Empowering Fertility Journeys: A Conversation with Fertility Dietitian Anna Bohnengel

Listen now:

Join Emily Merrell on the Sixth Degree Podcast as she engages in a candid and enlightening conversation with Anna Bohnengel, a fertility dietitian and the founder of Fertility Nutritionist. Discover how Anna’s journey into the world of fertility nutrition and her personal struggle with infertility led her to become a passionate advocate for empowering women on their fertility journeys. 

Listen as Anna shares her professional insights into endocrine disorders and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), shedding light on the impact of over-exercising on women’s cycle health. Gain valuable knowledge about lifestyle factors that can improve pregnancy outcomes and postpartum recovery.

Anna’s own experiences with fertility challenges and miscarriage compelled her to establish her private practice, where she now offers a step-by-step approach for women seeking to take control of their fertility journey. Tune in to this heartwarming episode to gain valuable insights into fertility nutrition, empowerment, and the importance of advocating for better guidance and options for women on their path to motherhood.

What you’ll Learn:

  • Anna Bohnengel shares her personal fertility journey, highlighting the challenges she faced in becoming a fertility dietitian and founder of “Fertility Nutritionist.”
  • Anna opens up about her struggle with infertility, including the lack of guidance and information she received from doctors.
  • The discussion delves into the misconception surrounding fertility issues, with many assuming that IVF is a guaranteed solution.
  • Anna emphasizes the need to understand the underlying causes of fertility issues, advocating for a more holistic approach to women’s health.
  • The podcast covers the “Fertile in Five” process, a step-by-step approach that addresses foundational lifestyle changes for improved fertility.
  • Anna highlights the significance of blood sugar balance in hormonal health and encourages women to listen to their bodies and tap into their intuition.
  • The conversation touches on how traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine take a holistic approach to women’s health and fertility.
  • Anna offers advice for women at different stages of their fertility journeys, from those starting to track their cycles to those considering IVF alternatives.
  • The podcast concludes with a discussion on the importance of cycle tracking and finding suitable apps for the process.

To learn more about Anna Bohnengal, visit her website fertility-nutritionist.com and follow on instagram at myfertilitynutritionist

Sign up for The Sixth Degree Membership! By becoming a member, we’re getting more intimate than ever! Get the Membership now! 

Check our past episodes of The Sixth Degree podcast! Remember to follow us on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter.

Emily Merrell  00:04

Welcome to the sixth degree Podcast, the podcast where we grill our guests about the things that make them tick and find out how human connection plays a role in their life. I’m your host, Emily Merrell. I’m your host, Emily Merrell. And today I am so excited to have my friend on a bone angle. She is a fertility dietitian, and she is the founder of the website and platform, fertility nutritionist. Ana, welcome to the show. Ah,

Anna Bohnengel  00:36

thank you, Emily, this is a dream come true for me to be chatting with you.

Emily Merrell  00:40

I think is so cool. It’s like a full circle moment because I think you got connected to me through the podcast. Yeah,

Anna Bohnengel  00:47

yeah. A friend of mine, like a long time ago was like, Oh, you gotta recommend like, you gotta listen to this podcast. And then I met you and dreamers and doers. And I was like, wait a minute, and like, all of the dots started to connect in my head. Yeah, it’s so cool. It’s so

Emily Merrell  01:01

it’s so fun a to have like a listener on the podcast. And I think podcasting is one of the weirder mediums because it’s recorded and you don’t know who’s actually listening and or where people are listening. So like, Am I in your car right now? Are we driving with you to like, a sporting event? Or are you listening to our voices as we as you fall asleep?

Anna Bohnengel  01:26

Yeah, or TMI? I mean, podcasts come to the bathroom with music.

Emily Merrell  01:32

Are we taking the kids to the pool together? Whatever it may be. Yeah, I know. It’s such a funny, it’s a funny, weird, like, I’m sure people who have TV shows feel the same way. But you don’t know when you don’t. I don’t have like insights into who you are. I have insights to where the listeners are. And they’re always in very obscure places. Sometimes.

Anna Bohnengel  01:58

I need to be on the listener end in the sense that like, I feel like I know so much about you. Right, you and Lex both share a lot of personal stuff on your podcasts. And it’s weird for that to be such a one way street write about this person. They don’t know anything about

Emily Merrell  02:12

  1. Like please respond back guys. Like please DM me, because he’s to know that there is living breathing individuals on the other side. But ya know, it is there are moments I have to admit on a job where I’m like, Oh my God, there is so much my life is so public to a degree like you know the name of my child and you know, my husband’s name and where I live. And I always hope that the listeners are good folk out there. But you know, you’re like, Oh, we also make it really accessible for you to come. hunt us down. If we wanted to. Get away, please find me positively. Buy me coffee. But I love the moment I met you, I was obsessed with what you’re doing. And I think the fact that you’re a fertility dietitian, is is still rare, is when you think when you hear about fertility, at least when when I heard about fertility and was going through my own pregnancy, you always hear about like the horror stories, and you hear about IVF you hear about someone who like couldn’t conceive, and then did 20 rounds of IVF and like drained their bank accounts and then got pregnant, randomly, not through IVF or whatnot. So I want to start at the beginning with you like how did you become and decide that you wanted to get into this realm in this world?

Anna Bohnengel  03:41

Yeah, um, okay, I’m gonna do my best to keep this somewhat concise. I was not a human being who was like, I know what I’m gonna be when I grew up, like it was a very windy road. But it ultimately was like a collision of my professional and personal life. So like, started professionally. So I dietitians have to do a training that I compare kind of like a residency for doctors, but it’s like crash course where you do like all these rounds in a hospital, and it’s like a year long thing. And I ended up focusing, focusing on endocrine disorders for women, particularly polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS, which is one of the leading causes of infertility. And so when I was in my training, that’s when like I first had some like red flags raised in my head where I was being brought in as the dietician to tell these women to like, eat less and exercise more. And this was supposed to be like novel like research based emerging treatment, you know, at the National Institutes of Health. And I was like, even the women who followed what I was saying to the tee, it did not, it wasn’t helping them. They weren’t losing weight, and they were feeling better. And that’s for one of my first positions after like that training. I got hired where I had a clinic where I was doing sports nutrition and working with female athletes who were like often, you know, at this point, I still wasn’t necessarily focused on fertility. But I was seeing the impact of over exercising on women’s cycle health. And I was doing clinical research, where I was developing programs at an academic medical center like for the doctors and the researchers and the educators there on how to have better pregnancy outcomes. So I saw both like, it was so interesting to me to see that like, even people at the highest level in terms of education and like education in health care, still, we’re not getting any guidance around lifestyle factors for healthier pregnancies, A and B, getting to study the health outcomes and like seeing firsthand what a big difference it can make in terms of things like, I’m talking about things like preventing gestational diabetes, and just helping mom recover better postpartum was the kind of outcomes we were measuring. Okay, so that was all the professional side and then, and then I was the girl who like, always wanted to be a mom, with all my heart, but I like wasn’t in a rush word either. Like I was waiting for the right guy, I was reading until I traveled and had my got my career somewhat established, and thought that I was like, totally set up for success, like didn’t have any reason to think that I should be concerned. And then when I hopefully this isn’t TMI for your pod out, and then like, stops getting my period, like, right when I was like, okay, ready to start trying and stop getting on birth control, and there goes my period. And so I was working at this academic medical center where my OB was right across the hall. And like, there was just zero guidance, like, I just felt really left out on my own.


I’m just thinking about, like, how much

Anna Bohnengel  06:46

I should share here, you know, and share

Emily Merrell  06:48

all of it. I think that, first off, I just want to interrupt you, I think, like that point. And if for listeners who are like, Oh my god, I’m not getting pregnant for years, or I don’t want to have kids. I think this is still beneficial for you to listen to. And especially for those that are at that point, when they’re preparing for preparing for their baby or preparing for the idea of it. To your point on like, you had an OB right across the hall, you’re trained, and you get off the ID IUD and like your periods, not there. And then what so what happened at that point, they just were like, best of luck

Anna Bohnengel  07:22

to you. Like I was like, quote, unquote, good dietitian, right. So I was like, the girl who was like running marathons and eating lots of kale, but I also liked was a healthy weight, I wasn’t under way I like, also felt like I eat plenty of food. You know, so everybody was just like, you’re healthy, you’re fine, everything’s fine. There was like no guidance or explanation.



Anna Bohnengel  07:45

so you know, fast forward, like I was able to, like, kind of miraculously, I’m not exactly even sure how this happened, because my periods weren’t really showing up. But I did get pregnant, but really quickly lost the baby. And that’s so funny. Like, I can be a mom of two now. And it’s still like, yeah, first of all, to think about that, um, and really, like it was, I got no information, like the doctor was like, Here, I’ll help you out, here’s a referral of referral to a fertility clinic.


And I think,

Anna Bohnengel  08:18

I don’t know, I guess just really intuitively, I felt like something was wrong. I was like, if I’m not getting my period, if I lost this baby, something’s wrong. And I really want to fix it, like I just was felt very strongly didn’t want to go through something like IVF and risk, another loss. And I just felt like I needed more answers. And so, you know, like I was able to put together took a long time and a lot of doctor’s appointments. And there were I had some, like, pretty, like, key issues that I was able to identify that were getting in the way of me having a healthy pregnancy that my doctor just like, wasn’t trained to look in those areas. Think about those things. And so


yeah, so then I,

Anna Bohnengel  09:02

you know, eventually that my story is a happy ending, I was able to, like, eventually get pregnant without fertility treatments, and just had my eyes like really opened to how little like information and like options women are given. And so I started a private practice, because I was like, I don’t feel like I, my path should have been that difficult. Like the answers I had to mind. Were out there. And so I was like, I just want to put together like a more step by step route for women who, like, don’t necessarily want to just do IVF or who want to feel more in control of their fertility and want to know, like, what else can they be doing?


Yeah. Does that make sense?

Emily Merrell  09:45

That makes so much sense. And I and I feel like even on this podcast, we uncover so much about someone’s past trauma that led them to doing the work that they’re working on now. You’d be there, the job that they chose or the path that they decided to go down. But you don’t know what you don’t know. And had you gotten pregnant the moment your IUD had gotten taken out? How different your trajectory of life probably could or would have been? Right? It’s like you had to go through something that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy to then also to learn and to look around and be like, if I know, I know, more than most people here know, and I can’t figure this out. Like, imagine someone who has no background in this must be feeling.

Anna Bohnengel  10:33

Yeah, yeah. And but when I know that what I did to myself, and I say a lot of women doing too, is this whole, like, I shouldn’t be able to figure this out, right? Like, I am an educated person I like no, I’ve always been able to achieve whatever I set my mind to. And I hear women saying that to me a lot, too. They feel like, oh, I you know, I know how to read PubMed, or I know how to do like Google searches and like, cheap things to like, why can’t I figure this out? Yeah, I think it’s, it’s just too much pressure, like, like, I kind of want to reframe the whole dynamic of like, the badass woman doesn’t have to be the pioneer who does it all herself and all on her own, but more like, how can we support each other and make it this whole thing a little bit easier for each other?

Emily Merrell  11:17

Do you find that people are when people are at the crossroads that you were at? Where they’re not getting their period? They aren’t and having a healthy pregnancy? Do you find that people are receptive to, to new ideas or new ways of thinking about things or they want to go super, like medical and IVF? Is the only solution that will fix this? What have you encountered with your clients?



Anna Bohnengel  11:42

I think across the spectrum, you know, but I think there is still a little bit of an uphill battle where like, IVF is not a guaranteed solution, right? Like, I’m going to just bore your listeners with some statistics that like, you’re under 35, the chances of going home with a baby from one round of IVF is only 32%. Like, it’s, so it’s like, oh, here’s this quick fix. But it’s the tool that doctors have in their toolbox, right? Like the option that’s presented by your doctor. And I think that we, I have this to this, like doctor knows best sort of mentality. And in so many ways, I’m so grateful for modern medicine, like, you know, this is a whole other story. But I ended up having to have two C sections and probably wouldn’t be alive right now. Didn’t have modern medicine. So I don’t mean to like, make it black or white, this or that. And I think that a lot of women feel conflicted that their doctor saying this is your only option. And I’m saying like, no, wait a minute, you have other options. And they’re like, well, that feels confusing and conflicting. And,


you know, I so

Anna Bohnengel  12:48

what I try, my best to do is just help people like listen to their own intuition, you know, and like not to get too woowoo. But like to tap into that like, because I know for me, I intuitively knew there was other answers for me.

Emily Merrell  13:03

So yeah. And so so let’s talk about, let’s talk about your clients, because I know it is a spectrum, there is that person who maybe got off the pill and they or they got off the IUD and they realize that they’re not getting their periods. Where should they? What should they do next? Because I want to walk through the different stages of where people are.


Hmm. Um,

Anna Bohnengel  13:29

well, okay, so first thing is to figure out if you’re ovulating, right? And then if you’re not figured out, why not. So the way I like to explain it is like your body is kind of like a litmus test for like, how much stress and how safe your body feels. And there’s all kinds of different reasons why your body might shut down ovulation. And that can be like stressors from things like over exercising not eating enough, but also work life stressors, or like some kind of chronic infection. I don’t want to like, open up too much of a can of worms, because there’s, you know, different avenues to explore. But like, if you’re not getting your period, the first question has to be why. And I emphasize that because that’s what you don’t get with your doctor. Your doctor won’t ask the question of why aren’t you getting your period they’ll just say like, here’s some Clomid will make you ovulate or some IVF will get you pregnant, you know will force the whole process to happen.

Emily Merrell  14:24

Which when you say it like that, you’re like, Jesus H Christ that’s that’s scary. That’s just like your body. Yeah, there’s that that aspect of like not listening to your body or not understanding a deeper why like, Is it is it a subconscious thing? Is it like you PCOS is it is it Hobb one of the other

Anna Bohnengel  14:43

ones that’s really big. Yeah. hypothalamic amenorrhea.

Emily Merrell  14:48

Obviously that’s what I was gonna say. Ha makes more sense than me. And so So both of those things so that now these individuals figure out, okay, I have PCOS or I have my new buddy, or I have what? I exercise or I’ve been a gymnast since I was four and never been able to get a period. Like, what’s the next step? Yeah. Well, okay.

Anna Bohnengel  15:23

I know, there’s a lot of stuff. So first thinking, well, it’s not only that, but it’s also if only it were that easy. Like, you wouldn’t believe how often women get misdiagnosed, they can, oh, you have cysts on your ovaries. So you have PCOS, you don’t have access, you don’t have PCOS. And it’s really not that simple. So I won’t go too much into the clinical stuff. But a lot of what my help my parents, my patients do is like, like, figure out what the diagnosis is that they do have and what is causing the issue because there’s, we wouldn’t believe how many women like it’s hard. That’s, that’s a hard step to even like, figure out if they have PCOS, or ha or what are not. From there. You know, I’m, I’m really like coming about this as from a lifestyle perspective. So like, I have a fertile in five process. So you’re asking like what the next step is, so I can like, say, like, here’s the steps that I take women through. And I’ve put together this process, because I find it doesn’t really matter if you have PCOS, or H A or other, you still have to go through these steps, which is like one, like foundational is like making sure you’re eating enough. And when I say that, it’s like, yes, we think calories and not like starving, but also like enough of all of the right nutrients like your proteins, carbs, and fats, and the micronutrients. Like, you know, your vitamin D, and your calcium and your magnesium. Like, you know, to me as a dietitian, that’s the low hanging fruit, like, let’s make sure that you have the nutrients on board that you need to make progesterone and healthy hormones and to make a new little human being.



Anna Bohnengel  16:59

you know, I get a lot of women coming to me who are like, I’m intermittent fasting, or all kinds of things that you’re good, but like their bodies not getting the basic nutrition that they need.

Emily Merrell  17:13

And so then do you help them modify? What they working with you, you help them modify? Like, what makes sense for their body to to be a ample room to build blades? Yeah, yeah.

Anna Bohnengel  17:28

Yeah. And that’s, I think, a place where women need a lot of guidance. You know, there’s so much misconception that like, Oh, if I’m a healthy body weight, if I’m like, my BMI, or whatever is healthy people assume that they’re eating enough. Or even if they’re overweight, they assume they’re eating enough. And that’s more stuff in the night. Like, you can’t make any of those assumptions.

Emily Merrell  17:48

Why do you think it is that women are so wrongly diagnosed about all of these things? Like, we all, you know, we all come from a woman in some capacity, we give birth, and they both were in the 21st century, and we still like it can’t figure out endometriosis? Or how to treat it or like, PCOS. And if you have it, or you don’t have it, why do you think it’s still so complicated? Um,

Anna Bohnengel  18:18

I guess because it’s so understudied. You know, it’s just something that, you know, right now, we sort of have a quote, unquote, bandaid solution, like for most women with Ha, or PCOS or endometriosis, they just say here, take the birth control pill until you’re ready to get pregnant. And that is effective in the sense that it like calms a lot of the symptoms, right, like it can make your periods less painful, or it can make them regular. And I think I’m just being speculative here. But I think that the birth control industry makes a lot of money, and that there’s a lot of people who benefit from the status quo, versus doing some more research into understanding what’s really causing these issues. Which, you know, might not make the pharmaceutical companies. Sure, you know, what’s interesting is like, you know, I often say things like, oh, women’s health is so understudied, but Men’s Health in the fertility realm, too, you know, like, we’d have very little research about like, what actually men can be doing to improve their sperm quality, like we have some information but like it for whatever reason, it’s just not an area where like the medical world and medical research has focused their attention.

Emily Merrell  19:33

Totally. I had a girlfriend, honestly, she went through like two or three rounds of IVF. And maybe I’m grossly over exaggerating this number, before she realized that it was her husband’s sperm.


Yeah, right. Yeah.

Emily Merrell  19:47

And I was like, what, like, how did we How did we get that far down this road before you realize that what the problem was and addressing the problem versus but yeah, this discomfort and this pain and and all that jazz. So, so going back to your fertile and five, you had said that? Yeah, the process keep walking through the numbers because this is so informative.


Mm hmm. Okay, so

Anna Bohnengel  20:12

the second step I call it rebalance. And so this is about, like really taking a deep dive into blood sugar balance as a prerequisite to good hormone balance. Because when our even if it’s like, you know, very far from a diagnosable condition like pre diabetes, if there’s fluctuations up and down in our blood sugar throughout the day, like a it makes you cranky and tired and craving carbs, but it also can significantly throw off your hormones and like put your body in a state of inflammation and can throw off ovulation, all of that. So the first two steps that I work with people on are really like these lifestyle intensive, like, make sure you’re eating enough, make sure you’ve got the right carbs and proteins and fats and in the right balance. And then with blood sugar balance, like that’s when we also have to weave in, like, How was your sleep? How was your stress? How was your exercise because all of that, like when your body is in a high state of stress, it’s going to spike your blood sugar too. So really like the way I describe it as like when you go to a fertility clinic, they really zero in on your reproductive anatomy. And so when I’m working with women in this, the way I’ve designed this five step process is to really zoom out and like look at you as a whole human being and how your fertility like. It’s like a beautiful manifestation of all of your pieces coming together and thriving.

Emily Merrell  21:32

I love that. And I think that’s such a, that’s such a great way to be looking at a human versus just focusing in and zooming in on that one part of you, because that part is closely related to other parts. I’d be curious if you know this, but do you feel like other parts of the world are more holistic in their approach? Or is it like everyone is just moving so fast? We always focus in on the problem, the problem area?

Anna Bohnengel  21:57

Yeah, well, I know like traditional Chinese medicine and ru, Vedic medicine, both of those traditions, definitely take that more holistic approach. I don’t have much training in either of those. So I speak to them very well. But I know like in traditional cultures, you know, like, I don’t know what your this but I think in Chinese medicine, like good ovulation is related to the spleen. They connect all these organ systems. And it’s so interesting,

Emily Merrell  22:25

literally, that’s what I think about like acupuncture, acupuncture, acupressure, even they’re like, Oh, you have terrible cramps, like, let me put it in your nose or, you know, like, like, what my nose? How is that going to help my cramps, but like, whatever the reasons are, I’m sure are a lot more explained with that. So, so yeah, so you’ve got the person who was like, I got off the pill, or I got off birth control. And now I don’t want to, I want to have a baby, I don’t have my period. I’m like, kind of freaking out. But I want to be knowledgeable and prepped, what other type of people come to you.



Anna Bohnengel  23:06

what other types of people come to me in terms of Well, I get a lot of people who have either done IVF and failed, or have been told that IVF is their only option, and they want to explore what other options they can try, either as an alternative to IVF or like to do everything they possibly can to make sure IVF is successful. Yeah, so I you know, what I like to explain this, like what I offer is kind of a different toolbox, like a different suite of options, but it isn’t either, or, like getting your nutrition and lifestyle thing, all of this stuff is going to help you have better outcomes with IVF. You know, so it’s, they can really complement each other. But yeah, I also, you know, so I guess everywhere across the spectrum from like, the gal who’s like just coming off hormonal birth control, and like trying to figure out like, what does this mean tracking my cycle? Like, what is several communities and I’m supposed to return was all of this to the gal has been, you know, the, I think the gal that I can really serve the best is one who’s been trying for a number of months and like, isn’t getting their cycle regularly, or like their periods completely missing and they know they want to get pregnant and they’re not satisfied to just like, force it with medications or forcing medications doesn’t always work. Yeah.

Emily Merrell  24:21

Have you I, and I appreciate you kind of breaking it down with the different different types of person. But I’m curious now, selfishly, so for someone who is like, what do you mean tracking my cycle? And I think this is mind boggling. And at least as someone who’s been pregnant before, like how little I knew about my body before I got pregnant, and how when you start like tracking your cycle and ovulating, the ovulating days or like two days a month, and yet you’re taught in high school or middle school or whatever. If you’re ever taught anything, like you’re always gonna get pranked. Men and you know, you’re, you’re doomed unless you’re on birth control, or you’re doomed. Don’t even get me into certain cultures, like even have sex or just gonna get pregnant, but how slim the chances of actually getting pregnant is and how little people know about their own bodies.


Wow. blows my mind. We spent so

Anna Bohnengel  25:21

much like time and energy talking about how not to get pregnant and then you’re ready to get pregnant and you’re left completely to your own devices. There’s like, no imperfection. And then like, I mean, before, you know, like I explained when I got off the IUD and like, I thought everything was regular normal, like I had to, I didn’t know any of this either, like, figured it all out from scratch,

Emily Merrell  25:43

which you’re you were literally trained to, like heal bodies. And you don’t know that and that’s insane. And you think about the normal, the normal, the normal person who doesn’t know anything about nutrition or their bodies or Yeah, flows or cycles. So with cycle tracking, do you have any favorite apps or like programs that you recommend for cycle tracking?


Well, okay, so I’m obsessed with

Anna Bohnengel  26:12

a woman named Lisa Hendrickson Jacques, who has a podcast called fertility Friday. And she talks she has also has a book called The fifth vital sign. And I love the way that she talks about this, I’m not sure if she actually originally coined that or not, but like, to what you’re speaking about, you know, if we’re talking about healing bodies, that your period is as much of a vital sign as taking your temperature, or your heart rate or your blood pressure, right. So, and she has got really great resources, including, like, how to get started paper charting. Um, but there’s tons of really good apps out there. And honestly, like, I haven’t found any that really stands out to me as the best. I’ve used quite a few of them. And I’m like, Oh, they’re all kind of fine. I don’t think it’s the kind of thing where you have to, like, go crazy, like down a rabbit hole, or like, super into the weeds, like, just the basics of like, how long is my cycle? When am I ovulating? You know, I do think cervical mucus is really helpful to pay attention to what that looks like and when. So anything that just helps you like, keep track of those numbers and those basic parameters.

Emily Merrell  27:19

Yeah, I mean, I also think in this is my own personal advice, giving yourself like a tutorial of how your body works. Like where your cervix is, what it feels like, you know what, looking at pictures of what it looks like when you’re going when it’s dilated, or not dilated, or during your period or not, during your period. It just having curiosity about our bodies, and permission to have curiosity about our bodies versus being like, I know it’s there somewhere, but like, I’ll let the doctor deal with it. I’ve, I’ve personally found like, I felt so much you

Anna Bohnengel  27:52

do it? Did you find a resource or an app or something for your own health? Like, I really,

Emily Merrell  27:58

I really enjoyed the I used the app flow to get pregnant. And it I paid for the was like 29 bucks, I think for or maybe more than that for an annual subscription. And it like basically, there was a point where my period wasn’t there and like, might you take a pregnancy test? Like, I know, flow, like I know. I was trying to get pregnant, but I was like, Yeah, give me a day, I need a day more of pretending I’m not pregnant. So that really helped. And then in terms of books I’m trying to think of this wasn’t this was less to do about my body, but more to do with like, mindset was in Ma’s guide to childbirth. And I really liked her stories there’s a lot of like really positive birth stories. So like pre birth, I was reading more positive stories versus I don’t know if you’ve had felt this way before you give birth like everyone tells you their horror story. And I didn’t want to go into birth with like, just the worst stories my mind. But resources not just following different Instagram accounts truthfully. And like, like listening and exploring and, and then I just got really curious, so move on. Like what is placenta? I’m sorry, right? Yeah, it’s like it’s not polenta found out.

Anna Bohnengel  29:27

Just like corn, like corn

Emily Merrell  29:30

but like I don’t think I understood what the placenta I know I didn’t understand what the placenta was and that how it attached. So like as I went to sonograms I’d like it then go Google pictures of what it looked like. And I was that weirdo at the end of birth being like, can you like make sure I can see this when you’re done with me? My doctor is like your psycho but yeah, yeah, I just thought I just really started like appreciating the little pieces that I never that were there, but didn’t really know how they connected.

Anna Bohnengel  30:06

Mm hmm. And do you feel like it’s helped you? Like, apart from getting pregnant, like now that you’re have a baby to like, be more aware of your cycle signs and like what’s happening

Emily Merrell  30:18

1,000%. And I feel like so one of the books, gosh, I don’t know what the girl’s name is. I was at a at old Summit. She was a speaker there. And she really talked about living your life by your cycle. And on days that you’re ovulating, like that’s the day that you should be speaking or you should be doing sales on that desks really magnetic. But on the days that you’re like, I’m blanking on the right word for it what? follicular cycle. Killer fees like should be more like chill, and maybe like, if you don’t want to work out, that’s the day that you go on a long walk instead. And I have definitely been that person who pushes through everything, like pain, who, who cares. I’m a woman, I’m capable of everything. But reframing it and being like, I’m a woman I’m capable of a lot. But also like I’m capable to listen to my body, and to really harness the specialness that is these two days or these four days. So I’ve been really more cognizant, and I was on the pill for 17 years before I got pregnant. And I’m like, why I feel like I’m like Christ on a mission or something where I now feel very passionate, to talk to college students, and to talk to people who are struggling with things and point them to resources a lot sooner than I ever give

Anna Bohnengel  31:44

100% I love that mission. I mean, because from my perspective, that’s where so much of the problem lies is like, you know, we’re just put on birth control, and just like massive issues and tour, but you get pregnant, like there’s so many girls who get put on birth control for reasons other than not getting pregnant, right? Like because they have acne or because they’re depressed or, you know, their periods are painful. And so they never get an inn. They never even get the opportunity to learn about their own body. They just get these exogenous hormones.

Emily Merrell  32:14

I was in for Senate and I was one of those people and I would like pass out with my cramps, like my cramps were awful. If you’re like, I feared my period, it was such a awful time. And now I’m like, I’m on my period, like I’m on my throne. I am just I’ve learned to like fall in love with myself so much more through through my cycle. And I’ve become I’ve become that person and I don’t know if you’re like this or not, but like I got the flex cup.


Or the flex disc. Oh, no, I

Anna Bohnengel  32:43

don’t have the disc I still use but like diva, Diva Cup,

Emily Merrell  32:47

that for whatever reason, I was like, Oh, I have one I never used it. And then someone gave me the the flex desk, and like my cramps have decreased significantly. And for those who don’t know what we’re talking about, it’s basically like a silicone desk. Kind of probably similar to what a diaphragm was back in the day. And it like fits on your pubic bone. And it holds like 12 hours of, of your cycle. And it is it’s a game changer a that like reduce my waist, be like my cramps are down. See, like, I look forward to it in a weird way. And just finding those little rituals versus being like, Oh, I have to go to the store and buy more tampons and my dog ate them again. All the all the fun things that

Anna Bohnengel  33:38

we know it’s a teenager. I remember I read the read 10


Yeah. Oh, yeah. Were they just like laying the tent? And they

Anna Bohnengel  33:45

get served like toasted honey or whatever? On their period? Yeah.

Emily Merrell  33:49

How do we get our partners to like engage in our lives, like your children, your like a child, go get me fetch me my tea and honey. But ya know, I think that it’s so so important to have these conversations and have these conversations publicly just to like, awaken people to the potentials of life, post birth control life, life without intervention of something like IVF and really digging deeper and knowing themselves.

Anna Bohnengel  34:21

Yeah, and that’s like, exactly what I want to be shouting from the rooftops is like just giving women more options, right and more empowered options, where it’s comes from, like actually knowing your own party, as opposed to just being like you, you know, have issues, take the pill until you’re ready to get pregnant, you’re ready to get pregnant. Alright, here’s IVF, right. And it just doesn’t even give women the opportunity to get to know their own body or heal from the inside out.

Emily Merrell  34:44

Totally. And it is funny. I feel like when you get to this side of things, like I was someone who was I’m still very pro birth control. But in terms of like, I was like, if I have a girl, I’m going to put them in her like rice krispies. Like she’s going to be on the pill at such a young age and Now having had a baby, I’m like, Oh my God, my kid, I want her to feel so I don’t have a girl but like, feel so empowered about her body and learn to love it and learn to like, know how it works. So I don’t know if you feel this way with your kids now. watching them grow and develop.


Yeah, well, I have two boys. So, yeah. Yeah.

Emily Merrell  35:22

Like, how do I empower boys

Anna Bohnengel  35:23

like normalizing, you know, a women’s cycle? Right? They’re still little enough that like, We shower together and stuff and they see everything and like, yeah, Mama bleeds. And you know, like, they have a gazillion questions about like, does it hurt and did the divine? I think that’s like, it’s such an interesting opportunity to normalize it and make it a just a part of the cycle of life as opposed to this shameful time of month when we’re supposed to like hide everything. Oh, totally.

Emily Merrell  35:50

And I think um, yeah, I mean, don’t get me started in politics. But yeah, it just sounds like people don’t think that it should be talked about it and should be hidden and then I am so with you. I think like the more people that are knowledgeable, and respectful of it, like women are freakin badass is and so incredible, and should be revered during this time, if not every day of the year. Mike drop there. So, Ana, how could people how can people learn more about you? If they want to get in touch and work with you or find out more about your fertile and five system? Yeah,

Anna Bohnengel  36:28

I try to be pretty active on Instagram. Like in terms of social media, that’s the best place to find me. But I also have a website I’m fertility dash nutritionist.com. But I love like engaging in you know, you know, any kinds of questions that people want to email me or DM me, I’m, you know, pretty much an open book. I offer like a completely free 45 minute for I call it a fertility strategy session, but like, a time to like hop on a call and get to know like, where you’re at in your journey, and, you know, what are the next best steps for you? Because I find that women are like, no matter where they are, it’s really hard to find a clear path forward, like, what should I be doing here? Should I stop exercise? Or should I exercise more? Or like, should I be considering, you know, letrozole and Clomid or not, you know, so helping people figure out the next steps?

Emily Merrell  37:19

I feel like that is like the greatest gift any person could give themselves is working and having that call and having that feedback to know how to proceed further because there’s no playbook or a formal playbook or rulebook and you know, we’re told historically like do yoga and be soft and you know, just stretch while pregnant but in reality like maybe working out it’s really good for you all pregnant dependent on the person

Anna Bohnengel  37:47

well, and for so many women like exercise has become their like stress management tool and like their stress release and to just take that away like does certain people you know to take it away cold turkey right? I think

Emily Merrell  37:59

I was in better shape while pregnant I think. I was like, I don’t know six weeks postpartum where I gave myself no exercise really screwed me up y’all are to get back to free my pregnancy body. Well, on I love ending my podcast was six fast questions about our guests. Are you ready?

Anna Bohnengel  38:19

I’m ready. And just so your listeners know I did not get these in advance.

Emily Merrell  38:24

Yes, I am a very not scripted podcast, which, for better or worse, y’all. Okay, first question. Tell us an unknown fun fact about you.



Anna Bohnengel  38:37

we the first thing that comes to mind is that I was raised in basically a commune that did Tibetan Buddhism in like, northern very rural Vermont.


Shut up.

Anna Bohnengel  38:48

Yeah. Very interesting upbringing.

Emily Merrell  38:52

Wow, that’s amazing. Were you did you grew up there? Like till 18? Or did you guys? Well, I

Anna Bohnengel  38:58

graduated Young from high school at 17. But yeah, yeah. And

Emily Merrell  39:02

when you matriculated into university, was it a culture shock for you?

Anna Bohnengel  39:07

Oh, that’s an interesting question. No, I mean, I went to like a high school. You know, it’s not as though the commune had school. But I would go home and we would chant and meditate. And you know, there was, yeah, it was an interesting thesis. They’re

Emily Merrell  39:26

amazing. And are your parents if they’re still alive? Are they still involved in that?

Anna Bohnengel  39:32

My mother very much though. She just spent a couple of months in Tibet, and my father is like a self proclaimed shaman living in Mexico. Door i This is we have a lot. We have a lot to

Emily Merrell  39:46

unpack after this podcast. That’s a very good fun fact. And you don’t want to raise your kids. They’re



Emily Merrell  39:55

different different lifestyle. Who would be a dream person to be connected with


Hmm, well, that’s a hard one. Um,

Anna Bohnengel  40:08

the first person that comes to mind just like a total role model idol of mine is Marie Forleo. Just love her energy. And I don’t know, she’s so she’s so inspiring to me, her and another person that’s very inspiring to me is Jenna Kutcher, like, female entrepreneurs who also seem to like really value balance. And I’m talking about things like not just ambition, but also about contentment and like how to live your happiest life like something. They’re both very different, but have similar messages in that sense. So those are two people I just love to be connected with.

Emily Merrell  40:42

I feel like Marie Forleo was like the OG coach and like infopreneur, or business printer. The first course that I bought or the really program I invested in Yeah, and then Jenna

Anna Bohnengel  40:55

never actually bought any recourses. Maybe I should, but I have bought her book about a

Emily Merrell  40:59

Yeah. And her I feel like we all know her catchphrase today, like everything’s figured out edible, but again, very much relates to what you do. Everything is figured out. Yeah, I like it. Yeah, full circle. What show are you currently watching?


Oh, um,

Anna Bohnengel  41:18

the most recent one that I finished was white lotus. I think I was a little bit behind everybody in that. Next on my list, which I actually haven’t started yet. It’s New Amsterdam. I haven’t seen it seems to be like, Grey’s Anatomy but more realistic. Oh, I

Emily Merrell  41:36

feel like I I was talking to Lex about this earlier, Lex is going through Grey’s Anatomy right now starting she started with the first time. I think she like stopped at one point. So now she’s starting chronologically, and she’s in season 12 or 13. You know, she’s been working on this for like seven months at this point. And I feel like those shows are so emotionally heavy, that I get wrapped. Like I literally I get wrapped for like, two weeks after watching

Anna Bohnengel  42:04

them all the way. I’m like that too. I get like really emotionally invested in shows all about the characters.

Emily Merrell  42:11

Totally. Same. I just started rewatching on a plane ride One Tree Hill. Do you remember that show? But it was it was one of those shows where like, you can’t get close to any of the characters because someone will die unexpectedly. You know, everyone’s murdered. But yeah, you’re like, My anxiety is so so strong right now. Why?

Anna Bohnengel  42:34

Yeah, like I couldn’t. I couldn’t watch Breaking Bad. My husband watched it twice. And I couldn’t just like I was like, wracked with anxiety watching that show.

Emily Merrell  42:42

Yeah, yeah. You’re like, why can’t we get pregnant? Oh, my anxiety from show was a big part of it. What book do you recommend? Or are you currently reading?


Oh, this morning,

Anna Bohnengel  42:54

I just finished the sweetest novel we I’m pulling it up on my audible to make sure that I don’t mess up the title. It’s called remarkably bright creatures. And it’s like the story of like people finding themselves in long lost family but told from the perspective of an octopus. Oh, so weird. But it’s not as weird as it sounds. And it was really lovely little book.


Oh, I like that novel.

Emily Merrell  43:20

Yeah, I can you’re not broken and like eating ice cream to rectify the pain that you’re feeling? I did

Anna Bohnengel  43:27

get some tears. I won’t lie. But

Emily Merrell  43:30

oh my god, I cry a lot during bucks too. And my husband walks outside and I’ll usually read outside and he’s like, are you crying? I’m like, just a sucky baby. What is your favorite emoji?

Anna Bohnengel  43:46

Oh, I give high fives all the time. Love giving high fives. So the emojis?

Emily Merrell  43:50

I think that’s a great one. I haven’t gotten that one yet. And then my final question for you is Who inspired you or gave you permission to do the thing you wanted to do with your


life? Oh, ah, um,

Anna Bohnengel  44:08

I mean, my first thought is like, No, buddy. I


just was like, I feel like I had to

Anna Bohnengel  44:15

dredge it up from within myself. But I actually when I first started in private practice, it was with a partner who we parted on good terms. Like she just decided she would be an entrepreneur anymore, which I totally understand. Yeah. But she was one of those people who just like really like took life by the horns and like had so much energy and like go getter energy and was so inspiring to me. So, I don’t know Megan, if you ever listened to this chat,

Emily Merrell  44:43

or you know, it’s it’s so funny that you say that because or like you stumbled and you struggled with answering that and the the question really developed my husband studied art in college, and he always asked this question Usually while he’s a few drinks in but of people like why are we in the career trajectory that we’re in like there was someone subliminal subliminally, or like directly who influenced you in some capacity. And so the example he gives is his mom, his grandmother was an artist. And like, in a world of parents who are bankers, like she was the permission that it was okay to have a career as an artist. So not like a literal permission, but more of a figurative like, you saw that you’re, maybe a shaman who is a Shaman was able to be an entrepreneur or is able to like, beat to his own drum. And that was like the subliminal


or just permission for you. Yeah. Yeah, I think

Anna Bohnengel  45:45

actually, as you’re saying that what really inspired me about this woman was I don’t know what was going on internally, but externally like she never seemed to have the imposter syndrome. She always had a like, yeah, I got this I can handle it attitude that I feel like gave me permission to also feel confident and like not always be questioning myself in the way you know, so many women are always like, I’m so sorry. And like, I don’t know and like so sort of meek and she was so the opposite of that in a way that was like, wow, that just opened my eyes to a whole new possibilities of how to be like an empowered woman and just


own your badassery

Emily Merrell  46:21

I love that. That is a great great person’s a shout out to her. You’re listening and you should send this up it’s episode. special surprise on our thank you so much for a sharing be informing and see inspiring us on today’s episode. Oh, thank

Anna Bohnengel  46:42

you for the opportunity. It’s always such a delight to talk to you, Emily, likewise,

Emily Merrell  46:46

and for our listeners again, check out on his eighth go friend her on on Instagram, follow her on Instagram. I don’t know what the words are anymore. Follow her on Instagram DM her, and we’ll see you the next time on the sixth degree with Emily Merrell. Have a wonderful day everyone.

six degrees society

Members Login