Endometriosis and infertility
Tell us about your work with women going through Endometriosis .
I spent well over 20 years helping over 10,000 infertile women have babies as a reproductive acupuncturist. About a third of my patients had Endometriosis. As someone with MS, I have been acutely interested in the likelihood of Endometriosis being or having autoimmune characteristics. I found that by treating it “as if it were an autoimmune condition allowed me to get exponentially better results.
What are some of the early signs of having Endometriosis and what’s the earliest age you have treated in the past?
As an acupuncturist by training, I am looking beyond what is diagnosable, and working to identify the underlying causes and habits that are contributing to the symptoms that are presenting. I treated hundreds of teenaged girls with whom I felt certain would develop Endometriosis without intervention. They presented with significant inflammation and menstrual pain that wasn’t well addressed with pharmaceuticals.
Why is infertility a common consequence?
It is funny because we often think of fertility as binary. You are either fertile or infertile, when in fact, your fertility exists on a spectrum. People with Endometriosis will often have many factors that can undermine fertility outcomes even though none of them may be “causes of infertility”. Of course, scar tissue blocking the opening to the cervix or to the fallopian tubes will significantly impair your fertility, but inflammation, heavy, clotty bleeding, irregular, short or painful periods are all correlated to longer times to conception. If we approach all of these as symptoms caused by underlying issues, and fix those issues, we can significantly impact her ability to both get and stay pregnant.
What role do hormones play in impacting fertility and why is it important to balance them?
I always loathe the conversation about “hormone balance” because it is so high level. When we don’t have clarity about exactly what symptoms are presenting, and the underlying causes of them, we wont have any ability to address and correct them. This leaves people hopelessly trying everything and not getting any improvement in their ability to get and stay pregnant. It is less important to balance the hormones and more important to look at every aspect of the menstrual cycle, her habits, diet, exercise and temperatures, figure out what is going on and then fix that.
What are some diet or lifestyle changes that can be made to help Endometriosis when trying to get pregnant?
There are 2 answers to this question. 1. The research is clear that eating as many anti inflammatory foods as possible and reducing the inflammatory foods is critical. Also, because I believe that Endometriosis is an autoimmune disease, I alway recommend identifying any food sensitivities ( I use the Everylywell.com home test) and removing those foods from her diet. If you have an autoimmune condition and you are eating foods that you are producing an immune response to, you will really struggle to get on top of the disease. What foods are good for fertility? There aren’t any really! There just isn’t a magic bullet. I wish there was, but apart from eating a super clean and healthy diet, you need to identify the issues, their underlying causes and eat to support those problems. When you do that you get exponentially healthier, feel better and the natural side effect is that your period and fertility get significantly better. In our study, we found that women using this system had a 260% increase in natural fertility in diagnosed infertile women.
What are other natural ways you recommend to help support fertility?
Track everything. Your cycle, symptoms, habits, exercise and find the patterns. If you need help you can read my book, Seeing Red and work on your mindset. Your mind is probably the most important and impactful tool you have to change your life and your health. Read Joe Dispenza’s book, Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself for a playbook to do this. If you have really bad menstrual pain and PMS, use Brazen’s formulas to improve them in addition to improving your habits as both are highly correlated with longer times to conception. By addressing the underlying causes of menstrual issues you can really make an impact on your cycle and fertility.
What tips would you give to a couple so they can support each other in this journey?
The most important thing is getting aligned on what you both really want. I have worked with so many couples who actually didn’t want the same thing and it caused so much conflict and suffering. Then becoming a master at communicating from your own experience and avoiding blaming. Most people can hear and empathize with anyone who is sharing their own personal struggles. They can be fully supportive when the other person is able to take responsibility for their feelings and experience. When we get into stressful situations, we often regress into bad habits of blaming and criticizing the other which can often lead to catastrophic outcomes for couples.