Fertility

There are actions you can take to improve and sustain your fertility. Learn about natural supplements and lifestyle choices that can help you on this journey.

Becca Tobin Talks Hormones and Fertility

Becca candidly shares about the difficulties she’s experienced with her own hormonal imbalance through birth control and beyond, as well as her fertility journey. Becca reveals more about her past miscarriages, and the difficult depression she navigated, before finally reaching out for support which allowed her to understand her body and hormones in a whole new way, and feel less alone as she reclaimed a sense of herself.

Watch here:

Meet Becca Tobin:

Becca is an actress, singer, and Co-Host of The LadyGang podcast.

What you'll learn:

  • Becca's journey with hormonal imbalance and birth control
  • Her fertility journey and past miscarriages
  • Depression she experienced navigated throughout her pregnancy journeys the support which allowed her to understand her hormones

Getting Off the Pill, Then Winning an Olympic Gold Medal with Alix Klineman

Alisa and Alix dive deep into Alix’s journey as she transitioned off hormonal birth control, improved her fertility, and used Cycle Syncing® to help her win her first Gold Medal!

Watch now:

Meet Alix Klineman:

Alix Klineman is an American beach volleyball player, and Tokyo 2021 Summer Olympics gold medalist. She has won 8 international titles, plays on the AVP Volleyball Team professionally for Team USA, competes domestically and internationally, and is not counting out a run for Paris 2024! She was put on the pill at a young age and she felt the effects of it. She finally got off the pill and saw dramatic improvements in her athletic performance. By practicing the Cycle Syncing® Method, and addressing the root cause of her hormone symptoms, this set her up for her first Olympic success as well as her first pregnancy! 

What you'll learn in the video:

  • Hormones are not a liability, cyclical hormonal patterns are an advantage.
  • You can take charge naturally of your body with food and supplements.
  • Healing your hormones naturally is not a quick fix, it is an ongoing process. 
  • You can learn how your endocrine system works, how your cycle works, and how to work in alignment with your cycle. 
  • Symptoms are a conversation. You do not have to be at war with your body. Your symptoms are there to get your attention, so you can change your input. When you change your input your hormonal output changes. 
  • Change is possible and it doesn’t take that long to feel the benefits.

Alisa and Alix discuss getting off the birth control pill, root cause of hormonal imbalances, and more

What Women Need to Know about Caffeine

Attention, Coffee and Tea Drinkers: Did you know that caffeine disrupts your hormones — including insulin, cortisol, and reproductive hormones — for many hours after you drink it, interfering with blood sugar, sleep AND a wide range of physiological processes? For example:Caffeine hijacks your delicate hormonal wiring and wreaks havoc on your health in significant ways — from increasing the stress hormone cortisol (especially in women) to fueling the growth of benign breast cysts and increasing the risk of infertility and miscarriage.

Studies show that insulin rates are significantly higher after caffeine intake than after participants drank placebos without caffeine. And that’s not all. Caffeine stays in women’s bodies longer than men’s and it robs women of essential hormone-balancing nutrients and minerals. Caffeine consumption is also linked with increases in blood pressure in females (but not males).

This makes coffee and caffeinated beverages dangerous stuff if you suffer from existing hormone balances — or if you are concerned about protecting your hormones and your fertility in the future. What’s more, only 10 percent of the population is able to efficiently metabolize caffeine. If you’re one of the 9 in 10 people who have trouble processing caffeine, you might be extra susceptible to caffeine’s hormone disrupting effects.

Are You Able to Metabolize Caffeine?

Caffeine is broken down by the liver using the CYP1A2 enzyme. The CYP1A2 enzyme is regulated by the CYP1A2 gene. If you have a mutation in this gene, it affects how your liver breaks down and eliminates caffeine from your system. Based on your gene variation, you’ll either make a lot of this enzyme (and be a successful caffeine guzzler) or a little (and be unable to safely process caffeine). If you have a CYP1A2 mutation, a 2006 study found that you are at an elevated risk of suffering a heart attack from consuming 2 or more cups of coffee a day. Heart disease is the number 1 killer of women, so I think it makes sense for all women to  think twice before consuming caffeine.

The Mayo Clinic notes that too much caffeine can cause a variety of problems, from fertility struggles to insomnia and irritability. The CYP1A2 gene is also involved in the metabolism of estrogen. So if you struggle with PMS or a diagnosed estrogen-dominant condition like PCOS, fibroids, or endometriosis, then you have reason to suspect that you have a CYP1A2 mutation and are making less of the enzyme that breaks down both caffeine and estrogen. In 2008, research was done to build on the earlier studies linking caffeine to breast tissue changes and showed some association with increased risk of negative changes in breast tissue. Perhaps the variation in risk factors has something to do with this gene variation?

I think if there’s a history of breast cancer in your family, then this is important information to consider.Women often ask me about black and green tea, especially match, which is an antioxidant-rich green tea. Certainly teas provide certain health benefits, and matcha is rich in health-promoting compounds that protect cellular health and support physiological functions. But the fact remains that these beverages contain caffeine — and caffeine poses unique challenges for any woman with hormone imbalances. If you plan to indulge in caffeine once in a while, I think matcha is a great splurge, but I still maintain that women in their reproductive years should avoid most caffeine most of the time.

This is why getting off caffeine is such an important part of the FLO protocol. If you’re struggling with any hormone related issue (and if you’re reading this, you likely are), it’s important to remove any potential endocrine disruptors from your daily diet and lifestyle routine, including caffeine. You want to give your hormone system the break it needs to heal and come back into balance.

How Can I Tell if I Have a Hormone Imbalance (...aka How Do I Know if I Should Ditch Caffeine?)

I encourage all people with female physiology who are in their reproductive years to say no to caffeine. But women who suffer from hormone imbalances or a diagnosed hormone condition, like PCOS, fibroids, ovarian cysts, or endometriosis, should make going caffeine-free a top priority. How do you know if your hormones are out of balance (and that giving up caffeine is a good idea for you)? Here are some signs and symptoms of a hormone imbalance:

  • PMS
  • Severe period cramps
  • Bloating
  • Acne
  • Moodiness/depression
  • Anxiety
  • You have been steadily gaining weight for a few months or years
  • You can’t seem to lose weight even with a healthy diet and increased exercise
  • Chronic exhaustion/fatigue
  • Cyclical migraines
  • Sugar cravings
  • Breast or ovarian cysts
  • Low sex drive
  • Low energy
  • Endometriosis
  • PCOS

Women who are experiencing one or more of these symptoms should consider ditching caffeine for good. You should also give up caffeine if you suspect you have a caffeine intolerance.

How Can I Tell If I’m Caffeine Intolerant?

As I mentioned above, caffeine intolerance is surprisingly common, but most of us think of ourselves as immune to caffeine’s harshest effects. And almost everyone who drinks coffee or other caffeinated beverages will recognize that familiar pick-me-up feeling that caffeine brings. But if you experience any of the symptoms on the following list—symptoms that are often attributed to other conditions or physiological responses—you might be caffeine intolerant. Symptoms like:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Fatigue (yes, fatigue!)
  • High blood pressure
  • Poorly balanced blood sugar
  • Digestive distress
  • Feeling wired but tired
  • Racing heartbeat

You suffer from a hormone condition related to estrogen dominance (like PCOS or endometriosis)In many cases, these symptoms are chalked up to other diagnoses, like adrenal fatigue or anxiety disorders, but the real culprit might be coffee OR the causes of your symptoms are multifactorial and coffee consumption is one of the factors.

Caffeine Damages Fertility — in Both Men and Women

Caffeine has a significant negative impact on fertility for both men and women, yet it’s rarely ever mentioned as a dietary change that supports conception. Here’s just some of what the research tells us about the link between caffeine and infertility:

What About Upgraded Coffee?

In my new book, In the FLO, I expose the gender bias inherent in medical, fitness, and nutrition research and in health trends. Upgraded coffee is a great example of this in action. It can be great for men, and it's questionable for women.

Here's why:

Coffee can be a potent biohacking tool for men who experience an energy dip in the afternoon as they run out of  their testosterone and cortisol supply for the day or for those who are intermittent fasting. People with female physiology, however, do not have the same issue, nor is it safe to practice intermittent fasting during your reproductive years, as I uncover in In the FLO, and, hence, do not need to compensate for the same daily energy dip. For men, caffeine as an energy booster makes sense for their bodies and their unique hormone patterns (so long as they have no CYP1A2 gene variation).In the female-centric health paradigm, you want to boost your energy by balancing your blood sugar and supporting as your estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and insulin fluctuations throughout the month by working with your infradian rhythm.  

Eliminating coffee and using The Cycle Syncing Method™ to eat, move, and supplement in a phase-based pattern is the best way to biohack for increased energy. Women’s bodies are brilliantly designed to conserve energy (so we are better able to conceive and carry a pregnancy). Our bodies retain fluids longer and we metabolize the compounds contained in foods and beverages much more slowly. Men drink and excrete both alcohol and caffeine faster and more efficiently than women, meaning these substances don’t have as significant an impact on their physiology or lead to caffeine toxicity.

If you have female hormones and you choose to consume caffeine, it IS essential to consume it with or after a meal that contains some healthy fats — to keep blood sugar stable and never on an empty stomach. You don’t need to add butter to your coffee. But of course my top recommendation is to give up caffeine all together!

How to Wean Yourself Off Coffee

Ready to give your hormones some TLC by ditching coffee? Here’s how to come off coffee with fewer withdrawal symptoms and no loss of energy:

Eat a big, nutrient-dense breakfast.

Eat a phytonutrient-rich breakfast with lots of healthy, high-quality fats and protein every day. This could be a (free-range organic) egg omelette with spinach plus gluten-free avocado toast drizzled in extra virgin olive oil. Or a smoothie with nut butter and hemp protein.  Make breakfast the biggest meal of your day. Your body needs most of its fuel in the morning (rather than the evening) to support healthy energy levels throughout the day.

Shore up your adrenal system with supplements and adaptogenic herbs.

Herbs like ginkgo biloba and rhodiola support sharp thinking and mental focus, making them a good addition to your routine when you are trying to give up coffee and caffeinated tea. Vitamin B12 and vitamin B5 are necessary nutrients for maintaining healthy sustained energy everyday, and most people are deficient. Maca root powder is another plant compound that helps boost energy and support the adrenal system without taking a toll in adrenal and whole body health, like coffee does.

Seek out healthy substitutes.

Swap coffee for kukicha or “twig” tea, which is made from the roasted stem from which green tea leaves are plucked. It has a nutty taste and is perfect any time of the day. It’s also alkalizing for the blood versus the acid-forming cup of coffee. I am a tea collector, and I know that most herbal tea over time just tastes like hot potpourri. But kukicha tea is in a non-floral, non-herbaceous class by itself. You can also drink maca root powder as a tea. It has a coffee-like taste, helps with energy and detox, and is especially delicious with a bit of non-dairy creamer and a small dollop of honey. Roasted dandelion root tea and burdock root tea both have a satisfying earthy flavor.

Replenish your micronutrients.

Coffee drains the body of essential micronutrients. If you have a history of caffeine use, your body will need supplemental nutrients in order to bring your reproductive hormones back into balance.

Practice The Cycle Syncing Method™.

When you eat, exercise, and work in a way that supports your fluctuating hormones, you will build energy daily instead of working against your hormones and leaving yourself depleted and drained. If you are new to The Cycle Syncing Method™, star by downloading the MyFlo app and tracking your 28-day hormone cycle, also known as your infradian rhythm.

If you occasionally Indulge in caffeine, remember that size matters.

Take the European approach to coffee drinking. Drink a small cup of fresh espresso, rather than a giant cup (or two or three) of coffee and only have it with food. And make a habit of savoring your occasional cup of coffee instead of guzzling it on the run. And on any day you have caffeine, make sure to rehydrate with coconut water or another healthy source of electrolytes.

What is N-Acetyl Cysteine? NAC Benefits for Fertility, PCOS, & More

Whether you’re struggling with acne, bloating, PMS, or even PCOS or trying to conceive, hormonal imbalances can create all sorts of complications and painful symptoms. The good news is that identifying and supporting the root causes of hormone-related conditions may not be as mysterious an endeavor as you’d think. One of our favorite supplements for empowering women against their struggles with issues like heavy bleeding, fertility struggles, and other hormone-related conditions, is N-acetyl cysteine (NAC).

NAC is the supplement form of an amino acid called cysteine which has been used for decades to support functions that are linked to hormonal health. It is also the precursor to glutathione, and glutathione is essential for boosting liver detox. This is critical to helping us to break down estrogen which, when in excess, is often a root cause of many hormonal symptoms.

NAC benefits your hormonal health by supporting:

  • Ovulation and fertility
  • Liver and kidney detoxification
  • Healthy hormone balance
  • Insulin resistance

Intrigued? Let’s learn more about how NAC can support your journey.

NAC for fertility

Making a baby is hard work ... yeah, we said it! It may start off fun and flirty, but as you continue on your fertility journey you might learn that there’s more to it than you thought. And that’s not just a “you problem.” In fact, approximately 12% of US women between the ages of 15 and 44 have reported using infertility services, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Incorporating NAC into your wellness practice can be a really useful way to help calibrate your fertile factors. NAC has been shown to support the growth of healthy eggs and promote ovulation. It’s also been linked to increased ovarian function. A recent analysis of 15 randomized controlled trials found that NAC can be an effective adjuvant in unexplained female infertility (so, a therapy that follows the primary treatment), especially for women with high BMI, insulin resistance, and oxidative stress. (However, the authors did note that they’d like to see additional research.)

NAC for PCOS

If Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is behind your fertility struggles, know that you’re not alone—PCOS is one of the most common causes of female infertility in the US.In addition to causing irregular periods, weight gain, and acne, PCOS can lead to serious health complications, ranging from type 2 diabetes to hypertension to stroke. In short, it can feel like a crushing diagnosis if you’re struggling to get pregnant or regulate your hormones.

But that's where NAC comes in.Clomiphene citrate is a commonly prescribed medication for PCOS-related infertility, but alone, it doesn’t address the root hormonal imbalances that give rise to PCOS. A recent randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study of women with PCOS found that a combination of NAC and clomiphene citrate significantly increased ovulation and pregnancy rates among women with medication-resistant PCOS.

Another small study suggested that NAC’s antioxidant properties contributed to improving the level of circulating insulin and insulin sensitivity in women with PCOS and hyperinsulinemia (high levels of insulin in blood).And that’s not all you need to know if you’re living with PCOS. A prospective trial following 100 women with PCOS who received NAC or metformin for 24 weeks found that NAC produced a significant decrease in BMI, excess facial hair, and menstrual irregularity, as well as a drop in total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels.

NAC for heavy bleeding & fibroids

Another common hormonal woe is heavy menstrual bleeding, or menorrhagia. During the first half of your cycle, estrogen rises and reaches its peak level when you ovulate. Your liver is responsible for breaking down estrogen, but things don’t always go as planned when you’re micronutrient deficient. Without proper nutrients—such as enough NAC or cysteine—your liver might struggle with detoxification, which causes the excess estrogen to circulate in your system. Again, this is where NAC is a valuable supplement in your wellness kit. NAC has been shown to support the liver’s detoxification process. This is essential because when the liver is overburdened, it can have trouble sweeping out excess estrogen from your system.This surplus of estrogen leads to two problems: a chance of the lining of the endometrium to grow back too thick, and the growth of fibroid tumors. NAC has been shown to help reduce the size of fibroids—common benign tumors that are found in the uterus and affect 70–80% of women by the end of their reproductive years.

Why Summer is the Best Time to Boost Your Fertility

If you’re ready for a baby, you’re in luck: the best time of year to boost your fertility is…right now.Summer is the ideal season for improving fertility and getting pregnant—and that’s not just folklore. The case for focusing on fertility during the summer months is backed by science.What makes summer so great for making babies? First, there’s more opportunity for your body to make vitamin D naturally (thanks to more sunshine), and vitamin D is the essential fertility nutrient. There’s also more opportunities to move in fertility-supportive ways during the summer. Plus, some of the key fertility-boosting foods are in season right now. There’s also the research that suggests that children conceived between June and August tend to weigh more at birth, and may have better health outcomes throughout their lives.Let’s dig into the science and see exactly why summer is so brilliant for boosting fertility.

The Science of Summer and Fertility

Here’s the case for boosting your fertility during the summer months:

  1. It’s easier to stock up on vitamin D. Vitamin D, which the skin synthesizes from sunlight,  is absolutely essential if you are trying to conceive. It’s important to patch up all micronutrient gaps, of course, but getting enough D is the most critical when it comes to fertility. 

Why?The reproductive tissue in both women and men have vitamin D receptors and vitamin D-metabolizing enzymes. Animal studies have shown that, when those receptors are blocked, the animals experience abnormal development of the testes, ovaries, and uterus.In women with PCOS, which is one of the leading causes of infertility, healthy levels of vitamin D are associated with significantly higher pregnancy rates and improvement in embryo quality. Research shows that women undergoing IVF are “significantly more likely” to get pregnant with higher vitamin D levels.A sufficient supply of vitamin D, either through sunlight or supplementation, when trying to conceive and during pregnancy is important for preventing health risks for both mother and baby. Adequate vitamin D during gestation “favorably impacts the epigenome of the fetus, and in turn, long term health.” The same researchers note that there’s “urgency based on emerging research to correct [vitamin D] deficiency and maintain optimal vitamin D status” during pre-conception, conception, and gestation.Get Enough Vitamin D: The most important source of vitamin D is the sun, which is synthesized in the body when skin is exposed to sunlight—and there is no better time to get out in the sun than summer. In fact, in most areas of the northern hemisphere, the sun’s rays aren’t bright enough during winter to trigger vitamin D synthesis.So I recommend getting 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure (without sunscreen) each day during summer to boost and maintain vitamin D levels. If you’re worried about skin cancer, accelerated skin aging, and the benefits and dangers of sunscreen, I cover the topic in depth here.Even still, and for unknown reasons, many people are unable to make enough vitamin D in the summer to support overall health and fertility. For this reason, I recommend that women take a high-quality vitamin D supplement year round, in addition to getting outside for 10 to 15 minutes a day in the sunlight.

  1. Your immune system may be stronger in the summer. Robust immunity during the summer months may be a result of all that vitamin D, which helps modulate and support the immune system. The incidence of getting the flu goes down in the summer, too. Conception during flu season is correlated with shorter gestation time and that can have long-term consequences for babies. 

Boost your immunity: Make sure to maximize all your micronutrients, not just vitamin D; prioritize sleep; and take stress management seriously. All these factors influence immunity. What’s more, stress sends messages to the body that it is not an ideal time to get pregnant, so this is an especially important factor in boosting fertility.

  1. The summer months provide more opportunity for lymph-supportive exercise. With its long days and warm weather, summer provides more opportunity for almost all types of movement. I recommend low-impact, lymph system-supportive movement for women who want to boost fertility.

Get moving: Spending five to 10 minutes jumping on a mini trampoline is great. So is skipping down the street (which is great for getting vitamin D, too). Any gentle, circulation-improving movement will support fertility.

  1. Guacamole tastes better in the summer. Okay, okay. Guacamole tastes good all year round, but the ingredients are in season during summer, so they’re fresh, delicious, and cheap(er). But, wait, you might be wondering, what does guacamole have to do with fertility? The answer is in the avocado. Avocados contain the exact type of fat you want to eat when you’re trying to conceive (and even when you’re not). A diet high in healthy fats is essential for boosting fertility. 

Eat some avocado: Guac makes a great choice because the avocados are paired with other high-phytonutrients whole foods and inflammation-fighting herbs. But the truly important factor here is getting more avocados, so any way you eat them is just fine! Make a avocado-based tzatziki sauce to dip veggies in, eat mashed avocado on gluten-free toast, or cut an avocado in half, drizzle with salt and olive oil (which is also rich in the kind of fat you want to have) and it eat it with a spoon.

  1. It is cheaper and easier to make green green smoothies in summer. I recommend drinking green drinks year round, but these estrogen-balancing, liver-supporting drinks can be stuffed full of summer’s bountiful greens (which are cheaper because they are in season or, better yet, you can grow your own if you have a yard)—and they taste refreshing and cooling in the heat. A whole foods-based, primarily greens-filled smoothie supports fertility by helping eliminate used-up estrogen from the body and promoting healthy hormone balance.

Go green: One of the beautiful things about blending up a green drink is all the different variations you can make. Pull out your blender, grab some greens, and start mixing!

Fertility Challenges in the Summer

Summer IS the best season to boost fertility and get your body ready to conceive. But the season brings some fertility challenges, too.Sunscreen use goes up in the summer, as I mentioned, and many conventional sunscreens pose health risks to mother and baby. (For more on sunscreen safety, go here.) There’s also more exposure to herbicides and pesticides which end up on lawns, parks in suburban areas, and sprayed overhead, if you live in an agricultural area. The toxins in these products are especially hard on the body’s endocrine system, which regulates reproductive hormones.The summers also bring their fair share of heavy smog days. And the number of air quality alert (especially for us city dwellers) has gone up in recent years with the wildfires in Canada and out West. To protect yourself from these fertility-disrupting toxins and air particles, practice sun safety and avoid lawns and other garden areas that have been treated with chemicals. And when you return home, leave your shoes at the front door. Shoes come into contact with pesticides and herbicides that run off onto sidewalks or that linger in grassy spots, and when we wear our shoes at home, the chemicals get tracked through our house and leave us vulnerable to exposure.Pay attention to weather reports and air quality alerts and take precautions to avoid outdoor air on the heaviest smog days.Always remember that once you have the right information about how your body really works, you can start making health choices that finally start to work for you! You can do this – the science of your body is on your side!

Safe Sunscreens for a Hormone-Healthy Summer

Are you suffering from sun-safety whiplash? It looks like this: You’re super woke about skin cancer (and accelerated skin aging) thanks to pretty much everyone ever telling you about the dangers of sun exposure. And they aren’t wrong. Studies suggest that most melanoma cases are caused, at least in part, by overexposure to sunlight. But lately you’ve heard rumors about the dangers of conventional sunscreens—that they are hard on the environment, that they mess with your endocrine system, that they might not protect against skin cancer as effectively as they should… and that, at the same time, they may have carcinogenic properties of their own. Oh, yeah, and some of the ingredients in conventional sunscreens may be neurotoxins. Then there’s the debate about sunscreen and low-levels of vitamin D. Some experts have suggested that the “always use sunscreen!” advice is preventing us from converting sunlight into vitamin D, which we need for optimal hormonal health, and especially for optimal fertility? It’s enough to make you want to hide out in a windowless room until science sorts it all out. But there are ways to have a fun day at the beach, get some vitamin D, and protect yourself against skin damage... without damaging your hormones. Here’s how to keep your skin AND your hormones happy while you navigate the sun safety conundrum.

The Trouble with Conventional Sunscreens

The active ingredients in most sunscreens have been linked to imbalanced hormones, premature birth, increased risk for breast, ovarian and prostate cancer, and disruption of normal endocrine function. One popular active ingredient, oxybenzone, has been shown to harm fish and damage coral reefs—in addition to human health—all while experts have raised serious doubts about the skin cancer-prevention benefits of sunscreen that contains oxybenzone.In high concentrations, ingredients like oxybenzone can have neurotoxic effects. While the concentrations of oxybenzone that have been studied and linked to health dangers are higher than what is normally found in human tissue or the environment, that’s hardly reassuring data. What’s more, the effects of repeated, long-term, and low-dose exposures to the chemicals in sunscreens haven’t been properly studied. We don’t know what using these products everyday, as we’re often instructed to do, will do to our bodies.Meanwhile, concerns have cropped up that sunscreens might not be as effective at protecting against skin cancer as once thought, and studies have shown that most sunscreen users don’t apply enough, reducing the product’s effectiveness to one quarter of what is promised on the bottle. So what’s a person to do? There are safer sunscreens on the market—and there are other ways to be sun safe, while still getting your vitamin D.

Get Your Vitamin D...While Protecting Your Skin

Exposure to sunlight prompts the body to make vitamin D, but sunscreen effectively stops this process. So many experts recommend five to 10 minutes of sunscreen-free sun exposure everyday. This can help you make vitamin D naturally, but I recommend avoiding the brightest hours (from 11:00am-ish to 3:00pm-ish) when you’re skipping sunscreen. And if you’re worried about accelerated skin aging, leave your legs or arms exposed for 10 to 15 minutes instead of your face and neck.

But many of us live in climates where—even if you go outside for a few minutes each day without sunscreen—the sun’s rays aren’t direct enough in winter to trigger vitamin D synthesis. If you live anywhere north of, say, Missouri, the sunlight is too indirect during the winter months for our bodies to make this important vitamin, which acts like a master hormone in the body. From roughly October to April, we’re cut off from our main source of vitamin D. And there’s worse news: Even direct sunshine all year round isn’t a guarantee. Studies suggest that populations who live close to the equator, where the sun is high in the sky 365 days a year, also don’t make enough vitamin D. For complicated and largely unknown reasons, vitamin D deficiency is a global phenomenon.For this reason, I recommend that women take a high-quality vitamin D supplement. Vitamin D is important for hormone balance, fertility, mood, energy, and so much more. If vitamin D is low, as it is for so many of us, it can nearly impossible to move the needle on period and fertility problems and other symptoms.

The Safest Sunscreens

If you want to protect your hormones from the endocrine-disrupting chemicals in certain sunscreens, you have a marvelous ally on your side: the Environmental Working Group (EWG).EWG is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment. The group conducts research and disseminates information on an array of commercially available products, from shampoos to lipstick to—yes—sunscreens. (In fact, I recommend that women run ALL their health and beauty products through the EWG’s fantastic Skin Deep database, which catalogues the health and safety of just about every product on the market.)Every year, the EWG publishes a guide to sunscreens. You can check out the 2019 Sunscreen Guide here. The Guide allows you to search sunscreens by brand (so you can check on the safety of products you already own); look up the safest-ranking products; and get information about potentially dangerous ingredients.

Meanwhile, here is some of my top sun safety advice, including a few of my favorite sunscreens:

Consider avoiding sunscreens with oxybenzone. Officially, there is “insufficient data” on the safety of oxybenzone, but concerns have been raised about endocrine disruption and systemic toxicity when it comes to this commonly used compound. (Oxybenzone is found in roughly two-thirds of commercially available sunscreens). I recommend skipping products that include oxybenzone until scientists know more. Why risk it when it comes to hormone health?

Higher SPF doesn’t always mean more sun protection. It’s tempting to grab a sunscreen with the highest SPF you can find, but research suggests that SPFs over 50 confer no more benefit than SPF 50 sunscreens. In fact, its been shown that very high SPF products can be more dangerous than lower SPF products because they confer a false sense of safety. People tend to think Oh, this is SPF 75! I don’t need to reapply all day! Or A little goes a long way!, when really these products function on par with SPF 50 products and have the same re-application instructions.

Remember physical barriers. It’s easy to forget that age-old things like sitting in the shade, wearing a hat and long sleeves, and planning around the sun’s peak hours act as natural—and 100-percent safe!—sun protection. Use these sun-safety strategies FIRST every time you’re headed outdoors.

My favorite sunscreens. There are many clean, mineral sunscreens on the market. Just be sure to read labels closely and opt for mineral sunscreens that use titanium dioxide and zinc oxide as active ingredients. Both titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are “generally recognized as safe and effective.” But before you buy, check a product’s safety on the EWG database.

Coola: This brand is mineral-based and has some excellent and versatile varieties, including beach and sport, baby, and a really silky tinted version for your face.

MyChelle: This brand also make a nice—and very clean—tinted face cream with SPF 50.

Supergoop! Makes a line of clean products for adults and kids.

Badger: These sunscreens can go on a touch thick, but they couldn’t be cleaner.

Intermittent Fasting and Women's Health: What You Need to Know

If you pay attention to the health headlines, you’ve probably heard about intermittent fasting - it has been linked with several important health benefits.

But fasting isn’t the same for men and women. If women try fasting but don’t do it properly, it can cause more harm than good. Why? Because women’s bodies are biologically built for fertility and reproduction. Extended periods without food tell the body that now isn’t a good time for reproduction.

You might be thinking, so what? I don’t want to get pregnant now or maybe ever. But fertility isn’t the only concern. Women need to consider that estrogen and progesterone do more in the body than simply get us pregnant. Estrogen helps us with metabolism, weight loss, mood, anxiety and stress, energy, bone density, and cognitive function, to name just a few. If you’re a woman, intermittent fasting can disrupt estrogen balance and throw a wrench in all these essential physiological processes.

But when you know how to use intermittent fasting in a way that is safe for your unique female biochemistry—that is, when you know how to bio-hack intermittent fasting to improve hormone health instead of harm it—you can reap some amazing benefits.

Keep reading. We'll walk you through the benefits, dangers, and how-to of intermittent fasting for women below.

Women’s Hormones & Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting has been associated with numerous health benefits (more on that below), but it is also linked to hormone disruption in women. Here’s a close-up look at the cascade of hormone imbalances that can start with intermittent fasting.

First, intermittent fasting can disrupt estrogen balance. Estrogen imbalance may show up as:

A disruption in one hormone system in the body can trigger other hormone imbalances. The other major hormone considerations for women when it comes to intermittent fasting are cortisol, the stress hormone, and thyroid hormone. When cortisol is imbalanced, symptoms include:

When thyroid hormones are imbalanced, symptoms include:

  • Weight gain
  • Brain fog
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Dry skin
  • Dry hair
  • Irregular periods
  • Trouble regulating body temperature

So while intermittent fasting may have some benefits, this cascade of negative health effects for women may outweigh any benefit.

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Simply put, intermittent fasting is going for short or intermediate periods of time without food. This “not eating” window can be as short as 12 hours and include sleep time—for example, you could stop eating at 8:00pm one night and not eat again until 8:00am the next morning and call it a fast—or as long as 16, 20, or 24 hours.

People fast in different ways. Some people try to go 12 or more hours without eating everyday. Others try to go 12 or 16 hours without food a couple days a week. Some people don’t eat for a full 24 hours one day each week.

Why Intermittent Fasting is So Popular

Studies have shown that intermittent fasting may help improve certain health conditions, including:

What Makes Intermittent Fasting Trickier For Women?

A woman’s reproductive function is intricately connected to her metabolic function, and vice versa. So anytime a woman’s body gets a “starvation signal” from her environment (like not eating for a stretch of time), it goes into preserve and protect mode, where it holds onto weight (to survive the famine), increases production of the hunger hormones ghrelin and leptin (so that you feel famished and rush to get food ASAP), and slows down non-essential functions like reproduction (so you can keep yourself alive and not waste energy on growing a baby).

Animal studies bear this out: in one study, female rats who engaged in intermittent fasting for 12 weeks had smaller ovaries and experienced more insomnia than male mice. But the researchers found that these changes started in as soon as two weeks after the female mice started intermittent fasting.

How Women Can Use Intermittent Fasting Safely

This doesn’t mean women have to miss out on the benefits of intermittent fasting. Instead, we recommend that women follow some simple rules when it comes to intermittent fasting. This will help you tap into the many benefits associated with intermittent fasting while sidestepping the risks.

  • Don’t fast on consecutive days
  • Instead, pick no more than two or three non-consecutive days in a week to practice intermittent fasting
  • Don’t fast for more than 12 or 13 hours at a time. Going any longer can trigger a negative hormonal cascade
  • Don’t do intense workouts on fasting days
  • Don’t fast when you’re bleeding
  • During your eating window, choose the best diet for your hormonal health
  • If you give this slow and steady approach to intermittent fasting a try for a couple months and feel great, you can consider going for a longer window of time each day without eating (up to 16 hours), but pay close attention to how you feel and drop back to a smaller window—or stop intermittent fasting all together—if you start experiencing symptoms of hormone imbalance.

If you start to experience symptoms of hormone imbalance while intermittent fasting, or if the hormone imbalance symptoms you already experience get worse, stop fasting right away.

These symptoms include:

  • Your period becomes irregular or stops
  • You start having problems sleeping or falling asleep
  • You notice changes in metabolism and digestion
  • You feel moody or experience brain fog
  • You notice negative changes in how your hair and skin looks
  • You’re always cold

Do NOT Try Intermittent Fasting If...

  • You have a history of eating disorders
  • You’re pregnant or are trying to conceive
  • You have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or trouble waking up in the morning
  • You have adrenal fatigue
  • You are currently dealing with PMS, PCOS, Fibroids, Endometriosis or other diagnosed hormonal issues

Always remember, that once you have the right information about how your body really works, you can start making health choices that finally start to work for you! You can do this – the science of your body is on your side!

The New PCOS Study: What You Need to Know

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) affects one in 10 women in the United States (and an estimated one in five women worldwide) and it’s the leading cause of female infertility. So when a new study claims to have found a pharmaceutical cure for PCOS, it makes a big splash in the headlines.When I was younger, I might have jumped on this story as a beacon of hope. I suffered from PCOS and a crushing list of symptoms: severe cystic acne on my chest and back, depression, weight gain, and irregular ovulation. I would have done pretty much anything to stop them.If you find yourself today where I was a decade ago, you might be intrigued by this recent study. One pill might solve all your symptoms! But the secret behind this new PCOS “cure” is that it’s not really a cure at all. First, the body’s hormonal system is far too intricate and environmentally sensitive to have one root cause (and, hence, one solution). “There are a lot of things that can upset the balance of what’s going on hormonally,” professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern, Lauren Streicher, MD, tells The Cut. “We wish with all medical conditions that we could have a one-cause, one-effect sort of thing, but that’s just not the nature with most medical conditions.”Second, the study was done on mice—and what news reports often ignore is that mice aren’t people. Knowing what worked for mice is a far cry from knowing what might help human beings.Finally, the “cure” is a drug. While drugs have an important place in the Western medical arsenal, sometimes they can do more harm than good when it comes to hormonal conditionsTake hormonal birth control, which is commonly prescribed for PCOS. The pill can have serious side effects and it doesn’t solve the core hormonal imbalances at the heart of PCOS. It merely covers them up. It’s too early to tell if the same is true for cetrorelix, the drug used in the study. I put my PCOS into remission with food and lifestyle changes. You can, too.

What You Need to Know About the Study

Researchers at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research suspected that PCOS might be triggered in utero by overexposure to a specific hormone (called anti-Müllerian hormone). They tested their theory by injecting anti-Müllerian hormone into pregnant mice and observing symptoms in their female offspring.Indeed, the daughters of the mice injected with anti-Müllerian hormone showed many of the same symptoms as women with PCOS: irregular ovulation, delayed pregnancy, and fewer offspring. Then the researchers treated the symptomatic mice with cetrorelix, a drug that is commonly used during IVF, and the symptoms reversed. Naturally, the idea that a drug could reverse PCOS generated a lot of excitement. But treatment in humans is a long way off, the side effects and long-term consequences of the drug require more research, and the body’s intricate hormone system is unlikely to be thrown off balance—and brought back into balance—by one single intervention.But the best news of all? You don’t need drugs to feel better. You can find the answers to easing your symptoms in your home, on your plate, and in your supplement drawer. Best of all, when you make lifestyle and nutrition modifications, you address the root hormonal imbalances that give rise to PCOS, something a drug can’t do. Your Food & Lifestyle Rx for PCOS. PCOS is still best addressed with food and lifestyle. Ready to feel better without drugs? Here’s your step-by-step plan:Get some healthy protein and healthy fat at breakfast.You want to get some of both macronutrients for your first meal of the day, which you should eat within 30 minutes of waking up, to help keep blood sugar steady—and keep you feeling full—until lunch. Eggs and avocado make a good combo. Consider adding some leafy greens or other veggies so your plate is brimming with inflammation-fighting and detox-promoting phytonutrients.Don’t overdo animal protein.A Harvard study showed that women improved their chances of fertility when they got more of their protein from vegetable sources than animal sources. For the absolute best sources of protein for your hormones, click here. (Spoiler alert: eggs are included. They appear to be the exception to the rule when it comes to animal protein!)Don’t fear carbs. Not all carbs are created equal. While some carbohydrates are notoriously bad for health—think baked goods, white bread, pasta—others are important for hormonal harmony. Most women with PCOS struggle on a low-carb diet, like Atkins or Paleo. I recommend making rice, quinoa, buckwheat and millet part of your regular diet. Ditch caffeine. Caffeine is a catastrophe for your hormones. So many studies link caffeine with impaired fertility (which is a hallmark of PCOS) and hormonal discord that it’s hard to keep up with them all. Here’s just a few: research shows that drinking 3 cups of coffee a day (consumed by either men or women) increases the risk of miscarriage by 74%. Coffee is considered equal to drinking alcohol and smoking in terms of impairing fertility. And coffee depletes the B vitamins that are so necessary for healthy ovulation and hormone balance. If you suspect you’re low on B vitamins, you can find the formula I recommend in my Balance Supplement Kit. Steer clear of toxins. Many of the everyday chemicals we’re exposed to through cleaning products, conventional health and body care products, and lawn care products and household pesticides are endocrine disruptors and are known to to have negative reproductive, neurological, and immune system effects. The Environmental Working Group lists 12 of the worst endocrine offenders. Read labels on cleaning products carefully or, better yet, make your own products with vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils. A study commissioned by the independent research group, Women’s Voices for the Earth, found that a large number of popular cleaning products contained toxic chemicals that weren’t listed on the labels.Sync your life to your cycle. When you live your life in accordance with your natural hormonal rhythms, your hormones are happier—and so are you. It’s as simple as that. Sync your life with the MyFLO tracker, the first ever hormone balancing app. Tend your microbiome. A healthy microbiome, the group of bacteria that lives in your gut, means a healthy estrobolome, the colony of bacteria in the microbiome that help metabolize estrogen. Hormonal healing is impossible if your gut is out of balance. The best way to bring your microbiome into balance is to supplement with probiotics. Patch up nutrient deficiencies. Micronutrient support is critical for women with PCOS. Our bodies need the B vitamins that can help with mood and progesterone production; the liver support that helps detox estrogen; the magnesium that helps balance the production of progesterone, estrogen and testosterone; the probiotics that help heal the gut; and vitamins D, K1, and K2 to support healthy immune function and regular ovulation. You can find all these supplements together in the Balance Supplement Kit I created specifically to bring hormones back into balance. Always remember that once you have the right information about how your body really works, you can start making healthy choices that finally start to work for you! You can do this – the science of your body is on your side!to your FLO,Alisa

Monthly FLO: The Cycle Syncing System™

Put your period symptoms into remission. Discover how to live in your FLO and get it all done with embodied time management.

MonthlyFLO is the first-ever woman-centric health system that syncs with your unique rhythm. It gives you the foundation for solving any hormonal issues you may have over your lifetime.Using the principles of functional nutrition, MonthlyFLO is a specially-sequenced food therapy program that recalibrates your endocrine function. Over three months, you will be guided step-by-step to make simple, cumulative food and lifestyle changes that balance your hormones naturally.Click here to learn more about the life-changing Monthly FLO Program 

Need more Hormone Help?

If you’re needing some health upgrading, it’s time you started you looking into what’s going on with your hormones.I’ve designed a 4-day hormone detox and evaluation to help you understand exactly what’s out of whack and how you can start getting back to balance so that your hormones no longer have to suffer.I’ve designed a 4-day hormone detox and evaluation to help you understand exactly what’s out of whack and how you can start getting back to balance so that your hormones no longer have to suffer.Click here to get your FREE detox and evaluation.

The missing key to unlocking your best sex

It’s hard to not think of love and sex this week, and whether you’re coupled up or flying solo, it’s a great time to reacquaint yourself with what self-love is all about. One major way so many of us are missing out in that department? Denying ourselves the pleasure of our biggest, best, most mind-blowing orgasms imaginable. What if I told you that by simply adding one lifestyle tweak to your routine, you could gain game-changing insight into the exact kind of stimulation that will get you off and leave you satisfied and sexually fulfilled every day of the month? The solution isn’t complicated, and you owe it to yourself to unlock the secret.In so many ways, the tide finally feels like it’s starting to turn in favor of female empowerment. But there’s one (okay, more than one) major unspoken burden that continues to be placed on women, and it’s a deep-rooted mythology surrounding the female sex drive. Thanks to a long lineage of patriarchal norms and a society steeped in pornographic images catering to male pleasure, we’ve all been fed a big lie: you should feel the same level of desire and need the same kind of stimulation any day of any month, and that your sex drive is entirely separate from your period. Before I totally tear this myth to shreds, I have to preface it with this disclaimer: If you have a hormonal imbalance resulting in an unaddressed issue like PMS, PCOS, or a host of other endocrine problems, then yes, you may absolutely be experiencing a lower-than-normal libido. But those issues all have a simple fix one you find the right information. And yes, it’s also true that the stress of work, parenting, relationships, and more can all take you out of your sexy zone. But they can do that to men too...and yet you rarely hear about men grappling with these same struggles.

The One Piece of Info That’s Dampening Your Sex Drive

This isn’t a trivial topic, ladies: in our patriarchal, porn-obsessed culture, women — and men — just aren’t taught to understand female physiology. And that’s a big deal because our bodies don’t work on the same 24-hour clock that men’s bodies do. Our needs, emotions, energy, and desires fluctuate from week to week of each cycle, and you better believe those hormonal ups and downs have a major effect on sex drive and performance.We’re about to get real here, so listen up: we all know there’s nothing more frustrating than having a mismatch in your sex drives and moods. For example, imagine a time when your partner is all raring to go and wants to have the kind of hot and heavy, fast and furious sex that would be great if you were in your ovulatory phase, but you’re not; you’re in your way more lowkey luteal phase and you’re biologically craving long, drawn-out, sensual sexy time (think: a half-hour make-out session followed by all the heavy petting and clitoral stimulation you can get). This situation is not win-win, your choices are to go along for the ride and risk not enjoying yourself the way you want, or to say no to the advance all together. Told you. #RealTalk.This scenario isn’t fun, and it often leaves you frustrated. But I guarantee if your partner knew which week it was according to your cycle and what exactly her or she had to do in advance of your sex session to help you enjoy the moment, he or she’d get to business! Not only would you both get exactly what you wanted out of the interaction, but there’d be no emotional baggage, no blaming, no passive aggression or overt aggression — basically, you’d both avoid all the bad kind of friction and only get the extra good kind of friction.

Female Sexuality Isn’t Static; It’s Cyclical

This insight isn’t just essential for couples though — understanding your cycle can completely transform your solo play experience (which, by the way, is crucial to good hormonal health). There’s this expectation that we should all feel the same and be turned on the same way and have the same kind of response that we do in our ovulatory phase (when our sex drives are soaring) every day of the month. But that’s just not biologically accurate or sound and it’s a totally unreasonable standard to hold yourself to. All that unrealistic expectation does is disconnect you from your sexuality — again, not cool. Your body has a cyclical pattern and you need to acknowledge that in the way you’re self pleasuring. Each week of your cycle, your hormones change and you need to approach your sex life accordingly. One week, you might just need a few minutes of quick stimulation to get off, and other weeks, you might need to break out the lube and read something that really turns on you. Your specific desire depends entirely on what’s happening with your hormones, and knowing that information will empower you to access the right tools in your arsenal at the right time.

Meeting Your Sexual Needs Matters More Than You Think

If you think these are trivial details, thing again: by omitting the female physiological experience from the sex drive conversation, women are made to constantly feel at fault for failing to rise to the occasion. If you’re not feeling super hot and ready for action, you can’t help but feel like there’s something wrong with you or you’re falling short in some way. This only perpetuates the inner critical voice that further disconnects us from our bodies and denies us the right to get our own needs met. This perspective doesn’t make any sense, and once you become tuned into the very real hormonal fluctuations that affect your drive and desire (and the strategies for working with them, not against them), you won’t believe you ever spent a minute feeling bad about your own biology. Knowing your body and making choices that complement its inherent wisdom will embolden you with profound confidence — a quality that’s infinitely more sexy than any piece of lacy lingerie.

The Solution to the Sex Drive Disparity

So what’s the solution here? It’s simple: Download the MyFlo app now and watch everything fall into place. If you’re trying to set up a more cycle-friendly solo play schedule, the app will get to know your unique cycle and offer suggestions for how to make the most out of everyday activities — including self-pleasuring. And if you’re coupled up, count on the one-of-a-kind Partner Sync feature. It actually sends timely emailed updates on where you're at in your cycle so they always know how you feel and what you need. I've been cycle syncing my marriage since the beginning and can tell you...it's a game changer. Let go of the guilt and get the love you deserve, ladies — it’s time! Love and ovaries,Alisa

Do You Know the Easiest Way to Fix Your Period Symptoms?

You don’t need to keep suffering with annoying symptoms that drain your energy for 1-2 weeks every single month. In fact, you can start having a better period as soon as your next period.MyFLO is the first-ever functional medicine period tracker that ALSO helps you fix your symptoms. MyFLO will help you understand why you have symptoms and what to do to improve them with food. It will also teach you how to Cycle Sync™ the 5 main areas of your life: food, exercise, work, relationships, and sex.Have a Better Period with MyFLOWhen you follow MyFLO’s weekly recommendations, you’ll get rid of frustrating symptoms and learn how to optimize your energy to be more productive and have better relationships.Click here to get MyFLO for iPhoneClick here to get MyFLO for Android

Major Study Links Birth Control to Breast Cancer: What You Need to Know

If you’ve been following FLO Living for a while, then you already know my feelings on synthetic hormones. Far too often, thepill and all other forms of hormonal birth control (patches, implants, IUDs, etc.) are marketed as the only way to treat period problems along with being fearfully positioned as the only reliable form of pregnancy prevention available to women. Not only is that information untrue; it perpetuates a culture that doesn’t take our unique health needs as women seriously. It’s starting to feel like a bad case of deja vu: yet another study has emerged calling the safety of hormonal birth control into question. Each time this happens, it’s a strong reinforcement of the work we do here at FLO Living to help women become their own best healers of hormonal dysfunction. But this new research is so major and the results are so glaringly clear, perhaps it will be the scientific impetus for women on synthetic forms of birth control to rethink their choices.The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine this month, followed 1.8 million Danish women for over a decade. During that time, 11,517 cases of breast cancer were identified, leading researchers to the conclusion that hormone users overall experienced a 20% increase in their relative risk of breast cancer compared to nonusers. If those numbers seem hard to wrap your brain around, think of it this way: each year, hormonal birth control causes an additional 13 cases of breast cancer in a group made up of 100,000 women. So for every 100,000 women on the pill, there will be 68 annual breast cancer diagnoses compared to 55 for non-birth-control users.If you find this revelation alarming — and I certainly do — then you’ll want to know the details and understand your options so you can make the most informed choice around your fertility, your health, and your life. This issue is far too important to ignore.

The Problem With Conventional Wisdom on Birth Control

This is what’s so frustrating about conventional women’s health. As Dr. Marisa Weiss, an oncologist who founded the website breastcancer.org told the New York Times, “Gynecologists just assumed that a lower dose of hormone meant a lower risk of cancer.”   This of course is referring to the first wave of the pill that had a higher dose of hormones that at first was deemed safe for women, and then shown to cause cancer risk.  So the doses were lowered, but as the new study shows, the risk is still there.  Remember also that HRT (synthetic hormone replacement) was the gold standard treatment for menopausal women 20 years ago, until the cancer risk there was surfaced as well.I’m frustrated by the culture of prescribing “treatments” to women based on assumptions where there isn’t enough research being done to support them. And when groundbreaking research like this is done, study findings will often be dismissed in some way because it doesn’t align with the status quo. It’s just become a cultural norm to feed women information that isn’t rooted in fact and as a consequence, women all over the world are making major decisions about their health care without adequate information. In this glorious age of information, this should not be.The good news is that the current generation of women is questioning the status quo of their menstrual health care. Health and wellness has become a trendy lifestyle choice for these young women, and many are now starting to realize that the concept of medicating their cycles (even when that’s the prescription their doctor ordered) feels out of alignment with their values. And if you’re one of these women starting to have doubts about the widely-accepted medical protocols around the female cycle, that’s great. You should follow that intuition and know that beyond this study, there is a long list of mounting evidence that should call your trust in hormonal birth control as a method for “dealing with period problems” into question.

The Rise in Synthetic Birth Control Syndrome

Over the past 16 years of treating tens of thousands of women around the world, most of whom have been on some form of birth control to address their period problems, I’ve seen first hand what researchers have been uncovering for many years - a phenomenon referred to as ‘synthetic birth control syndrome’.  You may recall trying one form of birth control, and feeling not yourself or worse in the first few days.  You are then advised to hop from one form to another until you can find one your body can tolerate.  Regardless of how you feel you’re tolerating the synthetic hormones, they will absolutely do the following 3 things - stop you from ovulating and having an actual period, flush micronutrients from your system, and compromise your immune function by disturbing your microbiome.  Oh, and there’s the potential to permanently lowering your sex drive.  Those initial feelings of discomfort you may have had and were told to tolerate, were too much for men in a trial to test a form of male hormonal birth control and the men would not complete the trial!  Here are just a few of the detrimental things we already know birth control can do that we’ve shared about with you in other articles:

Not to mention, all forms of hormonal birth control used to “treat” problematic issues like PCOS and PMS are simply masking the root cause of those issues. Birth control is simply a Band-Aid, which can be a dangerous non-solution; once you come off the method, the problems will return and potentially have worse symptoms than before, as well as becoming harder to treat and resolve. By continuing to take the pill or use other forms of hormonal birth control, you’re compromising your future fertility and long-term health. It’s important that you know there are side effects as you weigh your options.  

Debunking The Pregnancy Fear

So many of my clients tell me that they simply can’t quit the pill because they’re so scared to become pregnant. This fear is understandable considering how sex, fertility, and reproduction are taught to us in schools. Girls are basically told in grade school that once they get their periods, they’ll always be in danger of getting pregnant. This fear-mongering goes hand-in-hand with the vilification of menstruation that makes it a natural step for women to choose to medicate their cycles; first girls are told that their periods are gross and taboo, and then they’re taught to live with constant anxiety over possible pregnancy. And of course, all of this is done in the absence of proper education around the super specific conditions that have to be in place for conception to occur — like the fact that fertilization is really only possible during a 3-5 day window each month. This perfect storm sets women up to feel that their periods are a mysterious problem best left to medication to try to handle.

Where You Can Go From Here

The fact of the matter is, you now have access to all the information you need to make the most informed, educated decisions for your body and your life. If you’re using birth control because you think it’s the only way to prevent pregnancy, then you’ve simply been misled and it’s time to learn the nuances of female fertility so you can have the freedom to make other choices. And if you’re on birth control to try and remedy your hormonal imbalance, then take this study and all the other mounting evidence to heart and understand that the pill is not the answer. There’s simply no reason to live in confusion and with symptoms around your period!  It’s your birthright to enjoy the biochemical gifts of your whole and healthy cycle.  Relying on synthetic hormones to balance your cycle isn’t necessary once you get in the FLO.  If you’re ready to get off the hormonal birth control roller coaster and remedy your endocrine issues the right way, download my special report: Birth Control Rehab: How to Quit the Pill Without Going Through Hormone Hell and you will discover:

  • 4 ways synthetic birth control makes your underlying hormone issues worse
  • Why synthetic birth control can negatively affect your future fertility
  • How the Pill alters your chemistry to make you choose the wrong partner
  • The exact steps you need to take before considering quitting your synthetic birth control

Take control of your hormones and your reproductive health by getting the facts now.Love,Alisa

Introducing the BALANCE by FLO Living Hormone Supplement Kit

You’ve been asking me for hormone-friendly supplement recommendations, and I finally have created a solution that I am so thrilled to be able to offer to you on your hormonal balancing journey:

Balance by FLO Living Supplements are a complete package that work together to keep your hormone levels healthy. They include a 2 month (2 cycle) supply of the following formulations so you’re never caught short in any phase of your cycle.When you take these 5 supplements daily, you’ll be giving your body excellent micronutrients to support healthier hormone levels. Which means that you’ll start to see your worst period symptoms get better… and even disappear after a while.

Click here to learn more about the brand-new BALANCE Supplement Kit.

5 life hacks for a better period this month

You can change your period. That’s right. You can actually change your whole period experience and you can change it so that your period is different, better, by next month. This sounds miraculous, but it’s actually very matter-of-fact, logical, evidence-based, and science-supported.

If you have an awful period - I’m talking cramps, heavy bleeding, PMS-orama, acne, bloating - it does not have to stay that way. We have been fed this myth that your period is just your period and it will be that way til menopause, just as it was for your mom and her mom before that. That myth prevents women from taking action when they could and should.In this post, I want to tackle some of those things that make a period unpleasant and horrible to deal with. All of these issues can be dealt with using these outlined period hacks.

You can use diet and lifestyle changes, along with some supplements, to be rid of your cramps, your heavy bleeds, your headaches, fatigue, and irritability, rapidly. Every phase of your cycle should feel good and you definitely should not feel horrible for half of the month due to PMS and your period. Bio-hacking isn’t just for the boys! You can use food and lifestyle switches to improve how your body is performing. You’ll see quick, satisfying, and freeing results. My Monthly FLO program incorporates all of these hacks, and provides a hormone-supportive meal plan, along with tailored support for your specific period plight.

5 life hacks for a better period

Trade in your cow dairy - Cow dairy (containing A2 casein and, often, synthetic hormones and, often, from cows fed with GMO corn and soy) is a cause for heavy bleeding during your period. Switching your cow’s milk dairy for goat and sheep dairy, or, even better, nut milks and grain milks (there are so many great alternatives out there now!), will quickly cool the inflammation in your body. Even if you’re only using cow dairy in your tea, it’s best to make that switch. You’ll have lighter, easier periods from this one simple change. The Monthly FLO protocol encourages dairy detox and going dairy-free, but goat and sheep’s can be a great transitional choice as these contain the less hormonally-disruptive A2 casein.

Self-medicate with chocolate - dark chocolate that is! Dark chocolate is full of magnesium which is fantastic for headache, PMS and periods, as well as for combatting the fatigue that can descend around that time of the month. Eat more of it after ovulation, but you can benefit on every day of your cycle.

Switch out your morning coffee - coffee is toxic for women. I know that’s hard to hear, but it is, unfortunately, true. I recommend a caffeine detox and switching out your morning coffee (and all your coffees!) for a turmeric-infused golden milk latte with coconut oil. This will help with cramps directly as it is deeply anti-inflammatory and helps you create the pain-relieving prostaglandins your body needs to fight off uterine contractions. Skipping the caffeine from now on will show marked improvements in your period overall.

Choose new period products - did you know that your regular, mainstream tampons can make cramps worse? Not to mention the increased chance of irritation and infection. I recommend switching to an organic, all-cotton, no-chemicals-included brand because regular tampons contain concerning unknown ingredients alongside their pesticide-laden cotton. Making sure that you’re using products that are safe, protective, and period-friendly for that week per month, every month, can really make a difference to your experience.  

Keep a period journal - even if you find it hard to journal every single day (I get it, I don’t do this either), I highly recommend journaling just around the time of your period. This is when your hormones are primed to provide insights, intuitive thoughts, new perspectives, and a desire to make changes. Sometimes that energy can bring about irritability or annoyance with issues that have been nagging at you all month long, but suddenly seem so much more urgently in need of your attention. Journaling can help you to explore and examine those issues that arise. You can find the context for your feelings and figure out what you want to do next.

Always remember, that once you have the right information about how your body really works, you can start making health choices that finally start to work for you! You can do this – the science of your body is on your side!

To your FLO,

Alisa

How to Shrink Ovarian Cysts Naturally

Learn What to Eat to Prevent Ovarian Cysts

Functional ovarian cysts often develop and grow in relation to hormonal shifts. Hormonal imbalance issues can cause these cysts to grow much larger and even painfully rupture. Ovarian cysts can shrink and disappear without surgery or drugs, simply by creating an internal hormonal environment that keeps their development in check and under control.

It's common to not even realize that you have ovarian cysts until they stir up symptoms, as the result of growing larger or rupturing. The choices you begin to make today can help you avoid this from happening, especially if you do currently have smaller cysts. The early warning signs of hormonal imbalance, as a precursor to ovarian cyst growth, include period and cycle-related issues like PMS, missing periods, irregular cycles, and cramps.

Any woman who is experiencing estrogen overload or estrogen dominance - one of the most common hormonal imbalance situations - is at risk of developing ovarian cysts that become symptomatic. The symptoms of ovarian cysts range from bloating to frequent urination. Oftentimes, a woman who experiences a ruptured ovarian cyst will go to the ER with a lot of pain and a fever. Unfortunately, due to a lack of women’s health awareness, she will often be treated for appendicitis instead. The best way forward is to take control for yourself now, so you are not dependent on receiving emergency treatment down the line.

How to shrink ovarian cysts

Natural remedies from a functional nutrition standpoint are highly effective for preventing cysts and shrinking cysts you may already have. We have seen women reverse their diagnosis of ovarian cysts, shocking their doctors and themselves by how effectively their body is capable of resolving this issue, when given the tools it needs to do so.

Any woman with a hormonal imbalance can take these actions with their diet as a preventative care measure, even if you currently do not know if you have ovarian cysts. Women deserve to understand the ways that nutrition and food interact with our hormonal health and well being. Even though every body is different, there are still ways that we can learn together how our food and symptoms can be related as well as how to make changes to improve our lives.

Here are 5 strategies you can take to combat ovarian cysts:

1. Release excess estrogen - green vegetables like Brussels sprouts, kale, collards, broccoli, and cabbage contain DIM (Di-Indolyl Methane) which is very effective at helping the body process and eliminate excess estrogen. Try to have a side of these veggies at every meal - whether that’s sautéed collard greens with your eggs at breakfast or broccoli with your bison burger for dinner.

2. Detox your liver - while so many products are marketed to us as detoxifying, the truth is quite simple - you need to eat to support your liver function, and the best way to do this directly is through food. Eat more eggs for essential bio-available protein, glutathione-heavy veggies like avocados and asparagus, and selenium superfoods like brazil nuts and oatmeal.

3. Fiber up - a diet high in fiber has been shown to decrease the reabsorption of estrogen in the body, lowering the incidence of estrogen-related health issues which include cysts & breast cancer. Fruits and veggies are the best sources of fiber for this purpose. Add fiber-rich flax seeds to your salads, soups & smoothies. Enjoy a fiber-full pear every day as a snack.

4. Be good to your gut - fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, or pickles help your body manage estrogen levels. The estrobolome (a set of gut bacteria or gut genes) produces an essential enzyme that helps metabolize your excess estrogen. Giving your gut what it wants and needs to process estrogen and maintain hormonal balance is vital.

5. Practice Cycle Syncing® your nutrients - there are 2 peak estrogen surges during your cycle that need to be responded to and controlled with your food choices. The Cycle Syncing® Method targets these surges with foods and supplements that contain the micronutrients your body wants, in order to benefit from the estrogen it does need. It also helps process the excess estrogen it does not need. This ensures these surges stay as spikes in estrogen, and do not become long term estrogen dominance. You simply stock your fridge and pantry with foods specific to each phase of your hormone cycle, to address this common hormonal problem.

It's possible to take your health into your own hands and heal your ovarian cysts, naturally. With the right tools, you can move towards greater hormonal balance and a healthier life. Flo Living is here to help.

Natural remedies from a functional nutrition standpoint are highly effective for preventing & shrinking cysts.

How to choose the right doctor for you

Today I want to address one of my most frequently asked and important questions - how to choose a doctor. Here at FLO Living we believe in working together with doctors as part of your healthcare team. There are, of course, certain procedures, tests, and tools that you can only get from your doctor so it’s important that you work with someone who is respectful and understanding of your desired health goals. I think that there are 3 essential questions every woman must put to her doctor before sealing that on-going relationship. Those 3 questions should provide you with vital insight as to whether this is the right doctor for you, as well as establishing an open communication at an early stage in this important relationship.I know I’m making it sound like dating! But that’s because you should meet with a few doctors before you settle on the one, in that you don’t want to pursue a second, third, or fourth date and invest that time and energy with someone who isn’t going to give you what you need and is clearly signalling this fact early on. Cut the confusion and overwhelm by being direct-to-the-point and taking logical steps to establishing a long and nurturing relationship! The fact of the matter is that unless you are currently seeing a functional medicine gynecologist or obstetrician - and there are, unfortunately, few of those around - then you need to set your expectations appropriately and come from a point of open eyes and ears. It might take a little searching to find the kind of doctor you need. Most conventional doctors are trained in a particular way, that is to prescribe medication or recommend surgery to deal with symptoms and diagnoses. The issue with chronic menstrual conditions is that those two courses of treatment don’t address the root causes and create real recovery. You should expect a well trained physician to offer these two options up every time it’s relevant. And many doctors work from the belief that the majority of people will not be compliant to anything more complicated than a drug protocol (and even then they doubt you’ll remember to take the pill every day). So, they are often cynical about a patient’s ability to change their diet or lifestyle long term. And, I know it’s really tough to feel confident about and stick to a new lifestyle approach when your doctor is being unsupportive of your efforts. Not every doctor is like this. Many doctors embrace a wellness practice, believe in the power of food as medicine, actively pursue exercise and meditation and know that real health is achieved by many small daily practices done consistently over time. You want to find a doctor who shares your lifestyle and values!So, how to find a doctor who will believe you can treat your own hormonal health issues with food and supplements? One that doesn’t push for a medication or surgical procedure you might not want to pursue? One that does listen to you and wants to work with you as part of your larger health care team, along with us here at FLO Living?

Choosing the right doctor for you: the 3 questions you need to ask

1) What’s your personal health care regime? How do you take care of yourself?

This might seem a little personal at first, but it can be so very insightful! Asking how your doctor approaches his or her healthcare on a day-to-day basis can show whether they will be open to self-care through food and supplements plus lifestyle changes. It can reveal whether they think taking good care of yourself in what you eat, what you do, and the choices you make can have an impact on your health goals. Finding out now whether they’re open to or resistant to the impact of diet on health outcomes is so important.

2) I’m really involved in my own self-care. Do you like to work with patients who come with their own research to discuss?

If your doctor’s response to this question is anywhere along the lines of -- “You can’t believe everything you read on WebMD” or “Google is not better than my medical degree” -- or if they are patronizing or condescending towards the idea of you wanting to actively engage in your own health care, preventative care, and attaining your health goals, then I’d suggest moving on after the “first date.”

You need a doctor who is happy to work with you in your plan to avoid medications or surgery and treat your hormonal health issues from a functional nutrition standpoint. They can be there to monitor the success of your plan along the way and provide the necessary support. They ought to feel that the more involved you are in your own health care the better your health outcomes will be. They should want their patients to take an active interest in participating, knowing that this will always yield the best results.

If there’s a specific goal you have in mind at this time - i.e. you want to transition off the birth control pill, you should feel free to ask your doctor if they will support you in this. If they immediately pepper you with reasons not to make a decision you’ve clearly spent much time researching and considering, or if they are outright dismissive - then it’s time to look elsewhere for your doctor.

3) Check in with yourself: How do you feel in the presence of this person? Do you feel relaxed and calm? Or tense and fearful? Does he/she allow you to speak freely?

This question involves listening in to how you feel when you’re at your appointment. If you feel rushed, talked-over, pressured, patronized, or ignored - then this isn’t the doctor for you. In order to get the important healthcare you need, you need to feel safe and calm in your doctor’s presence. You should never feel uneasy about making the appointment or dread an upcoming examination. Tune in to how your doctor behaves when you’re speaking and whether you’re given room to share and ask questions.

Overall, you need to be a strong self-advocate for your own needs and health goals. If you feel you need support in asking these questions - take a friend or family member with you to your appointment. Take notes if you feel you want to look over the conversation at home. All-in-all know that your doctor needs to be someone who is open to your desire to pursue a natural treatment protocol and respects, even admires, your proactive and engaged interest in good health. Always remember, that once you have the right information about how your body really works, you can start making health choices that finally start to work for you! You can do this – the science of your body is on your side!To your FLO,Alisa

We believe that no woman should suffer simply because she has a period.

And we also know that it’s not always possible to get access to functional and holistic healthcare solutions — sometimes they’re too far away and most of the time they are way too expensive.That’s why we offer phone and Skype consultation sessions with our FLO coaches.All of our expert FLO coaches have been trained by Alisa on top of being certified health coaches and licensed acupuncturists. And they are all qualified to help you find the right next step for you in getting out of hormonal chaos and into your FLO. Work with a FLO Coach and find your customized plan to solve your period symptoms.

Click here to book your counselor consultation

What's in your tampon?

Here’s a stat that will blow your mind: the average woman will use 10,000 tampons over the course of her lifetime. Ten. Thousand.If you’re like many of us, the first thousand of these 10,000 tampons you’re on track to use were nabbed directly from your mom or sister’s stash. The brand? Whatever pink box was on sale (sidenote: why was the box always pink?). We never really stopped to think about what tampons were made of — they look like cotton, so they must be just cotton, right? Well… not exactly.

What’s in a tampon? It’s not so easy to find out

I was set up with my now co-founder Jordana by a mutual friend who had a hunch we’d be fast friends. Over drinks, Jordana asked me a question I’d never thought to ask myself before: “have you ever wondered about what’s in your tampons?” (I hadn’t.) But once I started questioning the ingredients in this product I’d used month after month for over a decade, I couldn’t get the thought out of my head, and it turns out I couldn’t find a good answer, either.If you look at the side of a box of tampons, you’ll see a little blurb that says the tampons “may contain” a list of different materials which usually includes rayon, polyester, or fragrance. Why are the labels so vague? The FDA, the government agency that regulates feminine care, classifies tampons as a “medical device”, a slush-bucket category of products ranging from electric wheelchairs to condoms. The FDA doesn’t require tampon companies to provide a complete list of ingredients and additives that go into making these products, so many don’t. So, if there were more ingredients than what’s listed on the side of the box, we’d really have no way to know.Admittedly, it was kind of crazy that we never really thought about the ingredients of a product that goes into our vaginas, which we’ve since learned is the most absorptive part of of a woman’s body. We paid close attention to the ingredients in everything else we were putting in or on our bodies… but why not feminine care?This led us to wonder, have other women thought about what’s in their feminine care products? Do they care? Together Jordana and I spent months asking women if they knew what was in their tampons, and, like us, most women hadn’t given it any thought. But, once they did and found out that there hasn’t been much, if any, clinical research into the long-term safety of the synthetic materials and additives in tampons, all of them cared. We — and the women we talked to — noticed that we care quite a bit about using all-natural products when it comes to our beauty and food choices, and it makes sense we should carry over this discernment when it comes to our feminine care, too. In the absence of hard research or long term clinical studies on synthetics, we’d always prefer a natural product with known ingredients.

Creating a better tampon

LOLA 3-1-171008

So, we decided to create a better feminine care brand. Enter, LOLA. Many tampon manufacturers opt for synthetic materials because they’re cheaper and more readily available. Our tampons only have one ingredient: 100% organic cotton. Full stop.Being informed about the materials in tampons wasn’t enough for us — we also wanted to update the experience of buying these products to make it more convenient. It seemed like we never had tampons on hand when we needed them, forcing us to trudge down to the corner bodega to buy a box of whatever they had on hand. Why was it that in New York City — a city where you can get anything delivered — women couldn’t get tampons in the same way?We decided to fix that. With LOLA, you can customize your box to have the exact number of light, regular, super, and super+ tampons you need and get them delivered to your door exactly when you need them. Want a box once a month? We’ve got you covered. Want two boxes every other month instead? No problem. Need pads and liners, too? We got you!It’s time to demand more from our products, and here at LOLA we are making it our mission to lead the way. We’ll always be transparent about what goes into our tampons, no matter if you’re using one for the first time or the 10,000th.To Your FLO,Alex FriedmanAlex is Co-Founder at LOLA and spends most of her time focused on growth, brand development, customer experience and team-building. She is a native New Yorker, adventurous eater, and recently celebrated the 19th anniversary of her first period.

The benefits of a dairy-free diet and my favorite dairy-free products

I haven’t had cow dairy for some 20 years. The signs that dairy wasn’t right for me were there from when I was a kid. I had recurrent tonsillitis and ear infections and major constipation issues. This inflammatory response was caused by my body’s inability to breakdown the A1 casein in the regular dairy that I was consuming through the cheesy and buttery Italian fare that was the daily diet of my whole family. When I developed the FLO Living protocol, I was able to understand that dairy in my diet was a trigger for my PCOS symptoms - the acne, depression, and weight gain. Since then more and more research has revealed the problems with the A1 casein that is in the majority of dairy we consume here in the US (and many other countries). Now I recommend that my clients - whether they have fibroids, or endometriosis, or PMS, or heavy periods - go dairy-free as an essential step in managing and eliminating their health issues.

How dairy is hurting your hormonal health

  1. Dairy creates inflammation in the intestinal tract which can hinder your fertility, disrupt ovulation and create irregular cycles and missing periods.
  2. Dairy can throw off your body’s own estrogen production by introducing artificial growth hormones. Most dairy cows are injected with genetically modified growth hormone to produce more milk than they would naturally.
  3. Dairy containing antibiotics will negatively impact your microbiome to prevent effective estrogen metabolism. It will also negatively impact your own immunity.
  4. Dairy cows are invariably fed with GMO corn and soy which sets you up for estrogen overload. GMOs are endocrine disruptors, as is processed soy.
  5. Dairy depletes your magnesium stores which throws off your pituitary and adrenal glands.

How to make the transition to dairy-free and my favorite dairy-free alternatives

Dairy isn’t just bad news for women, it’s bad news for everyone, which is why neither my daughter nor my husband have cow dairy. I feed my daughter a little dairy and only the kinds which do not contain the problematic A1 casein. Dairy isn’t her main source of calcium, however, as there are many other better sources, including sardines, figs and greens. We needn’t feel reliant on dairy for our calcium needs. Although during my pregnancy and early months of breastfeeding I enjoyed goat’s milk yogurt a couple of days a week, I am back to being dairy-free completely. At the time, my body signalled to me that it wanted and needed a little dairy and I listened. But I know that even a little dairy, of any kind, for me can trigger sneezing and congestion in my sinuses. A 2014 study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that the inflammatory impact is not found with dairy that contains A2 casein rather than A1. A1 casein is found in the milk of the Holstein Friesian cows used for the majority of industrial dairy farming. A2 casein is found in the milk of Jersey and Guernsey cows, Asian and African cow breeds, sheep and goats.You can purchase milk, cheese and yogurt from Jersey or Guernsey cows here in the US. My favorite brand is St Benoit, which is an organic range including milk, yogurt and cheese, produced in Sonoma County, California. But in my household the dairy that is mostly on offer is goat’s, partly because it’s much easier to get a hold of and you can be certain is does not contain A1 casein. Organic and grass-fed goats is a perfect dairy alternative for children and it’s what I give my daughter in addition to a rotation of home-made nutmilks. Despite being a cow dairy-free household we still have ice-cream in the freezer - my husband’s favorite brand is LaLoo’s Goat Milk Ice Cream, but I love Coconut Bliss. My husband enjoys cheese occasionally and so we keep on hand a sheep’s milk manchego. When it comes to milk alternatives for cooking and drinking - I like to get nut varieties because you get a higher nutrient content with those than you’ll find with grain-based varieties. It’s ideal to make your own nut milk at home as you’ll avoid the acidic acid found in most store-bought kinds. I personally like to rotate with almond, cashew and coconut. My personal favorite is the Native Forest coconut milk. Always remember, that once you have the right information about how your body really works, you can start making health choices that finally start to work for you! You can do this - the science of your body is on your side!to your FLO,AlisaGood things come in threes:

I want to hear from you!

First, are you already dairy-free? Second, do you have PCOS? Third, everyone you know is hormonal – spread a little good ovary karma and share this article on social ;)

Is Your Period Healthy?

How do you know if your hormones are healthy? The answer is in your 5th vital sign - your period. The color of your flow, frequency of your period, and symptoms you have each month can tell you a lot about your health. There are 5 different V-SIGN TYPES, and knowing which one you have will help you get healthy now and prevent disease in the future. Click here to take The V-SIGN TYPE™ Quiz NOW

How to Use Maca to Treat Infertility

Maca root is an adaptogen, which means it can help your body to “adapt” to stress. Maca can also help balance hormones, as it supports your endocrine system. One of the key benefits of maca is its ability to boost fertility or support infertility problems. Natives of the Andes mountains (where maca is grown) have long used maca as a fertility aid. Now maca is a well-known superfood worldwide. We’re hearing a lot more about how it can help women who are having trouble conceiving. There are a few ways in which maca can boost fertility and there are also particular times in a woman’s life when she will most need maca as a supplement.

How maca treats infertility

  1. Maca increases sex drive and can be used as a natural aphrodisiac for men and women. It does this by boosting testosterone levels and supporting healthy ovulation.
  2. Maca gives you energy - and we all know that any journey to conceive requires a whole lot of energy! Coffee can cause fertility problems, so maca provides an alternative source of long-lasting energy. Maca stabilizes blood sugar levels and supports your adrenals.
  3. Maca is very rich in many of the vitamins and minerals you need to conceive. This nutritional profile contains amino acids, fatty acids, B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, zinc, selenium, iron and phytonutrients. While you also need to eat an overall nutritionally-dense diet, maca is a great way of increasing your intake of essential fuel for ovulation and conception. It’s a one-stop shop for so much that your body needs.
  4. Maca is shown to increase sperm production, motility and volume, as well as prevent erectile dysfunction.

The best time to use maca

The best time to use maca is when your body is not producing the hormone levels it should. Anyone who is experiencing infertility issues can use maca, but these times in a woman’s life are when her body may need the most support.

  • If you've recently come off the birth control pill or other hormonal birth control
  • If you're over 35
  • When you’re planning your second child (maca should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women - but if you have had a baby and are experiencing secondary infertility, maca is a good choice)

Important to note: You should NOT take maca if you have an allergy to iodine, Hashimoto’s, or experience thyroid nodules or growths, as it contains significant amounts of iodine.  You should also be cautious with maca if you are androgen sensitive, in the case of some expressions of PCOS.

Of course, using maca alone without also eating a nutritionally-dense diet and avoiding fertility-harming dairy, gluten, alcohol, coffee and sugar will not have much of an impact on your body. You need to view maca as a great supplement that heightens the impact of a wider fertility-boosting diet.

Here at FLO Living I have a specific protocol for women trying to conceive and I have previously shared some of my fertility-specific advice on the blog. Maca is not a miracle cure (I’m afraid, nothing is!), but it can help you with infertility. It just won’t do this if everything else in your diet and lifestyle is working against your goal.

Just check out FLO grad Diane’s story to experience why you need more than maca to conceive.

The right kind of maca to use

If you’re experiencing infertility issues, try taking maca with your partner! Women should look to take “red” maca and men should be taking “black” maca. You want to select a brand of maca that contains the level of glucosinolates you require to get the beneficial effects on your fertility. Watch out for the many other products that will come on the market as maca becomes more popular, not all of them will be good quality. Quality is key.

One of the key benefits of maca is its ability to boost fertility or treat infertility problems. 🌱💚✅

The best PCOS diet for you

The question I hear most often from women is, “What is the best diet for my PCOS?” It’s usually followed up with a run through of all the popular diets, “Is Paleo the best diet for PCOS? How about Low Carb? How about Macrobiotic? Vegan? Weight Watchers? Raw?” The great news is that when you’re looking for the best diet for your PCOS, usually you’ve already come to realize that you need to treat the root cause of this health issue with the right foods. That realization, in itself, is a huge step. Perhaps you’ve tried Metformin and it just didn’t work for you, or you only ever wanted to use this medication short-term. Now, every body is different, and your PCOS may be different from your sister’s PCOS or your friend’s PCOS, but there are certain guidelines, diet-wise, that all women will benefit from following. I have helped many, many women with all kinds of PCOS (different symptoms, different life stages, different experiences) to manage their symptoms long term and feel better within weeks with the FLO Living diet. But first, let’s look at these guidelines and what the best diet for PCOS must include if it’s going to work. Here are some of the problems with popular diets if you have PCOS:

  • Eating too much animal protein (I’m looking at you Paleo, Atkins!) can prevent ovulation. It increases the amount of estrogen in the body, creating hormonal imbalance. A Harvard School of Public Health study showed women who eat more animal protein than plant protein ovulate less frequently. We need protein, yes, but we actually don’t need all that much - excess consumption of protein actually converts to sugars. It’s hard for the female body to breakdown all that meat, especially when your cycle is at peak estrogen levels already.
  • Most women with PCOS struggle on a Low Carb diet (hi, Atkins, Paleo, South Beach, etc!). While it’s important to recognize that there are bad carbs (white bread, pasta, potatoes) and good carbs (whole grains), and while it’s important to avoid gluten on the whole, cutting back carbs can make a PCOS sufferer feel even worse, because it kicks in blood sugar instability. I suggest brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat on a daily basis, and when you get to your pre-menstrual phase you’ll be thankful for the option of sweet potatoes! It can feel easier to stop eating carbs in the first half of your hormone cycle (the follicular phase), but the shift that happens in the second half makes low carb diets unnecessarily punishing.
  • A diet that is too reliant on grains for protein and for feeling full and satisfied - like a Vegan or Macrobiotic diet - can create gut dysbiosis and decrease absorption of all the key nutrients that are required for hormonal balance, especially if your grains are not processed properly - ie soaked. If you have PCOS, this will make your symptoms worse. Whole Grains are great, but not in large amounts. Grains can stop you from carb-loading or feeling the craving for bad carbs like white bread and pasta, but you need to be careful for to go crazy with grains either! You only need a half cup serving at one time.
  • Any diet that encourages calorie-restriction (Weight Watchers, Raw, etc) will cause spikes and crashes in your blood sugar, making your PCOS symptoms much worse. Processed foods increase inflammation and often contain foods that are toxic for your hormones like pesticide-laden vegetables, dairy, gluten, and non-organic, GMO, processed soy. Many fresh juices contain as much sugar as a glass of Coca Cola and are treated by your body exactly the same way. Whole foods are a much better choice for women with PCOS and any woman who is hormonally-sensitive. The stress that calorie restriction puts on your body provokes an internal inflammatory response. For the most part, these diets can only be followed short term, and then you will be primed to over-eat, even binge, when you have the chance. Many studies have shown calorie-restriction diets simply do not work longterm.

When I first developed the FLO Living protocol I was experimenting on myself. Believe me, I tried all of the diets I’ve mentioned here, first. I found what worked for me and my PCOS - the foods that manage my symptoms of weight gain, acne, and depression. Over the years, I’ve worked with thousands of women with PCOS of different kinds and I’ve honed and refined and perfected my diet protocol to support them all in overcoming their own symptoms to move forward, feeling better. I have followed up with my clients over the years and seen them continue with the FLO Living diet long term without a problem. They’ve carried it through their lives and never feel restricted or deprived or, importantly I think, hungry! These other diets - Paleo, Macrobiotic, Calorie-restriction, Fasting - are not based on your unique female biochemistry, they’re based on research that doesn’t take into account the effects on mood, energy, and appetite throughout the menstrual cycle. Essentially, they were created for men and male biochemistry, male hormone patterns. No wonder they don’t work for women with PCOS!Always remember, that once you have the right information about how your body really works, you can start making health choices that finally start to work for you! You can do this - the science of your body is on your side!to your FLO,AlisaGood things come in threes:

I want to hear from you!

First, do you have PCOS? Second, which diets have you tried already? Third, everyone you know is hormonal – spread a little good ovary karma and share this article on social ;)

Is Your Period Healthy?

How do you know if your hormones are healthy? The answer is in your 5th vital sign - your period. The color of your flow, frequency of your period, and symptoms you have each month can tell you a lot about your health. There are 5 different V-SIGN TYPES, and knowing which one you have will help you get healthy now and prevent disease in the future. Click here to take The V-SIGN TYPE™ Quiz NOW

Vitex Supplements - The Right Way to Use Vitex for Your Hormones

What is Vitex?

The herb Vitex is also known as Chaste Tree or Chasteberry, and it originates from a small shrub that grows in the Mediterranean. The fruits of this shrub have been used for more than 2500 years as a natural treatment for female fertility and hormonal health. Vitex is a popular herbal supplement commonly used by women to regulate their menstrual cycle and alleviate symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

As a result of the many studies that have proven its effectiveness, Vitex has now become one of the most popular herbal remedies for hormonal imbalance. If you’re seeking natural treatment for PMS, infertility, PCOS, or Endometriosis - it’s likely that you’ve come across Vitex. It is most readily available to us in an herbal supplement tablet or tincture form.

Does Vitex resolve hormonal imbalance or help infertility?

Vitex supports your pituitary gland to produce progesterone and luteinizing hormone - both of which are necessary for your body to ovulate, for regular menstrual cycles, and for you to avoid symptoms of hormonal imbalance like PMS.

When a woman is progesterone deficient (or estrogen dominant, to put it another way) and has what is known as a luteal phase defect, Vitex can support her endocrine system to create more progesterone, encourage regular ovulation, and help develop a healthy cycle. This will help balance out the estrogen dominance that is at the root of many of cycle issues.

The pituitary gland is also called the “master” gland and it talks to the ovaries, letting them know how much hormones to make. Vitex works on the pituitary gland's functioning, enhancing its ability to do this work. So, Vitex can be an effective and often successful natural treatment to have at your disposal when facing cycle problems. However, Vitex is a short-term solution to some hormonal imbalance issues. It can act like jumper cables to the pituitary gland and stimulate it to make the right level of hormones again.

However, Vitex alone will not fix a hormone imbalance or issues like infertility, PMS, PCOS, or Endometriosis long-term, if you do not also change your internal hormonal ecosystem with nutrition, which includes micro and macronutrient therapy. If you don’t address your hormonal ecosystem as a whole, you may see changes within the prescribed timeframe (although Vitex is less likely to be successful), but when you come off of it (which you will eventually want to), your symptoms and problems will return.

Supporting your whole system by eating the right foods at the right times (aka The Cycle Syncing® Method), and taking the right nutrients to address the root causes of your unique hormone imbalances in the first place, will provide your body with the building blocks it needs. Take our free hormone health assessment to get a report of your current hormonal health along with a personalize care plan.

When should you use Vitex?

There are certain times in a woman’s life when Vitex can be very helpful as part of a hormonally-supportive diet and lifestyle.  

1. After using the birth control pill, Vitex is effective at supporting the body’s return to natural hormone production and cycling. If you come off the birth control pill and find your periods do not return within a few months, Vitex is an effective natural treatment option.

2. When you are entering the second stage of perimenopause and find that your cycles are becoming more irregular, Vitex can help to regulate your cycles and  decrease the symptoms associated with perimenopause in your 40s. When you have PMS symptoms like acne and breast tenderness as the result of a progesterone deficiency and estrogen dominance, Vitex can boost the body’s production of progesterone and ease these issues.

3. When you’re trying to get pregnant, Vitex supports regular ovulation. If you’re experiencing frequent annovulatory cycles, you can take this natural treatment to support the return of your fertility.

4. When you’re suffering with the symptoms of mild Endometriosis. In some European countries, Vitex is commonly prescribed for this hormonal health issue.

5. When you want to breastfeed. For many years, Vitex has been used to increase the production of breastmilk post-partum, although you would only use it short term.

How should you use Vitex?

How long does it take for Vitex to start working? Vitex is a relatively slow-acting herb, therefore you need to commit to taking it for up to 6 months to see any change in your cycles or improvement of symptoms. This is also a reason why Vitex is not an easy treatment option compared to food therapy, as you have to take this herb every day for such a long time and that can be tough to remember to do. If you do want to try this route, we advise taking Vitex for up to 6 months and then see how you feel without the Vitex. FYI, It is normal to take Vitex even when on your period.

You should not use Vitex if you are currently on hormonal birth control (it won’t have any impact on your hormones, as the synthetic hormones from birth control replaces your body’s natural hormone production and suppresses the endocrine system).

You should also not take Vitex if you’re using IVF drugs already as this can cause over-stimulation to the ovaries. It is less commonly known and important to understand that using Vitex when you have a history of depression can cause your depression symptoms to worsen. So, be cautious if your PMS commonly includes feeling really low and depressed, rather than anxiety, irritation or fatigue.

Be sure to buy Vitex from a reputable, long-standing supplement company like Gaia so you know you are getting a potent formulation, without fillers. Vitex will not be a successful natural treatment for you if it is the only thing you change about your daily habits. If you do not feed your body with hormonally-supportive foods and avoid processed products, alcohol, caffeine, sugar, dairy and gluten, then Vitex cannot work miracles! As far as how much Vitex to take, follow the instructions and guidance on the bottle and from your healthcare provider.

We recommend that you have the Flo Living protocol already in play when you start using Vitex as an additional booster. Always remember, that once you have the right information about how your body really works, you can start making health choices that finally start to work for you! You can do this - the science of your body is on your side.

How to Know if Vitex is Working 

If a woman is taking Vitex, she can tell if it is working by monitoring her menstrual cycle and PMS symptoms. Vitex typically takes a few menstrual cycles to start having an effect, so it is important to be patient and consistent with taking the supplement. If a woman notices a decrease in PMS symptoms such as bloating, breast tenderness, and mood swings, and an improvement in the regularity and length of her menstrual cycle, these may be signs that Vitex is working for her. It is always recommended to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.

Antidepressants increase infertility and my alternative approach to depression

Last month saw the release of a new scientific study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology that associated the use of antidepressants with infertility. Women currently using antidepressant medications were shown to have difficulty conceiving naturally when compared to women not using antidepressants.This is not the first time a commonly used medication has been shown to lower fertility in women. The New York Times reported that 1 in 4 women are taking antidepressants - that means you or someone you know is probably using these medications currently. Two thirds of those prescribed antidepressants do not fit the criteria for depression as it is outlined in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).I’ll always remember when, back in my 20s before I had health insurance, I would go to a clinic where you had to wait a while before you were seen by a doctor. I had to wait over two hours, I was tired, I hadn’t brought a snack and my blood sugar was crashing. I was so upset about being made to wait so long and, coupled with my body’s response to lack of food, when I sat down in front of the doctor I was a little teary. The doctor’s immediate response? To suggest she write me a prescription for antidepressants! I was shocked by this reaction. I knew that it was not an issue with my brain chemistry that was making me tearful - it was my blood sugar crash, fatigue and frustration. But, regardless, she wanted to get me on those meds right away!Although there are certainly women who benefit from antidepressants and other such medications due on the specifics and severity of their mental health issue, it’s my belief that these drugs are hugely over-prescribed and often with little care or thought to the root cause of the problems the woman is facing. In my experience women can experience depression for a few reasons and it’s not always a brain chemistry-related issue. Two women I much respect have recently come out with books concluding exactly this - Dr Julie Holland and Dr Kelly Brogan - in agreement with me.If you want to avoid using antidepressants - whether you’re trying for a baby or you just would rather not take a medication that might be unnecessary for you - then start with food first. If you can first exhaust your natural options and get yourself in good whole body health with the right diet, exercise, amount of sleep and relaxation then you’ll be in a better place to make a decision about the antidepressants that may be offered to you. You might find you don’t want or need them anymore. There are 2 other, possibly much more common, root causes of depression for women, unrelated to brain chemistry:

  1. Hormonal imbalance. Depression can be hormonally-sourced and it can be related to your experience of your cycle. If this is true, then antidepressants won’t necessarily benefit her. If antidepressants can affect your fertility, that means they can affect your hormonal system and cycle - so it’s possible they will worsen depression that stems from hormonal imbalance rather than brain chemistry. One of the best ways to determine whether your depression is hormonally-derived is to monitor your cycle and your symptoms. If you begin to notice you feel worse pre-menstrually or soon after you’ve ovulated then it’s very likely you’re looking at an issue related to your progesterone levels. Low progesterone (and, therefore, estrogen dominance) post-ovulation or as a result of not ovulating consistently, affects how we feel - with depression, anxiety, mood swings, and PMS.
  2. Microbiome and Micronutrient Imbalance. More and more research is revealing that your mood can be determined by your gut. 90% of the serotonin your body makes is actually produced in your gut! From vitamins to minerals…if you’re not eating for maximum exposure to all these nutrients, you can’t make enough mood-stabilizing neurotransmitters. Also if your gut flora is out of balance, you aren’t absorbing nutrients, which causes inflammation, which increases your risk for dementia and mood issues. You can be tested for some deficiencies in vitamins and minerals, but there are also common deficiencies most of us can assume we’re probably dealing with, like lack of magnesium and vitamin D3.

Thankfully, and fortunately, both these root causes of depression can be treated with the same methodology. The Flo Living protocol matches your micronutrient needs and teaches you to live in harmony with your hormones. I believe that some women can benefit from antidepressants, but it’s better to see if you can alleviate your mood with changes to diet and lifestyle before taking something that may not help and only cause you to have unwanted side effects. A drug that affects our fertility, as women, is impacting our core self - ovulation is about so much more than making babies - it’s how we make essential hormones. The WomanCode System not only supports your mind and body with the proper serotonin-boosting foods, but it lays the foundation for hormonal balance and a healthy experience with your feminine energy and emotions – a foundation that will last you for years to come.Always remember, that once you have the right information about how your body really works, you can start making health choices that finally start to work for you! You can do this - the science of your body is on your side!to your FLO,AlisaGood things come in threes:

I want to hear from you!

First, do you experience depression?Second, have you ever taken antidepressants? Third, everyone you know is hormonal – spread a little good ovary karma and share this article on social ;)

Are you trying to conceive?

If you want to do everything in your power to improve your chances of becoming a mom, I want to help you optimize your fertility. Whether you are just starting to think about having a baby, or have already tried naturally or have been trying with IVF, my Fertile FLO Program will help improve your chances of conception. Click here to download my FREE guide, The 5 Health Foods to Avoid to Get and Stay Pregnant.

5 Ways Hormonal Birth Control Disrupts Dating

You may be familiar with some of the side effects of hormonal birth control, like depression, blood clots, and weight gain. You might also know that birth control pills, which are often prescribed for things other than contraception—like irregular periods or acne—aren’t the best solution for managing symptoms. In fact, the pill ultimately makes symptoms like acne worse.But hormonal birth control has other, more far-reaching consequences. Specifically, taking the pill can wreak havoc on your love life. I know that probably sounds far out or completely made up, but the idea that hormonal birth control has real consequences for your love life comes directly from the scientific research, which I outline in detail below.

And when you think about it closely, it makes a lot of sense. The pill messes with hormone production and balance by introducing a stream of synthetic hormones to our systems—and because hormones impact how we perceive other people and how they perceive us, it stands to reason that our interactions with everyone—and specifically romantic partners— would be tipped sideways by a steady stream of synthetic hormones. In other words, hormones help us interact with the world. When we introduce a whole new set of hormones to our delicate bodies, it can shift our desires and perceptions on a fundamental biochemical level and have far-reaching romantic consequences.

How the Pill Ruins Love

Here are 5 of the ways that the pill might be messing with your love life:You like the smell of guys or girls who are wrong for you romantically. When our hormones are balanced and healthy and when (biochemically speaking) we’re on the hunt for a baby daddy (which means you! It doesn’t matter if you never want kids or if you aren’t attracted to men. If you’re ovulating, your body goes through the biochemical hunt for a good reproductive partner every month), we are primed to be attracted to men to whom we are genetically dissimilar, which lowers the chance of miscarriage and increases the likelihood of having a healthy baby. It also tends to make for more satisfying sex and happier relationships.

Studies show that if you are on the pill, you are more likely to gravitate toward men who smell like you (possibly because the pill simulates pregnancy and pregnant women are drawn toward nurturing and supportive biological relatives, or folks who smell like them). In this way, the pill acts like an anti-cupid, steering you away from your ideal romantic match. You become less attractive to the opposite or same sex. Pheromones are chemical messengers released by the body—and research shows that women’s pheromones can, quite literally, cast a spell over men and women when it comes to romance. Pheromones act as a sort of ‘love potion’ when they are released, increasing a person’s attraction to a women. But studies show that the pill stops production of these attraction-enhancing pheromones, and that might have negative consequences for your romantic and sexual life. It might make your attraction to your current partner disappear (gasp!). If you start a relationship when you’re on the pill then you may find, if and when you come off, that you’re no longer attracted to your partner. One study found that unless your mate is considered conventionally good-looking by evolutionary standards, you may then find them unattractive after you quit taking hormonal birth control. Here is what study author Michelle Russell told Time magazine in 2014:“Women who choose a partner when they’re on hormonal contraceptives and then stop taking them will prioritize their husband’s attractiveness more than they would if they were still on it. The effect that it would have on her marital satisfaction would carry more weight.”

It can suppress your sex drive. A woman’s sex drive should peak around ovulation, but the pill prevents this from happening. Not only that, but the synthetic hormones in hormonal birth control deplete your testosterone reserves, which, along with balanced hormones, is a key to your sexual desire and enjoyment. Research has linked oral contraceptives with female sexual dysfunction, including less frequent sexual activity, arousal, pleasure, and orgasm, and difficulty with lubrication. Oral contraceptives have also been linked with recurrent yeast infections—and there’s nothing like a yeast infection to sink one’s sex drive. It can lower your mood (which decreases your chances of getting in the mood).The pill has been linked to depression and anxiety, particularly in those women who may have a history of mental health issues. And many women are put on the pill for what’s actually a bad case of PMS—which can be addressed naturally—only to find that it makes their mood swings worse. For some, these mood changes manifest themselves as a bad case of the “blahs,” or just kinda feeling “meh” about everything (otherwise known as anhedonia). Women are supposed to feel a range of emotions throughout their natural cycle, and being in touch with the ebbs and flows of your feelings can actually enhance your relationship. Feeling so-so about everything all the time doesn’t lend itself to romance. When you’re feeling blah, you’d just as rather watch TV than make-out with your sweetheart. If the pill’s deleterious effects on dating are making you question the use of oral contraceptives for contraception or as a medical treatment, follow my protocol to transition off the pill. If you’re going to stay on the pill a little while longer, you can start this protocol now to ensure the switch is smooth and that you avoid seeing the return of any prior symptoms.

If you are on the pill for contraception, don’t forget about non-hormonal contraception choices. And if you want to learn more about potential side effects of hormonal birth control, including cancer risk, check out my special FREE Birth Control Rehab report.Always remember, that once you have the right information about how your body really works, you can start making health choices that finally start to work for you! You can do this – the science of your body is on your side!

to your FLO,Alisa

Why Diets Don’t Work For Women

It’s the start of a new year and everywhere you look - TV adverts, billboards, magazines, new books, social media - it’s a fat-busting frenzy. Diets, old and new, are trying to draw you in with promises of fast weight loss. However, a myriad of research reveals that the majority of dieters (we’re talking over 90%) will inevitably put all of the pounds they lose back on and then some extra too. That’s not to say that you should feel depressed or defeated by this news. The motivation to lose weight, feel good, and take charge of your health is a good one and deserves to be congratulated. You’re feeling fired up to tackle your goals afresh, and that’s great news. Go you! I just don’t want to see you seduced by the kind of diets that don’t concern themselves with your longterm health and well-being. I want to be the voice of reason here, for a minute, and let you know that the fad diets you’ll be hearing about this month are not good for women’s hormonal needs and they simply don’t offer lasting weight loss.

The problem with dieting

Most diets involve either cutting out or cutting down dramatically on major food groups and restricting calories while simultaneously undertaking a rigorous exercise regime. The thing is that both of these strategies are highly problematic for your health, very difficult to sustain, and terrible for your hormones! Common diets like Paleo, Raw, even Macrobiotic can make hormonal health issues like PCOS, PMS, infertility, endometriosis, cramps and heavy bleeding become much, much worse. I’ve lost 60 lbs myself not just once, but twice in my life - the first time in my early 20s and the second time after giving birth to my baby daughter. So, I’m not coming out as the voice of reason here without the practical skills and experience to back it up! Believe me ladies, I’ve been there! What your body wants and needs desperately is homeostasis, not deprivation. Your body craves balance and hates extremes. This means any diet that involves cutting down and cutting out or wildly fluctuating eating patterns is only going to cause your body stress - the kind sourced in your blood sugar stability and your adrenals - that will actually make your body hold on to fat for dear life, and then start signaling health breakdown with all kinds of symptoms.

The diets that don’t work for women

Here’s a look at the kind of diets I know you’re hearing a whole lot about this month. None of these diets address female biology (most of them are even designed only with male biology in mind). All of them concentrate on a simple equation of calories in versus calories out, which, as research shows, is not sustainable for most people longterm (ie. the pounds will inevitably come piling back on). Paleo Diet - a high animal fat diet is the worst possible choice of estrogen-dominance based hormonal health issues like endometriosis. Bacon is just not good for your ovaries. Sorry! Yes, we need fat and protein, but too much and the wrong kind is hard for the body to breakdown in all of the places where estrogen is peaking. Women do need to eat fat to lose fat, but animal fats are not the way to go to achieve this. A study from Harvard researchers showed that women were 39% more likely to experience cycles without ovulation (a cause of estrogen dominance, as the body is not producing enough balancing progesterone) if they ate a lot of animal protein. However, the women who had the highest intake of plant protein were much less likely to experience a lack of ovulation (and therefore estrogen dominance issues), than those women who hardly ate any plant proteins.Ketogenic Diet – a high in protein, lower fat, no carbs diet again. While there is a lot of great research on the benefits of fasting on long term health, when you’re in the midst of a hormonal condition, this is a really tough road to go down. Having tried this out myself as an experiment I can say that although this might feel great at first, partly because you feel like you’re doing the perfect ‘proper’ diet plan, when your hormones shift mid cycle it is near-impossible to fight your impending carb cravings. You will fall off the wagon and carb-loading ensues. Any diet that is very low in omega 3 fats can also increase period cramps and heavy bleeding at the end of your cycle. While we certainly want to avoid carbs like sugar and wheat, we can choose to eat small amounts of soaked and properly prepared whole grains like quinoa, buckwheat and brown rice, which are important to our hormonal balance if we struggle with blood sugar stability (most women do) or adrenal fatigue (also very common). Vegan/Macrobiotic Diet – this diet is high in grains, higher in soy protein, with moderate fats. If you choose to be vegan for ethical reasons, I totally get that. However, you will want to do an excellent job of cooking your food and having enough soaked grains and legumes to get adequate absorbable protein, as well as supplementing for amino acids. This is a great diet for cleaning up house internally – decreasing inflammation all around. But the glycemic impact and lack of amino acids can be problematic for hormonal conditions. We need the amino acids from protein to make our hormones. Too many processed grains can create a lot of gut dysbiosis and can decrease absorption of all the key nutrients that are required for hormonal balance. And of course, if you’re insulin resistant, have PCOS, this diet can make your symptoms worse.Master cleanse/Juice cleanse based Diets - a diet that requires an extreme calorie restriction is going to cause major issues for your blood sugar stability. If your blood sugar is peaking and troughing like crazy your body is not converting sugars properly (and remember many juice cleanses are fruit sugar-heavy). Juice that you buy or make at home with a regular juicer often separate out and remove the fiber of the fruit and vegetables (which is needed for your body to better process the fruit sugars) and as such what you’re drinking, if it’s a fruit heavy juice, is just pure sugar and looks no different to your body than a glass of Coca Cola. When fasting like this, your body has none of the nourishment it really needs - protein, good fats - to make hormones or breakdown hormones. You might lose weight, but then it will come back and that fluctuation will cause your body stress and create an inflammatory response. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy a good green juice, I do! I just sync how and when I juice to my body’s needs and I never only drink juice.

So, are you ready to ditch the diets?

I have been where you are. I’ve tried all the diets and nothing worked. Once I gave up the fads and started following my hormonal patterns and feeding them what they need, everything started working. I’ve lost a lot of weight twice, and in a very short period of time. I’ve done this by following my Flo Living protocol and I have helped many other women do the same. The Flo Living lifestyle is really the only eating plan that works for women long term - it takes the weight off and keeps it off, while not compromising your health, your mood, or your overall well-being. ALL of these diets I’ve mentioned above cause out of control hormones and erratic blood sugar levels that come from their more extreme eating patterns - they rob your body and brain of the micronutrients that they need to create balanced appetite control-neurotransmitters and balanced metabolism-boosting hormone levels. Flo Living supports appetite control and boosts your metabolism, because it increases essential micronutrients and balances your hormones.But more than all of this, these diets don’t feel pleasurable. They don’t put you into a positive relationship with your body where you are eating, listening, and responding to how your body reacts to what you’re putting in. These diets are not based on your unique female biochemistry, they’re based on experiments that don’t take into account the effects on mood, energy, and appetite throughout the menstrual cycle. Ultimately, these diets are hard to stick with and they end up making you feel bad about your willpower and about your body. Enough is enough! The solution you’re looking for is eating the foods your body needs for each phase of your menstrual/hormone cycle. This way you can optimize the levels of nutrients your body wants to balance the vital hormones that keep your metabolism working efficiently. You will, in fact, be revving your metabolism to keep you slim. When you eat in sync with your hormones, you will feel satisfied, less tempted by foods you should avoid, and happy to continue this “diet” (or lifestyle shift) for years to come. You want to lose weight, feel great and take charge of your health, right? Flo Living is the only diet created for women, created for you.Always remember, that once you have the right information about how your body really works, you can start making health choices that finally start to work for you! You can do this - the science of your body is on your side!to your FLO,AlisaGood things come in threes:

I want to hear from you!

First, have you tried any of the mentioned diets? Second, are you hoping to lose weight this year? Third, everyone you know is hormonal – spread a little good ovary karma and share this article on social ;)

Need more Hormone Help?

If you’re needing some health upgrading, it’s time you started you looking into what’s going on with your hormones.I’ve designed a 4 day hormone detox and evaluation to help you understand exactly what’s out of whack and how you can start getting back to balance so that your hormones no longer have to suffer.Click here to get your FREE detox and evaluation!

The New Year’s Resolution That Will Transform Your Year and Your Life

As we enter a new year, we have the chance to readjust our perspective about new year’s resolutions in order to access our ability to truly evolve, transform and manifest our hopes and dreams. It’s very tempting at the start of a calendar year to look ahead at the stretched-out 12 months ahead and create a long list of items you want to achieve. And then, of course, the running joke is that we all drop these goals within weeks of working towards them. Why does that happen? I believe it’s because we’re approaching our resolutions purely from a masculine/linear point of view without any use of our own powerful feminine energy. Those long lists come from a place of pure masculine energy. There’s no balance to it, no feminine perspective, in the annual, grand to-do list. This may sound a little woo-woo at first, but stay with me. Through my work with women at Flo Living, I have discovered that both men and women are, normally, living in their masculine energy all of the time. Being a man or a woman does not give a person more or less access to masculine or feminine energy – we all have both energies within us. Learning how to balance both of these helps us to live a more physically, emotionally, and psychologically healthy and vibrant life. As a woman, your opportunity to transform, choose and curate comes through your connection body. If you’re not living in your body, aware of its cycles, and in tune with your own feelings (i.e. accessing your feminine energy), then developing new habits will feel very forced and difficult.

Use your feminine energy to start afresh

As a woman, you are cyclical and as a result, you actually get 12 opportunities every year to make “resolutions”. We can continuously transform ourselves, if we want - all it takes is accessing our body’s natural source of new year/new you energy every single month. How much farther would you go in your year ahead, if you allowed yourself to follow this cyclical rotation 12 times? A whole lot farther than if you try to push yourself straight across - from where you are now to where you want to be. That’s a masculine energy-inspired linear, long to-do list take on self actualization. And, I know that you don't need me to tell you that life - the journey of your soul and destiny - is not linear. It is, instead, part of the process and more fun, frankly, to dance around your desires as you approach ever more clearly the life of your dreams.The first half of your cycle each month should be filled with the same January 1st-style ambitious, energetic, hopeful, determined, powerful spirit. You’re more likely to feel this if you are living in your Flo. If you’ve spent the previous period week miserable and in pain then you won’t feel the freshness. There are 2 methods by which you can have that new year/new you energy every single month and achieve this ability to change, transform and refine your life.

  1. Practice living in and working with your body. There are many ways you can practice utilizing your feminine energy - I have outlined the 5 ways you can incorporate this into your daily routine to be more productive and less stressed year-round.
  2. Cycle sync your diet and lifestyle. For this way of life to work for you, you have to be cycle-aware. You need to be engaging with your body’s rhythm. Nourish and move your body in a way that keeps you attuned and sensitive to how you are feeling, your intuition, your desires and your needs. Your body is a divining rod, use it to navigate your journey through life.

The simplest way to access your feminine energy and harness it for the power of monthly resolutions is to get in touch with your menstrual/hormone cycle and live those 4 phases. You can start this right away and you’ll be on the fast track to feeling that new year spirit every month. Here follows exactly how you do this - but you can start by figuring out where you are in your cycle right now.

Accessing 12 months of new year’s resolutions

Your next period - feel into the main areas of your life (your relationship, work, interests, plans) - how you do feel about them and how do they make you feel? What do you desire as a result of this investigation? What do you want to transform? Do you want things to change and what exactly? (Don’t worry about “how” for now.) This is a good opportunity to journal about those feelings and desires that you wish to create. It’s all about intuitive feelings and emotions. During your follicular phase - this is when you can plan out the specific goals you want to work toward this month. This is when you get into the “how” and planning, detail, and strategizing are your super skills. You’ll have boundless energy and feel very hopeful and optimistic (and ambitious!) about the month ahead. During your ovulatory phase - this is the best time to communicate to everyone (your partner, your work colleagues, your boss) what you are working on this month. You’ll have great speaking skills right now and can be very clear and concise in your explanations. You’ll also be convincing and persuasive, while keeping a helpful level of empathy and understanding of other’s perspectives and needs. During your luteal phase - this is the point when you make sure you take action to bring those tasks toward your goals to completion. This is a great time to bring projects to fruition. You’re creatively minded, but also happy to put in the necessary heavy-lifting to get things done. Your next period - now you are in the right place to evaluate the past month’s progress and really feel into the problems you may have faced and what you have achieved. You might consider changing course or starting again with a new approach. How has this month made you feel? Do you want things to transform for you in the coming weeks? It’s a new opportunity, your own personal “new year” every single month. Imagine what having 12 opportunities to make forward progress would do in your upcoming year? I hope this new year you join me in taking advantage of the powerful momentum that your body helps you transform your life by cycle-syncing!Always remember, that once you have the right information about how your body really works, you can start making health choices that finally start to work for you! You can do this - the science of your body is on your side! Transform your year and your life in 2016!to your FLO,AlisaGood things come in threes:

I want to hear from you!

First, do you feel like once a year new year’s resolution are not working for you? Second, are you ready to try cycle syncing? Third, everyone you know is hormonal – spread a little good ovary karma and share this article on social ;)

Need more Hormone Help?

If you’re needing some health upgrading, it’s time you started you looking into what’s going on with your hormones.I’ve designed a 4 day hormone detox and evaluation to help you understand exactly what’s out of whack and how you can start getting back to balance so that your hormones no longer have to suffer.Click here to get your FREE detox and evaluation!

Holiday Gift Guide 2015

My biggest, best-yet, health-conscious and hormone-happy guide to giving

It’s my favorite time of year! The time I get to sit down and think of all the lovely health-conscious gifts I want to give (and receive!) this holiday season. I love putting together my gift guide, it brings me such warmth and cheer to think of all my Flo ladies spreading the message of body-love and hormone-friendly self-care far and wide to friends and family. I take a lot of pleasure in choosing the perfect gifts for my nearest and dearest. I hope this guide gives you some inspiration too of how you can live more beautifully in the FLO!

My healthy holiday gift guide

For your friends (or for yourself!) I don’t know about you, but I like to make sure I give my friends only the kinds of products I would use myself. Sometimes these gifts can act like a gateway to a whole new lifestyle! And, who doesn’t want a healthy living buddy for cycle sister support?

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  • because it’s all endocrine disruptive. Enter Strange Invisible Perfumes! They are made with certified organic, wildcrafted, biodynamic, and hydro-distilled essences obtained directly from trusted distillers. Limited batches are then reverently hand-blended, set into a base of custom-distilled organic esprit de Cognac, and aged for a minimum of six months. All Strange Invisible Perfumes are completely botanical
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  • and unfiltered. What makes these extra special is that you can pick your scent based on your or your friend’s zodiac sign! So mystically merry.
  • Sakara Life Cookie Collection! Just in time for the holidays - give it to yourself and to everyone you love - raw, organic, totally nutrient dense and health promoting, there is now no reason not to give the gift of food thanks to my sisters over at Sakara Life!
  • Cora monthly delivery - upgrade your bestie’s period experience with Cora. She’ll get a swish black leather clutch in which to hold her monthly delivery of all-organic, 100% cotton tampons. There’s been a lot in the news lately about the potential problems with regular tampon ingredients. Look out for your loved one’s health, they’ll love you for it. More on my natural femcare recommen
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  • dations here.
  • Moonjuice Action Dust - For you or your smoothie loving friend who swears this year will be the year of giving up caffeine - this powder blend could actually help them to achieve that goal! I love Moonjuice, their products, their ethos, their inspirational founder. And they have gorgeous gift sets of health-boosting supplements. Introduce your friend to this new way of life!
  • Naturopathica meditation oils - herbal aromas for meditation and therapy. These stunning blue bottles are there for different needs - calming nerves, inspiration... Tailo
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  • r your choice to your friend’s new year’s goals. Where does she need the most support?
  • Not Your Sugar Mama’s raw chocolate - first of all, LOVE the name! Second - it’s organic chocolate you can truly indulge in. Not Your Sugar Mama’s organic, raw chocolate is my new obsession!An assorted pack with flavors from Pomegranate Ginger to Lavender Sea Salt makes the perfect gift for one bestie or to hand out at your annual friends gathering!
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  • Bon Dea baking mixes - this company was created with inspiration from Flo Living and provides gluten-free baking mixes for all ladies living in their Flo. Check out our interview with the company founder here.
  • Barley and Oats gift sets - for the new breastfeeding mom in your life. This company thinks of the well-being of mom and baby and aims to smooth the transition. So thoughtful. They only just launched, but I would have LOVED receiving this gift during those newborn days!
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  • Love and Toast hand lotion and lip butter - because who doesn’t need some good, natural skin care in the winter months? I love this brand - I have the honey coconut hand lotion in my bag! Yummy.
  • LaFace Laboratories face oil - face oils became the latest skin care craze in 2015 and I have to say, I’m hooked! This product was given to me as a gift last year and I have loved it all year-long for my post-partum skin. I use it morning and night, it’s amazing under makeup. A must try especially for those dealing with eczema.It’s organic evening primrose oil-based, safe for breastfeeding, and oh so fabulously hormone-friendly.
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****And of course - give a copy of the WomanCode book with each of these to complete the hormone support for you and your loved ones!****For your baby (or your friends’ babies!)As a new mom, here are some of the products I love - if you’re curious what skin care products I use on my daughter, let me know and I’ll share in another post!

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  • BabyLit board books - baby-versions of the big literature classics, beautifully illustrated. Moby Dick, Pride and Prejudice, A Christmas Carol - all made baby friendly. Perfect for a baby heading for a bright future - and for a new mom wanting an easy way to score 100% on those “how many classic books have you read?” Facebook quizzes!
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  • Chewbeeds teething necklace - these necklaces look great and they’re totally baby-safe. No one would know you’re wearing a teething necklace, except baby! Save all your friend’s best jewelry from baby gnashers.
  • Burt’s Bees Baby Clothes - because who doesn’t love buying cute little baby clothes? All-organic, natural, baby-skin-safe and health-conscious, and in fun seasonal patterns too!
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  • Seedlings and Little Pnuts subscription boxes - if your friend’s baby is a little older (like my 4 nieces who are 4 and up) then a subscription service for monthly or bi-monthly boxed deliveries of arts and crafts projects is perfect. It makes Christmas last all year round! You no longer need watch as the toy you gifted is just placed on an ever-growing holiday season pile - this way the fun and excitement will really last.

For your manFor me this is just another opportunity to expose those I care about to healthier options and to gift them things they might not indulge in otherwise.

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  • A health-inspiring experience - before I started dating my husband he thought kale was a kind of fish! No kidding! He really was not aware of healthy living at all. I had to do a lot of educating! One way I got him up to speed with my way of life was gifting him healthy experiences so he could try out new things and decide for himself what he wanted to pursue. This has included rolfing sessions, chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture sessions, and massage. Some of these things we did together as a fun couple’s experience, others he explored on his own.
  • Every Man Jack skincare - this organic range of men’s bathroom products is easily av
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  • ailable at Wholefoods. Upgrade his whole routine - from shaving to skincare.
  • King Baby bracelets - I love these rock star bracelets for my hubby.
  • Healthy Office Pantry - I always take time at Christmas to stock my hubby up with his favorite snacks like really good jerky and protein bars, plus some good organic coffee and stevia. He keeps them at work and never has to compromise on his health.
  • Membership to Thrive Market! - The Costco for healthy pantry items -give your man the opportunity to stock up and auto-ship his favorite snacks and staples at huge cost savings! Let’s face it, he’s not getting to the store ;)

Always remember, that once you have the right information about how your body really works, you can start making health choices that finally start to work for you! You can do this - the science of your body is on your side!to your FLO,AlisaGood things come in threes:

I want to hear from you!

First, has this gift guide inspired you?Second, share your own gift ideas! Third, everyone you know is hormonal – spread a little good ovary karma and share this article on social ;)

Need more Hormone Help?

If you’re needing some health upgrading, it’s time you started you looking into what’s going on with your hormones.I’ve designed a 4 day hormone detox and evaluation to help you understand exactly what’s out of whack and how you can start getting back to balance so that your hormones no longer have to suffer.Click here to get your FREE detox and evaluation!

5 Ways To Naturally Improve Your Fertility

As the winter months draw in, the evenings are darker, and the nights much longer - what does this mean? It’s baby-making time! Have you noticed how many babies arrive in those late summer/early Fall months? I definitely have. I think there’s something about the cosiness of winter that brings us closer. I also think many women make the decision to start trying for a baby around New Year when all our hopes and dreams become the focus. However, we don’t tend to associate the winter months with being at the height of our best health. This is the time when you might be more sedentary, eat less health-consciously, tackle colds and flu, and feel a little less bright. In fact, prolonged darkness due to wintery weather and seasonal shifts can cause you to stop ovulating consistently or experience changes in your cycle. All of which means that if you want to conceive it’s a good idea to really concentrate on amplifying your fertility with some targeted, intelligent diet and lifestyle choices. I have put together the 5 best ways to naturally improve your fertility, particularly at this time of year. These are just some of the things I personally did to get my own body ready for baby. Getting pregnant is about so much more than taking a pre-natal vitamin and folic acid - although, I do recommend pre-natal supplementation. I just also recommend you take control by consciously choosing to support your ovaries in succeeding in their vocation!

5 ways to naturally improve your fertility

  1. Let the sun shine! Sunlight is so important for healthy fertility, but often winter means darker days with long nights and cloudy weather. That natural vitamin D3 boost maximizes your ability to conceive naturally - in fact, I took a little sunshine-heavy mini-break myself prior to conceiving my daughter. Studies have revealed that 93% of women dealing with infertility issues are vitamin D3 deficient. Unfortunately D3 supplements are just not a good enough source to counter this problem, you really do need sunshine. So, if you can, book a mini-break like me to someplace where stretching out in the sun by the pool or on the beach is the main motivation for the trip! Be sure to avoid chemical-laden sunscreens though and switch up your diet instead to protect your skin.
  2. Boost your breakfast. The absolute best winter season breakfast if you’re looking to get pregnant is buckwheat and cinnamon! Good thing it’s delicious too! Hormonal balance hinges on a good, nourishing breakfast and this combination will stabilize your blood sugar and support regular ovulation.
  3. Revitalize your vagina! Your vagina has its own little eco-system going on and that eco-system needs to be in balance and harmonious for your body to welcome a baby. Issues with the health of your vaginal flora in the way of “bacterial vaginosis” (which some 30% of American women likely suffer with) can lead to the prevention of fertilization of an egg, spontaneous miscarriage, and a higher risk of preterm birth. Your vagina’s well-being is sourced in your gut!! Your gut health/gut microbiome impacts your vaginal microbiome/eco-system. There are 3 supplements you can be taking to avoid or to heal bacterial vaginosis.
  4. Avocuddle! You want to be eating an avocado a day when you’re trying to conceive. Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health discovered that avocados contain the best kind of monounsaturated fat and the least saturated fat, making them the ideal food for boosting the health of your eggs. Avoiding saturated fat - found in the likes of butter and red meat - is equally important to making sure you’re getting those good fats from extra avocados. I love avocados for breakfast and as a snack - try some of my recipes.
  5. Get a jump on! I have one piece of exercise equipment at home and that’s an urban rebounder. I jump on my mini trampoline first thing in the morning for 10 minutes to get some low-impact, lymphatic circulation-boosting, estrogen-metabolizing fun! I sometimes even jump back on during the day to take a break from sitting at my desk. It’ll bring out the kid in you and help you conceive a kid of your own!

Always remember, that once you have the right information about how your body really works, you can start making health choices that finally start to work for you! You can do this - the science of your body is on your side!to your FLO,AlisaGood things come in threes:

I want to hear from you!

First, do you hope to conceive soon? Second, have you struggled with infertility? Third, everyone you know is hormonal – spread a little good ovary karma and share this article on social ;)

Are You Trying to Conceive?

If you want to do everything in your power to improve your chances of becoming a mom—then we want to help you optimize your fertility.Whether you are just starting to think about having a baby, or have already tried naturally or have been trying with IVF, our Fertile FLO Program will help improve your chances of conception.Click here to download my FREE guide, The 5 Health Foods to Avoid to Get and Stay Pregnant.

My Tips For Staying Healthy This Holiday Season

is party season and from awkward office parties to catch-ups with long lost friends - sticking to your healthy living goals can be harder than it looks. The temptations on the buffet table, the ever-flowing punch bowl, the late nights...it can make any woman feel the need to press the pause button on her progress. But, stop! I have some tried and tested tips for sailing through this season with a smile on your face. You don’t want to start the new year with the vengeful return of all your period problems or even a worsened set of symptoms, right? I didn’t think so. We all want to start the new year fresh, not struggling to reset the mistakes of the past month. So let’s start with the party food - all those canapes, appetizers, chips and dips, pot-lucks and buffets. Oh my! We can go from there...

My tips for a healthy holiday party season

Flo-tip 1: Make friends with the fats and pals with the protein! As long as you stick to good fat and protein heavy snacks you’ll be fine - think of all those crab cakes, deviled eggs, meat balls, avocado dips and hummus you can indulge in to your heart’s content! Just steer clear of the pastry and dough-based items.

Flo-tip 2: Make your own munchies!You’ll be popular and well-prepared if you bring your own snacks. Here are my suggestions: rice paper spring rolls stuffed with fresh veggies and avocado or corn tortillas stuffed with beans, avocado and cilantro. Dates stuffed with a yummy almond mix or wrapped in turkey bacon. I also love scallops wrapped in nori - rich and decadent! You could also try my favorite roasted nut recipe - it’s perfect for any party.

Flo-tip 3: Fill-up before you get festive!If I know I’m heading out to a party, I always save a little of my lunch for an early dinner. About an hour before I’m due to leave, I’ll sit down and have lunch part two. It means I’ll feel full enough not to see the party food as my evening meal. If you want to have a drink, it’s best not to do so on an empty stomach. That just makes you crave salty, unhealthy foods and it will make it harder to avoid the ever-present chip bowl.

Flo-tip 4: Be wise with your wine.One of the best ways to keep the wine flowing and always have your glass half full as you mingle is to mix your red wine (yes, red wine is absolutely the best choice of all the alcohol options) with a spritzer.   Although I haven’t had any alcohol in the past 3 years due to pregnancy prep, pregnancy, and now breastfeeding, when I did imbibe before all that - 2 glasses of wine was my own personal limit, but they would become 4 just like magic and can last you for several hours. If there are cocktails to be had, usually there’s seltzer somewhere, seek it out and enjoy turning your water into wine! For every glass of wine spritzer you have, drink a nice tall glass of regular water to stay hydrated.

Flo-tip 5: Be clever with the Christmas cocktails. Although, I’ll say again, red wine is the best choice for a night out, sometimes we all fancy a festive cocktail. A hot toddy is a decent choice because you have actual apple cider and cinnamon along with a little brandy. Compared to the high sugar content of other mixed drinks, this one is a the least offensive.  But just have one of course.  Who says you can’t keep your health in mind at all times? If it’s a BYOB kind of party why not make it a bottle of pomegranate or pink grapefruit juice? My favorite non-alcoholic cocktail which we served at my wedding was pink grapefruit juice with seltzer and a swizzle stick of fresh thyme! Gorgeous. We heated up some thyme leaves with apple and pineapple juice prior and used that as our simple syrup substitute to boost the lovely thyme flavor. So elegant and delicious!  You could also just use fresh mint instead as well.

Flo-tip 6: Step it up before you settle down for the night.Rather than just flopping into bed when you get home, take a moment to step up your health game with a couple of easy steps. Take a B vitamin complex to restore the vitamins your liver needs to break down the alcohol and troublesome foods. Then, have a big glass of water with electrolyte enhancer (I like the Electro-Mix from the makers of Emergen-C).

Flo-tip 7: Be the master of the morning-after!Alcohol can really mess with your hormonal health, even in small amounts, and one night of binge drinking can have knock-on effects for months. Here’s what you need to do the next morning, even, yes, after just a few glasses of wine so you can rebalance and reset.

  1. Take a B vitamin complex and take a drink of warm water with lemon to flush your system.
  2. Drink coconut water to replenish your electrolytes.
  3. Have three 8 ounce glasses of my favorite detoxifying juice – combine a handful of spinach, 4 stalks of cucumber, half a bunch of cilantro, one-third a bunch of parsley, half a lemon with rind, half a green apple, and a small carrot in a blender or juicer.
  4. Make your workout that day a hatha yoga class to calm your adrenals. The twists involved will help detoxify your internal organs and prevent a backup of estrogen.
  5. Take a shot of apple cider vinegar to emulsify those fats.

Always remember, that once you have the right information about how your body really works, you can start making health choices that finally start to work for you! You can do this - the science of your body is on your side!

To your FLO,

Alisa

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  • Implement Cycle Syncing ®

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