Dr. Emily Parke: Hey everyone. I have Talia Lavor here. She’s a physician’s assistant in Integrative Medicine and specializing in fertility that’s joining me today. Talia welcome.
Talia Lavor: Hello, thanks for having me. I’m so excited. I adore you.
Dr. Emily Parke: Yes, oh thank you. I love you too. And we’ve been meeting. Talia and I have been meeting for quite some time now because we’re two like minded individuals that are all about finding and treating the root causes of whatever’s going on and Talia has an extra specialty in fertility that we’re going to get into in a little bit. But start by telling us how you started in women’s health and what you’re doing now and what programs that you have.
Talia Lavor: So, yeah, I feel like medicine and health was always in my blood. My dad was a surgeon or is a surgeon and I just knew that I always wanted to work in health care and so I went to PA school. And even when I went to PA school, I kind of just knew that I always loved women’s health. And I did three rotations in women’s health and I said this is what I’m gonna do. I took my first job at an OBGYN practice and that’s where I stayed for my entire career until we had some transitions here recently but the beginnings were kind of typical. I was kind of in a typical OBGYN practice but I learned as time went of that I was just more drawn to different things and a lot of that came from my personal experiences.
Talia Lavor: I remember in about 2011 I started having panic attacks but out of the blue.
Dr. Emily Parke: Wow, okay.
Talia Lavor: And I thought this is … something is up here. Something is not correlating. I didn’t have any huge crazy things going on in my life and so that’s when I started really diving deep into how hormones played a role in that, whether they were reproductive hormones like estrogen and progesterone or whether it was thyroid and I realized that everything I had been taught in school was just so surface level and I realized how little people really know when they come out of medical school and PA school and all of this.
Talia Lavor: And so it was really my own experiences that started to drive this and as I started learning and applying what I was learning to myself. I would start sharing it with my patients and I started seeing really great results. And then I started seeing more.
Dr. Emily Parke: Awesome.
Talia Lavor: Yeah, I talked to one woman and she’d refer and all of a sudden another one would come in and she’d be like, “Oh my sister saw you and she said you were this and this.”
Dr. Emily Parke: That’s how it happens right? Once the word gets out-
Talia Lavor: And they were just so excited about the fact that somebody was maybe a bit more open minded to different possibilities and somebody was willing to listen to what they were saying and not just say, “Well okay here’s the pill. You’re gonna be fine. Or you’re having panic attacks. Here’s a Xanax or just get over it or whatever.” And that there could be some underlying actual issues that were going on. So more and more women kept coming to me and before I knew it I had this booming practice of people that were really interested in this and so I realized that there was just a real need that wasn’t being met and then shortly after my husband and I got married we decided, okay we’re not getting any younger and we really wanted a family and we said we’re going to try to get pregnant.
Talia Lavor: And no period. Eight weeks go by and no period. And because I’m a PA in women’s health, I just start taking control of everything. I’ll just make myself have a period. So I would do it. I had a period and eight weeks went by and no period and I said, “Okay.” So I did ultrasound and did some tests. I had polycystic ovaries.
Dr. Emily Parke: So you went through the traditional work up that you had known, yes.
Talia Lavor: Traditional work up and I did an ultrasound. I can see all my tiny little follicles and I’m thinking, “I cannot believe this.” I was, at the time, thinking, I’m pretty healthy. I’m fairly thin. All these things that when you go into a doctor. They’re gonna look at you and kinda just say, “Okay, well she’s thin. She looks healthy. There’s no way that this is PCOS or if it is, okay we’ll just do X, Y and Z.” And often times with PCOS they’re gonna say, “Oh, let’s put you on the pill which was not a viable option for me at the time.”
Dr. Emily Parke: Right because you’re trying to get pregnant, right.
Talia Lavor: Exactly. So and then you tell a doctor, treat PCOS without the pill they kind are like a deer in headlight.
Dr. Emily Parke: Sure.
Talia Lavor: Like what do you want me to do now.
Dr. Emily Parke: Sure, yeah, yeah. No idea.
Talia Lavor: So we started going through some things and I started making, at the time, I started really researching different diets and how those impacted health and my husband and I started getting more active in triathlons. So were were becoming more physically active and that’s kind of what was driving my interest in dietary things. So time goes on, time goes on and nothing was happening. So we did one intrauterine insemination that didn’t work and at this point it was 13 months and I said, “We’ve got to go in. We just don’t know what’s going on.”
Talia Lavor: So my husband had a semen analysis, which was normal or within normal limits and then I had a hystersalpingogram where they put the dye inside the uterus to see if your tubes are opened and one of my tubes was blocked.
Dr. Emily Parke: Ah.
Talia Lavor: I know and so I remember feeling this disappointment in myself, disappointment in my body. Like, oh my gosh, I was happy I felt happy that there was one open tube and things could happen there but then I talked to the doctor and we went through my history and I had no risk factors that I knew of for a blocked tube. But what really hit home what was whatever blocked that tube, whatever inflammation or whatever, what was going on there could easily be throughout my uterus, my tube, and throughout the body obviously.
Talia Lavor: So, we then sat down with the reproductive endocrinologist. We laid everything else out based on my age. My history, my results, my husband. All this stuff and it came down the fact that he said we had a 1% chance of getting pregnant on our own.
Dr. Emily Parke: Wow.
Talia Lavor: And we were just like …
Dr. Emily Parke: It’s a shocker. You weren’t based on everything you just said about how healthy you are and the lifestyle you’re leading. Like you weren’t expecting to hear that.
Talia Lavor: Yeah, and you know for the first time in my life I feel like my husband I were really go getters, achievers and I felt like, for the first time in my life that I had failed and that I had no control.
Dr. Emily Parke: Awe.
Talia Lavor: And it just was horrible. Of course, I picked myself right back up and said, “Okay, what do we need to do. What’s the next step. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.”
Dr. Emily Parke: How do we fix it yeah.
Talia Lavor: Right, we went into the machine and he’s like, “Oh we could do IUIs and this and that and blah, blah, blah.” And we started going that and we did four more IUIs. So inter uterine injection where they actually wash the sperm, make sure they get the good guys, put it directly in the uterus and I did that not just with timed intercourse or not just with my regular ovulation but with injectables. So we actually did injectable medication into my abdomen to help the follicles grow and help me ovulate and all those different things and every time it was negative, negative, negative.
Dr. Emily Parke: Oh, I’m so sorry. Wow. It’s a process to go through.
Talia Lavor: It is and oh my gosh, we were traveling and I had to bring all the injections. It looked like we were junkies in the hotel room.
Dr. Emily Parke: Syringes everywhere.
Talia Lavor: Wipes, syringes and Band Aids. And I also remember that I would have to leave in the middle of my work day to go to for the procedure and then rush back and see patients. And I just remember looking at my husband and thinking, “I just want this to happen the regular way”.
Talia Lavor: So as this was all happening I just kept doing a little bit more research and a little bit more research about what was happening with my hormones. What could I do to help them balance them out a little bit more. Even though I was working against some of those hormones that we were doing to help me ovulate.
Dr. Emily Parke: Sure.
Talia Lavor: Kept working with the diet. Tweaking things with supplements, all that kind of stuff. And I didn’t really realize at the time that I was really going into this functional medicine approach. I was just finding little bits here and there to apply. So we had our fifth failed IUI. Basically, they said if you do another one it’s not necessary going to increase your chance and we’re really looking at IBF. So my husband and I said okay, we want babies and that’s what we have to do.
Talia Lavor: But we said, let’s just take a couple of months. We were training for a longer distance triathlon and we had a trip to Hawaii planned. And so in those three months we stopped all the medications, we really were honing in on exercise and diet and just enjoying each other. We did our race and we head off to Hawaii-
Dr. Emily Parke: I remember this story. Yes, this is a great story, yes.
Talia Lavor: Good one. Listen it’s so good. So we head off to Hawaii and we were planning like we are going to go do all out IBF right when we get home. I don’t want to waste any time. So we were there for 12 days. I even brought my birth control pills with me because I had to start that before we did the first step of the IBF. I remember I called my doctor, he said, “Yep, start your pills.”
Talia Lavor: We go to the beach. It was already the best vacation. It was like the first day. We were in this bungalow. We took a nap. We went to the beach. It was amazing.
Dr. Emily Parke: Totally relaxed, right?
Talia Lavor: Oh my gosh.
Dr. Emily Parke: Which is a big part of it.
Talia Lavor: I always put one that in there. And we got to the beach and my husband wants to go swimming. So he goes swimming. I’m sitting on the chair and these women walk by and I hear them talking and the one woman said, “Oh, and then I got a blood clot in my leg.” And I thought, I don’t want to start birth control. I don’t want to start birth control be a increased risk for blood clots. We’ll have a six hour plane ride on the way home. This just isn’t meant to be. So my husband got out of the water and I told him and he was … I said, “I don’t think I should do it.”
Talia Lavor: And he goes, “Let’s not do it.” He goes, “What’s one more month. Not a big deal.” So we made the decision. We didn’t do it and we got home 12 days later. Best trip of my life. So relaxing. We actually stayed the second half on an organic farm where we would go out and pick our own veggies. Oh my God it was amazing.
Dr. Emily Parke: Perfect.
Talia Lavor: Fresh chicken eggs delivered to our door every morning. It was amazing.
Dr. Emily Parke: Oh my gosh.
Talia Lavor: So we came home and I went to my IBF consultation and I had a friend. She’s like, “You were just in Hawaii. You need to take a pregnancy test.” And the long and short of it is that I took that test and it was positive.
Dr. Emily Parke: Yeah.
Talia Lavor: I almost lost it. I was like and for anybody who’s been on the fertility journey. You know the anxiety sets in.
Dr. Emily Parke: Now what.
Talia Lavor: Is this real? Is everything progressing normally and the long and the short of that is that we now have our daughter, Stella. She’s almost three and a half years old.
Dr. Emily Parke: Super cute.
Talia Lavor: She’s very feisty but super cute. Super cute. No she’s amazing and so after she was born just the little last little thing I wanted to share was she was born and she developed severe, severe eczema. I mean oozing skin. We live in Arizona, it’s like 110 degrees. I had to have her covered from head to toe because she would itch until she bled.
Dr. Emily Parke: Awe poor pumpkin.
Talia Lavor: I know and so I spend literally every minutes she was asleep I spent researching what we could do. What this was telling me about her body and I used that in conjunction and with more fertility research because I started to realize that there were these patterns. Patterns that were going back to, whether it was gut health and how that impacted these things.
Dr. Emily Parke: Yes.
Talia Lavor: Nutrient deficiencies. Stress and inflammation and I just started to see it all unfold and I decided, I had this massive amount of knowledge and I had been using some of these techniques with my patients and all this stuff and I decided. I’m going to put this together and package it so that women can have all these little nuggets and advice in this step by step program that will help them naturally boost their fertility so that they can learn all those things that it took me, how many years to learn myself.
Dr. Emily Parke: And you have a second baby, don’t forget to mention that. Again, all on your own.
Talia Lavor: Yeah, so it was so funny. I put the program together and we naturally follow a lot of these things in our lifestyle anyway. But I put it together, my husband and I decided we were ready for another. And so we, I said, “I want to do everything I say in this program. Boom, boom, boom.” And three months we were pregnant with our son, Henry.
Dr. Emily Parke: Yeah.
Talia Lavor: He’s now. Oh my gosh, he’s 10 months. He’s so cute. I can’t handle it. They are the cutest. They are the cutest.
Dr. Emily Parke: Awesome. So yeah, you said some awesome things in there that match right up with functional medicine. So my crowd knows functional medicine is all about finding and treating the root causes of whatever signs and symptoms are going on and that sounds like exactly what you did for yourself in order to improve your own fertility and have two healthy babies on your own. And so, yeah, it’s amazing to put it all together. The lifestyle factors are just irreplaceable right.
Dr. Emily Parke: Nutrition, sleep, exercising and movement, stress management, toxin reduction. Those are the foundations to health and so right off the bat, without medical intervention at all if those aren’t in a good place. You can’t expect your health to be in a good place, right?
Talia Lavor: Exactly and I tell people that your fertility is a microcosm of your overall health. If you are not healthy overall, your body, there’s no way that it can do what it needs to do to help you get and stay pregnant. So that’s a bonus. If you’re working to work on your fertility, you’re going to get just general health benefits, which is a real bonus.
Dr. Emily Parke: And I’ve actually seen that in my functional medicine practice. So we’re combining all the lifestyle factors with the advanced laboratory testing. So looking like you were mentioning nutrient deficiencies are huge and pretty rampant. What are the sources of inflammation? Are there chronic infections? Are there toxin exposures? All of that combined and I’ve had patients like that come in and they’re not in front of me for fertility. They’re in front of me for other reasons, like their gut or energy levels, whatever it is but in the background, they’re like, “Yep, I want to get pregnant at some point.”
Dr. Emily Parke: Some of my patients didn’t even mention it but low and behold, follow up visit number two or three or whatever. They’re like, “Dr. Parke, I’m pregnant.” And it’s like, “Awesome, we weren’t even targeting that.” But we fixed all this other stuff and here it is. And so I think what you very eloquently put together in your fertility program packages that in with exactly trying to get results of trying to get someone pregnant naturally.
Talia Lavor: And you know what a gift to give your baby. As we learn more and more and more about how where we are at physically and emotionally when we conceive and how that impacts our children and their children. It’s really a tremendous gift and these are things that you can implement for the rest of your life and teach your children about. It literally, win, win, win, win situation all around so-
Dr. Emily Parke: Yeah, you know you brought up and excellent point. There is data, of course, about the stresses like you mentioned being translated down over generation and now we know the gut microbiome being translated down over generations too and like you mentioned with little Stella having the eczema. Eczema is in the allergy/inflammation category. It’s her little immune system responding to something, which may have been food sensitivities or environmental exposure, etc.
Dr. Emily Parke: So like you said, setting up the mom for success is only going to make the baby healthier too.
Talia Lavor: And I just thing it’s also like for anybody out there who there’s a lot of ways to approach this. You could just be wanting to get your body in a really great place before you conceive just because that’s a goal that you have and we should all kind of have that goal. Maybe you’ve got known conditions like PCOS, thyroid disorders, endometriosis, bout issues and you want to address those before you try to conceive because they can kind of pose some issues.
Talia Lavor: Or people are going through … for example, if you’ve got two blocked tubes, you may not have the options available that somebody else does but that doesn’t mean that you don’t address these root issues. I mean there’s statistics out there that say if we look at the IVF procedures done, about 25%-26% of them are successful in resulting in live birth. And so that’s a gamble and that’s probably because a lot of the times we’re just not addressing these underlying issues, we’re just kind of putting Band-Aids on everything and now that we’re really knowledgeable and we can kind of go in and override some of these systems that are happening we can get some results.
Talia Lavor: But you want to talk about success, you combine those two and you see a lot of success.
Dr. Emily Parke: That’s amazing, amazing. So everyone Talia and I are going to be doing a webinar together on July 18th. That’s just a teaser, we’re going to give you more details attached to our newsletter list and Talia tell up where people can find out more about you and your programs and how they can stay connected to you.
Talia Lavor: So they can head on over to my website, which is www.talialavor.com. That’s T-A-L-I-A-L-A-V-O-R.com and I’ve got a couple of really cool guides in there. Including a guide about 12 tiny tweaks you can make to supercharge your fertility. All those are free guides. You can also join my closed but free Facebook group, which is #healthhacker and it’s super awesome. We do live videos. Q and A’s, there’s lots of tips, recipes, and we’re building that out beautifully and then also you can find me on Instagram at talialavorhealth and if you find me somewhere in there we can take the journey together.
Dr. Emily Parke: Awesome. I love it. Everyone I’m Dr. Emily Parke, and I interviewed Talia Lavor today. She told me where you can find her on all of her social media outlets and if you’re looking for functional medicine in Arizona, you can come and see me. Talia and I work together on patients and I am at dremilyparke.com. Talia thank you so much.
Talia Lavor: Thank you.