“When you go into holistic practices, always find a practitioner that you connect with.”
Are you taking care of your physical self as you prepare to get pregnant? Preparing physically for your pregnancy not only guarantees a healthy pregnancy, but also a healthy baby and postpartum experience.
In this episode of the Finding Fertility podcast, we speak with Dr. Susan Fox, an acupuncture in Chinese medicine specializing in the area of fertility for 20 years. She has witnessed over the decades the benefits of combining traditional medicine and natural medicine in infertility treatments.
Listen in to learn about the 5 elements of emotions in Chinese medicine; grief, fear, anger, overjoy, and worry, and how they relate to our organ systems.
“A dehydrated body is in stress, and a body in stress is likely to be irritated.”
Connect with Dr. Susan:
🌺 Download your FREE Guide: Top 3 Steps to Maximise Your Fertility That Your Doctor Isn't Talking About
Hello beautiful and welcome to finding fertility. I'm your host, Monica Cox from finding fertility.co And I created this podcast to help get you to start thinking outside of the box and realise that your infertility might have nothing to do with your lady bits rooted in functional medicine and personal experience. Finding fertility is all about looking at the whole body and finding the root cause of your infertility. Finding fertility does not diagnose, prescribe or treat any issues of infertility. But what we do is take a holistic approach and improve your diet and your lifestyle to get you steps closer to creating your dream family. Just by being here with me listening to this podcast, you're already going down the right path to making your dreams come true. Let's do this together. Happy Friday. Oh, welcome back to another episode of finding fertility. I'm incredibly excited to have Dr. Susan Fox on. So welcome to the podcast.
Thank you. Thank you very much. I'm delighted to be here and look forward to kind of sharing some of my thoughts about how to help your listening audience.
Yeah, well tell us a little bit about you. Yes, happy to.
So I'm a Doctor of acupuncture and Chinese medicine in the San Francisco Bay area, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. And I've been in practice specialising in the area of fertility for the last 20 years. So I've had the good fortune of being able to observe and witness over decades, the benefits of combining traditional medicine and just natural medicine, either with or without its advanced reproductive therapies like IVF, sometimes, sometimes they're appropriate and necessary. And I have no nothing to say against them. But I just do, I do think that there is much to be said for preparing for your fertility, whether it is naturally or with assisted reproductive therapies.
I have an IVF baby myself, so absolutely not against them. But I wish there was more education about health and wellness and how you can improve your situation before going into treatment. Because it can dramatically change not only the outcome of your procedure, but it can dramatically change your whole life.
Without a doubt, without a doubt, I would say that if I had a magic wand, I would I would ascribe to anybody considering going into IVF, depending upon, you know, what might be the the need, and obviously, if there's a sudden cancer diagnosis is something that that that requires a quick, you know, IVF procedure to get eggs or embryos and of course, time is of the essence. But if I had someone's time, regardless of age, and these other factors that are you know, kind of in the western world considered, you know, sort of, you're falling off a cliff Dangerzone timeframes, I would like to see at least three months of preparation, so to ensure that the quality of those follicles that would be coming up for retrieval are are as enhanced as possible. And likewise, you know, as you say, the experience of the woman and the couple going through the procedure, they are through their own sort of nutritional foundation and emotional Foundation, able to better navigate all of what that entails with the hormones and so forth.
Yeah, exactly. It's you can't prepare anyone really emotionally for what they're about to go through when they do a full round of IVF. It's, it's obviously very different for everyone, the experience is different, you can have some insight to it, but I do think, yes, having, you know that preparation is just so important. Right? So in Chinese medicine, and you guys talk a lot about five elements. So we really want to like dive into each one of those elements. Can you just give a little bit of a background about those five elements?
Certainly so so Chinese medicine is derived from Taoism, just an observation of life and the natural cycles of life. And the ancients, the scribes who were really astute at observing nature recognise we're not different from that. And so there are elements within each of us that that have been sort of assigned a relationship to different organ systems within our body. And when I speak of organ systems in Chinese medicine, I'm not speaking necessarily of the organs as we know them in western medicine. So listening audio If I speak about heart or liver or kidneys, please don't fear that something is wrong with your actual heart, liver or kidneys, they include those organs but they are a much larger body than what these specific organs are do it as we understand them in the Western world. So, we are made of these five elements we are made of, of wood, you know, we grow we're carbon beings, we are made of fire, we have sort of electrical frequencies that can be identified through EEG EKGs and so forth, brainwave activities, we have would probably earth you know, our ability to digest and assimilate and eliminate properly, we have air, obviously, we take in air and we have water mostly made of water. So these organs, these elements are part of organ systems in Chinese medicine. And I can just go a little bit further into sort of aligning the elements to organ systems quickly if that would serve Yeah, definitely. Okay, so I'm going to begin with with the Element of Air and Air is associated with the lung in the large intestine organ systems and when we think about it, we inhale and exhale, actual air, we take in and we excrete our our waste products, if you will, so that we can have more room for nutrition. In and when we, when we, when we are out of balance in our lungs and large intestine systems, we will experience oftentimes grief as the emotional byproduct, if you will, of a dis harmonised long and large intestine organ system. We we are also made of water as I said, That's No, that's no surprise to anyone. And in the Chinese medicine model, the water element is associated with what we call the kidney system, your again, this is not just about your filtering organs in the back of your body. It's it has to do in Chinese medicine, what we call growth, reproduction, and ageing. So we can probably most liken it to our hormonal systems as they change over time we grow we reproduce, we age and so forth. When those systems are out of balance, we say we say that is more associated with the element of fear. So in it, it's a chicken in the egg kind of question, you know, does grief produce the disharmony or disharmony produce grief? Or, you know, these other emotional
pathologies? if you will? And the answer is yes, they age and, you know, it doesn't really matter, which comes first we just our goal is to identify what is the emotion or the system that's out of balance and begin there, so that we can harmonise the entire five elements after I'm looking at this in my own mind's eye through a circle, if you will. So if you think about a circle, each of these items is generating that the energies for the next so so so. So grief, and the letting go allows us to make room for the next and the next is associated with the kidney system, the new the phoenix rising from the ashes, the follicles deep in the primordial pool. And once that that is, you know, kind of in its generating sequence, the next energy has to do with what we call our liver system. And our liver system is about growth. It's about that impetus for creative potential. It's that spark of life that has a say, I'm going to learn that I'm going to do that. I like dance I you know, like music, it really has a lot of that magnetic draw toward so it's a wonderful organ system. And as we know, our liver is responsible for so much in our bodies. Yeah. And when it is out of harmony, because it has so much potential energetic potential. Our response our if you will, our disharmony is more of an of an excess trying to express so it is becomes this sort of, you know, road rage, angry outburst. When when it's not expressed, it can become repressed, and then we can feel depressed, which is a little bit harder. So I'd much rather have someone tell me boy, I was pissed off yesterday, then, boy, I feel depressed. It's still the same energy, but it needs to get expressed and it's a lot easier, kind of like a toddler having a temper tantrum when they shake it off, blow it off, and then just get back to life as normal. Yeah, when that organ system is functioning optimally, then the next generation has to do with what we call a heart spirit. And so it has, it's not again, not just our pumping mechanism that gets blood throughout our body. It has to do with our sense of joy, and our joy wants to be a relaxed joy, you know? The joy that you feel when you're with a loved one when you're snuggling, you know, a puppy or a baby or, or your sweetheart, in when that when that energy is, again out of harmony, that that expression tends to be one of like, excess joy is the term that we use in the ancient texts, but it's more like a bit manic, you know, the the, the individual wants to kind of not really deal with what's inside her heart. And so she's gonna say, everything's fine, nothing's wrong, I'm just gonna go party, let's go have some more margaritas, it, which is obviously not the most healthy way to deal with an energy that is not feeling imbalanced. And then finally, in the fifth, it is the spleen organ system. And here again, spleen is a funny word, because we think of spleen as being the repository of old red blood cells in western medicine, but in Chinese medicine, it is our master conductor, if you will, it is what we have now talking about as the microbiome being the, the the command central for all communications in the body, including hormones. And so if that spleen digestive system is not functioning optimally, we get leaky, you know, I we're talking about leaky gut a little bit, things just get a little, our barriers or boundaries get a little bit unhinged, and, and either particles of food and our own bodies get to escape their barriers, ie leaky gut, or our thoughts, escape and get leaky from our, our ability to be sort of calm minded and thoughtful. And the pathology, if you will, is worried we tend to worry like that dog in a bone kind of worry, like, just can't get off a thought. And so, so depending upon, I'm just going to recap. So the five element emotions are grief, fear, anger, over joy, that's the classic term, or worry. And so we look to see and I encourage the listening audience to look to see what is your proclivity because we all have a tendency toward one of them, of course, we're all, you know, inclined toward any one of them. But we tend to go to one, I, for one tend to go to worry. Not a bit surprised. I have, you know, sort of a digestive sort of deficiency, if you will, that's the first chink in my armour. So but but if you tend to go toward fear, then we want to look to okay, how is your kidney organ system doing? And we can make adjustments accordingly. Yeah, that was a long winded answer.
It was good. It always really fascinates me. I mean, obviously, the East knew exactly what was going on. They were really switched in to how the body operated not just on a physical like tangible level, but how we are connected with our mind, and spirit. My big question too, and like what I say to people is, when you use kind of Eastern medicine, you have to remember that Eastern medicine was rooted without Western problems. And so when I say to people, when you go into these holistic practices, one, always find a practitioner who you connect with, when you walk into a room, and you get I just got chills, like when you get that vibe, because that's really where the magic happens. Like you can have someone who knows all the information, but if they're not bringing their spirit and their joy and their, you know, presence into it, I don't want to say it doesn't work. But it doesn't it doesn't have that like vibration that we want, right?
Absolutely agree it, we can say that not only in the traditional Chinese or your Vedic or whatever the traditional medicines are, it also occurs in the western Oh, yeah. All right. So you know, if you go into an IVF centre and, and in your heart of hearts, or your gut is clenching around this, the energy of this person across the table, maybe go look for someone else, because that's not it may not necessarily be their protocols. It may not be their information, but we're relational creatures. And if we can't relate, that's the opening. That's the portal that lets us then begin the healing process. It doesn't really matter what we do with our diet and supplements and so forth. If if we don't have that sort of heart opening.
Yeah, exactly. So in your practice over the years, how have you been able to notice all the Western issues that women are now coming in with and really take that easy Certain practice to support them.
Yeah, it's interesting, I almost I almost want to comically or jokingly say that it's there's nothing new in the 5000 years of the Chinese medicine model, we just have new names for it, right? Okay. Whereas, you know, we now call something endometriosis, we would call it blood stagnation. But we now have something called PCOS, we would call it damp stagnation. You know, if there is anaemia, we would call it blood deficiency. So all of these names that, that we've been using for 1000s of years, just have new ICD 10, which is called the diagnosis code for insurance purposes. So that the, the current community, medical community can can understand each other. So we really don't, we don't dismiss those diagnoses, we just almost translate them, which actually, I find very much helps the individual because she may say, What the heck, what is endometriosis? How did I get it? And you know, and you know, what, what's the problem with it? And I will, I will answer those questions. But there's also a part where I can say, and it almost doesn't matter, except for How to Unravel maybe lifestyle or dietary choices that got you there. And sometimes it's not either of those. Sometimes it's simply genetics, you know, the genetic predisposition toward so it Yeah, it's I think that the language of ironically, the language of Chinese medicine, and I say ironically, because it can seem rather poetic and esoteric, resonates like we feel it in our body when someone says, oh, you know what, you have endometriosis that doesn't like it's a word, it doesn't mean anything. But you have blood stagnation in your uterus. And so therefore, that's why you're having this cramping and pain, we kind of intuitively say, you know, that makes sense.
Yeah, exactly. It's so nice, because I do think a lot of people are what I've seen is when people use Eastern medicine, they kind of just focus just on Eastern medicine and not bring in the western issues and really make it like, as a whole, like you say, you've got to go into the root cause of the issues. And, you know, you know, a lot of women just think, well, I don't have to change anything, because I'm going to my acupuncturist, once a week, and they're just they've given me supplementations, and I'm going to do acupuncture once a week, and then that's all I need to do. And it's like, well, no, let's get down to there's just so much more to it. And when you're able to add it all in together, it's It's magical.
Yeah, thank you for saying that. I think that's a really important segue for listeners that, you know, we we are specialists, right, we've, as I said, I've been doing this for 20 years, almost solely in the realm of women's health, with a strong specialty in fertility and pregnancy. So just as you wouldn't go to your dentist for cardiology, you know, a generalist may not know and I did I mean, no disrespect because yeah, he or she may have a wonderful repertoire, but this is a specialty and it requires an understanding and a learning of what is the Western diagnosis so that we can make that translation and I will say if the if it serves, there is a an international group for fertility specialist, Chinese medicine Fertility Specialists called the American Board of Oriental reproductive medicine, a b o r m.org. And, you know, if someone needs to get a specialist, you can look in their practitioner, find a practitioner column to see Is there anyone in your area and some do in sort of online video consulting as well where they can, if you don't have a specialist in your geographic area, someone can take your your intake and diagnosis and treatment plan and then you can take that to your local acupuncturist, but I would not want to have someone just, you know, spend time and possibly waste precious time in seeing a generalist when this is a specialty.
Yeah, exactly. And I mean, it's just really important that we get the whole picture. I mean, I spent a lot of time and money with amazing practitioners who did know acupuncture. I mean, really, I connected with a reflexologist. In the end, she was an expert in Reiki, she was amazing, but she wasn't attaching the physical things I needed to do like finding out that I was highly intolerant to paprika and tomatoes and that I did have the salt silent autoimmune issue. So if I was still eating those foods which I was because I thought I was on a healthy diet, no amount of anything was going to change that I wasn't going to fix it as much as I wanted it to. And it's exactly how it would
have. Yeah, it would have some benefit, but then you're adding insult is, you know, you walk out your acupuncture treatment, you have your, you know, paprika, whatever, and you've just undone, you know, whatever, whatever, you know, whatever healing might have occurred in the session. So yeah, it really is important to understand that this is a specialty, and you want a specialist and it is not to say mind you that only those who you can find in that ABR m.org organisation are the only specialists in the world there are others who are not members or Fellows is the term we use of that organisation. But it is a really easy one stop shop to see is there anybody in my area?
Yeah. I want you to specifically maybe talk about anger. Yeah, because I think a lot of us carry anger before we even start dealing with fertility issues. And then obviously there for many of us, there's a time of pure anger, like we are really pissed off. This has happened to us. And obviously, for a lot of the times, we're not getting the answers or maybe the support we need or we're just sent to do IVF fails. So I mean, even though all of them are super important. What would be your top tips for anger?
or anger? Yeah, well, it's funny, because when someone comes in, and their emotional presentation is more angry, I'm actually a little excited, I feel optimistic, because I say, Good, you've got good G. And we can really work with us, we just need to unblock that G so that that anger just gets to flow because it is only energy. Right? So I would say you know it certainly if you're prone toward anger, it's worth maybe doing a little self exploration or using a therapist to say is there a history of you know, abuse or trauma or something that needs to get healed. Because you know, we don't want to just kind of say it's all unicorn and daisies once we have our dance party in the living room and blow off our steam. But but you know, we so it's kind of, we want we want to look to see Are there hidden causes to the anger, but if it is, you know, I shouldn't say simply because it's not simple, but solely due to this particular you know, event that is troublesome the fertility journey, then I would say there are things that we can do, we can certainly eat well for our liver, you know, so it's the Eat detoxifying foods. In Chinese medicine, we say the liver loves sour because it opens up and softens the liver so that those little pockets of the liver cells get to let go of whatever toxins they may be holding on to and get in our liver gets to cleanse itself. So that would be you know, your lemons, limes fermented foods, you know, sour dates, things like that. It has a lot to do with movement as well you know, we've become a we're sitting here in front of our computers talking to each other, we become a bit sedentary you know, as, as creatures we're supposed to move, we're supposed to wake up move until it's time to go to sleep. Right? And we don't do that when our minds are busy and we're but we're but we're focused, you know, on the computer, we're using just our brain and not so much our body. So it's a find ways that you can joyfully Express movement. Do you like to dance? Do you like to hike? Do you like to swim? You know, do you like to? I'm not sure what else you can do. But you know,
that rollerskate yoga? Or, you know, like there's so many different things. It's not just one right? Yes.
And thank you for saying that because yoga you know, the the ancient medicines would use movement as part of their prescriptions. So we would have in Chinese medicine, Qi Gong or Tai Chi in Ayurvedic medicine, we would have yoga. These are these are part of lifestyle prescriptions that everybody employed because there was an understanding that we're not supposed to be in one position, you know, craning our head next forward, cutting off our flow of Qi. Yeah, the other thing I would say is really well so obviously hydration, right? You know, where I think we're a bit chronically hydrated, a dehydrated, in our busy lifestyles where you know, sometimes we knowingly choose not to hydrate even though we might feel thirsty because we feel that we don't have time to urinate. I mean, that's if that is a thought that's crossing one's mind. Just stop there and realise and have a laugh yet because it is almost
I'm laughing because it's true. Like I know that the more I drink the more I'll have to use the toilet so and maybe the subconscious things you Yep,
and but eventually you won't mean so so you know, once we want to train our bodies to take care They're there hydration ourselves to take in their hydration by giving them the nutrients they need, then we use it better we and we're not running to the restroom, you know, every half hour, but Hydration is key. So I would say you know, definitely a dehydrated body is in stress and a body in stress is likely to be irritated. Also sleep, you know, obviously, you know, we sleep as a new prescription in, in western medicine as well, right, we're, we have just gotten so accustomed to using, you know, the modern amenities of light and electronics and so forth, to keep ourselves stimulated, when if we were out, you know, hiking and camping, or we'd be asleep, because it's dark o'clock. So I would say, pay attention to your external environment. You know, if it's starting to get dark outside at 6pm, wherever you are, start to maybe dim the lights or turn some lights off in some of the locations. So you're telling your your mind, oh, dark is coming, then your pineal gland can start producing its melatonin so that you're starting that detoxification cleanup process, as well as starting, you know, the it's the sleep hormone, it gets us drowsy so that we can fall asleep and have a good night's sleep.
Yeah, exactly. Those are really good tips. I mean, I know they sound super simple, but like you say, it's just getting back to basics. It's getting back to how our ancestors lived for hundreds of 1000s of years. And, you know, all of our medical issues are on the rise. And it's actually just really simple to see why.
27:15 In our lifestyle is just and it's interesting, because, you know, in the last couple of years, we we saw what we saw, certainly an an amplification of certain mental health issues for sure, due to isolation, we're not designed to be isolated beings, that we did see some, some improvement for some in their lifestyle, because they were cooking meals at home. Yeah. And even though they were on the computer in their extra room, or in their bedroom, perhaps or in their closet, doing their their work during the day, there was a little bit less busyness around the getting to getting from, and the other social commitments that were part are part of a larger, you know, maybe corporate setting. Yeah, so yeah, I think we've been we've really allowed ourselves to get, as you say, out of touch with our own natural rhythms, and are using, you know, substances, and I'm not against coffee or, or matcha, or anything like that, by the way, black or black teas. But if you're using a cup of coffee to get out of bed in the morning, and then another one to get through your mid day. And another one because you're having a three o'clock slump. That's a sign that you want to be paying attention to what's happening in your external world that is forcing you to force your body through a day. Because it comes
at a cost. Yeah, exactly. They're over on the social media app, tick tock, there was kind of a train going around about pandemic babies and how they were just like of a different breed. And people didn't understand it. And I'm sitting there going, because the mom wasn't stressed out. The mom didn't have to run to work nine to five, she didn't have all those social commitments that she used to, she literally just got to sit and relax, which that's what we used to honour our pregnant women to do. And the babies benefited from that because their cortisol levels weren't maxing out before they were even born. And they're not super human babies. They're what humans used to do.
Exactly, right. human babies, right.
I mean, I was very, I always say now that I'm grateful for my infertility because I had to take care of my health, I had to slow down. I was in a privileged position where I didn't have to work with both of my pregnancies. And both of my sons, people just could not believe what they were doing at three weeks, six weeks, three months, six months. And it's just like, Well, it's because I just learned to slow down, where if I would have got pregnant easily and naturally at 27, it would have been a different story for my kids.
Right? Right. Yeah, it would probably have been okay, I can take my three month maternity leave than I need to go find a daycare or share it. It really just, I mean, I could feel myself feeling stressed. Just Just thinking about it. Yeah, yeah, exactly. It's true. I think that, you know, we've had there are several silver linings of the pandemic, and one is that sort of reassessment of what it means to be a human being and how to take care of ourselves in our state of humaneness.
Yeah, exactly. And, I mean, it's just really important. That's our big message here at finding fertility is not just about the two pink lines, there's so many more benefits down the line that You're just like, well, I'll deal with it when I get there. And when you get there, and you're dealing with postpartum depression when you've had a horrible pregnancy experience when your labour was, you know, rushed and you know, needed, you know, like there's just so many issues that can happen not producing milk well at all. Yeah, we're,
we're, we're could have been would suit I want to say they could have been improved, you know, before pregnancy because it's not as you say about the two lines is not about getting pregnant. It's about staying pregnant. It's about having a healthy pregnancy, a healthy baby healthy mama postpartum. And, you know, in, you know, re entering the community, with this new being to share share life with Yeah, exactly.
Well, I'm sure we can sit and talk about this all day. But I'm excited that you came onto the podcast and we connected and you shared your massive wisdom with us. Tell our listeners where they can find you.
So my website is Dr. Susan fox.com, Dr. S, USA NF o x.com. And I'm available, obviously locally for for, for in person treatments, but I'm also available for video consults, keep in mind, of course, video consults that are outside of California, I am coaching, I am not a doctor because of the limitations of a licenced. So you can find me there and you can reach me through my email through that site or my phone number. Through that site. I'm happy to answer any questions that anyone might have pertinent to this conversation.
Yeah. Well, thank you so much. All that information is down in the show notes, so they can easily click on that. And yeah, once again, thank you so much for coming on and sharing your wisdom.
My pleasure. Thanks so much. Aloha. Aloha.
Thank you once again for tuning in to the finding fertility podcast. If you're loving this podcast, please leave us a rating in review and let us know how this podcast is supporting you to get steps closer to creating your dream family. I hope you have a beautiful weekend and we will see you next Friday for another episode of the finding fertility podcast
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Anything written or said about health and diet are my opinions, that I have formed over the years, through trial and error, study, reading, listening and observing. What worked for me may not work for you. I am not a doctor, nutritionist or dietician and all medical advice should be gotten from a qualified professional. Product recommendations are based on what I used during my infertility journey or wish I had.
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