What your basal body temps are telling you

Your temperature dipped one day and you can’t figure out why. Or maybe your temperature bounces up and down and it’s hard to figure out when (or if) you ovulate. Join Rianna Poskin and I as we talk about charting from a Traditional Chinese Medicine point of view!

I had so much fun with this one – I almost forgot I was the one doing the interviewing as I listened to her share insight about what was probably happening in one woman’s cycle. Our charts are really interesting!

Charting from a TCM view

About Rianna

Rianna Poskin is a Mom of 3, an Entrepreneur, Lover of the Outdoors/Exercise/Nutrition, and Servicing others. Her mission is to make you the best by bringing you to your full potential in Body, Mind and Spirit!

Rianna and her husband dealt with Fertility issues, including miscarriages, which is why she is so passionate in helping others achieve their family dreams and stay healthy!

Rianna worked as a TCM practitioner focusing on Women’s Health and Fertility until having children.  Now she continues her work online consulting while being at home with her children.

Education: Master’s in Business (MSBA), Bachelor’s in Science (BSAT), Certifications in Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, and Body Mind Nutrition.

Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS)

Find her at RiannaPoskin.com (where you can sign up to get her free ebook and menu), on Twitter: @riannaposkin and Facebook: facebook.com/backtobasicsblogger

Top fertility tip

It’s so simple… breathing.

We tend to be shallow breathers and we don’t allow for that oxygen to go to the right places and feel our bodies in the right way. We need that to survive and if we’re not nourishing ourselves in that way everything else we’re doing will have a harder time bringing about good health.

Charting resources

Fertility Friend – Fertility charting with Fertility Friend thus involves observing and recording your fertility signs so that you can easily see your daily fertility status and identify your most fertile time.

Lady Comp Baby – If you would like to become pregnant without stress and avoid undergoing complex procedures, the intelligent fertility monitor of Valley-Electronics is for you.

iBasal – The ibasal is much more than just a basal thermometer – it’s an FDA-cleared fertility monitor that is able to calculate your precise ovulation date and peak fertile days based on your daily temperatures and a variety of other fertility indicators.

FairHaven Health – supplements, basal thermometers, and test strips among other items.

Show notes

Not an exact transcription, so check out the video for the entire conversation, but here are some of the main points from our talk!

How does TCM and charting go hand in hand?

SO many women get hung up on every little temperature fluctuation and trying to figure out what each variable means. This becomes a constant stress int every day charting because it’s a constant reminder that the goal you’re reaching for has not yet been obtained.

My approach is to look at the whole thing together and create a strategy to implement without causing excess stress. You don’t want to bombard yourself on a regular basis with those minute details, it’ll drive you crazy!

Practice charting…but do it and then let it go!

Rianna goes in-depth into a specific chart – make sure you what the video for this!

Tidbits during the chart review:

  • Ideal follicular phase and luteal phase is about 12-14 days for each.
  • Checking out the tongue! By looking at the tongue you can see which organs may be having problems. This tongue was swollen has a white coating and red tip.
  • The symptoms listed in the charts match what the tongue and the temperature variations all point to the same thing.
  • 5 phases in Chinese medicine – all five are important to look at
    1. follicular
    2. ovulation
    3. luteal
    4. premenstrual
    5. menstruation
  • We can actually change our dietary and lifestyle habits during each phase to optimize each phase. Some recommendations are shown on-screen just before minute 10! (supplements , dietary changes and acupressure points)

Seriously – watch the video here as Rianna really gets into every detail of the basal body charts!

  • Alkalizing very day is important. (helps you detox without doing a full-blown cleanse)
    • 1/2 cup of juice with filtered water and a pinch of Himalayan salt first thing in the morning.
    • 15 minutes of quiet meditation
    • Get in your supplements! (Rianna gives her recommendations here)
    • Throughout the day, make sure you drink alkaline water (just a pinch of Himalayan salt. Fruit between meals will help to alkalize the body. Foods high in zinc are also important! (menu shown in video 18:00)
    • Possible supplementation for anyone trying to get pregnant and for advanced maternal age recommendations given (19:00)
  • Analyze your charts over a few months.
  • Take three months of dietary and lifestyle changes before conceiving as the egg has a 100 day maturation cycle.

The ocean of our fertility does not dry up, it just becomes still. And with help, it can flow once more.

– Randine Lewis, author of The Infertility Cure

  • Femoral massage for bringing blood flow to the ovaries. (shown later in the video at 32:00)
  • If you have a short luteal phase it will be difficult to get pregnant.
  • Low temperatures you might want to get your thyroid checked out. In TCM it’s connected to a “low spleen energy”.

What are some of the biggest issues you find with women’s charts?

Statistically…there’s a variation of errors. Consistency is hard and there are many variables that can throw temps off slightly, so don’t get consumed about it.

Stress = cortisol production = acidifying the body.

So make sure you chart, but don’t get so wrapped up in it! If you do give up on taking temperature, just don’t give up on writing down your signs and symptoms as they are really important for a holistic practitioner to help you figure out what is going on in each part of your cycle.

Those signs and symptoms as well as the emotions can pin point which organ needs focus.

We also had a great conversation about how you have to be comfortable with your practitioner! (34:00)

what your basal body temps are telling you

Expert advice on vitex for fertility

Vitex (also know as chaste tree) is often said to be great for fertility, but is it for everyone? You’d think so by reading fertility forums and blogs! But often times it can make a woman’s symptoms worse.

Join Kelly LeGendre and I as we talk about vitex; what it is, how it works, who should take it (and who shouldn’t), as well as proper usage.

And make sure you scroll below the video to grab her top fertility tip and a three-day fertility menu! I’ve also added the show notes in case you’re a reader and not a watcher. 😉

Vitex for fertility

About Kelly

Kelly LeGendre, the creator of The Fertility Fix program, is a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist who has been helping women grow their families naturally for over a decade. After the birth of her son (who was conceived while following the first iteration of The Fertility Fix plan!), she left her acupuncture practice to focus on helping make motherhood a reality for other women worldwide. Kelly uses a research-based approach to naturally optimize fertility through a combination of functional nutrition, lifestyle modification, and herbal medicine. You can find her website at TheFertilityFix.com and she is also on Facebook.

Top fertility tip

Do everything in your power to reduce your stress level! Women don’t realize what a huge effect stress has on their hormone levels, but it takes whatever else is happening inside your body and amplifies it. Stress increases insulin resistance, interferes with thyroid function, lowers progesterone, makes it more difficult for your liver to break down excess estrogen and other toxins, and causes inflammation by impacting gut health. No matter how much you clean up your diet, if your stress level is still through the roof, your health (and fertility) will suffer.

Where to buy vitex

Mountain Rose Herbs vitex extract

Gaia vitex extract available on Amazon

Show notes

Not an exact transcription, so check out the video for the entire conversation, but here are some of the main points from our talk!

What is vitex?

Vitex, also known as chaste tree, is a bush/herb native to the Mediterranean. The berries are used in herbal medicine.

What actions does it have on the body?

It works on the hypothalamus to stimulate dopamine production and when dopamine is up, it suppresses prolactin which has a cascading effect to raise progesterone.

It can be useful in women with progesterone deficiency issues, but Kelly always tries to use other options to raise progesterone first.

Is this a herb for both men and women?

No, this herb is for women only. It may decrease testosterone and impair sperm motility in men.

Is it estrogenic?

Vitex does have a slight estrogenic effect, but it tends to raise estrogen and progesterone at the same time. So women with high estrogen want to be wary taking it.

What reproductive issues should we be taking vitex for?

Kelly uses it primarily for luteal phase defects (where the second half of the cycle after ovulation is too short). Vitex is usually only used after options haven’t worked.

It’s also important to know that dopamine and progesterone have the same precursor hormone, pregnenolone. And if you are low in pregnenolone, she tries to raise those levels first as vitex will force the body to produce more dopamine which could cause deficiencies in other areas causing a “crash” later.

What other natural remedies should be tried first?

Lifestyle – Pregnenolone is also used to produce cortisol, and if you have high levels of stress for a long period of time, the body uses this precursor for stress instead of progesterone production.

Women tend to gloss over this recommendation and move on to more exciting remedies, but reducing stress, and figuring out better ways of dealing with it, are really important and make a big difference.

Diet – Consuming a lot of vitamins and minerals as well as good fats is important in hormone production.

Sugar needs to be cut out as it can cause the body to preferentially produce serotonin instead of dopamine.

Caffeine needs to go as it can raise cortisol levels.

A focus on whole foods is important.

Supplements – replacing nutrients you may be deficient in can also be helpful. Magnesium, zinc, B6, and vitamin C can all help in the production of progesterone and its precursor hormones.

Can vitex be used for PCOS or annovulation?

PCOS responds so well to diet and lifestyle changes that those should be primary in those experiencing PCOS. Because they aren’t ovulating progesterone will be low. But once we can get them ovulating through dietary changes, then we can look at progesterone levels and see if they have any luteal phase problems.

What is the best form to use – tea, capsule, or tincture?

Alcohol extracts the constituents from the plant so tinctures are going to be your best bet.

How much vitex should you take?

It’s important to work with someone who knows the herb well as they can figure out the correct dosage for your situation. Normally Kelly recommends about 30-40 drops per day in water, upon waking, and on an empty stomach.

How long does it take for it to have a positive effect on the body?

It normally takes about 3 months to see any changes due to vitex.

Should you take it throughout your whole cycle, or just post-ovulation?

Kelly has most of her patients use it during the luteal phase or last half of the cycle. (from ovulation until the first day of your period)

Is it bad to take along with other herbs or supplements (what about Maca)?

No known contraindicated herbs for vitex, but maca seems to be another overused herb right now.

The only research done on maca in women is to raise estrogen levels post menopausally. Women with early menopause or premature ovarian failure may have good results with it, but if a woman has low progestersone the last thing they need is more estrogen in their systems.

And because they do opposite things, there is no need to take maca and vitex together.

If you are taking hormones or going though medicated cycles for assisted reproductive therapies, you shouldn’t be taking herbs that help to balance your body’s hormones. The herbs are trying to naturally balance while the prescriptions are trying to take over and do what needs to be done so it’s counter-productive.

If you are taking it while trying to conceive, can you continue it during pregnancy?

This is really something to talk to your midwife or OB about as there are no studies that show it’s safe…and yet there are no studies that show it’s unsafe.

The concern with going off of it abruptly is that vitex is artificially getting your body to produce progesterone and if you stop taking it without using supplemental progesterone it could make miscarriage more likely. Other alternatives are progesterone creams or prescriptions.

Vitex and breastfeeding – should you take it while breastfeeding and does it reduce milk supply?

Not aware of anything that has shown that it can bring back cycles while breastfeeding. But it has traditionally been used to increase milk supply in the immediate post partum period, and yet at others times it can be used to reduce prolactin levels – it all depends on the individual situation so check with a practitioner that knows the herb.

There hasn’t been really any research that has proven it safe or unsafe, but taking herbs that affect hormones makes Kelly somewhat wary as it’s not something you really want to pass on.

Additional information added after the show

Vitex can make depression worse, and in some cases can even promote suicidal ideation. So women who have a history of depression should be VERY cautious with it. This is especially true for low dopamine-type depression, the symptoms of which include apathy and having a really hard time getting excited about anything.

vitex for fertility

3 day fertility menu

The diet I recommend to my clients centers around real, whole foods. You need plenty of good fats and protein to create the hormones needed to conceive and sustain a healthy pregnancy, so I try to include a wide variety of them.

I also focus on LOTS of veggies to provide necessary vitamins and minerals, plus the micronutrients and fiber that are needed to break down and remove surplus hormones and other endocrine disrupting toxins from the body. Cruciferous veggies are especially good for helping the body eliminate excess estrogen, so I try to include some everyday.

Sugar, alcohol, and caffeine have been proven to have negative effects on endocrine balance, so I recommend excluding them completely while trying to conceive.

Meat, eggs, and dairy should always be grass-fed and organic to avoid added hormones and maximize good fats, and fruit and veggies should be organic when feasible.

While my plan isn’t paleo, I highly recommend Melissa Joulwan’s paleo cookbook, Well Fed, to anyone trying to transition to a way of eating that includes more cooking. In it, she outlines what she calls the “weekly cook-up”, where you basically spend an hour or two once a week grilling chicken, browning ground beef, prepping veggies, and making a few sauces, then all week-long all you have to do is throw a few things in a pan with a little oil and some spices, and voila—dinner is done in 10 minutes flat!

Melissa’s got a quick primer on her website, plus links to recipes and a few meal plans with more detailed info and shopping lists here . I’ve started doing a weekly cook-up recently and it’s absolutely revolutionized the way I cook (and eat), because I always have something on hand that’s healthy and quick to prepare. To save even more time, make enough at dinner to have leftovers for lunch the next day.

Day one

Breakfast: Steamed greens (I like a spinach, kale, and chard blend) with butter, two eggs over easy with salt and pepper, topped with diced avocado

Lunch: Bean chili with ground beef, pico de gallo, and plain, full-fat Greek yogurt over mixed greens

Snack: Small handful of raw almonds and blueberries

Dinner: Chicken breast or thighs, stir-fried with avocado oil, green beans, zucchini, tomatoes and Greek seasoning, small green salad with olive oil and vinegar

Day two

Breakfast: Steamed greens with butter, turkey sausage, and sweet potato

Lunch: Leftover Greek chicken and veggies over mixed greens

Snack: Plain, full-fat Greek yogurt with raspberries

Dinner: Paleo Pad Thai, riced cauliflower sautéed with onion in butter and chicken stock

Day three

Breakfast: Steamed greens with butter, two eggs scrambled with salt, pepper, and garlic, topped with feta or goat cheese

Lunch: Leftover pad thai and small green salad with olive oil and vinegar

Snack: Veggies (cucumber, cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, etc) with hummus or guacamole

Dinner: Zucchini noodles (made with a vegetable peeler or spiralizer – found on Amazon), cauliflower “cream” sauce, with mushrooms and wild-caught shrimp sauteed in butter and garlic

*as with any dietary changes, see your health care provider (preferably a holistic practitioner) for personal recommendations.


If you have any questions concerning vitex that we didn’t answer, please feel free to ask in the comments and we’ll get it answered as soon as we can!

What is a vaginal steam? (and why YOU should consider doing one)

Alright friends, since we are going to be talking about vaginal steaming today I figured it is okay to call y’all friends, since I wouldn’t talk about this to just anyone. So sit back and hear me out before you rule anything out by just hearing the words ‘vaginal steaming’.

steam my vagina

(And to make it official, I am not a doctor, you should make sure to do your own research before attempting a vaginal steam. This should not be done while pregnant or nursing.)

What is now becoming a new, popular tread, vaginal steaming is actually an age-old tradition meant to cleanse and detox the uterus.

So, let’s get the facts straight.

What is a vaginal steam?

A vaginal steam is basically a steam ‘facial’ only it is for your vagina and uterus. (See? Aren’t you glad I said ‘friends’ because we are talking about personal stuff here!)

What makes the vaginal steam beneficial is what is used in the steam. Typically herbs are chosen that can help increase circulation to the uterus or to aid in cleansing.

Stagnation is not a good thing when it comes to any organ system, but when it comes to the uterus it can cause a myriad of issues with menstruation and fertility.

Herbs can be picked for the individual to help with specific issues and health conditions. Some herbs that are typically used are oregano, motherwort, mugwart or rosemary. (all available at Mountain Rose Herbs)

what is a vaginal steam?

How does this work?

When doing a vaginal steam , you are basically making a ‘tea’ out of herbs and allowing the herbal steam to travel to your vagina and uterus. This sounds kind of hooky, but really the tissues of the vaginal area are very porous and absorb things quite easily.

The steam carries the volatile oils from the herbs to the tissues where it is adsorbed into the body. (Our bodies are so amazing!)

The herbs can help improve circulation and blood flow to the area. The vaginal steams are also said to thin mucus and help the uterus detox and cleanse.

In the past these steams were used to help with irregular periods, fertility issues, and even anxiety. The idea being that the herbal steam goes right where it is needed to aid the reproductive area.

How do you do a vaginal steam?

The hardest part about doing a vaginal steam, in my opinion, is finding some quiet time to do it. (You do not want people banging on the bathroom door when you are trying to relax!)

You need to decide what herbs you would like to use and make a big pot of tea.

1 cup of herbs*
2 quarts of water

You’ll also need a chair or stool with either slats or a hole in the middle (available on Amazon), a couple of chairs next to each other (a cheek on each!), or a clean toilet (turn off the water and flush so it empties the bowl).

  • Bring the water to a boil and let settle for few minutes, add the herbs and stir.
  • You will then want to find a quiet place, which I recommend setting up BEFORE you get your steam ready, to set the basin of water that you will be able to sit over. (If you use a basin that fits into the bottom of your clean toilet, this works well)
  • Once you get the steam ready, sit above it making sure the steam is not too hot. You do not want to burn the area, the vaginal tissue is sensitive.
  • Wrap blankets around your waist to keep the steam trapped in.
  • Typically steams last 20-40 minutes. This is a good time to read, journal, or pray to pass the time.

Once you are done it is a good idea to lay down for a while to allow your body to relax and the herbs to do their work. (This is good to do before bed because then you can just go to sleep and stay resting)

*What herbs do I use?

While it really is something that personal and should be picked on what issues you are trying to work on, these are a few that I found to be beneficial.

  • Rosemary-has been used to help fight infection (steaming should not be done during an active infection)
  • Yarrow-an herb used for cleansing and toning
  • Motherwort-a long-standing herb used for woman’s issues can help with toning the uterus as well as used for anxiety brought on by your period
  • Calendula-a mild, soothing herb that can be beneficial for scarring
  • Lavender-a typically relaxing herb which also has antibacterial properties

When should you do a vaginal steam?

From what I read there really is not set time to do a steam. Traditionally, a safe time to do it is right after your period and before ovulation, this allows any lingering tissue and cells to be cleansed before ovulation.

Some say if you have a lot of menstruation issues that the week before your period is a good time.

I have also read that if you are struggling with  fertility to do it right before ovulation.

However if pregnancy is suspected, do not do a vaginal steam.

A long-standing tradition, vaginal steaming does seem to have it place in the world of herbal remedies. I know that isn’t the most fun thing to talk about, but knowing how herbs work, this practice seems like a great therapy to aid in uterine and vaginal health.

If you are comfortable sharing, I would love to hear from you, what benefits have you seen from doing vaginal steams? 

Read more:

Yup, I’m gonna talk about vaginal steam baths by Stephanie Brandt Cornais

Should you steam your vagina? by Nicole Jardim

Traditional Vaginal Steam for Healthy Fertility by Dalene Barton-Schuster

Are cleaners disrupting your hormones?

Changing your diet is a great way to start on the road to health and happy hormone balance. But your environment can also a large factor in your own personal health. Taking a good look at the products you bring into your home in order to clean it and make it smell nice could be disrupting your hormones.

Are cleaning supplies disrupting your hormones

Have you ever really looked at the chemicals you use in your own home?

Conventional cleaners are full of toxins and chemicals that have been associated with birth defects as well as reproductive problems. Unfortunately manufacturers are not required to place their ingredients on any sort of label. So let’s just look at some of the ingredients that are most common in products.

Alkylphenolic compounds are surfactants and used in all-purpose cleaners as well as laundry detergent. These compounds have also shown to be endocrine disrupters, which means they mimic the hormone estrogen and cause problems with your hormones that regulate reproduction and the development of a baby.

Perchlorethylene, or PERC is found in carpet cleaners, spot removers, de-greasers and also in dry cleaning fluids. This toxin is important to stay away from because when it is inhaled, it can actually be stored in our fat tissue (known as a bioaccumulative toxin). This toxin has also been shown to negatively affect babies in the womb as well as contaminate breast milk.

Petroleum distillates are not only found in hand dishwashing liquid, paint thinners, stain removers, furniture polishes, and oven cleaners, but also in lip gloss and perfume. Exposure to this chemical can cause problems with the respiratory, immune, and most important for those trying to conceive, your endocrine system.

So are these cleaners disrupting your hormones?

If I listed all of the chemicals in regular cleaners, we’d be here all day. But the gist of it is this: we’re bringing chemicals into our homes that get onto our skin (because many of us don’t wear gloves like the bottles recommend) and we breathe them in while we’re spraying and cleaning. Sometimes we might even ingest them if an object hasn’t been rinsed off appropriately!

So how do you keep these hormone disrupting chemicals out of your body? You keep them out of your home and use natural cleaners.

But don’t worry, you don’t need to run out to the store and spend tons of money on the natural products either, though you can if you lack time but not money…

Many of you even have these items in your home already! Here’s a cheap, natural way to keep your house clean.

Here’s what you buy at the store:

  • one large bottle of vinegar (approx. $2-$3)
  • one large box of baking soda (approx. $2)
  • one large bottle of hydrogen peroxide (approx. $2)
  • two small spray bottles (approx. $2-4)
  • one single spray top (or another spray bottle if you can’t just find the top) to use on the hydrogen peroxide bottle as it needs to stay in the brown bottle

Total spent: $8.00

Optional purchases:

Quick and easy cleaners that won’t wreck your hormones:

For an all-purpose cleaner you can use straight up vinegar (or dilute it half and half if the smell is to strong for you) in a spray bottle. Add a few drops of essential oil if you’d like a bit more germ fighting power and/or scent. And don’t worry about your home smelling like pickles, the smell vanishes rather quickly.
*cost per bottle – .10 to .20 depending on dilution and EOs used.

Have a tough cleaning job like a tub or messy stove top? Sprinkle some baking soda around and spray with vinegar. Although this does work very well, you do need just a touch more elbow grease than when you use the highly toxic cleaners. Adding a bit of salt can give you extra scrubbing power.
*cost per bottle plus soda usage – maybe .50 to .60

For a great disinfectant spray the counter down with hydrogen peroxide and follow-up with straight vinegar. When using both together they somehow activate disinfectant properties. I love using this after I cook each night! (make sure you do not mix them beforehand, and always keep the hydrogen peroxide in a dark bottle. Otherwise the hydrogen peroxide will break down and become useless water)
*cost per bottles (one of each) – .30 to .50

As you can see, with such a cheap alternative to toxic cleaners, there really is no reason to overload your home and body with chemicals that disrupt your hormones!

You can also check out the many cleaners I’ve come up with over the years as well as other non-toxic ways of living here – 31 Days to Cleaner Living

 What are your favorite homemade/natural cleaners?

Weekly fertility challenge list

Welcome to the Natural Fertility and Wellness Fertility Challenge where we tackle nutritional, physical, and emotional aspects that can help us better our overall health and increase fertility/balance hormones.

Fertility Challenge

There are a few ways to go about your own challenge.

  1. Start from week one and work your way week by week.
  2. Focus on one aspect at a time. Blue challenges are based on nutrition, pink challenges are physical, and orange challenges are spiritual/emotional.
  3. Pick up right where we are in the private Facebook chat group. (the challenges are not harder as you go along, so any challenge you pick up will be helpful.)
  4. And of course you can simply scroll through the list and pick the ones you need to work on. Just do me a favor and for every three or four nutritional challenges, pick a spiritual/emotional one. I specifically rotate through different challenges to make sure we are treating our whole selves and not sticking to just one part of our health.

You can also have me email them to you! Just sign up below and you’ll get a new challenge in your email every Saturday morning.

drink more water

exercise and fertility

eat more vegetables

meditation for fertility

non-toxic beauty products

click here for the Skin Deep Database

sugar and fertility

charting for fertility

click image above for more information

Journal for infertility

click image above for more information

caffeine and fertility

click image above for more information

skin brushing

click image above for more information

fertility challenge

eat better snacks

research cleaning products

practice gratitude

click image above for more information

eat your greens

click image above for more information

got to bed by 10PM