What is a Fertility Mud Bath?

mud bath to increase fertility

Mud baths are thick, black and… well, muddy! This much I knew before I climbed into one, but there is certainly much more to them than that. In this post I share my fertility mud bath experience.

Black Oxygen Organics – Fulvic Mud Bath – Reduce the Effects of Inflammation and Oxidative Stress – Detox and Revitalize the Body

Mud baths have been used here in the Bavarian Alps to treat infertility for over 150 years. Recently, scientific studies conducted by Dr. med. André-Michael Beer have backed up this claim by showing that the peat here contains substances that impact the regulation of hormones – in addition to stimulating circulation and activating metabolism.

After learning about the power of these mud baths my husband and I headed there for a two week vacation at the beginning of this year.

We signed up for the ‘Peat Baby’ program, and I came home pregnant! The pregnancy turned out to be ectopic, but it was the first time I had ever been pregnant. It was possible.

What isn’t possible though, is to say if the pregnancy was due solely, in-part or not at all to the mud baths since it was only one of the many things I was doing to boost my fertility. A positive pregnancy test was reason enough to try again though.

So, last Friday I began another fertility mud bath treatment session. I’ll be going every other day (excluding weekends) for a total of five mud baths.


What is a Fertility Mud Bath Like?

fertility mud bathWhen I arrive in the little room a woman helps me take off my robe and I step into the black concoction. I’m told to step into the far end of the tub and then sit down.

Getting into mud this thick really does require instructions. Once my feet are in I sit down on the mud (stress ‘on’), lean back and wiggle until I am submerged up to my neck.

Copper Coil

As I’m making the final adjustments to my position the lady begins to spread the mud over my body so that everything is evenly covered – except for the area over my heart. This area she wipes clear and places a cold copper coil. Very cold.

When I ask her what this is for she says simply to relieve the strain on the heart. ‘Strain on my heart?’ Before my look of confusion fades the lady has left the room.

Now, I get to sit in here for the next 15 minutes and enjoy the warm mud- 102.2 degrees warm to be exact. Each time I’ve taken the mud bath, my body has reacted differently. Sometimes, I feel like the bath is nice and warm and sometimes I think I may explode from the heat as the sweat pores down my forehead.

Yesterday was the later. At this point, I’ve submerged my hands and arms in the mud as well and I can’t resist squishing the peat through my fingers. It’s not the smooth pureed mixture I expected. In fact, I can feel little sticks and clumps that are fun to break apart. This distracts me quite well from the heat because before long the lady is back and says I can get out.

As she helps me get out and shower off, the two little glass doors open up and a strong arm reaches in to pull the tub out. I hear a cheerful “good morning” and the tub disappears.


Where Does the Mud Go?

It turns out that the mud is one use only. Every other morning a truckload is ‘harvested’ and brought to the different spa hotels in town. After its one use, the mud is recycled. Recycled?

I asked how long it takes to recycle peat, and I’m told so long that they haven’t even used any recycled mud yet. For some reason this makes me feel better  – like I’m sitting in the original fully potent stuff.


That Mud Bath Feeling

After I’m bundled back in my robe, I head to the quite relaxation room where I’m wrapped in two blankets with my feet elevated. This is the best part. I fully relax. I’m tired and calm. And a perfect warmth has engulfed my body.

They say mud baths can be exhausting. It’s true. I’m pretty tired. I’ve been going to bed early and have even taken one nap since I started the treatments. I have three more to go, let’s see what happens.

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Infertility Support Group

Fertility support group

Studies show that psychotherapy alleviates anxiety and depression for women going through infertility – probably something a lot of us could benefit from. But to be totally honest, this wasn’t reason enough for me to go out and join an infertility support group and become one of  ‘those’ people.


Can Psychotherapy Increase Fertility?

That is until I did the in-depth research for the Stress Reduction Page and came across numerous studies that gave me the all powerful motivation: psychotherapy seems to improve fertility.

I’ve done crazier things to try and get pregnant – like sit in the mud, drink olive oil, become a human pin cushion – but somehow going to a support group wasn’t something I saw myself doing.

We go to the dentist when our teeth hurt, but going to get help when we need support emotionally is something that so many of us resist. The possibility that it may boost my fertility, though, was enough to tip the scale.


Finding an Infertility Support Group Near Me

infertility support groupI found a support group near me, and after filing the info away for several months, I finally did it: I called. I showed up and became one of ‘those’ people – whatever that means.

Telling my infertility story to a group of women that know exactly what it’s like was so, well, therapeutic. They knew. I didn’t have to explain why I had an overwhelming feeling of sadness at the announcement of a friend’s pregnancy. I didn’t need to justify myself – I could see it in their eyes – they knew. The knot in my stomach started to dissolve and quite honestly, I felt relieved.


The Support Felt Great!

When I left, I was surprised how much better I felt.

In hindsight, I have no idea why I was so surprised. It’s certainly not new that women need and rely on one another. We have issues that men just don’t have and sometimes there’s just no substitute for sharing an experience with women who know exactly what you’re going through. They also have good advice including how to deal with and help with your partner’s emotional needs – advice that your partner can’t give you.


The Benefits of an Infertility Support Group

RESOLVE, the not-for-profit national infertility association, lists on its website several benefits for participation in a support group like enhanced self-esteem and decreased sense of isolation.

I can say that I’ve experienced both of these. Now, if I could just experience the ultimate benefit that is showing up in the studies I’ve researched and is also mentioned on the RESOLVE website, “… a 2000 study found that attendees of RESOLVE support groups had higher pregnancy rates than women who didn’t attend a support group” (1).

Until then, I’m going to enjoy the fact that going to an infertility support group makes me feel better.

If you are seeking an Infertility Support Group near you, check out the groups listed on the RESOLVE website HERE.

Pregnancy After 40: Importance of Preconception Counseling

pregnancy over 40

For some, pregnancy after 40 is a hard feat to tackle. Now more than ever, women are having children later in life. Fertility treatments and increased technology in prenatal care have helped to make this possible. Women no longer need to feel rushed into motherhood.

They are able to establish their careers, travel, build savings and buy a home (among many other things) before settling down to start their family.

Pregnancy after 40 does come with some increased risks, but preconception counseling can help identify and reduce risks for women at an advanced maternal age.


What are the Chances of Getting Pregnant After 40?

Doctor Stewart, chair of the British Fertility Society, says there are many women who conceive in their 40s if their fertility is in the normal range, however, she also says trying for a baby when you’re younger significantly increases your chances.

“If you look at women under 38 who have normal fertility (ovulating regularly, in good health, their partners producing normal sperm levels and having regular intercourse), 95% of them will get pregnant within two years, whereas half of women trying to conceive in their 40s won’t conceive at all.”


Risks of Pregnancy After 40

A safe and healthy pregnancy is possible for women over 40. While there are some risks that are greater with increased maternal age, in general, a woman who was healthy before conception can expect a normal pregnancy. Increased risks that occur with pregnancy after 40 are:

  • pregnancy after 40Decreased fertility
  • Increased risk for conditions that interfere with conception, such as endometriosis, fibroids, etc
  • Higher risk of having a baby with chromosomal defects, such as Down syndrome
  • High risk of miscarriage (35% for ages 40-44 and 50% for ages 45+)
  • Pregnancy complications may be more common as women age, such as gestational diabetes, pregnancy-induced hypertension, placental problems, etc
  • Increased incidents of premature birth with advanced maternal age
  • Increased incidents of stillbirth in pregnancy after 40
  • Higher prevalence of preexisting conditions that may complicate pregnancy, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart problems, etc

Importance of Preconception Counseling 

Preconception counseling is extremely important for women over 40 who wish to conceive.

Preconception counseling is a consultation with a physician and/or obstetrician to discuss plans for conception. The doctor can make a risk assessment based on personal medical history, family medical history and other factors. The doctor may also recommend diet or lifestyle changes that may increase the potential for a healthy pregnancy.

The healthier a person is going in to a pregnancy, the more likely they are to have a healthy pregnancy.

While preconception counseling is beneficial for any woman planning to get pregnant at 40, it is important that women over 40 consult a doctor before conception.


Importance of Prenatal Care

In addition to preconception counseling, early prenatal care is essential in pregnancy after 40. Women are most at risk in their first trimester of pregnancy. Early prenatal care gives the doctor a chance to determine and monitor risks. With advanced medical care, pregnancy is now safer than it was in the past.

Benefits of Preconception Counseling

  • Reducing unintended pregnancy
  • Prevent birth defects
  • Prevent LBW and prematurity
  • Promote healthy behaviors and reduce risk-taking behaviors
  • Prepares and reinforces parents for parenting
  • Prevent poor pregnancy outcomes and recurrence
  • Promote family planning


Pre-Conception Health Assessment Checklist for Pregnancy After 40

Reproductive history- has the patient had:

  • Uterine or cervical abnormalities?
  • Two or more pregnancies ending in the first trimester- miscarriage without intervening successful gestation?
  • One or more fetal deaths?
  • Preterm deliveries (one or more)?
  • Small-for-gestational-age infants (one or more)?
  • One or more infants requiring care in neonatal intensive care unit?
  • Infants with birth defect (one or more)?


Pregnancy after 40 is not only manageable, with proper care and education it can be enjoyable.

Vegetarian Diet and Fertility- Will It Work?

meat diet and fertility

It’s official. I’m no longer a vegetarian. Not because I crave meat, not because I changed my mind about animal treatment, but because I believe that a vegetarian diet does not boost fertility. Or to put it more bluntly: I believe that a vegetarian diet and fertility don’t go together and contribute to infertility.

This is not the conclusion I wanted to come to as a vegetarian. But at the end of the day the facts and evidence point to animal protein as part of a healthy fertility diet. So after happily avoiding poultry for the past five years and red meat for the past fifteen years, I’m putting them back on my plate.

How did I come to this, for me, a radical decision? Research and experimentation.


Insulin Regulation is Vital to Fertility

vegetarian diet and fertilitySifting through books and articles on fertility and health I’ve come across various studies on the effects of animal and vegetable protein on fertility. There is, however, no consensus on which source is best for improving your changes of conception. What doctors and researchers do agree on, though, is that insulin regulation is vital to fertility.


What is Insulin Exactly?

When you eat easily digested carbohydrates – like potatoes or white bread – they’re broken down into sugar and enter the bloodstream. To lower this high blood sugar level the body produces insulin which escorts the sugar out of the bloodstream and into your cells. Sounds like a good system, but the insulin spikes caused by such easily digested carbohydrates reek havoc on your reproductive system.


Linked: Reproductive System, Insulin and Protein 

Dr. Ernest Zeringue from the Davis Fertility Clinic has successfully been using nutrition to control insulin with his fertility patients for years, and he describes the effect of elevated insulin levels on fertility by stating, “The insulin can interfere with the development of the eggs as they’re growing, as well as interfere with the establishment of a pregnancy inside the uterus.” (1)

Protein is key to controlling insulin levels.

Dr. Jeremy Groll, fertility doctor, research scientist and author of the book Fertility Foods recommends a diet and exercise program that “will improve your insulin sensitivity and make you more fertile.” For this, he points out, protein is critical: “Our goal in this plan is to promote lean body mass to reduce insulin, and you can’t do that without protein.” 


Vegetarian Diet and Fertility- Why is Animal Protein Necessary?

What we know then is that protein is key to regulating insulin and insulin regulation is key to boosting fertility. So why can’t insulin be regulated without animal protein?

Dr. Groll admits that getting enough protein (without dramatically increasing carbs) and getting all the essential amino acids is harder for vegetarians. He does believe it’s possible, but several other fertility specialists and I disagree. And here’s why:

There are a limited number of vegetable sources of protein and each source poses a unique problem to fertility. A high reliance on beans comes with a full load of carbohydrates, which can cause an imbalance in insulin levels. Dairy and soy are very controversial as to their role in infertility with numerous fertility specialists recommending these be kept to a minimum until the jury is out. That leaves nuts which shouldn’t be relied on too heavily because they deliver a lot of fat.

I’ve tried everything as a vegetarian to make a higher protein/lower carb fertility diet work, but for me, it was a dead end (see my blog: 4 Fertility Diet Principles).

Initially, I even tried adding fish as a protein source but it wasn’t enough because the weekly recommendation is limited to just two servings a week due to mercury contamination.

It’s important to point out that vegetarians certainly can, and do, get pregnant. But for those of us struggling with infertility, adding meat into our diet to control insulin could be the missing link that our body needs.

Some vegetarians may feel like this isn’t an option due to their beliefs, but for me it’s about the treatment of animals and buying only organic ensures that the animals are treated properly and are free of toxins.


Vegetarian Diet and Fertility- Making the Leap!

I can report that I’ve made the leap. Just the other night I made baked organic chicken with ginger and steamed vegetables on the side, not quite as tasty looking as the creations on the food channel, however, still worth a photo session. I have to say that I haven’t missed having poultry over the past 5 years, but you know what, I thought it tasted really good.

Organic red meat was supposed to be next. But I chickened out. I bought it and it’s been sitting in my freezer for the past several days. I can’t bring myself to cook it. My husband has volunteered to make something “yummy”, but I’m skeptical, of the meat, not the cooking of course!

But seriously, I can better meet my four fertility diet principles (for more see my blog: 4 Fertility Diet Principles) with poultry and meat on my menu and hopefully it will bring my body into balance.

If you enjoyed reading my blog, please write a comment here or bookmark it to a social bookmarking site by using the link below. Thanks!

Digestive Enzymes, Probiotics and Fertility

foods good for fertility

Digestive enzymes, probiotics and fertility- how are these connected?

Why do I want to upgrade a fertility diet that has done such amazing things for my body so far – like shorten my menstrual cycles, increase my energy, eliminate my acne and regulate my digestive system?

Because it seems like there’s still a piece of the puzzle missing.


Something is Not Quite Right

My cycles are still too long (at 36 days), I have a few days of spotting before my period each month, my luteal phase is short (at around 10 days), I still have an occasional bout of fatigue, and my hands and feet are extremely dry and cracked.

And for the last, more information than you wanted, observation: my stool sometimes looks very undigested. Why am I not totally digesting my food? It’s normal to see certain food in your stool, like corn (which is a good way to test the transient time of your digestive tract), but I can see all kinds of veggies. OK, I’ll stop with the ‘too much information’.


But How can I Improve My Digestion?

I turned to the books on my shelf that harbor a wealth of information. Expecting to be immersed in them for weeks to find out how to improve my digestion, I spotted a new book that I’ve been meaning to crack open for weeks: Diets for Healthy Healing.

With only a half-hour before I planned on heading to bed, I thought I’d just flip through the chapters to get a start on what the topics were. An hour-and-a-half later, I was still glued to the book.

I love when a crystal clear picture emerges.

It hit me that two of the five things the author recommended for improving digestion were missing from my diet: probiotic bacteria and digestive enzymes.


Digestive Enzymes, Probiotics and Fertility

Probiotic Bacteria

probiotics and fertilityProbiotic bacteria are the friendly bacteria that live in our digestive systems. They are vital to our health and well being and are responsible for breaking down our food, manufacturing many vitamins like the B-complex vitamins and producing antibiotics that prevent colonization of the harmful bacteria.

And it’s no stretch of the imagination to think that probiotic bacteria could affect our fertility: indirectly through proper digestion and directly since these bacteria break down and rebuild hormones such as estrogen.

Digestive Enzymes

Digestive enzymes are also critically important to our bodies. They’re found throughout our digestive system and are responsible for breaking down food to make the nutrients available to our bodies.

Our bodies produce digestive enzymes, however, enzymes are also found in certain foods.

Without enzymes our bodies can become depleted and we suffer from gas, indigestion, bloating, discomfort, undigested food in our stools, undigested fat in our stools and food sensitivities.


What Do the Experts Say About Enzymes, Probiotics and Fertility?

The funny thing is that probiotic bacteria and digestive enzymes aren’t new to me. I’ve come across them before as an essential part of a healing diet.

Clinical Nutritionalist, Elizabeth Lipski, emphasizes the importance of both in her book, Digestive Wellness; Jordan Rubin presents both as vital components to his amazing recovering from Crohn’s Disease in his book, The Maker’s Diet; and naturopath Linda Page has been using them successfully with her patients and presents this in her book, Diets for Healthy Healing.

The thing is though, neither probiotics nor enzymes are highlighted as important components to a healthy diet in scientifically based nutritional books, like Eat, Drink and Be Healthy from Harvard Medical School researcher, Dr. Walter Willett.

This is why I never added them. The hard science is still outstanding.

But the reality of nutrition is that we do not understand everything – not even close.

Dr. Willett even says in the book, Eat, Drink and Be Healthy, “It will be decades before we have identified all of the complex compounds in food and even longer before we truly understand how they interact with one another and what they do in our bodies”.


Taking Action

So, I’ve decided not to wait a few decades before I upgrade my fertility diet to include foods in my diet with probiotic bacteria and digestive enzymes. There’s enough evidence and – interestingly – fermented foods, which contain probiotics and enzymes, have long been recognized as an integral part of a healthy diet, like Miso in Japan, Lassi drinks in India, Kimchi in Asia and sauerkraut in Europe.

Most importantly, I’ve come across nothing to say that adding probiotics and enzymes in their natural form can in any way be harmful (nor did I find anything about them being harmful in supplemental form  – but I’m going to start al natural).

The bottom line is that I’m interested in healing myself… and as the saying goes, “The one who heals, is the one who’s right”.


Digestive Enzymes, Probiotics and Fertility Conclusion

In my upcoming blogs you’ll find me writing about which foods naturally contain probiotic bacteria and digestive enzymes, what exactly they do in the body, and how I’ll be adding them to my diet. I’ll also be writing about the effect this diet upgrade is (or is not having) on my system. Let’s see what happens…

Probiotics and Fertility Part 1

fertility probiotics

In this post I’ll be covering probiotics and fertility- that is, the little beneficial critters that live in our gut!

Life is returning to normal, so I’m back to upgrading my fertility diet. I mentioned in my blog, Digestive Enzymes, Probiotics and Fertility, that I’ll be adding two critical – and missing – components to my fertility diet: probiotic bacteria and enzymes.


What are Probiotic Bacteria?

Probiotic bacteria are the friendly bacteria that live in our digestive systems. Doctors and nutritionists agree that these bacteria are one of the most important aspects to our overall health and well being.

Dr. McDougall refers to them in his book, Digestive Tune-up, as “so important to our health and survival that they should be thought of as a vital organ”. In her book, Allergies, by Carolee Bateson-Koch writes that the cultivation of these bacteria “can mean the difference between radiant health and chronic debilitating conditions”.


Benefits of Probiotic Bacteria

probiotics and fertilityIt’s not a surprise that these little inhibitors are so important to us given the slew of responsibilities they have. Just to name a few of these responsibilities of probiotic bacteria:

  • Break down our food
  • Manufacture vitamins like biotin, niacin, folic acid and B-6
  • Increase the absorption of minerals
  • Normalize bowel transit time
  • Produce antibiotics that prevent colonization of the harmful bacteria

A Micro-biome of Life in Our Digestive Tract

Interestingly, this micro flora isn’t just a few bacteria scattered throughout our digestive tract. Trillions of bacteria inhabit our digestive system. The bacteria weigh a total of about four pounds and account for half of the volume of the contents of our large intestine.

Where Does Our Gut Biome Come From?

These bacteria begin to colonize our bodies at birth; finding their way into our system through the air we breathe, the breast milk we drink and the things we put in our mouths.

We need to continuously replenish these bacteria, though, as many don’t set up camp permanently. They regularly exit our digestive systems – making up over half of the dry weight of feces – many of which are still living (if you who weren’t grossed out enough).


What Destroys Probiotics and Fertility?

Excretion isn’t the only factor affecting the bacteria balance in our gut. Bacterial infections, hormones, antibiotics (which kill the good and the bad bacteria), high stress levels, steroid drugs, excessive alcohol intake, poor diet, and a number of other factors can throw the beneficial bacteria out of balance.


Symptoms of Improper Balance of Probiotic Bacteria

This improper balance of flora can cause the following symptoms:

  • Acne
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Ear infection
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Hormonal disturbances
  • Intestinal symptoms
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Low back pain
  • Nervousness
  • Rashes

So, probiotic bacteria are important to our health but what do they have to do with fertility?


Probiotics and Fertility- Can it Help?

There don’t seem to be any studies yet that directly link probiotic bacteria to fertility, but there are two aspects that make it very likely that these bacteria play a role.

  1. Probiotic bacteria influence our hormones. They break down and rebuild, for example, hormones such as estrogen. Knowing that an imbalance of estrogen can make getting pregnant harder it seems quite likely that a healthy bacteria balance will create a more fertile body.
  2. Probiotic bacteria manufacture important vitamins like biotin, niacin, folic acid and B-6. And not that it’s a surprise, but a recent study shows that vitamins may play an important role in getting pregnant (not to mention that folic acid is important for a healthy baby – reducing the chances of having a baby with neural tube defects).

Fertility Liver Detox: You Did What?

Fertility Liver Cleansing

I’m tired and weak. But then I knew this is how I would feel today after doing a fertility liver detox.

Last night, immediately before bed, I voluntarily drank 1/2 cup olive oil mixed with 3/4 cup grapefruit juice. Disgusting? Not really. Nausea inducing? Absolutely!

So the hundred dollar question: Why? Why would I subject my body to this – twice? (In December of last year and again now.)

All in the name of flushing my gallbladder and cleansing my liver, of course.

Yes, I too think this is a totally crazy and questionable thing to do. But what if it helps me have a baby?

I have yet to come across any direct scientific evidence that this is going to boost my fertility, but – and here is the big but – it might!

Why the Liver is Important to Reproductive Health

Fertility Liver DetoxZita West (a midwife, nutritionist, and acupuncturist specializing in fertility) in her book, Fertility & Conception, spells out just why the liver is so important for reproductive health:

“The hormonal balance needed for fertility depends on good liver function. Your liver detoxifies many substances…It chemically alters excess or used hormones for recirculation.”

Zita recommends cleansing the liver – not like I did last night – but with a 10-day liver detox diet that includes foods that are good for the liver, or those that do not make the liver work hard to digest.

My Fertility Liver Detox

This is something I’ve already tried though. Unfortunately, it did not clear my skin of acne, balance my hormones or make my cycle regular (symptoms potentially related to poor liver function). No, I needed something more.

So, for the past several weeks I’ve been drinking herb tinctures (from sensiblehealth.com) and following a restricted diet.

Then in the week, before the flush, I drank a liter of apple juice spaced between meals throughout the day (as recommended by Andreas Moritz in his book, The Liver and Gallbladder Miracle Cleanse).

Last night came the ‘grand finale’, as Richard called it, when I drank the tasty concoction of olive oil and grapefruit juice.

If you never drank this before, I can tell you that it’s followed by the most overwhelming urge to, well, vomit. And the first time I did this cleanse, I gave in around 2:00 a.m. to this urge – my wood floor still reminds me of this!

This time, though, I was awake half the night with nausea, but was able keep the contents of my stomach from reappearing.

Gall Bladder Flush

In the morning, I got up and drank Epsom salts – and here is where the results are supposed to be apparent! You succeeded in flushing your gallbladder when you actually pass gallbladder stones.

Now this is a totally controversial topic because there seems to be no scientific evidence to say that the pebbles that come out, are really gallbladder stones, nor have I found evidence that this really cleanses the liver.

However, what I did find is that there is no indication that this is harmful to your health. Even those sources that feel the cleanse is not effective believe the worst case scenario is nausea.

So, I was hoping that I would pass stones like the ones pictured in Andreas Moritz’s book, or be able to write an infertility testimonial like the ones on sensiblehealth.com.

But there were no stones to be seen. And, yes, I checked thoroughly (except for when I went to the bathroom once in the middle of the night: I was too nauseas to look very long so I just gave it a quick once over).

I also can’t say that I feel any different or notice any observable health improvement.

Will I Do Another Fertility Liver Detox Again?

So well, that’s it. Can’t imagine doing a fertility liver detox again – but, then again, I said that last time didn’t I? Really though, I’m done. I suppose the effects could still surface, like if my cycle were regular this month or my acne cleared up. But since I’ll be moving on to other treatments it would be tough to truly attribute anything to this treatment.

For me, the liver cleanse is what I consider a wildcard. It’s a treatment that has not been scientifically proven or disproven. And since I didn’t feel it endangered my health, I was willing to try it.

Maybe it works for other people. Maybe one day it will come under scientific scrutiny, but until then, I’m done with it. For me, it seems to have been a dead end. I’m heading back into the realm of more founded methods. I’m turning my attention back now to a nutrition plan, a fertility diet.

If you enjoyed reading my fertility blog, please write a comment here or bookmark it to a social bookmarking site by using the link below. Thanks!