• My Journey to The Moon

    Hello beautiful readers!  My name is Christie Frisch and I’m delighted to introduce myself, having recently joined the team at Pulling Down the Moon, River North.  As a postpartum doula and licensed massage therapist specializing in fertility, prenatal and postpartum care, I am a passionate advocate for women and the women-identifying, especially when it comes to supporting new, expecting and trying-to-conceive mamas in experiencing each unique journey into parenthood to its fullest.  I feel incredibly fortunate to get to do what I love every day.

    My own entry into motherhood was a crucial turning point for me in so many ways, inspiring me eventually to redirect my professional focus into holistic wellness.  In those richly transformative early weeks following my daughter’s birth I recall feeling that no one around me seemed to “get it,” despite my having numerous family and friends nearby.  An internet search led me to a new moms group, where the universal complexity of our experiences impressed upon me deeply.  What other dimension of the human condition could offer the potential for such beauty, and also such rawness?  I was fascinated.  And I wanted to help support women in tapping into as much of the beauty as possible, despite the natural stress and challenge each journey brings.

    I’ve lovingly refined my signature treatment, energy balancing massage, which I tailor to each client’s needs over the expansive course of the childbearing journey.  From fertility enhancement all the way through the “fourth trimester” I seek to lift up and understand each client’s evolving needs, listening actively throughout consultation and each treatment as I integrate sound, reiki energy work, aromatherapy and guided meditation to create the ultimate massage experience (I like to think of it as a “massage plus”). My approach is inclusive and empowering, and we are all about incorporating time-honored healing arts from around the world to enhance our clients’ experience at each juncture.

    2019 has been an exciting year for me for a host of reasons, not least of which has been joining the fabulous community of wellness professionals at the Moon.  It is with much gratitude that I am now offering the five-part Fertility Enhancing Massage protocol to Pulling Down the Moon clients on Tuesdays and every other Friday at the River North location.  I received extensive training in the FEM protocol under Meredith Nathan, which I found to be both complementary and enriching to the modalities I’ve previously employed.

    It’s already been abundantly rewarding to work with Meredith and the massage therapy team at the Moon, where I’ve found so much like-mindedness among us.  My approach has always been grounded in the view that at its best, massage therapy has the potential to activate and enhance the body’s self-healing ability, producing real results that can positively impact our clients’ lives.  I view my work as nothing short of guiding my clients toward realizing this potential for themselves.  There’s no greater privilege than working with others who share such belief in the value of our work and I greatly look forward to the chapter here ahead.  I look forward to taking care of you when you schedule your massage therapy appointment!  Take time for your this season and let us support your journey at each stage!  Book Now

  • Guest Blog Feature: My Journey

    We have been honored to be part of this amazing journey with Christina. Today, she opens her heart to you and shares how she owned her personal journey with support at The Moon to get through.💗

    “After a many years of trying to conceive, I decided to see a reproductive endocrinologist. We went through several rounds of clomid and IUI without any success. My doctor told us that we most likely would not be able to have children naturally, so she suggested IVF. I was lost at this point, because they couldn’t find anything wrong with me or my husband, Andrew. We were told that we had a really high rate of success of conceiving with IVF. So, we went through our first round of IVF thinking our struggle was finally over. After the egg retrieval, we received a phone call that all of my eggs were immature, but they were able to mature some in the lab and fertilize them. In that cycle, we ended up with 3 embryos, 2 of which survived to transfer. After the dreaded two week wait, we went in for a blood test, but the pregnancy test was negative. My reproductive endocrinologist told me that she wasn’t confident that another cycle would yield different results and that I could have something rare called ‘oocyte maturational arrest.’ I was crushed, but took a few months to think about the next steps. During this time, we tried naturally and still nothing.

    We decided to see another reproductive endocrinologist. After our second egg retrieval with a different stimulation protocol we received the phone call that again all of my eggs were immature and this time, none were able to be matured in the lab. We got zero embryos from that cycle. My doctor told me that if I did have oocyte maturational arrest, there really wasn’t anything that could fix the outcome and if I was going to try again, I should try at CCRM in Colorado.

    I am an ICU nurse and was at work when I received this news. I panicked and just wanted to literally run away, but obviously I couldn’t. I had what I would consider a nervous breakdown right in the middle of the break room. To be honest with you, I felt like a piece of me had died. I had never felt such pain in my life. This is where Pulling Down the Moon came into the picture.

    At my first Acupuncture appointment, I tried to keep it together because I felt like a crazy person. In my mind, I kept telling myself things like ‘you shouldn’t be this upset. It’s not like you were diagnosed with something life threatening’ or ‘you’ve only been through two cycles, so don’t complain.’ Well, I couldn’t keep it together. I ugly cried as soon as Dr. Shimmel sat down and introduced herself. And this is the moment the transformation began.

    Dr. Shimmel, and all the staff at Pulling Down the Moon, nurtured me during a time that I was my most vulnerable. For the first time in years, I felt like I had an outlet. They actually understood my pain. Through the holistic approach, I learned to better to take care of myself both mentally and physically. I don’t know how to explain it other than bringing a plant back to life little by little. Every week after Acupuncture sessions, I had one more tool to help me cope with the trauma of infertility.

    And by the time I was ready for another ivf cycle, my mind and body felt so rock solid that ‘no matter the outcome I was going to be okay. No matter what I was going to be a mommy’ (one of the mantras she helped me develop). Also, can we talk about my (fertility-enhancing) massage sessions with Chrissy? Chrissy’s energy is SO powerful. During your massages with her, you feel a warmth and embrace that nurtures the pain away.

    After 6 months of preparation at Pulling Down the Moon, we booked a flight to Colorado for our one day workup. We did an egg retrieval with CCRM several months later, and in this cycle, ONE MATURE egg out of 18 eggs retrieved, fertilized, and made it to a blastocyst. This one mature egg—out of 55 eggs retrieved over 3 cycles, gave us a glimmer of hope, but we were aware that our chances to conceive were very low. That little embryo that took will be born this January and we could not be more thrilled to meet him.

    1 in 8 couples are struggling with infertility. While this is not a life threatening diagnosis, it is a hard and long battle that no one needs to fight alone. For those struggling, I am here for you. I will continue to fight for you. Your pain is my pain.” -Christina @cfeli6891

    Learn how we can help you on YOUR journey at: https://www.pullingdownthemoon.com/our-center/ and call us to get started at: 312-321-0004!

    (📸: Jamie Colette @colettepark on IG at: https://www.colettepark.com/)

  • Unwinding Your Mind Using Art 

    by Chrissy Langford LMT

    “I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.” ~Georgia O’Keeffe 

    “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” ~ Thomas Merton

    Drawing and painting has been a form of therapy for me since I was a child. It was a way to escape, a way to calm my mind and spirit and a way to express myself when I couldn’t find the words to do so. I could spend hours just lost in a creative zone. 

    After every Unwind the Mind session, I tell my clients to make sure they are practicing their favorite relaxation techniques at home to ease stress and anxiety post massage during the 2 week wait. The two week wait can be a time where anxiety levels are high and emotions are heightened. It’s important to take time for self-care and relaxation. 

    Creative art therapy can help one reduce stress, improve self-esteem, explore emotions hard to explain with words, improve symptoms of anxiety and depression and cope with a difficult or traumatic life event. It is known to calm the nervous system. It can create a quiet and meditative state of mind. 

    I like to use art as a form of meditation. After a long day and usually right before bed, I will take a moment to do some deep breathing exercises and then get to doodling. I put on some music and light candles and incense to set a vibe. Sometimes I just sit in silence and really check in from within. I try not to think about what I am drawing/painting and I just let my mind/pencil/paintbrush just flow. The art I produce in these moments is for no one but myself to see so there is no fear of judgement. I use colors that fit my mood in the moment. Blues and greens can be calming and healing. Reds can stimulate energy and passion. Yellows and oranges are bright and radiate warmth.  I love drawing eyes and lips, leaves and flowers, different patterns and random shapes. At the end, I often am left feeling lighter and free of whatever was hanging over me that day. 

    Again, you don’t have to be an artist to use art as a way to unwind. Try picking up an adult coloring book, doing a collage, origami, beadwork, knitting, embroidery, vision boards and even dance. All are great ways to just let go and quiet the mind. You can also keep an art journal using collage and doodles as a form of self-expression when words are not easy to come by. 

    Join us for a FREE experiential event in Chicago to unwind and learn more about the benefits of Fertility Enhancing Massage for your journey! Save your spot today for Creative Expression to Unwind the Mind on Thursday, November 14th at 7pm here!

    Chrissy Langford LMT

    Here are some great articles and blog posts about using art as a form of meditation and to reduce stress:

    https://www.huffpost.com/entry/study-says-making-art-reduces-stress_n_576183ece4b09c926cfdccac

    https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07421656.2016.1166832?journalCode=uart20#.V2GKm-YrI6g

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/arts-and-health/201606/art-making-and-stress-reduction

    https://mindfulartstudio.com/meditate-through-art/

    https://www.health.harvard.edu/mental-health/the-healing-power-of-art

    If you would like to find a professional art therapist or dig deeper into what art therapy is:

    https://arttherapy.org/ 

    10 Minute Mindfulness Drawing Meditation Tutorial you can easily do at home: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kcAFq7C_CA

  • Abdominal Massage During Stims…Is it Safe?

    by Meredith Nathan LMT

    Lately I’ve had an increasing number of clients raising a concern to me: is abdominal massage safe to receive during IVF?  Some have been warned by their doctors…others have seen precautions online.  And others may have intuitively wondered, as their own abdominal discomfort increased during stimulation.

    The concern is valid – during stimulation, the ovaries grow rapidly, sometimes even reaching the size of grapefruits.  With this increase in weight, ovarian torsion is more likely, and so any deep contact with the ovaries would be ill-advised.  Someone experiencing ovarian hyperstimulation, a condition whereby the ovaries over-produce follicles during stimulation, should be especially cautious.

    There isn’t a clear-cut yes or no answer to this question.  Certain types of abdominal massage should definitely be avoided: for instance, Mercier Therapy, which utilizes a deep raking technique to the uterus and direct massage to the ovaries, can be a wonderful modality in preparation for IVF, but should definitely NOT be received during stimulation.  Other forms of abdominal massage might be safe, but should probably be avoided if the Massage Practitioner isn’t an expert in the field of fertility (and especially in working with IVF clients).  Though their work *might* be helpful, without the proper levels of education and experience they might unknowingly put added stress on the reproductive organs during this delicate time.

    The FEM (Fertility Enhancing Massage) Protocol™ developed at Pulling Down the Moon, was actually created specifically to assist IVF patients as well as clients undergoing other forms of A.R.T.  Each abdominal technique was designed to decrease stress to the reproductive organs while simultaneously increasing circulation and lymph, and promoting organ oxygenation and alignment.  Direct pressure is never applied to the uterus or ovaries; rather, surrounding tendons, muscles, and ligaments are worked while the fascia and connective tissues surrounding these areas are warmed and stretched.  Additional techniques that don’t involve touching the abdomen are also used to boost blood flow to the reproductive organs.

    FEM Massage Practitioners are trained to stay in high communication with the client during any abdominal massage techniques, and to adjust their work if the client experiences any discomfort.  The work usually feels quite good (many clients fall asleep during it), and many clients report a decrease in bloating and abdominal discomfort after the work is done.  There has actually never been an incident of ovarian torsion or injury to the ovaries of any kind reported by a Pulling Down the Moon client after receiving a FEM massage.

    Clients who have a history of hyper-stimulating should only receive our Relax & Integrate session during stimulation, which is even gentler in its approach to working the abdomen (versus our Blood Builder sessions, which use more powerful techniques).

    When dealing with your fertility, the best approach is always to stay safe and do no harm.  If you have any questions or concerns, raise them with your FEM Practitioner, so you can create the most helpful and safest approach to your reproductive health.

    Learn more about FEM during our upcoming FREE webinar on Oct 16th at 6pm Finding the Silver Lining on Your Journey! then Book Your Appointment!

  • From Practitioner to Patient: A Different Kind of Journey

    by Jillian Thomas, LMT

    Never in a million years did I think I would be in the position I was a few months ago.  My In Laws met my husband, son and I at a diner near our house.  They had just come back from a cruise the day before.  My mother in law proceeded to tell us that the doctor had told her she needed to go on dialysis-that she was  in Stage 5 Kidney failure.  Instantly the idea popped into my head.  I knew my blood type was 0+ and while sitting in that diner, my gears were turning.  After we left the diner, I told my husband my thoughts.  I wanted to get tested to see if I could donate to his mother.  Over the next two weeks I nervously thought of how to offer my kidney to her.  We invited my In-laws over for dinner one night, and while chatting in our family room, I told her.  We had been trying to conceive for about 9 months for our second child- to no avail.  I shared with her that I believed that there was a reason why we weren’t getting pregnant and that was so I was able to give this gift to her. She was speechless.  It took her two days to be able to come up with the words to thank me for offering.  We scheduled our initial appointments at University of Illinois at Chicago to get onto the registry.  After several vials of blood and several meetings with various health care professionals, we were sent on our way. Two weeks later, I received a call from the nurse coordinator to tell me that I was a perfect match. My mother-in-law and I both laughed in disbelief at the news.  This was really happening. Here we are now, with the transplant planning process started, still in disbelief that this had come together so fast.  It is amazing to me how there had to be an incredible amount of situations that had to line up in order for this to become a reality.  How could this be incidental? Our desires for a second child must be put on hold for a while, but this means that our child and future children can have their Nana around a while longer. No good plan survives its first encounter with a harsh reality.  Maybe sharing my story might be able to resonate with others going through difficult times and having to make difficult decisions.  

    As I am preparing for the next steps, I scheduled my Cleanse Massage and my Therapeutic Nutrition Consultation with the team at Pulling Down the Moon to support my wellness during this process.  I am grateful to have found ‘The Moon’ and joined the Massage Team to support women on their journeys with fertility, pregnancy, postpartum care, and all the stressors life brings.  I will go on leave for this journey after my mother-in-law’s clearance is finalized and looking forward to supporting your journey before, as well as, after my recovery!

    Let us take care of you on your journey and book your massage today!

    (Pictured: Jillian Thomas and her Mother-in-Law Joan)

  • Lower Stress from Conception to Postpartum with Massage

    By Cathy McCauley, LMT

    You’ve received the results – you are pregnant! Take a deep breath. It may have been a long road to get to where you are now.

    Pregnancy is an exciting time, and you’re probably feeling a mixed bag of emotions. Maybe you have concerns or stress. These feelings are normal as changes occur in your life and in your body. However normal, it is important to find healthy ways to deal with feelings, emotions and stress during pregnancy.

    Chronic stress during pregnancy can impact you and your baby as more blood is sent to the extremities rather than to the internal organs as a result of the “fight or flight” response. With blood being sent to other areas over the internal organs, stress can compromise blood flow to the baby, perhaps by as much as 65%. This may result in lower fetal heart rate and blood oxygenation (Gorsuch and Key 1974 as cited in Osborne 2012).

    Massage for Health
    One way you can improve your health and well-being during pregnancy is to receive regular prenatal massage. While multiple sessions can have a greater effect on improving pain and lowering anxiety and depression, even one massage session can offer benefits (Moyer et al 2004 as cited in Osborne 2012).  The Unwind the Mind Massage is safe and supportive from transfer through the first trimester at 14 weeks, the Prenatal Massage can be enjoyed throughout pregnancy, and the Postpartum Massage after delivery whenever you feel comfortable or are cleared by your doctor.

    Safe, therapeutic touch provides you with deep levels of relaxation that signal your parasympathetic nervous system creating physiological balance, steadier blood pressure, pulse and respiratory rates; regular blood flow to the uterus, placenta and fetus; and healthier immune system functioning, emotional states, and responses to stressful stimuli (Nichols and Humenick 2000 as cited in Osborne 2012). This is good news for you and your baby.

    In addition to the therapeutic touch, evidence shows that having a strong support system may reduce pregnancy complications. A study of several hundred pregnant women who had difficult life changes in the two years immediately preceding and/or during their pregnancy found that those who also had strong support systems had one-third the complications of those who experienced similar stresses without a support system (Nuckols et al. 1972; Hobel and Colhane 2003 as cited in Osborne 2012).

    Pulling Down the Moon wants to help support you through your pregnancy. Whether choosing prenatal massage, nutrition, acupuncture, or one of our community events; we offer nurturing care for you during this exciting and stressful time of transitions.  Our partner, CocoonCare can support your prenatal/postnatal fitness, health coaching, and informative workshop needs!

    Take time to relax and celebrate with a massage todayCathy is available in Highland Park on Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays, as well as, Buffalo Grove on Tuesdays! Enjoy savings with our package options throughout your journey!

    References:
    Osborne C. Pre- and Perinatal Massage Therapy, A Comprehensive Guide to Prenatal, Labor and Postpartum Practice. 2nd edition. Baltimore: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2012.

  • The Two-Week Wait: Your Holistic Guide to Wellness

    The anticipation, anxiety, the loss of control and not knowing what to expect can be especially difficult during the “two-week wait.” The two-week wait – between ovulation and when your next cycle is due to start – can feel as if you are in limbo as there is no way to tell if you’re pregnant. 

    You may find yourself watching for signs and symptoms of pregnancy. Each twinge in your belly, tenderness in your breasts and feeling of fatigue, asking yourself, “Does this mean I’m pregnant? Or am I getting my period?”

    The questions, the “what if’s,” the TIME all feels endless and one seems to build upon the other until what you’re left with is a gigantic ball of anxiety and feeling a loss of control. 

    What if instead of “getting through” the two-week wait, we were intentional and mindful of nurturing ourselves by creating a plan? This holistic guide to self-care will provide you with a plan for nurturing yourself in four areas: physical, social, emotional and spiritual. 

    Physical

    Sleep is not only necessary and restorative for our bodies, it also allows us to cope with our feelings of anxiety and overwhelm in a more manageable way. If you find yourself having difficulty falling asleep, here are a few helpful tips:

    • Keep a journal or notepad next to your bed and write down the thoughts, worries or items on your ‘to-do’ list. Say to yourself, “This will be here for me if/when I need it.” Sometimes the act of writing something down allows for a cathartic release of whatever we’re feeling preoccupied with.
    • Listen to a guided meditation app before bed to relax into sleep and take your mind off of the two-week wait. Bonus: the more you practice, the more this cues your body and mind that it’s time to sleep.

    Gentle exercise such as planning a walk to a scenic place, a lake or forest preserve. Getting outside can have a calming, centering effect while you are present in nature. Try Yoga for Fertility poses on your own or building community through practice with others. Schedule an Unwind the Mind Massage, “This session was created to be a safe oasis from post-ovulation stress, boosting immune and endocrine function, while supporting a potential pregnancy.” (Pulling Down the Moon, Fertility Enhancing Massage (FEM)

    Social

    • Plan a social outing with your partner or friends. Socializing provides an outlet for connection as well as a distraction from the thoughts and feelings you maybe preoccupied with. And, it’s fun! What activities do you enjoy doing? Want to try something new? Try being intentional about planning enjoyable activities, especially during the two-week wait.

    Emotional

    • Create a list of friends, family members or supports you can reach out to check in with during the two-week wait. Is there a fellow member of your support group, a friend or family member who has an understanding of what you’re going through? Who acts as a sounding board, offers encouragement or provides a fun distraction? Write these supports down so that when you’re feeling especially alone or overwhelmed during your journey you have a few go-to people you feel safe reaching out to.
    • Mantras can have a powerful and empowering impact. Choose a word or short phrase you would like to be the focus during your two-week wait. How would you like to feel and respond to yourself and others? Write the mantra on a post-it note or schedule it as a daily event on your phone to be reminded of your intention. 

    Nurture ~ Empower ~ Peace ~ Joy ~ Warrior

    Spiritual

    • Practicing meditation & mindfulness “Mindfulness is the energy of being aware and awake to the present moment… Being present is the most powerful place to be.” Thich Nhat Hanh. Bringing your attention back to the present moment can help decrease feelings of anxiety and increase self-awareness. New to meditation? Try a guided meditation app. There are guided meditations specific to fertility, sleep, anxiety and grief that you may find especially helpful in starting or ending your day.

    In summary, while creating a plan doesn’t take away the uncertainty, it may allow you to feel a sense of control with how you choose to meet this part of your fertility journey. Creating a plan for the two-week can be a nurturing way to care for yourself during a time when your thoughts and feelings may be overwhelming. Take this time to connect with yourself, your partner and those you enjoy spending time with who play a supportive role in your journey. 

    Links:

    Emily Heilman is the founder of Flourish Counseling & Wellness. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Certified Perinatal Mental Health specialist (PMH-C), she specializes in perinatal mental health and wellness, supporting women and their families navigate their fertility journey, the pregnancy and postpartum period, and throughout motherhood. Her experience in the field of women’s and perinatal mental health spans the past 13 years where she has worked in community mental health, hospital settings and private practice. Emily offices are located in the Chicago Loop & Oak Park. To learn more, visit: https://flourishcounselingltd.com/

     

  • Fertility Break?  Fertility Boost!

    Many experience needing a break from their fertility journey, and choose to take one after consulting with their doctor.  Summer travel, the holidays, too many personal life transitions, or even just needing a mental health break are all valid reasons some choose to postpone their next fertility cycle for a month or two.  But a break from A.R.T. doesn’t need to mean a break from your body, or a break from your overall health.

    I was shocked when I first learned that the lifespan of an egg is actually around 90 days, and the lifespan of sperm is 60-70.  Previously I had assumed whatever you did prior to the month of conception really didn’t affect an embryo’s viability all that much…likewise the common notion that age is the only factor affecting egg quality is incomplete. Though age is a factor, the environment of the egg plays a profound role in it’s health and development.

    Several months before ovulation, many different factors are either adding to or subtracting from an egg’s health: the nutrients present in the body, stress and inflammation, hormone balance, pelvic blood flow and ovarian oxygenation.  In fact, researcher Jonathan Van Blerkom of the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at the University of Colorado Boulder concluded that “Findings from several studies indicate that embryos with the highest implantation potential originate from follicles that are well-vascularized and oxygenated.”  Likewise, sperm travels for 6-8 weeks through the body from the time of birth – and the overall health of the body impacts it at every step along the way.

    Though taking a break (for whatever reason) can cause impatience and stress, having one may actually be an opportunity in disguise!  Whether a month or two or even three, being proactive during this time can have a profound impact on your health, your mood, and your fertility.  So schedule in some relaxation time, good foods and supplements, acupuncture, and a detoxifying or blood-building massage.  

    Join us for the FREE Webinar “Should I Take a Break from Treatment” on Tuesday, September 24th at 6pm CST!  Learn how the Fertility Enhancing Massage Protocol , or ‘The FEM Protocol can help you prep for the next cycle!

  • Massage for Men?

    By Meredith Nathan LMT

    When we discuss fertility massage, it’s often assumed this practice is designed only for women.  It’s true that the benefits for women are vast, but men shouldn’t feel left out! The male reproductive system completely mirrors the female reproductive system (in function if not in location).  The Fallopian tubes are comparable to the vas deferens, as both are systems of transportation in the body. The ovaries are comparable to the testes, both producing the carrier’s ‘seed’. The uterus and the penis both allow the safe passage of that ‘seed’.  And though the hormones dominating men and women are different, both can be negatively impacted by stress.

    Abdominal and sacral massage can positively impact circulation, lymphatic flow, and digestive congestion in both men and women.  Keeping in mind that restricted blood flow can impact nerve function (including the nerves of the reproductive organs), lymph movement helps the body’s systems of detoxification (and toxicity can impact sperm quality) and digestive stagnation can actually affect hormonal balance, the connection between massage and fertility for men becomes clear.  And since the sperm live for 60-70 days, receiving fertility massage while making positive lifestyle choices for several months is ideal!

    Lastly, who can argue with the benefits of a stress-reducing massage during a highly stressful time?  Lowering cortisol levels, the stress hormone, can boost libido, increase energy, and help promote hormone balance.  And perhaps most importantly, it can increase your sense of well-being during an often tense and emotional time. Our culture doesn’t often celebrate or create space for men’s emotions, or their need for self-care…but during a fertility journey, both are vital to creating the endurance that will go the distance.

    Try a Fertility Enhancing Boost today!

  • Thin Lining? Silver Lining!

    by Meredith Nathan LMT

    A common setback to a successful fertility cycle is a thin endometrium, or uterine lining.  In the case of IVF, some cycles never make it to transfer because the endometrium is too thin.  Reproductive Endocrinologists usually like to see the lining at least 7-8mm by the time of transfer, with a ‘trilaminar’, or three-layered appearance on an ultrasound.  Why does the uterine lining sometimes not grow and thicken throughout the follicular phase as it should?  

    A few common causes include:

    • – poor pelvic blood flow
    • – pelvic blood stagnation
    • – low BMI
    • – estrogen deficiency
    • – uterine fibroid(s)
    • – adhesions or scar tissue in the uterus
    • – endometritis (infection of the endometrial cells) or adenomyosis (a condition whereby the uterine lining grows into the muscular wall of the uterus)

    Pelvic blood flow and blood stagnation are two sides of a coin: closely related in some ways, and in other ways complete opposites. For example, someone who never exercises and works a desk job may suffer from blood stagnation; her sedentary lifestyle keeps the pelvic cavity ‘swampy’ in it’s consistency.  On the other side of the ditch, the high-intensity, cross-fit, marathon-running athlete is sending much of her blood flow to her extremities (not to mention flooding her body with adrenaline, cortisol, and other stress hormones that may interrupt her hormone balance). Both of these women might end up with a thin uterine lining, for the exact opposite reason.

    In other cases blood stagnation can actually CAUSE poor blood flow.  Adhesions in the uterus can be the result of trauma or internal infection, but can also be the result of a sedentary lifestyle and blood stagnation.  These adhesions can result in lowered circulation, and a thin uterine lining.

    Other causes of thin lining can also be related, where one causes the other or several cluster together in a constellation of symptoms.  For instance, uterine fibroids are more common in an environment with poor circulation. But, the scar tissue that can result from uterine fibroids can create more blood stagnation and circulatory challenges, resulting in: poor circulation.  Likewise, low BMI may cause estrogen deficiency and other hormonal imbalances. Low estrogen may also create other body weight challenges.

    Mind boggled?  I don’t blame you.  But if any of these scenarios sound familiar, take heart.  First of all, you do not need to have the ‘perfect uterus’ (if such a thing exists) to get pregnant.  I’ve personally had clients with a lining as thin as 4mm achieve a successful implantation and pregnancy (and who now have healthy babies).  

    And the silver lining is that there are a number of positive, holistic choices you can make to give your endometrium a boost:  

    • – if you’re concerned about a low BMI, consider gaining weight.  Fat cells produce estrogen, and estrogen helps build the lining! That’s not an invitation to gorge yourself on milkshakes and cheetos (wouldn’t that be nice?) – see a nutritionist to help guide you to a healthy BMI, using a anti-inflammatory diet filled with healthy fats.
    • – while you’re at it, ask that nutritionist about things to avoid, and also supplements that can support your lining.  Some research suggests Vitamin E (included in a good prenatal vitamin) and L-arginine may support a thick uterine lining, while substances such as caffeine and nicotine are known to restrict blood flow, possibly thinning it.
    • – choose low-intensity, moderate exercise options, such as gentle (non-heated) yoga, swimming, walking, or the elliptical machine.
    • – thermal therapy, hip stretches/openers (including some fertility yoga poses you can use now!), femoral massage, and other self care techniques can help improve pelvic blood flow
    • – receive a manual therapy, such as, Fertility Enhancing Massage (FEM), or Mercier Therapy (available at PDtM from Meredith Nathan), to reduce adhesion in the abdomen and increase pelvic blood flow.  Your FEM Practitioner, exclusively at Pulling Down the Moon, can also teach you further self care techniques to help boost your blood everyday! Try a sample of these self-care fertility massage techniques today!
    (Photo by Aleksandar Pasaric)