Women's Health

Fertility Awareness Method: Understanding Your Cycle

When I first learned about the Fertility Awareness Method, I was blown away by the signals our bodies gives us each month to let us know when we are fertile and not fertile. By learning more about these signals and how to recognize them, we can gain a deeper understanding of our bodies. With this newfound awareness, we can begin to make smarter choices about when to engage in sexual intercourse to become pregnant or avoid pregnancy.

The “Normal” Menstrual Cycle

When most women think of their menstrual cycle, they think of the 3-7 days they bleed every month. But there is so many more components of a menstrual cycle that happen in our bodies each month. In the beginning of our cycle, known as the follicular phase, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) stimulates about 15 eggs to begin maturing in our ovaries. As these eggs mature within follicles, the follicles secrete estrogen and the estrogen stimulates a large surge of luteinizing hormone (LH) to be released, as well as giving cervical fluid more fertile qualities. The most mature egg actually penetrates the wall of the ovary and is released in the abdominal cavity to be swept up quickly by the fallopian tubes. The follicle of which the egg was released from then becomes the corpus luteum which starts to produce progesterone in the luteal phase of the cycle. Thinks of progesterone as “pro-gestation” because it acts to increase fertile cervical fluid, thickens the uterine lining to allow the fertilized egg to implant, allows your cervix to become soft and your cervical os to increase in diameter to allow sperm to enter the uterus, and increases your temperature. The luteal phase typically lasts for 12 to 16 days. If the egg is not fertilized and did not implant into the uterus, the woman will have her menstrual period, which is the shedding of the uterus lining. If the egg is fertilized and does implant into the uterus, it will release human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) which will signal the corpus luteum to continue to secrete progesterone to create the appropriate conditions for the baby to grow and develop.

Fertility Awareness Method (FAM)

FAM relies on having a good understanding of your own menstrual cycle and tracking the following three signs of fertility:

Cervical fluid:

  • After your menstrual period, your cervical fluid will be dry. As estrogen increase in the follicular phase, the cervical fluid will go from dry to sticky to creamy to a stretchy, clear, and lubricative consistency which is often called “egg white cervical fluid” based on its similarity in characteristics to raw egg whites. This stretchy, clear, and lubricative cervical fluid is an indication that the woman is fertile since it is produced around ovulation.
  • You can notice these changes on your underwear, on toilet paper, or just by the sensation in your vagina. The sensation of fertile cervical fluid will be wet and slippery.

Waking temperature

  • You can begin to track your morning basal body temperature by placing a thermometer underneath your tongue immediately upon waking; before getting out of bed or drinking water.
  • Before ovulation, a women’s basal body temperature will likely be around 97 to 97.7 degrees Fahrenheit. Within 24-48 hours after ovulation, a women’s basal body temperature will rise above 97.7. The temperature will stay elevated for the duration of the luteal phase due to the increase in progesterone. Therefore, a rise in basal body temperature will indicate that a woman has already ovulated.

Cervical position

  • The cervix actually changes position and qualities as the menstrual cycle progresses. When a woman is not in her ovulatory phase, the cervix is firm, lower in the vaginal canal, and has a more closed cervical os. As a woman enters into her ovulatory phase, her cervix becomes softer, higher in the vaginal canal, and has a more open cervical os.
  • You can check the qualities of your cervix at the same time everyday. This helps you to understandnand feel how it changes throughout your cycle.

Now that you know the signs of when you are fertile and have ovulated, you can begin to learn the timing of your menstrual cycle. It is helpful to keep a chart every month recording all of these signs you are tracking. After keeping track for 3-6 months, you will have a deeper understanding of when you are fertile and not fertile to help you navigate when you should have intercourse depending on if you want to get pregnant or avoid pregnancy. It is also important to note that sperm can survive in fertile cervical fluid for 5 days, whereas an egg can only survive for up to 24 hours after ovulation.

Have fun applying the Fertility Awareness Method into your lives and learning more about your beautifully functioning body!


Baby’s First Foods: A guide to solid food introduction

Introducing solid foods into your breastmilk or formula fed baby is always an exciting milestone, but often one where parents have a lot of questions to ensure their baby is as healthy as possible. This article will address common questions parents may have surrounding solid food introduction.

When should I start introducing solid foods?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the baby’s first 6 months of life. Therefore, most parents begin to introduce solid foods around 6-8 months of age. However, babies all grow and mature at different speeds, so it is more important to recognize the signs that your baby is ready for introducing solid foods.

These signs of readiness include:

  • Ability to sit on their own or with minimal support
  • Ability to hold their head up, lean forward, open mouth, and move head from side to side
  • Has an interest in foods that your family is eating or grabbing for solid foods
  • Presence of a tooth
  • Absence of tongue thrusting reflex (baby sticks out tongue when you touch their lips)
  • Ability to scoop objects into hands or pick them up with thumb and index finger

How do I introduce solid foods?

Begin by solid food introduction at a slow pace, around 1 food item every 3-5 days, to allow for time to notice if the baby has any reaction towards the food. If the mother is able to breastfeed, it is recommended that she breastfeed the baby for a short period of time before offering the baby their first solid food. You can also start by mixing solid foods into breastmilk or formula. Along with introducing solid foods, parents should begin to offer filtered water to their baby.

What are good foods to start with introducing?

It is best to start introducing solid foods that are local, organic, plant-based, and whole foods if possible. The foods you choose to start with should be mashed, pureed, or grated to help the baby’s digestive system assimilate the new foods.

Examples of foods to begin with:

  • Fruits: avocados, bananas, berries, peaches, plums, nectarines, cherries, apricots, pears, melon, prunes
  • Steamed and pureed vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potato, squash, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, beets, parsnips
  • Soft boiled egg yolks
  • Applesauce
  • Fats to use in purees: olive oil or hemp oil

Foods to Avoid:

  • Cow’s milk (until 12 months of age)
  • Honey (until 12 months of age)
  • Processed foods
  • Foods that contain high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, or ingredients that you cannot pronounce
  • Canned foods that contain BPA in lining
  • Non organic animal products or non organic foods on the dirty dozen list
  • Fruit juice

How do I know if my baby is reacting negatively to the foods they are eating?

Signs that your baby is having a reaction to a particular food include rashes, particularly those around mouth or anus, redness of face or cheeks, diarrhea or constipation, vomiting or increase in spitting up, fussiness/irritability, runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes, eczema, ear infections, and cradle cap. If a food reaction does occur, avoid that food for 6 weeks before reintroducing it into the baby’s diet once again. If the child has more severe symptoms, such as wheezing, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the lips and face, call 911.

As you move past the solid food introduction phase, have fun with introducing a wide variety of foods with lots of diversity in flavor, color, and texture!


What You Aren’t Missing on a Whole Foods Plant Based Diet

Many more people are choosing to seek out a whole foods, plant-based diet to support their overall health, increase their energy, decrease inflammation, and prevent chronic diseases. A whole foods, plant-based diet is eating a diet of fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts, and whole grains and excluding processed foods, meats, dairy, and eggs. Living in a culture that emphasizes meat and dairy as prime sources of calcium, protein, and iron, I often get the question of, “where do you get all the necessary nutrients you need on a whole foods plant-based diet?”. This article is meant to help you navigate how to ensure you are getting the necessary amount of protein, iron, and calcium you need on a whole foods plant-based diet because it is certainly achievable.


Protein plays an instrumental role in the structure and function of every single cell in our body as well as being a building block for making hormones and enzymes. If you are an adult, it is vital to eat 0.8g of protein per kg of body weight per day, with a slightly higher goal if you are pregnant, lactating, or an athlete. Eating a variety of beans, lentils, nuts and nut butters, seeds, amaranth, seitan, and tempeh will allow you to get all the necessary protein and essential amino acids you body needs to thrive. You could use an app like myfitnesspal to help determine how much protein you are getting in your diet now and then increase or decrease your protein intake to achieve the 0.8g/kg/day.


Dietary intake of iron is so essential because we use iron to transport oxygen throughout our body on our red blood cells. Plant-based sources of iron rich foods include sesame seeds, dark chocolate, black strap molasses, leafy green vegetables, fortified oatmeal or cereal, soybeans, white beans, lentils, tofu, spinach, dried peaches, prunes, or apricots, pumpkin/squash seeds, chia seeds, amaranth, and sorghum. Eating these iron rich foods with vitamin C rich foods, such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, berries, bell peppers, and cruciferous veggies will help increase the absorption of iron up to 5 times. Also, it is best to avoid high oxalate foods, drinking tea or coffee with your meal, and avoid high calcium containing foods as these inhibit the absorption of iron. According to the Institute of Medicine, the required amount of iron intake for adult women is 18mg/day and for adult men is 8mg/day.


Eating enough calcium in our diet is crucial for the health of our bones, along with getting enough physical activity and vitamin D to form strong bones. Since calcium is a mineral that resides in dirt, plants are a lovely source of calcium. In fact, cow’s milk only has calcium within it because cows eat plants that contain calcium! Some of our best whole food plant-based sources of calcium are collard greens, turnip greens, kale, rhubarb, tempeh, soy beans, bok choy, mustard greens, tahini, navy beans, squash, almond butter, almonds, broccoli, dates, sesame seeds, amaranth, nettle, and black eyed peas. The Institute of Medicine recommends adults consume 1000mg/day of calcium.


Staying Warm this Winter: Increasing Your Circulation Naturally

Brrrrr….It’s cold out there! With the coldness and darkness of the winter settling in, we tend to turn inward and allow our bodies to rest and restore in this slower pace of life. In the summer, our days are chock full of backyard gatherings, days at the beach, evening festivals, and lots of activities and movement. We tend to be constantly moving and grooving, enjoying the long, sunshiny days. In contrast, we like to spend our time in the winter reading by a cozy fire, making homecooked meals, sleeping longer, doing indoor craft projects, playing board games, and watching movies. All of these winter activities are a part of our bodies naturally slowing down to adapt to the changing in seasons. Not only that, but this slowing down supports our body in using its energy towards restoring and healing itself.  

With this slower pace of life, we want to make sure that our circulatory system isn’t slowing down as well. Not only does our circulatory system keep our body warm, but it carries with it oxygen and nutrients that need to travel to every single part of our bodies to keep us healthy. There are many fundamental ways we can support the optimal functioning of our circulatory system:

  1. Move your body every single day. This could be anything from yoga to stretching to snowshoeing to skiing to indoor rock climbing to dancing in your living room.
  2. Drink clean water. As a rule of thumb, you should drink half your body weight in ounces of water every day. Our bodies absorb water best when it is plentiful with minerals. If you have a purification system in your home, try adding a sprinkle of salt in each glass of water you drink to help your body absorb the water you drink.
  3. Take deep, invigorating breaths every morning upon rising or when you are feeling cold to increase your circulation bringing warmth into your body.
  4. Add cinnamon, garlic, ginger, nutmeg, black pepper, rosemary, onion, and cayenne into your everyday cooking as these are all herbs that stimulate the movement of your circulatory system. You could also add these herbs into hot water to make a tea! Have you ever heard of fire cider? It is apple cider vinegar infused with circulatory stimulating herbs that you would take a spoonful of once per day. Try looking for recipes online to create your own! If you like the convenience of just picking up a bottle of apple cider vinegar versus making your own, one of my favorite local businesses, Soul Shine Healing, sells an invigorating fire cider!
  5. Sit in a sauna for at least 20 minutes everyday. The heat of a sauna will increase your circulation and help in the detoxification of your body. This one may be hard because a lot of individuals don’t have access to a sauna. Some places to find a sauna in your community may be your local gym, YMCA, spas, or use a friend’s. Or if you can’t take a sauna, enjoy a warm bath before bed to increase your circulation and help you sleep.
  6. Sleep at least 8 hours per night. Sleep has a significant impact on our cardiovascular health. It is crucial to get a good night’s sleep every single night!
  7. Dry skin brush your body before showering to stimulate the movement of your circulatory system and lymphatic system. Always brush the skin on your legs towards your groin and the skin on your arms towards your armpits as this is where most of your lymph nodes are located.
  8. Spend time in gratitude thanking your circulatory system for pumping blood, oxygen, nutrients, and life throughout your entire body.

I hope you stay warm, safe, healthy, happy, and gratitude-filled this winter season!