Interview with Mary Goyer
Last week we attended a seminar in Atlanta, Georgia called Transform hosted by one of my mentors, Pamela Bruner and it was amazing. There’s nothing like being in a room with 200 + like-minded individuals committed to changing the world with their talents. I was honored to be invited to be on Pamela’s success panel to share a few words.
For me doing things like public speaking, being author, coaching clients all around the world and of course, being married to man of my dreams for almost 11 years was not something that was likely for me. Why? I had a blind spot that told me I couldn’t do it– kept me from having a voice. My blind spot told me that I what I had to say didn’t matter. It kept me small and frustrated — only dreaming of playing a much bigger game.
What made the difference that allowed me to break through?
I challenged my fears and got real—and courageous! I took my walls down and became willing really understanding that what I’d been telling myself both consciously and unconsciously and got to see that it just wasn’t true. Challenging my fears and unhealthy thinking from the past allowed me step into a much bigger vision and to make it a reality.
What are you dreams? To find your one? To build an amazing business? To create a healthy family?
In today’s post I’m sharing an interview I did with Mary Goyer holistic fertility, pregnancy, and birth specialist and she shares amazing information about making that happen in holistic way. Whether you’re planning now, looking to be ready for the future or have friends or loved ones who are trying, feel free to share with them.
Mary I just love the approach you take when it comes to fertility. It’s such a holistic mindset that looks at the entire person–I find it so refreshing and so needed in a domain that evokes so much emotion and can be really expensive. So many people are struggling with conceiving, more and more couples are trying later and many single women are opting to go it alone without a partner.
I’ve always considered myself a holistic and health-oriented person, but when it came to trying to have a baby, when it wasn’t happening after I finally met the man of my dreams, I opted for IVF. And I did it for years – because I felt it the end result would justify the effects the hormones could have on me. And at the end of day, I learned another way—that my body needed to heal first and there was the possibility of becoming pregnant naturally.
With so much misguided information about fertility and what’s possible, what would you want people to know before embarking on a journey of conception choosing IVF or other ARTs?
Well, first of all, I appreciate that introduction because I hear women say all the time that they value holistic approaches to health, but never knew what the full range of options around conception support were until it was “too late.” Which is heartbreaking to me. What I want people to have, before choosing an ART route, is a full education about their choices – so they can move forward in a way that really resonates and feels empowering. And I want to shout from the rooftops that “traditional” and “alternative” approaches to fertility do not have to stand in conflict with each other. Working from a holistic perspective hugely increases the chances of success with IVF, for example, anywhere from 50-85%. It’s just that you won’t hear too much about this from your MDs, depending on how they were trained. That’s changing little by little. Based on the research, MDs and REs (reproductive endocrinologists), are starting to get how significantly food, stress, and energy informs their success stories.
The fact is that there are a number of things that impact the reproductive system – fertility really is the “canary in the coal mine” of health, meaning it is the thing (along with digestive difficulties) that often shows up first for people that indicates a bigger imbalance in the body/mind system. There are 4 main things I’d like to encourage couples to pay attention to before spending a lot of money on IVF: environmental toxins, nutritional deficiencies, anxiety & stress in the nervous system, and relational issues. All four of these factors – even the emotional ones like anxiety & relationship disharmony – impact hormones. So, there are some medical and “nonmedical” contexts to pay attention to at the same time, because yes, from a holistic perspective we understand how essential it is to look at the whole person. What’s the upshot here? It really benefits women, whether they are clear they will only try to conceive naturally, or whether they’re sure they want to explore ARTs, to attend to these four things before trying to conceive. It will increase their likelihood of success either way, without a doubt.
But doesn’t getting all these physical and mental affairs in order take too long for women racing against the clock?
Ah, yes, the golden question: Do I have time for all this “health stuff” or is it better to go straight into IVF? If you go straight into IVF without addressing the health issues under the surface, there are a few things to consider:
- Your body won’t be as likely to “take” to IVF, because your system is, for whatever reason, out of balance.
- Even when an IVF cycle does work, without fully balancing the body you won’t be as capable of carrying a healthy pregnancy full-term as you otherwise would. In fact, there’s growing alarm in the holistic world about the number of babies being born with adrenal stress and thyroid issues because their mothers weren’t healthy and vibrant during pregnancy.
The vast majority of women will find that taking 3-6 months minimum, and in many cases a full year, to fully reset their body will find that it actually buys them time. Holistic doctors talk about “reversing the age of your eggs” because it’s not uncommon to see egg (and sperm) quality increase after taking the time to truly nourish the body around the factors mentioned above.
I sometimes have clients who are single and 35+ — really concerned about fertility and are freezing their eggs or thinking about it. What would you want them to know before they embark on that procedure and what other considerations are there that you’d want them to think about?
The main thing I want women to think about when it comes to egg freezing is how new it is: it’s really new. In fact, experts have a hard time agreeing on how successful it is under even the best of circumstances (1.2% is the lowest, most abysmal estimate I’ve heard, which goes up to 30ish% on the higher side). The American Association for Reproductive Medicine’s official recommendation to most women concerned about fertility is to simply “save up” their money for a future IVF investment, rather than spend it on egg freezing now. …Yikes! With that said, the technologies are bound to improve. They already have considerably, even in the past 3-5 years. It’s just that this whole idea of “baby insurance” has got us a little ahead of ourselves in the egg-freezing conversation.
What do I say? I want to see the long-term research on the health of the babies conceived with any of these technologies. I want to see how healthy moms are 5, 10 & 20 years down the road after these physically & emotionally stressful procedures that involve, like you mentioned in your story Bari, intense hormone injections, etc. This research doesn’t exist yet, because 1) the procedures are too new for much of it to be possible and 2) these aren’t the type of research projects that easily get funded (there’s too much money at risk with any negative results). But in the holistic circles, these questions about long-term effects of egg freezing and all ARTs have a lot of us worried.
When I’m working with clients who are focused on “staying fertile” for later, the things we attend to are the things that, as I mentioned above, will make it easier for them to conceive naturally when the time is right for them and their partner, and will – if IVF is absolutely necessary – also improve the success rates there. Nutrition, physical health, de-stressing, emotional balance: these foundations make up my prescriptions for fertility (and as a bonus they require less effort than handing things over to ARTs, too, though some women are surprised to hear this).
On my own fertility journey in hindsight there was so much I was unaware of that could have supported me diet-wise. I was doing all different kinds of alternative and supportive things like acupuncture and energy healing. I remember, we were living in Israel during this period of time and on the way to acupuncture, I would stop and get a big cappuccino with soy milk and down it with a bran muffin! It’s funny that I thought I had a relatively heathy diet, and it turned out that I didn’t in fact. At the time, I was plagued with brain fog, fatigue and itchiness. I later learned that I was toxic! I had leaky gut, autoimmune responses that looked like allergies, inner inflammation and adrenal fatigue. While some of the foods were healthy, the combinations weren’t and sugar (even low glycemic sugar) was a problem for me and I had no idea. Today I’m alkaline, drink green juices and a plant-based vegan–am so much more relaxed and balanced–but not then. In your opinion, what should couples do to take on a really healthy diet for optimum fertility?
This question about diet is a little tricky in that certain recommendations need to be individualized. Many couples have inflammation and auto-immune issues that need to be detangled – and my preference is to send them to a good ND, or Naturopathic Doctor, so those decisions can be made based on labs and exquisitely tailored for each person.
I will say that it is normal for couples I work with to go gluten and dairy free. But a recommendation that’s universal? What I can safely suggest, that will improve everyone’s fertility, reduce everyone’s risk for cancer, support better digestion, decrease brain fog, and will help with weight loss (is this compelling enough, yet?) is:
- Eat organic, non-GMO foods. I could go on about the impact of conventional foods on the nervous system, immune system, and frankly every system in your body. This one’s the most important lifestyle change to embrace. There’s a saying, “Invest in your farmer now or your doctor later.”
- Throw out the processed foods. If they didn’t exist in grandma’s cupboard, toss them. And definitely avoid the gluten-y processed foods, like baked goods. My dad was just diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, so this is a recommendation that, had we a time machine, would’ve made a huge difference. But as I said, fertility is the canary in the coal mine. Use it as a wake up call, get healthy now, and you’ll avoid a host of other issues later, I promise.
- Radically reduce your dependence on restaurants and take-out – they use cheap, highly processed, low quality, high sugar, high sodium products. Most of my clients need a detox from these various forms of “fast food.”
- And last (take a breath if you need to!) let go of processed sugar. I know. It sounds like a lot to ask. But for some this is the difference between years of struggle with painful fertility issues, and the conception of a healthy, alert, & happy baby.
What is the number #1 misconception people have about fertility?
The biggest myth people have is that conception is purely a physical event. Most women are taught to focus on their fertility from solely a physical or “medical” standpoint – and don’t realize there are always underlying factors impacting their conception attempts and every symptom therein.
If you think of fertility only as a physical issue such as hormonal levels, egg reserve, and mucus then you will only look for physical interventions. And your chances of getting pregnant will only be so high. But – if you recognize the emotional components to fertility, and pair physical interventions with emotional, spiritual, and nutritional ones, then you increase your chances of getting pregnant dramatically.
Paying attention to generalized anxiety, stress & specific fears (not just trying to “mind over matter” them, or bulldoze through them, but truly attending to a symptom’s underlying mental and emotional patterns) always has a direct impact on the body’s functioning. This is quite similar to what you teach your clients, if I’m not mistaken. Let me give you some examples of “non medical” issues that have a big impact on fertility. Take note if you:
- Have been violated sexually, or are uncomfortable with your sexuality
- Hate your body, which statistically is over 80% of women
- Are ambivalent about becoming a parent because of fears about birth or concerns about how it’ll change your marriage
- Are worried about how to balance career with parenting
All of these things – whether you’re aware of them or not – will impact you when you’re ready to conceive. My suggestion is for you to start identifying and working out your fears now. Know that everything you do today to create more emotional balance helps your body later.
How can couples support each other?
Couples who have a deep respect for, and resonance with, each other’s values, couples who can really talk, who have communication skills that help them synch up when either of them is upset, these couples experience a lot of support from their strong connection. Harmony is an incredibly important ingredient in the alchemy of conception, and sometimes people are surprised to learn that relational mismatches that they know exist could be part of the difficulty they’re having with conception. It’s almost as if some of those little kiddos just don’t want to come in until mom and dad have done their work!
I have seen many couples in my work who clear up their disharmony, and almost as if by magic are suddenly announcing a pregnancy.
I often talk about sexual alchemy with clients, which is a conversation about the safety each partner feels when they’re truly met by the other and the ways a couple can link up intentionally when they’re ready to call in their baby. But there are some very practical ways couples can support each other, too. Food-wise & lifestyle-wise, it’s much easier to make healthy changes when a couple does it together. When a woman feels like she’s on her own to shift her stress-inducing habits, and that what her partner does is of little relevance, from my perspective that’s a big red flag. Both partners matter! And when they can feel that they’re truly in it together, that makes a big difference.
Given what you know about fertility, if you had a sister experiencing fertility issues, how would you advise her?
Sometimes women tend to approach fertility from a super masculine energy. Go, go, go. Charts, thermometers. To do lists. Make it happen. The doctors have the power. And when they get pregnant from this place, I notice they often move forward feeling harried, tired, and constantly consumed by fears that at some point the other shoe is going to drop. If my sister were in this space, I’d hope to help her soften into a more feminine approach to balance things out a bit. I’d remind her that her body is wise and powerful, and that letting her intuition into the conversation is essential. And I’d encourage her to do whatever she can to stay connected to her core of peace and trust (or to touch into it for the first time, perhaps).
Second, this is where the feminine wants to find balance with the masculine, I’d advise her on how important it is to take action, but with an energetic of motherhood already in place – which uses intuition and logic to make choices, and constantly anchors into self-nurturing practices along the way. I’d say: Make the adjustments you feel are important. And give your body time to really calibrate those adjustments before buying into the idea that your body is broken, which is often perpetrated by the western medicine model. Get the help of mentors who can teach you what needs to happen nutritionally, emotionally, yogic-ally, hormonally… ideally, mentors who hold an understanding of the holistic nature of fertility.
That’ll give you the best chance of getting pregnant feeling confident, peaceful, resourced, and trusting so that your baby can be incubated in these amazing energies. That is what I’d want for her. And that’s really what I want for everybody, because I truly believe that if we changed just this about how our babies are born, it’d change the world.
Mary Goyer, M.S., is a holistic fertility, pregnancy, and birth specialist supporting couples wanting to be parents. She draws upon her traditional training in marriage & family therapy and her specialty in holistic, mind-body techniques to offer a new way of approaching fertility & birth. Her approach, first used to heal herself of cervical cancer, is effective at dissolving stress, healing the grief/trauma of previous miscarriages or abortions, identifying & healing the subtle sources of physiological tension that doctors can’t diagnose — and makes it easier for couples to get pregnant.
Mary supports women/couples who are dealing with a range of challenges: hormonal imbalances, “infertility”, pregnancy loss, relational difficulties, sexual trauma, birth trauma, postpartum depression, anxiety & stress, etc. She works internationally with women and their partners to create an individualized holistic fertility plan, clear reproductive imbalances, increase the body’s receptivity, and step into parenthood from a place of connection, confidence, & peace. Learn more, get articles, and connect with Mary for a free consult at aufertility.com and auparent.com.