A question about estrogen and progesterone

November 2nd, 2010
In your book you mention that a normal luteal phase is 12-18 days.
My luteal phases are usually 12-14 days; however my
follicular phases are extremely long, as high as 65 days.
Often practitioners prescribe progesterone creams/supplementation
for estrogen dominance.  Is there a way to shorten my follicular
phase (and in turn my cycle length), without using progesterone
cream?  I am hesitant to take a hormone, especially since my
luteal phase is a normal length.  Thank you!  Your book is
wonderful!  I learned SO much from it, and reference it
all the time.
I salute your clear description of your situation and your clear
question. To encourage more balance between estrogen and
progesterone,you can experiment with reducing or eliminating soy, sugar,
white flour, caffeine, food that is grown with pesticides and/or
antibiotics and/or genetic modification. These things contribute to
estrogen dominance.  You can experiment with enjoying high quality cod
liver oil and organic butter, and full fat(whole milk) unsweetened
yogurt and cheese. Bone broths are great if the chicken, lamb or fish
are organic and wild. These things provide vitamins A and D, which are
necessary for hormone production. You can also experiment with the night
lighting techniques that I describe in my book.
  Exercise is important. You want to get circulation going through your
whole body including your uterus every day or every other day.
  While I know of no studies about this, I am also encouraging women to
experiment with decreasing their exposure to microwave radiation. This
means decreasing or eliminating your use of mobile phones or WI-FI. At
least, turn these devices off at night while you sleep. Unplug(don't
just turn off) electrical devices while you sleep.

A question about veganism and cycles

November 2nd, 2010
My answer is below. Enjoy!

I've been reading The Garden of Fertility since I have been suffering from
6 week to 2 month long bleeding cycles over the last 6 months with
temperatures in the 97's. I'm 22, vegan, and have been off the pill since
December. So far I have learned a ton from the book, and am going to start
the steps suggested (blocking out light from my bedroom, eliminating soy
and plastics, etc). I am seeing a Naturopath and am scheduled to receive a
hormone panel and an ultrasound of my uterus to look for fibroids. For
ethical reasons, I am not willing to give up my vegan diet. Can you
suggest any other resources for veganism and reproductive health?

I do take vitamin supplements (iron, vitamin b, a multi, and I am
beginning to introduce calcium and vitamin d) and feel great besides my prolonged
bleeding.

Obviously, there is so much going in my life/environment/diet/cycle that I
can't summarize it into this e-mail, but I would definitely appreciate any
more information about veganism that could help me.
Here's what I understand: the human body cannot manufacture hormones
without vitamins A and D. Both of these vitamins are only available from
animal sources. Beta Carotene requires the body to convert it into vitamin
A and compromised bodies have trouble making that conversion. If you want
sufficient vitamin D from sunlight, I have read that you need to be naked
at noon and at a latitude that gets a lot of sun.

I am also recommending now that women experiment with eliminating or
drastically decreasing their use of wireless devices to encourage better
health.

FA needed in India

June 6th, 2010
My answer follows the question below:

I hail from India and came across the book 'Taking Charge of your
Fertility' when my Husband and I were in the US on an assignment.We were
newly married and I was so impressed with the fact that so much of
information is available , that I started researching more on these topics
and came across your webpage
http://www.gardenoffertility.com/.Thewebsites/books were very useful
for us when we planned to start a family and
I am pregnant and in my Third Trimester now.

   We are back in India now and I have noticed one strange thing here.I can
say that the information I gleaned in the US has opened my eyes and I have
ben able to realize how unaware couples are.They get married,plan to have a
child 2 years later and try for a few months. If they don't succeed,they
straight away get dejected and assume that they are infertile.Not to mention
the help other people in the family/friends circle give to improve on their
dejection by saying that its too late to start a family etc!!!

  In India,infertility has almost become a business.In the sense,there are
 innumerable organizations and small scale hospitals where childless couples
go and pay huge sums of money to try out IUI,IVF methods etc.In the end when
they don't succeed,it ends up in divorce,family problems etc.(Of course the
good ones are there too for people who really need treatment)

  One major need in India is counseling. Couples, especially the woman needs
to be aware of her own body.I have noticed many of my friends not believing
in themselves but believing in doctors who do not take a case history or
suggest natural ways of conception to the couple first before trying out
other methods to conceive.The doctors take advantage of the state of mind of
the couple and charge them left and right which they innocently pay and
complicate their lives when a normal knowledge of their own bodies would
have helped them conceive.

  I have been wondering for quite sometime,on the need for counseling and
spreading awareness in India and on the need for women to understand their
own body.Talking about all this is Taboo in India and this is another
disadvantage when I try to start a conversation on awareness with a
childless couple.It would be great if you can help me on this in any way.Any
websites,books which you can suggest would be helpful.I want to equip myself
with as much information as is possible before starting something.
Also if there are any online courses I can take on this,please let me know.

  Hope I haven't bored you with a lengthy email ;-)  Do respond to me when
you are free.Thank You.

Thank you for your observations and insights about what's going on in India.
I think your description would fit many places in the world, including the
United States. The first necessary step is helping women learn how much
information their menstrual cycles give about their over-all health and their
reproductive health. I like to say that I advocate for the menstrual cycle. I
want to see healthy menstrual cycles, and this requires that every woman have
the support she needs to eat well and exercise and rest often.  It means that
women aren't exposed to pesticides, pharmaceuticals, or microwave radiation from
cell phones, Wi-Fi and antennas. This all sounds pretty, but living this way on
planet earth in 2010 may actually be impossible.
  Let me recommend my books to you: The Garden of Fertility and Honoring Our Cycles.
Both of them have information (that Toni's books do not include) about night-lighting
techniques, traditional remedies for strengthening the menstrual cycle, Fertility
Awareness while breastfeeding and how your chart can serve as an introductory gauge
of your gynecological health. Honoring Our Cycles is written in simple English. The
Garden is much longer. I think you would get a lot from both of those books. I can also
recommend that you buy my study guide for people who want to teach fertility awareness.

http://www.gardenoffertility.com/teaching.shtml

 Last, a group of African women asked me to describe how the menstrual cycle is affected
by female genital mutilation. The drawings and glossary might be very people to women in
India. You can see them:

http://www.gardenoffertility.com/hoc.shtml

If you'd like a copy of the booklet, I could send it to you for $35 U.S. I could receive
the payment to orders@gardenoffertility.com. You would then have to e-mail your address
to me at katie@katiesinger.com. The Garden of Fertility and Honoring Our Cycles should be
available online.
Very best of luck to you,
Katie Singer
Attachments:

An interesting question about menstrual cycle health.

June 2nd, 2010
My response follows the question. Enjoy!

Hi Katie,

I wanted to write this morning and ask your advice on problems I have been
having with my cycles. 

I am 26, almost 27, and I'm having trouble with my cycles. I don't smoke,
have never had an abortion, and have no known gynae problems. My husband and
I decided that we were ready to start trying to conceive last April (2009),
so went to see my GP (general practitioner - we're in New Zealand!). My GP
recommended I come off of the pill, and gave me a pamphlet on Fertility
Awareness. I had been on a second generation pill, because I had had trouble
with my skin as a teenager. I had been on it since I was 16, but still I
assumed that everything would resume as normal when I came off of the pill.
That said, I have no real idea what my cycles were like before I went on the
pill. I don't remember ever paying much attention to them. 

Around the same time, I started a course with a pro-Weston A Price
nutritionist. I started eating this way and found that its really natural
for us. I have basically stuck as close to their principles as possible
since then - I make our own breads (mostly sourdough), eat home made
sauerkraut and kimchi, take cod liver oil, and we drink raw milk. I do my
best to soak our grains (though occasionally don't get there). We live in
the country, so we have our own free-range chickens, and because my husband
hunts, 80 percent of our meat is wild game. I also stopped drinking coffee,
and started avoiding sugar, though it does sneak in a bit, in the forms of
sauces, chutneys, chocolate and home baking.

It was also around this time that I came across your article in Nourishing
Traditions, and looked forward to using Fertility Awareness to track my
cycles. I was so excited about regaining what felt like my natural birth
right that I had been rejecting, without even being aware of it.

However, initially, my cycles did not return. I didn't have a period until
October. In October, I woke up one night and discovered that the phone
beside our bed was casting a light strong enough that I could see my hand. I
removed this, and three days later began bleeding.

Following this, I decided that night-lighting was clearly the way to go to
help regulate my cycles and to help us conceive. That said, it felt
unnatural to me to artificially light when we lived in the country, where
there is very little light around. So I left us in complete darkness, until
the time of the full-moon, when we opened the curtains. While this was a
long way into my cycle (Day 31) I ovulated, and then conceived.

I miscarried in December, at 6 weeks. Following the miscarriage, my husband
and I decided that waiting a few months was a good idea, as we were both
pretty upset. So we did, using condoms to prevent pregnancy. 

At first, my cycles returned, mostly normal. While I didn't really have a
period bleed with the miscarriage, two weeks later, though it was the dark
of the moon, I found myself at a friends house sleeping under a street
light. I ovulated (with lots and  lots of fertile mucus), and though my
luteal phase was short, my period followed normally.  In January I was away
from home, and slept under light right after my temperature rise, which came
on day 21.Though my temperatures were more erratic then the last time, I
ovulated with still some, though slightly less, fertile mucus and my luteal
phase was 11 days. I bled on the full moon. In February, though, I was at
home, and so instead of artificial lighting, I slept in complete darkness
until the full moon, four weeks later. I ovulated on Day 17, folowing 4 days
of scant egg white mucus. I bled two days after the full moon shinign in our
windows. My luteal phase was 12 days. In March, I didn't ovulate, and the
full moon brought on light, spotty, bleeding. The following cycle (April)
was short - I ovulated on day 14, (though with practically no show of
fertile mucus) and had the heaviest period I have had yet, with lots of
cramping and crying. I bled just before the full moon, and so left the
curtains shut. I have come to think that maybe I should just be sleeping in
darkness because my cycles are so out of kilter. This cycle, I have come
close to ovulating. I had a show of Fertile-quality mucus, though not a lot,
and my cervix softened and rose. But there had been no long temperature peak
- my temps have been all over the place. I am now at day 23, and have only
had creamy mucus for a few days.

When my ovulation stopped again in March, I considered my lifestyle, and
what I may have been doing to cause this. While I was continuing with our
traditional way of eating, and regular infusions of nettle tea, I had also
been drinking much more alcohol then in the six months previously. I had had
a few hangovers after large weekend nights. So I decided to stop drinking
again, but completely this time, and see if this helped. With the resumption
of my period in April, I felt like this was the right choice, even though it
was a difficult one to make. I enjoy wine, and think it is a natural partner
with good food and good company. So I miss being able to share the pleasure
of it in our lives, though going to the effort of forming new habits is
worth it if it helps strengthen my cycles and health. But now, this cycle, I
haven't ovulated again, and I feel frustrated and quite helpless. Why bother
stopping id it doesn't make any odds? In your opinion, how much of an effect
does social drinking have on fertility?

While we had been waiting to try for another pregnancy following the
miscarriage, we are both now ready, and not been using any protection since
March. I feel like by waiting, we have missed our chance somehow - as my
cycles have become increasingly irregular. Like I ignored the clear signs of
fertility following the miscarriage, and now they have slipped away. I'm
sure that sounds silly, since it's only been a couple of months, but it's
now been a year since we decided it was the right time for us to have a
baby.

Anyway, I know you're busy, but I'd love to know what you think -
particularly about the night-lighting. I am happy to try lighting mid-cycle,
but I do feel like introducing artificial light, when the moon is available
to shine in our windows, is somehow not right. i also worry that if I get
pregnant lighting artificially,  I would need to continue this monthly
lighting throughout the pregnancy - so that my internal rhythms would know
another month had passed.

Also, I have been taking nettle infusion, from local nettles. I've ordered
Susan Weed's book 'The Child Bearing Year' and will consider her advice on
other herbal remedies. Do you think this is a good idea, or something worth
exploring?

Thank you Katie.
**********
I salute you your goal of restoring the health of your menstrual cycles.
I've learned over the years that the menstrual cycle cannot be controlled.
We can nourish and support it, but it often doesn't go in the way we think
it should. We need to be gentle and patient with ourselves.

Given that you were on the Pill for so many years, the cycles you describe
sound pretty good to me. It also sounds wise to continue experimenting
with nightlighting as your intuition directs you, and to quit alcohol
consumption all together.

I am also suggesting at this point that people experiment with cutting
back on their use of mobile phones and WiFi. At least, turn the WiFi off
while you sleep and keep all electric appliances (including phones and
clocks) at least ten feet from your head. Unplug the devices while you
sleep  if you can. Try this for a few months and see if you notice a
difference.

Very best,

Katie Singer

Does pre-ejaculate contain sperm?

June 2nd, 2010
My answer follows the question below.
Hi Katie,

I'm not sure if you're still updating your website Garden of Fertility.

If you are, I'd just like to draw your attention to the "Test Your Fertility IQ"
page here:
http://www.gardenoffertility.com/iq.shtml

At #8 you have put the following:

8. Pre-ejaculate contains enough sperm to cause a pregnancy
          or HIV. True or False. 

          A: True.

I'm wondering if you still hold true with this? I have found some other links that
say otherwise:

http://kinseyconfidential.org/can-you-get-pregnant-from-pre-cum/
http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/birth-control/withdrawal-pull-out-method-4218.htm

Just would like to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for your question. I see that several studies now show that

pre-ejaculate does not contain sperm UNLESS the man recently ejaculated

but has not urinated since the first ejaculation. I don't know what

current studies say about whether HIV can be transmitted by

pre-ejaculate.

I figure that these questions are relevant to people who want to use

withdrawal to prevent pregnancy. It still seems risky as a method of

preventing pregnancy.I would not recommend it unless the woman is having

an undoubtedly infertile day.

Best,

Katie Singer

Short Cycles, Diet, and Ovulation

December 17th, 2009

Hi Katie,   I do my best to eat a Weston A. Price nutrient-rich diet with grass-fed  butter, raw milk and cheese, pasture-raised meats, etc.  My cycle has been  a pretty consistent 23-25 days long for the past year, and my two most  recent cycles have been just 20 days long.  Do you have any ideas what  that might mean?  Or anything I can do/eat to try to get back on track  (closer to 28 days)?  I am going to start charting my cycle and see if that tells me anything.  I’m 30 years old and not planning to have  children anytime soon, but I do care about my reproductive health and hope  to have children in the future.   Thanks for all your good work on these topics!

*******

Katie responds:

You need to chart and learn whether you are ovulating or not. Often, short cycles mean that estrogen dominates progesterone in your reproductive system. You need to decrease things that lead to estrogen dominance. More on this subject is discussed in this blog.

I can’t tell from the diet you describe if you include caffeine, sugar, white flour, or soy, but if you do, be sure to decrease them.  Try adding cod liver oil and the night-lighting technique that I describe in my book.  Best of luck,  Katie Singer

A cervix question

December 12th, 2009

Hi Katie!

I need a little advice. I have used the NFP method in the past with
great success. I went back on the pill for about a year to keep my
periods regular during a very stressful time in my life (my final year
of college). I am now back to tracking my cycles (also using a condom
for back-up) and off the pill. My question concerns my cervix during
certain times of the month. Now, I don’t monitor my cervix’s firmness
every day, as you suggest, but I do notice that during lovemaking my
cervix is very tender during certain times of my cycle. Does this
tenderness mean my cervix is soft or firm? I have not really tried to
detect a pattern, but I thought maybe the tenderness would work as a
good indicator for where I am in my cycle.

Thanks! I hope this is a good question.

…………………………………………………..

I first need to clarify that the Pill does not regulate menstrual cycles.
Basically, it shuts down many aspects of the cycle. You can see this in
the cervix pictures on my website:

>http://www.gardenoffertility.com/cervix.shtml<

I think you do have a very good question. I’m not aware of cervix
tenderness being a fertility sign. But I think it indicates something.
Is it adjusting to coming off the Pill? Is it giving a message that you
need a pap smear? Honestly, I don’t know.

You might decrease or eliminate soy, sugar, white flour, caffeine, and
animal products that are not organic. You might take high quality cod
liver oil and organic butter and try the night lighting technique that I
describe in my book to strengthen your health. See if this shifts your
cervix tenderness. You might consult with a doctor.

Take Care,

Katie Singer

Fertility Awareness in Switzerland

November 2nd, 2009

An interesting question about FA in Switzerland:

Hello, Katie,

I just found your website while researching about fertility awareness and I got really interested in reading your book(s), specially the part concerning diet habits, as I’ve been a vegetarian for 14 years now but I’ve been thinking about starting eating meat again and I’d like to do it a healthy way. I’ve also been on the pill for 5 years and now I’m quitting
and starting the fertility awareness method.

I was wodering if you would know of a group or organization in Geneva that discusses/practices the method. I’m having a hard time looking for a teacher or a place where I could discuss this around here – apparently, there is not a Swiss center or organization on the matter, but I thought maybe you could be aware of expats who gather to learn and talk about FA.

————-

Congratulations on your decision to get off the pill.

I don’t know of FA teachers in Switzerland. But try www.fertilityuk.org.

For info about nutrition, I recommend taking a look at www.westonaprice.org. There is a chapter leader in Switzerland, Diana Boskma. Her email address is food.diana@gmail.com. Simply, you might experiment with eliminating soy, sugar, white flour, and caffeine; add cod liver oil and butter. And whenever you eat dairy or meat, make sure they are organic.

Best of luck,

Katie Singer

A question about mucus

October 15th, 2009

Please see my response below.

********

Hi Katie,

I just had a beautiful baby girl last November (named Katie actually). I have your book, “The Garden of Fertility” that I used to
chart my temperatures before I conceived her.

I just have a question for you. I’m trying to figure out what my body is up to. After Katie was born my cycles returned rather quickly. I nursed her every two hours for several months. Now she nurses about every three hours, nurses once or twice at night and is eating solids regularly each day. She’s now 10 1/2 months old. The thing is I haven’t had a period in about two months. I love nutrition and try to eat the Weston A. Price way (as much as I can afford or handle). I also sleep in complete darkness each night. Here’s the part I can’t figure out. I’ve had a LOT of mucus for weeks. It’s there just about every time I use the bathroom. We’ve taken two pregnancy tests and they were both negative. What do you think could be causing all that
mucus?

Thanks for your help! :)

—–

While a woman transitions back to regular cycling, it’s a very confusing time. The confused signals can go on for a long time. Mucus is a sign that your body is emitting estrogen, and that tells us that your body is trying to ovulate.

You might try sleeping exposed to light for two to three nights, then returning to darkness for two weeks. Continue with darkness for two more weeks, then two to three days of light, then two more weeks of darkness.

You might also try taking high quality cod liver oil with butter everyday and eliminating soy, sugar, and caffeine.

Best of luck,

Katie Singer

A message I’d like to share

September 8th, 2009

Enjoy!

Dear Katie,

I am finally writing to you, nearly a year after first reading your wonderful book (the Garden of Fertility). I had been on the pill for about 6 years before having my son (I was one of those weird people who conceives 2 weeks after being off the pill), but during the pregnancy and the process of planning the birth I discovered a more natural way of doing things and felt very opposed to the idea of going back on the pill. Of course, I was also breastfeeding and planning to do so for a while, so
I knew I couldn’t take any type of hormonal medication. My midwife (we planned a home birth) recommended your book to me; I got it when my son was about a month old and never looked back. I have been working with Ilene Richman on occasion over the past 10 months or so now. She is the one who recommended I contact you to tell you how much you have inspired and influenced me.

Not only has fertility awareness changed my daily life (I have been charting regularly since November of last year), it has also taught me so many wonderful things about my body and its functioning. My son just turned one and I am still breastfeeding him frequently; I have yet to return to ovulation, but am finding it so exciting watching my body gearing up for action! I went on the pill when I was about 19 and was basically on it right up until getting pregnant, so I never really had the experience of observing my cycles in a conscious way. Now I look forward to finally being able to do that.

The biggest impact your book had on me, however, was the section on nutrient-dense foods and the Weston Price Foundation. I became a member early this year, and last November we joined our local NYC “raw milk club.” When I read the section in your
book on the WAPF way of eating, something about it just really clicked for me. I pounced on the information and became totally committed to changing our diets and way of eating. I had been mainly vegetarian for the 9 months preceding my pregnancy, but I had strong cravings for steak right after the birth that I couldn’t deny; when I read more about WAPF my cravings finally made sense. My husband had been a junk-food vegetarian for 16 years (for animal rights reasons), but this year he started eating meat again. We go out of our way to put 95% of our food dollars into the local economy, buying grass-fed meat & poultry, raw milk & dairy, whole wheat sourdough bread, fresh local fruits & veggies, and even local organic dry beans; high-vitamin cod liver oil plays a big role in our lives, and sugar plays NO role at all now! I have seen a dramatic improvement in all of the minor health conditions that I accepted as part of life for years. This is all thanks to YOU! I know many people are resistant to the WAPF gospel — they think grain-based diets and soy are the way to go — and many people have a mortal fear of fats, especially those nasty saturated ones, but I wanted you to know that there are readers out here who are desperately hungry for this information, and we greatly appreciate you sharing it. Of course I have now shared this knowledge with everyone I can in my own life, most importantly my two sisters (one of whom has a young child and is pregnant again), and my mom, as well as my husband’s family who are originally from Mexico. [Unfortunately they gave up lard for corn oil when they moved here some 35 years ago, but whenever we go to visit them in Chicago I bring lard along and encourage them to use it!]

I have also made it my mission in life to help other expecting and young moms with finding ways to use nutrient-dense foods to achieve total health for themselves and their little ones. I received my certification as a Health Counselor this year, and
have a small practice here in Brooklyn NY helping women and families with a range of issues, all from a natural, nutrient-dense foods perspective. I recently presented on baby’s first foods at our local La Leche League meeting, and was overwhelmed with inquiries from mothers anxious for information on feeding their babies. I plan to reach out to local pediatricians and OB/GYNs to let them know how my services can help their patients have healthier, better lives. I take local moms to the farmers’ market, I help clients shop for food, I teach to prepare foods properly, and I make it my mission to inspire women to really prioritize their health & well-being. Of course, a discussion of fertility awareness is also a part of my practice. Just as women need some coaching with getting on the right track for FA (and reproductive self-care), they also often need a coach to help with food issues. My practice is truly holistic in that it allows women to address all the reasons why they eat the way they do (emotional, practical, financial, etc.), and helps them learn to observe how foods are affecting their
mood, energy level, and health; I also lead my clients in transitioning gradually to a better way of eating. Learning about nutrient-dense foods from your book has truly impacted my entire life, from my career to my health. [Did I also mention
that our son is absolutely thriving on this diet? He is robust, adorable, and incredibly social and smart.]

Thank you for reading, and THANK YOU for your work! I am more grateful to you than I can say.