suggesting it, but as much as you can will yourself to let sex be a time that you let go of all the stress and worry and concern about getting pregnant, the better.

I hope that I’ve given you some useful info about when to have sex to improve your chances of getting pregnant. If you do suffer from PCOS or another menstrual imbalance where you’re not ovulating regularly, I’ll address the best ways to improve your reproductive health in future blogs, so stay tuned.

What Should I Do About My High FSH Diagnosis?

In my acupuncture fertility practice, I hear from at least one new patient each day who has received a diagnosis of high FSH from her reproductive endocrinologist. Many women come to me in tears, terrified that this diagnosis means that they will never be able to conceive, never be able to have a baby. For many women, a diagnosis of high FSH will mean she is not a candidate for IVF or she may be told she needs to use a donor egg to conceive.

Often, my first meeting with a woman who has been diagnosed with FSH is filled with reassurances that a high FSH reading is just a symptom, an indication that there is an imbalance in her body. That imbalance is often one that can absolutely be corrected, allowing for conception and a healthy pregnancy to occur.

FSH is the abbreviation for Follicle Stimulating Hormone, which is produced by the pituitary gland. Typically, FSH levels are checked at around day 2 or 3 of your cycle, when they should be relatively low. Under 6 is an ideal level. When you have healthy, juicy follicles, they “receive” the FSH sent by the pituitary gland, are “stimulated” as they should be and, in response to this stimulation, send a message to the ovary to release a form of estrogen, which is then recognized by the pituitary gland. In response, the pituitary gland “hears” that the follicles are appropriately stimulated, and shuts off its release of FSH.

When there are not enough healthy follicles to respond to the stimulation of FSH, this feedback loop doesn’t occur. Sufficient estrogen isn’t released, so the pituitary gland never receives the message to shut off output of FSH. The pituitary gland continues to release FSH, hoping for it to be received by a healthy follicle. This is what causes FSH levels to rise.

It may sound dire, but it is possible to improve the quality of your follicles, thereby lowering FSH. I’ve had patients with FSH levels above 50 reduce their levels to within healthy range. I’ve even had patients who were officially diagnosed with low ovarian reserve and early menopause who have improved the quality of their follicles. These women not only conceived, but also carried their pregnancies to full term.

I am here to assure you that with the appropriate commitment to improving the quality of your follicles, you can lower your FSH level significantly.

While it is important to add supplements and herbs that have been shown to help improve egg quality (see my FSH protocol below), this feels to me like improving egg quality from the outside in. I believe it is equally important, if not more-so, to work on improving egg quality from the inside out. This means learning how to nourish and nurture your eggs.

We can look at this nurturance at a very basic physical level. When you are stressed, your body releases the hormone cortisol. While cortisol has a detrimental effect on many aspects of your health, it also throws off the balance of your other hormones. Developing follicles need an even flow of hormones to grow healthily and steadily. When hormone levels are fluctuating as they do when cortisol levels are continually spiking, this steady development of follicles cannot happen. Based on this very basic physiological response, reducing our stress level or at least working on improving our response to stress is imperative.

In terms of the Wisdom of the Womb, nurturing and nourishing energy comes from the Yin aspect of our body. When we have ample and abundant Yin, we are able to nurture all of our body’s cells. I like to think of Yin as the energy that adds the juiciness to our wombs, our ovaries and our follicles. Nurturing our Yin energy is essential to improving the quality of our eggs.

Below, I’ve listed a few ways you can begin to nourish your Yin. You might notice that nourishing your Yin looks and feels a lot like nourishing yourself, your body, your soul. It may sound simple, but I’ve noticed that many of my patients feel disconnected from their eggs, their womb. It’s important to recognize that your eggs are a part of you. When you feel frazzled and burnt out, your eggs experience the same. When you nurture and nourish yourself, you are also nurturing and nourishing your eggs.

I created my High FSH bundle to provide you with everything you need to begin gently improving your follicular health by nurturing and supporting your body’s Yin energy.

My Fertile Mama Tea was developed to support the Follicular Phase of your cycle, with nourishing herbs that support both the Yin and the Blood. My Wise Woman Tea was developed for women who are experiencing peri-menopausal symptoms, so especially if you've been diagnosed with Low Ovarian Reserve, Early Onset Menopause or have an FSH level above 20, this would be the most beneficial tea for you. I also created Fertile Mama Bath Soak, to be used during the Follicular Phase of your cycle, and ideally while you're listening to either my Yin Phase guided meditation or another form of meditation. 

I also encourage you to learn more about the Yin Phase, or follicular phase of the cycle in terms of energy. The element related to this phase is the Water Element, which I discuss more in-depth here. 

Here are some ways to nourish your eggs, but remember that doing whatever feeds and nourishes YOU is a great place to start.

  • Try to be asleep by 10pm each night
  • Go to bed on an empty stomach. Digesting takes a lot of work that could otherwise be going towards healing and resting.
  • Avoid electronics after 6pm
  • Try to be at home in the evening
  • Avoid rushing, stressing
  • Take a walk in nature every day
  • Meditate and/ or practice being in the moment
  • Hydrate. Drink lots of water and limit caffeine and alcohol. No soda or sugary drinks.
  • Sit by the ocean or relax in a bath.
  • Eat abundant amounts of healthy fats

It is also important to recognize that certain foods help to nourish your Yin. In addition to avoiding caffeine, alcohol, sugar and very spicy foods, consider adding the following Yin nourishing foods to your diet:

  • Bone broth
  • Good fats: avocado, coconut milk and oil, olive oil, butter
  • Dark meat chicken, duck
  • Egg
  • Asparagus
  • Seaweed/ kelp
  • Sweet potato
  • Black Sesame Seeds
  • Hydrate. Drink lots of water and limit caffeine and alcohol. No soda or sugary drinks.

My supplement and herbal recommendations to all women who have been diagnosed with high FSH or low ovarian reserve. When you order from my online partner, Wellevate, you'll receive 15% off your order.

  • Health Concerns, CordySeng, 2 tablets twice daily
  • Health Concerns, Fertile Garden, 3 tablets 3x daily, first half of cycle or days 1-14
  • Health Concerns, Women's Balance, 3 tablets 3x daily, 2nd half of cycle or days 15-menstruation
  • L-Arginine, 2000 mg twice daily
  • Ubiquinol, 100 mg twice daily
  • Magnesium Glycinate, 100 mg twice daily, 2nd half of cycle or days 15-menstruation

Consciousness and Fertility

Lately I’ve been having a lot of conversations with my fertility patients about the role of consciousness in fertility. I recently read a quote by Jiddu Krishnamurti that really resonated with this discussion: “It is no measure of sanity to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

This touches on an idea that has been percolating in my mind for the past few months and validates my belief that, when we view our body as a microsystem of the earth and the universe, perhaps infertility is the body’s healthy response to living in a society, a consciousness and a world that are incredibly unwell.

A natural response to dis-ease is to want to “fix” it. Of course we want to eradicate cancer, to reduce pain, to heal disease and to “correct” infertility. But what if we begin to examine the possibility that those “imbalances” are actually our body’s way of responding to living in “the matrix,” for lack of a better term?

What if the world around us is so inherently damaged that to be in healthy relationship to it feels impossible? What would a healthy relationship to an earth that is being decimated look like? Climate change, the rape and plunder of our natural resources, starvation, war, a dualistic approach to almost everything, including politics and gender. While I have tended, in the past, to try to remain neutral and avoid political discussion or “upsetting” topics in my role as a “healer,” I’m beginning to recognize that the issue of infertility must remain a part of a much larger conversation.

More than half of my patients are medicated in some form or another. While I have no moral judgment on the use of anti-depressants or anti-anxiety drugs, it is difficult to ignore the reality that most people are numbing themselves to life. Whether it’s in the form of pharmacological drugs, or in self-medicating with recreational drugs, alcohol, food, sex, we are a society that increasingly must blunt and deaden our experience of the world. Our experience in the world.

My impulse response to pain in any form is to try to fix it. My past relationship to “healing” looked a lot like trying to fix people’s experience of the world: to reduce their symptoms, help them function in society, whether by helping them have a baby, reducing their pain, helping them sleep, reducing anxiety and depression. But in looking at the world in which I’m helping them to function, I can’t help but recognize that perhaps I’ve been looking at the wrong side of the coin.  

My fertility work has shifted significantly as my own experience of life has shifted. Three years ago I left Hoboken, NJ (right outside of Manhattan) and “escaped” to the mountains of Colorado. I sold my thriving fertility wellness center, recognizing that something was missing from my life, and spent two years exploring that feeling. I didn’t want to start over in a new place, in a new life, and simply recreate the same existence that was leaving me unfulfilled. I recognized that the first step in healing is acceptance. Recognizing that something isn’t working and rather than immediately stepping in and trying to “fix,” in holding that tension instead; that tension that something needs to change while accepting and exploring what is.

I bring this new ideology to the women in my fertility practice, who are usually looking to me to fix their infertility, heal them, heal their bodies so that they can be “whole.” But when a woman can explore the possibility that perhaps she’s not broken, that perhaps her “infertility” is an adaptation to a broken society, she can begin to recognize her body as a perfect microsystem of the universe.

My patients are beginning to view their fertility journey as a celebration of a new experience of their bodies, a new experience of life. It’s an experience in which each body is decidedly “right”, and while that body may be responding to unhealthy external stimuli, that response is also “right.” It is my belief that an experience of her own fertility is every woman’s birthright.

Breathe that in.

Experiencing your fertility is your birthright.

You are a fertile, creative being… and it is important to begin to recognize the possibility that your “infertility” is a response to a much bigger problem. A societal problem. A global problem.

I look forward to continuing to explore this new consciousness with you, where we recognize that healing isn’t fixing. Fertility isn’t pumping our body full of medications in order to create and sustain life. Healing, true healing, begins with recognizing that we must go inward to expand outward. We must look inward to create the space into which new life can be borne.

While this conversation will be slightly different, in that it won’t be one in which I “have all the answers” for you, it feels to me like potentially the most important conversation, one that is imperative to have. I would love to hear your ideas and thoughts on this subject, and look forward to continuing the discussion, which I intend to explore both personally and with my patients.

Join my Facebook page, Wisdom of the Womb, and the Wisdom of the Womb Be Fertile group so that we can continue this conversation.

What Do The Wildfires Mean for Your Fertility?

As the wildfires in California continue to rage, I’m sure every acupuncturist west of Colorado is thinking about the lungs. Not only do we recognize the importance of protecting them from smoke and chemicals, but we also view the lungs in their function of processing grief. The lungs are where we hold our pain, our loss, and just as smoke and toxins can fester in our lungs, so too can unresolved grief, contributing to asthma, allergies and even lung cancer,

As a fertility acupuncturist, my concern with unresolved grief is beginning to take on a new shape. Before I make my next statement, I’m feeling the need to underscore this: I adore my patients. I envision them as the mothers they will become long before they get pregnant. I cry with them when their attempts fail and celebrate with them when they succeed. I look forward to past patients’ holiday cards filled with their children’s joy. I hold each patient’s fertility journey with hope and love and respect.

And yet, I’ve long had to separate those feelings from my belief that our world is already overpopulated. It’s not the overpopulation in and of itself that concerns me, but the unignorable reality that we are destroying our planet.

In the past, it has felt impossible to reconcile my two passions, to hold them together, in the same space. But in my effort to breathe acceptance into this disconnect, I’m beginning to hold both realities: I love helping women conceive AND I desperately fear for my planet, my Mother Earth.

As the wildfires spread, I felt myself doing what I have done in the past: talking about the fires in despair, in horror, expressing true concern and dismay for the people who have lost their homes, their lives, feeling brief terror at the fact that I, too, live in the mountains, in a wildfire prone area, and then promptly shutting that all off so that I could move on with my life. It is almost Thanksgiving, after all, and there is just so much to do.

But this time, I am not “moving on.”  I am letting myself continue to feel. With the feels, of course, comes concern about the lungs of all the people in California.  My mind wanders, as it does, to the lungs of all of the women trying to conceive.

And suddenly I know in my bones that grief over the loss of our connection to Mother Energy, Mother Earth, is at the root of our infertility epidemic.

Not only do our lungs process grief, but they descend our healthy qi or energy down to our wombs. Some women are better than others at processing grief. They may process the grief of the realization that pregnancy won’t come easily for them. Some may give themselves time to process the grief of their losses, their miscarriages, their chemical pregnancies. Some may grieve the loss of the ease of their marriage, the marriage they had before their infertility journey.

But how many of us have let ourselves even touch at our grief about how we have treated the Earth?

I know many women will read this and brush it aside as ridiculous, as reaching, as just too much. The part of me that knows what it takes to function in this society knows that most women won’t give it a second thought. But if you’ve been struggling with fertility, regardless of whether it’s high FSH or PCOS or unexplained infertility or premature ovarian failure, I urge you to read on.

We MUST grieve our loss of our connection to Mother Earth. We MUST grieve our loss of connection to pure, abundant Mother Energy.

After almost 15 years of working with infertility patients, this disconnection from healthy mother energy is something I cannot continue to ignore. ALL women of childbearing age have been raised in a society that systemically undervalues the feminine. It’s important to understand that when I say feminine, it doesn’t imply female, and while there is a deeper conversation that needs to happen, in the space of this writing, I will only say that as much as we prop girls up, tell them that they can do everything boys do, be just as good as boys, can even run for president, we are also a society that doesn’t value the feminine. The #metoo movement is only one confirmation of the reality that most women have grown up without true understanding of the value and power and strength and necessity of the feminine.

True feminine strength can be ferocious. We should all have a fire raging within us.

Infertility will continue to be an epidemic in this country until we are truly able to bridge this disconnect from our Earth. I have suggested before that it probably feels impossible to be in relationship to a planet that has been decimated, but let’s try.

Imagine the earth as your connection to the “Big” Mother, healthy mother energy, the mother who has held you and supported you, fed you, sheltered you and has given of herself to you again and again, asking nothing in return.  

What would it feel like to breathe into your lungs and recognize that we have been raping her repeatedly for centuries?

What if we see these wildfires (insert hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes) as her rage, her insistence that we pay attention, her insistence that we STOP? What if you let yourself feel all of that? Really feel it. And also let yourself feel your own personal grief. All the pain this fertility struggle has elicited. Your feeling of disconnection from your womb, your feeling that you’re broken, that you’ve failed as a woman, that you will never be a mother, never connect to mother energy.

You will probably fall apart.

Let yourself. Let yourself feel the brokenness.

It might take days. It might take weeks. When we really let ourselves feel ALL the grief we are holding, which includes global grief, it feels big. It can feel overwhelming.

But… it is essential.

Only once that grief is processed can we begin to feel our wombs. Only once we recognize what we have been missing can we begin to give ourselves what we need. Only once we let ourselves feel how we have rejected and undervalued Mother energy and have grieved that disconnect can we restore it in ourselves.

I want to assure each of you that you all have the capacity and are entitled to feel this Mother energy. Within each of our wombs, though lying dormant in most of us, is our deeper connection to the earth. The pulse of Mother Earth lives within us, and my belief is that the only way we have been able to function on a seriously unwell planet is to shut that pulse down.

Only once we can honor her, Mother Earth, the Ultimate Mother, in our day to day lives, can we live and thrive as fertile beings ourselves.

To connect with me to begin to explore your own connection to Mother Energy together, sign up for a one-on-one call.

How Our Fertility Has Been Stripped of its Magic

Last week I found out that one of my patients had died.

Although I hadn’t seen Alicia* in over 5 years, I thought about her often because she was one of the few women in my acupuncture fertility practice who I wasn’t able to help conceive. I treated her before I began working more deeply with the Wisdom of the Womb, an understanding of fertility on a more energetic level. When I was seeing her, I had sensed that more was needed, but I didn’t yet have the language or the methods to access these deeper parts. I always wondered if, had we worked together in this capacity, she could have gotten pregnant.

When she stopped seeing me, she told me that her insurance covered IVF but not acupuncture, and that she had decided to go that route instead.

I kept in touch with her for a few months, maybe a year. I knew she had had several failed IVF cycles.

I didn’t know that she had finally gotten pregnant or that when she was 5 months pregnant, she went to her doctor for severe back pain and was diagnosed with Stage 4 liver cancer. I didn’t know that they needed to deliver the baby at just 4 lbs, 20-something weeks, because her cancer was too aggressive to go untreated. I didn’t know any of this until I found out she had died, less than a month after being diagnosed.

While it’s devastating news, I feel some comfort in knowing that, for those short 5 months, after almost a decade of trying, she was able to finally experience pregnancy, motherhood. I hope that she was able to experience it fully, without fear of loss.

I hope she was able to embrace the miracle of her body.

Because of the unignorable irony of the situation, I can’t help but think about her soul’s journey.  In remembering her and our conversations, I knew that she felt her sole purpose in life was to be a mom.  As an Alchemical Healer, my work with my patients involves exploring their deepest hardship, their greatest struggle as the place where they can experience the most growth. It’s usually the darkest depths to which we must dive in order for our spirit to reach the heights it was meant to. When I think about Alicia in this capacity, I wonder if there was a lesson in the infertility struggle that needed to be explored and why motherhood wasn’t a part of this lifetime’s path.

There are no answers, and even wondering if I could have helped her feels a bit too much like “playing God.” Of course I wonder if the medications involved in several IUI and IVF cycles could have impacted her liver, and I know they must have.

Learning of Alicia’s death forces me to linger on a topic I’ve been thinking about anyway. I recently joined some TTC and fertility groups on Facebook, and I couldn’t help but notice that many of the posts seem so … medical. DPOs, FSH levels, HCG levels, estrogen levels, etc. etc. etc. Of course these things are important and, in fact, I rely on these levels and numbers in my own fertility practice.

Alicia’s death, though, and seeing just how focused we are on “the numbers,” is forcing me to question if we’ve been relying too heavily on science. Because this seems to be a time of heavy “science denying,” I feel the need to say that I believe in science. But I also believe that science hasn’t even begun to catch up to the magnificence and magic that is the human body, the human spirit. In our deep reliance on science, on mental consciousness, we have lost touch with our experience of the magical.

Scientists are discovering things about our bodies every day, things that we couldn’t even begin to fathom even just 10 years ago, like the fact that we carry the trauma of our ancestors in our DNA. If someone suggested as much before science proved it, we would write it off as “new-agey” shit. But whether or not we can “prove” just how it works, the energy and magic of our body is where real transformation begins.

Fertility, along with pregnancy and childbirth, has become so medicalized that it has ceased to be a rite of passage. It has been stripped of its magic.

The women I work with are reclaiming their magic.

Yes, we can look at when we ovulate, our progesterone levels, our FSH levels, etc. We can tweak and supplement and track and chart. But when all of that fails and even when it doesn’t, it’s imperative to treat ourselves like the magical beings we are. It’s essential to begin to understand the underlying beliefs that might be impacting our fertility.

What do we believe about motherhood? What is our connection to Mother Earth? What are our ingrained ideas about femininity? What are the traumas we have experienced? What traumas have our ancestors experienced? What do we know about the women in our lineage? What traumas might our wombs be holding?

Fertility is more than just the numbers and the charts and peeing on sticks. On an energetic and soul level, fertility is about our relationship to our spirit, to our womanhood, to our power of creativity, to the way we value the feminine.

Most women don’t even recognize how disconnected we are from our own magic. When we take back our power, we take back our creative force and our fertility.  

I believe that this reclamation begins by recognizing what has been lost, what has been taken from us. One of my favorite quotes of all time is this, from Tish Thawer: “We are the granddaughters of the witches you weren’t able to burn.”

It’s time to own it. To reclaim our power. To reclaim our magic.

Who’s in?

*Name changed to protect the family (and for HIPPA compliance, of course)

Can I Still Have a Baby at 40?

How to Support Your Period Health if you have Endometriosis, Fibroids or Serious Menstrual Cramps

This is one of a 4-part series on the phases of the menstrual cycle.

While I've posted before about how to support your period in more physical ways, this series is about the energetic of the phases of the cycle.

THE BLOOD PHASE

The blood phase of the menstrual cycle is the time during which you are bleeding.

Blood is associated with the element of metal and is about letting go, releasing.  Metal is the element of the autumn, and the best way to envision that energy is to think of the trees shedding their leaves every fall. They trust in the process, trust that there will be rest in the winter and rebirth in the spring. Some people relate the metal element to death, and in a way, it is.

This metal element is about letting go of that which is no longer serving you and trusting that something more fulfilling will take its place. Our period is all about letting go; our actual menstrual flow is about releasing.

Many women have fibroids and cramping and endometriosis, where the blood is not being released easily or entirely, and we may often find that there’s a holding onto emotional energetic patterns that aren’t healthy, accumulating in the womb.

Another aspect to metal is defecation, our large intestine. Again, we have to let go of the shit that’s not serving us. Whether or not it’s reflecting in our actual digestive organs and symptoms of digestion, such as IBS, constipation, diarrhea, so many of us are holding onto so much that we do not need. We are holding onto trauma not only from this lifetime, but also patterns and traumas from generations past.

I always consider metal the end of the pattern, the death of a cycle, the letting go so that there’s energy and room to move into water, into gestation, so that rebirth and new life can occur. So many of us are stuck in this inability to let go, that we can’t move into the water, yin phase of gestation.

The energetic of this phase should be about encouraging your body and your unconscious to let go of that which is not serving your highest conscious priority, that of becoming a mother.

Both my Mermaid Bath Detoxifying Seaweed Soak and my B*tch's Brew Tea were formulated specifically to support women during the Blood Phase of her cycle. Begin using both 5-10 days before your period is due to arrive.

How to Support Follicle Health During the Yin Phase of Your Cycle

This is one of a 4-part series on the phases of the menstrual cycle.

While I've posted before about how to support your yin phase in more physical ways, this series is about the energetic of the phases of the cycle.

THE YIN PHASE

The Yin Phase is the time of your menstrual cycle during which your follicles are developing. Yin is related to the element of water and is associated with Winter. To activate your water energy, envision a snow scene, where the earth is blanketed with snow.  Imagine the silence and the stillness of the snow. Passive. Receptive.

But water can also be fierce, like the goddess, Kuan Yin. Like the ocean, it can be unrelenting. While it may look calm and still, there’s the potential for devastating intensity.  There is stillness, until there’s a volcanic burst of energy and activity that propels you into the next phase, maybe into ovulation, into action, into the energy of wood or spring.

During the Yin Phase, your follicle is being nurtured and nourished until the water energy bursts forth, encouraging an LH surge and ovulation.  This time is about gestation, of receptivity, of waiting and patience and being in the not-doing.

Yin, water… is one of the most powerful forces on earth. This power flows through you, accumulating in your womb. Femininity. True feminine power.

We have not necessarily been living in a culture where true yin feminine power has historically been allowed to be expressed. Many women live their entire lives without truly even beginning to grasp the magnitude of the power within them. Yin, femininity, is often seen as less than. Women often respond to the toxic masculinity of our culture by becoming the counterpart to that… perhaps allowing herself to believe that her true value lies in her ability to stay attractive. To look good. To be thin. To stay small.  Or perhaps she bypasses her true feminine strength, and absorbs the idea that true strength is forceful, yang, masculine strength. Perhaps she stuffs down her vulnerability and becomes “strong”, becomes a do-er, a go-getter, successful in the business world. Perhaps her idea of value is simply a reflection of our masculine-valued culture’s ideal.

Powerful. Driven. Tough.

True feminine power is not a reflection of anything. It is a force in and of itself, a force to be reckoned with. This force lies within each of us, often dormant.  Often waiting, hoping to be tapped into.

The energy of the Yin phase is about trusting that you are and you have everything you will ever need, contained within you. It is not about being strong enough or pretty enough or thin enough or smart enough.

It is about trusting that at every moment, every day, you have the ability to tap into this power and know, truly know and believe and feel with every cell in your body, that you are a freaking goddess. And that you have the ability to fill space with wholeness.

During your Yin Phase, I encourage you to focus on feeling your bigness, your abundance, your juiciness. Your follicles will follow suit.

Both my Fertile Mama Soak and my Fertile Mama Tea were formulated specifically to support women during the Yin Phase of her cycle. Use both on cycle days 5-11.
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