Welcome to Episode 11 of Season 6 of The PCOS Revolution Podcast:
How to Recharge Your Libido With Dr. Keesha Ewers
(Warning: The content of this podcast contains mature subject matter that may not be suitable for children.)
You go through experiences in childhood so you can gain wisdom in adulthood. Most people who struggle with PCOS are a perfectionist or a recovering one. Each one of us is a unique puzzle that has to be solved. There is no once-size fits all approach. Learn more about discovering yourself, getting your mojo back and taking steps towards having your mojo back in this episode.
This week on PCOS Revolution Podcast, I am having a conversation with Dr. Keesha Ewers. Dr. Keesha is an integrative medicine expert, Doctor of Sexology, a psychotherapist, herbalist and she’s board certified in functional medicine and Ayurvedic medicine. She’s also the founder and medical director for integrative medicine health certification program. In this episode, Dr. Keesha and I discuss a variety of topics related to women’s health. Dr. Keesha’s shares her own experience, provides insight about the different types of low libido, gives tips for how to get your mojo back and gives perspective into sexual health.
READ the entire transcript here:
Farrar Duro [0:01]
Well, hello, everyone and welcome back to The PCOS Revolution Podcast. I am honored today to be here with a guest that you’re really going to enjoy listening to and you’re going to get so much out of this. So I’m very excited to introduce you to Dr. Keesha Ewers. She’s an integrative medicine expert, Doctor of psychology of family practice ARNP, a psychotherapist and herbalist and she’s board certified in functional medicine and Ayurvedic medicine. Wow. That’s a whole lot and she’s also the founder and medical director of the Academy for Integrative Medicine Health coach certification program. Now, Dr. Keesha has been in the medical field for over 30 years. And she’s worked a lot with trauma, helping patients to heal their own trauma and the mystic medicine deep immersion healing retreat she leads at our home on San Juan Island, Washington have been instrumental in helping women and people of all ages move past their childhood traumas. And she’s also a popular speaker, including at Harvard and from the TEDx stage, and she’s a best selling author of Solving the Autoimmune Puzzle, the Woman’s Guide to Reclaiming Emotional Freedom and Vibrant Health, The Quick and Easy Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook, Anti-inflammatory Recipes with Seven Ingredients or Less for Busy People, and Your Libido Story, a Workbook for Women Who Want to Find, Fix and Free Their Sexual Desire. You can also find her by listening to her Mystic Medicine radio show at Drkeesha.com, and we’ll definitely link to that in show notes. So welcome Dr. Keesha, so honored to have you here.
Dr. Keesha Ewers [1:40]
I’m so glad to be here. Thanks so much. I love talking about this subject!
Farrar Duro [1:44]
I’m very fired up about this because we were just speaking earlier about you know, every week we have women who come into our practice, and they are just kind of at burnout stage and not really sure where to start and not even aware that they are burned out. So we wanted to talk today a little bit about getting your mojo back. And I think this is could apply to women and of all ages. We have women with PCOS in our practice that are in their 60’s, and also in their 20’s. And it’s sometimes the adrenal health looks similar. It just depends on how you’re running your life right now. So can you tell us a little bit about your work? And what kind of drew you to working in the field of women’s health?
Dr. Keesha Ewers [2:27]
Well, you know, like you probably I have my own story about what brought me here. In my early years, as I always say, as a baby nurse when I was 19 years old, you know, in the hospital, I was strictly in cardiothoracic moved into intensive care unit, was in life flight, was really into the high adrenaline junkie, high-intensity medical side of things and a strictly Western medical model. And then when I turned 30, I got sick, and I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. And of course, the medical model that I was an expert in at that time, didn’t have anything for me other than prescriptions for methotrexate and a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug and the instruction to come back when I got worse not if.
Dr. Keesha Ewers [3:16]
So it was like, Okay, I’m being presented with something that I’m being told has no cure for, and I’m going to get worse, it’s guaranteed. And I’m looking at my four children and my husband who are used to having this very dynamic, marathon-running driven woman as their helm of the household. And now I’m flattened. It was like Wily Coyote had come along and dropped an animal from a tall cliff on top of me, and I just went splat, you know, and was in a lot of pain and was fatigued and had no libido, you know, like you talking about Mojo being removed overnight. And that’s how a lot of my patients are, they come in, and they say, “all of a sudden”, right, and I put that in air quotes, because it is not all of a sudden. When I look back, and I think of all the warning signs that my body was trying to give me, struggling to give me over a 20 year period. And I ignored them or took a medication like Accutane for acne, you know, things like that, when I think about that, I think, “Oh my gosh,” I was just not in a collaborative relationship with my body and I didn’t know how to be. We’re just really not taught that. So it set me on a path for really trying to understand how to get into this collaborative relationship. I always say autoimmunity is you at war with yourself. And when that happens, there’s no winner. And I really got that pretty quickly, like, okay, I am, its auto-immune, that means I’m the one doing this.
Dr. Keesha Ewers [4:45]
So I need to look no further than going inside. And so I started practicing yoga, I learned how to meditate. And one day I was meditating this word auto-immune kept dancing in front of my third eye’s face, and I started looking at it really carefully. And I thought this actually means I want to kill myself. That was really an interesting insight, actually, auto immune means and committing suicide in a societally-acceptable manner. When’s the first time I wanted to die? And that became this really important question. And I would recommend anyone ask that question, you know, that that has something where you’re at war with you.
Dr. Keesha Ewers [5:26]
And so I went backwards in my meditation, and I wound up at this 10 year old little girl version of myself who was being sexually abused by the vice principal of my elementary school. And I remember looking at that little kid frightened and couldn’t understand what was going on, had no words to explain it to my parents, like, I didn’t even know the word sex in those days, you know, I didn’t know the word abuse or molestation. And so, you know, I just didn’t have the words to convey what was happening. And I thought I did want to die. I wanted to die with this. And so we now know through some really big scientific studies, one of them is mine. Another one is the ACES study, the adverse childhood experiences study, that actually, those old experiences in childhood that you can’t explain, that frighten you, that put you into a place of feeling either betrayed or rejected or frightened. Those actually do influence your cellular health in adulthood, that you can start converting differently than you would if you had a good attuned caregiver by your side 24/7 to explain what’s going on. And of course, who among us does?
Dr. Keesha Ewers [6:37]
As a parent of four children, I can tell you, I wasn’t with them 24/7, and I started understanding that this is actually the way that life works, right? That you go through these experiences in childhood so that you can gain wisdom in adulthood. And that one of those wisdom creators is illness, because it makes you sit down, be quiet, and start to really go deeper into where you can gain wisdom so that you can uplevel your, what I call, your level of consciousness. So you go into a different developmental level, every time you’re presented with the big challenge that you accept, and become skillful at. So that’s how I came to be doing what I do today. And I went back to graduate school after that thinking, you know, I’ve been working a lot with people that are dying, and they get really good medical care at that point in life. So how about if we put this on the front end of life, and start to really start to teach people how to navigate this from an earlier stage? Right? So that’s how I came to do what I do.
Farrar Duro [7:43]
And you shared your story in the TEDx talk that you gave that I thought was so powerful. I was holding back tears, like, wow, you know, this takes so much bravery, first of all it to talk about what you talk about, and not to mention on the stage full of tons of people and for all the world to see. So the fact that you are sharing your story, I’m sure that you’ve already helped so many thousands of women. And we know this is a this is not an uncommon problem, unfortunately.
Dr. Keesha Ewers [8:13]
That’s why, because it isn’t. And while I’m on stages, talking to doctors, I often will come off the stage and I have mostly women, but sometimes men come up to me too, and they’ll have tears streaming down their face and go, I have never told anyone my story. And they’ll tell me their story. And you know, in the Mayan culture, they say that whatever is in your body that isn’t working well, like a tumor, or PCOS, or an autoimmune disease is called petrified sorrow. And I love that terminology. And that it’s the job of the village, you know, in Guatemala and small villages, this is what would happen, right? That the villagers’ responsibility of the community is to witness the sorrow of a fellow villager so that it can be liquefied. And so when you liquefy your sorrow, it can move through you, but we, in our culture, are the pull up your bootstraps, you know, and go it alone, and we grieve into our pillows.
Dr. Keesha Ewers [9:18]
And so there’s not anyone that’s listening to my voice that doesn’t have something to grieve, whether it’s an expectation that wasn’t meant by a parent or a lost childhood, or a job that they wanted, or some sort of promotion they didn’t get or a child that they miscarried, or a child that they lost or love that they lost, you know, and we we cry into our pillows at night. And I don’t think we fully liquefy our sorrow, we don’t fully grieve and have a community to witness it. And so what Ayurvedic medicine says is whatever is in our body is a crystallization of what’s in the mind. And so it’s two different cultures saying the same thing that have a long-standing track record of having it work. And it makes me say, okay, we should be paying attention to this, you know, and I really believe that our society has what I’m now starting to call a “soul sickness”, you know, where we were just too alone in some of these experiences.
Dr. Keesha Ewers [10:22]
And children in particular, you know, like I said, I didn’t have a way of explaining this to my parents. And so we have these leftover events that I’ve done therapy on people. I remember a woman who came in and she had autoimmune disease, and her big trauma was that she was the third girl. And her parents never bought her new clothes. You know. And so her meaning that she made up about that, and the belief that she created from it is that she wasn’t good enough. You know, it doesn’t have to be sexual trauma. It doesn’t have to be domestic violence or verbal abuse, you know, it’s like our as children, we will make up stories around the things that we encounter that we can’t understand. And they’re always going to be self-centered stories, because that’s who we are. We’re supposed to be, we’re developmentally supposed to be self-centered at that time. And so when our brains are fully developed by the age of 26, takes that long, then we can actually go back and re-examine those stories. And that’s what my study the Hurt Study: healing unresolved trauma study, shows is that these meanings and beliefs that we create in childhood actually impact us in the bedroom sexually. They impact us in our health, they impact our financial abundance, they impact everything. And when you have this fully developed brain now at the age of 26, you can go back and you can re-examine the ones that are not working for you. And for me, mine was perfectionism. My vice principal was telling me that this was happening because I was bad kid. And so what was the meaning I made up about that? Well, I must be a bad kid. And so the belief I created was that I have to be perfect to even survive. And so my adaptive behavior that I created, which you will carry into adulthood with you was to be a perfectionist. Every single person that is listening to me that has PCOS is a perfectionist or a recovering one. There are three different elements that go with PCOS, and they all start with a “P” so they’re easy to remember. And this is all autoimmunity. It’s not just PCOS. But you’re you have perfectionism, you’re a people-pleaser.
Dr. Keesha Ewers [12:40]
That’s a biggie right? The paradigm is that you have put that in you. So that means like a more fiery brain, you’re very intelligent. But it also means that you can be very judgmental toward yourself and others. And so that usually goes under the radar until you bat it around the head a few times, you know. “Hey, got to sit down and start figuring this out.” So that’s where I really start working with people. Because if they have no libido, I always think about libido as like the engine light on your dashboard of your car. It’s to me another vital sign. If you don’t have desire for your life, or for the things that excite you, and I don’t care if it’s sexual, just passion for for anything that makes you excited, or intimacy…if your willingness to be intimate with yourself and others, you don’t have that, then it’s a vital sign that showing that your life force energy is waning. In Ayurvedic medicine, they call it that your ojas. And so I call it your o-juice, you know, it’s like, your juice is gone.
Dr. Keesha Ewers [13:55]
And when you’re in pain, and when you’re sick, or you’re infertile, or you’re having trouble with your hormone balance, of course, it’s gone. Right. And this happens to be one of the benchmarking tools that you can use. So there are two kinds of low libido. One is what we call inherent, which means you never had sexual desire for yourself or another, ever. And then there’s acquired, that means at one point you did, but then it went away. And the most common, you know, is when you get sick, or you get a promotion, or you get fired, or you have a special needs child, or you start caregiving for one of your elderly parents, or you know, like, in other words, your energy bucket has just been kicked over. So when that’s happening, instead of taking a bunch of coffee and short chain carbohydrates to replace it with which only gets you sicker. You know, it’s time to really say, “Okay, how dear body that I love so much, how do I need to replenish you? What are you asking from me?” And that’s that collaborative relationship that you actually listen and rebuild your stores, so that you can be of use in your mission and life purpose to everyone around you, rather than just like a used-up shell of yourself that continues to give, but is resentful and bitter and sick as a result? Right? How many of your patients do you see with that syndrome?
Farrar Duro [15:21]
I know it is so common, actually. But a lot of times, it’s not even in the conscious mind what you’re saying right?
Dr. Keesha Ewers [15:29]
Yeah, it’s why I talk about it all the time. It’s like, let’s pull out the dark and into the light so that we can look at it and really see what’s at the root of all of this. It’s not just about fixing your androgen problem, you know, that’s, there’s a reason why that’s wrong, and why it’s going haywire, right? There’s a reason your adrenal glands are kaput. And, you know, you got to look at, I say, patching the hole now in the bottom of your boat before you start throwing hormones in the top of it.
Farrar Duro [15:58]
That’s true and there’s something to be said, where we go, “You don’t need Band-Aid approaches with PCOS, but in some cases, if you know, it can also be Band-Aid approaches for natural treatment, if you’re taking one supplement after another and doing one plan after another, and you’re still not going under the underlying cause of the anxiety and the low libido and all the different things that are affecting you. So, where do you recommend…where does someone start? You know, they’re like, “Okay, I’m, I have been completely burned out for years, how do I start reversing this? How do I start getting my mojo back?” What would you recommend?
Dr. Keesha Ewers [16:36]
I always look at four…I always think about everybody as their own unique puzzle. That’s one thing, it’s just like, let’s start the conversation that we’re on the same pace that not everybody’s the same. That was revolutionary for me, when I learned that from Ayurveda, I was like, “Oh, that sounds so silly.” But actually, we all have different fingerprints. And we’re all different, you know. And so this idea that we can have what Western medicine likes to call standardization of care, and evidence-based practice is implying that we will all react the same way to any intervention that we apply. And that’s, sadly, so untrue. And that’s why we have so many legal issues around medicine in our environment, right?
Dr. Keesha Ewers [17:17]
So starting with just that, you are your own unique puzzle that the must be solved. And so everybody has, whenever you dump a puzzle out onto the table, you always look for the four corner pieces first, right? So I always want you to look at the four corner pieces first of any chronic health issue that you have. Whether it’s depression or weight, or you know, it just doesn’t matter what it is, it’ll be the same for corner pieces. And one of those, the one of the core pieces is genetics. So I do genetic testing on every one of my patients, not because I’m looking for a disease-specific gene that’s at the root of it. But I want to know, how are you wired for your mitochondrial health or your ability to process estrogen. Your liver detoxification pathways? I look at all of that.
Dr. Keesha Ewers [18:03]
So that’s the first one, the second cornerpiece of the puzzle is your digestive health. And so I’m always looking for how well does that work? You know, there’s so many ancient frameworks of medicine, including our own. Socrates said the same thing that every single heart of our health starts and ends in the digestive tract. So leaky gut is always present if you have autoimmune disease. I always want to start working on that. The third one is toxic exposure. And I don’t always think about toxins as environmental toxins, the way that we usually think about, but also the toxins in your own mind. So do you have self-defeating thought processes that are toxic, you know, and so I’m always looking for those two. And then the fourth one is going to be the way that you manage your stress, and then past trauma. And so if you read actually, first step is reading my book, Solving the Autoimmune Puzzle, because I go through the whole puzzle, and how you can figure out where you are in there. And it also has a lot of worksheets for understanding the emotional component, which I call the missing piece of the puzzle. So what are those meanings and beliefs you created a long time ago that are activated when you get your little buttons pushed in adulthood, you know, and so that’s actually what gets your hormones going. You know, whenever you get stressed out, we’ll say that word, for every five minutes that your adrenal’s are activated, it takes your body eight hours to recover. That is a huge deficit, by the time you’re past 25 years old. I remember learning at the age of 30, and going oh my gosh, I’m in so much debt to this poor body.
Dr. Keesha Ewers [19:52]
So really starting to bring that to one-to-one where you can control if you’re in sympathetic nervous system response, or parasympathetic, and knowing the difference to when you want each one activated, right? And then being able to make that happen at your own will rather than having it control you. So that’s all part of that. So that’s usually what I recommend. And then when people say, “what’s one thing that we can start doing right now?”, I always say start watching your thoughts. Just take the next 24 hours and watch how you speak to yourself. And what is the content? Are you looking in the mirror and saying I’m too fat? I’m too ugly, this nose! I hate it, you know, how often is that kind of like self-deprecating stuff happening where you’re really hating on yourself instead of loving yourself? And then how often are you saying I can’t, I shouldn’t, Couldn’t, I won’t, and how often is that going through your mind? Or, you know, is it self-destructive? Or is it self-liberating? And starting to notice what pattern you have in there. Do you speak to yourself as kindly as you would a child? Or are you mean?
Farrar Duro [21:03]
No, definitely super important. I was speaking to Erica Volk, last year and we’re talking about our self talk. And these are things that you wouldn’t even say to your worst enemy sometimes, you know,
Dr. Keesha Ewers [21:18]
I know, I know. And that judgmental perfectionism that the mind has in the Ayurveda, you know, paradigm, I am definitely that person. And but I’m also Pitta Kapha, which is what the PCOS body type is. And so Kapha is the loyal, grounded best friend you could ever have. The cookie-baking Mom, I call it right. But you can kind of look at food and gain weight. And if it’s got a lot of sugar in it, or grains, and so it’s knowing how to eat for your body type too. I’ve had a couple of ovarian cyst bursts, and anyone that’s had that knows, it’s not very much fun. And you know, that was those were in the days before I started learning all of this. And my self-talk used to go, “I’m not safe, you know, this person is offending me.” Because Kapha people hold on to everything. They hold on to all of their hurts and their grievances. And then they put a smile on their face. And they’re kind to everybody, but it’s not really kindness, it’s more of a manipulation, right?
Dr. Keesha Ewers [22:23]
Kindness comes also in the form of setting good boundaries and saying no, you know, and negotiating what you want in life, instead of always trying to just be everything for everybody and hoping that somebody will turn around and read your mind and do the same for you. That’s not really kindness. It’s not compassion, that’s a manipulation. And when I first learned that, I thought I was horrified. I considered myself one of the nicest people I knew. And so now, I’m probably not considered very nice by the outside world, but I’m very nice now to myself. And so then I’m kinder in the way that I do give but now it has no strings. So when I feel like giving, then I know I’m not expecting anything back. And that usually, the expectation of something in return, happens on a subconscious or an unconscious level where you don’t even know it’s operating. So it’s really getting underneath all of that. And being in the world in a way that is self supportive and self-ojas building right, where you’re building your life force rather than depleting it constantly.
Farrar Duro [23:32]
And would you say that self-acceptance also is part of the libido picture? I mean, you know, because, as we’re being judgmental on ourselves, and so many other people, and what everyone’s eating and doing and all of that, then that has to come into the mind conversation, I guess, when the time comes to get intimate. It’s kind of like, you know, that that comes up. So how do you stop the negative self talk? And what’s a good piece of advice I guess, for our listeners?
Dr. Keesha Ewers [24:02]
Well, I have a couple that I’m doing therapy with right now, that is really an interesting case study in this and I, I just adore them, because they’re so clearly, you know, this happens so much inside of couples. So there’s always going to be a low-desire partner and a high-desire partner in any couple. And the high-desire partner can be the high desire for keeping a budget, you know, and be being fiscally responsible. Or it can be the high-desire partner for eating ice cream every Sunday in front of your favorite TV show, or it can be a high-desire partner for sex. Just like, you know, you’ll have high desire, low desire happening all the time within a partnership. And the person that has high desire, let’s say for sex, will want sex at a higher rate than the low-desire partner and the low-desire partner’s usually the high-desire partner for something else. And, you know, stereotypically, it’ll be for emotional connection usually. And then the stereotype is that it’s gender-specific and the male will be the high-desire partner and the female will be the high-desire partner for emotional.
Dr. Keesha Ewers [25:08]
And that’s not actually always accurate. I see it mismatched all the time. So the what I’m trying to say here is that if you don’t reach forward and meet the need of your partner in the thing that they have a high desire for, they’re going to withhold in the thing that they know you have a high desire for. Okay, so back to this couple, I’m going to call them Jack and Nancy. So Jack wants sex a lot more often than once every six months, which is what’s happening right now inside their marriage. And Nancy wants to feel safe and emotionally supported. And Jack’s a little bit like a bull in a china shop with that, you know, he gets angry and gruff and he says mean things, and then she’s just like, is sort of a flower that wilts. Okay, so what I explained to them is when it comes time to get into the bedroom, if she’s a flower that has wilted under his big yelling, gruff anger, and she’s afraid, then how in the world is she going to be able to open her legs and be relaxed and be intimate with him physically the way that he wants her to?
Dr. Keesha Ewers [26:21]
And in fact, that is actually what’s been going on, and she has vaginismus. Okay, so she not only has a low libido, but she actually has pain with intercourse. And it didn’t start out that way in their marriage. So over the course of the last 25 years, it’s gotten here, and he’s gotten angrier and angrier, and he’s withheld more and more of the emotional safety that she craves. And her body is withholding. She says with her mouth, she wants to be able to be intimate with him. But her body is saying no way in hell. And so there’s a mismatch between her mind and her body. Her body is watching out for her. So does that make sense?
Farrar Duro [26:59]
Dr. Keesha Ewers [27:00]
And we see it all the time, right? And so the treatment for this couple is not supplements, it’s not hormones, it’s none of that. It’s teaching them how to meet each other’s needs and how to communicate in a way that both of them feel seen, accepted, and even loved. And so you have to start with just hugging until you can relax, right? Clothes-on activities, maybe five minutes of a foot rub for a week on the couch. They can’t even get through this without a fight. They’re still not better yet, you know, and then he throws up his hands and he stops therapy because he hasn’t had intercourse yet, when I’ve taken sex off the table to try and help him kind of approach her like a deer in the thicket. Like he’s got a coax her out, right? And he’s just, he’ll get irritated and leave therapy and then come back again, and then they get a little closer. And so you have to understand that this mind-body thing, I always say what’s in your head goes to your bed.
Dr. Keesha Ewers [28:08]
You know, another couple is…I’ve got a million of them. But you know, she has body image issues. So she’s gained weight. Now she doesn’t feel desirable. So her libido goes down. And she too has painful intercourse. And it’s because he wants to have the lights on when they have sex and she doesn’t want to be seen. So you know, learning how to help them understand what’s going on underneath what seems to be there. There’s so much more underneath the surface, right?
Dr. Keesha Ewers [28:35]
So when talking about getting your mojo back, it’s really so much about the interior dialogue you’re having that you’re unaware of, right? So with Nancy, the one I was talking about that just kind of wilted like a flower underneath yelling, her interior dialogue is that she’s not safe. So how can I help her become more safe. And so I’ve been doing individual therapy with her for that. And as she’s becoming more and more stronger and stronger with that, she’s starting to stand up to him and say, “Okay, if you’re going to use that tone of voice, then I’m going to go over here, and we’re going to have a timeout”, you know, and so he’s now having boundaries that with him that he’s never had before. And that makes him angrier. But then he starts to understand, “oh, okay,” and he can recover. And then they can come back together and talk. So I always say fantastic sex comes from fantastic communication. You know, good sex comes from good communication, bad sex comes from bad communication. It’s all about being able to express what it is that you feel that you need. And then negotiate it with your partner, because it may be that you feel like you need sex in some kinky, funky way that your partner is not okay with. But you if you’re able to express that, and then have your partner negotiate with you… Well, I don’t feel comfortable with that but how about this?” That’s great communication, right? Now you can start to navigate through the silence that everybody has around sex. I just find that I’ve had women come into my practice, who say I haven’t had sex for 20 years. And I say, “Well, how does your partner feel about that?” “I don’t know. We’ve never talked about it.” I am so astonished by that. Like, really?
Farrar Duro [30:26]
Wow, yeah, definitely there’s such a need for I mean…I think that too, I guess as time passes, maybe people just don’t know how to communicate about it anymore, which is where you come in.
Dr. Keesha Ewers [30:38]
Well they get embarrassed. And yet it’s the same, you know, sexual function is the same as bowel function, or your eye function or your cardiovascular function. You know, it’s all part of what, if you’re religious, you can say it’s how God made you. And if people are religious, I always say, you know, God actually then gave you the only body part between the two genders that’s designed just for pleasure. So why is it that you would believe that desire is somehow a sin or you know, that it’s not okay for you to just come unglued in the bedroom? And let yourself go, you know, when you have a clitoris? If you believe God designed you, is that a flaw? That’s just for pleasure. And so why do women, you know, deny themselves pleasure before their work is done? You know, “this has to get done, this has to get done, this has to get done. And then I can sit down”, right? And that right there is going to come from an early childhood belief. And so that’s why I always go there. Right? So where did that come from? This denying that you’re deserving of pleasure? Where did that come from? It’s not because of your spouse. And it’s not because of your church. It’s not because of anything like that. It’s some meaning that you made up when you were a kid. So that’s what we have to fix.
Farrar Duro [32:01]
Very interesting. And how about how have you seen this play out with, I guess, you know, people who are just finding out that they have PCOS? Or maybe they’re still kind of struggling with the fact that they just don’t know how to deal with it. How do you see the libido affected in those women?
Dr. Keesha Ewers [32:22]
You know, so Okay, you know how I said there are four corners, right? And when we talk about stress, and how that impacts us, the way that when you feel stressed, then your adrenals get tagged by a neurotransmitter cocktail that sent from your brain that says, oh, “We’re not we’re not safe, we’re in danger”, whatever it is. And then cortisol goes out into your system, and it can break down your gut wall, it can do all kinds of bad things, but also what it does once you start losing your cortisol, because you’re over stressed all the time, your adrenal survival always wins over reproduction. So your adrenals will become stealers of your progesterone, right?
Dr. Keesha Ewers [33:06]
And so you wind up becoming androgen or estrogen dominant because of all this stress. So when your libido is gone, it means that for some time this has been going on, and that will be a factor. Hormones are definitely a factor. But you know, when you can say, “Okay, so I’ve now been diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome”, how long did it take for you to get to that diagnosis, there’s been a lot that’s been going on before that. And oftentimes, I find that there’s also some abuse in the past with people with PCOS, not everybody, but I do find quite a bit of it. And so what’s been going on there it was, does that need to be healed?
Dr. Keesha Ewers [33:49]
Because always your libido is just a vital sign. Right? So where are the places that you have become overstressed whether it’s emotionally, mentally, spiritually or physically, and let’s fix that. And then watch for your libido to come back online as a benchmark. I find it goes away very easily, and it comes back very slowly. So it makes a really good benchmark tool for how well you’re doing and getting balanced in all of those areas. Ayurvedic medicine talks about five different layers of us. And those five layers are your physical, your energy body, your emotional, your mental. And then this place that they call your spiritual layer, or your bliss layer, right. It’s the place where Carl Jung called it our portal to collective unconsciousness. So if you’re toxic in any of those five layers, then you’re not going to get to that bliss part. That’s where libido lives, right? That’s where your desire and passion for life actually exists. And so you have to detox all those other layers. So I would say don’t use it as just it’s a marker for one thing. I believe it’s a marker for your overall five layers, right.
Dr. Keesha Ewers [35:03]
Another thing Ayurvedic medicine talks about is the way disease progresses for us, is in different steps. And that first, you’ll have a dose of imbalance that won’t show up the way that we look for it in western medicine, you know, it’s just a slight imbalance. And that actually, in the six layers of disease progression, we don’t even notice until we’re at four or five, which is when we get a diagnosis. So it goes through each of these layers of what we call our doctors are a tissue layers. By the time you get into the reproductive tissue layer, which is where your ovaries are, that’s actually your seventh tissue layer. That’s as deep as you can get with your disease. So you have to be patient and you have to say, “Okay, I’m all the way down into my reproductive. That means that I’ve got some, I’ve got to start unpacking this layer by layer,” and libido will come back online, as that’s happening.
Farrar Duro [35:58]
Okay, this is very interesting because I I’m looking at how these are overlapping with Chinese medicine and Ayurveda overlaps quite a bit. And some things, you know, are very interesting when we’re using the, we call them extraordinary meridians. There eight extra vessels, right? They’re not part of the difficult 12 meridian channel system, I guess they’re, they’re deeper and they go through the reproductive organs. And those are the ones we use for fertility issues and endometriosis and PCOS and they’re so deep that they don’t even have like, I guess, like a standard name. I mean, they’re just, you know, considered. Not a really easy way. But they’re Yeah, they’re just there. It’s kind of funny. It’s like, I always think of them as like shortcuts to you know, they’re you’re not taking I-95, you’re going to be taking the back roads. And so when we look at kind of energizing those channels, that’s a lot of times what happens is the libido will start to creep back up, like, right, they’ll say “I don’t know, for some reason, my husband says, I need to keep coming.”
Dr. Keesha Ewers [36:56]
I get roses in my office.
Farrar Duro [37:01]
Please go to that acupuncture session, you know? And it’s just interesting on that we have to consider that the work that needs to be done for gynecology, and women’s health, is on a much deeper level. And it’s emotionally, physically, all of that. And it even goes into to the self care part of usually we give our patients an assignment like, okay, five minutes, every night, you’re going to do your self care abdominal massage, when we talk about Mayan abdominal therapy, and that sort of thing, and really getting to put your hands on your abdomen. And this sometimes makes some people uncomfortable. I think it’s kind of a “Well, I’m not sure if I really want to touch my belly. I don’t know how I feel about it,” you know, and that I’ve seen kind of if even just having that breakthrough…
Dr. Keesha Ewers [37:54]
Right. Yeah. And I don’t know how I feel about it means “I actually don’t like it. And I tried to disassociate from my body for a really long time. And you’re asking me to connect now? And I don’t know if I can do that.”
Farrar Duro [38:06]
Right. So I think that, you know, it becomes almost like, homework at first, but then they go, “you know, what, I feel so much better. And I really, I really take that time as my little self care time, you know, that five to 10 minutes a day.” And it’s a start, you know, and then we have the partner try, or maybe he can help you there self care, you can try some health care on him, you know, but I think just getting past sometimes the fear of, you know, reaching in a little deeper and going, Okay, that I’m fine, I’m good. And I can try to, you know, work with myself a little bit. And then going into what gives you pleasure, you know, and like not being afraid to voice that. That’s, like, so important for any woman, not just with PCOS, but our culture kind of makes us quiet.
Dr. Keesha Ewers [38:51]
And we’re pleasure-deniers. Yeah, it’s a Puritanical, you know, foundation that we laid with the way that people came over here, right? They were Puritans. And then we still have that very puritanical work ethic and all of that in place. And so pleasure does not top the list of to do’s for the day. Its way down here as a reward only if “Cinderella you get your work done, can you go to the ball,” right? And so you know, and I find to I find what you’re saying so interesting, because if I say, “I want you to do a detox bath at night, and do some lymphatic skin brushing before you get in, and here’s what I want you to put in the water. And I want you to soak this number of minutes. And then I want you to give yourself a self massage.” When you get out, you know, and we’re talking about a 30 minute bedtime routine. And sometimes I’ll get in fact, often I get women just start to cry. “If you only knew how busy I was, you would not ask me to put 30 minutes in to the schedule that where it doesn’t exist.”
Dr. Keesha Ewers [39:57]
And then I always say, you know, “that’s why you’re here. Do you get that that’s why you’re here in front of me right now or on a Zoom appointment with me is because you have not taken that time to really connect with yourself, to really take care of yourself?” And you know, this this thing that we’re locked into right now of having to bring home the bacon fried up in a pan and look hot at the same time. You know, we’re just not wired to have that be a sustainable life. And so the body will eventually come up like a toddler with its mother skirt and go “Hello I’m trying to get your attention.” And much like a mother on the telephone when her toddler’s doing that they go ssh..sshhh…ssshh. They do that and then finally, as a temper tantrum, right, like, it will start crying and screaming at you, and then you will pay attention. And so it’s like, can you listen when it’s just giving you a little tug on the skirt?
Farrar Duro [40:54]
You know, that’s a great analogy. And, Dr. Keesha, how do how do you start? I mean, I guess like somebody who’s just kind of going okay, I really I love putting things in practical format, like, let’s see, you know, for someone listening right now who’s been struggling with their libido or getting their mojo back and that sort of thing. We know, do you start by kind of introspection and or, you know, trying to kind of journal things or, or what’s the best way?
Dr. Keesha Ewers [41:28]
Yeah, like I said, in Solving the Autoimmune Puzzle, I’ve got some journal exercises in there…worksheets are actually set up in the book itself. And then I like I said, I do genetic testing on every one of my patients. And I love that because it looks at neurotransmitters, and it looks at things that are very concrete, where you can say, this is why you have not been able to give up the sugar craving, you have a dopamine issue, you know, or you have the serotonin problem. That’s why your libido is probably…we’ve got this gene expressing itself right now. But good news is we can actually make this gene not express itself. And here’s how we do it. And so I like to combine that physical piece, along with, you know, your adrenal and hormone testing, and then also the emotional-mental worksheet part where you can actually go through, examine your thoughts, you know, do some of that work, so that you’re really covering all of those layers.
Farrar Duro [42:26]
Well, I think we need to read all of your books, because they look amazing. And, and everyone out there listening, I just feel like this can help so many of you that are blaming yourself. And knowing that it is not your fault, you do have things that have happened to you put most likely that might be buried somewhere that you’re not sure of. But I think that we all carry our own baggage. And then we dump it right into our existing relationships in so many ways, and then beat ourselves up for it not working out. So it’s a vicious cycle. So I’d love to encourage you guys to really look at Dr. Keesha’s work, listen to her TED Talk, it will blow your mind. And I think that will really turn on the light bulbs in so many of your brains, and if you could just tell our audience Dr. Keesha, where could they find you? And of course, we’re going to provide those links in our show notes as well.
Dr. Keesha Ewers [43:25]
Yeah, Drkeesha.com. And then I believe I’m going to offer a webinar for your listeners to where we can take a deeper dive into all of this because, of course, this just is the surface, right? And I’ll take live questions and things like that.
Farrar Duro [43:43]
I’m so excited about that. I’m going to be there for sure.
Dr. Keesha Ewers [43:46]
Okay. Yeah. And it’ll be an invitation to that genetic work that I do too which I show you how they go together. And it’s so helpful, because you actually get to see, okay, this gene’s turned on. I don’t want it turned on. Like my grandfather had rheumatoid arthritis. And my doctor, you know, 24 years ago said, it’s because your grandma, you know, its genetic, you don’t have any choice. And that is just so untrue. So I could actually flip that gene back on, if I went back to my old ways of dealing with stress, and I went back to eating the way that I ate. I used to eat a lot of sugar, and run marathons to run off the weight you know, and I just beat the crap out of my body. And so now, you know, I don’t express that gene, but it’s still in there. But I have not had RA for 24 years, I was able to reverse it within six months. So it’s really learning how you actually can be in control of a lot of the things you think you have no control over.
Farrar Duro [44:46]
So it’s just so exciting to know that too. So many people don’t feel empowered when they receive a diagnosis like PCOS or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or all. There’s so many autoimmune things that are just it seems like they’re just growing leaps and bounds unfortunately.
Dr. Keesha Ewers [44:53]
We’re reclassifying all these diseases that we never knew or autoimmune as now autoimmune. We used to have a handful of autoimmune diseases. Now there are over 150 and the list is growing. It’s not because we have new diseases. It’s because they’re starting to really understand that, oh, “we are attacking ourselves.” And this is an immune function, not a function of the ovaries or the thyroid, or the joints. Actually, the immune system that’s doing it, we need to start there, you know, instead of just working on the ovaries or just working on the thyroid. So it’s really fascinating.
Farrar Duro [45:40]
I think this work that you’re doing is extremely helpful, and it’s so much…we need to understand so many more things that we’re just kind of brushing the surface with. Well thank you so much, Dr. Keesha, for coming on. I hope you guys have enjoyed listening to her as much as I have. And I hope that you get a lot out of her webinar coming up too, we’re going to link to that in our show notes. And I’d love to have you back soon. So thanks so much.
Dr. Keesha Ewers [46:07]
Love to, thank you!
Farrar Duro [46:10]
Have a good week, everybody!
- What drew Dr. Keesha to working in women’s health ([1:13])
- Dr. Keesha’s childhood experience ([4:45])
- Soul sickness and feeling alone ([10:20])
- The impact of childhood messaging later in adulthood ([11:30])
- Types of low libido ([14:15])
- Where does someone start getting my mojo back? ([16:34])
- Start watching your thoughts ([20:24])
- Putting a stop to negative self-talk ([24:02])
- What’s in your head goes to your bed ([28:12])
- The layers of us ([34:00])
Resources Mentioned In This Episode:
- Learn more about Dr. Keesha at drkeesha.com
- Read Dr. Keesha’s book Solving the Autoimmune Puzzle: The Woman’s Guide to Reclaiming Emotional Freedom and Vibrant Health
- Check out Dr. Keesha’s cookbook The Quick & Easy Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook: Anti-Inflammatory Recipes with 7 Ingredients or Less for Busy People
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Disclaimer: The information in this podcast is intended for general audience only and is not intended to diagnose, treat or replace professional medical advice.