Let’s talk about a female organ that needs some attention - the uterus. Hey MEN…don’t go tip-toeing off anywhere – you are included in this conversation and need this information too. It amazes me how little is understood about the uterus; its sacred power, its connectivity to everything else in the body and how to care for it.
Much of our uterine care advice comes from a medical community, which disregards the power of the female body to regulate itself through a natural ebb and flow of hormones throughout the month.
As a species, we have gotten so far away from our raw natural state, that we see our periods as an inconvenience and our uterus as an expendable organ to be conquered and controlled rather than honored and nurtured.
I got a call from a friend the other day. She said, “I need to talk to you about something. Sex is becoming very painful. My sex drive is good. But my tissue is just so tight. I’m so uncomfortable. It is really becoming an issue, and I don’t know what to do.”
We talked some more. We talked about lubrication options, which could help to buy some time while we figure out what’s going on. And then things got interesting. I asked her, “What do you use for birth control?”
She said, “A copper IUD. I figured that it is the least invasive with no hormones.”
IUD stands for intrauterine device. Lots of women opt in for this contraceptive device based on the statement above.
I said, “Ok. You are not going to like what I have to say, but here we go. First, let’s talk about invasive. There is a foreign, metal object in your vagina. That is invasive. You already have an autoimmune disease (she has Hashimoto’s). Once again, you have a foreign object inside of your body that could elicit even more inflammation. My vagina gets tense just talking about it!” [laughter]
“Do you see that this IUD isn’t doing you any favors? I’ve even seen this argument extend to wearing contact lenses, which is a foreign object in your eye. I’ve even seen it extend to vasectomies in men. They don’t stop producing sperm when they cut the tube that carries them. The body absorbs the sperm. For some people, none of this means anything. There is little to no known impact. But for others like yourself, who already have a chronic inflammatory disease, well, it could tip the scales even further away from your favor.”
“There is no easy way to prevent what Mother Nature wants to have happen, which is get you impregnated. But making your vagina an inhospitable place with an IUD is disrupting the core of your entire being. The uterus is this open space where life happens. Out of nothing, an egg and sperm meet and make a baby. The uterus is the ultimate source of creativity and right now yours is not happy. It is inflamed.”
“We can try herbal smooth muscle relaxants. We can try nervine herbs to help relax your nervous system. We can try to moisten your vaginal tissue from the inside out with appropriate nutritional and herbal support. There are lots of options. I do not want to tell you what to do. My job is to educate. If you decide to remove it, you can always get another one. I will support you either way. I just hate chasing symptoms on people and wasting resources when there is something obvious that needs to be addressed, like a foreign object up inside your body. Obviously, I am biased [more laughter].”
She thanked me for my feedback, and I told her to call me if she needed anything else.
Whew! What would she decide to do?
Within 48 hours she made an appointment to remove the IUD, and I received this text message:
“Holy shit! Just left the doctor’s office and I swear to God it feels like this dark cloud has lifted. It’s like my vagina just took a deep breath of fresh air, ha ha! I had no idea it would be so immediate and noticeable.”
She had her IUD for 21 months before taking it out. Then, a few days later, I get this message:
“Light bulb moment! I would bet money that my iritis was an inflammatory response to the IUD. It started shortly after having the IUD put in and nothing I did diet wise seemed to keep it at bay.”
So in addition to an autoimmune pattern in her body, she has had this mysterious inflammation in her eye, which is called iritis. Now, she thinks the two are connected.
Everything is connected.
You cannot imagine the joy I feel for the possibilities of this young woman’s life. She is ready for change. She is motivated. She is committed to the unfolding of her vitality. I have had this same conversation with many women. She was ready to hear it.
She gives me hope.
Ladies, your uterus is not an expendable organ. The two most unnecessary and destructive surgeries I see happening are cholecystectomies, which is the removal of the gall bladder, and hysterectomies, which is the removal of the uterus. The fact that both of these are hollow organs intrigues me. I wonder what that means, if anything. Beyond that fascination, I am pissed.
If you have had one or both of these organs removed, I am so, so sorry.
If you still have yours, do everything you can to keep them.
Women deserve better.
Just because you can live without it, does not mean that you don’t need it.
This is one of the reasons the medical system is so quick to schedule these surgeries. Technically, you can live without these organs, but my question is: CAN YOU LIVE WELL?
When women fail to honor their reproductive capacity, they fail to honor themselves.
The energetic function of your uterus is to ground you, to help you feel a connection with the earth, and to inspire your creativity. The vaginal canal is an opening for the exchange of energy into and out of the body. I am not just talking about sexual activity. I am talking about the kind of connection that reminds you that you are part of the tides and the seasons and yes, the cycles of the moon! Once again, the IUD is not going to facilitate this healthy flow of energy.
When the uterus is understood as a sacred space, we no longer feel at odds with the emotions that arise because of our menstrual cycle. The positive emotion associated with the uterus is containment. The negative emotion is histrionic, which means overly dramatic or theatrical; essentially, the opposite of containment. Both emotions are important and reveal to us secrets from our subconscious.
You know what happens right before my period? I might get sensitive. I might get weepy. I might get angry. I might not have any energy. These symptoms are not a pathology. This is the wisdom of the body at work. When my estrogen and progesterone start to drop, my body has to adapt to that. Sometimes it doesn’t adapt all that well, and what gets revealed to me is what I am overlooking in my day-to-day life. All of a sudden, I can’t contain myself as well I could earlier in the month. At this point, my life shows itself to me. The things I have ignored, I can’t ignore anymore.
These insights are painful gifts.
Maybe I need to get more sleep this coming month.
Maybe I need to eat better foods this coming month.
Maybe I need to have that hard conversation with my spouse, co-worker, boss, family member, or friend that I have been avoiding.
You don’t want to make your menstrual cycle go away. You want to harness the power it brings each month. Use it to learn about yourself. Use it to connect with the moon. If your menstrual cycle disables you, then get to work on your self-care. You need support. On the other end of the spectrum, you may not have a menstrual cycle. That is another kind of problem, and you need help, too.
The emotional expression around a woman's period is raw. It is primal and often uncomfortable. Instead of making it wrong or viewing it as a weakness, I think women and men would be far better off to embrace it and look for its wisdom.
We can either think…I am a beacon of light and truth when my menstrual cycle comes along. What will I learn about myself and life this month?
I shouldn't feel so strongly or be so weepy or be so angry or be so irritated. What is wrong with me?
I think the first perspective is much more empowering. Don't fight it; lean into it.
Let’s examine another method of birth control: The Pill. Women’s hormones are cycling all month long. In the first half of the cycle, estrogen is high. As a hormone of proliferation, it builds the endometrial lining of the uterus. Then, the woman ovulates, and egg white-like vaginal discharge appears, marking the beginning of the second half of the cycle. Next, progesterone takes over, which helps to hold onto the endometrial lining, making sure your uterus is a nice, soft space for an egg and sperm to unite and make a baby. If pregnancy does not happen, then the estrogen and progesterone both drop and the woman has her period, effectively shedding the lining.
That’s the simple story. The menstrual cycle is very complex. The thing to know about hormones is that they exert powerful influences in the body in very small amounts, and they all affect each other.
Everything is connected.
Now that you understand, the ups and downs of hormones and how they dance together with all the other hormones, you understand why The Pill is a horrific intervention:
It takes this glorious cycle out of the equation and introduces a flat line of hormones.
It removes the essence of what it means to be a woman. It introduces male energy to the body. Let a man be a man. I want women to be women.
What I mean by that is that your menstrual cycle isn’t something that holds you back in life. It is NOT an inconvenience. It is something to celebrate – these are your reproductive years! And this cycle you live with, that resides inside you, makes you strong. It makes you adaptable to change. It’s wonderful!
But The Pill, an IUD, or an hysterectomy are NOT viable solutions. While it may make your symptoms go away, it is driving your imbalance deeper…and deeper!
I said this earlier and it is worth repeating: the universe is in the uterus; the empty space where the possibility to new life resides. Please respect and preserve this sacred space.
So here's my primer on how to take care of your uterus...
There are targeted nutritional and herbal solutions that can help you. There are dietary and lifestyle changes that can help you. You have options, but they require your participation.
My number one nutritional supplement for supporting the health of the uterus is from Standard Process. It is called Utrophin PMG, which is available through qualified health professionals. This supplement comes from the traditional wisdom of ‘like restores like’, meaning that our ancestors believed that if you had a problem with a specific tissue, then you need to eat it. This is still true today.
My number one herb for the health of the uterus is Rubus idaeus, also knowns as raspberry leaf. Many herbs have an affinity for specific tissues or organs. This is something that our ancestors figured out and is often observable. That is what is useful to me - observable phenomenon, observable changes. Raspberry helps the uterus be a better uterus. A few years ago, I suffered from menstrual cramps. After a few months taking raspberry leaf, my cramps subsided.
For thousands of years, women have also employed this herb to ensure healthy childbirth. I drank raspberry tea every day when I was pregnant. The easiest means of consuming it is in a teabag from Traditional Medicinals. Consume 4 teabags every day, steeped overnight in a quart of hot water, for the best extraction. Traditional Medicinals teas are available at most health food stores, and you can refer to my previous blog about herbal medicine for more information and resources on this topic.
And if you have feelings to coldness, add a little ginger to your raspberry tea. Sometimes all the uterus needs is a little bit more blood flow, and she will feel much better. Once again, herbs have different affinities in the body and ginger likes to support the health of the pelvic floor, which includes the uterus.
If birth control is your main focus...
Outside of creating hormonal imbalance and an inflammatory cascade, well, like I said earlier, it is hard to prevent what Mother Nature has wired us for. On that basis, my advice is simple: don’t have sex unless you are prepared to have a child. Another way to say it, there is no such thing as casual sex. Any act of creation is sacred, and birthing a child is at the top of the heap.
The two most non-invasive and viable forms of birth control are family planning and condoms. I like Katie Singer’s work – gardenoffertility.com. This is win-win because whe teaches a woman how to embrace her menstrual cycle, know herself in a new, refreshing way and understand how her fertility works. It just requires participation and presence, which are wonderful ways of being that will seep into every aspect of your life. As far as condoms go, what a small price to pay.
If you are intrigued by the possibility of investing in uterine care, I recommend a woman here in Austin named Michelle Brown who can teach you how to care for your uterus, if you still have one. She can help you repair and heal, if it has been damaged. She can help you grieve your loss, if your uterus is gone. Whatever your phase in life, she can bring honor to you and your uterus. She specializes in Mayan Abdominal Massage, among other techniques. Michelle travels to Belize to study and is committed to her craft.
Barbara Christman is another woman I highly respect and I wouldn’t get a vaginal exam from anyone else. She is the female embodiment of Mother Earth; kind, gentle and knowledgeable.
If you doubt what I have said so far, or if it interests you, then you will want to read Mothering From Your Center by Tami Lynn Kent. It could just as well be titled living from your center. Tami specializes in holistic pelvic care, and Barbara Christman has trained with her.