We had the good fortune of connecting with Adrienne Irizarry, PHc and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Adrienne, what do you want people to remember about you?
I want the legacy of Moon Essence to be a change in the way we teach women about their bodies and how to care for their health. Our culture dis-empowers us by not teaching us how our cycles really work. We have pregnancies that could be avoided with education. We have infertility that results as from a lack of education. I believe this lack of education is, in large part, due to the fact women’s’ bodies are so objectified and hypersexualized that our society doesn’t believe we can talk about women’s health without talking about sex. I challenge this belief. The truth is – we can have an age appropriate body literacy conversation that doesn’t discuss sex at all. If girls are taught from a young age to understand their hormone cycle, how it works and what it is supposed to look like each month, they will be able to get help for their health before things go far down the path of conditions like fibroids, cysts, cramps and more. Can you imagine an entire generation of young women who never know what cramps are? Who don’t struggle with their fertility? I believe it is possible, but it takes education. I want to be a part of shaping this reality for future generations. The legacy I want to leave behind is a different narrative about women’s health. My goal is to teach as many women as I can about their body, how to care for their menstrual cycle and life transitions so they are healthier through their entire lives.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My backstory begins the same as the narrative of thousands of women around the world — I had period problems and I wanted to have a baby. I have a Masters in Communication and had worked in nonprofits as well as corporate America in marketing and public relations for over a decade. These jobs are busy, exciting and intense and the demand of the schedule was taking a toll on my body. My periods had always been painful, irregular and heavy from the time I started menstruating, but working in this environment these issues escalated and were the worst they had ever been. It was impacting my ability to contribute to my job in the way I knew I was capable of. After seeing several OB/GYNs the answer was always the same:
“Let’s try birth control to regulate your cycle” — the result? Weight gain, cramping and eventually a “cardiac episode” which mirrored a heart attack at the age of 25.
“Let’s try pain management” — the result? Less pain but still heavy flow and utter exhaustion because the “faucet” wouldn’t turn off in less than 10 days.
“You have had a child. Maybe you should consider a hysterectomy” — the result? NO WAY. Why cut part of my body out because they couldn’t solve the problem? After years of trying to get answers, I had a friend who told me about vaginal steaming. My first impression was — “vaginal what?” but heard her out. She explained it was like a sauna experience sitting over steam. It was very relaxing but the best part was the improvement in her period so she thought it might help me too.
I honestly had nothing to lose so I thought “what the heck — I’ll give it a try.” I couldn’t have ever imagined the results I experienced. My first session was so relaxing. It was warm and like sitting in a hot bath. I walked away thinking I would do it again even if it was just for 15 relaxing minutes. After steaming the first month, I couldn’t believe my next period. I barely had any cramping. I wasn’t bloated and groaning about getting into my pants. My period was even and HALF what it had ever been for flow. I wasn’t physically exhausted at the end of my period and it only lasted 6 days instead of 10! Woah. Excited about my results, I steamed the second month and had another revelation. For the first time in my adult life my period was pain free, lasted only 4 days and was even and moderate in flow.
Going from 8–10 day periods that were heavy for the first 5 days, painful and bloated to 4 days, pain free and mild/moderate flow — it was like stepping into a new body. I had more energy for life and the dread I once experienced for my impending period each month turned to excitement to see how much better I would feel as each month passed with my new steaming regimen. It was this success that drew me to getting certified as a peristeam hydrotherapist. Every woman should have a hassle-free period like this!
If we all have to have a period, why do they have to be miserable? The answer is they don’t. I am on a mission to help others feel as good as I do now. The Western medical model is very invasive for women. Tools go in and out. Surgery is the “go to” when medications fail. Healthcare for women’s reproductive health is very painful. When I tell people what I do, many get a mental picture of some sort of tool with steam that gets inserted into the vagina because it is so engrained in our culture that reproductive healthcare requires tools that go into the body. The Western approach attempts to deal with symptoms, but they do not get to the root of what is causing the symptoms in the first place. Peristeam hydrotherapy is about addressing the “why.” I don’t know about you, but I was always the “why” child. I needed to understand why things happened in the world around me or what was happening in my body.
As I work with women, I find I am not the only one. They want to know how their menstrual cycles or menopause symptoms became what they are now. The standard healthy period lasts 4 days, medium flow and arrives every 28–30 days. No cramping, no brown blood, no clotting, no arrival before/later than that and no heavy bleeding. Anything outside of this tells a story. For the vast majority of women, the period I just described is a unicorn and many who read it probably laughed out loud. It is possible to achieve even after years of dysfunction by using steaming as a therapeutic tool. The beauty of this practice is that just sitting over a steaming pot of herbal solution customized for their body’s needs. We can address why they are having the symptoms they are experiencing and get to the heart of the matter, breaking the cycle and restoring harmony in the body. It’s gentle. It’s relaxing. In 10–30 min they can turn back the hands of time and restore (or maybe even establish for the first time) a healthy cycle for their body.
This practice is so much more than just periods. It can help with hot flashes/night sweats in menopause. It can break infection cycles without antibiotics. It can support fertility for women who are struggling to get pregnant. It helps the body recover after having babies. This practice is supportive to every woman from the time of menarche all the way through post-menopause. Using steam, herbs and food therapy I am showing women how to take control of their health and it’s a game changer.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I really enjoy the beach so I would suggest we go to Oceanside. It’s the first place I touched the Pacific ocean! The calming affect of hearing the rolling waves, the soft sand – it would be a great way to introduce a new person to California.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have been so fortunate for the amazing people who have come into my life and helped me become the woman and the practitioner I am today. One of these women in my early years was my mentor Alicia Nichols. Alicia came into my life when I was a young professional fresh out of grad school and she taught me everything a young female professional needs to know to thrive. She shaped me as a professional in the field I was working in but also as a person that was ready for everything life would deliver. She is a force of nature and I always admired her for how she could command a room with gentle presence and accomplish everything she had committed to. She has always been just a phone call away when I’ve needed her at different junctures in my life and I am so thankful for her continued support. She is one of the most articulate, poised, intelligent and capable women I have ever had the pleasure of knowing and I wouldn’t be half of the woman and professional I am today without her energy and talents in my life.
The dream of becoming a practitioner would never have been realized without the mentorship of Kelley Sherman and Kim Trafton. Kelley nurtured my early interest in Traditional Chinese Medicine and fed my hunger for information with every book I could get my hands on. Kelley pointed me towards training opportunities, acutonics and more. It was her patient and guiding influence that launched me forward down this path that I walk today. Kim Trafton has helped me talk through cases for fresh perspective, honed my diagnostic abilities and nurtured my work in this field in countless ways.
Keli Garza — you can’t talk about vaginal steaming without mentioning her contribution to this field. She brought this ancient modality to the forefront and has tirelessly trained practitioners worldwide so we can share this therapy with women. These women have all played significant roles in my health, my personal and professional growth over the last two decades and I am forever grateful to each one of them. They each had a hand in changing my life forever.
Other: My digital courses can be found at: https://moonessence.groovepages.com/thetaoofwomen/index