Getting pregnant (or trying not to get pregnant) doesn’t have to be dramatic.
It doesn’t have to come with guessing, waiting, sweating it out, and spending your whole life worrying over whether when you pee on the stick, there will be two lines instead of one.
It doesn’t have to mean that--in the scenario of wanting to get pregnant--that each time you get your period you dive into the bathroom at work to begrudgingly deal with the normal “period stuff,” while oh-by-the-way also silently crying with not-too-huge-tears-so-you-don’t-smear-your-makeup-and-your-eyes-don’t-get-too-puffy.
In this first scenario, overwhelm may wash over you as you wonder if a baby will ever happen, and what it will mean if it doesn’t. Annoyance creeps in and taps you on the shoulder, whispering, "Haha! Sucker! You got your period again!" and you crumble into more tears-but-not-tears.
You think any of the following on a daily, hourly, or maybe constant basis:
"Why is it so much easier for everyone else? Why is this so hard? What is wrong with me?"
On the other side of the coin, getting pregnant also doesn’t have to be an “oops.” This second scenario happens more often than you think...
For you, you may see your coworker struggling for yet another month over not becoming a mother. And you WISH you were the one diving into the bathroom at work instead of her.
Nope. For you, you’re coming up with reasons to tell people why you’re drinking sparkling water at the holiday party.
“Oh, I’ve cut out alcohol to help heal my gut,” you say, feigning confidence. There's some truth to it, and they seem to be buying it, so you justify the lie-of-omission you just told.
But inside, you are feeling full of shame.
You may think any of the following on a daily, hourly, or maybe constant basis::
I’ve ALWAYS been SO careful. What will people think of me when they find out that I wasn’t “careful enough?” My mother always said “You’re either trying to get pregnant, or you’re not trying, so you must have been trying.” It must mean that I don’t CARE enough about myself to be CAREful. What will this mean for my lifestyle, career, or relationship with my partner? HE doesn’t want kids, that’s for sure.
Or, perhaps, in a third scenario, you don’t want to be pregnant at all. Maybe you’re a teenager or young adult. Or maybe you’re an adult who knows it’s not the right time, or perhaps it will never be the right time.
Either way, whether temporarily or permanently and for whatever reason, it’s just not a path you wish to tread.
You find yourself awkwardly answering the “so when are you having kids?” question halfheartedly because you know those judging eyes are upon you.
You think any of the following on a daily, hourly or even constant basis:
"There must be something wrong with me for not wanting kids. Isn’t every woman supposed to “want” them? Sometimes I wish you could just 'give away' my fertility—or your 'perfectly good ovaries' as my sister and mother in law call them—to your friends who are struggling with miscarriage, infant loss, or infertility."
It doesn't matter which scenario you fall into (and you may be in none of them, or a combination of all three!), for most of us, thinking about fertility can be far from fun, and it can feel anything but fearless.
Here’s the thing, friends. No matter where you are on the fertility path, it doesn’t have to be a path riddled with fear, stress, shame, guilt, or loneliness. Being a woman with boundless fertility can be fun, empowering, and full of fearless vitality. There can be a happy medium where there is no stress, no guilt…and also no surprises.
And no, I’m not just talking about “being careful and paying attention.” This isn’t 7th grade sex ed class.
And there is no shame either in being able to get pregnant (maybe more easily than you would have wanted), not being able to get pregnant, or not wanting to get pregnant at all.
In any of those 3 scenarios, it is perfectly reasonable to still want to preserve your fertility.
That’s because fertility—no matter where you fall on the path, is a sign of your overall health and vitality.
If something is going wrong in your fertility, it is a bigger sign that deeper things are going on with your other body systems.
Fertility, and strong reproductive health, is not something that is only for those who want kids, and the lack of fertility is not for those who don’t want kids. That’s not how the body works. It doesn’t self select (though sometimes it may seem that way).
All body systems contribute to the whole human. We learned that in 7th grade health class for sure. And we could bog ourselves down in the details of each system to figure out just what might be going right and wrong in each one.
But that can be both time consuming, confusing, and sometimes a neverending path of unnecessary medical care.
Alternatively, we could just look at fertility as the measure of your overall health. Yes, you may need to have your other systems examined, but this is a great start.
Several prominent women's health experts discuss fertility as the 5th vital sign. To be more exact, they discuss the measurement of your reproductive health as just as important as measuring your heart rate and blood pressure.
Now, let’s be real for a second, because I know what the trauma surgeons and ER physicians might be saying. Perhaps reproductive health isn’t something we worry about when someone is rushed to the ER with symptoms of a heart attack.
Perhaps let’s not jump right to asking a woman when her last period was while she’s having a stroke. We can save that for later.
But maybe let's not save it for too much later. Asking about her menstrual cycle, is still very--and I would argue--vitally--important information, because if she tells us she hasn’t had a period and we find out it’s because she is on the birth control pill, we can deduce the source of the stroke much more easily than if we didn’t ask her about fertility and menstrual cycles.
Fertility, or more simply, menstrual cycle information, is one of those things we can track on a daily basis, just like our other vital signs.
Fertility information gives us clues into what is going on beneath the surface with so many other elements of our health.
These health elements include the beautiful, life-giving elements of energy, stress elimination, restoration and healing power, physical strength and emotional resilience.
Those things are hard to measure, are they not? Have you had your healing power checked at the doctor recently? Have you measured your emotional resilience?
Something tells me that if you’re anything like most women, you have a strong intuition that those beautiful elements of your health and life play into your fertility, but when you ask your medical provider about it, you are told any number of things:
“Stress is just a normal part of life, you should just expect to have it.”
“People get sick, it’s normal. It’s why we have medicine.”
“It’s normal to be tired all the time. It’s part of being a mom/busy career woman/athlete.”
“You’re supposed to be more emotional all the time. You’re a woman.”
Well, I have news for you friend: every single one of those things isn’t true.
And I know because I’ve not only been there, but I help clients learn to let go of those beliefs too.
I help clients release stress, boost their immune systems to avoid sickness, gain radiant tireless energy, and get in touch with the root of their emotions.
I teach women to honor themselves instead of just writing off the symptoms they feel. And to tap into their intuition and truly heal when everyone else tells them “oh that’s just part of being a woman, go drink a glass of wine and relax.”
And for fertility and the act of intentional baby making--or intentional notbabymaking, a term I totally just made up)—the biggest lie of all is that it is supposed to be mysterious, hard, emotional, stressful, and something that rips your heart open and tears your relationship apart.
It can be fun, joyous, and energizing to explore the depths of fertility.
And beautifully, unlike some of those other markers of health, fertility itself can be measured, bolstered, and preserved.
By staying on top of your fertility, that is how you can approach babymaking and/or notbabymaking with ease, calm, and connection instead of with worry, overwhelm and confusion.
Side note: for all of you who are in menopause and reading this—don’t fret. You can, and perhaps do, have energy, calm, connection, emotional resilience, vitality, and strength as well. That’s outside the scope of this particular blog, but it’s important as well. If you want to learn more, reach out to me and let’s chat about how you can get all of those things in your season of life, too!
Now, when I say “staying on top of your fertility and keeping it stress free” I don’t mean that it requires some expensive and laborious process with medications and fertility drugs.
Women and couples spend hundreds to thousands of dollars and hours trying to control and predict the art of babymaking and notbabymaking.
And yes, sometimes there need to be fertility drugs and medications and those are beautiful gifts when they are needed. But for many women and couples, they are not necessary.
If you are one of those women who don't need the drugs (and even if you do!), I’ve got 5 simple tips to help keep you fertile, energized, and sane during these beautiful years of your life.
And the good news is, we're not looking for huge sweeping expensive life changes here. These are things that you probably already do, but perhaps need a little upgrading.
Tip 1: Sleep, baby, sleep.
Nature and physics never lie.
When you’re burning the candle at both ends, chances are your body decides to take matters into its own hands. From an evolutionary standpoint, it doesn’t make sense to your body to want to reproduce when you’re strung out with work, exercise, caffeine, sitting in traffic and all the other amazing and not-so-amazing things we cram onto our plates at all hours of the day.
I know what you may be thinking:
You don’t get it Julie, it’s not like I can just take everything off my plate right this second.
I do totally get it. I learned this lesson the hard way a long time ago, back when my wonky periods were the first sign that something was going wrong in my body.
I didn’t listen to them though, because there was no time for that. I either took the pill (which didn't actually help anything), extra doses of Advil for terrible cramps, or resorted to hoping and praying that another skipped period didn't mean I was pregnant.
I had so much piled onto my plate that I couldn’t even tell there was a plate there to hold it all up. It took me hitting rock bottom to realize that change needed to happen. And you can read more about that right here.
So because I get it, I recognize and honor that you may need to take baby steps. That’s probably the better way than waiting to hit rock bottom, anyway. Take it from the pro here, rock bottom is no fun!
And the first baby step you can take is to improve the quality of your sleep.
When we stay up too late scrolling social media to turn our minds off or carry our work home with us and run through our never-ending to-do lists until 10:30 PM, it affects or sleep.
Sounds simple enough, right? But is it that simple to change your sleep habits?
I don’t propose you shoot for getting 9-10 hours of sleep. That’s quantity of sleep. I propose that you improve the sleep you’re already getting--i.e. the quality of your sleep .
There are a gazillion ways to improve your sleep quality, but one FREE way to do that is what I call the smartphone challenge. Or maybe it’s the un-smartphone challenge (I just made that term up. I dig it!).
For 5-10 minutes a day before bedtime for 30 days, your challenge is to put your phone down and do something that doesn’t involve a screen. Read a book, take a bath, meditate, draw or color, or just cuddle with your kids, partner or pet.
Turning off the blue light helps remind your brain that no, it is not in fact daytime anymore, and it’s time to calm down. Chances are, like so many of my clients tell me, you will feel more grounded, rested, and calm simply because you gave yourself permission to just stop, and you gave your brain a break from the sleep-disrupting blue light. It’s a simple trick, but a powerful one.
If you want to increase it to more than 5-10 minutes, go for it. But do yourself a favor and start at 5-10, then increase as you get better at it.
You can read more about the un-smartphone challenge and improving the quality of your sleep at my free guide, Energize Your Health.
Tip 2: Track more than just your period
The period itself is a great thing to track, and I talk about that in my Free Guide as well.
But you also need to be tracking ovulation.
I know what you may be thinking…”Ovu-what!? I thought tracking my period was hard enough! And how am I supposed to know if I’m ovulating? I thought that just happened on Day 14, right?”
First of all, yes, I’m suggesting you pay attention to two times of the month, not one. This brings in a great opportunity to learn to read and listen to your body, something that will not only help you feel more connected with yourself, but also with others.
Knowing your body’s rhythms like the back of your hand means you’ll show up a better version of yourself in the relationships in your life. I bet you can tell me everything there is to know about how your skin and hair behave on any given day or in any given weather condition. Now it's time to tap into another part of your body's beautiful systems as well.
And no, contrary to what you learned in 7th grade sex ed (assuming they even talked about ovulation), ovulation does not just happen on Day 14. In fact, there is a wide variation of days on which women ovulate, assuming they are ovulating at all.
Ovulating means that you have enough of follicle stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, and estrogen to get you to ovulation, and you’re producing the hormone progesterone because you ovulated.
All hormones are vital when it comes to getting pregnant. They’re also vital for preserving all of the beautiful elements of fertility I mentioned before, in addition to more elements such as a strong immune system, beautiful radiant skin, thick flowy hair, radiant energy, and a boundless sex drive.
If you ovulate, one of two things will happen as a consequence of it: you will either get pregnant, or you will have a period.
So, depending on whether you’re interested in babymaking or notbabymaking, paying attention to whether you ovulate helps you stay on top of your overall health with less stress, uncertainty, and worry.
There are tons of ways to track ovulation: basal body temperature measurements, over-the-counter ovulation kits, the fertility awareness method or blood tests (though the latter is the most cumbersome of all and possibly the least precise).
Tracking your periods is a good start to gaining awareness of your menstrual health and fertility, and I offer a period tracking chart in my free guide. But you do need to track ovulation as well. And pro tip: if you're using a period tracking app that "tells" you when you're ovulating without taking any type of measurement (temperature, urine), then it's not accurate.
You can choose what feels best to you. And if you’re not sure what is right for you, reach out and let’s chat about it.
A lot of things have to happen so that ovulation can occur, including having good sleep, nutrition, and emotional support. We already covered sleep, and we'll cover the latter two below!
Tip #3. Nourish your body.
Nature also doesn’t lie when it comes to deciding which hormones to produce from your body’s internal hormone factory every month. If you want ample amounts of all of the hormones needed to get you to ovulation (there are about 6-7 of them), then you need ample amounts of nutrients necessary to create them in the first place.
Far too often do I hear women tell me “Ugh, I got all the way to 4 PM and realized I hadn’t eaten anything all day” and in the same breath say “I’m so frustrated I can’t get pregnant.”
We've all been there, now haven't we? That's ok. But do know that your body craves food for a reason!
Hormones are built out of amino acids (found in proteins) and fatty acids (found in, yes you guessed it, fats). If you don’t get enough of the right types of protein and fats for your body type/makeup, or you’re not eating enough macronutrients at all, chances are your body will not prioritize the construction of your reproductive hormones (let alone the other hormones in your body, like your thyroid or stress hormones).
Nutrition is an easy way to bolster your reproductive hormones.
But whoa there tiger, before you start consulting Google, Pinterest and Instagram for the best “fertility boosting diet,” take a quick inventory.
Are you currently eating enough? Chances are, most online recommendations, even good-hearted and well-researched ones, will include an elimination of some type of food.
I’m not knocking elimination diets, because I help my clients with them all the time. However, if you’re falling short on overall calories, you may be unintentionally undereating in the first place.
Cutting out anything, even gluten or dairy (which many fertility-boosting diets recommend you do), may send you too far spiraling into macronutrient deprivation, which then defeats the purpose.
I recommend adding nutrients before taking anything away. In general, this means starting by adding one extra energy-boosting fat and protein serving per day.
In my free guide, I go through a step-by-step, simple and easy process to help you learn just how to do this to get yourself more energy, better ovulation and periods, and less stress over the whole process.
I also provide easy, colorful handouts and charts so you can keep track. And bonus, I provide food ideas if you’re blanking on sources of energy-boosting fats or proteins or you're just plain tired of eating avocados.
Tip #4. Ask for support.
The last thing you really need to know about how nature never lies has to do with stress.
When the body is under stress, simply put, it will not prioritize reproduction. Chances are, if you’re running short on sleep (Tip #1), not tracking your cycles (Tip #2) and nutrition (Tip #3), you’re also running high on stress.
And no, stress is not a normal part of everyday life. Yes, our bodies are designed to handle stressors—like the death of a loved one or a sudden injury—when it does come up. However I’d be willing to bet for most of you, those aren’t the things that are stressing you out 24/7, keeping you from being able to fall asleep at night or being able to control your thoughts.
Yes, things come up that are unpredictable and uncertain, perhaps on a daily, weekly, or even hourly basis. Yes, this may induce a feeling of stress.
Yes, at times you will feel like you’re sprinting through life and needing to burn the candle at both ends in order to get everything done.
Yes, your stress hormones will increase when all of these things happen. Stress hormones are a good thing in general when it comes to keeping you healthy — they help protect the physical effects of emotional duress from tearing your body apart.
But stress hormones being elevated for prolonged periods of time start to change the way your body manufactures your other hormones.
The mind doesn’t know the difference between what is an actual versus a perceived threat. It doesn’t know whether a tiger is actually chasing you, or you’re telling yourself stories in your head about something being at the caliber of a tiger chasing you even when it’s clearly not happening.
The body thinks “Wow! She is running from a tiger all the time! This is probably not the time to be ovulating or babymaking!”
And when it does that, it can totally mess with the manufacturing of all of the hormones necessary to ovulate and have a period.
There is a relationship between elevated stress hormones and low reproductive hormones or pregnancy outcomes. These things are controlled by the same part of the brain, the hypothalamus. In fact, a recent study recommended women make efforts to reduce stress hormones prior to attempting to go through IVF.
So when your medical provider says “stress is just a normal part of life you just need to accept that,” it may be time to ask for help from someone who gets it, and to also consider finding a new medical provider.
You totally get it-you need to reduce and eliminate stress. But you don’t know where to start. That’s what I’m here for! You can set up a complimentary phone strategy session with me at this link.
So, to sum it up…in 4 steps: sleep, tracking, nourishment and stress elimination, you can be fearless with your fertility and maybe even have fun in the process.
Taking charge matters no matter what your stance is on having a baby. Fertility is larger than babymaking or notbabymaking. Your life literally depends on it.
These 4 steps are a great way to get started. Give them a try and let me know what you think. And don’t worry about trying all of them at once. This is not all-or-nothing. There is no perfectionism award or gold stars being handed out for checking all of the fertility boxes.
I also don’t recommend you attempt to get all of the answers all on your own. I talk to women on a daily basis who are feeling eager and anxious to take charge of their fertility, but because they’re so eager they end up in information overload and therefore overwhelm.
Then they feel stuck and directionless—asking any of the following:
Which way do I go?
How do I grow my knowledge and fertility?
How do I know I am taking the right steps?
You know what I love about you? That you are curious and you seek to learn.
But sometimes, sweet friend, you really get in your own way, getting yourself bogged down in way too many details.
Believe me, I have been there. It can be so paralyzing can’t it?
After all, all that stressing over getting rock star fertility certainly isn’t doing your fertility any favors, now is it?
Don't try and go at it alone. If you need a sciency nature reason to support why you reach out for help, check out this recent study. It discusses how one of your feel good hormones, oxytocin, actually increases when you feel stress, which induces you to reach out for help from a trusted source. And if you ignore this "tend and befriend" pattern, then your body goes even deeper into the stress pattern. Pretty cool, eh?
I'm happy to be your friend and help you reduce your stress and boost your feel good hormones! After all, fertility can be fun, you probably need all the feel good hormones you can get while you're working on it, and you can do it from a place of love, not fear.
I help women sift through all the information and learn the simple health tools and tricks to keep their fertility, vitality and energy blossoming, whether they want a baby or not.
Nobody has time to dedicate their whole life to learning all the answers. You have way too many other people who depend on you to take care of them, I bet.
I love to guide women to understand that health is much more than the industry where we go for appointments and give all of our money; but, additionally a state of mind we hold. I don't believe that obtaining the life you love has to be so laborious and never-ending.
Instead, I believe that we find our greatest lives and careers from a place of values, not fears. I've spent 10 years teaching on the national and international level and building my own unique PT and women's health coaching practice. I know it's the control and fear we must release in order to discover our infinite self-compassion and love for a sustaining heart-centric life & career.
You can learn more in my free guide, Energize Your Health, which has become a crowd favorite to kickstarting the journey to gain control over your menstrual and reproductive health. It’s perfectly written for teens and for women of all ages.
And maybe you're thinking “I want to learn more of what I need to be doing specifically,” YES FRIEND! I get you!
I’d love to chat with you! I just love to help women get clear on exactly what their fertility and vitality plan needs to be. You can go directly to my schedule to set up a complimentary strategy call with me, where we’ll get super clear on what you want your fertility to look and feel like, identify what’s getting in your way of it, and create a crystal clear plan to get you there.
Don’t forget to reach out if you have any questions!
In love and health,