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Supporting Your Body’s Fertility When you Have PCOS

PCOS is one of the most common contributing factors of infertility today, and many women don’t understand why it happens to them.

I’d like to share both the types of imbalances that ultimately can lead to a diagnosis of PCOS as well as tips and tools to unravel these imbalances so that you can be proactive in improving your fertility and your overall reproductive health.

When we begin to discuss PCOS, it’s important to note that while of course there are the factors that Western medicine would note, such as elevated LH levels and possibly cysts on the ovaries, in Eastern Medicine, which includes herbal/ botanical/ plant medicine, the focus is more on how energy is living in your body. This is important to note because this is the level at which plants and “energetic” type medicines like acupuncture, moxibustion and womb massage work.

These energies can eventually also manifest at the physical level, such as in the case as actual “cysts,” but the energy that contributes to the physical cyst typically exists long before the actual cyst develops.

I want to simplify this idea as much as possible, so imagine that energy should ideally move through your body like air. Imagine how the air feels on a crisp, brisk fall day. You might feel energized. You might feel a spring in your step.

Now imagine a foggy day. There’s more moisture or dampness in the air. When you have PCOS, instead of your energy moving through your body briskly and easily, it’s almost as if a fog descends. There’s moisture and dampness in your body, which actually blocks the movement of Qi. In order for your energy to move, it has to work a lot harder, which may slow down many of your body’s functions.

Because everything slows down energetically, you might not ovulate. Your body’s ability to have that burst of energy you need for ovulation to occur isn’t available. Some women feel this sluggishness. Their limbs may feel heavy. They may gain weight.

If you think about the progression of the accumulation of dampness in your body, eventually it becomes almost like a sludge, like a thick accumulation of phlegm. The dampness can accumulate to the point that it actually solidifies into a cyst.

In treating PCOS, processing this dampness is essential.

Here are a few important methods for reversing the imbalances that contribute to PCOS.

1. One of the most accessible (do it yourself) ways to do this is to focus on balancing blood sugar. This is why so many women with PCOS are on Metformin.

It’s common to have a dis-regulated insulin response with PCOS. Sugar cravings may be high because when you have the fogginess that is common in PCOS, sweets can give you a quick burst of energy. While that energy does cut through the dampness, ultimately sugar creates more dampness, and it becomes a self-perpetuating cycle.

It’s best not to have any sugar when you have PCOS. While I don’t like to recommend restrictive diets for my patients and clients, unfortunately when you’re trying to conceive and have PCOS, stabilizing your blood sugar is incredibly important. In this instance, I do recommend a super low-sugar, low carb diet. It’s necessary to help to stabilize blood sugar and reduce the inflammation that can be contributing to difficulty conceiving.

This isn’t forever, but I recommend cutting out all grains, all tubers like potatoes & sweet potatoes and reducing starchy foods. Some women are okay with some fruit sugars like grapefruit or berries. For some women I recommend a Ketogenic diet, and most of my patients with PCOS immediately feel more stabilized.

Again, this doesn’t have to be your diet for the rest of your life, but if you have PCOS, it can absolutely be helpful. While this is not a diet I recommend for all of my fertility patients, the women in my fertility practice with PCOS who have adopted this diet are the ones who have gotten pregnant most quickly.

2. Avoid Dairy

Dairy is the enemy of PCOS. When you have PCOS, it’s essential to omit dairy from your diet. Milk and milk products can be extremely damp-producing, which is exactly the imbalance we are trying to correct in PCOS. If you’re continuing to drink milk and consume dairy, it’s virtually impossible to eradicate the dampness that contributes to the formation of cysts.⁠

Replace dairy products with non-dairy alternatives. My favorites are almost and cashew milk. I buy the unsweetened version and, if necessary, sweeten with a drop or two of liquid stevia.⁠

3. What to Drink?

Often, women with PCOS will feel that drinking water doesn’t really quench their thirst. This is because water tends to just contribute to more dampness, and it does little to support processing of the dampness.

Because supporting the processing of dampness by the liver is our ultimate goal, consider adding lemon juice to your water. The acidity can help to penetrate some of that dampness and can support the liver.

4. Focus on “cutting through” the Dampness

All of the products in my PCOS Bundle are formulated to help invigorate your energy. This is done by encouraging your liver to process that “dampness” or “fogginess” (which on a more Western Medicine level, can support hormone balance). The following are all different “avenues” to get to the damp accumulation, and work on both the energetic and physical levels. 

  • Botanical Medicinals (Herbs, Plant Medicine)

Other self-care items that should be on your shelf are liver-cleansing herbs like milk-thistle, dandelion and nettle leaf. The liver is the organ that helps to process the hormones and dampness that contribute to PCOS, so it’s imperative to support and detoxify your liver. In my PCOS bundle, I have two teas, the Detox and Fertile moon Tea, which contain those ingredients and many more.  The Detox Tea is to be used for 7-10 days to really support invigorating the energy of the liver to cut through this dampness, and then the Fertile Moon is used after the Detox has ended to continue to energize and nourish the liver, and also contains herbs that support the uterus and ovaries to help regulate ovulation.

  • Womb Massage

Fertility Womb Massage is important when you have PCOS, as you can manually move the energy that gets blocked, invigorating the flow of Qi and blood to your reproductive organs. I have free womb massage tutorials on my YouTube channel, so be sure to check them out. It’s ideal to perform the womb massage with my Womb Healing oils and castor oil, as they can both help to nourish the reproductive organs and energetically pull out some of that dampness. It’s normal and okay if you have diarrhea the first few times you perform the womb massage (this is the excess dampness leaving your body!)

  • Detoxification

Another important way that you can detoxify this dampness through your body is via the skin, your largest organ! The Mermaid Bath soak is another way to increase movement of Qi to cut through some of that dampness. The salts and the seaweed can grab onto that excess dampness as well, and the herbs added to the blend are all supportive of reproductive health. 

You can absolutely use my products with common PCOS and fertility supplements, such as inositol (either form) and even if you’re using Metformin to balance blood sugar.

I have quite a few YouTube videos about PCOS, so be sure to check them out (the channel name is Ariele Myers). In them, I discuss the overall imbalance in the body that tends to contribute to PCOS, and ways to support your body’s coming back into balance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the most effective ways to track your fertility

BBT Charting


Tracking your Basal Body Temperature is one of the most effective ways to track your fertility. Unlike your Ovulation Predictor Tests, your BBT not only shows you when your fertile window is, but can also indicate if there’s an issue during one of your phases that might be preventing you from conceiving. 


For instance, tracking your LH surge alone will let you know if you’re ovulating, but with your BBT, you may find that your luteal phase temperatures aren’t getting high enough. This might indicate that you have low progesterone, or just that you need to use some womb warming products to help increase those temperatures so that implantation can occur.


Another example of how your BBT can be informative is if you see that your follicular phase (days 1-14) has an up-and-down or sawtooth pattern, as opposed to a steady, even temperature. This means that your body’s hormone levels may be off (often an indication of cortisol levels spiking and impacting estrogen levels), which impacts the growth of your egg/ follicle. In this instance, you’d need some cooling, yin nourishing support during this phase. 

Why An Ovulation Predictor Kit Only Tells You a Part of the Story


While of course it's important to know if you're ovulating based on the hormone levels in your urine, a significant temperature spike in your BBT chart (at least 5/10ths of a degree) is a good indication that you've ovulated. However, only knowing that you've ovulated isn't really enough to tell you HOW to correct an imbalance that might be impacting fertility. For instance, if your temperature doesn't STAY elevated, even if you've ovulated, conception won't occur. 

Watch this video to understand how to take and track your BBT:

I created this video to help explain how to measure and chart your BBT as well as what to do if you notice a certain phase of your cycle is off. Remember, there are four distinct phases of your cycle, and during each phase, it's important for certain energies to be in place for conception to occur. Hopefully you can start tracking as soon as possible... it's a great way to understand what's happening in your body every day. 

2 Can I Still Have a Baby at 40?

THINKING OF HAVING A BABY? WHY YOU PROBABLY NEED TO DETOXIFY YOUR LIVER FIRST

For almost twenty years, I’ve been working with women to help them become pregnant.  While I’m grateful for the busy practice, I can’t help but notice that the number of young women (under age 35) with fertility issues is increasing.  Often, these women seem relatively healthy; they tell me that their inability to become pregnant is the only thing “wrong” with them. My background in Chinese Medicine encourages me to always look at the body as a whole, so I recognize that infertility is just a symptom of a larger, more holistic imbalance.

I’ve written a lot of articles discussing the Chinese Medicine perspective of fertility problems, but I realize that I have failed to relate one of the most basic and obvious contributors to infertility in our country: we are living in what the World Health Organization describes as a “toxic soup.” I see women who exercise daily, practice yoga, try to eat cleanly and think they are relatively healthy.  While I never want to turn my patients into fearful and neurotic health-nuts, it would be negligent for me not to inform them about the reality of our day to day lives: we are absorbing and inhaling a ridiculously exorbitant amount of toxins every day, and our bodies are simply unable to detoxify them.

The toxins to which I’m referring are environmental toxins, which include herbicides, insecticides, pesticides, plastics, detergents, preservatives, cosmetics, gasoline additives, solvents, glues, and heavy metals.  Antibiotics, pharmaceuticals, radiation and electromagnetic stress are also treated by your body as toxic, and place a heavy burden on your liver as well. Over 80,000 chemicals have been developed, distributed and discarded into the environment over the past 50 years.  The EPA Inventory Update Reports that 27 Trillion Pounds of chemicals are produced or imported into the US per year. That’s 250 pounds of toxins per person! Scarier still is that this report does not even include fuels, pesticides, pharmaceuticals or food products.

While I won’t go into detail about the physiology of how toxins affect your body, I will say that they do affect almost every organ and system in your body, from your liver, kidney and skin to your nervous and endocrine systems and gut lining.  The Toxicant and Disease Database links chemical contaminants with 180 human diseases or conditions and WHO reports that 50% of chronic disease is due to environmental pollutants and toxins.

Not only do environmental toxins disrupt endocrine health and mitochondrial efficiency, which can lead to infertility, but many of these toxins can pass through the placenta.  So even if a woman does become pregnant, she is unwittingly passing dangerous toxins to her baby. The Environmental Working Group reported that the cord blood of the average baby at birth contains over 200 chemicals (chemicals that should not be in baby’s cord blood!)  While toxins affect everybody, children are especially affected because they have an inhibited and underdeveloped detoxification pathway. Because they’re not supposed to carry any toxic load, it’s harder for them to process the toxins, and they accumulate much more easily.

It is my personal belief that it is this accumulation of toxins in our children which is contributing to our country’s rapid increase in developmental delays and neurological disorders.

A patient recently told me that she would rather not be informed about the magnitude with which environmental toxins are wreaking havoc on our systems; that ignorance is bliss.  I completely understand that sentiment. But ignorance, unfortunately, is not bliss. It’s chronic illness, chemical sensitivity, digestive disturbance, skin disorders, chronic allergies, endocrine disorders, emotional disorders, neurological disorders and, in her case, infertility.  If there was nothing that we could do about it, then yes, I would agree that I would much rather remain uninformed and just enjoy my life.

But there is a LOT we can do.

And it’s really not that hard. While I recommend making these changes at least a month prior to becoming pregnant, three to six months prior is ideal.  It is important NOT to detoxify while you are already pregnant or nursing. You can still be conscious to reduce toxin exposure, but actual detoxification will release toxins from your cells right into your bloodstream or breast-milk, and right into your baby.


8 Simple Steps You Should Take Before Becoming Pregnant:

  1. Do a liver detox 3 to 4 times a year.  My favorite is Pure Encapsulations Detox Pure Packs.  You can purchase the kit online through the link and receive 10% off all products ordered.  If it feels easier for you to sip on a detox tea throughout the day, try Detox Tea from our own Ariele’s Apothecary line of Artisanal Small-Batch Blends. If you want to blend your own detox kit, it’s important to include Reduced Glutathione, a B Complex, Cysteine, Vitamin C, Folate and Alpha Lipoic Acid.  We can schedule a simple 45 minute herbal consult to choose the best formula for you.  Milk Thistle is a simple herb that can strengthen the liver. If you have unremitting skin conditions or other conditions that do not improve from liver detoxification, you may want to consider getting tested for heavy metals toxification.
  2. Always on my list of ways to improve health is Acupuncture! Acupuncture can help to strengthen the body’s detoxification systems, including the liver and gallbladder. This will promote your body’s ability to detoxify.
  3. Many women only become conscious about products once they are actually slathering something on their newborn’s skin, but now is the time to start being hyper-conscious about all products used.  What goes onto your skin or into your lungs then goes into your bloodstream, which feeds your baby.  From cosmetics, including perfume and nail polish to sunscreens to cleaning products and laundry detergents, look at the ingredients.  If the ingredient list has a chemical you don’t recognize, the likelihood is that your body won’t recognize it and it will need to be processed by the liver.  Because there are minimal requirements for labeling something as “green,” don’t rely on the product to tell you the truth about its ingredients. “Sensitive” and “All Natural” essentially mean nothing.  Some of my favorite skincare products are from Poofy Organics. Favorite cleaning and laundry products are from Honest Company. You can find a great variety of clean skin products and makeup here.
  4. Eat clean.  Take the advice from #2 and apply it to your food.  I know a lot of pregnant women allow themselves to eat all the food they might not let themselves eat when they’re not pregnant, but now is not the time to hit up fast-food drive thrus on your way home from work (you know who you are). Again, if you don’t understand or know what an ingredient is, your body doesn’t either. Avoid endocrine-disrupting chemicals like trans-fats, refined sugars, or excess additives. Reduce inflammatory factors like gluten. Better still, don’t eat food that comes in packages! The cleaner and closer to whole foods, the better for your body.  Increase Anti-oxidant support from fresh fruits and veggies.
  5. Be very careful of Pesticides and Herbicides.  Try to eat organic whenever possible.  While I won’t talk about every single offender, the big one that has me extremely concerned, even scared, is Glyphosate, also knowns as RoundUp.  Be conscious that when your food (meat and chicken, dairy) has been fed with feed laden with pesticides, you (and your baby) are absorbing it too.  For those of you who want details on on how Roundup affects human health, read below*** Bottom Line — Support GMO labeling, and when you see that something contains GMOs, avoid like the plague.
  6. Avoid using plastics.  If you do have to use plastic, NEVER heat or freeze.  Acidic conditions also accelerate the release of BPAs, so don’t store acidic foods like lemon juice, vinegar or tomato sauce in plastic containers. Choose BPA-free plastics whenever possible, but be aware that BPA is now being replaced by BPS (Bisphenol S) which has not been studied much, so just because something says BPA-free doesn’t mean it won’t leach toxins into your food. Use glass containers to store your food whenever possible. There are a ton of great to-go options now.
  7. Open your windows.  There are tons of toxic chemicals used not only in cleaning products, but also furniture, mattresses, packaging materials, etc.  Let some fresh air in. Toxins can leach out of building materials for two years, so if you live in a brand new house, get new furniture or a new car, air them out.  Air fresheners often contain phthalates, so choose chemical-free air fresheners made with purifying essential oils such as lemon, citronella, tea tree, pine, peppermint, sage, and rosemary.  When you do have your baby, consider diffusing purifying essential oils in the room, especially if you’ve gotten a brand new crib, glider, etc. I make an awesome Organic Essential Oil blend at the Apothecary called Purity.
  8. Reduce exposure to EMFs. Place a barrier between yourself and your computer. Don’t put your laptop or ipad right on your lap (especially not when you’re pregnant!)  Put your personal devices in a bag instead of in your pocket, and NEVER carry it in your bra (I’ve seen this a lot!). Keep your phones and electronic devices out of your bedroom at night, and unplug everything when it’s not in use.
  9. Don’t smoke.  Are you kidding me?!  Don’t smoke.

*** The use of Roundup in many GMO foods, including soy and corn, has increased 6,500% between 1991 and 2010.  It is absorbed through the plant, and does not wash off. Glyphosate has serious effects on human health. It deprives living organisms of vital nutrients, vitamins and minerals.  In humans, it is a chelator of magnesium, iodine, zinc, iron and cobalt. It lowers B12, glutathione and biotin, which are important to the liver’s ability to detoxify. It blocks manganese uptake, inhibiting the enzymes necessary to make neurotransmitters, which ultimately can lead to brain disorders having to do with communication.  It can also block phenylalanine production, which can lead to leaky gut.

As if that’s not enough, it acts as a potent antibiotic, which can lead to an imbalance of microflora.  So even if the chicken or meat you eat does not contain added antibiotics, if their feed contains “Roundup Ready” soy and corn, your beneficial bacteria may still be depleted, which can lead to build-up of other pathogenic species such as Group-B Strep and Clostridia.

Glyphosate also binds with aluminum and mercury, and they work synergistically to create deficiency in sulfate supplies to the brain, which may contribute to autism, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

CITED WEBSITES:

http://www.epa.gov/cdr/

http://www.who.int/en/

http://www.cdc.gov/

http://www.healthandenvironment.org/tddb/disease/773

http://www.ewg.org/

IMPORTANT ARTICLES

“Environmental Toxins Associated with Diabetes and Obesity” Medscape Medical News, June 2014

“Childhood Cancer and Environmental Toxins are Both Increasing” Medscape Medical News, February 2011

“BPA and Obesity: Is this Connection Real?” Medscape Family Medicine, January 2013

“Infant Lead Poisoning Associated with Use of Tiro, an Eye Cosmetic From Nigeria” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, September 2012

“Fracking Chemicals May Disrupt Hormonal Activity” Medscape Medical News December 2013

INCREASING FERTILITY WITH WISDOM OF THE WOMB: THE YANG PHASE

While there are many studies that prove that acupuncture and herbal medicine do indeed promote fertility, many women still question 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 acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help to increase 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 my Virtual Herbalist Quiz or schedule a one-on-one consultation with one of my talented fertility specialists.

Learn more about the energetic of the Yang Phase and Implantation.

YANG

This is the phase in our cycle after which ovulation has occurred and your ovary is producing progesterone, usually between days 16-30.  It corresponds to the luteal phase of your menstrual cycle. Because progesterone is a more warming hormone than estrogen, your body temperature should naturally be elevated during this phase.  You may have heard those somewhat terrible expressions “a cold womb” or “luteal phase defect” (LPD). Because we want to encourage the burrowing of the fertilized embryo into the uterus, the Yang phase is the time in which warming the uterus is especially important.  A warm uterus is much more inviting than a cold one.

Even if ovulation occurs and the follicle is fertilized, it might not be implanting into the uterine wall. During the Yang phase, the uterus should develop a triple-layer or become “tri-laminar.”  While the yin of the body gives us the substance for the uterus to thicken, the yang energy is needed during this phase to develop and divide into layers, as well as to encourage the burrowing energy of the embryo.

On our basal body temperature chart, we are looking for maintenance of the elevated temperature that was hopefully achieved during the Qi Phase of your cycle.  If you see a temperature that drops after ovulation or that doesn’t rise to at least .5 degrees higher than the highest temperature in your follicular or Yin Phase, this is a good indication that you need support during this time in your cycle, and that acupuncture and herbal medicine can help you.

HOW ACUPUNCTURE AND HERBAL MEDICINE IMPROVE FERTILITY

  1. Increase the body’s yang energy to promote warming of the uterus and production of progesterone.

  2. Increase the ability of the uterine lining to ripen into a triple-layer and for the cells of the lining to produce more secretions.

  3. The Yang Phase is an important time to come in for acupuncture. Your acupuncturist might perform moxibustion as well as insert needles to encourage tonification of Kidney Yang.  A favorite formula at the Apothecary is Jade Moon Women’s Phase 4.

  4. 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. Rich in calcium and magnesium, it strengthens the uterus, balances hormones, soothes and cleanses the liver, promotes circulations and tonifies the blood.  If you experience painful periods, heavy bleeding, cramps or PMS, switch toB*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. Supports uterine health, strengthens the liver, balances hormones, encourages healthy blood flow to reduce cramping and relieves stress and anxiety. Neither formula is intended for pregnant women, so if you do become pregnant, switch to Blissful Mama Tea.

PHASE 4 TIPS:

1. Keep Warm

The Yang Phase is all about warming energy, which is supple and inviting yet also energizing. We want to encourage tonification of yang by bringing more heat into the body, or at least preventing cold from entering. Wear socks or slippers around the house (this is important all the time), as the Kidney channel begins on the bottom of the feet. Keep your low back warm with a heating pad or hot water bottle. Avoid swimming in cold pools and considering avoiding cold-weather sports like skiing. I don’t want to suggest you stop doing the things you love, but if you’re trying to become pregnant and this phase of the cycle is proving to be an issue, consider scheduling your ski trip for earlier in the month. Your acupuncturist may perform moxibustion in your acupuncture session during this time. As for an at-home moxa stick so that you can continue to warm your channels throughout this phase of your cycle.

2. Eliminate Cold Foods

Think about what happens to your neck and shoulders when you go out on a cold day. They tense up, right? Your uterus is very close to your digestive organs. If you’re downing iced coffee and salad all day, not only will your digestive organs absorb the cold and become tense, but your reproductive organs may as well. This has become such a prevalent issue in so many women since the raw, vegan diet has become so popular. So many women are trying to do what they believe is best for their body are seriously damaging their yang energy. Cold is not only less inviting to a fertilized embryo, but is also more likely to spasm and cramp.

Choose warming and nourishing foods during this phase of your cycle, and if your yang energy is significantly depleted, you would probably be best served to avoid cold and raw foods cycle-round. Soups and stews are yang-tonifying, especially if you add ginger and warming spices like cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. Bone-broth soup with loads of garlic and ginger is a perfect choice. Stick to warm teas instead of iced drinks, or at least room temperature.

3. Check your Progesterone

If your BBT chart indicates that your Yang/ Luteal phase temperatures are consistently low, it might be beneficial to go in for a Day 21 Progesterone Test. If your temperatures are low for the entire cycle (below 97.1 on days 1-3), I recommend getting your thyroid checked as well. It is beneficial to know if there is a hormonal imbalance so you can respond properly. There are many yang-tonifying herbs to support progesterone production and something as simple as a progesterone cream can encourage your body to support a healthy pregnancy. Especially if you suffer from recurrent early-stage miscarriage, deficiency in progesterone can often play a role.

4. Write, Feel, Breathe

Yang is considered the energy needed for action to take place. If Yin is about BEing, Yang is about DOing. What needs to take place before action to occur? Thinking: those split-second decisions to lift your arm or turn your head. I believe thinking represents yang energy at its finest. For this reason, I believe journaling to be especially beneficial to encourage yang energy during this luteal phase of your cycle. The purpose of allowing yourself to get deep in thought is simply to elicit feelings. It may feel uncomfortable or unnecessary, but when you feel, you can release. Please do not skip this step. This is often the answer to clearing some deep-seated patterns that could be blocking your energy flow and preventing pregnancy.

Place one hand on your womb and the other on your heart. Your energy follows your breath, so slow down your breathing. Lengthen your inhalation and exhalation. On every inhale, envision your breath traveling down your low back and to the area beneath your belly button.  Your inhalation should move the hand that is resting on your womb.

Journal about the emotions your fertility may be triggering, about what motherhood means to you, about ways you feel your partner will be a good father and your fears about how he may not. Do you feel you will be a good mother? How do you feel about your own childhood, your own parents? How do you want to parent differently? Feel into your womb as you’re writing. Feel into your heart. Try, if you can, to not use your head. Yes, of course thinking can come from your head. But often we give so much power to our minds and thoughts that we totally disconnect from our body. It is crucial to re-establish the connection between our heart and our womb. So write. Feel. Breathe.  Aim to sit for at least ten minutes each day, or as many days during this Yang Phase as you can.

Lots of Love,

Ariele

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.

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.
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.

Flash Back Friday

Friday quote
My ultimate goal in my work with all women is the same: whether a woman is trying to get pregnant, dealing with diminished health or chronic illness, a teen girl suffering from a painful period or even a woman just wanting to feel a bit more youthful with an acupuncture “face lift,” my intention in every interaction is to allow space for each woman to connect with and hopefully find a little bit of peace in the energy of her own body.


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