Category Archives: Guestposts

Struggling to Conceive?

Struggling to Conceive? Learn How Fertility Tests May Help

Although 85% of women are happily pregnant within a year of trying for a baby, for other couples it takes far longer than this to conceive. If you have not managed to conceive within a year of trying or within 6 months if you are over 35, you may decide to undergo fertility tests to see whether there is a particular reason you are struggling to become pregnant. Making this decision then allows you to get access to the necessary treatment, which may include assisted fertilisation.

Tests to diagnose possible infertility

As it’s possible for both men and women to have problems with infertility, it is wise that you both take part in fertility testing. For women the first step is usually a blood test to measures levels of your hormones that control ovulation, as this can assess whether you ovulate, which is essential if fertilisation is to take place. Your family doctor will usually carry out this test and at the same time check for levels of other hormones that control reproduction, such as those produced by your thyroid and pituitary gland. Your partner may also be asked for a semen sample, as analysis of this shows whether his sperm are in good health. If the results of these tests show that you are not ovulating or semen analysis highlights a problem with your partner’s sperm, you will usually need to see a fertility specialist, though if either of you have a history of STDs, pelvic or urogenital surgery, these are also indicators that you need more specialist advice.

Although your specialist will decide on the most appropriate fertility tests given your own circumstances, they may decide that an ultrasound scan to check your uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries is advisable. This can find conditions such as pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome, all of which affect fertility and are treatable. However, your doctor may need a more detailed inspection of your reproductive organs, in which case they will arrange a hysterosalpingography (a specialist X-ray) or a laparoscopy (a form of non-invasive surgery) to take a closer look. If these tests show any irregularities, your specialist will advise on the surgical procedures available. Your doctor may also recommend that your partner has a scrotal or rectal ultrasound to rule out any obstructions or other problems with your partner’s tubes.

Rarely a genetic condition may explain the cause of your infertility, so if other tests do not show any reason for your difficulty conceiving, your specialist may offer genetic testing to you both. However, you should bear in mind that with each further test you have, this will often increase the size of the bill you receive from your fertility clinic.

Undergoing fertility treatment

The results of your fertility tests will decide the most suitable treatment option for you, but these broadly fall under taking fertility medication to induce ovulation, undergoing a surgical procedure to correct a blockage or another structural problem, or starting assisted conception. If assisted conception is advised, IVF is the not the only option available to you, and your specialist will discuss the range of procedures available to aid conception, though the cost of these varies, which you may need to take into account. Whichever option you choose, your doctor will probably tell you not to give up on any lifestyle changes that you have already made to enhance fertility, as these may also increase the effectiveness of assisted reproductive treatments. For instance, research shows that losing excess weight, eating a well-balanced diet, taking regular exercise, managing stress and reducing caffeine and alcohol intake may all increase the chance of a successful pregnancy following treatment.

If you are keen to explore complementary therapies that may enhance the effectiveness of fertility treatment, acupuncture shows promise for increasing the rate of pregnancy and live births. Research also indicates that yoga boosts mental wellness among women before they receive IVF, which theoretically may improve the outcome of your treatment.

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Laura Wright worked in nutritional science and health provision before turning to writing for a new career. Now she combined ghost writing for a wide range of businesses and organizations with spreading the word about a number of health guides she’s personally invested in. When not writing, she likes spending time with her family and going for long hikes.

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The Power of Peri­menopause and Menopause: Guest Post from Diane Salisbury

Some years ago I was fortunate to discover the work of, the wonderful, Alexandra Pope, author of
‘The Wild Genie’ and ‘The Women’s Quest’. It was from there that I immersed myself in the world
of menstrual awareness. I became increasingly aware of the wisdom of the menstrual cycle and
the gifts within it. On this journey I discovered much, one of the main things being that as women
we are often sold a story that is incomplete. In the popular media periods are portrayed as just a
physical phenomenon; they are not seen as a gift that offer self­ awareness, which I, and
increasingly many others, believe them to be.

As I approached middle age I realised that I had been sold another half story, this time about
menopause and peri menopause. In fact, it was not until I started on this journey that I had even
heard of the phrase ‘peri­menopause’. It made me realise just how little I knew about the next
transition that lay before me. So I started looking for the rest of the story. For somewhere inside I
could feel that as middle age woman I was not going to quietly recede from society and that
maybe even the opposite was true. Could this phase of our lives open up opportunities?

Like pregnancy, labour and the menstrual cycle, it is usually the horror stories that we are told. I
recognise that these experiences maybe challenging and not always ‘positive’, but they are not
always negative either. It is often the positive aspect of the story that is left out. Menopause might
be challenging in many different ways, both physically and emotionally, but what of its gifts? I was
intrigued as to what lay ahead and what these gifts might be. I wanted to enter this phase of my
life consciously, with awareness and with more of the story. So I began to explore what might lie
ahead.

I discovered that before entering menopause many women experience times of tiredness, anxiety,
doubt, depression and anger. So while they might not have any physical symptoms, this phase
can have a huge impact on their emotional lives, especially as many do not realise that these
symptoms may be caused by peri­menopause. It is often only with hindsight, when they enter
menopause, that they realise this. This reminded me of the menstrual cycle. How many times
have you heard either yourself or a friend say ‘I thought that I was going mad but then I got my
period and realised I was just premenstrual’? However what do we leave out if we dismiss these
feelings and emotions?

Dr. C. Northrup likens this peri­menopause phase to the pre­menstrual phase of the menstrual
cycle. A time for going inwards and reflection. This can be challenging, particularly with our busy
lives and within a society that doesn’t always value quiet reflection and withdrawing. It is seen as
optimum if we can always be switched on and dynamic. But I feel it’s vitally important to harvest
the gifts of the peri­menopause phase and to hear what is calling you.

There also seems to be a split between women around menopause. Between those who take
HRT and those who don’t. There seems to me to be some judgments, on both sides, that I believe
can stop women coming together. If we can respect that we all have our own medicine and own
journey, we can then cultivate a non­judgmental attitude towards each other. This coming
together itself could be very supportive and healing. It may also be very powerful, and that is
essentially what I think we are really talking about with the menopause transition. It’s about a
woman, and women coming into their power.

I think that’s really exciting; the thought that, at menopause, women do not fade from society, but
rather they come into their own power. I now run workshops in which women can come together
and explore this, and other ideas and issues around peri­menopause and menopause.
Together we can write the other part of the story and tell it to others.

dianeGuest Post from Diane Salisbury
I currently work as a counsellor in private practice in North London. I also run workshops on peri­menopause / menopause, the next one is in the 8th June in North London.

You can contact me via
Email : dsalisbury101@gmail.com
Web : www.dianesalisbury.co.uk
Facebook : www.facebook/dianesalisburycounselling.

Confident Carry – Overcoming Shame Around Menstrual Products

Today’s guest post is from Period Wise, and touches on a really important issue: shame and menstrual products which was sparked by a recent event in a school in the US.

A teenage girl who was suspended for concealed carry of menstrual supplies [in a school system which requires that everything be brought into school in a clear plastic bag to facilitate security checks] sheds light on a problem that sadly still plagues us – a lack of confidence among those who menstruate and a lack of understanding among those who do not.

Apparently the Principal’s position is that teenage girls should feel confident enough to place their feminine hygiene needs in a clear bag for all the world to see and carry it with them to class throughout the days they are menstruating, or expect to become menstrual.

Social taboos and menstrual myths abound and affect all.

Rules are established – and followed – without real consideration to the needs of half (and perhaps over half) of the population of a school…group…gathering…attendees of functions….

And, perhaps that’s what these girls should do until this rule is struck down. Perhaps the girls should band together and bring feminine hygiene products in a clear confident carry bag every day whether they are menstruating or not.

I wish all girls and women were so confident in themselves and with menstruation that they were comfortable doing just that.  It would go a long way in ending the embarrassment that so often (and unnecessarily) accompanies things period wise.

And, it would also put an end to the idiotic assumption that menstruation requires a doctor’s permission slip because it’s a medical issue.

A medical issue?  Um…the last time I checked the definition of “medical” it said the word related to the treatment of illness and/or injury.

Menstruation is NEITHER.

So what does confident carry look like?

You tell me.

When you confidently carry menstrual products, what do you carry and how?

If you’ve never confidently carried menstrual products openly in public, what do you think it would look like?  And, how would you confident carry?

Who me? Confident carry?

YES! You!

Confident Carry day TODAY is an opportunity for all to embrace menstruation as normal and natural – NOT something to hide or be ashamed of.  It’s an opportunity to raise awareness to the plight of girls and women all over the world who are shamed into secrecy about all things period wise.

Who would benefit from seeing you confidently and openly carrying feminine hygiene products? Your daughter?  Granddaughter? Your mother? A niece? Your BFF? A student? A girl new to menstruation? A woman with years of experience?  Your partner?

Who could you / would you impact by participating in Confident Carry Day?

At the very least, Confident Carry Day (if you choose to participate) will impact YOU.)

Before you say, “This is not for me because I…” let me say this: male or female, not currently menstruating / never have / or never will again – all are role models for the girl or the boy in your life.

Yes.  Confident Carry is not just about girls and women.  It’s about men and boys, too.

#ConfidentCarry on #May9 is for all.

https://i2.wp.com/www.periodwise.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/HS.jpg

 

Guestpost from Suzan from Period Wise: Empowering girls and women to embrace a too long taboo topic – menstruation.

Currently my work as a menstrual activist and educator includes many roles: mentor, friend, writer, speaker, teacher, and perpetual student.  I also serve as the Director of Connectivity for You ARE Loved (a non-profit that raises awareness about TSS) and as the Manager of North American Operations for Lunette (makers of an amazing reusable menstrual cup).

 

Cunt Love

 

Today’s guest post from Colette aka Lady Cunt Love is powerful stuff…

To really love your cunt is to take back what belongs to you.

It is to reconcile with the patriarchal bullshit we have had to put up with for the last thousand years and gain back all the wisdom that we had in a time when our cunts were revered with love and awe. It is to accept that the fear that men felt of our power and capacity for sexual pleasure and to also see that somewhere along the line, we have internalised that fear.

To reclaim the word ‘cunt’ and say with a smile on your lips is so fucking liberating. It is to strip yourself of the chastity belts and straight jackets once and for all.

It’s time for us to move on to a new place.

A place where we are no longer silent or shamed. A place where we see the beauty in ourselves and others.

It is time for us to stop comparing and competing with each other as women but to join together in a circle of sisters. It’s so much easier and liberating this way. It is the only way.

I learned all of this through talking to people on the streets. I decided one day that I had enough of the secrecy and silence. So I created an alter ego for myself named Lady Cunt Love. I wore a silk cunt headpiece on my head and a velvet, glittery cunt around my waist. I had a clipboard and a lots of handrawn cunts and colouring pencils. I had my two friends with me – Queen Clit and The Cuntess. We approached people on the street and in pubs and cafes and clubs. We learned so much about how people view the world, cunts, cocks, sex, porn, gender and language.

cuntlove

I then began to share my story in the form of a poetry collection called ‘The Healing Journey of my Cunt’. We created Cuntcraft, a craft where we sit in circle and use velvet, satin, silk, glitter to create our own beautifully crafted cunts. I facilitate these circles and perform and exhibit from my studio in Brighton, The Cuntquarters and all over the UK and Ireland.

I have witnessed so many beautiful moments where a sweet kind of magic takes over and women find the courage to share their stories with me. Sad stories are told about painful periods, rape, traumatic abortions, miscarriage, abuse and shame (lots of shame). Liberating stories are told too – about sexual pleasure, joyous births and pregnancies, premenstrual insights and happy bleeds. Once the stories are expressed, they are out in the world and can take on a new meaning. They are released and we can come to a place of love, forgiveness and acceptance.

cunt

I have now decided it is time to take this even further and am inviting women to join me on a four week online Cunt Loving Quest beginning on the 1st April. This is to give women the opportunity to explore their relationships with the cunts in the safety and comfort of their own homes.

You can see a video of me describing the course here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGEyvx6dYrY and join the quest on my website here. http://cherishthecunt.com/2014/03/06/introducing-the-28-day-cunt-loving-quest

Herbs – Healing Whole Foods for Women – Guest post

“One of the biggest tragedies of human civilization is the precedents of chemical therapy over nutrition.  It is substitution of artificial therapy over natural, of poison over food, in which we are feeding people poisons trying to correct the reactions of starvation.”

Dr. Royal Lee

red clover  The effects of moving away from our whole food diet and eating a refined, processed, and convenience food diet are very prevalent in our society.

As a culture, we have created the same scenario with our healing medicines, including those for healing the female body.  We have moved away from whole, natural medicines to the processed, refined, factory made pharmaceuticals that upset balance in the human body.  Just as refined, factory made food products upset the body’s natural balance.

Herbs, whether ingested as a medicinal infusion, taken as a tincture or in any other form of herbal medicine, are amazing healing tools because herbs are whole foods.

The nutrients in the herbs: vitamins, minerals, phyto-nutrients, and the nutrients yet to be discovered, are utilized by the body cells to cleanse, nourish, and heal each and every body cell.  Herbs specific for the female reproductive tract are nourishing to the reproductive organ’s cells.

So often we get the message from main stream media and medicine:  Do NOT use herbs as they are potentially dangerous.  This is as crazy as saying that eating beets, apples, or any other natural, whole food is potentially dangerous.

When we eat a beet, an apple, some broccoli, or any whole food, our body digests and absorbs the nutrients in the whole food to nourish our cellular health.  The same process of digestion and assimilation of nutrients happens with herbs.  Herbs are whole food; herbs are healing medicine.

Herbs are plants (leaf, root, stems, bark, berries, seeds), like a beet or an apple, that have nutritional and healing properties with affinities for certain tissues.

Herbs for female health are many and each has its own healing purpose.  Used in combination, they create powerful healing energy in the female body.

Some excellent female healing herbs are:

  • Stinging nettles
  • Red raspberry leaf
  • Wild yam
  • Chaste tree berry
  • Motherwort
  • Red clover flower
  • False unicorn root
  • Passion flower
  • Don quai root
  • Wild carrot
  • Ginger
  • Blue and Black cohosh
  • Squaw vine
  • Yarrow
  • Pennyroyal
  • Mugwort

I recommend you read up on the herb you want to ingest for its nourishing, medicinal abilities.  Learn about the herb and its healing affinities before you make the decision to take it.  Contact your local herbalist for help in choosing the right herb or blend of herbs to add to your whole food dietary plan to promote personal health and healing.

Herbs are whole foods.  Use them wisely for healing your female energy and whole body healing.

 

YoumellPaula Youmell is an RN, author, holistic healer, and blogger who thrives in northern NY State, USA.  Learn more about her healing lifestyle at www.HandsOnHealthHH.com or http://www.wholefoodhealer.com

Purchase her new book here.

Gather the Women

“We are a global sisterhood that connects women through circles. We create a safe place to share our true selves. Meeting in circle, we find our voices, claim our power and celebrate our self-worth, leading to personal and planetary transformation.”

Gather the Women – Vision Statement

Circle Mindfulness
Three years ago I read Jean Shinoda Bolen’s book Urgent Message from Mother: Gather the Women, Save the World and felt compelled to act within reading the first page! I contacted the organisation, Gather the Women, who encouraged me to create my own circle in Liverpool.

For the first time in my life, competition dissolved when I read this book. Collaboration, something that I was conditioned against, arose deeply and urgently. I felt compelled to collaborate, to help, to be part of something that I know, deep, deep down inside, will make a difference to the imbalance of female and male in our world.

At the time, I had no previous experience of circle and no idea what a circle was… Almost everything I’ve learned has been from my own experience. I’ve matured and grown with circle, learning a huge amount along the way in how to create a safe, nourishing space. I used social media, word of mouth and posters in local shops to gather the women of Liverpool: I found that social media is the modern word of mouth!

Today in Liverpool we have around 50 active members and have created a genuine, loving, supportive sisterhood. We meet monthly in our city centre and all of us value our time spent together.

Circle Whats the Story 20142

We live in a world created by and dominated by men, where women are not equal in decision making. Since I was a very young girl I’ve noticed this imbalance; in my school life, my home life, in the media, in the working world… I always wanted to be of service in the rebalancing even from a very early age. Until I learned of Gather the Women I didn’t have the appropriate medium, that suited me and who I am, of taking part in this rebalancing. I knew from my own observations as a child and adult that the media representation of women is that they are not leaders, they don’t make decisions or choices that affect others on a local, national or global level. Why? Because from when all women are little girls their minds are imprinted with images of men in power, men calling the shots, men in control, women being submissive, women being praised for looks over all other qualities, women having to fit in to a structural system taking a long time to change. I realised that girls were growing into women having a deep feeling of dis-entitlement whether they recognised this or not.

So why Gather the Women?

For me, it means real change. We can tell women and men until we’re blue in the face that they are equal but what use is telling someone something if they don’t internalise it and discover from it? Real change and transformation, real wisdom, happens within a person, they must reach that realisation on their own. What I instinctively knew about circle (even when I didn’t know anything about it!) was that through coming together in circle women would learn about themselves, find their voices, be truly heard (sometimes for the first time), forge a sisterhood, dissolve competition with each other, feel compassion for others and hear what other women have to say… She would transform herself, her conditioning, her beliefs, come to KNOW she is ENTITLED and at the same time gaining a sisterhood and nourishing support system along the way.

Circle is a beautiful and safe space where each woman can explore the totality of who she really is… She is not just feminine nor just masculine, we come from beyond a duality… in circle we can be angry, protective, sexual, strong, rebellious, open, soft, emotional, quiet, sensitive… We can be who we really are, beyond the stereotyping of female and male, because that’s our authenticity.

Circle Shame
Ultimately, we must reach balance within ourselves before the world is rebalanced.

Setting a safe, still space in circle is important to me; when women walk into the room I want their hearts to feel held. I wish for every woman in my circle to feel that she’s sitting on her mama’s lap having her hair stroked and being given undivided, unconditionally loved attention… that it’s okay to be honest, okay to cry, okay to laugh, okay to say nothing. I pay attention to the atmosphere of the room and how it feels and looks… creating beautiful circle centres (sometimes hugely elaborate ones!) and ensuring the space looks and feels calm and relaxed.

When I first paid attention to the look and feel of the room, women walked into the room and gasped. Some contacted me afterwards to say as soon as she walked into the room she felt held and safe and I began to consider that how the circle looks can have instant impact before people have even sat down. This combined with my many years of serious meditation and working on increasing my self-awareness, dissolving knots and troubles deep within me, has led to ever deepening self-knowing, expanding my heart and allowing me to act from a place of true service and compassion. I bring this to every circle… I spend time in the room alone before circle begins, asking that each woman feels heard, held, connected and loved. That’s my only intention with the circles I facilitate.

It is such an honour to hear women’s journeys, stories, truth… I am inspired by each woman who attends our circle, by her courage, her honesty, her capacity to love. I’m blessed, so very blessed, to know these sparkling women!

Only when women know the fullness of themselves will men know the fullness of themselves also. That will be the time when we bloom into our full potential as human beings. Through circle, women can come to be aware of her conditioning, release her conditioning and discover the fullness of who she really is.

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Deb Convener

Deborah Zaher is the Regional Coordinator for Liverpool, UK as well as the Communications Convener (our Conveners are our Board of Directors).

“I’m the one tweeting and updating the website and Facebook! My aim with the role of Communications Convener is to really bind our global sisterhood together and I enjoy coming up with creative ways as to how to do this! A few years ago, circles around the world each created a patch that was lovingly sewn into a sisters quilt and most recently I’m asking Regional Coordinators one at a time to shine the light on her circle in an article on our website blog so we can discover more about our sisters around the world… My goal with this is to see all of these articles combined into one big gorgeous book of Gather the Women amazingness!”

Gather the Women has been gathering women all around the globe since 2001 when Carol Hansen Grey had experienced numerous women contacting her describing the same vision that we needed to begin to gather the women of the world. Though these women came from diverse backgrounds, all shared a deep passion for awakening the power of women in service of a better world. Since then, Gather the Women has continued to expand, drawing new individuals, Regional Coordinators, and partner organisations into the matrix. We now have Regional Coordinators spread around the world, each Coordinator gathering local women into circle.

Gather the Women website: www.gatherthewomen.org

Gather the Women Global Facebook group: www.facebook.com/groups/Gatheringthewomen

Gather the Women Liverpool Facebook group: www.facebook.com/groups/gatherthewomenliverpool

 

Light at the End of the Tunnel: Pregnancy and Depression

Today’s post comes from Laura Wright and is on a topic close to my heart. I struggled with depression during one of my pregnancies and after two. Please do also see my articles on pregnancy/ post partum depression in the free resources section, here.

pregnant meme

Last year, someone very close to me became deeply depressed while pregnant. In fact, it was my little sister. After coaxing her through this tough time with the help of her wonderful partner and the rest of our family, it got me thinking about what advice or information to give prospective mothers who feel depressed during this time.

I am aware just how lonely and isolated women can feel when the world expects them to be blooming. While I have two wonderful daughters of my own, my experience of depression had been purely academic until my sister’s experience last year. Now, I feel called to write more on this deeply personal topic, so that women who find themselves in this situation can find the support and resources to help them, and to know that they are not alone in this and that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Exploring the Treatments Available to Treat Depression in Pregnancy

While a diagnosis of depression during pregnancy is usually a shock, you are not alone; as many as a fifth of pregnant women suffer from low mood. It’s also important to remember that your diagnosis means that you will receive treatment, which won’t just protect your well-being, but also that of your developing baby.

Receiving treatment

Your doctor will advise on the treatments available to you, which will depend upon the severity of your depression and other factors in your medical history. In cases of more severe depression, they may suggest antidepressants as an option. However, as some of these drugs may pose a risk to your unborn child, they are usually not recommended in cases of milder depression, as the benefits are not sufficient to outweigh the risks. There is still plenty of help available though, as a range of treatments are effective when low mood is mild to moderate. These therapies can also be used in conjunction with antidepressants to enhance the outcome. Here we give an overview of some of the alternative treatments for mood disorders available to pregnant women.

  • Taking regular exercise during pregnancy is recommended to keep up your fitness to prepare you for delivery. However, keeping physically active is also beneficial for your mood when expecting, as it triggers a number of positive changes within your body that promote feelings of well-being. Exercise such as brisk walking, low-impact aerobics, swimming and yoga are all good activities, but check with your doctor about other suitable forms of exercise.
  • Psychotherapy can take the form of one-to-one counselling, where you may receive help you to build on your relationships or to change negative thought patterns. However, support groups designed to help people with depression may also be useful if you are comfortable participating in group activities.
  • The complementary therapy of acupuncture is an additional option to ease the symptoms of depression, as certain pressure points relieve feelings of low mood. Indeed, research has shown that this is a suitable option in pregnancy.

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Laura Wright worked in nutritional science and health provision before turning to writing for a new career. Now she combined ghost writing for a wide range of businesses and organizations with spreading the word about a number of health guides she’s personally invested in. When not writing, she likes spending time with her family and going for long hikes.