Many members come to Parsley Health with fertility goals, some who have chronic health conditions such as autoimmune disorders and hormonal imbalances, and some who have struggled with infertility in the past. Parsley’s team of doctors and health coaches provide additional support with fertility, pregnancy, and postpartum care outside of what women receive from an OB/GYN or fertility specialist. They are there to support you every step of the fertility journey, monitoring your blood work, dietary, and exercise habits even more closely than most OB/GYNs or reproductive endocrinologists would. The idea is, when you work on aligning these aspects of your health, the pieces of the fertility puzzle often start to come together. If you’ve just started trying (or even if you’ve been at it for a while), Parsley’s doctors and health coaches will work with you in getting your cycle and hormones on track to prepare for pregnancy. Many times, women who were previously told they can’t get pregnant naturally are able to conceive on their own.
Meet just a few of our members who joined Parsley to address health concerns prior to starting their families. By working with their doctors and health coaches to resolve or better manage underlying conditions, optimize their health through lifestyle changes, and balance hormonal health, it was quicker and less difficult to get pregnant than they originally expected. Read on for their experiences and how Parsley impacted their fertility journeys.
Before I joined Parsley back in 2015, I was a young college grad, living it up, just eating and drinking whatever I wanted, but not feeling well at all. I have a rare autoimmune condition called Behcet’s syndrome, and many medications I tried out were making me feel even sicker by my twenties. Actually, doctors expected that Behcet’s would affect my fertility, but once I started at Parsley, they helped me make so many changes to my health, specifically my diet, and gave me the tools to eventually have a healthy pregnancy.
First, Dr. Robin Berzin went through all my initial test results with me, recommending a diet that could get down to the bottom of my food sensitivities . It gave me the ability to figure out what foods harmed my body; for example, we figured out that gluten gives me ulcers, pain, and acne . From then on, I could trace back many times I didn’t feel quite right to trace amounts of something that might have snuck into my food. Also, Parsley taught me a lot about mindfulness, and taking time to really meditate and breathe. Before that, I didn’t set aside adequate time for myself.
I attribute the fact that I was able to have a healthy pregnancy, feeling well throughout, with just a little bit of nausea (which I worked on with my health coach), to Parsley. The Parsley Prenatal vitamin they recommended helped me feel really energetic throughout pregnancy—I took it all through breastfeeding, too. I trust all the recommendations that the Parsley team has given me—they’ve supplied me with more tools, in terms of the right diet for pregnancy , getting all the adequate nutrients and hydration for breastfeeding, and supplements , than the hospital did when I had my daughter Amelia last year. Their approach is more mother-based; my OB/GYN took care of me, of course, but took care of the baby primarily. Parsley took care of me and was consistent about checking things that my doctor didn’t (like regular blood tests to make sure I was safe and healthy throughout pregnancy), prioritizing my health along the way.
After being on the pill for ten years and deciding to go off of it , I struggled with amenorrhea for about three years. I saw a number of doctors, including a fertility specialist, who couldn’t seem to help me get my hormones and cycle back on track. On top of that, I found out that I had heavy metal toxicity , which was likely making the hormonal imbalance worse. After doing one round of chelation treatment for the metal toxicity, things weren’t getting better and I still wasn’t getting a period.
I heard about Parsley from a podcast actually, and because I live in Philadelphia, the telehealth option appealed to me. My doctor, former Parsley clinician Dr. Zandra Palma, started off with hormone testing, and discovered that I essentially had a nonexistent level of progesterone, and still had heavy metal toxicity. She worked on lifestyle changes with me to address the hormonal imbalance—she thought I should cut back on high-intensity exercise and distance running, and increase my level of low-intensity exercise, like yoga and Pilates. The dietary portion of things was challenging because I had a background of disordered eating. In the past, I had obsessed over the details of eating a high fat, low fat, or low carb diet, but my health coach Kelly Johnston helped me break that down and move toward intuitive eating . Now, I’m all about trusting my intuition in what my body is craving, food-wise, exercise-wise, and emotionally.
It took about a year of going back and forth with my doctor and health coach on strategies until I got my period back consistently, and I finally had a safe level of progesterone and no heavy metals in my system. My periods were 28 days, like clockwork, for over a year, and I felt comfortable trying to get pregnant at that point. I did not expect it to happen so quickly, but I was pregnant within a month. During my pregnancy, Dr. Palma was on vacation for one of my visits, so she recommended switching to Dr. Elizabeth Milbank, a former Parsley clinician who has a background in family medicine. Dr. Liz was instrumental in helping me tailor the different supplements I took, such as magnesium and charcoal, to pregnancy, and eased my anxieties along the way. I had my daughter Eleanor in April, and am looking forward to my postpartum visit with Parsley this month.
Though fertility had been in the back of my mind, I first came to Parsley in 2016 to address a chronic condition I had called eosinophilic esophagitis. In addition, I was concerned with my terrible PMS symptoms, including painfully heavy, irregular periods, breast swelling and tenderness, mood swings, and a history of ovarian cysts. Right from the start, my doctor, Dr. Robin Berzin, really listened to all of my symptoms, and helped me make connections between seemingly unrelated symptoms, like dry skin issues and heavy periods. It took a bit of trial and error (especially experimenting with supplements to boost my hormone health, which never really worked out for me), but she stuck through it with me every step of the way.
For the esophagitis, it was important for me to go on a low-histamine , autoimmune protocol diet , removing all major allergens, such as dairy , grains, eggs, soy, and nuts (basically I was eating almost all vegetables and some meat). When it came to exercise, my doctor and health coach suggested getting my heart rate up with cardio, at least three to four times a week. Diet and exercise were really key in regulating both my period and my mood, along with other PMS symptoms. Because of the work we did in balancing my hormones before I started trying, I was able to get pregnant at age 38 on the first or second try, without any fertility treatments.
I felt supported all the way through my pregnancy and afterward. I’m an artist, and when I switched to Dr. Darcy McConnell during pregnancy, she advised me on how to protect myself in the studio and paint safely while pregnant. Dr. McConnell monitored my blood work for potential thyroid issues, while my health coach helped me work through the migraines I was having during pregnancy, suggesting more natural treatments like nasal rinses and acupuncture in place of over-the-counter medications. After I had my daughter Linnea in March, I’ve found my doctor and health coach helpful through virtual visits in adjusting to breastfeeding, since I haven’t been able to see a lactation consultant in-person. I recently had an issue with a potential thrush infection, so they guided me in adhering to an anti-candida diet to clear the infection. What’s different from me since starting my health journey at Parsley is that I now have more knowledge of what works for me, so it’s more of a collaboration with my doctor and health coach on my well-being.
Mara is a freelance journalist whose print and digital work has appeared in Shape, Brit+Co, Marie Claire, Prevention, and other wellness outlets.
Most recently, she was a member of the founding team of Bumble Mag, a branded content project for Bumble at Hearst Corporation. She enjoys covering everything from women's health topics and politics to travel. She has a degree in Communications as well as Italian Studies from Fordham University.