Episode 36: Holistic Pelvic Care with Dr. Kate Hadfield: How Working Through Stress, Life Events and Emotional Blocks May Be the Key to Recovery

In today’s episode, Dr. Toni talks with Dr. Kate Hadfield ND about how your: lineage; birth experience (even if it was decades ago); creativity (or lack thereof); and stress level can impact your pelvic health. They also discuss how to go to the bathroom properly and become empowered about your pelvic health.

Dr. Kate Hadfield, ND, provides a very different approach to pelvic floor health with Holistic Pelvic CareTM.

As a naturopathic doctor, birth doula and lactation educator, Dr. Kate is passionate about helping women connect to their creative center and their natural body rhythms. She trained with physical therapist Tami Kent to be able to provide Holistic Pelvic CareTM, which is a gentle internal bodywork treatment with a mind-body approach.

In this episode, we cover:

  • How symptoms around our reproductive system and menstrual cycles aren’t just about our physical or hormonal health
  • The need to get in touch with both your masculine and feminine aspects
  • How your lineage can impact your pelvic health
  • The impact that your birth experiences can have on any pelvic symptoms, whether it was 1 year, 4 years or 20 years ago
  • How your pelvic bowl isn’t just about birth – it is linked to your creative centre
  • Why the way you go to the bathroom does not match your instincts
  • How the language around our anatomy is historically and emotionally charged
  • The importance of addressing traumatic experiences
  • How Holistic Pelvic Care can be used to address:
    • Urinary incontinence and organ prolapse
    • Painful sex and sexual dysfunction
    • Chronic urinary tract infections and vaginal infection
    • Menstrual Pain
    • Fertility support
    • Healing after miscarriage or abortion

“We are all the answers to our ancestors’ prayers” 

You can find Dr. Kate at her website and on Instagram @yourpelvicnd for more information on Holistic Pelvic Care, Empowered Paps and Wild Feminine online book club

Check out how your cervix changes throughout your menstrual cycle at the Beautiful Cervix website.

Today’s Mama Must Have: 

Dr. Toni relies heavily on Mushroom Coffee with Lion’s Mane by Four Sigmatic, especially on the days she is supporting her patients through labour and birth.

Dr. Kate believes that every woman needs her own creative outlet, which can support her overall pelvic health and well-being.

Dr. Toni is also a big fan of the family plate approach discussed by holistic nutrition coach Amanda Beatty back in Episode 5.

Thank you for joining us today! 

Email us or connect with us on Facebook and Instagram. We’d love you to subscribe, leave us a review and a 5-star rating if you enjoyed this episode.

Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!

Stay safe everyone!

Episode 35: What’s Up With My Yoni? How to Deal With Yeast, Bacterial Vaginosis and Vaginal Dryness

All about vaginal health! In this episode, Dr. Lisa and Dr. Toni give you a crash course on: your anatomy “down there”; ways to optimize your vaginal pH and microbiome; how hormonal changes contribute to urinary tract infections, vaginal dryness and atrophy; and what to do about yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis.

Basic Genital Anatomy: 

Your vulva is the outside of the genital tract, where your clothes touch your skin. 

Your vagina is the inside of the genital tract and the transition zone from your vulva to your vagina is called the vestibule.

As you get closer to the vagina, your skin has fewer layers and less keratin, along with no hair follicles. This makes the area more vulnerable to trauma and irritation. The mucosal skin of your vestibule and vagina have cells filled with storage sugar called glycogen.

“There’s a lot of money in vaginal shame” Dr. Jen Gunter – Vagina Bible

  • Each woman’s vaginal smell is unique and based on your changing hormonal balance and microbiome, which can be impacted by your diet and use of antibiotics. 
  • No douching (which is flushing the vagina with a medicated solution or even water) is needed. 
  • Any washing of your vagina can damage the protective mucus and Lactobacilli beneficial bacteria there.
  • No vaginal cleansing products have been scientifically studied.
  • Research has shown that washing your vagina with soap can increase the risk of HIV transmission by almost 4 times, while washing your vagina with only water can more than double the risk of HIV transmission.

Your Vaginal Microbiome:

This is your symbiotic relationship between bacteria and yeast along your vaginal tract and on the skin of your vulva. 

You may always have some yeast or unfavourable bacteria present, but as long as your beneficial bacteria outnumbers your unfavourable micro-organisms, then you don’t have any issues or symptoms.

How Hormonal Changes Impact Vaginal Health:

As estrogen decreases in perimenopause and menopause, you can have less blood flow to your vagina and vulva which can cause:

  • your vaginal and vulvar tissues to lose strength and elasticity, becoming more fragile and losing their ability to stretch
  • your vaginal and vulvar skin to become more thin and feel more dry
  • the amount of your vaginal and vulvar tissue to decrease, as your cells lose volume
  • your microbiome balance to change, as your cells have less glycogen to feed Lactobacilli beneficial bacteria

Vaginal pH:

  • Lactobacillus bacteria produce lactic acid to keep our vaginas acidic with a pH between 3.8 and 4.5, while the pH of your vulvar skin is between 5.3 and 5.6
  • This acidic pH allows for favourable microbes to thrive and unfavourable ones to not become a problem
    • You can check your pH by parting your outer labia and applying pH paper with a narrow range as close as possible to inner vaginal wall, then hold a few seconds, compare colour to the key provided
    • If above 4.5, a bacterial imbalance like bacterial vaginosis is possible 
    • Yeast or Candida doesn’t change your pH value

Possible Vaginal Imbalances:

Yeast infections: 

An overgrowth of Candida albicans can irritate your vagina and your vulva resulting in symptoms like: 

  • thick, whitish or yellow discharge (but not always!) 
  • redness, itching and swelling of vulva
  • pain after urination 

What do you do if you think you have a yeast infection?

First, rule out allergic reactions, atrophic vaginitis, general irritation and dryness.

Over the counter antifungals (both oral and topical) may work in the short-term, but you need to change the terrain and treat the cause or they can keep coming back!

Addressing the root cause of yeast infections includes:

  • Reducing or avoid your intake of sugar, simple carbohydrates, alcohol and cannabis
    • One study on women who smoked or ate cannabis were 30% more likely to have yeast in their vaginal ecosystem, as well as their mouth
  • Avoiding excessive and unnecessary use of antibiotics
    • Studies show 23% of women develop a symptomatic yeast infection after antibiotics
  • Using a probiotic supplement orally and vaginally
    • Lactobacillus rhamnosus, reuteri and gasseri species have most evidence to support your vaginal microbiome balance
  • Feed your beneficial bacteria with enough fibre in diet
    • Chicory root, artichoke, green banana, onions, garlic
  • Using oral garlic supplements, also using garlic bulb suppositories vaginally or suppositories garlic and probiotic
  • Using boric acid suppositories, especially for yeast infections resistant to regular prescription or over the counter medications, for less than 2 weeks
  • Avoid excessive wetness and heat 
    • Change right after your workout or swimming
    • Wear cotton undies
    • No undies to bed

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV): 

This is one of the most common bacterial infections for women with symptoms including:

  • has thin whitish/gray discharge
  • foul fishy odour
  • not usually associated with pain, itching or burning
  • worse after menstruation or intercourse, since semen can change your vaginal pH); sugar, antibiotics, douching, wearing non-cotton undies, BCP?
  • Gardnerella vaginalis most common cause
  • If left untreated, it may lead to urinary tract infections, pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, Candida overgrowth, increased risk of sexually transmitted infections
  • Amsel criteria for diagnosis (3 of 4 needed): 
    • thin, white/gray milky discharge
    • positive whiff test
    • vaginal pH > 4.5
    • clue cells on microscope

Studies show that women who have never partnered with men don’t get BV and women who partner with men who consistently use condoms (without spermicide) have healthier balance of vaginal bacteria.

Biofilms (protective coatings around bacteria and yeast) have been identified with both copper and hormonal IUDs and contraception rings.

Addressing the root cause of BV includes:

  • avoiding sugar, simple carbohydrates and alcohol
  • considering withdrawal before ejaculation of semen into vagina if having insertional sex
  • using probiotic supplements containing Lactobacillus orally and vaginally (oral for 3-6 months)
  • using boric acid suppositories (for less than 2 weeks at a time)

Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause (GSM)

Symptoms include: 

  • Vaginal dryness and irritation
  • change in discharge
  • decreased lubrication
  • pain with sex
  • bleeding after sex
  • burning on urination
  • increased urgency and bladder infections

Vaginal Dryness: What can you do about it?

  • Use personal lubricants during sex: consider water based vs. silicon-based
    • Example: YES brand lubricants
  • Use olive or coconut if not using condoms
    • Coconut oil has been studied on skin of premature babies with no ill effects, performed better than mineral oil in preventing water loss from the skin
    • Olive oil has studied with breast cancer survivors who could not use estrogen and was well tolerated

Vaginal Atrophy: What can you do about it?

  • Hyaluronic acid suppositories
  • Vaginal estriol or dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) cream
  • Vitamin D – a small study suggested improvement in appearance of cells in menopausal women who took vitamin D supplementation

How to Have a Healthy Vagina:

  • Use it or lose it?!
    • Sex
    • Pelvic floor exercises (see Episode 34 on pelvic floor fitness) for more info
  • Sleep in the nude or without underwear
  • Switch to cotton undies
  • Use gentle fragrance-free laundry soap to minimize potential irritation
  • Only use water or a cleanser with a pH around 5.5 on your vulva
  • Avoid commercial tampons or pads, especially fragranced ones
  • Switch to a menstrual cup for your period
    • Sanitize properly (consider alternating between 2 different menstrual cups)
  • Limit or avoid your intake of sugar, simple carbs, alcohol, cannabis
  • Consider prebiotic and probiotic supplementation – oral and vaginal 

Today’s Mama Must Have: 

Dr. Toni is a big fan of a new supplement that can be helpful for addressing yeast infections called Kolorex (containing the herb mountain horopito), as well as Genestra HMF Candigen probiotic cream for reducing vaginal irritation.

Thank you for joining us today! 

Email us or connect with us on Facebook and Instagram. We’d love you to subscribe, leave us a review and a 5-star rating if you enjoyed this episode.

Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!

Stay safe everyone!

Episode 34: “To Kegel or Not to Kegel”? Pelvic Floor and Core Fitness with Amy Cooper

Certified personal trainer Amy Cooper discusses: the 3 “Ps” you need to watch out for in regards to pelvic floor health; if and when it is safe to run and practice kegels; and a simple exercise you can do to tap into your pelvic floor.

As a mother of two children, Amy has a wealth of personal experience in postpartum rehabilitation, as well as being a prenatal and postnatal fitness specialist with training in Hypopressives and yoga.

As Amy says, having children doesn’t mean that you’re going to have pelvic floor struggles and not having children doesn’t mean that you’re not going to have pelvic floor struggles. Pelvic floor health is not just about being postpartum.

In this episode, Dr. Toni and cover:

  • How having kids can be transformative for your body, core and pelvic floor, physically and hormonally
  • Who is more at risk for pelvic floor dysfunction and organ prolapse
  • That if you have pelvic organ prolapse, it is not necessarily a problem!
  • How your symptoms and functional problems may not correlate to a structural or anatomical problem
  • If it’s a good idea to go running while you’re pregnant and after you’ve given birth
  • The Rule of 3 P’s that are red flags you need to watch for
    • Changes in peeing, pooping or passing gas
    • Changes in pain
    • Changes in pressure
  • Why Kegels are only one piece of a pelvic floor fitness program and might not be a good idea for you to practice right now
  • How to know if you are doing your Kegels effectively
  • How relaxation and release is as important as strength and contraction of your pelvic floor muscles
  • Amy’s favourite exercise to relax your body – just “let go”!
  • The difference between getting an assessment from a family doctor, gynecologist and pelvic health physiotherapist

Check out why sexologist Dr. Trina Read talks about Kegels for improving your sex life in Episode 23

You can contact Amy at amy@cultivatefitness.ca and on Instagram @cultivatefitnessyyc

Today’s Mama Must Have:

Dr. Toni is grateful for her pelvic floor physiotherapist and recommends that you find one for yourself, especially if you’re experiencing any of the 3 P’s!

Amy loves her hand mirror to be able to look, see and appreciate her vulva. She recommends actually looking when you do a pelvic floor contraction to see if it’s effective. She just might be constantly looking at her vulva in her mirror…check out Haley Shevener’s Privates Investigator blog at if you want to understand what you’re seeing when you dare to take a look.

Thank you for joining us today! 

Email us or connect with us on Facebook and Instagram. We’d love you to subscribe, leave us a review and a 5-star rating if you enjoyed this episode.

Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!

Stay safe everyone!

Episode 33: Detox for Hormone Balance with Joy McCarthy, Nutritionist and Author

In this episode, Dr. Lisa talks with Certified Holistic Nutritionist (and best-selling author!) Joy McCarthy about: which foods to eat to support detox; how to “green” your body care products; ways to amp up your salads with powerhouse foods; and how to sneak more vegetables into your child’s diet.

Joy McCarthy is the bestselling author of: Joyous Health, The Joyous Cookbook and Joyous Detox, which was a World Gourmand Cookbook Award recipient. She is also the co-host of the Joyous Health Podcast.

In this episode, we cover:

  • How a food-based 10-day detox can be the easiest way to get started
  • The benefits of focusing on what you can eat instead of what you can’t eat
  • Sources of different chemicals that you may be exposed to throughout the day (and it may shock you!)
  • The benefits of doing a beauty detox, starting with the products that spend a lot of time on your skin, like your moisturizer and foundation
  • Why you should look up the ingredients of your personal care products on the Think Dirty App and Skin Deep Database
  • How to tell if the food you’re eating is putting a burden on your liver
  • The benefits of choosing organic food whenever possible, especially when it comes to the “Dirty Dozen”
  • Why you need more variety and colour on your plate (and why you should be eating kale and arugula!)
  • How lemon, apple cider vinegar and fermented foods can help your gut to support you body’s detoxification process
  • What Joy puts in her salad and how she gets her daughter to eat salads
  • How to fit more veggies in your life and make kid-friendly foods

How to detox on a daily basis:

  • Avoid: additives, preservatives, processed foods, sugar
  • Eat more: vegetables and other plants, especially cruciferous vegetables, citrus, herbs and spices like fennel, cilantro, parsley, mint, turmeric, ginger, garlic

Some delicious Joyous Health Detox Supporting Recipes you can try:

Nourishing Turmeric Golden Soup

Creamy and Dreamy Colourful Kale Salad

Golden Smoothie

Digestive Soothing Green Smoothie

Cauliflower Hummus

Lazy Lady Turmeric Latte

You can find Joy @joyoushealth on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and on Facebook. Shop for her detox tea, detox program, and the Joyous Detox Cookbook on her online store.

Today’s Mama Must Have:

Dr. Lisa takes a teaspoon of unpasteurized apple cider vinegar in water before eating to support her digestion.

Joy includes meditation in her daily routine to stay sane and manage anxiety, including the Calm app and Deepak Chopra’s Daily Breath app.

Thank you for joining us today! 

Email us or connect with us on Facebook and Instagram. We’d love you to subscribe, leave us a review and a 5-star rating if you enjoyed this episode.

Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!

Stay safe everyone!