EPISODE 27 | ADVANCEMENTS IN TREATING RECURRENT PREGNANCY LOSS | Dr. Zev Williams, M.D, PhD

Today’s episode features Zev Williams, M.D., Ph.D. He is the Chief of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility and an Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center and is a nationally-recognized clinician and researcher in the area of recurrent pregnancy loss and infertility. Not only is he one of the most brilliant minds I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing, he is incredibly humble, gracious, and passionate about his work. His intentions to help couples overcome recurrent pregnancy loss by building healthy happy families came through so clearly during this chat.

We touched on why miscarriage rates are so high and why the public has false perceptions about it being a rare event. He spoke about how his research has even uncovered a way to find out if the cause of a miscarriage was chromosomal even years after the fact in some cases. He explained the differences in PGD and PGS testing when using IVF and when and for whom it might be highly beneficial. We also spoke about MTHFR gene mutation, and what it really means in regards to treatment strategy and further testing. We even touched on his work with stem cells and the potential they have for one day helping women who experience premature ovarian failure to overcome this devastating diagnosis. He explained new ways to treat endometriosis and preserve fertility and new ways to diagnose PCOS. 

Takeaway:

[1:15] Dr. Williams completed his M.D. and Ph.D. training in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine before continuing to the Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Massachusetts General Hospital for his residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology. After completing his fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Weill Cornell, Dr. Williams then did a post-doctoral fellowship in RNA biology in the laboratory of Dr. Thomas Tuschl at Rockefeller University.

[1:45] Dr. Williams has also achieved success in federally-funded research projects in several different areas of study, having received numerous NIH grants to support his work. Currently, as part of an NIH R01 grant, Dr. Williams is engaged with a research project intended to use placental RNA as a screening tool for diseases and complications of pregnancy, to enable early intervention, and to provide insights into disease pathogenesis for things like pre-eclampsia.

[4:35] Dr. Williams works with couples and doctors all over the world, and the research that he and his colleagues find benefits those all over looking for answers on fertility.

[5:16] The PEARL Program that Dr. Williams started stands for Program for Early and Recurrent Pregnancy Loss. It is one of the only centers in the world that is both clinically focused, and a basic/translational research program dedicated trying to understand what causes unexplained miscarriages and trying to find ways methods to prevent them in the future.

[12:22] One of the realities of human reproduction is that is a very inefficient process. Of the eggs that get fertilized, very few result in a live birth.

[19:22] Dr. Williams explains the difference between PGD and PGS testing when using IVF, and who may benefit from these tests.

[26:54] We cover the MTHFR gene mutation and antiphospholipids, and what it really means in regards to treatment, strategy, and further testing.

[32:45] Dr. Williams explains the work on helping the brain to produce its own FSH (follicle stimulating hormones) which is the bodies own version of that hormone compared to traditional injections with his CORAL IVF which is an oral IVF requiring only one shot instead of 30.

[41:23] Dr. Williams shares the new ways to treat endometriosis and preserve fertility and new ways to diagnose PCOS.

[45:27] Diet is, of course, important to overall health, but also very important to pregnancy success. There are some factors that lead to Dr. Williams’ recommending a diet low in carbs and sugar.

[46:12] Egg freezing has become successful, but the challenge is that often women are thinking about freezing their eggs in their 20’s when the eggs have already lowered in quality. And fertilized eggs freeze better than eggs which require a partner.

[49:58] Once you are trying to conceive (and of course through all of the process), make sure to support each other. It’s a tough journey and you want to be going through it together.

Take the Fertile Minds Meditation challenge and see what a fertile mind feels like. Each day you’ll receive access to a 15 minute guided meditation designed to yield more clarity and calm no matter where you are on your path to building a family.

If you are feeling frustrated and wish you could experience feeling more patient this challenge is for you.

If you are finding yourself resentful and want to feel empowered instead this challenge is for you.

If you are feeling lost and overwhelmed with all things fertility and long to be more centered during the process of striving for a family this challenge is for you.

If you’ve wanted to add meditation to your self care routine but had no idea where to start this challenge is for you.

You'll learn how to shift your attention from the future to the present moment helping you to feel more fulfilled and patient with the process, your life, your partner and maybe even God.

You won't know though until you commit to the challenge. I'll be there with you every step of the way, one complete menstrual cycle, until it becomes your new favorite habit. Meditate, Listen, Trust, Repeat

References:

Fertile Minds on LibSyn

Fertile Minds on iTunes

American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine

Dr. Zev Williams 

Dr. Zev Williams Bio 

Columbia University Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology  

Efficient Differentiation of Steroidogenic and Germ-Like Cells from Epigenetically Related iPSCs Derived from Ovarian Granulosa Cells

FMR1 targets distinct mRNA sequence elements to regulate protein expression 

Nytimes.com/2015/11/26/health/progesterone-may-not-help-women-with-history-of-miscarriages-study-finds

Huffingtonpost.com/science-of-us/miscarriage_b_8000760.html?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000592

Wsj.com/articles/solving-the-mystery-of-miscarriages-1434389396

Columbiaobgyn.org/profile/s-zev-williams-md

Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26000502

Nyp.org/enewsletters/advances/2018/gynecology/2018-Advances-Gynecology-Issue1.html

Continue Your Journey:

Link to sign up for free 29-day meditation challenge

@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.


EPISODE 25 | USING CERVICAL MUCUS TO PREDICT HIGH FERTILITY WHEN TTC

Fasten your earbuds, as our topic is rarely talked about but very important from everything to our fertility, overall health, and sexual pleasure. We talk about what the difference is between cervical mucus and vaginal discharge, how to keep our environment alkaline, the four types of mucus, ways around a hostile cervical environment, medications that can impair fertile mucus and herbs and practices that can help restore them, and why Mother Nature is all about timing.

Takeaway:

[3:30] CVM is a type of vaginal discharge that signals that high fertility is approaching. There are four types of vaginal discharge that you can notice and they will coincide with the subjective observation of dryness or wetness around the vulva.

Is it Vaginal Discharge or Cervical Mucus? How to tell

 

[4:32} All mucus is a response to the amount of estrogen being produced by the woman’s body. This is why it hopefully begins to increase about 6 days prior to ovulation as the estrogen is rising and peaking.

[6:03] I cover what different mucus consistency means, and how the pH and quality of the cervical mucus need to be just right in order for the sperm to survive their long journey to the egg.

[9:14] Steroids may help stop sperm antibodies, but they can cause huge side effects like adrenal fatigue, especially when used more than once.

[10:32] The four types and descriptions of mucus as they relate to ovulation and the fertility cycle: G-mucus, L-mucus, S-type mucus and P-mucus.

[14:31] Some medications that can impair fertile mucus: birth control, antibiotics, NSAIDs such as aspirin and ibuprofen, antidepressants (SSRI), and the fertility drug clomiphene/clomid.

[20:02] : Water and staying hydrated, exercise that is not dehydrating, Shatavari Root, Dang Kuei, Ashwagandha, Omega 3 supplements, L-Arginine, probiotics with lactobacillus, licorice root, red clover blossoms and vaginal steams.

[26:20] Your cervix changes shape and position with your cycle. The ligaments that support the uterus respond to the peak of estrogen that happens just before ovulation by tightening. After ovulation, the position of the cervix is once again low in the vagina and can be easily palpated.

 

Links or Mentions to take you further. 

episode 23 basal body temp

episode 18 lab values explained in plain english

episode 13- vaginal steams

episode 7- avoiding burnout

EPISODE 23 | WHAT YOUR BASAL BODY TEMPERATURE (BBT) CAN & CAN'T TELL YOU ABOUT YOUR FERTILITY

Description: Today’s episode is going to uncover what your basal body temperatures can and can’t tell you about your fertility. There is a ton of information regarding this topic, so by the time you are done listening to today’s episode, I want you to feel confident and motivated about tracking your BBT and working with your practitioner on what it means for you. We will talk about why you should take your temperature, how to do it and then track it correctly, how to use the different methods to your advantage, and the benefits that come from tracking it.


Takeaway:

[2:14] When it comes to tracking BBTs or what is known as Basal Body Temperatures, I’ve had two main teachers — Jane Littleton and Kirsten Karchmer from Of Conceivable. Both are a wealth of information when it comes to using and INTERPRETING this technique. Fertility charting is an excellent way to gate what exactly is happening all month long, hormonally, in your body.

[2:57] Many times when a patient comes to my office they have done BBT in the past and are fed up either with the stress it causes or they have no idea how to read it. This leads to them wanting to dismiss doing it all, or maybe they have had an MD of some sort tell them that it’s pointless and they should move on to something like IUI or IVF if they want results. I’m here to tell you that’s not always the case.

[4:12] When a woman walks into my office with 3-6 months of charts either on paper or in an app I know in all likelihood she has just sped up her chances of conceiving with Chinese Medicine. This is also a way I know how and when to fine tune her herbs, recommend lifestyle and diet adjustments and even when there is a greater chance of miscarriage after a positive pregnancy test. This gives many women increased peace of mind that they able to keep an eye on the miracle that is unfolding within them without any invasive treatments. The other positive reason I recommend charting your temps is that it can be greatly empowering to understand what is having an effect on your body, like alcohol, caffeine, or even certain foods.

[8:17] Calendar rhythm method: Consists of using past menstrual cycles to estimate the time of your ovulation. When used on its own, this is the least reliable method of birth control. It should be avoided if your menstrual cycles are shorter than 26 days or longer than 32 days.

[8:42] Temperature method. You track your BBT for several cycles by using a very sensitive basal thermometer to take your temperature before you get out of bed each morning. Due to hormonal surges, your BBT goes up right after ovulation.

[9:10] Cervical mucus method. You track the color, thickness, and texture of your cervical mucus to monitor your fertility. Your cervical mucus becomes thinner, slippery, and stretchy when you ovulate. Tracking your cervical mucus will require some practice.

[10:14] I cover how to take your BBT:

  1. Take your daily temperature first thing upon awakening, before any other activity (going to the bathroom, talking on the phone, etc). The exception is 16 seconds of focused breathing referenced in episode 22.

  2. If using a digital thermometer, wait about 30 seconds until it beeps. Keep the receipt and return if you think the battery is faulty.If using glass, leave it in 5 minutes.

  3. You can take your temperature orally or vaginally, but always make it from the same place. Pick one and stay with it.

  4. Try to take it at the very same time each day right when you wake up.

  5. Make sure you get a minimum of 3 hours consecutive sleep before you take the temperature.

  6. If you use a glass thermometer, shake it down the day before.

  7. If you wake up at 5 and then plan to get up at 7, take your temperature at 5, when you wake up. Most digital thermometers will keep the temperature on it until the next use.

[14:38] When charting your temperature, you can use paper or an app. Some that I like are Fertility Friend, Conceivable, and Glow. If the temperature falls between two numbers on a glass thermometer, always take the lowest. Make dots on the appropriate temperature and connect the dots with straight lines. Note events such as stress, or illness in the miscellaneous row. Temperatures taken late should be noted in the ‘time taken’ row. 

[16:36] We cover what BBT tracking can and cannot do. It cannot tell you about your partner’s fertility, nor is it great at predicting ovulation.

[17:50] Don’t freak out if you don’t get every single day. As a practitioner. I am looking for the average in the follicular and the average in the luteal phase. It takes about one season (3 months) of working with someone to make a 50% increase in their chances of fertility.

[19:57] We cover the bleeding, follicular, ovulation and luteal phases and what I look at within each one.

[25:18] If temps are at 98.2 in the luteal phase, your miscarriage chances will drop from 30 percent to 5 percent the following cycle.

[29:16] I go over some patterns that we see in BBT and the phases, and how I as a practitioner use this information to work with the patient.

[34:12] One reason someone wouldn’t want to track their BBT is when they are taking progesterone supplements, as it affects the temperatures and if it stresses you out completely my suggestion is to meditate directly after. And if that’s still too much for you or you travel a lot or you aren’t able to wake around the same time most days due to life constraints I encourage you to check out the AVA Woman.

  

MENTIONED LINKS:

Link to sign up for free 29-day meditation challenge

affiliate link for $30 discount on Ava Temp tracker

Avawomen.com/avaworld/ava-data-means/

Jade Ashtanga retreats- join me this summer and receive one complimentary coaching session prior

 manifest your dream life with davidji retreat- $150 discount coupon code dreamlife2018

Treatment of Infertility with Chinese Medicine, by Jane Lyttleton 

Guide to Cervical Mucus  episode 23

@ladypotions4u on Twitter

@ladypotions4u on Instagram

EPISODE 21 | TAKING A TCM APPROACH TO YOUR DIET TO ENHANCE YOUR FERTILITY

Taking a TCM Approach to Your Diet to Enhance Fertility

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.

Takeaways

[4:56] Many of us have some body image issues, myself included, that we’ve worked really hard to overcome and I don’t want you to get stressed with the idea of cutting things out or calorie counting. That’s not what today’s episode is about.

[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.

[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.

[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 you 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, where the temperature is beginning to drop. 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 and berries.

[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.

[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. I RECOMMEND PRINTING IT OUT, MARKING IT UP WITH YOUR NOTES AND REPEATING EVERY 3 MONTHS SO YOU CAN SEE HOW FOOD HAS CHANGED YOUR RESULTS!

EPISODE 19 | PREVENTING COLDS & FLU'S NATURALLY SO YOU CAN KEEP TTC

How Staying Healthy Will Save You Time When You Are TTC

Description:

Today is a very important and relevant topic, as this flu season has been one of the worst in decades! We are going to talk about when to know when antibiotics may be right for you, how over-taking antibiotics may be hurting the future of your children, how to stay healthy during cold and flu season, and what to do if you or your partner gets sick along your fertility journey during an IVF cycle. I also share what herbs and oils can shorten colds and illness, the difference between strains of the cold, and some other natural remedies you can use as preventative measures!

Takeaways

[7:29] In the United States, antibiotics are very overly prescribed. If you do get antibiotics, you want to take some extra special care. Today's episode is all about how to prevent colds and the flu, and what to do if you actually do get the bug.

[9:44] We talk flu vaccine, what it does to our body and some tips for if you and your children do decide to get the vaccine and have some symptoms.

[13:16] I share the differences between strep, sinus infection and bronchitis and some preventative measures to take before you get sick including a garlic neti pot.

[19:49] Acute and complicated bronchitis is the most common complaint that sends people to their primary care physician. It usually resolves in 1-3 weeks. Hot water with lemon and honey and elderberry are two great natural remedies to soothe coughs. If you do feel like it is extremely bad, it is important to get a lung X-ray.

[22:35] Reaching out to herbalists and acupuncturists before and when you get the common cold is a great idea. One herb to help with the common cold is gan mao ling.

[24:52] Strep throat is a bacterial infection and it does require antibiotic treatment. You won't have a cough but you will have a fever. One formula is yin chi and a stronger one is andographis.

[30:22] If you think you have the flu, the most important things are to stay hydrated, rest and stay home for at least 24 hours, and monitor your fever.

[34:37] One of my favorite immune blends is by Saje, and the oil Thieves by Young Living Essential Oils.

Cold+&+Flu.png



References:

American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine

Saje

Young Living Essential Oils

Chinese Herbal Formulas and Applications by John K Chen and Tina T Chen

Continue Your Journey:

@ladypotions4u on Twitter

@ladypotions4u on Instagram



EPISODE 18 | Fertility Lab Tests Explained in Plain English

Description: Today we will be diving into lab values, and specifically what it means to have a complete fertility workup. I cover what it means when we say a fertility workup, what they test for and why, what is “normal” to empower yourself in a non-judgmental way so you and your support system can figure out a plan of corrective action. We also discuss a semen analysis and the total, whole picture of the markers you would be looking at there. This episode is a great way to dive in with understanding what tests should be done based on your age and how long you have been trying, along with who in your healthcare network would be able to help you run the tests.

Takeaways

[1:17] When we say a complete fertility workup, we also mean having a male workup — your partner — as well.

[7:14] The first step is a comprehensive wellness panel or CBC with add-ons. Second is the semen analysis and third is the complete fertility workup for a woman.

[11:06] Most often the tests will be blood tests, however, some will be urine, diagnostic, and imaging.

[11:39] I break down what a CBC, lipid and metabolic panels are, what they test for, and how to read the different markers.

[14:41] Hypoglycemia is a somewhat common culprit when looking at disruptions in reproduction. Thyroid health is extremely important as well. The TSH and T4 and T3 Uptake are the most looked-at markers in the panel.

[19:57] Vitamin D has a variety of effects on the body, including GI health, skin health, mood, and immunity.

[25:02] The semen analysis; you want to look at the whole picture of total motile sperm, and calculate it using volume, concentration, and motility.

[33:18] High levels of prolactin may affect the ability to ovulate and the regularity of a woman’s menstrual cycle. 

[44:51] I explain the PCOS diet and why this way of eating may be beneficial.

EPISODE 17 | HEART ADVICE WHEN SUFFERING FROM MISCARRIAGE | Permission to Pause with Erin Gray

Permission to Pause

 Advice for what to do when you or someone you love has a miscarriage.

 

Description: Welcome back and happy 2018 to you. I am happy to be back in the new year and to be able to share some insights with you. Today’s episode covers the tough topic of giving yourself permission to pause when you or someone you love is experiencing grief. My lovely co-host Erin Gray and I discuss how we

help ourselves or another through profound loss, specifically a miscarriage. I provide a mini-meditation to open us up to love and warmth, then we share on the topics regarding ritual, things to say and not say to others that are grieving, and how to reach out when you are feeling most alone and isolated. This show is dedicated to all of those who have recently lost someone. You know who you are and we are here for you.

Takeaways

[2:59] I share a little of my experience with loss and grieving during the recent months. We open up discussing the parallels between Alzheimer’s and not really knowing the person, with a miscarriage and others not feeling a connection with a potential life.

[5:42] Understanding and allowing for things to not be okay for a period of time is one of the main key factors to ride through and weather the tough times of loss and grief.

[12:55] We do a quick meditation to help bring in some warmth and light for those suffering a loss, or helping someone else who may be experiencing loss.

[16:24] The stages of grief are: depression, anger, bargaining, denial, and acceptance. It is totally normal to go in and out of these stages very intensely in no particular order, or even block out several of them before feeling them completely.

[24:33] Shame lives in secrets. The more open and authentic one can be with themselves and their loved ones about what they are going through, the easier it is to grieve.

[39:19] Ritual helps us say goodbye, let go, and accommodate a new reality. It is also an opportunity for those grieving to come together and support one another.

[49:12] We discuss the things not to say to someone that is grieving. No spiritual arrogance, minimizing their pain or trying to force another person’s example upon them. It is okay to say nothing, and even admit that you may not know exactly what to say, but you are there to support them.

 

References:

Fertile Minds on LibSyn

Fertile Minds on iTunes

Polishing the Mirror: How to Live from Your Spiritual Heart, by Ram Dass

EPISODE 13 | VAGINAL STEAMS & THE ARVIGO TECHNIQUE | Jen Poll, LMT

Why You Might Want a Steam Bath for your Lady Parts and How Self Abdominal Massage May Help Your Fertility

 

Description: Our guest today is my dear friend, Jen Poll. Jen is a Licensed Massage Therapist in St. Petersburg, Florida. We have a great talk with Jen on the techniques of vaginal steams, abdominal massage, and her inspiration from teachings of Don Elijio Panti and Rosita Arvigo. Steaming and Abdominal Massage can be a great way for women to maintain and achieve uterine health, to reconnect with their own body and reclaim any power they may have previously surrendered. We cover what a vaginal steam is, and why a woman may want to steam her lady parts. The massage and steam can be as ritualized as you want or can be a scheduled simple self-care technique. We also cover what to expect during the process and situations where you may want to wait before jumping in.

Takeaways

[:49] Jen is a Licensed massage therapist in St. Petersburg, Florida. In 2008, Jen traveled to the Pacific Northwest to train as a practitioner of The Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy. Having personally benefited from the techniques, Jen was eager to learn the work and share this ancient healing with others. I had the pleasure of working with Jen in a previous practice so I know first hand the transformative work she provides as I’ve referred countless patients and even been a client myself.

[3:22] Jen was having bad cramps and was working with a skilled midwife Anne Hirsch, who suggested the Arvigo massage to help alleviate some of her symptoms. She felt great relief and wanted to learn more so she could help women in all phases of life, from preconception to menopause; her passion is empowering women through transformative bodywork.

[6:41] They do a lot of work structurally and work with nerves to make sure all the ligaments are open and free so the body can do its job of maintaining balance and homeostasis within.

[12:21] Men can benefit as well, and it helps with prostate health to release congestion and blockages.

[16:03] One of the reasons we know about this work is based off the work of Don Elijio Panti and Rosita Arvigo. Jen explains how each of them carved a path for healing and didn’t give up despite many challenges and setbacks.

[21:35] The massage can be a great complement to other elements, including herbs and IVF. It can help women reconnect with themselves and partners.

[23:25] All about vaginal steams! Vaginal steam is used commonly in places like Korea and Central America. Please DO NOT use essential oils as they can burn the delicate skin of the vagina. The idea is to extract the oils safely out of the dried or fresh herbs during the steam.

[26:35] Jen explains why she uses a unit now with her clients, and during what time of the cycle it’s best to steam.

[28:56] There are many amazing herbs that can be put together for the steam, and it is important to go over each option with a trusted professional.

[29:40] Do NOT do the vaginal steam if there is a chance you are pregnant, during menstruation or an excessively heavy period.

[32:08] Focusing on the woman’s health is the safety net and most important investment.

[36:59] Post birth, it is a great practice for toning the pelvic floor and Jen recommends waiting at least 6-8 weeks.

[44:07] The uterus may retreat and hide due to stress, trauma, and age. In Chinese medicine, they call the uterus one of the “curious organs.” They can empty and fill at will and can be an outside indicator of what’s going on inside the body.

[47:48] One of the most important things we can do is love, trust, and support our own bodies.

How to Perform a DIY Vaginal Steam from the Maya Tradition or ATMAT

About five years ago a group of my friends facebook messaged me dying with laughter over an article they had found on vaginal steams asking me if this was legit? I had a chuckle because it was rather common place to me and I had forgotten about the shock value at first blush with it because I prescribed it so often in my fertility practice AND because I had such high regard for the Mayan Tradition. Long story short- I educated them all with some jokes here and there and I believe most of them have tried it by now with glowing comments like,

"It's actually quite nice."

"Who knew my lady parts deserved a facial."

and, "Why have I never heard of this?"

Recently, I sat down with Jen Poll LMT and registered Arvigo practitioner and we did an hour long podcast on all things in the Maya Tradition taught by Rosita Arvigo. Listen here to hear more about Vaginal Steaming, the difference between Maya Abdominal Massage and Fertility Massage and other techniques this heritage incorporates like castor oil packs and dietary therapy. Here are the basics on a  long overdue instructional blog post on how to DIY a vaginal steam.

Why To Do a V- Steam

  • To potentially increase your fertility both naturally or with IVF (consult an Arvigo practitioner for best times during an IVF cycle)

  • Increase cervical fluids and eliminate dryness

  • To nourish and tonify the uterine lining

  • To potentially regulate an erratic cycle

  • To release any energetic attachments to past lovers or hurts that may be a blockage in your womb

  • As a natural way to assist the body in naturally dissolving ovarian cysts or small fibroids

When To V-Steam

  • For preventative care – 1 week before the 1st day of bleeding.

  • For cysts, prolapse, pelvic pain, fibroids, endometriosis– 2 – 4 x a week

  • After a DNC or miscarriage – wait 3 weeks; make sure there is no infection prior to steaming.

  • Post delivery, wait 6-8 weeks, making sure you are not bleeding and there is no infection

  • If trying to conceive TTC, perform after period ends or before fertile window starts

  • At end of your period as a way to ritualize this monthly flow and make friends with your body

When Not To V-Steam

  • If there is any chance you are pregnant; if trying to conceive TTC, perform after period ends or before fertile window starts

  • When infection is present

  • If there are symptoms of damp heat in the pelvis, vagina or colon i.e. vaginal infection, candida, yeast infection, bacterial infection, active herpes outbreak

  • IUD- most are metal and could conduct heat and burn you

  • During menstruation- We want everything to come out, not in

  • If your periods are excessively heavy- having to change a pad, tampon or cup more than every two hours

Herbs to Consider Using For Vaginal Steam

  • Herbs that have an affinity for the urinary and reproductive organs; Red Raspberry Leaf, Juniper, Motherwort, Peony and Dong Quai/Tang Kuei, and Mugwort leaf

  • Herbs that move blood like  rosemary or Hong Hua for cramping, endometriosis or fibroids

  • Herbs that clear dampness like Pau’darco, Sarsparilla, or dandelion root for chronic conditions like cysts, non pathological cervical discharge

  • Herbs that contain volatile oils; Basil, Oregano, Lavender, Rosemary, Marigold, Garden Sage, Peppermint and Lemon Balm.

  • Herbs that are astringent or tonifying for conditions like hemmroids or prolapse; Witch Hazel, Yarrow, Cedar Berries, Rose and Juniper.

  • Traditional herbs the Maya use are dried basil, Calendula, Oregano, Yarrow and Lemon Balm. 

  • Herbs to avoid if you have sensitivity to Estrogen are Red clover, Dong Quai also known as Tang Kuei

  • Available for purchase here  https://www.arvigotherapy.com/rainforest/products3?tid=24

  • Individual herbs available for purchase at www.starwest-botanicals.com

  • If you are a patient for Hillary Talbott Roland DOM, FABORM at Art of Acupuncture or Virtually consult her for the best herbs and times related to your specific situation.

How To Steam Without a Special Chair (using your toilet or slatted chair)

  • Things you will need- toilet or slatted chair, 1-2 blankets made from natural fibers if possibly, socks or slippers, a stainless steel pot, a large ceramic or pyrex bowl to but the herbs into, your choice of herbal blend, and preferably an hour of alone time or quiet

  1. In a medium to large pot place chosen herbs (about 0.5-1 cup of dried herbs) and approximately 8 cups of preferably purified water into a vessel

  2. While putting herbs into pot, if you feel called to- clearly state your intentions for these healing herbs, say a prayer, or enter a state of pure mindfulness. This was a very ritualized practice in the Maya tradition where this was normal place, however, it is not a must for it to work so go with your instincts and what feels right for you.

  3. Bring water and herbs to a slow boil for about a 5 minutes, place lid on pot and bring down to a low simmer and allow herbs to steep for another 5-10 minutes with the lid on to contain most of the essential oils. 

  4. Place a ceramic or stainless steel bowl under a slatted chair or snuggly under the toilet seat

  5. Pour half of the water/herb mixture into the bowl. Replace lid on remaining mixture in pan and leave on stove top on low simmer.

  6. Wave your forearm above the herbal water and make sure the steam isn't too hot so you do not burn your lady parts. Do not sit down until the steam is comfortable for you. There is no prize for who can sit on the hottest pot!

  7. Remove your underwear and sit on the seat above the steaming water. 

  8. Cover your entire lower half to the ground with a blanket, sort of making a tent to keep the steam in.

  9. Make sure you are warm, socks, blanket around upper half of you if you aren't in a tropical climate

  10. You should feel warm, rolling heat for about 10 min. Try and be mindful during this time, simply observing how it feels to give yourself the gift of self care and quiet reflection without judgement.

  11. When the steam dies down dump the water mixture into the toilet or sink and repeat with the rest of the mixture starting at step 5. Don't forget to retest the heat before you sit!

If you can continue the gift of self care after this age old tradition, maybe give yourself permission to take a nap, read a yummy book or do something outside helping you to stay grounded while enjoying more of mother nature's special gifts. 

 

Continue Your Journey:

Dr. Rosita Arvigo

Jennifer Poll Website

Arvigo Therapy

Star West Botanicals

ThankYou-Mama.com

EPISODE 8 | DO YOUR LADY PARTS NEED A COACH? | Mary Ellen Kramp, PT

Understanding the role physical therapy can have in treating infertility.

Today I am here with Mary Ellen Kramp, Physical Therapy Specialist as well as a technician in craniosacral therapy, lymphatic drainage, and visceral manipulation. We have a lively and in-depth talk on the importance of structural integration when you are trying to get pregnant, as well as during pregnancy, and then my favorite part of this topic, what you can do for yourself postpartum. Mary Ellen’s gentle approach has helped many women with issues both during pregnancy and postpartum. It’s rare that women get referred for physical therapy related to fertility issues, but Mary Ellen works hard to change any stigma, open up a dialogue, and be an advocate for the benefits and health-related gains of seeing either her or a practitioner with a similar approach. Finally, we talk with her about self-care being one of the most important things you can do for yourself, your partner, and your baby, along with her advice for those trying to have a baby.



Takeaways

[2:15] Mary Ellen gives the background of her becoming a physical therapist. Both she and I are nerds at heart with a love for the human body and healing! She ended up getting a reputation as the person to see when no one could figure out what was going on with them.

[5:20] The normal fertility rate is 57% of couples trying by 3 months will become pregnant, and her results were bringing people up to the average.

[9:27] Mary Ellen raised therapy guide dogs and now there are puppies at her office!

[11:49] Mary Ellen takes a very gentle, yet effective, approach to physical therapy for infertility. She looks for trigger points, muscular and structural issues, and acts as a catalyst to get the body to release what it does not need.

[16:21] Mary Ellen looks at both the pelvic muscles to see if there is anything to be released and then next the lymphatic system. The lymph system and fascia are both two crucial elements often overlooked when it comes to fertility and women’s health.

[20:43] She often treats women during pregnancy around week 36 to help prevent birth trauma. Some need just one appointment, and some need more frequent treatment.

[24:05] Postpartum work is super important to help a plethora of issues that women may think they are stuck with for the rest of their life.

[34:46] Women in France take a few weeks after giving birth to get physical therapy for their pelvic floor walls.

[37:29] Mary Ellen and I both stress the importance of self-care after giving birth.

[39:36] Her one piece of advice for women trying to get pregnant: there is so much more than just Western Medicine. You have to do what you need to become pregnant, but keep an open mind to the body/mind connection and “alternative” treatments.

[42:10] With some women who have abuse and trauma in their past, their pelvic floor holds a lot of tension. Usually, it helps to deal with the emotional portion first, and then it will help to unblock the head and the heart. Then a physical worker can help clear some of the trauma.

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Special thanks to Dr. Frank Netter for spending his life creating such amazing anatomy drawings for geeks like me!

 

Continue Your Journey:

NCCAOM.Org

American Herbalist Guild 

Atlas of Human Anatomy

Pelvichealthresearch.org 

Mechanicalinfertilitystudy.com

Reliefathand.com

EPISODE 4 | DOING VS BEING | Erin Gray, LCMHC

I had the pleasure of working with today’s guest, Erin Gray, in a previous practice and fell in love with her unique style and impressive skill set. She can unravel problems and focus on the root of the issue by working with the patient in partnership with their energetic and emotional body. She helps women everywhere gain clarity and insight along their process towards wellness. Today’s episode is all about doing vs. being and the false notions that we are lazy or passive when we receive. Our generation has been raised to be goal-oriented and to go after what we want, whether it’s a law degree or a new car. While being independent is great and what the culture values, infertility is way different and it’s important to value receiving to get pregnant and stay pregnant. There's power in learning how to lean into doing things for the purpose of feeling good rather than to achieve a specific result. Finally, Erin and I give some tips for self-care that hopefully will provide listeners with a feeling of hope, relaxation, and gratitude.

“You have a right to perform your prescribed duties, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your actions. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, nor be attached to inaction.”

— BHAGAVAD GITA CHAPTER 2 VERSE 47

“We are talking about divine timing. That is absolutely not the same thing as setting and achieving a goal.”

— ERIN GRAY

Takeaways:

[7:15] Today’s episode is specifically on doing vs. being. Doing is masculine, directive, and action-oriented. Being is subtle and feminine and receptive.

[10:54] Learning how to receive can be uncomfortable and a foreign experience. You are not alone and many women wonder what’s wrong with them or what else they can do.

[17:42] It is normal to feel frustrated or sad when what you are hoping for doesn’t happen right away. Many times it’s between 3-5 months before the feeling kicks in for most women who are trying to conceive.

[21:23] We introduce the pleasure principle of women learning how to have joy and kindness to themselves and to listen to what their body is telling them.

[24:42] Some self-care activities that are free (mostly) include: reading a nice book, journaling, taking a relaxing bath, and meditating.

[29:45] Learning to be alone is one of the most important gifts you can give yourself and the loved ones around you.

 

Continue Your Journey:

Erin Gray

Pussy: A Reclamatio

“Your willingness dictates the pace. Instead of just giving you the answers, a great healer helps you find yourself.”

— HILLARY TALBOTT

About Erin:

Erin M. Gray is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and a Licensed Massage Therapist. She graduated from Nova Southeastern University with a Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling and from Bhakti Academe School of Intuitive Massage and Healing with a diploma and certifications in Level V Bhakti Massage and Bhakti Energy Work. She is also certified as a Level I Aromatherapy Practitioner.

EPISODE 2 | ORGANIC CONCEPTIONS | A Fertility Course That Teaches You How To Surrender

“Sometimes the struggle is the gift and the door closing is leading you somewhere else.”

BELIEVING & TRUSTING FOR ORGANIC CONCEPTIONS

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. in today's interview they share the primary goals of Organic Conceptions, primary expectations that arise during a fertility journey 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.

Takeaways:

[2:40] I share the impressive backgrounds and bios of Dr. Kate Webster and Erin and Marc Sherman.

[7:05] 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.

[8:00] Depending on the statistics, between 1-in-6 and 1-in-8 couples struggles with infertility.

[16:09] They combine influences from biological, emotional, psychological, and sociological models.

[22:03] 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.

[26:29] Every story culminated into three chapters and nine transitions: The conception of doubt, couples losing patience, and surrender into life.

[29:23] 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.

[34:30] The stages in the surrender into life chapter: rawness, reaching forward and uniting together, renewal. 

[36:40] More than one third of women have pre-conceived doubt about their reproductive abilities before they even try get pregnant.

[44:40] It’s difficult for young women today to try and fit in a career, marriage, and family goals all in one decade.

[55:28] We hear the difference of mal-adaptive vs adaptive coping.

[56:49] Surrendering does not mean just relaxing or giving up on a dream for parenthood. 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.

[69:15] Every listener gets a free PDF and a monetary discount. They are coming out with a workbook shortly as well.

- Self discovery audio program for couples designed to improve your emotional health and well-being through a fertility journey. 

- Purchase includes the CD Box Set  which contains the Audio CD's, Custom CD Case, Writing Journal and Pen.

- You will also have 12 months access to the complete on-line audio of the Journey to Parenthood and Beyond where you can listen anytime, anywhere. 

- It is highly suggested that you do this program together, as a couple.

“We have a tendency to … leap to conclusions rather than trying to reframe it.”

 

Continue Your Journey:

Organic Conceptions

You are the Placebo

“So often we are held hostage by our beliefs, but we can change our minds. What we think may not always be true.”