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.
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.
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
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
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.
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!
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
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:
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.
An interesting question about FA in Switzerland:
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 email@example.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,
Please see my response below.
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
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,
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.