EPISODE 76 | Interpreting a Semen Analysis with Dr. Paul Turek

Hillary: You are listening to Episode 76 Fertile Minds Radio, and I'm your host, Hillary Talbott Roland.


Dr. Turek: I have to say that the more we know about sort of transcriptomics, genomics, metabolomics, and epigenetics, the deeper we dive into the genetics of infertility in sperm, the more that the most basic things matter like lifestyle, choices, diet, and things like that. It's remarkable. It's just remarkable because when I entered the field, we couldn't explain a lot of male infertility. It was really unexplained, a half of it. And then the Y chromosome was found as to have deletions by Renee Reijo Pera, and all of the sudden 7 to 10% of infertility is explainable. So one region of a chromosome and all of the sudden 10% of the field has an explanation. So that the impact of genetics was clear to me that it's gonna be large. And then now we're learning that even on unexplained cases, epigenetic issues loom large, and it's probably more male than you think.

Hillary: If you are looking for holistic wisdom and a plan to reclaim your fertility, to help you create a healthy family for generations to come, you're in the right place. This is Fertile Minds Radio. And that excerpt was an interview with Dr. Paul Turek we did last year. To date, I think it's one of the most important episodes we've done because it really gets into specifics about the rather elusive subject of male fertility. We originally entitled that episode "Is IVF Good for Men's Health?" Because we were joking before recording that it might be one of the only times a male goes to the doctor. If you are one of the many that has had issue getting your man to the doctor, I invite you and your partner to listen to this refurbished episode. Dr. Turek is a wealth of knowledge and a guy's guy. I would say on average, I refer a male client to him weekly to work with him virtually for a second opinion to what exactly is going on with his reproductive health. So, grab your partner and have a listen because after all, it still takes two to tango.

Dr. Turek is actually a world-renowned reproductive urologist. He's probably one of the top three urologists in the world. He has clinics in San Francisco and Beverly Hills. He advises the ABORM board that I'm a fellow of. He graduated both Yale and Stanford University. He's taught at Yo San University. He has countless studies that he's both authored and advised. And aside from being a Western medical doctor that really gets complementary medicine, like Chinese medicine, he's a soulful clinician. He manages to connect with one of the most difficult patient populations- dudes that don't want to talk about their potential fertility issues. The first time that I heard him speak at the International Infertility Symposium, in Vancouver, I was blown away. He was so intelligent and generous with his ideas and research that he was really the first person that made male fertility issues relatable to me. For three years running, he was one of my favorite speakers, and since I wasn't able to attend this year, I had to get my fix, and I invited him on the show. So, I'm sure that you'll be just as enamored with him as I am by the end of this. His ideas are both provocative and backed by science. So, without further ado, welcome to the show Dr. Turek.

Dr. Turek: Hillary, thank you very much. Who are you talking about?


Hillary: We need to get you a mirror, right? You just listen to that.

Dr. Turek: I want to meet that guy.


Hillary: No, truly, I mean, I think that your generosity with your ideas is and they've been, you know, pretty groundbreaking. Decades ago, you've been in this field since the 90s, and you're really at the forefront. So, I think there's a lot to learn from you.

Dr. Turek: It's interesting, I entered the field because it was a dearth of research. You know, I said, this is a very interesting field, male fertility reproductive urology because it's great surgery. So, it's microsurgery and you have to have a skill set for that, which I found myself drawn to. But then I looked at the science in the field and compared to something like an oncology, there was really very little I mean, it's a very young field. I'm probably the second generation of person in it, you know, in terms of its age. But it's come along beautifully, I think, and it still got a long way to go, though.

Hillary: Yeah, I mean, it's, for eons, it's always been the woman's fault, right? We never even looked at the men.

Dr. Turek: And that's an interesting cultural bent, but what happens is women are generally more proactive about their care, and women also have a cycle to judge their health by and men don't. So that's my next 20 years is where can we get the men's ovulatory cycle? What can we replace that with men that might be just as effective? And is it semen analysis? Is it waist circumference, the fifth vital sign? Is it testosterone levels? There will probably be something coming on board, where we can say, "Hey, and while you're young, be aware that this is where you're headed." 

Hillary: Yeah, I mean, I've heard you advocate several times that, you know, fertility, semen analysis, waist circumference should all be bio-markers for male health and yet the semen analysis is pretty archaic, right.

Dr. Turek: It's about 60 years old, and it had several normal ranges that change every 10 or 15 years. And yeah, I'd say among the things I think about when I see men for infertility, it's probably the least important thing, unless of course it's zero, then it becomes the most important thing.

Hillary: Right, and you just lectured on this at the symposium and you were relating it in the semen analysis to a deck of cards.

Dr. Turek: Yeah, I'd say the blog I wrote is called Reading Your Cards on Turek blog is searched turekandmenshealth.com or Turek blog on Google. I basically took the four components of a semen analysis and view them as cards in your hand in a game of cards and what do they mean independently of each other and what do they mean when you take them as a whole? So, for instance, count, sperm concentration has values, especially if it's not zero, but not predictive value because it varies so much. So, I showed a graph of a man, that was published in our World Health Organization guidelines for semen analyses fourth edition, that took semen samples every week or twice a week from a man for a year, and they were all over the map. The sperm concentrations were all over the map from zero to normal to high and they hovered around 20 million or so but they never really sat there very long. And so, you're really looking at a moving target with sperm concentration because it is a biological process much unlike a glucose level, you know. So, there's a lot of variation between individuals, there's a lot of individual-- each individual varies by season. So, if you look at sperm concentrations, they're basically highest in the winter. I just did an interview for a magazine about this - “why are sex drive so high in the spring?”, and I'd say it's probably because people were stuck-- you know like bears. We've stopped hibernating we're looking upward and outward again, as opposed to downward.

However, sperm counts are highest in the winter and births are highest in the summer. With other animal species, there's a lot of seasonality. Some of you even have ruts where there's no sperm most of the year and there’s only sperm when ovulation occurs once or twice a year, like in walruses. I had a nice paper with Holly Morocco from Six Flags because the walruses, coming from the Arctic, were in Napa, and Vallejo. They weren't reproducing and she figured out that the female was ovulating once a year off-cycle in the fall and the male is rutting in the spring. So, it's an incredible biological process but very different between men and women. So, count alone is you know, it's a moving target. Motility even worse and I think of motility is kind of a toxin light like something's going on when the motility is not normal. That's toxic in some way like pot or social-- how their social habits, alcohol, obesity, things like that. If it's not a huge hit, then you get to the account a motility problem. If it's a larger or longer hit, then you get account problem. It takes more to knock account down than it does your motility and motility recovers faster.

Volume is a third one. And that is probably the most significant one for finding something. If someone has a low ejaculate volume, you will certainly find something if you look hard. So, that is one of those setting stone abnormalities. If the volume is high it's probably meaningless. If the volume is low, you can almost always find something a blockage, something missing and a testosterone problem. Retrograde ejaculation is a list of five things that will always be something on that list. So, that's nice to have something a reference point that matters. And then there's four, progression, which is less relevant. But there's also morphology, which I don't give a lot of credence to, which is firm shape because I always think about walking in a bookstore and finding you know, a book with a really nice cover and then not reading it bringing it home and finding out it's not very well written. I think morphology similar to that. So that's sort of dissecting it out. And you know, I kind of held up the semen analysis as a cube and sort of walked around it and describe what I feel about it. The bottom line is that it has a little relevance to man's fertility. I'd rather know more about his history and physical exam. If the semen analysis shows anything, I mean, a good hot bath will drop you down. If you do hot baths 20 minutes, three times a week for a month, you probably be zero. 

Hillary: Really? 

Dr. Turek: So, it would bounce right back. Yeah. So, it's pretty sensitive marker of things. That's why I like the bound marker concept. Flu season this year was rough because there were several flus. They weren't covered, influenza A wasn't covered well by that vaccine. So, I remember seeing men who had, "Oh, I was yeah, I was feeling uncomfortable for about a week Doc. Took a couple days off headaches and pains, but I didn't have a fever.". But you know, when they have aches and pains, and when they have myalgias, men typically have a low-grade fever. So, I said, "Well, let's look at your semen. It's like zero, right? It's zero. And it was normal two months ago, and it's going to be normal in two months again.” 

Hillary: Yeah, men are so lucky that way, right? They're meant to bounce back.

Dr. Turek: Yeah. And so, the other main concept about the semen analysis is you're meant to run hard. So, the semen analysis is not something men say, "How can I make? How can improve my semen analysis or how can I improve my count?” You run it full tilt. If everything's healthy, you're running at maximum RPM, and all you can do is bring it down. So, it's-- right? So, you’ve given everything so that's why it's valuable because if it's running at half speed, you got to look at why. And usually, you can figure it out. When I entered this field, we usually couldn't figure it out, but it wasn't a lot of conceptual differences going on. But I think with the attitude that why isn't his motility normal? And why is this count low? What is going on in his life? What is he eating? What is he doing? Whether is recreational drug use? What's his lifestyle like? What's his stress like? What's his weight doing? All that stuff matters. And that's really interesting to me. That falls in collusion with other things that we're learning about, for instance, epigenetics. So, the other point of the talk was that the whole story is not on the semen analysis. You have to dive deeper into sperm and look at more of their function, and the two. Morphology does that a little bit, but I'm not a real believer in it. Sperm DNA fragmentation is another measure of quality and performance, sort of, and then sperm epigenetics. Now we know after there's been an essay on the market for about a year to that sperm epigenetics is probably the new evolution. That's how we're evolving. That's what we're handing off to kids. You can have abnormal expression of markers on your DNA because you're obese. If you lose weight, those change on sperm and change the quality so it's quite dynamic, a process. Even on a genetic level or epigenetic level, it's constantly changing, and it makes sense because evolution isn't really a generational thing over 1,000 years. It's really happening every day, and this is the everyday evolution is epigenetics. So my mind is very captivated by the deeper dive with sperm, which appears to be explaining why a lot of unexplained infertility what causes because if you look at a couple to try for a year, and everything looks normal, extensively normal, if you dive deeper in sperm you may find that the genetic issues or sperm fragmentation issues or whatever the next thing might be, but there might not be a next thing because epigenetics appears to be probably the new bottom line, I think.

Hillary: Well, I think, you know, as a TCM practitioner, I feel like I was taught about epigenetics, just with different languaging. You know, our jing in our essence, being affected by our lifestyle, dictating what we passed down. 10 years ago, that seemed like an obscure concept to Westerners, but now you're saying science is actually proving that, right? 

Dr. Turek: Absolutely. I, as an advisor to the epigenetics company, that's my disclosure, I have to say that the more we know about sort of transcriptomics, genomics, metabolomics, and epigenetics, the deeper we dive into the genetics of infertility and sperm, the more that the most basic things matter, like lifestyle choices, diet, and things like that. It's remarkable. It's just remarkable because when I entered the field, we didn't know a lot about, we couldn't explain a lot of male infertility. It was really unexplained, a half of it. And then the Y chromosome was found, has to have deletions by Renee Reijo Pera and all of a sudden 7 to 10% of infertility is explainable. So, one region of a chromosome and all of a sudden 10% of the field has an explanation so that, you know, the impact of genetics was clear to me, it's going to be large. And then now we're learning that even in unexplained cases, epigenetic issues loom large, and it's probably more male than you think. So, it's shifting over from 25% to maybe 50% of unexplained might be male-related and it's not female. So yeah, women might take the hit, but actually men should take the hit. And then if you look at the solutions for that, it's gonna be how you live your life. That's what Eastern medicine does beautifully. We're terrible in Western medicine at lifestyle. 12-minute visits do not get into the details in a medical practice of how a man lives his life. I love it because when I get acupuncturist's referrals, guy with a low sperm count, I've tried everything for six months and it's still low. I generally find something anatomical that I can fix, which is pretty interesting, because everything else is sorted out. The man's stress is under control. His diet's good. He's got a good balance in life, exercising, and all that stuff's handled. And that's the stuff that Western medicine is terrible at, but it all, and so I am a firm believer in the role, the complimentary role of Eastern and Western medicine in treating infertility. It's more powerful than ever and yes, you should hang your hats on epigenetics because that's the value to Eastern medicine as you're making big changes. Those changes are transmissible to other generations. So, they're really important. 

Hillary: So, would you describe, just so that I'm clear and our listeners are clear, you know is when you're talking about epigenetics, when you're talking about the difference between single-gene mutations versus chromosomal gene mutations?

Dr. Turek: Right. So, epigenetics isn't really a mutation story. It's really a… it's the marks on your DNA. So, it's not mutations. It's not chromosomal. It's if you look, so there's blog is called "Epigenetics: The Reason You Are Who You Are", it's the reason a nose is a nose and an ear is an ear, despite the cells being the same. It's a reason why we're different than bananas, even though we share 50% of the genetic material of the banana. It's a reason why, you know, individuals are individuals despite being 99% genetically identical. So, it's not explained in the genes themselves. It's explained in which genes are turned on and which are turned off. So which pages in the book can be read and which pages can't be read if you have different pages that are read differently for each person. So that's epigenetics. It's really the expression and a non-expression of various genes to make different organs and different people and different functions. So, we all have the template of, we all have the whole book, but we don't express the whole book.

Hillary: And so, the test that you helped develop, that's Episona, right?

Dr, Turek: Yeah. And that test tells you if there's a pattern of epigenetic marks on certain genes, that might explain your semen analysis or your fertility. So, it could explain impaired natural fertility. So that might be in, you know, at home, at time the intercourse would fail or inseminations might fail IUI. And then there's another part of the test that looks at the sperm dynamics and interaction with the embryo, and it could explain why IVF would fail. So, sperm can be… sperm are a big contribution to IVF success. We're not talking about fertilizing an egg, we're talking about post-fertilization events. I call it, “dissolving embryos syndrome”. I have a lot of patients who come in, normal semen analysis, normal female evaluation and go to IVF. And their embryos don't make it in a dish. They just dissolve on day 2, 3, 4, whatever and I call it, “dissolving embryo syndrome”. I think epigenetics of sperm, a lot of it drives early embryogenesis, and those genes have to be the right genes have to be working at the right time and if they're not, it's a contribution to failure. Before knowing more about sperm epigenetics, we used to think that about 5% of poor embryo development in IVF might be due to sperm issues. With the development of epigenetics, it's looking like it might be around 45%. So, all of a sudden, in the last couple years, the whole new light being shown on sperm quality as a driver of IVF success, and a lot of epigenetics we know is lifestyle mediated. So, it's all kind of coming together like the Mediterranean diet for health, you know or paleo. It's sort of that kind of collusion of information, it’s all making sense now. 

Hillary: Right. So, what you were speaking about in terms of the dissolving, you know, the embryo, it fertilizes but then they just kind of implode on themselves. You know, I've heard that oftentimes blamed on DNA fragmentation of the sperm, which would be toxicity, right? 

Dr. Turek: Right. Lockshin species and oxidants, right.

Hillary: And so oxidative stress is that's supposed to be around 30 to 80% of the cause of male infertility, right? 

Dr. Turek: Yeah, that's, I mean, it's hard to prove, but that seems reasonable. But this may be epigenetics may be a downstream event of oxidative stress, and the epigenetics predispose you to that. So, it's going to be related somehow. We don't know that relationship yet. I think that epigenetics will assume the field of oxidative stress or be a byproduct of it, or somehow related to it.

Hillary: Okay. But it's not necessarily DNA fragmentation. That's just one thing that can like a symptom that can show up, right?

Dr. Turek: Correct. I think that the downstream event, probably.

Hillary: Okay. So, with that in mind and oxidative stress, and that, you know men are kind of traditionally, not all, but some are poor eaters and, you know, some lifestyle choices… Do you think men should take a prenatal?

Dr. Turek: Absolutely, I mean, the data for prenatals for men, it's sort of pre prenatal, is very strong from the Cochrane Reviews. And that was my talk at IFS a couple years back about should men be on a prenatal. And they did, you know there are about 20 studies done using antioxidant supplements in men. And the nice thing was that they were controlled, and they used IVF, as the result, the IVF findings. That's as about a controlled situation for pregnancies you can get. Funny the big complaint when you do natural fertility studies is how do you know that the- that the pregnancy is his. When you publish a paper it's always the question because you can, how do you know it's his?

Hillary: Right.

Dr. Turek: Very-- I never-- just an odd criticism from editors, but that's what you get. But having an IVF setting is much more controlled, so. They showed about a three-fold increase in pregnancy rates at IVF and a three-fold decrease in miscarriages among women whose partners who are taking an antioxidant supplement compared to controls. And published it, I don't know 2011, and then in the Cochrane Reviews. And then they probably didn't believe it so they did it again with 40 studies, and they came up with the same numbers three years later, maybe 2013. The criticism of all of it is that garbage in garbage out, the studies weren't large and well-powered and they were all small, but they all kind of show the same thing. So, it may not be the best data but the government was so taken by this, the NIH, that they started a Moxie trial. So male antioxidant supplement trial a couple years back, and I was on the review committee called the RMM for that, but I'm not now. So, I don't know what's happened to that trial. But typically, what happens when you try to recruit men to a randomized controlled trial fertility is if they don't accrue very well, so there's a lot of trouble keeping them the men and keep them compliant and getting them to join. So, I'm not sure what the results are. But that's how impressed the government was they're saying, listen, if you're recommending--  if this data is real, then mentioned be on a prenatal, if we de-prove that in a prospective trial, because that's a big statement, because women have been on prenatals for 35, 40 years, for similar reasons, prevent miscarriages and birth defects. And it's been very effective. This is probably as effective. It's probably just as important that men be on a prenatal. 

Hillary: Yeah. And you actually took a step further and developed one of your own. How is that different from what a female would take versus a male?

Dr. Turek: I know it's true. It's doses of things like those a lot of related products and female, there's some in male, more antioxidants. We have some sort of an antioxidant, mineral, herbal supplement, it's organic, and we had one called it's called Essential Beginnings XY, we also have one called XX which is female. The key thing was for both they were had organic fillers. So, you can put a vitamin in anything you want, but your body may not see it. It may not be available to you, and any vitamin supplement can be put on the market saying this is in it, but what are you actually seeing? And so, a cancer nutritionist whose job is to get nutrients into cancer patients who have terrible digestion and habits and you know, because of disease. So, we used very highly organic fillers that are highly absorbed and had great reviews of it. For instance, the iron in the female prenatal, you know often upsets women's stomachs because, you know, gets absorbed pretty quickly and it's kind of iron is heavy on the stomach and you can get upset but the natural fillers are a little more-slow release. So, women were tolerating that a lot better. With men, we add tribulus, astragalus and maca root. Some of the well-established herbals that have the best data and it was all it's more scientific. I'd say it's kind of like a smart vitamin.

Hillary: I love that, that you added the herbs to it especially the tribulus and the maca. 

Dr. Turek: Yeah. And we had L-Carnitine and the usual, you know, and CoQ10 and ubiquinol and things like that, resveratrol, stuff that really made sense.

Hillary: And so, do you like you ubiquinol over CoQ10? Because I know a lot of people look at me, and I try and have them take the ubiquinol instead of the CoQ10. Because it's more cost-effective than the pathway before and all the studies are seemingly done on CoQ10.

Dr. Turek: Yeah, I think a lot of it depends on absorption. I mean, if you get nothing of one of them, it's the other one is better. So, you choose the one you want. It's how it's delivered that matters, right? You can buy all the gifts you want, but if you don't give them to the person who's intended, it's worthless. So, we're all about delivery. In fact, the NIH chose our supplement to model their supplement that they were gonna provide in the trial because they were impressed with the way it was thought through.

Hillary: I agree. I mean, it's definitely complex. What I like most about it is your delivery. You've put all these things together in one pill because if you start trying to make a man take, you know, a handful of pills every day, that's gonna last maybe three days, right? You've got it in one or two.

Dr. Turek: Well, that's another whole problem is compliance with men, I mean, we're thinking a chewable is probably really good, but it's too many calories for 35 to 50 calories a pill, you know, great for kids, probably not good for men, but they probably even toss it up there. You know, because a lot of these antioxidants are water soluble. They don't last very long. So, you do have to dose twice a day. It's hard to do anything once a day with antioxidants and get any persistent levels, you know with vitamins C and E. So, it's complex, but the news is that we've been bought out. It's probably gonna be improved this year, hopefully. And that's all I can tell you. But I'm very excited.

Hillary: That's great. And that's definitely in line with what I've observed about you and your ability to try and make things as easy as possible on the men. You know, your practice model, unless it’s changed, it's a very lengthy questionnaire, but they only have to see you once and then the rest is done by phone, right?

Dr. Turek: It's all Telehealth. So now I can even do, I'm even starting mobile care where I will, I won't even require the guy to come to the office. So, I'm in San Francisco and LA. And they're both pretty heavily trafficked cities. I like the idea of seeing them and IVF programs when they hit the door, because you don't have many opportunities to connect with men ever. So, it's just the way the culture is. So, asking them, I mean it's amazing that they fill out that questionnaire, but that's so valuable. I mean, you'll never get it, you'll never get the information ever again unless there was-- you know the partner says, “get in there and get that done and get in to see him.” You got one opportunity so you got to take maximum advantage of it. Once you've got it, you've seen it, get everything you can done, and try to make that connection with men. Because if you don't, you'll never see him again. I mean, I most of my patients have seen the urologist before can't remember their names. I have a simple thing I say to them, “I want to give you care that's so good that you'll remember my name.” 

Hillary: I think that's great. And I think that's so needed, you know, men don't get cared for. I think that that's You're right. If they're willing to go to IVF like what if you could get them right then and there? Oh, my God, what if you could get them before that? 

Dr. Turek: Right. So before, that is almost impossible, but because they're- they're basically taken care of by their partners, but I am, you know, my bigger mission in life is not cure infertility, it's to have men live longer. You know that the stark fact and the stark truth in America is that the richest man in America lives five to seven years, less than or shorter lifespan than the poorest woman. So, they are certainly under served for a variety of reasons. Some of its self-inflicted, some of that inflicted on them, some of its provider, cultural norms, and but it is a shame that men just have such a short lifespan in America, regardless of their socioeconomic status. It's a little bit about the immortality complex, but my attitude is let's find a bio-marker and then let's engage men because they love numbers, right? So, if you throw them a number, they'll try to fix it, right? The try to get, I'm gonna get that number better, and they'll do things. So, you got to get them engaged. And if you don't show your personality, and you don't commit yourself to them to walk the walk, you're not gonna get them, they have to trust you. 

Hillary: Well, I love your blog for that. I send men to it all the time, or I tell wives just to have their husbands go there, Turek on Men's Health, because it's, you know, like you speak. It's a lot of information in a short time. Like you get to the point. Here, here it is.

Dr. Turek: Nuggets. They're called nuggets. Nuggets, right. I'm aiming at guys, it's 80% read by women, but I want men to just start the blog, and then not- they have to finish it, they can't put it down. That's the idea. Because you know, again, you only have one shot. So, you have to have a hook. It's not written like other blogs. You don't answer the question right away. You bring up some social situation where everyone finds themselves and somehow bring it down to their health.

Hillary: Now, it's definitely interesting in that way, for sure.

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Hillary: So, when I… you're pretty light-hearted physician, right? You've got a good sense of humor and connection, but on one of the years in the symposium, I heard you talk about advanced paternal age and the sobering reality of it. It really made me tune in because I had observed and kind of suspected that there was some advanced paternal age problems and couples in my clinic, but I really didn't have any proof of it. This kind of urban myth, another myth that males can be fathers at any age, which you know, they can. There's been some very old fathers in the course of history, but your work is around the epigenetics and everything is kind of saying, "Hey, there are some issues with advanced paternal age." And I think that that was really illuminating, especially even some of it that pointed and said, "Hey, you know, like, infertility is not always the cause of the woman. There is some issues with advancing age in men, right?

Dr. Turek: Absolutely. So we actually just published a nice review in a journal of assisted reproductive genetics, called reproduction of the genetics in the aging male, and it'll be available open access, probably in a couple months. Alex Yatsenko Y-A-T-Z-- Yatsenko is a geneticist at University of Pittsburgh who co-authored it with me. It's really the most update review on this topic. I think it's pretty legible talks about epigenetics and all the newest stuff to the month. So, it'll be available open access if you search my name on Google, it should come up in about three months. It's pretty dense reading, but it's I think it's concise. So, the issue is, the most interesting thing to me is that advanced paternal age never existed until about 1960, two generations ago. There was no such thing as advanced paternal age because we didn't live that long. So, it's a recent problem to have an advanced paternal age issue. And a lot of the problems that we're noticing arising among offspring is recent, like autism. We think schizophrenia, bipolar, things like that seem to be going up, increasingly. So, there have been associative studies trying to look at epidemiologically at the relationship. There have been correlations between age and neurodegenerative diseases in offspring so bipolar, autism, schizophrenia, dyslexia. And there's some correlations showing up but no biological basis, and it looks like it might be epigenetic. So, the kinds of things you see in advanced paternal age… so what is advanced paternal age? That was the biggest argument on the paper, with the reviewers and the editors. It's what's the definition? And the answer is there isn't really one. Remember, it's a new field because in 1900, we lived 38 years on average. In 1950 we lived 50 to 60 years. 1980 we live 75 years, right? 

Hillary: Right.

Dr. Turek: Very few people 50 to a 100 years ago or older, had any kids at age 40. I mean, the average age of an American male at first child or first paternity is 30 now, used to be 26 about a generation ago. So that's pretty significant. That's a 10, 20% increase in age. So, I think the issues are new and they're large, and we're just learning what they are but as men age the miotic machinery that makes sperm tends to fail. So, you spin out in this monumental stem cell on the testicle, that's the driver of all sperm, you spin out-- you divide that thing once a year for 13 years. You hit puberty, and then you're doing it 10 or 15 times a year. So, you've you schooled up the problem. And then at by the age of 60, the machinery is getting old, and the quality control is getting a little sparse. And so advanced paternal age 40 would be the kind of a general definition, 50 for sure. And that's, you know, that's what we're talking about sort of age 50 and beyond. And if you compare 25 to 50-year-old men, you'll see that there's more miscarriages, there's more early fetal deaths, there's about one-- a little over 10-20% more birth defects, congenital birth defects. And if you go to 60, think of it as a hockey stick shaped curve. It's sort of flat for a while, and then it starts rising dramatically like the blade of a hockey stick. And that probably that position where it changes that flexion point is probably around age 60, where it really starts to go up dramatically in, DNA fragmentation is a classic age-related issue. It's about 3% per year increase over age 40. So, talking 3 times 10 is 30% per decade or 20% per decade change in sperm DNA fragmentation just because of age.

Epigenetically, it changes dramatically. Great study by the Utah Group, Doug Carroll took men who had bank sperm in their 20s, 30s. And then again, got a sample in their 40s, 50s and shut-- and so they had these samples at about 17, 20 years apart. And they looked at the epigenetic profile, and there was a dramatic shift in the in the epigenetic marks on sperm in the same men samples over age, and they all tend to group around the neurodegenerative diseases. So that means you would expect the expression of genes around the diseases we talked about, to be changed, and altered. And so, it's again, kind of coming all together. Chromosomally men don't change that much. That's not one of the systems that fails but yet trisomy 18, and Kleinfelter syndrome XY are two of the kind of hot spots in men that could contribute to issues with kids later in life. And the biggest and well-known, most well-known are single gene mutation. So, when women age they have chromosomal issues. And those are detectable on prenatal testing. And they're also usually lethal, causing miscarriages. So that's good, I guess that they are lethal, it's a quality checkpoints. In men, they're single gene mutations. So, they're just little nicks in the DNA that tend to pass through quality control mechanisms and persist, and come out of an offspring and they're the source of, I would call, highly disfiguring and rare diseases like, retinoblastoma, tuberous sclerosis, and Lesch–Nyhan syndrome, lots of odd sort of diseases. 

And luckily, they don't-- they're not that frequent. They're more frequent and older men, but they're not that frequent in general. So, this stuff, if you look at it carefully, is very, very alarming. And right now we consider about 20% of autism appears to be paternal age related, not all of it. That mean, that's probably a conservative number based on the best science, but it's definitely related. And I always tell men, because when I-- some men bank, their sperm, you know, while they're in their 40's, or 30s, because there's no relationship in the future, near future. And they want to know what they're headed for and you give them this data, and they usually bank their sperm. But I would say, though, that to put in perspective, if you just ask men, "If you have a child with a partner, do you know what the birth defect rate is, you know, the chance of having a birth defect in that baby is, you know, all comers, all ages?", and they usually say, No, they don't know. And it's-- so it's not on their radar. And the answer is about 3%. Is a 3% chance, so men usually don't-- aren't too alarmed below 5%. Once you start getting 5%, 10%, they start taking notice. It's just a risk aversion thing. But that's about the same rate you're seeing with the combination of issues with men with age. It goes from less than 1% to about 3%. So, it runs in the same order of magnitude is birth defects in general. And so, I leave them with that statement because that puts it all in perspective. And then they can decide whether they should need to worry about it or not. There's nothing you can test for with these issues. So, the problem is, you can't do prenatal testing easily. There are no genes identified for these conditions right now. And it's really-- it's an open risk. It's an open faced, what risk. And the other thing is, these are sometimes diseases and adult offspring. So, you won't even see them at birth or early on. You have to wait for a lot of them three to five years, and sometimes up to, you know, beyond purity, to see any issues. So, it's a concern, and it's a new issue. So how you handle it, no one's ever dealt with it before in history.

Hillary: It is a lot to make you think about our biology and what happens as we age for sure. So, bring up what happens later in the offspring and things that you may not even see until much later. And, you know, this kind of makes me think about when I was first learning about reproduction in grad school, and the concept of ICSI of the intracytoplasmic sperm injection where, you know, the sperm is selected and put into the egg during IVF. And I remember just kind of being somewhat horrified like, "Oh, my God, we're taking natural selection out of the process.”, and, “Is this a good idea?" Like, "Do we really know better?" And you know, and now 10 years later, I have, you know, these walking children that are a product of ICSI that probably wouldn't be here without it. And they're seemingly healthy. But sometimes I wonder about, like the long-term implications on their health and their ability to reproduce. And do we have any data on that? Because ICSI hasn't really been around that long, right?

Dr. Turek: Right. There's not much but it was an interesting player, is, when I first entered the field in the early 90s, you know Gianpiero Palermo and Van Belgium - who's now at Cornell started it. And I sat with him in 1998 at a play at ASRM in San Francisco called-- I forgot what it's called. But it was about a woman who was in the lab and got some sperm and got her own eggs out and was ICSI-ing her own eggs. And it was just-- everything that can go wrong with the technique. Was done by Carl Djerassi-- An Immaculate Misconception I think it was called the play. It was premiered at the ASRM in 1998. And I sat with the inventor of ICSI at the thing. It was pretty interesting, but you know, it was an accident. So, there was no science behind ICSI. Someone Gianpiero , and basically and Belgium were doing-- trying to get sperm closer to eggs for male factor issues. Putting them between the egg and the egg shell, and sub-sona insertion and that-- it wasn't working well. And then he made a mistake, and he stabbed the egg. Maybe-- he said he made a mistake. But maybe they he did it intentionally. But he did it four times. And then he just watched those, and they fertilized. And then he told Van, "Start again." That what he had done, and that they gone phone he said, "We're going to have to follow this carefully." So, they have tracked their ICSI kids in Belgium ever since day one. And you know, there's a lot of debate about the health, because you are removing barriers to natural selection. And I had a conference at a resolve meeting where I took all the embryologist from the major programs at San Francisco. I had a minute panel session with a microphone in front of each of them. And I-- the audience was patients. And I said, "Meet the embryologist, because patients want to know who's selecting my sperm. Who's collecting that sperm?"

Hillary: Right.

Dr. Turek: What kind of person is selecting my sperm? What do they believe in? What are they-- You imagine the questions these guys got about, you know, do you have kids? What-- Do you-- Are you religious? You know, it's interesting, how you-- Culturally it's a big change, right? And then, of course, scientifically, what does it all mean? And you are removing barriers. But a couple things impress me that sperm-- that things still work pretty much the same, even by removing those barriers, there's so much quality control in the process, that it's still quite intact. And you can debate whether there are higher birth defect rates with ICSI. But there probably is, but it's probably very small. So, in a point of like, point 1.2% increase, there's probably some conditions that are more likely to occur that are very rare, imprinting disorders and things like that, but again very rare. And we don't know about the unnatural environment of ICSI, because you have to be under a microscope with light and neither of our gametes normally see any light. So, there can be epigenetic alterations. And there's from feeling from power and all those research at UCSF that there might be epigenetic alterations going on. Two, the culture medium is a little unnatural, that kind of stuff. So, sort of much, some of that IVF, but it's constant.

So, the best data out of Belgium recently is men, couples in whom there's male factor with low sperm counts, they now have the sperm counts of the sons, and only about 50 or 60 couples. So, they had IVF exceed for low sperm counts have children, and the boys are now men, and the men have low sperm counts. So, it looks like a lot of the male, low sperm counts in men might be genetic or epigenetic and it's being passed on. That's the ideas a lot of it is being passed on whether you can define the genetics or not. But I've been also impressed on how little is coming-- How little difference we see, for instance, I have cancer survivors with 20 sperm in their testicle after chemotherapy. And published in mobile transplant literature, some of the most extreme cases of being treated and cured for cancer and they have a couple of sperm and you know, those sperm were in testicles that were exposed to lots of chemo and radiation. And those kids have no, you know, no issues and it's pretty impressive. But I think you could of course, long term follow-up is still needed. One of the biggest problems all these studies is birth defect rates. Birth defects are defined differently in different countries. Some of them are defined as, something needing a surgery to fix, some have defined as, you know, an abnormal look. So, it's hard to compare. It is apples and oranges among groups. So, you'll see conflicting data and we know nothing about cancer risk later in life, which is of some concern.

So, it is a bit interesting. I feel the same way as you do and still, and I am working with Demirci, who's a Stanford professor and we just published a paper on using a chip that will allow the sperm to swim under a microfluidic chip to imitate the cervical path that they take going to the cervix, there's grooves in the human cervix. And only really sperm can make it through that cervix, like an obstacle course. So, we're creating an obstacle course like it. And we're comparing the integrity, build quality of sperm before and after running that the gauntlet there. And we're finding that they are, they're better looking, better moving certainly, better looking morphology. They have four to five full, less fragmentation, and they have an epigenetic profile that's altered, probably better favorably. So, it looks like we're able to help reproduce what sperm have to go through to get to fertilize an egg. And when I first saw his data, he's a fluid physicist who just loves sperm, because they have motors on them, like they're little particles with motors on them. And he was publishing physics journals. And I read the things I said, "This guy is such a cuk, I mean, he's publishing all this fluid physics with sperm." And I called him up and got and met him and said, "He's so much fun." But I said, "Look Tom", I said, "You know what you're doing here, you're reproducing the cervical path." And then I said, "This is a path that has been preserved in mammalian species, land and sea from million years." So, for a million years, sperm had to do this work to get to the egg, they don't-- the egg just doesn't sit at the cervix. And as soon as you make it through the cervix, you're in or even closer. You have to go and have human six, eight inches, which is like crossing an ocean. And that's why, you know, 40 million start and 100 make it but there's something about the path. And I said, "And you're making the path." And I said, "I need to be part of this. And I need to help out." So, he had me write the introduction to the paper, about the reservation of the you know, the cervical path issue, the urine path issue for a million years. So, I think they're-- what I'm comfortable-- now they have a product. It's a fertile chip. It's available in Europe. It's now FDA approved in America, as of last month. So, another disclosure, I'm part of that company called DX Now, and they named it Zymotchip Z-Y-M-O-T. Horrible name I'm gonna get it changed.


Dr. Turek: But it's a chip, that's literally a microscope slide, and you put sperm on one and you drop it in, there's no processing, and you pick it up at the other end, 20 minutes later by the clock. And you should have a sperm that is more naturally selected, than if an embryologist did it, you know, at 9 am with a cup of coffee and then in the other hand.

Hillary: I've got a name change for you. I think that you have created the Darwinian Obstacle Course.

Dr. Turek: Yes, that's right. That's the idea. But you know, it's been bothering me for 20 years. Maybe you for 10 or 5, but it's always been a little-- I'm a little bit of a Darwinian but not really. And I'm also religious. So, it's complicated, but--

Hillary: Right. Oh, very much, so yes. Well, and like I said, you know, that it's such a something, I wonder and now we're seeing it and like you, you're saying that there's really not-- Yes, they're passing on this the low sperm count. But to me, that's just information of like, "Hey, son, you might want to freeze your sperm earlier before you have this, you know, the steep increase in DNA fragmentation on top of the low sperm count." Right?

Dr. Turek: That's right, because those things are probably occurring in all men, and may be exaggerated in men with abnormal semen analysis. We don't know.

Hillary: Yes.

Dr. Turek: It's the kind of science I hope the field that had when I joined it, but now it's happening. And I'm glad to be a part of the hard science coming out. Because it has more relevance than ever, I think. You know, for me maybe the treatment for ICSI is not to use it, maybe just go to IVF, right? Maybe IVF, the worry is that it will fail to fertilize. But we're not seeing that. So the whole even Jamie Grifo is work from NYU looking at, if you don't use morphology, which has been a classic reason to do ICSI. Poor morphology means poor fertilization with IVF, so go to ICSI and avoid the problem. If you just don't use that criteria and stick sperm, and without looking at morphology the failure to fertilize rate is 101 and 250. So, it becomes almost noise. So, I don't think that criteria matters. And there's one group at San Francisco that stopped using it and they're doing-- instead of 70 to 75% ICSI nationally, they're doing about 40 to 45%. They don't see failure to fertilize. They don't see that issue at all. So, I think there's going to be a bold move to keep it more natural and IVF is, you know, inseminated eggs and sperm and let them do what they normally do. It's not the cervical path, but it's still a lot of the process. So, I like that concept of maybe going backward a little bit. 

Hillary: Yeah, just you know, we don't know what we know until we know it. And your research is helping us to know those things. And I mean, that chip, that's like the golden ratio basically. If all mammals have that ratio of that six-inch path that we have as humans to the cervix, right? You just kind of recreated that. 

Dr. Turek: Yeah. 

Hillary: That's amazing.

Dr. Turek: Yeah, if you look at-- if you do research, I mean, we did research on the path itself and the micro groups and stuff like that. And he put obstacles in the way and there was this video that was so telling-- I haven't shown it nationally yet, but, and he's a mathematician. So, he calculated in fluid physics, if you put pillars in the way, put obstacles in the way, at a certain distance. If you take a normal shape sperm, morphologic than normal sperm and put it through this obstacle course, it sails through. So just on fluid physics principles, a nicely shaped sperm sails through. If you put it, a sperm has a bent neck or a big head, it'll never make it. So, what's interesting is, I'm not been a big believer in sperm shape as a driver of sperm health, right? A book by its cover. But I am totally convinced that Sperm Morphology matters in the path. Because if it's aerodynamically brilliantly shaped it will do better. So, in the real world, morphology probably matters to success with intercourse and success with IUI, because of shape, not because of nuclear material. But once you get to the, so you know, the more important thing with ICSI nuclear material, because shape doesn't matter that much.

Hillary: It is and that's such a clarification, I think that people need to understand about, you know, their sperm analysis, and then what plans do you have going forward, right? So, if you want to do all natural, but you've got morphology issues, then you know, maybe there is an issue. Especially if you combine that with like cervical mucus production issues, where there's not efven the cervical mucus there to help those sperm get that six inches of the way.

Dr. Turek: Right. And I think, you know, you're talking at the edge of theoretical considerations here, because the study just came out. And these are just my preemptive thoughts about it, so, I don't think you can say anything yet. But if you see these videos, you're going to say, even the mathematical experimental videos, so they can-- he has, you know, videos of mathematically what would happen based on the sperm shape as it goes to the course and then he has the actual, what happens to sperm that are real sperm, but-- and they're identical. So, his mathematical modeling is identical to reality. So I know it's true. But it's just fascinating because it gave morphology new meaning to me. It actually does matter. Because if you're not absolutely perfectly shaped sperm, least in a from a fluid dynamics point of view, you're probably not going to make it.

Hillary: Well, I have to say, this is one of the things I love about you. You publish all this research and you're involved in it yet you are very careful to say, what is theory still and what is-- what is fact, right? 

Dr. Turek: Now, I have a blog on, when does fact become fact, right? It starts out as theory and we published a paper about the semen analysis being a bio-marker for prostate cancer and testis cancer 10 years ago. And, you know, it was an epidemiologic study, and it was large and it was very prominent. It was published in a general medical journal that, you know, men who are infertile have higher rates of cancer later in life, if they have low sperm count. It was based on molecular biology data, and we went straight to epidemiology, which is like the opposite end of the spectrum. And it was done by my fellow Tom Walsh, an epidemiologist and urologist at University of Washington. And, you know, took 10 years. And now I believe it's true. I mean, even though I did the paper, because it's epidemiology, but enough people have reproduced it. And the government is now putting grants out to study the issue, which is a-- for me a bucket list thing. Because, you know, being at the meeting, where we're talking about it and NIH, and they're saying, Dr. Turek inspired this meeting, and like, Oh, that's nicest. So, it's a very nice compliment, but I think, it takes time for theory to fbecome fact. And this is now theory. I think it you know, it's always that way, in science. It could be disrupted at any point. But I think there's enough cumulative evidence looking at the bio market concept and fertility that it's true. I don't know if there's enough evidence that what I'm saying today is true about sperm. But--

Hillary: Well, I'm glad you brought that up, because that ties into our title, Is IVF Good for Men's Health, because I do believe, you know, I kind of look at reproduction and fertility issues. This is what was most fascinating to me. I didn't mean to choose this as a specialty, but it's kind of like almost the ultimate disease, right? If we're put here to eat, sleep and procreate. And there's an issue with that what else could that tell us about our health, right? Especially around chronic disease. 

Dr. Turek: Yeah.

Hillary: And so, the fact that now this work is being used to kind of show you know, again, not fact, but some correlation with later stage cancer being an issue, I think, is huge. Because so many men don't want to do that sperm analysis, but if you can put it in statistics, where you can say, "Hey, this can actually show you how healthy you are inside."

Dr. Turek: Yeah, I mean, I-- every day, on an everyday level, if I see a guy with a normal semen analysis, I know some things are true. He can't be doing too much bad, because it would lower his sperm count. So, he's living a good life, probably. He's, you know, probably got a normal testosterone level, because you can't really generate-- You can't bloom a plant without enough water. So he's got the right combination. So, you can say pretty good things and I-- So knowing what I know, I did a study where men came in and they had normal sperm counts, and the woman had no issues and they were infertile. And they were unexplained. And I said at the end of the visit, based on my complete evaluation that I thought he was cleared, and I said, "I think you're cleared; I don't think you are part of the problem." And that's based on everything I know. And so, most of those couples went home and went online and said, Turek couldn't figure out what was wrong with us. And I got a little upset with that, because I didn't say that. I said, Honestly, I think, look harder elsewhere. I mean, I don't take care of women, and I don't make recommendations. But I said, look in the partner a little bit more and then you'll probably have to go down the path of the technology or to other alternates. But I think you're doing great, and I think you're fine. So, they said that, and I said, yeah, nobody said. So, I put a little-- I put my back into it. And I got USC involved, the resident USC. A year after I met them, I called-- I had this resident call them all up in an IRB, you know, to study. And I had them-- I had him ask a couple five questions. How to go last year? Dr. Turek told you to try harder and this and that. And all these guys had varicoceles and they were doing things and they had toxins and I gave them advice about stuff. I did not give them a pill. I did not operate on varicoceles. I just advised and said, "You know, try this, and you know, maybe an antioxidant supplement, etc." So, it wasn't no care. But it was just basically advice. And I thought they were doing fine. And so, to my surprise, 65% of those couples conceive naturally the year after I met them.

Hillary: Wow.

Dr. Turek: So, they follow the rule. And these are 35-year-old women for a year and a half of infertility and 65% conceive naturally. Another 20% conceived with IUI or IVF. So, at the end of the year 85% had kids or had pregnancies ongoing. And I said, "So it's true." I mean, basically what I said was true. So, I'm writing this up as a paper and I'm not writing as, "See, I told you I was right." I'm writing it as a lifestyle paper. So, all I did really was give lifestyle advice.

Hillary: That's amazing. Somebody needs to show that in the literature, for sure.

Dr. Turek: Yeah, that's going to be hard to publish, because it's hard to publish when-- You're most effective when you don't do anything as a doctor. Or, I'm on a lot of journals. I'm associated or two, I review for 20. And honestly, I know it's not going to be a big hit. It's not a controlled trial. It's not this, it's not that. But if you look at what a doctor is best at doing, sometimes it's just holding your hand sitting there and being at your side and walking the walk with a little more knowledge and giving you good advice. I mean, that's-- 500 years ago, that's what doctors did. And it may have happen today, because if you-- If they're paying the money to see you and you're telling them, you got to eat better, you got to stop smoking, you got to cut down your alcohol, you got to, maybe, stop these pills taking antitoxins and supplement. Maybe it's just the antitoxins supplements, who knows? But that's a tremendous pregnancy rate. And that told me, until I'm trying to publish the papers, you know, a lot of unexplained infertility can be cleared. Men can be cleared of it by a simple evaluation in the office, one visit.

Hillary: I think that's great. And I… it's amazing that you're doing Telehealth. I think that's just going to open it up to even more men. So, you know, if you're listening to this, and you've been trying to get your male partner in to be seen, you know, he makes it as easy as possible. He can do it at home, a persona test, he can see you via Skype or phone, I think that's incredible. There's going to be some, hopefully, some big changes in the ways that males perceive getting a sperm analysis and getting checked out and hopefully kind of treating it like socialized countries where they do it in the beginning, you know.

Dr. Turek: Correct.

Hillary: You can put a dollar amount to it, then they're more up to go, right?

Dr. Turek: Right. And I think it's a lot cheaper to see a man once and get it all done. I mean, I like to package it so that-- So I offer basically free calls for couples to see if it's a good fit. And then you can get the background stuff, and then have them come in and have the first and last visit. And everyone thinks, "Well then that's it. I'm all done with him." No, that's the start of the care. I mean, my cares is all Telehealth. So, I want-- I'm with you to the kid, but you don't have to come see me. But if you want my opinion about stuff or you, you know, you're taking something new, is this medication safe? Those are really good questions. Someone should answer those questions. I just got diagnosed with this, this is what I'm on, Is this safe for-- I've changed so many blood pressure medications from calcium channel blockers to other things, and bam pregnancies occur. It's so, you know, that's the way you have to deal with men. You have to-- they're not women, they're not that good about care on general. And it's a cultural shift. And you have to I think you have to adjust to the way they need their care, and not trying to treat them like everyone else. And, you know, having them travel across two bridges, and two hours to get there. And then for a 15-minute visit, for what you are 20 minutes late. It's not worth it. It's not the way to do it.

Hillary: No.

Dr. Turek: You're hitting productivity or making them weak where they shouldn't be weak, and it's already a problem that's embarrassing. And then if you explain it and-- So I just work with the organism the way it is. That's the idea. To work with the organism. Look at what you have.

Hillary: I love that. And I have one more question for you. You mentioned that you don't always treat varicoceles surgically. So, can you explain to our listeners what the prevalences of those. The cause and how they're treated?

Dr. Turek: Yes. Varicocele are the most common diagnosis in infertility. It's probably 40% of men are trying to have their first child and then can't. It's up to 60 to 80% of men who are trying to have a second child and having trouble. And they're a bag of veins in the scrotum. And they occurred as a result of us standing up in an evolution. So, I think the bloggers call it, What Happened When We Stood Up?

Hillary: Yes.

Dr. Turek: Probably the worst thing that men could have done in life was to stand up, because the varicoceles basically drainage of the testicle, the blood supply to the body. And if you stand up, it goes up hill and your fighting gravity and the veins aren't made for it. So, they tend to go backwards and the blood goes the wrong way. And unfortunately, that blood from the body going down to the testicle the wrong way, is warmer. And that heats up testicles like a hot tub. And I know-- I did the hot tub study and I know how sensitive testicles are too hot-- to heat. But like I said in the beginning, you know, three days a week for a month, you can be zero. So, you can really turn things off. And so, heats up the testicle, affects both sides and causes probably the largest single correctable cause of male infertility. But they're found in 15% of high school athletes. So, it's also a disease of athletic young people, thin people. So that's also important. And so, some of them are pathologic and some of them aren't. And you just-- we don't have a good test to know which is which right now. Epigenetics, maybe a test down the line, but it'd be nice to have a way to figure out in whom it's a problem. I use metabolomics. Initially, I was looking at the metabolomics of the testicle and a grant 20 years ago from NIH, but my co-investigator took all my money and got no data out of it. So, I was kind of burned by that. But that would have been a way to put them in a scanner and see if there's a certain decrease in function of the testicles that much between side to side that might mean there's relevance and then and then fix it and then scan them again and get recovery. So, but right now, if you fix it, you can either fix it non-surgically with radiology or you can fix it surgically with microsurgery, it's probably the best way. It's an hour of surgery. It's pretty quick. Two or three pain pills down for a weekend back to work on Monday on a Friday case. And you just tie off the veins so it doesn't do that anymore. Sometimes men are having discomfort feel better. That's a pretty high rate. And about 70% of the time you'll get improvement and semen analysis, and if primary infertile couple probably we run a 45% pregnancy rate over the next year naturally.

Hillary: That's amazing. All because they just got checked.

Dr. Turek: Right. So, that's the thing that I find when acupuncturists see patients and have screened everything else in their lifestyle, and have perfected them as best they can be, that's what I find. I find a lot more varicoceles, and I have to figure out-- I'm going to work with a postdoc on a doctoral student on how to do that study. Patients referred from IVF programs versus patients referred from acupuncturists. What's the rate of finding correctable causes of infertility in men, I think it's going to be much higher.

Hillary: Awesome. I can't wait to read that and see the video on the mathematics of the fluid of the sperm. I'm such a nerd. That's great.

Dr. Turek: The coolest video it is. It changed my life to see that.

Hillary: Okay, well I will definitely be stocking your blog looking for that then so I can link it to the show notes which is ladypotions.com/episode30. So, people can find you at turekonmenshealth.com for blog work, they can find you at turekclinic.com if they want to schedule something. And they can also get that test on episona.com. And if you're in the San Francisco Bay, you're also part of a free clinic called, Clinic by the Bay. Yes?

Dr. Turek: Yes. We just had our fundraiser yesterday. It was Fiesta themed and raised $200,000 for free clinic for the working poor. It's called Clinic by The Bay. Love to donations on Facebook or social, it's fabulous. Would take care of the working the uninsured, the hard-working people that can't afford insurance in San Francisco, immigrants, Catholic Charities, everything's free. It's fabulous. It's not fertility. It's general medical care.

Hillary: It's amazing. And so they can donate to you on Facebook. And then you're also doing a Facebook Live covering semen analysis a little bit more in depth, right? They can find that on your Facebook?

Dr. Turek: Yeah, a whole series on Facebook Live weekly.

Hillary: Awesome. Well, I'm not going to keep you any longer. I'm so grateful to you. I know you are a busy, busy man. All right, well, thank you so much.

Dr. Turek: Good bye, Hillary.

Hillary: And I'm sure our listeners will enjoy it. Thank you.

 Dr. Turek: Continue doing your good work.

Hillary: So there you have it. IVF could be the best thing for your man's health, if it's what actually gets him into the doctor to be evaluated. What if you could save a ton of money and heartache by being evaluated by a holistic physician, the beginning of your fertility journey? Remember, we are more than our lab test values and our DNA. We are the product of what we think, what we eat, what we are exposed to, even the exposure of the care of our physicians. If you'd like to work together, find me over at ladypotions.com and click on the work with me tab to see options that are currently available. Bye for now.


Continue Your Journey- Referenced Studies

Sexual, Marital, and Social Impact of a Man’s Perceived Infertility Diagnosis

 Increased Risk of Testicular Germ Cell Cancer Among Infertile Men

Reproductive genetics and the aging male

Finding the fit: sperm DNA integrity testing for male infertility

Differences in the clinical characteristics of primarily and secondarily infertile men with varicocele

New device selects healthy sperm

Marijuana use and its influence on sperm morphology and motility: identified risk for fertility among Jamaican men.

EPISODE 75 | MINI MINDFUL MOMENT | An Implantation Meditation for an IVF Cycle

We're back with another meditation to help you get your mind and your heart on the same page during that crucial stage of implantation. This meditation was a listener request and is geared towards someone undergoing an IVF cycle, but really anyone in the implantation window of their cycle will benefit from listening. Let's turn on our relaxation response and turn up our ability to hold life.

music credit: Christopher Lloyd Clarke 

photo credit Sayan Nath @sayannath

For more meditations just like this one at your fingertips visit us here

EPISODE 54 | MINDFUL MOMENT | Creating Certainty When You Are Anything But


When people have more awareness, they have better health physically, mentally, and emotionally. This is why how we form thoughts from past experiences, and being aware of those thoughts that become beliefs is so important to observe and become aware of. In today’s episode, Hillary talks about harnessing the power of our brain to rectify its belief, or to create certainty in the future ability to become a parent. She discusses creating certainty to buy your way through the tough moments, so you can keep taking action in the correct direction, creating positive momentum, and a meditation to separate our thoughts from our deep inner wisdom and guidance.


[2:48] Certainty is the currency for your dreams of creating a family, yet our brain will try to dissuade us from risking the uncomfortable thoughts of pain and failure.

[4:15] When people are operating at the highest level of consciousness, they have a higher chance of coming up with creative solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems. They have more confidence, and when we have more confidence, we gain positive momentum, which is the key to manifesting the life of our dreams quickly. When large groups of us are in this mindset, it’s like a chain reaction around us and it’s almost contagious to all of those we come in contact with.

[5:33] Elizabeth Markie, founder of Tribrain Yoga says, “Thoughts are electric and feelings are magnetic.” Momentum is a force that can take us any direction and has everything to do with beliefs and how we manage our thoughts.

[7:17] Beliefs are just thoughts you have thought over and over until they have become a non-negotiable belief. If beliefs come from the past, certainty comes from the future. Many believe they will never get pregnant, their body can’t hold a pregnancy, or it happens to everyone but them. These are not facts. These are beliefs colored by thoughts and emotions that you have experienced over and over until they have created a thought so strong you believe it as a fact.

[10:14] Potential from a scientific standpoint is kinetic energy waiting to come to life and move something.

Because 70% of our thoughts are on repeat, they are like a broken record based on past experiences playing over and over, all while creating evidence for our brains. Real certainty comes from daring to believe in the future circumstance you haven’t yet created and realizing that either way, you could feel bad. Our actions shift our circumstance and that becomes more evidence and certainty for the future.

[18:58] Mindfulness is key to helping us slow down our thoughts to observe them and see our brain as possibly lying to us and/or being stuck in the past.

[22:47] The brain doesn’t understand the reality of physically doing something, and the brain values emotions and feelings over thoughts any day. You have thoughts and they are stuck in the past at the moment creating the emotion of fear.

[27:37] Meditation begins.



Fertile Minds on LibSyn

Fertile Minds on iTunes

American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine

The Life Coach School



Continue Your Journey:

@ladypotions4u on Twitter

@ladypotions4u on Instagram

photo credit : Elena Koycheva @lenneek


Description: Today we will be covering one of my personal subjects in life, food! Food therapy has always been part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It can be really easy to initiate your own healing simply by eating for your current TCM disharmony. I will share with you some easy life solutions and three different approaches that you can start with your very next meal. Food has a lot of ties to our belief system, our past, and emotions we have yet to feel. Changing the way you eat can seem very overwhelming, so today I invite you to just pick a few from these three ideas that suit you and your life.



[2:34] This can be a really hot topic for some people. I think most of my patients would rather me ask them who they voted for and how much money they make than for a weekly food journal. The reason why is food has a lot of ties for many of us. It’s got our belief systems all wrapped up in it, this is good, that’s bad, I can never follow a diet, I’ll get fat if I eat that, I’ll feel better if I eat that over there, I’ll eat in secret and no one will know, and so on. And it’s highly tribal and social. Most of us were comforted by food when we were little and as adults in the western world, it is often the center of many social gatherings. So when we start poking at it, and suddenly trying to change the way we eat, it can get a little unnerving.

[5:42] If you do have blood sugar instability and you test positive for gestational diabetes, you could pass that insulin instability down two generations. That’s right, your unborn grandchildren could have trouble with their blood sugar or even PCOS. This is because insulin can compete with your hormones trying to dock in your ovaries, reducing egg quality, or even stopping ovulation. We have the power to affect the health of the next two generations by what we put into our bodies up to one full year prior to getting pregnant.

[6:01] I would rather encourage you to make positive small changes that feel right to you rather than your feeling like your eating is one more thing you have to try and be perfect at. The implications of your DNA occur one full year before you get pregnant.

[8:25] Even a 2% change a day has a cumulative effect. It’s important to start small and adopt habits and a diet that feels positive and nourishing. If you pick what feels right at this stage of the game, you can work with suits you now and always circle back to more of them. If it doesn’t feel good, you are going to make an excuse not to.

[8:39] Pick what feels right for you and your partner, and start small.

[10:24] The first approach is from Daoshing Ni, from his book The Tao of Fertility. He thinks of the menstrual cycle as a season, and there is a systematic way to eat accordingly along with the phases.  This can be helpful to improve egg quality, sperm quality, and your menstrual lining. It might be a bit difficult if you are a creature of habit or have a tendency to grab raw cold food as this is pretty much prohibited on the diet. It is a simple approach that can drastically make a difference in less than three months.

[12:10] The second is a general list of what not to eat, and a meal order solution like Green Chef or Hello Fresh. This is great for the on-the-go person that is working too much or overwhelmed by the idea of shopping and cooking. However, it can get pricey, especially if you cave and order take out when you have organic food sitting in your fridge.

[13:09] Third, is the pattern diagnosis of TCM by symptoms that tell you how to eat based on TCM. This will often help you feel the best the quickest and make your overall constitution stronger helping you to achieve optimal fertility. It can be difficult if both of you have completely different imbalances or constitutions. It’s a win if you love strict rules. It gives a list of don’ts and dos.

[14:20] In the Tao of Fertility approach, you think of your menses as the season of winter. Shedding, ending and contracting. The week after your period is like spring where plants and flowers are budding and blooming, and the ovulatory phase is summer. The luteal phase is akin to autumn, the idea that Earth is filled with activity and where the temperature is beginning to drop as we come towards Winter. During the first two weeks of your “seasons,” you want to incorporate foods that will strengthen your egg quality and energy. This includes grains, high protein foods like eggs, meat, and beans. It’s important the food is warm for digestion. If you feel extra fatigued and weak during menstruation, you want to eat a lot of blood-nourishing foods like bone broth. The second phase after ovulation shifts to leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale, chard, and berries.

[23:15] Build healthy blood through the addition of foods like eggs, avocados, seeds (chia, flax, sunflower, and pumpkin) and nuts (with the exception of peanuts), unrefined coconut, and full-fat organic grass-fed dairy (as long as there is no intolerance or allergy). Healthy blood encourages good circulation to nourish egg follicles and to build healthy endothelial lining. Must of us go out of our way to make our baby's first nursery the best it could be, really though our womb is really baby’s first home, so let's make the most of it!

[25:44] Always choose full-fat instead of fat-free. Often times when they take the fat out, they replace it with sugar and other unhealthy additives.

[26:40] Method 3 is pattern diagnosis of TCM by symptoms that tell you how to eat for your fertility based on TCM. This will often help you feel the best the quickest and make your overall constitution stronger helping you to achieve optimal fertility. It can be difficult if both of you have completely different imbalances or constitutions. It’s a win if you love strict rules and are good at abiding by a list of do’s and don’ts.

[29:22] I go through the patterns of foods and symptoms depending on the body types, symptoms and deficiencies.  You can also download the food quiz here on the website for a further dive into what you should be eating for your specific constitution.

[29:51] In TCM, Chi is translated very loosely to “circulating life force energy.” Kidney Chi deficiency can range from not enough energy, feeling low mood or stagnant, lower back pain, and stale menstrual blood. Foods that are useful in building up the kidney energy include raspberries, seeds, and nuts, venison, and lamb, shellfish and such as basil, fennel, and horseradish.

[32:53] Spleen Chi deficiency can look like changes in appetite, bruising easily, excessive worry, and cramps that feel as though they are bearing down. It can lead to an inability to lose belly fat and water retention. You will want to avoid cold foods, deep fried foods, and dairy. Foods that help are cinnamon, clove, garlic, chestnuts, and all the foods in the kidney yung pattern such as shellfish, roasting chicken or lamb and roasted vegetables.

[36:31] Yin is responsible for moistening and cooling, and foods that rebuild these cooling fluids are things are fish dishes with coconut milk, omelets, sweet potatoes, duck, string beans, fruit smoothies. You want to avoid caffeine, alcohol, sugar and pungent spices.

[39:37] Liver Chi stagnation is basically stress and shows up by being prone to depression, irritability, and possibly nipple discharge which is a sign of high levels of stress and hormonal imbalance.

[41:09] Blood stasis or deficiency can show up as more anxiety or a low pain threshold, numb hands and feet, and fibroids or endometriosis. Foods that help to increase blood and decrease stasis include dark leafy greens, alfalfa sprouts, mushrooms, watercress, barley, apricots, kidney beans, mussels, oysters, tuna, and pate. If you are looking for a fibroids diet or an endometriosis diet make sure you look under the blood stasis category of the dowloadable TCM diet quiz.



American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine

The Tao of Fertility: A Healing Chinese Medicine Program to Prepare Body, Mind, and Spirit for New Life,
by Daoshing Ni and Dana Herko

Sun Basket

Feed Your Fertility: Your Guide to Cultivating a Healthy Pregnancy with Chinese Medicine, Real Food, and Holistic Living, by Emily Bartlett and Laura Erlich


Continue Your Journey:

@ladypotions4u on Twitter

@ladypotions4u on Instagram

photo credit @BrookeLark


How to Manage Endometriosis Naturally & Enhance Fertility


Despite having been recognized within medical literature for over a hundred years, Endometriosis remains a very poorly understood condition. In today’s episode, Hillary discusses exactly what it is, why it takes so long to diagnose in the first place, how it can impact fertility, long term implications, and natural treatment options.



[3:15] Endometriosis is an estrogen-dependent benign inflammatory disease. It affects women during their pre-menarcheal reproductive and postmenopausal hormonal stages. It is defined as the presence and growth of endometrial tissue in locations outside of the uterus. Displaced endometrial tissue responds to cyclical hormonal changes, proliferating and shedding outside of the uterus, and the bleeding is then accompanied by inflammation caused by irritation of local tissues such as the peritoneum.

[6:28] The most conservative estimate is that Endometriosis is estimated to affect approximately one in ten women of reproductive age, which is approximately 176 million women in the world. It’s considered one of the most common gynecologic problems in the U.S. and a leading gynecologic cause of both hospitalization and hysterectomy. This may be a conservative number due to the fact that so many diagnoses are missed in teenage girls.

[7:29] Initially, endometriosis was related to retrograde menstruation, but new theories have been launched, suggesting that chronic inflammation can influence the development of endometriosis because inflammatory mediators have been identified elevated in patients with endometriosis. It’s not clear if this is the cause or an effect yet.

[10:26] A few of the factors to developing endometriosis include an early period before the age of 12, short menstrual cycles, a D&C procedure, and a genetic predisposition. One of the main ways to diagnose it is through laparoscopic surgery.

[15:20] Signs and symptoms include killer cramping before or during the menstrual cycle that does not respond to treatment, severe backache, bloating, and chronic fatigue. Additionally, women may experience constipation, swollen abdomen, intestinal gas, depression, and insomnia.

[19:22] Given its association with chronic systemic inflammation and oxidative stress, it’s theorized that there is a link between endometriosis and an elevated risk of atherosclerosis and subsequent coronary heart disease. Interestingly, also epithelial ovarian cancers may be higher in women with a history of endometriosis. In nearly 8,000 women with EOC (epithelial ovarian cancer), women with a self-reported history of endometriosis had three times the risk of clear cell EOC and double the risk of endometrioid and low-grade serous EOC, but no changes in risk of high-grade serous, or mucinous EOC. Again, increased risk of ovarian cancer. And finally, and this is really interesting, women with endometriosis have a very clear increased risk of hypothyroidism, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, other autoimmune conditions in addition to Hashimoto’s, including systemic Lupus, MS, and Sjogren’s, and also atopic disease is also significantly more common in women with endometriosis than women in the general U.S. population.

[25:32] The holistic approach to dealing with endometriosis encompasses treating both the pain and the root cause.

[36:32] A few of the natural treatments include Devil’s Claw, Melatonin, Adaptogens, and Medicinal Mushrooms. Also, it is important to decrease or eliminate foods that cause inflammation such as a high amount of dairy and animal products. One also must detoxify their liver and reduce stress and environmental exposures.

[36:32] A diet similar to the Mediterranean Diet seems to do well for those with endometriosis, as the focus is on healthy fats, lean meats and plenty of vegetables.

[54:38] Other options and treatments include speaking with a professional practitioner about an IUD, acupuncture and getting a pelvic or abdominal massage. Many places will teach you the art of doing the massage technique on yourself so you can administer it on your own time.



  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12790847

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  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29726290

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  15. https://www.medpagetoday.org/obgyn/generalobgyn/39127

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  19. Porpora M, Brunelli R, Costa G, et al. A promise in the treatment of endometriosis: an observational cohort study on ovarian endometrioma reduction by N-acetylcysteine. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2013; April. Article ID 240702

  20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29944729

  21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30231769

  22. Aviva Romm’s Functional & Integrative Training Program


You must not rely on the information in this podcast as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition you should seek immediate medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website or in this podcast.


Confronting Your Parents After Motherhood

If you have listened to the show with any repetition you have probably heard me talk about how motherhood can drastically change your sense of self and that for some we struggle with this mandatory transition of moving from a maiden archetype into a mother type as we seek to conceive and build a family.

It’s a complex topic, but one that is so important because it’s real.

It’s necessary and it’s going to happen whether you like it or not as you step into motherhood.

It happened to me and I didn’t even birth my kids. I jumped straight into the deep end with four stepsons and was totally unprepared for how it would change me as a person. It changed the way I viewed my parents, my childhood and the world at large. And while it was such a good thing because an immense amount of growth came out of it, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a little jarring and uncomfortable at times. This is part of why this show sticks it’s toe into the pond of what to expect with pregnancy, birth, and motherhood, not just infertility.  I want you to be as prepared as possible and to be able to find answers and support you need when the time comes. 

I’m also a huge proponent of lifting up other women business owners and podcasts. Today I want to introduce you to a new podcast from Gimlet Media I think you will love that addresses this the concept of the archetypal shifts that happen as you become a parent and it’s called Motherhood Sessions. On Motherhood Sessions, the host who we haven’t had on Fertile Minds YET, psychiatrist Dr. Alexandra Sacks, works with women who are struggling with the massive life and identity shifts that accompany motherhood. In this extended trailer, you’ll hear from Julia, a Korean-American woman who’s grappling with some identity issues after being raised by a white family and not having much connection to her Asian culture until she had her first biological child.

Keep listening to hear a special trailer of Motherhood Sessions, which follows this message. Note that Motherhood Sessions covers sensitive topics and includes some profanity so pop in your earbuds when you are out in public listening or around little ears. We hope this honest, compelling conversation resonates with you, and if you love what you hear, you can listen to Motherhood Sessions on Spotify, Apple or wherever you get your podcasts. Fertile Minds will be back with a regular full length episode on Sunday!

P.S. If you or someone you know is experiencing depression or anxiety during pregnancy, or in the postpartum period, contact Postpartum Support International at (800) 944-4773. If you or a family member are worried about safety, get help right away by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or dialing 911. 



Today’s episode is a re-release of episode three. Missed it the first time around? Well we’re back with a remastered version. Loved it back in the day? Re-listen and re-love it (and maybe pick up on some gems you didn’t hear when it first aired). This episode is meant to give you a glimpse at how herbs can be safely used in treating infertility. I could do an entire show just on herbs alone, so this is meant to give you the basics so you have a better understanding of how herbs might help and why exactly we are prescribing what we are. Herbs can seem scary for a gal that’s used to prescriptions and my hope is that this episode can shed a little light on not only how helpful they can be, but to help you feel more secure about how and why to use them. And if you are one of those that wants to do it all yourself, I’ll point you to some resources to find more information on your journey of self-discovery. For those of you that want to know why, but prefer to let a board-certified practitioner diagnose and prescribe, I’m going to tell you how to find one of those too. So let’s dive in.



[4:20] Herbs are amazing tools to treat infertility and have been used by most cultures on the planet to enhance fertility for thousands of years. There is historical evidence that the Egyptians, Greeks, Chinese, and Indian cultures all used them in this fashion.

[5:57] The 8 Pillars and the philosophy behind enhancing fertility when using TCM is this. Balance the body out and it will get pregnant on its own. Truly it’s that simple.

If there is heat, cool it.

If there is cold, warm it up.

If there is dryness somewhere in the body, find it, find the herb that moistens that part of the body and use it.

If there is dampness, dry it.

If there is deficiency, supplement it.

If there are signs of excess, drain it.

[6:59] Western Herbalists like an “eye for an eye” treatment; western herbalists tend to get into the makeup of the herb and many of the herbs contain flavonoids, glycosides, and terpenoids. Eclectic medicine was a branch of American medicine which made use of botanical remedies along with other substances and physical therapy practices, popular in the latter half of the 19th and the first half of the 20th centuries.

[9:22] TCM, or Traditional Chinese Medicine, is incorporated more into their everyday life and cooking. TCM can treat the unexplained and confusing occurrences in the body that sometimes Western medicine can’t.

[11:41] Aryuvedic uses the doshas.

The three doshas — Vata, Pitta, and Kapha — are derived from the five elements. Also known as mind-body types, the doshas express unique blends of physical, emotional, and mental characteristics. In Ayurveda, health is defined as the dynamic state of balance between mind, body, and environment. You can achieve and maintain a vibrant and joyful state of health by identifying your mind-body type and creating a lifestyle that supports your unique nature.

Herbal Consult

You wouldn't take your car to the plumber to get it fixed so why wouldn't you consult an herbalist when looking for the safest natural fertility solution when you are trying to conceive? Customizing herbal blends and sourcing them from safe and reputable suppliers is what I do all day long every day and I want to help you and your partner feel better and conceive faster. With this option you will undergo the same evaluation I put my acupuncture patients through before prescribing anything. We will go over your history & your partner's history, current medications, past bbt's, and any past labs so you know you are receiving a custom herbal solution unique to you. 

Let's Get It Scheduled!

EPISODE 69 | THE FIFTH VITAL SIGN | Lisa Hendrickson-Jack

Master Your Cycle & Optimize Your Fertility


Lisa Hendrickson-Jack is a certified Fertility Awareness Educator, Holistic Reproductive Health Practitioner, and author of The Fifth Vital Sign. She joins the show today to speak with Hillary about using Fertility Awareness as a primary method of birth control, ovulation as a health marker, important things to know about hormonal birth control, and an evidence-based approach as to how to set ourselves up for success when it comes to our menstrual cycle and fertility tracking. They discuss the realities of the public education system regarding this topic, hear more about her Fertility Friday Podcast, and ways in which women can connect more with their cycle and fertility.



[7:11] Lisa herself didn’t discover fertility awareness until about age 18 or 19, and even after that, there has been very little that has progressed in terms of teaching about menstruation and fertility in the public education system.

[9:12] Woman are often made to feel as though the menstrual cycle is something dirty or a nuisance that must be stopped or contained. Their concerns are dismissed and side effects which can be very serious and painful are diminished.

[12:26] Our ovulation is a marker of our health. In the same way that we have come to learn more about men’s health and their fertility being intertwined, Lisa and Hillary hope the same for the near future regarding ovulation and women’s health.

[15:58] Menstruation is a vital sign of what our body needs, how it is doing and is connected to many layers of health.

[24:54] The hormonal birth control pill stops ovulation to some degree, which dramatically reduces the natural production of our bodies estrogen and progesterone, and affects our free testosterone.

[27:02] Although how it plays out is different in everyone, all women who take hormonal birth control do experience effects in their hormones and organs.

[28:54] It is important for women to be upfront and aware of the side effects of the hormone birth control pill. Depression is a big one, along with mood swings.

[29:41] Research shows that hormonal birth control is associated with a temporary delay in the return of normal fertility. The shot is the worst offender, with other methods falling in after.

[33:56] Some women may hear about the side effects of hormonal birth control and decide it’s not for them, while others decide they will still use it but modify the use. Whatever choice that works best for you is the right one, but it’s important to be informed and aware.

[37:16] Birth control stops your normal cycle and replaces it with a fake one, but it doesn’t address or fix the real root of irregular menstrual cycles.

[45:12] Since birth control shrinks the ovaries, there is an established delay between when we come off birth control and when our body is normalized and fertile.

[52:35] There are many options for tracking our menstrual cycle and fertility. Because there is only about one week out of the month we can get pregnant, knowing this fact alone can be a total game changer.

[60:30] Devices such as wearable thermometers can be very helpful, but nothing trumps fertility awareness and training from a professional instructor. Much like learning to drive a car, it is a one-time investment that can lead to years of knowledge and empowerment.



The Fifth Vital Sign: Master Your Cycles & Optimize Your Fertility, by Lisa Hendrickson-Jack

Fertility Friday Podcast


Continue Your Journey:

@ladypotions4u on Twitter

@ladypotions4u on Instagram


Disclaimer *

You must not rely on the information in this podcast as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition you should seek immediate medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website or in this podcast.





Today’s episode is a re-release of episode two. Missed it the first time around? Well we’re back with a remastered version. Loved it back in the day? Re-listen and re-love it (and maybe pick up on some gems you didn’t hear when it first aired). Today’s guests are Marc Sherman and Dr. Kate Webster, creators of the revolutionary online course Organic Conceptions. This course began with Erin and Marc Sherman’s personal struggle in trying to conceive for a decade. In partnership with Dr. Webster, they created a roadmap for themselves and others to chart a course that engages and empowers couples on their path to parenthood. They share the primary goals of Organic Conceptions, the main three chapters and primary expectations that arise and the importance of surrender. Marc and Dr. Webster are really doing some amazing work with helping others achieve emotional health and insight during their process and I thank them for digging deep in their own experience to provide a ton of hope, guidance, and information for others.

Join the Fertile Minds Private Community and Receive the Organic Conceptions Program with weekly group coaching sessions with Hillary Talbott Roland.



[7:48] I share the impressive backgrounds and bios of Dr. Kate Webster and Erin and Marc Sherman.

[12:15] Dr. Webster covers the primary goals of Organic Conceptions, stemming out of predictable problems and patterns with infertility. She also shares what the program is not so people have appropriate expectations.

[13:08] Depending on the statistics, between 1-in-6 and 1-in-8 couples struggles with infertility.

[21:07] They combine influences from biological, emotional, psychological, and sociological models.

[27:11] The program provides the opportunity for couples to go through the steps at their own time in their own home rather than rushing to appointments.

[31:37] Every story culminated into three chapters and nine transitions: The conception of doubt, couples losing patience, and surrender into life.

[24:31] Dr. Webster lists the five primary expectations that arise: age, sequencing of life events, gender roles, images of success, and trust in the medical model.

[39:38] The stages in the surrender into life chapter: rawness, reaching forward and uniting together, renewal.

[41:48] More than one third of women have pre-conceived doubt about their reproductive abilities before they even try get pregnant.

[49:48] It’s difficult for young women today to try and fit in a career, marriage, and family goals all in one decade.

[60:56] We hear the difference of mal-adaptive vs adaptive coping.

[61:57] Surrendering does not mean just relaxing or giving up on a dream for parenthood. The difference is quitting leaves you feeling full of more guilt and shame. Surrender leaves you feeling internal freedom! Dr. Webster and Marc share stories of couples that accept the things they cannot change, let go of past disappointment and control over the future to end up finding life again and new interests and passions. A lot of times people have success even after they are significantly older than when they first started on their journey.



Organic Conceptions

Dr. Kate Webster

You are the Placebo

Link to free PDF and discount rate on Organic Conceptions: Ladypotions.com


Continue Your Journey:

Fertile Minds Private Community

@ladypotions4u on Instagram


Disclaimer *

You must not rely on the information in this podcast as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition you should seek immediate medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website or in this podcast.


EPISODE 63 | HEALING AFTER BIRTH | Jennifer Summerfeldt, MACP

Is Trauma Standing in Your Way of Conceiving?


Jennifer Summerfeldt, MACP, joins the show to talk about how our bodies protect us through trauma, and her wisdom from working in the field of maternal health and psychology for over two decades. Along with being a counselor, childbirth advocate, doula, and maternal educator, Jennifer is the founder and creator of the Healing After Birth Program. She and Hillary talk about the brain and how it works in trauma, what led Jennifer to be a birth crusader, the different lenses of healing, and many of the indicators that may be pointing at trauma in birth that most people aren’t aware of.


[8:17] Jennifer was a college-level athlete and has always had a passion for peak performance and a deep determination to excel in both mindset and physical achievement. She used some of the skills such as mental rehearsal and self-talk for her own birthing experience. Her intimate relationship with her own physiology in performance led to her self-directed choice in her eighth month to switch caregivers to hire a midwife to attend her first birth. The incredible empowerment she felt gave her a new mission to spread the word that there is much behind the veil of birth many women are not informed of.

[14:48] In her second childbirth, she endured a rough time emotionally, but stayed curious in her education, and the consumption of information and stories. This led her to discover just how many births are traumatic and violent for both the mothers and the babies, and it blew open her passion even more deeply.

[19:51] A conscious conception looks at all facets of birth and pregnancy. Jennifer believes we are initiated throughout an entire energetic continuum of bearing life which may include losses, conception issues, complicated childbirth and labor, or postpartum challenges. In our society, we are not often prepared or comfortable with the struggles these bring and in the tendency to suppress or move quickly through it, we miss out on the healing that surrendering to our wisdom and knowledge within brings.

[29:21] The last few years have shown an increase in care and languaging, but Jennifer feels there is a long way to go. She defines trauma as what we experience as the result of having an experience that activated our stress response, leaving us feeling trapped in our survival stress response. There is a physical reaction that instinctively happens, all intended for our safety and protection. However, the psychological component traps us in the stress response, in which we have a hard time discharging suffering and the feeling of threat to our survival.

[33:45] When we understand a disorganized system through the lens of a system, we can start to see how to use our innate intelligence to bring us back into balance and take the information and store it in an appropriate manner.

[40:03] The stress response not only affects digestion but also shuts down our reproductive system. Our bodies know that it is not time to reproduce if we need to protect ourselves from what we perceive as a threat.

[42:25] For those of us that have lived with unresolved trauma, we know that it has a deep and profound impact on our entire mind, body, and soul.

[44:17] Mammals in the wild know how to literally discharge and shake off energy, rage through and eventually restore the somatic repercussion of trauma.

[49:51] If we can cultivate the practice of mindfulness and activate the observer within us, it brings our pre-frontal cortex more back into balance.

[52:40] It’s the meaning behind the feelings that we are actually afraid of. We fear if I feel too much, I may die or hurt someone or myself.

[57:02] We get to a point where the distractions and diversions don’t work, and we are forced to do the work and create a new story in what Jennifer describes as the “collective womb.”

[61:34] Women tend to feel that their story is not important enough and yet storytelling is what makes us feel human and connected.

[66:20] Our unresolved birth experience has a profound impact on our relationships and the story we carry that impacts and ripples out in our life. Jennifer reminds us that the more we can cultivate the practice of “being with” and the less we label or create a biased attachment of meaning, the more we can be in true awe of our physiology and the amazing being that we are.

[69:44] Our biology is in favor of us wanting to thrive and is constantly giving us feedback and rich information.



Fertile Minds on iTunes

Healing After Birth: Navigating Your Emotions After A Difficult Childbirth, by Jennifer Summerfeldt MACP

Spiritual Midwifery, by Ina May Gaskin

Birth Without Violence

Immaculate Deception: A New Look at Women and Childbirth in America, by Suzanne Arms

Jennifer Summerfeldt

Iain McGilchrist

Dan Siegel: “Flipping the Lid”

Healing After Birth Podcast

FREE 4 part video series - What Your Doctor Is Likely NOT Telling You About PPD/A CLICK HERE

Are you a soulfully inspired woman looking for next level counseling and coaching programs? CLICK HERE

Continue Your Journey:

@ladypotions4u on Instagram- Ask me anything in Insta Story

 Disclaimer *

You must not rely on the information in this podcast as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition you should seek immediate medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website or in this podcast.



Shauna Wetenkamp joins the show to share her immense knowledge on essential oils and examples of ways she has used them in ways many people may not have thought possible. She talks about her own personal journey in using them to help heal after a severe accident, how essential oils can enhance our life and our fertility, the ways the “nose knows” when it comes to sniffing out great quality oils, which oils are great for specific emotions, and how to choose them intuitively.

To share your own fertility story, please email me at hillary@ladypotions.com. I look forward to connecting with you, as you are what this podcast is all about.


[6:43] A very severe accident that Shauna endured, led her to appreciate the gift of being able to learn firsthand the healing properties of essential oils both physically and emotionally.

[9:39] A different oil can be applied for both almost every emotional and physical pain.

[12:38] When it comes to essential oils and medicine perfumes, a little goes a long way. The quality also matters, along with making sure it’s the appropriate oil and any emotions that need to be addressed along with the oil usage.

[16:22] Shauna loves to partner with doTerra because of their dedication to community, high quality, and purity, and work to uplift countries with indigenous peoples.

[19:42] For pain, a few that Shauna recommends are: Clary Sage (great for cramps), Frankincense, Lemongrass, Pink Pepper, Thyme, and Marjoram.

[28:12] Essential oils are a great tool for working with your mind and body as you observe emotions that are coming up, and that may have been stuck or pushed down for years.

[29:37] Shauna did her own physical therapy, and was completely committed to the only option of healing and regaining her health.

[33:16] Marjoram and Cedarwood are the oils of community, and the ability to allow true connection with others and to notice the good things present in your life.

[37:22] Geranium (love and trust) and Ylang Ylang (inner child) are great in a bath with Epsom salts to soak away the anger and sadness.

[40:23] Most often the oils we tend to stay away from and resist the most are the ones we could benefit from. Shauna advises bringing it in slowly and working in the emotion that it addresses.

[49:37] Shauna loves to put Sandalwood on her third eye for extra help in her intuition, and Rose to connect more with divine love. For fear, Bergamot is about loving yourself and having the courage to put ourselves first. Ginger, Lavender (clear communication), and Cypress (motion and flow) are also used to summon courage and help alleviate the physical symptoms of fear and anxiety.

[58:29] Journaling is a great way to record where you are at and put out emotions that are stuck.

As PROMISED in the podcast! How to know which oils should be contraindicated or used with caution in pregnancy?

The consensus about what essential oils should be Contraindicated during pregnancy vary greatly from source to source. Much of this may be due to the fact that many consider inhaling any of these oils generally safe during pregnancy. What is really an area of concern is topical use, especially in excess and certainly with internal use. All of the those listed below should not be consumed orally while pregnant, avoided during the first trimester in all forms, and only used topically or infused during the latter two trimesters with a deep understanding of benefit to risk ratio. 





Clary Sage 

















Here are some of my favorite essential oil blends

Lady Potions Essential Oils Labor blend - diffuse in room or apply to acupressure points on ankle to stimulate contractions after labor has begun. May also be rubbed on lower stomach or lower back after labor has started. 

  • 5 drops ylang ylang

  • 4 drops helichrysum

  • 2 drops fennel

  • 2 drops clary sage

  • 2 drops peppermint

Lady Potions Essential Oils Fertility Blend

  • 4 drops champaca

  • 3 drops yarrow

  • 3 drops geranium

  • 2 drops neroli

  • 1 drop rose

  • Mix with carrier oil of choice and roll on wrist and neck as desired


Essential Oils to treat Hemorrhoids & soothe your lady parts after birth

  • Tea Tree

  • Cypress

  • Geranium

  • Lavender

  • 2 drops each mixed with aloe vera gel and applied directly OR added to 8 oz water, submerge washcloths in, freeze and sit on later. You can also use the oils and water and add it to maxi pads to be frozen and used to heal after a vaginal birth.

Essential Oils to Relieve Nausea During Pregnancy

  • Lavender

  • Chamomile

  • Spearmint

  • Ginger

  • Use as singles on a cotton ball and inhale or work it as a blend to diffuse that smells helpful to you. Some women will lean towards more ginger while others will lean towards extra spearmint depending on the type of nausea they are experiencing.

Do you have a favorite oil or helpful blend for fertility & pregnancy? If so comment below and help a sister out!


Fertile Minds on LibSyn

Fertile Minds on iTunes


Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health, by Aviva Romm

Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, by Julia Lawless

Essential Oils for Pregnancy, Birth & Babies, by Stephanie Fritz

Emotions and Essential Oils, by Enlighten

Ep 47: “Bach Flower Remedies for Emotions that Come Along with Fertility Challenges”

Shauna On Instagram

Shauna Wetenkamp Facebook


Continue Your Journey:

@ladypotions4u on Twitter

@ladypotions4u on Instagram 

Disclaimer *

You must not rely on the information in this podcast as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition you should seek immediate medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website or in this podcast.



This week’s episode is all about innovation in IVF. The highly esteemed reproductive endocrinologists, Drs. Kathy and Kevin Doody came on to talk about their process of what they call “effortless IVF” and how it helps couples conceive. The Doodys talk about their clinic in Bedford, TX,  the specifics of their process, and the changes they have witnessed in over 30 years in the field of assisted reproductive medicine. In my opinion, their use of the INVOcell™ helps to make IVF as close to natural as possible. If you are someone that has hit a wall in terms of the all-natural route or is over the age of 35 and looking to check out your options, I highly recommend you have a listen.

To share your own fertility story, please email me at hillary@ladypotions.com. I look forward to connecting with you, as you are what this podcast is all about.


[2:06] Dr. Kathy is board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and subspecialty board certified in Reproductive Endocrinology/Infertility. She has received multiple recognitions as one of Fort Worth's Top Docs, as well as one of Texas’ Super doctors. Dr. Kevin is is board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and sub-specialty board certified in Reproductive Endocrinology/Infertility. Dr. Kevin has received multiple honors as one of Fort Worth's Top Docs, one of Texas’ Super Doctors and one of the Best Doctors in America for the last several years. In 2017, Dr. Kevin was recognized with the Resolve National Infertility Association’s Hope Award for Achievement in recognition for his contributions. While Dr. Kevin was serving as president of the Society of Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART), he was instrumental in updating the SART National Summary Data to assist patients in making informed decisions about medical care. Dr. Kevin was also recognized as Microsoft Physician of the Year 2004. And they are married! Which is super cool.

[7:04] Their Center for Assisted Reproduction, CARE Fertility, in Bedford, Texas has an outstanding number of firsts in their location: the first ICSI pregnancy in the geographical area, they were first to successfully implement a blastocyst culture system, first in the world to use the INVOcell™ device in a blastocyst embryo transfer, and even trained the doctor in Virginia who helped the first same-sex couple both carry their baby.

[9:22] IVF, or In Vitro Fertilization, means that the egg is fertilized outside the body. ICSI, or Intracytoplasmic sperm injection, is the placement of a single sperm into the egg. It was invented in Brussels, and the Doodys were at the forefront of its discovery and implementation.

[10:36] A personal happy story! The Doodys had a hand in creating their nephew through ICSI.

[11:11] The INVOcell™ is a plastic capsule shaped like a champagne cork. It is an incubator and allows for the woman to provide the right environment and atmosphere for embryo development. It enters the uterus at the blastocyst stage.

[13:41] Dr. Kathy says it’s important for patients to understand why it makes sense to put the embryo into the body because it reflects what happens naturally in the different stages of ovulation.

[15:30] Part of the quality control is being able to make sure that the egg has normally fertilized, and it does take the place of IUI.

[17:47] The Doodys believe it is better to allow the natural competitive process when you can.

[18:20] Effortless IVF decreases the cost by about 50% and the amount of medication and monitoring that usually come with traditional IVF. The two main factors that are taken into account in a woman are her egg count, which is determined by her Anti-Müllerian Hormone (AMH) levels, and her body weight. The appropriate candidates need to have an AMH higher than 0.8, a body weight less than 190 lbs, and a BMI less than 35.

[23:40] There is a 59% success rate with frozen embryo transfers with no monitoring and transferring only one embryo in patients.

[26:41] The approach is closer to mother nature, as they are able to discern which embryo will transfer successfully.

[30:01] Dr. Kevin explains why the process is so streamlined from a laboratory standpoint, and the minimal interventions that take place in the process.

[33:21] Complex organic systems like variance and the human body is certainly an example of that.

[34:54] The INVOcell™ was founded by Dr. Claude Ranoux, a fertility specialist.

[36:47] This discovery has been a huge win for same-sex couples, as it is opening up new avenues and options for fertilization.

[41:02] Dr. Kathy’s advice for couples looking to conceive, is to realize you aren’t alone, and it is important to be proactive and seek out the options in your area. Dr. Kevin reminds us to not get discouraged, and not to let fear of failure hold you back. It is hard to give up control, and effortless IVF makes the appointments more convenient and less daunting.



Fertile Minds on LibSyn

Fertile Minds on iTunes


Center for Assisted Reproductive Care

American Society of Reproductive Medicine

Ep #30: “Male Infertility with Dr. Paul Turek”

Effortless IVF

“Comparing blastocyst quality and live birth rates of intravaginal culture using INVOcell™ to traditional in vitro incubation in a randomized open-label prospective controlled trial”

INVO Bioscience



Continue Your Journey:

@ladypotions4u on Instagram

 Disclaimer *

You must not rely on the information in this podcast as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition you should seek immediate medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website or in this podcast.


Cycling With the Moon — What Does That Even Mean?


In this week’s episode, we welcome back the highly credentialed Reiki master and Meditation Facilitator Sharna Langlais, what moon cycles have to do with fertility, how you can work with the moon when it comes to your emotions and energy levels, and what exactly it means to cycle with the moon. We give you a brief history of how we have connected with La Luna over the years, ways to practice that honor and respect tradition of connecting with the moon’s deep energy, and a view of how to navigate the moon’s cycle with grace and ease.


To share your own fertility story, please email me at hillary@ladypotions.com. I look forward to connecting with you, as you are what this podcast is all about.


[5:51] When Sharna talks about the moon with her clients, she also talks about the larger cycles of nature and the solstice energy that comes with releasing and shedding the old to welcome the new.

[7:15] Mercury Retrograde usually happens 3 times a year and is typically a 3-week cycle where Mercury appears to be going backward in the night sky. From an astrological standpoint, Mercury rules communication, travels and thought, and is thought to affect decisions, conversations, technology, etc. Sharna sees it as an opportunity to slow down and get more intentional to reevaluate and repurpose our life.

[13:54] As we cycle more with the seasons and look for the opportunities to connect to spiritual traditions, it even goes further back to times in history where we experienced cultural appropriation for our beliefs and traditions. Sharna would like to reframe “paganism,” not as a demonic and satanic term, but as a way to show that we are aligning ourselves with the elements of nature.

[19:28] Moving ourselves out of fear and into research is a huge element of growth and reclaiming information that was lost and taken away from women, from the structures of power and control.

[23:45] To Sharna, cycling with the moon is about being connected to nature, physical bodies and everything that feminine is about: mystery, chaos, observation, openness. Hillary thinks of it as a time when we are most fertile.

[26:35] White moon is the idea that you bleed at the new or the waning moon, and the period is a time and rest and recovery. The red moon means your cycle follows the full moon, and you are most fertile during the new or waning moon. In ancient times, the red moon cycle was said to demonstrate their creativeness outward, and they are focused on self-growth, mentorship, and creativity. The feminine energy allows us to observe and accept what our body is doing on any different day.

[33:40] One of the first things Sharna recommends to get aligned with the moon is just to observe what it is that is happening with their body for three cycles.

[36:11] In olden times they used to offer menstrual blood to the land and fertilize their plants with it. Sharna finds that the “messiness” itself is a feminine energy and our creative energy at our core. She also recommends charting our cycle, moon gazing and spending time with nature and trees.

[44:54] Sharna says all releases are good releases, no matter how society has told us to be shameful of them.

[48:89] The new moon symbolizes new beginnings, and it begins to wax or become fuller leading to when it’s at its fullest at the full moon. We are usually intention-setting around a new moon, and looking at what we would like to create over the next period. Traditionally, full moon cycles honor fertility and celebrate releasing what is no longer necessary.


[56:02] When you start to observe how the moon cycles affect your energy and period, it becomes fascinating to watch and plan life changes and interactions accordingly.

[58:53] The more Sharna does energy work, the less she finds herself affected by her menstrual cycle.

[63:07] Moon energy is feminine, and sun energy is masculine. Sharna compares it to a dance of two lovers.



Fertile Minds on LibSyn

Fertile Minds on iTunes


Sharna Langlais

Seek Spark Shine

Ep #055: “Could Your Fertility Challenges Be An Unexpected Spiritual Awakening?”

Kissing the Hag, by Emma Restall Orr

Miranda Gray

Ep #035 “Mastering Mindfulness During a High Risk Pregnancy”

Ep #037 “TCM Wants to Help You Conceive”

Sharna’s Full Moon Gathering

Leah Whitehorse

Continue Your Journey:

@ladypotions4u on Twitter

@ladypotions4u on Instagram

Disclaimer * You must not rely on the information in this podcast as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition you should seek immediate medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website or in this podcast.


Could Your Fertility Challenges Be An Unexpected Spiritual Awakening? guest Sharna Langlais 


Today we talk with a true master of explaining the mystical in an understandable way. Sharna Langlais is a Reiki Master and also trained in Shamanic Healing and many other healing modalities such as Herbalism and Aromatherapy. She and Hillary talk about her new book, Unexpected Spiritual Awakenings, and how it pertains to fertility. They discuss what exactly an unexpected Spiritual Awakening is, how to spot one and what the stages are, and some tips on how to ease the lonely and discomfort when everything feels like it’s crumbling. Then, they cover what our ethereal body is, how we clean it and how we can use it to protect ourselves.

To share your own fertility story, please email me at hillary@ladypotions.com or comment below. I look forward to connecting with you, as you are what this podcast is all about.


[1:44] Sharna Langlais is a Reiki Master also certified in Shamanic Healing and 5 Element Theory. She is a certified Herbalist, and Aromatherapist and Meditation Facilitator. Sharna has published work on Elephant Journal and MindBodyGreen and has her new book, Unexpected Spiritual Awakenings.

[4:08] Sharna comes from a Marketing and Executive Management background and was an “accidental techie” in her work with a nonprofit. She shares her journey in balancing the “real world” with her spiritual work starting at around her late 20s.

[7:13] All of the modalities that Sharna uses herself help to clear her own energy so that she can be open and compassionate in her work with clients all over the world to bring them a deeper sense of transformation.

[11:07] Sharna gives an analogy that Reiki is the car that she drives, in the sense that there are so many makes and models of energy work. It is a Japanese tradition in its origin and is about channeling life force energy through the bodies to remove blockages — the building block of life. Energy work can be utilized for any ailment or issue, and can deeply clear energy without having to talk through it too much.

[15:08] If Reiki is the car, acupuncture would be the model of car, and Sharna finds that distance work is more concentrated than physical experience.

[18:04] In a larger context, the unexpected spontaneous spiritual awakening is a personal process that creates extreme transformation inside of the cells and shifts. It can look like a crisis, and can very much feel as though everything is “falling apart.” The purposeful awakening is expected, and the context of the structure around it is usually based on a tradition with others to help guide the experience.

[23:34] One of the big messages in our crisis is to stop and listen to what’s really inside of us, and to tune in to our true calling instead of trying to keep up with a path that isn’t right for us.

[26:16] The biggest place we tend to see the spontaneous awakening is crisis and often emerges in transition that looks like health issues, breakups, and career shifts or changes.

[28:51] Going through an awakening can be daunting or scary at first, so it’s common for us to patch holes and return back to our normal life, but it is a real commitment to change and growth.

[35:40] Sharna put together the stages on her own experience and the experience of many clients she sees, but the experience is yin and nonlinear.

[36:34] Stage One: The Crisis Moment. Something breaks, and we must go in and try and fix it.

Stage Two: Find a New Way to Restructure and Change The “honeymoon” period of the awakening, where someone thought they found the answer.

Stage Three: Liminal Phase/The Awakening Process The true dark night of the soul where things fall apart and we already thought we fixed it in stage two.

Stage Fourth: The True Rebirth and Joy Stage The realization that we are a whole different version of ourselves.

Stage Five: The Awareness That We Are Always Changing and Needing to Pay Attention to Our Whisper We have a perpetual sense of humor and are reminded that everything is an opportunity for us to create and produce shifts.

[48:06] It is deeply healing for someone to connect one-on-one with someone while they are going through the process, as it feels isolating and confusing at times.

[49:11] Usually it is one part of the couple going through the awakening, and the relationship shifts as we change inside.

[52:22] The opportunity springs up during fertility because it tends to pop up in the areas of life that feel the most mysterious. Feminine energy also is the energy of chaos, and chaos energy is what is introduced for a system to change.

[56:44] The most important piece of awakening is surrendering and receiving without attachment.

[61:25] If we have to bring a life inside our body, it helps to be connected to it first.

[65:21] One of the biggest tips is to seek out somebody that can help you, but also to be careful of who you work with and that they are a right fit for you. Having patience with and through this process is also key. Retreats are also helpful to get your bearings with like-minded people by a trustworthy facilitator.


Mentioned References & Continuing Your Journey:

Reiki 1 Training with Sharna @ Art of Acupuncture Aug 3-4th 2019

Fertile Minds on LibSyn

Fertile Minds on iTunes


Unexpected Spiritual Awakenings: Navigating a Spiritual Awakening, by Sharna Langlais

Seek Spark Shine


Elephant Journal

Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression — and the Unexpected Solutions
by Johann Hari

@ladypotions4uon Twitter

@ladypotions4uon Instagram

Disclaimer *

You must not rely on the information in this podcast as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition you should seek immediate medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website or in this podcast.



Hillary first opens the show with an amazing keynote from her mentor, the late Ray Rubio from the Integrative Fertility Symposium last year. Ray shares a story about Dr. Shen, and why often times the simplest answer right under our nose is the one that will give us our answers. Then, she welcomes back her friend Katrina to share Part 2 of their top picks for yummy (and effective!) green and clean beauty products.


[4:10] Hillary plays a clip of a Keynote from the Integrative Fertility Symposium where her mentor, Ray Rubio, discusses the beauty of using common sense as a practitioner, and a story regarding his mentor Dr. Shen and the fashion icon Chanel.
[14:53] Hillary and Katrina discuss more of Katrina’s top picks!

Dry Shampoo (Katrina recommends putting it in our hair before bed instead of in the morning)

●      Kaia Naturals

●      Captain Blankenship


●      Innersense

●      Avalon Organics


●      Acure Conditioner

Body Wash

●      Aleavia

●      Saje Soap Bars

●      Meow Meow Tweet


●      Agent Nateur

●      Meow Meow Tweet

●      Kaia Naturals

●      Meow Meow Pit Primer

●      Once a week do an armpit detox with bentonite clay and apple cider vinegar mask to pull out all of the old aluminum. Leave it on for about 10 minutes.

Beauty Boxes

●      Beauty Hero

●      Art of Organics

●      Organic Bunny Box (@organicbunny on Instagram)



Fertile Minds on iTunes


Ep #049: “Part 1 of Natural Beauty Products Worth Your Money That Won’t Wreck Your Fertility” 

Integrative Fertility Symposium

Parents on Demand App

Disclaimer * You must not rely on the information in this podcast as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition you should seek immediate medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website or in this podcast.


Natural Beauty Products that are Worth Your Hard Earned Pennies & Won’t Interfere with your Fertility


Today, Hillary and her friend Katrina talk about beauty products and how they could be interfering with your fertility. They list the top ten chemical and ingredient offenders (out of 1,300!) to look out for and avoid, give recommendations on natural beauty product and product lines, and share some practical ways to make small shifts away from slathering ourselves daily in a chemical cocktail. More women are becoming savvy as consumers, and aware of how much of an effect what we put on our body has in with what happens inside of it. 


[1:37] The United States Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (abbreviated as FFDCA, FDCA, or FD&C), has not been changed since 1938. Europe and Canada have higher regulatory standards, and hopefully, the United States will catch up in the close future.

[9:30] Top 10 ingredients we don’t want in our personal care products:

  1. Sunscreen Chemicals. Common Names are Benzophenone, PABA, Avobenzone, Homosalate, and Methoxycinnamate.

  2. Parabens. Parabens are widely used preservatives that prevent the growth of bacteria, mold, and yeast in cosmetic products. Read more on parabens.

  3. Synthetic Colors. FD&C or D&C represent artificial colors. F (food) and D&C (drug and cosmetics).  These letters precede a color and number (e.g., D&C Red 27 or FD&C Blue 1).

  4. Synthetic Fragrance.

  5. Phthalates. The main phthalates in cosmetics and personal care products are dibutyl phthalate in nail polish, diethyl phthalate in perfumes and lotions, and dimethyl phthalate in hairspray.

  6. Triclosan. Triclosan is a widely used antimicrobial chemical found in toothpastes, antibacterial soaps, and deodorants.

  7. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) / Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES). This surfactant can be found in more than 90 percent of personal care and cleaning products (think foaming products).

  8. Formaldehyde. Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives are used in many cosmetic products to help prevent bacteria growth.

  9. Toluene. A petrochemical derived from petroleum or coal tar sources and it can be found in nail polish, nail treatments, and hair color /bleaching products.

  10. Aluminum. Used in antiperspirants. Read more on aluminum.

[18:21] Now on to… what to actually use? Hillary’s friend Katrina Hall shares her evolution into natural beauty, and some of the top natural products she finds to be the ones she can trust the most with great results.

[22:55] Katrina’s gateway product was an oil cleanser from the Crude Personal line, and she still uses it to take off her makeup.


●      Marie Veronique Gel Cleanser

●      Probiotic Skin Cleanser


●      HYNT

●      Suntegrity

●      Marie Veronique


●      Sappho Essentials Foundation

●      Crunchi

  Setting Powder

●      100% Pure Bamboo Blur Powder

Bronzer/ Contour

●      RMS

●      Lily LoLo


●      Ecobrow

●      Plume


●      Lily LoLo


●      Tarte Amazonian Clay

●      Harvest

●      Fitglow Lash Serum


●      ZuZu Luxe

Lip Gloss

●  Sign up for the newsletter & receive 15% off @    Fitglow Lip Serum


●      Zi Zai

Lip Sticks

●      Axiology

Lip Liners

●      Gabriel Cosmetics

●      ZuZu Luxe


Fertile Minds on LibSyn

Fertile Minds on iTunes


Think Dirty

EWG’s Healthy Living App

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 Disclaimer *

You must not rely on the information in this podcast as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition you should seek immediate medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website or in this podcast.


Bach Flower Remedies for the Emotions that Come with Fertility Challenges with Erin Gray.


Hillary’s esteemed colleague and friend Erin Gray, LCMHC, returns to dive deep into fertility challenges and the emotions that come with them. Erin has used and studied Bach Flower remedies for some time now, and she shares her experience with these super-safe homeopathic beneficial supplements. They also talk about the highlights of the 38 different remedies, the way Bach Remedies bring emotional balance into the situation, specific remedies as they play into detailed emotions, and Erin’s recommendation for bringing them into your life.



[2:10] Bach Flower Remedies work on specific issues, and are unique in the way that they can support emotional balance. This makes them great for most cases of someone going through IVF.

[3:27] Every medical system has its own way of categorizing supplements. In traditional Chinese medicine, we have the Eight Pillars or the Five Elements. Ayurvedic medicine has it’s Dosha’s and the Bach Flowers have their own two categories. One is by the personality type and ongoing characteristics and the other is a certain mood that relates to the moment and the fleeting marker of the experience.

[4:40] There are 38 different tinctured remedies, categorized into 7 different families. They have a subtle taste and usually go in water or under the tongue.

[8:12] Rescue Remedy won’t take away your personality or fix a life situation but it will help to bring a sense of balance and coping into the situation.

[9:21] One of the biggest things Erin sees when working with fertility clients is fear and anxiety. When you have general anxiety or anxiety of an unknown, she suggests using Aspen. If you experiencing a specific fear and are clear about what it’s about, Mimulus is a good one. If you are overly worried about a loved one, Red Chestnut can come to the rescue.

[11:45] Beech can help us open up our minds, and bring in more patience and peace. Rock Water is useful to go easier on yourself and is one of Erin’s most used remedies. The overly controlling personality type could benefit from Vine. When you are having trouble making decisions or confused about your own judgment, go with Cerato. If you are faced with multiple choices and not sure which one you want to choose, Scleranthus can help you figure out which path to go down. Gorse is also a big one for women in the IVF process, as it can help to connect with the true intention, and in turn, restore a sense of hope.

[16:06] Although the remedies are gentle, if not used properly they can neutralize and do nothing or do the complete opposite and cause the emotion to appear even stronger.

[21:03] Of all the Bach Remedies, the one recommended for difficulty in life transition and conceiving is Walnut. Impatiens is a good one to help manage impatience, loneliness, and frustration. This can be very beneficial during the waiting time in IVF and can be cycled in and out to be taken when you are in the throes of the intense emotions.

[26:03] If you find yourself struggling with being present, or in a dissociative state, Clematis is very helpful in getting grounded and back into reality. Honeysuckle is a good one for past regrets, living too much in the past or a sense of nostalgia that interferes with your present moment. White Chestnut can help in getting your mind to settle down and relax, rather than replaying situations over and over and trying to predict every move in the future.

[29:21] Pine is a good one for forgiveness, and letting go of any guilt or shame you may be holding on for yourself. Star of Bethlehem is a beautiful remedy to help with grief, loss, and trauma and Crab Apple can help shift from body shame or a sense of betrayal in your body into a sense of acceptance and peace.

[33:19] If you can’t forgive someone else, and hold resentment and anger towards them, try bringing in some Willow. When you have a burning hatred (think Mean Girl), feel jealousy and mistrust, use Holly.

[35:29] You can look up Bach practitioners in your area that can do assessments and custom blends for you. Oftentimes people need more than one remedy, but just be sure not to mix them all at once.


Being Born Into Parenthood

This week, we welcome Adriana Lozada, a woman of many accomplishments and talents including the remarkable brand Birthful, and assisting in over 150 births as a doula. Adriana sheds some light on what exactly a doula is, why a couple may want one, the benefits of having a doula, and how to decide which doula is right for your specific needs and desires.


[1:52] Along with creating and running Birthful, Adriana is a birth doula, a postpartum educator, a sleep consultant, and co-author of Soy de Pura Madre, a half autobiography (written by well-known Venezuela actress and radio host, Ana María Simón), half pregnancy guide (written by Adriana), in Spanish.

[5:14] Adriana has been a doula for 13 years and loves sharing information on what it entails and the possibilities it provides that may help the birth experience.

[5:17] There are many types of doulas (birth, fertility, postpartum — to name a few), and they all have the core value of giving physical, emotional, and informational support. Adriana likes to liven up the definition, and thinks of doulas as “birth fairies that have research to back it up.”

[10:56] Adriana’s goal is to have the woman/couple have the best birth experience depending on their personal vision and foster the feeling of consent and empowerment in their own decisions.

[16:52] Doulas create space for the couple to empower themselves and make their own decisions, as opposed to feeling that things were chosen and done for them.

[19:04] There is a doula out there for everybody, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. The most important thing is how you feel and ‘click’ with the person. In the organization Adriana has her certification under, DONA, speaking and deciding for the woman is out-of-scope.

[23:02] If your medical provider is not recommending you have a doula, dig deeper and find out why they feel that way and what their hesitations are.

[24:46] It’s never too late to get a doula, but the earlier you can do it the more benefits you gain. Adriana prefers contacting your potential doula 12-20 weeks to develop a relationship and discuss fears, hopes, and desires.

[28:36] Adriana describes her philosophy on nonlinear birthing and the physiological stages that come with a safe and protected birthing environment.

[33:36] Adriana assigns “homework” using a four-stage birth model to give women a tangible way to support and trust their body. The four stages of her model are: physical, chemical, mental, and emotional.

[35:46] The skills we value in our professional and everyday life such as being effective, organized, clean, and tidy in our ‘everyday,’ aren’t the top ones that help us for birthing and parenting. Instead, messiness, uncertainty, patience, intuition, and trust in the process are key.

[42:10] Adriana discusses the “pregnancy hangover” in postpartum when we are over-touched, and undervalued. She has created a postpartum vacation plan, where women and couples can focus on getting to know and taking care of their baby.

[55:38] Adriana’s one piece of advice for expecting couples “explore things with curiosity.”


Fertile Minds on LibSyn

Fertile Minds on iTunes

Adriana Lozada

Birthful Podcast

Birthful Courses

Safe Prevention of the Primary Cesarean Delivery


Approaches to Limit Intervention During Labor and Birth

DONA International

Doula Match

Tampa Bay Birth Network

Rethinking the Pushing Stage, with Whapio

Thrive with Your Newborn use the code FERTILITY for 25% discount. Along with creating and running Birthful, Adriana is a birth doula, a postpartum educator, a sleep consultant, and co-author of Soy de Pura Madre, a half autobiography (written by well-known Venezuela actress and radio host, Ana María Simón), half pregnancy guide (written by Adriana), in Spanish.

Disclaimer * You must not rely on the information in this podcast as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition you should seek immediate medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website or in this podcast.

EPISODE 44 | MINI MINDFUL MOMENT | Have You Been "Noceboed" ?

How to Recognize and Reverse a Nocebo

Most of us are familiar with a placebo, however, do you know what a nocebo is? A nocebo is a detrimental effect on health produced by psychological or psychosomatic factors such as negative expectations of treatment or prognosis by a health care provider. It happens in the fertility and birth worlds more than you think. Today we will go into detail of signs that it is happening, how to be more aware in the moment during healthcare appointments, and how to undo it if it has happened to you. Cheers to happy beliefs, less stress, and being one breath closer to that baby you are dreaming of! 

[12:39] Visualization Begins

Links Mentioned

Pregnancy Brain

It’s Conceivable

The Three Keys to Conception


Parents On Demand Network

We are super excited to now be a part of the POD network, available in any app store for free. You’ll find Fertile Minds Radio as well as other qualified podcasts guaranteed to help you on the road to parenting success.