5 Things That Affect Your Fertility + Hormone Health
Fertility and hormonal health is not a conversation topic strictly for those looking to get pregnant (or those not looking to get pregnant). In fact, as any woman seeking to live a long, vibrant, healthy life, nothing could be farther from the truth. Doctors, doulas, and practitioners in women's health are leading the charge to help us become aware of our bodies and use them as tools in productivity, creativity, joy, adventure, and romance— at every stage of our womanhood.
Last Wednesday, we cleared our HQ space and packed the house with women of all ages, eager to understand more about their fertility. Leading the dynamic panel was Aviva Romm, Yale-graduated MD, herbalist, and midwife; and Aimee Raupp, acupuncturist, herbalist and author of 3 books, including "Yes, You Can Get Pregnant". Read on for their powerful soundbites on hormonal birth control, celebrating the aging process, critical supplements if you want to become pregnant and how to stop living in "survival mode".
1. Birth Control
Birth control, though a victory for women empowerment and a milestone in the sexual liberation movement, is handed out like tic-tacs when any range of hormonal issues arise, regardless if the goal is to avoid pregnancy. The reality is that the synthetic hormones suppress your body's own rhythm and synchronicity, leaving it completely at odds with itself once you get off the Pill. Though we must acknowledge that women fought long and hard for contraceptives, the barrier method may be best for women dealing with autoimmune or hormonal issues, according to Amy Raupp. Hormonal contraceptives can change your insulin levels and blood sugar, and can take months, even years from the time you're off to get your body back in sync and in the flow of all four phases of your cycle. Cycle syncing also provides the opportunity to understand and pay attention to each phase of the month (we love apps like MyFlo or products like The Daysy) and understand the small window when you actually can conceive. Each phase in your cycle — follicular, ovulatory, luteal, and menstrual— allows us to tap in and by learning how to eat, live and thrive in each phase, we will become the most incredible bio-hackers on the planet.
Both Aviva and Amy ask their patients a simple question, "how do you WANT to feel?" So often, we come from a place of avoidance and fear, and run from what we don't want— and in society, that often includes getting older. But what if we held different perspectives, like Ancient Chinese Culture, who revere the aging process and celebrate wisdom, confidence, assuredness, experiences and (yes) maybe some wrinkles...? In Wednesday's panel, Aimee and Dr. Romm were earnest about our current culture's placement of fear around fertility + "ticking clocks;" both experts assured us that when we learn to remain flexible both in mind and body, time is more on your side than you think.
3. Estrogen + Chemicals
We come into contact with hundreds of chemicals every day— through conventional beauty products, household items, street fumes, air pollution, etc... and our bodies react to by translating much of those chemicals into xenoestrogens, throwing our whole endocrine systems out of balance. A large part in combatting this is using food as medicine and turning to organic, non-GMO, alkaline, high-quality plants. By eating clean, unprocessed, hydrating foods, you're promoting hormone balance, anti-inflammation, a thriving microbiome and long-term vitality. Remember that egg and sperm quality is only an extension of your full-picture health.
4. Love Your Mitochondria
In remedial biology, we learned that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. Our ovaries are made up of thousands of mitochondria and to "juice them up" as Dr. Romm explained, there are critical supplements + probiotic strains that can help your body enter its most fertile, hormonally-balanced state. Dr. Romm suggests omega-3 rich cod liver oil, magnesium, CoQ10, L-carnitine + clomiphene, as well as the strains Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacllus reuteri. Aimee Raupp, well-versed in Chinese medicine, suggests upping your Jing or essence by drinking high quality bone broth. These supplements and healing practices create a thriving environment for a future baby. Our co-founder, Danielle, mentioned that Dr. Romm told her to treat her body like it was pregnant 3 months before she started trying to conceive. In this way, she could align physically, spiritually, and emotionally to prepare for the transformation.
5. The Mental Game
In taking care of your psycho-neuro-endocrine axis, a huge piece of the puzzle is healing your mind. As women, our thoughts, what we take in, and the burdens we choose to bear, are a part of our story and journey to becoming pregnant. Dr. Romm and Aimee see an alarming trend of women stuck in "survival" mode, putting an emphasis on "stress", while saying yes to everything and everyone. This constant juggling, failing, and guilt-tripping results in our bodies seeking everything but creating life; we must remember that our body's are acutely aware of when the Mother is in her most peaceful, thriving, healing place, and that's when babies are made.
Our bodies don't fall deaf to our thoughts; that emotional hostility can easily translate into cellular hostility. Creating a calming evening routine can help heal our adrenals -- and having a list of favorite wind-down practices handy is helpful so that the "default" isn't always wine and chocolate (Dr. Romm's is watching old Soul Train videos). Lastly, understanding that if you're having autoimmune issues, health issues, digestive issues, etc.... you may also be attacking yourself on an emotional level.
Throughout the evening, beyond any prescriptive advice on what to eat, what books to pick up or what to ask your OBGYN, this last message became clear: the ultimate way to create a safe space for your body and any potential new life, begins with your thoughts. How are you taking care of your spirit, your mind, your soul? Remember always, #thoughtstothings.