Fertility Foundations: How to optimise your mindset when trying to conceive with Raquel Monroy

Welcome to the latest series of Fertility Foundations, where we speak in depth with expert guests about how to prepare the foundations for healthy pregnancy. This week Sandra Greenbank is talking to Raquel Monroy about how to protect your mental health and stay positive when you’re trying to conceive.

Raquel is a registered Nutritional Therapist specialising in infertility and women’s health. She helps those who are trying to conceive to optimise their diet and lifestyle to help them get pregnant and have the healthy baby they didn’t think was possible. Throughout this episode Sandra and Raquel discuss the emotional challenges of infertility and the importance of seeking support, prioritising health, and practicing self-care.

You can find Raquel’s website here: www.raquelmonroy.com

Or find her on Instagram here: www.instagram.com/raquelmonroynutrition

This podcast is sponsored by Invivo Healthcare, a human microbiome company. They specialise in accurate testing of different microbes such as the gut, vagina, oral and urinary, as well as a range of specially curated supplements focused on the microbiomes. They support healthcare providers and their clients navigate the complex world of the human microbiome and it’s one of the most used labs and supplements by our own fertility specialists at the Fertility Nutrition Centre. Visit the Invivo website for more information at www.invivohealthcare.com

Podcast transcript

Sandra Greenbank  00:06

Hello and welcome to the Fertility Foundation’s podcast where we go into detail about how to prepare the foundations for healthy pregnancy. We dive deep into the underlying root causes for fertility issues and natural solutions. I want you to know that you’re not alone and you’re not broken. I hope that by sharing these episodes, it will help you move from feeling overwhelmed and lost to feeling hopeful and empowered to take charge of your own path to parenthood, because there are actually lots of things that you can do to help rewrite your own story. I’m Sandra Greenbank, Nutritional Therapist, Functional Medicine Practitioner, coach and educator specialising in fertility, pregnancy and postpartum health. I’m also the founder of the Fertility Nutrition Centre, where you can find fully trained experts in nutrition, lifestyle and functional approaches to healthy fertility and pregnancy. You can find out more information over at www.fertilitynutritioncentre.org and also begin a free strategy call with one of our experts. 

Today I’m speaking with Raquel Monroy about how to protect your mental health when you’re trying to conceive and how to hold yourself in the possibility of yes, when things are difficult. Raquel is a registered nutritional therapist specialising in infertility and women’s health. She’s based in Manchester but working with clients all over the UK and overseas. She helps those who are trying to conceive to optimise their diet and lifestyle to help them get pregnant and have the healthy baby they didn’t think was possible by getting to the root cause of the problem and applying an evidence-based whole body approach. 

This podcast is sponsored by Invivo Healthcare, a human microbiome company. They specialise in accurate testing of different microbes such as the gut, vagina, oral and urinary, as well as a range of specially curated supplements focused on the microbiomes. They support healthcare providers and their clients navigate the complex world of the human microbiome and it’s one of the most used labs and supplements by our own fertility specialists at the Fertility Nutrition Centre. Visit the Invivo website for more information at www.invivohealthcare.com

Now let’s get into today’s interview with Raquel. Thank you so much for joining me on the podcast.

Raquel Monroy  02:12

Thank you for having me.

Sandra Greenbank  02:14

So tell me to start with what brought you to specialize in nutrition for fertility?

Raquel Monroy  02:18

Well, I’ve always been interested in nutrition anyway, in food in particular, because just my background, and my mom’s from the Philippines, and my dad’s Colombian, but so my mom’s always been raised with like food is medicine. That’s the thing, like, unless my arm was hanging off, I would not be going to the doctors or the GP at the hospital. It’s like, you know, we’re heal you food, food. So I’ve always had that upbringing. And it’s always been like, just the culture of you know, someone comes down to their house, it’s not just a cup of tea, it’s like a full on meal, your stay for hours, everyone around the table. So that’s kind of like what I’ve what I’ve been brought up with, and I love that then I love food. I really love food. So that interest has always been there. And then when I was studying for my nutrition qualification, it was around the same time that I got married, and I was trying for a baby. So the first few years, I mean, the first year or so I was just like, whatever. And then of course, it wasn’t really happening. And then I had my own difficult pregnancy journey. And then I guess, I realized, once I realized how it wasn’t so easy to have a baby, and I was studying at the same time, it all clicked like, you know, all our systems are linked. I was stressed with studying, I was stressed with trying to have a baby. You know, although I was studying nutrition, I just probably wasn’t eating very well, because, you know, I was just studying all the time and snacking and grazing and not having proper meals. So yeah, I just sort of realized then that if I could sort of support my infertility journey with nutrition and how I turned things that turned things around, I could do that for other people. So yeah, that’s sort of what spurred me on.

Sandra Greenbank  04:06

And so are you happy to talk a little bit more about your own journey to having babies? Yeah,

Raquel Monroy  04:12

so I got married in, you know, 2016 and I was just hoping they were gonna wait to have a baby to after marriage and I didn’t want to celebrate it at the time was like, I don’t I definitely don’t want to be on my period on my wedding day. So I was like, on the pill for 15 years and that didn’t want to come off the pill for I got married cuz I was like, No way I plan my wedding date. When wouldn’t it be I’m gonna have the tightest dress. And then yeah, you know, after we got married, I was like, Okay, let’s start trying for a baby. Classic. I hear this from clients come off the pill. It’s gonna happen straight away, honeymoon, baby like everything else seems to be happening. And of course it didn’t. It took me a very long time to get my period back months. So I was like, What is going on? You know, and so I didn’t know when I was up. relating. So that was really difficult that was, you know, completely I just remember I was obsessed with my cycle and then I eventually did get pregnant and was over the moon I think there was like about eight months of trying time and he got pregnant and then saw the study Doctor obviously because I didn’t know when I was ovulating I didn’t have the exact time when when you know so they were going by my last cycle they’re like, are you further along than you think you are. So let’s get you in for your 12 week scan. So I went to my 12 week scan with my husband like I’m you know, so excited to meet your baby. And of course, I had the scan and I had a missed miscarriage. So for anyone who’s not aware missed miscarriage is basically where the baby you miscarry, but you don’t the baby dies, but you don’t physically miscarry. So So yeah, so of course that was in that scan. And that was just that, wow, I was not expecting that you expect to go there with a lovely little picture to show your family and you know, so excited because that didn’t happen. So that was really, really difficult. And then I think, because it was a missed miscarriage. I had to keep going back and forth to the doctors because my HCG hog, my HCG levels, my pregnancy hormone. It wasn’t going down. So I had the decision of either to have a DNC or to miscarry naturally. So I decided to try and miscarry naturally, it didn’t happen. So they give me like a pessary to get things moving. And then I miscarried at home. And then yeah, I had to go back to the doctors to get my HCG levels checked. And then they were like, it’s still not low enough. And they use a lovely term. I think you still have a big project of conception. I think it was what they say, though. It is. So you know, and it’s just took such a long time. I think it was about three weeks, and I had to wait until my HCG levels had gone down. But But actually, you know what the most difficult part of that was, was when I had my 12 week scan. They say, you know, I’m sorry, it looks like you have you miscarry that say I think it was six, seven weeks, perhaps. Okay. Yeah. But then they say you have to wait two weeks to confirm, I had to wait. So they were like, you know, we’ve just give it another two weeks and have another scan. So you had that whole two weeks. Have I miscarried. Of course, in my heart, I guess

Sandra Greenbank  07:34

he was still having all of the pregnancy hormones as well, or the symptoms.

Raquel Monroy  07:39

Yeah, exactly. As I was like, Oh, my gosh, it was so you know, friends and family was trying to be really supportive, like, you know, you could be pregnant, but you know, it’s really kind of think, well, actually, I don’t think I am, but then. So it’s that whole the mental, it was just an insane time. And then, so that happened, and then it actually took me another year to get pregnant after that. But that’s when I was really, really looking into okay, my lifestyle, my diet, you know, looking at looking at it from a whole body approach as we do now as we help our clients. And thankfully, you know, I did fall pregnant a year later. And now, you know, I’ve got two amazing children now I’m forever grateful for and they are my reason that I do what I do. Because I’ve been down that road, I know how difficult it can be, especially the mental health side of things. And we don’t often talk about that enough, but there’s still a taboo subject around it. And, you know, as nutritional therapists, of course, we do support our clients in nutrition and lifestyle, but the one thing that’s, you know, that’s that’s top there for me as well is mental health, but how are my clients coping mentally, you know, how are they getting support through family and friends or externally, because it’s so important, especially, even if you just been trying for a month, but whether it’s a month or a few years? I think you do need to talk to because it’s such a difficult time.

Sandra Greenbank  09:07

Yeah, it’s really hard, isn’t it? And a lot of that is sort of outside our remit as well as nutritional therapists, sort of we’re not counselors, and we’re not therapists. But it’s about knowing also when to refer, isn’t it? But that there are lots of things that you can do to support your man mental health. So what? So if someone’s going through this now and it’s not happening, how they were expecting, what are some of the things that you might advise them to do to just just go for the mental side of things? Yeah,

Raquel Monroy  09:34

I would say because I say first and foremost, when you’re trying for a baby, it kind of feels like every woman and their dollar, everyone is pregnant. You look around, you see a pregnancy, there’s a newborn baby, you’re on Instagram and social media. There’s another pregnancy announcement. It just feels like you know, it’s so easy for everyone else. So kind of First thing I want to address if anyone who’s experiencing will have difficult time with them when they’re trying to conceive is just acknowledge your feelings, because I think your feelings are so valid. And we tend to push things aside sometimes No, I was, I’m fine, I’m fine. It’s okay. And you never really talk about it. But I think, you know, acknowledge that you’re sad about that you’re not pregnant and acknowledge that you’re, maybe MBAs have seen that pregnancy announcement on Instagram, but that doesn’t mean that, you know, you’re not happy for them. It’s just sad for yourself that it’s not happened yet, you know, and you need to just sort of not have judgment, you know, just it’s, it’s, it’s natural to feel have those feelings. So just acknowledge that definitely is one of the most important things to do. And set boundaries, I think. You know, I went to a lot of weddings. And because I was also at HP, we’re getting married in black writers. And so when naturally the conversations would come up, or when are you guys going to have a baby? Are you thinking about having children? And it’s just so difficult? Question.

Sandra Greenbank  10:58

Yeah, it’s so it’s I just can’t believe that people think it’s socially acceptable to ask that question. But then maybe it’s because of doing what we do. And understanding that it’s just, it just isn’t as simple as that. You know, they’re well meaning comments, aren’t they? So what would you say then? Just somebody who asked that question.

Raquel Monroy  11:16

So I would say I definitely had. So if my husband was with me, he would be the one that’s I was like, anyone asked that question? Like, you’re the one that’s gonna say, oh, you know, yeah, we’re thinking about it. But we’ll see how it goes. You know, it was kind of like, okay, so when asked that you’re with me? Good answer that otherwise, the answer is just quite simply, no. We know what yeah, we’re trying, we’re trying to have a baby. And that said, like, cut it short, just have, just be prepared for the questions to come up. Because sometimes well, meaning relatives or something, well just bring it up. And as long as you’re prepared, I would say. And also, yeah, self compassion, I would say, you know, be kind and gentle with yourself. And, you know, imagine if it was your friend that was in that situation? What advice would you give them? I’d also say, if you can, you know, confide in a close friend, or your husband, or your partner, if you have one, of course, you know, be open with them. Because I know, we tried for months. And some points, I just wasn’t saying how I was feeling when, of course, I was frustrated. But if you have an open conversation with them, it really helps. You know, because if one thing I want to say with your relationships, chips is, it can just be the whole fun of trial of having a baby is just, it’s just gone. Isn’t it? That I’d be like, right, you need to get home soon, because I’m ovulating. And I have that. Well, if we do it now. I can then make dinner and we can watch TV like it’ll just be done. You know, there’s no, there was nothing fun about it. It was like, Okay, finish your work upstairs. Right, finished. Done, you know, and it was just it was not fun. Yeah, definitely. So work on your relationship. If you’ve been trying for a while, just have a few like date nights. I mean, these are really simple tools, but I just don’t think we ever really put them into action, you know. So yeah, prioritizing your relationship with your partner having those open conversations

Sandra Greenbank  13:17

that your partner opened up to you as well about struggling or was he struggling? Obviously better? Sort of?

Raquel Monroy  13:23

Yeah, it’s a good point. Yeah. So he was, you know, it was difficult for him, obviously, to see research that when women had a miscarriage, of course, because I think we tend to just, I think focus on the woman and they were supportive for us and making sure that we’re okay. But yeah, of course, it was difficult for him. And you know, and I was, you know, we were there for each other. You go through it, and that’s really important. So, yeah, yeah, always, you know, ask how your partner is, as well, in this situation, think

Sandra Greenbank  13:53

it can be quite tricky with the dynamics. So just sorry to interrupt you. But having worked with lots of people, and you’ve usually not always, but usually it’s the female partner, if it’s, if it’s a man, man and woman trying to have a baby, she’s reading everything, she’s reading the blog, she’s listening to the podcast, she’s then telling him what to do. Don’t put that laptop on your lap, don’t carry your phone in your pocket, you shouldn’t be in that you shouldn’t be drinking that take these pills. And then that also changes the dynamics of your entire relationship where you’re sort of telling them what to do like a child, and they’re maybe resistant or they’re thinking, I don’t know, the doctors told them that they’re fine. And you’ve been told that, you know, maybe you’re a relationship or whatever it is, and it’s sort of the whole thing just become so sort of, so almost like you’re not really partners anymore. You’re sort of this, this whole new element of this sort of like a drift almost sometimes and naturally. That’s where I find it really It’s useful to begin with somebody who can look at the both of you and go, Okay, well, here’s some homework for you. And here’s some homework for you. And it might be, you know, please don’t worry about what he is or isn’t doing. And you know, I’m going to give him, I’m going to tell him what to do or not to do. And, you know, I don’t want to say that it’s always like this, you know, sometimes it’s the female partner, but it just generally, in my experience anyway, and I think just having that third person, whether it’s a nutritionist, or even a counselor, who can kind of diffuse those angry feelings between you, because if you’re angry and resentful, you’re not going to want to have sex with your partner.

Raquel Monroy  15:38

Exactly. Is that clear? 100%? Yeah. And, or

Sandra Greenbank  15:42

if you feel like you can’t do anything, right.

Raquel Monroy  15:45

Yeah. And that’s the thing, it gets so stressful. You do, you don’t when you don’t ever expect to be in this position. When you’re trying for a baby, you don’t know when goes into thinking I’m going to be on that’s going to be struggling, we’re going to be the one that needs to change our lifestyle and diet, and it’s going to have an impact on our relationship. No one goes into it like that. But I think that’s what I see with clients as well. So when I see my clients, I always say, if you have a partner, it’s so important that they come on the call, and we work to get work on him as well. Because we know, a lot of it is on the woman naturally, we just like you said, we’re the one that’s googling things and so on most of the time anyway. But we know from our clinical experience that around 50% of the infertility fertility issues, um, Bill factor, so, um, quite often, you know, they’re like, oh, yeah, but I’ve had my semen analysis done, and I’m, I’m alright, I’m, I’m fine. Like, it’s okay. But it’s like, well, we know that just focusing on reproductive side of things isn’t the answer. You know, it’s the whole body approach. We know that. So what else is going on? With your male partner? You know, they haven’t had a DNA fragmentation test done. So bearing of this bear male be okay, on paper, but when you look at it, it’s not, you know, and, yeah,

Sandra Greenbank  17:03

and often, you know, they’ve been told it’s okay. And it’s actually not know, exactly so often. And it’s just like, Who told you that this was okay, like, this is not okay. It might be okay. For IVF. It might be okay for XE. But if we’re trying, you know, if we’re looking at this, and we don’t have a specific reason for artificial treatment, then, you know, we don’t want it to just be okay. We want it to be good. Exactly. And so often, there are things that are missed infections. Got a minute, you know, every single day, probably one of us in the FNC group, we have a client who has been told that semen analysis is normal, and it’s not they’ve got an infection. What about something going on? So yeah, just getting a supposed to another set of eyes, on your results as well.

Raquel Monroy  17:51

Yeah. Yeah. And like you said, when you have someone else there, who’s you know, I’ve had couples or that Oh, yeah. Well, she’s told me to be in more of this, this and this, but with you there to say, yeah, and the reasons why you need to be eating this is because rather than saying, You need to be eating more vegetables, you know, I’m the one to be explained. Okay. Yeah. But you need to be saying, Say more? Cruciferous vegetables, because we know Studies show impacts, it helps improve sperm health. We know Janelle and work then and once they know the why behind it. The couples are like, Oh, wow, okay. And then you notice the next time they’re on the call, they’re like, Oh, I told my mom and dad about this. So my friend about this, and now they’re all you know, buying more broccoli, or whatever it is, it has, it really has a knock on effect. We do. Yes, it is. We are ultimately treated, supporting our clients with fertility. But it’s also optimizing their health, it’s that they actually get excited about you know, improving their own health and like I’ve never, you know, slept I’ve never slept so well. eating so much. I haven’t got this brain fog anymore. I feel. So a lot of the time. It’s It’s obviously the fertility things, but it’s also Wow, I’ve never felt as good as I do now. So that’s why I really love why we do what we do, because we do see a massive change in people.

Sandra Greenbank  19:13

Yeah, absolutely agree. And what do you think about some on Instagram at the moment, there’s sort of the so much kind of life hacks and do this and get up at 5am to journal and meditate for two hours for everyone else wakes up? Like what do you think about those types of hacks?

Raquel Monroy  19:34

Yeah, I think you know what, not everybody has the same life and you’re not, you know, if you’re not a morning person, don’t force yourself to wake up at five o’clock in the morning. But you know, what about the people who have young children who’ve been up four or five times and then I didn’t know you expected them to wake up at five in the morning and it’s not possible so I would just say, you know, do what’s right for you. Definitely. am definitely make some time for yourself, you know, so don’t have to get up at five, whatever just get up at the time you want to do. Do you know if if I would definitely my recommendation is though 100% is you have to get outside I know, especially many people working from home, are so busy, we just get trapped and just working on a laptop, say out of bed shower at your desk. But that’s not healthy, genuine, but that’s also not healthy for fertility, you know, you need to be out getting some sunlight, getting that into your eyes, you know, so you’re able to support your circadian rhythm, just you know, it’s fresh air, so good for you. So I would always say the one sort of lifestyle tip for my clients is definitely get outside, do an exercise that you find that you enjoy, you know, whether it is Pilates with friends, whether that is weight bearing exercises, which is really, really important, when that’s one thing that I do sort of suggest more so than, say, running just because if you’re not a runner, do you know and you’ll be putting that sort of extra stress on your body? So yeah, it’s just choose the right form of exercise for you getting outside, you know, if you can prioritize those two, then that’s the main thing. And then if you want to journal or do things like that, then that’s fine. I have actually just taken up journaling, I must admit, I do I do enjoy doing that. Yeah, it’s

Sandra Greenbank  21:29

good. It’s great that you know, and you’re like you said, you have to find what works for you. And there’s the Five Minute Journal, which I’ve recommended a lot to client in the past, which is just literally called The Five Minute Journal. And you sort of just bullet point journal. You know, each night generally, when you go to bed, and there is quite a lot of research that sort of backs up the journaling. But like you said, you know, to some, it doesn’t suit everybody.

Raquel Monroy  21:55

Just in gratitude, I know it sounds seems like such such a woowoo thing, sometimes I go What am I grateful for but if you just, you know, We’re all grateful for something,

Sandra Greenbank  22:05

just finding those positive

Raquel Monroy  22:07

mindset, it really changes your mindset, it does just fine in those three things that I’m grateful for three things. I’m grateful for having a warm, a warm bed and somewhere to sleep. At night, I’m grateful for the foods that have on the table. You know, it’s just, it makes a big difference. It really does.

Sandra Greenbank  22:26

Yeah, absolutely. And I think also, getting back to the things that you used to enjoy some time. So I’ve had lots of clients take up knitting or crocheting or, you know, they booked to go and see their favorite comedian or something, you know, just all of these things, which are actually really promoting Hormonal Health. Yeah. Because the good female hormones that your you know, that sort of comes into your system, when you’re sort of laughing Are you spending time with friends or, you know, the kind of mindfulness? Yeah, in drawing, or painting, or knitting or whatever it might be? So just kind of thinking about some of the things that maybe you used to enjoy, and you’ve not done so much. Because life became so busy just making time for those again.

Raquel Monroy  23:13

Yeah, I think when you’re in the fertility journey, it can be all consuming and you sort of forget about everything else.

Sandra Greenbank  23:18

Yeah. Am I when I used to live in Dallas, the beast of a stitch and bitch group on a Thursday night on in the pub? Yeah, it was so good. Actually. Yeah, those are the sort of things that should be listed up again. But um, yeah, I’ll just go for a walk with a friend or borrow my dog, or, you know, whatever it is, you know, if you’ve got a friend who’s got a dog, and you feel like you’re you don’t have the sort of motivation to get out as much as you should, you know, you could sort of offer to walk their dog once a week, or once a month, or whatever it is, you know,

Raquel Monroy  23:51

what I always say to clients is, like Joe and I constantly like do when it’s the sort of the two week wait, time is maybe then that maybe that’s when you plan in your your date night, or that’s when you plan in your stitching bitch, or you know, seeing your friends and stuff. So you’ve got something to take your mind off things, but then you’ve also got things in your diary. So you still filling your cup with the things that you enjoy, you know, and you’re not spending that time. Yeah. Have I you know, so

Sandra Greenbank  24:21

what, you know, we’re talking a lot about mindset. And what, why is it important, apart from your experience? Going through it, I suppose, which obviously is really important. Why why is it important to make sure that you’re also staying well, mentally and emotionally when you’re trying for a baby? Well, because, you

Raquel Monroy  24:41

know, I mean, if you’re, you know, having it’s a stressful time trying for a baby, you know, and I think we’ve got to remember that stress can impact you know, our chances of conception because if you’re stressed whether it’s physical stress from I don’t know, exercising too much, or the stress of thinking about having a baby thinking about the appointments, work life, family, all of that stress, you know, when you look back to the caveman days, you know, we are, once we’re stressed, that’s it, our body isn’t a fight or flight mode, we are prioritizing, making sure that we’re safe, you know, so we’re on high alert. And when our bodies like that, we’re not going to be prioritizing our reproductive health, you know, we’re not giving our bodies that we’re like, oh, this doesn’t seem like a right time to have a baby. So let’s just, and that’s when it starts to impact our hormones and creates that hormone imbalance. So that’s why again, it’s so important to put these stress relieving activities in place, you know,

Sandra Greenbank  25:45

yeah, I agree. It’s the mental and most emotional, physical, spiritual connections, that all all sort of flows into each other. And it’s almost like a sort of an orchestra. And if one was playing out of tune, the songs gonna be awful to listen to, you know, that’s how, you know, it all kind of, is connected. And I think it’s really nice, how the awareness of that is sort of growing as well. You know, 510 years ago, it was like, maths just has nothing to do with it, and, you know, doesn’t matter. And, you know, whereas Actually, everything is interconnected, including you and your partner, you know, you’re, you’re one in a sense, and you if you feed off your partner’s moods as well. And so, you know, I think it can, we can, and sometimes in relationships also put quite a lot of pressure on the partner to help us with our emotional state. And if that partner doesn’t feel also then able to speak about their emotions and how they’re feeling, because they don’t want to make it worse for you, you know, then that collectively had does have an impact on the both of you together, you know, because you know, if somebody’s clinically depressed, you can really drags other people down with you, quite quickly and easily. So just recognize them when you need that support and recognizing that if your partner’s needing support, where’s your support? Yeah. And there are charities as well, that can help if you can’t afford to go and see a counselor, I’m definitely talking to your GP as well, even though the waiting time can be quite long. There is support. Yeah, yeah. Available as well. So talking therapies. Yeah. So in terms of nutrition, then and in your clinical experience, how can how can it help? How is it specifically able to help somebody get pregnant where they weren’t before? Because, you know, we talk a lot, but we were nutritional therapists that people think we just help people to eat better. But there’s so much else that goes into it, isn’t it? Yeah,

Raquel Monroy  27:59

there’s so much else. I mean, that’s the thing. It’s not just Yes, nutrition and lifestyle courses, the, you know, it’s what was what we do, of course, making sure that you’re eating healthy, and you’re eating the right foods for you. But it’s so much more than that. It’s looking at the trying to identify the root cause of why you’re not getting pregnant and identifying the imbalances, because like we’ve mentioned previously, all our systems are linked in our body, everything. So if there’s an imbalance, somewhere, that’s gonna have a knock on effect somewhere else in your body. So our aim is nutritional therapists is to bring the body back to balance. And we are like detectives. So you’re, you know, we’re looking at your blood work so that you’ve got from your GP and we’re looking at we’re thinking, Okay, well, how can we optimize that for fertility? Why is that marker slightly low? And where else can we see, you know, do we need to look at so when you when most clients come to me when, you know, they’re at the stage where they’ve been, they’ve been trying to get help from, say the NHS for a while, and the NHS is amazing, but I just feel they’re at capacity and they do not have a can’t look at people from an individual approach. So it’s, you have your standards, set your data into one progesterone test that checking if you’re ovulating, checking your fallopian tubes, checking your semen analysis and so on. You know, it’s all focused on the reproductive side of things. But if that’s all say, looking out, okay, then it’s like okay, well, you’ve got unexplained infertility, but it’s not is it really, I just kind of not had the time to look at it individually. So why why is it Onyx unexplained or as we like to say unexplored? Have we looked at the vaginal microbiome? Is there any infection there? Is there any bacteria what’s the the balance like that because we know that can impact the fertility, miscarriage you know, there’s so much research around that now. Everyone, you know, got health and know is kind of a big thing that was Talking about now, but as nutritionist, we you know, it’s really big now, but we knew all about this years and years, you know, we’ve all been doing the bone broths and eating the kefir and so on for years before it came into the, you know, the mainstream because we know how important gut health is. And we know if your gut health isn’t optimum, then how that’s going to be impacting your hormones, that’s gonna be impacting your estrogen levels, that’s gonna be impacting whether you can, are you actually absorbing all the nutrients from your diet? You know, do you have leaky gut? Do we need to be supporting it there? Is your thyroid health optimal for fertility? You know, it’s so many factors, DNA fragmentation, as I mentioned, on the male side, you know, how much damage is there in the sperm that’s not looked at? There’s so many, many factors. And I

Sandra Greenbank  30:51

think also, if you’ve got gut issues you’ve got if you’ve got bloating, or IBS, which is just like a call it the BS diagnosis. Yeah, that’s also going to impact actually how you feel every day. You know, have you met anyone with OBS? Who wasn’t fed up and mentally exhausted from just feeling rubbish, all day, every day? Yeah. And also, I think the oral health is such a missing piece of the puzzle, which I think is going to be like, you know, maybe in 10 years time, people will be talking about this. But of course, we’re talking about it now. But it’s such an important piece of the puzzle. And I did actually do a podcast episode with Dr. Victoria Sampson talking about how important this is for male fertility as well, and how oral health is linked to erectile dysfunction and inflammation that has does have an impact and this research, actually linking oral health to male fertility and as well as placental health. And, you know, of course, that’s something that you share with your partner as well. Yeah, so there’s so many things that we look at that the conventional side, just completely disregard, disregards

Raquel Monroy  32:07

that then it takes, you know, takes what an average, I think it’s an average 17 years for clinical studies and evidence to get into, we’re actually then the GPS. So it’s like, okay, because now, GPs are a bit more. I know, my GP is very much a bit more like, open. So you’ve got health things, you know, but this sack was said, this is like research from how many years ago that’s now coming in. So this is why I think it’s really, this is why it’s really beneficial. If you’re going through fertility struggles, and you’re working with, say, your GP or the clinicians is to look at as well. Complimentary, you know, therapy, because then you’ve got all bases covered there.

Sandra Greenbank  32:51

I think, yeah, I think it’s great that GPS, and doctors are becoming more open to the idea of gut health, but at the same time, they, their knowledge probably extends roughly to take this probiotic. And take this, you know, whereas that’s not really how to fix gut health is that as you and I know, you know, we start with the removal with them, we start with them, we replace what’s missing, you know, and it’s not really about taking a pill. It’s just it’s about making sure that there’s somewhere for those bacteria to live and flourish, removing anything. That’s actually cause isn’t it? Okay, Andrew? Yeah. So, although there’s an openness there, you know, and I, I was really, you know, it was great with the Zoe program, you know, raising awareness, but then again, now, it’s like, people are buying this program and the gut shots, which is just, it’s just not a comprehensive stool analysis. And just to be honest, it’s a complete waste of money. So it’s sort of, it’s great that people have an understanding, but there just is just the information out there so wrong.

Raquel Monroy  33:55

Yeah, this is what I mean, there’s kind of a bit everyone’s got this so much information out there. And it can get very confusing. And this is where I think we are looking with the FNC is that, you know, we all we all meet weekly, don’t we and discuss our cases, confidentially and stuff. And we’re all you know, when we share research and so on, I think clients that come to us, they, they, they at least know that they’re in good hands, at least know they’re with, with clinicians with nutrition and nutritionists that they can trust, you know, because we are evidence based practitioners, aren’t we? We look at the evidence, first and foremost, and there’s so much noise out there. You will look at one person’s Instagram, for example, and you’ll see an influencer talking about something else, you know, and it’s saying, yeah, it’s kind of knowing who you trust, I

Sandra Greenbank  34:46

think. Yeah, I think and that’s, I mean, you know, sort of side note, that’s why I started we call it the FNC, the Fertility Nutrition Centre’s a bit of a mouthful, but because there’s so much out there and In that there isn’t any other training apart from the FNC training that actually takes you through everything that you do need to know. And it’s not just me doing providing the training, we’ve got lots of different experts in different fields of, you know, whatever it might be, whether it’s gut health, or embryologist, or whatever it might be. But I think it’s really important to make sure that you check your practitioners, notifications, and anybody who’s online telling you that you need to do a detox, and, you know, get up at five o’clock every morning to meditate for two hours, and they’re probably not the person for you. Yeah,

Raquel Monroy  35:38

no, I agree. I agree. There’s so many people that are going to just take a course and just call themself nutritionist or, you know, it’s checking the credentials. And that’s one thing you know that we will have the FNC we’ve stood with shoo in and then a further year specializing fertility.

Sandra Greenbank  35:59

Yeah. So take it Do you have any sort of success story so sometimes I think it can be really nice to hear stories of people who’ve had you know a rough time do you have a certain a specific sort of wants to share that you’ve

Raquel Monroy  36:11

I want you to just share this one in particular actually have a client of mine who had recurrent miscarriage miscarriages you know, that’s one thing because miscarriage is so common is that one in four pregnancies now, you know, so something that everyone whether you’ve not expose yourself, you will likely know someone who’s experienced it. And this lady had three recurrent miscarriages when she came to see me. They will go we’re gonna go through IVF they just were really struggling to get pregnant. And once we, we really dug deep and try to identify the root cause we did some we know that her vaginal microbiome needed optimizing there was definitely she was low in lactobacillus which is it’s an important it’s important for your vaginal health in order for for pregnancy. And then she we did some genetic testing, which actually turned which showed that she had a snip back in her she had a higher need for B six and vitamin D and with her previous pregnancy, she suffered horrendously with Hypo hyperemesis gravidarum. So yeah, and then when we looked at her genetics, well, then it kind of made sense to her that she had a higher need for B sets and that’s kind of you know, that helps with the nausea and so on. So we increase that increase the vitamin D levels, which again, there’s so much research out there about a bitumen D low vitamin D status is linked to infertility, miscarriage, preterm birth, there’s this family things is a study of annual I think Tommy’s did a study to read that. So yeah, so we worked on you know, all of that, of course, as well as optimizing her diet, she definitely has some good health issues. And HPI pylori, actually, which is

Sandra Greenbank  38:03

also very linked with sickness in pregnancy, sickness,

Raquel Monroy  38:07

which she wasn’t aware of, and once we addressed all of that, I mean, thankfully, she’s she’s, she’s in her third trimester now, which is amazing. And you know, she’d never she’s never you know, she’s she’s so thankful because the work that we did in place was sickness was not know when she’d still had the sickness when she was pregnant with when there as much as when, you know, she was terrible previous miscarriages.

Sandra Greenbank  38:36

Yeah, cuz hyperemesis you know, people are hospitalized for that, aren’t they? It’s very, very debilitating. And I

Raquel Monroy  38:44

had it with my second I was in hospital for two weeks. But anyway, it’s awful. I would not. I do vividly remember crawling along the floor, right? So Ill and just having a sip of water the whole day. That’s all I could manage. It’s really hard. Yeah, and then, you know, I have another client who was trying to get pregnant she, she was 40 she miscarriages before 40th birthday. And that was the only time she could she fell pregnant. She was trying for years, but fell pregnant one time is capable of water birth, and she was very much again her mindset of, I’m never gonna be able to have kids and 14 out like, what, it’s not going to happen for me. But you know, when we worked on egg health, I mean, that was the one thing that was focused on it. Yeah, I mean, of course we all naturally age you can’t change that but you we know that you can support Kelsey can improve air quality. And that’s what we worked on amongst other things. And you know, thankfully, she’s got a you know, a healthy baby boy now. So yeah, it’s just I think it just goes to show that you know, please don’t lose hope. You know, there is so much that can be explored still to support you on your fertility journey. I

Sandra Greenbank  39:55

think that’s one of the things I really enjoy more actually is working on the My to control health, so the mitochondria are the little powerhouses of each cell in the body, and they do age. And that’s part of the reason why the Ag health declines one of the reasons but you know, with age, and there’s actually loads we can do to improve our mitochondrial health, which has a huge impact on trying to conceive in your, you know, late 30s, early 40s. Which, again, is sort of, you know, I think people just really can’t, that’s not something you would ever consider if you’d have never worked with a nutritional therapist, or you might not even know that we’re working on that when we’re working with you, because we’re doing all the things aren’t we we’re removing your toxic exposure, we’re fixing your diet, we’re fixing your lifestyle, we’re optimizing your supplement regime where making sure that you know, if there’s molds, you know, we’re dealing with that even if you’ve got mold exposure, we’re dealing with any toxic exposure, I suppose. And, you know, all of these things, all together, help your mitochondria and we might in the back of our mind think this is this is a key factor for this client, but you might not necessarily tell them this you’re sort of going okay, we’re gonna do this you know, you’re doing the steps and you’re doing it step by step. But yeah, I It’s, that’s such an exciting piece of, you know, there’s, there’s so much research coming out all the time as well about the things that we can do. And right now, the studies that are being done are more and more showing us what we can do and all that what we are doing is actually the right thing to do so. Yeah, I guess it’s like you said, it’s always changing the landscape is always changing all the time, and you want to make sure that your work is someone who’s keeping up with that. Exactly.

Raquel Monroy  41:57

I know we’re always thought research buffs aren’t we in FNC or get very excited about research?

Sandra Greenbank  42:05

It’s so if you were to get into a time sort of traveling, contraption and go and meet yourself eight years ago, what would you what message would you have for that person? You were then one

Raquel Monroy  42:20

that was frantically? Yeah, I mean, I would say I would say obviously, don’t our that don’t solely rely on the GPS and doctors because I knew I was very I was I spent a lot of time just waiting for appointments that wasted months waiting for appointments, nothing I wouldn’t I would go back and say look, you know, understand that the whole that your body you’re stressed and trying but his baby you’re mentally physically drained from thinking about all of this, like, look at your prioritize you prioritize your health? I definitely would have Yeah, looked into that a bit more looked into my gut health, my vaginal microbiome, get everything in place there. Yeah.

Sandra Greenbank  43:12

Cuz you said that you’d been on the pill for a long time. 15 years or so. And, you know, a lot of steps were just, it’s just what you did, but actually, there has a huge impact on your nutrient stores on your gut function. on on on so much, and, you know, unless you’ve actually done something strategically to address that, that all the good food in the world might not help you might need a supplement. They just a short term.

Raquel Monroy  43:43

Yeah, yeah, definitely. That’s the one thing that many clients don’t realize is just how much you deplete your body of important nutrients for consumption. It does Yeah, so yeah, definitely look at you know, supporting myself there. And just be just be kind to myself, like I would say just be kind to myself just how just treat myself How would my friends you know, I was I was just in such a, I was in my head a lot. And I think when you could just Yeah, open up a bit more to my partner or my friends and trusting my body trust that I can I can get pregnant and it’s just the it’s just bringing my whole body back into balance again.

Sandra Greenbank  44:25

Yeah. And get support, get the right support. Yes. However, that whatever that looks like for you, and we can help signpost as well so I will often have a discovery call with people or we call it discovery calls but just when we have a chat about your situation and whether we think it’s worth you know, working together but a lot you know, a lot of the time if I don’t think that’s the main thing that you need, or the first thing that you need to tell you so you know, book a call. And if we think this is does another specialists have sent or another test or another consultant that you should be asking to see then. That’s what we’re going to tell you to do, isn’t it?

Raquel Monroy  45:03

Yeah, exactly a lot. I’ve referred Yeah. Many clients have to see other people. Of course, definitely. Yeah.

Sandra Greenbank  45:09

So speak, speak to someone get that get, I think get that roadmap in place, you know, this is what I’m going to do. And you know, it’s not, it’s not sort of overwhelming you with kind of like, these are all the things you should be doing. But it’s like, actually, what’s step number one? Step number two, you know, why is this the most important for you or your partner?

Raquel Monroy  45:32

I think focus on the things you can control, isn’t it? Like you can’t control whether you’re going to have what what can you control focus on that way you can focus on your nutrition and your lifestyle, you can get that all in place you can work on that definitely work on the things that you can control. And yeah,

Sandra Greenbank  45:50

actually, I had a discovery call actually, last week with somebody who contacted me, and we had a chat. And I said, you know, we’ll work together. But before I see you, I want you to go and ask the GP for these tests for the two of you, because, you know, I’d like to have them ahead of our meeting. And their GP was brilliant, and actually ran all the tests. And she’s already had a progesterone test, which is the seven days after your ovulation, you take a progesterone test to see if you’ve ovulated or to see what you know, if there might be some issue there. And we’ve already established that she doesn’t ovulate. And I’ve not even seen her yet. You know, so I’ve been able to say to her, we’ll get another test for the next. So you can go again, and we’ll see what’s going on. We’ll we’ll order some home strips. So, you know, it’s kind of like, how have you? How have you been left to go on like this for a year? And you don’t even you didn’t even know that you’re? You might not ovulate every month? Yeah, that’s the

Raquel Monroy  46:53

thing. I mean, that’s, that’s a very good point as well is because we do this standard day 21 test, isn’t it? So, but that’s on the premise that you ovulate on day 14. So by date seven days later, then your progesterone levels are behind them to show that you’ve ovulated. But of course, not everyone, I’ll be late on day 14. So I mean, this, you know, I went to that test thinking, Oh, okay, so I did the test that came back that I wasn’t ovulating. But actually, when I looked when I looked at understanding my cycle, I actually saw that I ovulated on day 20

Sandra Greenbank  47:27

Oh, wow, that’s really late. Then 10. You know, both of us would be like totally trying on the wrong day.

Raquel Monroy  47:37

Exactly. But then, you know, then you’re totally you’re not ovulating. And then the next step for us IV Yeah, for example. And so well, actually, yeah, we look at it properly. And you understand that’s the one thing you want, once you understand your cycle, it could go well, just the time

Sandra Greenbank  47:50

so simple, isn’t it? Because if I was trying on day 14, I would have missed the boat. And if you were trying on day 14, you would be nowhere near ovulating. Yeah, exactly. And it’s like, surely this should be rolled out. Before you’ve tried for it. 12 months, you’ve missed 12 cycles. Because nobody told you that you you know, no one looked at this. And this is what we do isn’t and you know, if that’s the only reason why you’re not getting pregnant? What a simple fix nakliye?

Raquel Monroy  48:19

Yeah, that’s why understanding your body is so important as well. I think we rely on apps don’t wait, and so on. But listen to your body, like be in tune with your body pay attention to the signs to share when you’re ovulating, and use the apps and so on as a confirmation of what Yeah,

Sandra Greenbank  48:35

yeah, I think those are really good. I mean, I have to say, I’ve probably never really connected with my cycle, even though I actually trained in family planning, natural family planning. With the foresight clinic for sleep clinic, which is no longer around, but I didn’t really connect with my so called properly until after I’d had a baby, I would say it’s one of those things that just isn’t what suddenly wasn’t in my, it just wasn’t something I thought about. But I think now there’s so much again, it’s really good, isn’t it all this sort of period health and people are talking about the periods and there are books and there are podcasts. And there are people out there who are sort of going in a fixed period. And I think that’s brilliant for young women actually, to get on top of that way before they are thinking of having a baby Of course if you’re if you’re on the pill, you know, you’re gonna have a fake bleed and there’s not you can’t connect with it in that sense, but if you’re not on the pill, yeah,

Raquel Monroy  49:36

but it’s more than people are more aware now of so you know what it takes like 10 years or so to get an endometriosis diagnosis. You know, it’s like, people are more aware now, okay, this isn’t if my pair is not meant to be this heavy or, you know, people are actually taking steps to address it, you know, because we’re having this open conversation more about our cycles. Absolutely.

Sandra Greenbank  49:56

And it’s menopause as well as sort of it So there’s so much more awareness now we’re not we’re not suffering in silence in the same way. So if somebody wants to have a chat with you come at what how do you work with people specifically? Do you have a system? Yes.

Raquel Monroy  50:14

So I mainly work with clients one to one basis three month program is because it takes three months to optimize egg and sperm health. So that’s why I work with clients for three months. And yeah, so currently you can find me on the Fertility Nutrition Centre, Instagram or website or I’ve got my website www.raquelmonroy.com or @raquelmonroynutrition on Instagram. I also have just launched a masterclass, The Fertility Reset, which kind of talks through the steps that I take with clients and shows them kind of like what the other areas to explore what like what we’ve discussed why gut health is important and what to look out for, sort of what nutrients are right supplements to consider. So yeah, that’s a good place to start really. So you can download you can download that masterclass through my Instagram or website. And then yeah, just book a free discovery call through my website. Thanks so much. Thank you

Sandra Greenbank  51:23

I really enjoyed this chat with Raquel and I hope you enjoyed listening to this episode. Please like share, save and rate this podcast if you find it useful as it helps us reach more people. And if you’re looking for fertility specialists to support you, our practitioners can be contacted over at www.fertilitynutritioncentre.org. They will offer a free strategy call to help you decide on your best next steps on your journey. Thank you for listening.

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The Fertility Nutrition Centre was founded by Sandra Greenbank, an expert in proven nutrition strategies to help couples conceive naturally. After 12 years of helping hundreds of couples successfully conceive naturally, she is making it possible for more couples to receive nutrition consulting by creating a network of nutrition expertswho have committed to a unique and in-depth training program in the field of fertility.