Fertility and Pregnancy, Prism Blog, Sex & Relationships, Transgender Wellness

Does Sex Cause Miscarriages? Guest Post by Tynan Rhea of postpartumsex.com

This article should not be used to replace medical advice. If your doctor has advised you to abstain from sex for fear of miscarriage and you do not have any of the conditions listed below, you may benefit from a second opinion, further research, or asking your doctor to explain why it’s important for your particular body and pregnancy to abstain from sex as your situation may have unique variables that require important consideration.


Will sex cause a miscarriage? Short answer: NO! If you have a healthy pregnancy, sex will not cause a miscarriage. So why do so many people (including doctors) sometimes tell people to stop having sex in pregnancy if there is talk about a miscarriage?

It’s easy to come across resources that state if someone has a history of miscarriage their doctor may ask them to refrain from sex for the first trimester unless otherwise noted. There are a few problems with this suggestion.

  1. “Experts” often do not specify if the problem is with penetration or orgasms or both.
  2. A review of the literature on this topic concluded there is no scientific research that has been conducted to validate this concern in a healthy pregnancy.
  3. First trimester miscarriages are generally thought to be due to “a major genetic problem or the body’s ways of stopping a pregnancy that is not going to develop healthily… it can be the uterine environment itself somehow, but that has certainly nothing to do with sex itself. In all my medical training I can’t think of any reason why a [person] would need pelvic rest in the first trimester” (Dr. E. Queenan, personal communication, April 24, 2017).
Later in pregnancy there are some instances where pelvic rest (remember this means no penetration only, not necessarily orgasms or oral sex) may be recommended:
  • risk of preterm labour
  • placenta previa
  • placental abruption
  • cervical insufficiency
  • ruptured membranes
  • presence of sexually transmitted infections or viruses (and depending on the infection, condoms or barriers may be sufficient for protection. Consult with your doctor or a sexual health clinic if you’re uncertain).

The problem with the advice to abstain from having sex is that this often causes a lot of distress for people or negatively impacts intimacy in relationships. Connecting with our bodies or partners is vital before the tumultuous postpartum period! Sex isn’t the only way to do this, of course, and if you’re already not that interested in sex than that’s absolutely okay and normal. But for individuals and relationships where sex is an integral part of life, telling people to abstain from sex can be really harmful.

If your pregnancy is healthy and you want to have sex, enjoy yourself! And know that the loving relationships you cultivate with your body and your partners during pregnancy will only serve to benefit you and your family.


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P R O F E S S I O N A L   B I O: Tynan Rhea is a settler with German and Czechoslovakian ancestry. Tynan has a private practice online and in Toronto as a counselor, aromatherapist, and doula specializing in sex, intimacy, and relationships throughout the reproductive years. Tynan is also the founder of PostpartumSex.com. Tynan graduated from the University of Waterloo with a Joint Honours Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Sexuality, Marriage, & Family. They received their doula training from the Revolutionary Doula Training program and their aromatherapy training with Anarres Apothecary Apprenticeship program. Tynan approaches their practice from sex-positive, trauma-informed, anti-oppressive, and feminist frameworks. You can find Tynan on Facebook, Instagram @TynanRhea or TynanRhea.com


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


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Press, Prism Blog, Sex & Relationships

Acupressure for Good Sex

I love being mentioned by my fabulous community partners, and this one happens to be in an amazing article about acupressure for good sex, written by my colleague Denise, at Cicuto Acupuncture. Exerpt:

“While some of the points mentioned below are good for ‘seminal emission’ or ‘painful periods’ and may seem specific to men or women, most of the points help anyone of any gender, sexual orientation and whatever kind of relationship you’re in. Everyone has the acupuncture points I’ll be discussing here. (By the way, Prism Integrative Acupuncture has a great series of articles that are queer-friendly and sex-positive and we highly recommend checking them out.) If it seems like some of these conditions would prevent you from having good sex, doing acupressure on them can help change that. And talking about them with your partner(s) can help encourage good communication between you, which is not a bad thing in relationships.

You can use these points on yourself, using your fingers (or sex toys where applicable) for 30-60 seconds at a time on a daily basis. Or you can have a partner help you explore them, maybe with a favorite massage oil (like the Lovers’ Blend from Plants with Benefits Part II: Essential Oils for a Satisfying Sex Life) for the points on the abdomen and lower legs or perhaps a favorite lubricant, sex toy or tongue for the points in the genital area. Use the diagrams here to get acquainted with the location of the points. During sex, it’s ok to massage the general areas – the abdomen along the midline below the belly button, the lower legs from behind the ankle bone working your way up the leg; and the points in the genital area that feel good to you. (If you want a cheat sheet for the points, go to the end of the article and look for the fireworks picture.)”

Check out the full post on Acupressure for Good Sex here.


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


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Acupuncture, Endometriosis, Fertility and Pregnancy, PCOS, Prism Blog, Sex & Relationships, Transgender Wellness

Acupuncture and Herbs for Reproductive Health and Fertility

Western treatments for reproductive health can often be frustrating and come with a lot of side effects. Acupuncture and herbs provide support to these western treatments to reduce side effects and improve success, as well as an alternative to more invasive western treatments. We happily work with MDs, fertility specialists, and other types of providers to provide you with the most well-rounded care possible.

Acupuncture and herbs may help to:

  • Restart the menses in amenorrhea
  • Slow a heavy flow
  • Ease cramps
  • Reduce PMS/PMDD and bloating
  • Prevent spotting between cycles
  • Inspire a more regular cycle
  • Regulate hormones and ease symptoms of PCOS
  • Ease symptoms of endometriosis and fibroids
  • Ease symptoms of fibrocystic breasts
  • Soothe vaginal dryness
  • Reduce pain with sex and increase orgasmic capacity
  • Improve prostate health and reduce swelling and inflammation
  • Increase erectile capacity
  • Improve ovulation frequency
  • Assist with restarting the menstrual cycle and promoting fertility after stopping testosterone
  • Assist with regulating hormones and improving fertility by soothing endocrine and autoimmune disorders, such as Hashimotos
  • Reduce some types of miscarriage risk
  • Ease morning sickness, edema, fatigue, and other symptoms of pregnancy
  • Reduce rates of some presentations of malpositioned fetuses
  • Prepare the body to start labor on time
  • Speed recover post labor or cesarean
  • Benefit lactation and reduce risk of mastitis
  • Soothe anxiety and post-partum depression to improve baby bonding

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All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


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Acupuncture, Menopause and Beyond, Prism Blog, Sex & Relationships, Transgender Wellness

Menopause and Beyond

Menopause, ‘manopause’, and mid-life transitions can be beautiful, world-opening times in our lives when we discover new pieces of ourselves and become more at peace in our bodies. They can also sometimes be uncomfortable, tumultuous, and stressful. Just like hormonal fluctuations during puberty, shifting hormones during menopause are a major cause of this stress and discomfort. The goal of using acupuncture and herbs during this time is to reduce the symptoms of menopause and hormonal changes, regulate and balance your hormones for a smoother transition, and soothe anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues that can flare up during this time of great change. Whether you’re taking HRT (hormone replacement therapy) or not, acupuncture and herbs may help make your transition smoother and more enjoyable, and continue providing support long after these mid-life changes too. We happily work with MDs and other healthcare providers to give you the most well-rounded care possible.
Acupuncture and herbs may help to:
  • Balance hormones to soothe ups and downs
  • Reduce hot flashes and night sweats
  • Reduce breakthrough bleeding and regulate the menstrual cycle
  • Improve vaginal dryness
  • Improve erectile dysfunction
  • Smooth transition onto or off of HRT and hormone blockers (like tamoxifen or arimidex)
  • Reduce post-surgical pain, speed healing, and reduce scarring
  • Beyond menopause:
    • Improve circulation to reduce blood clots and heal leg sores
    • Reduce leg and ankle edema
    • Regulate low and high blood pressure
    • Reduce or reverse hair loss
  • Reduce fatigue
  • Improve sleep
  • Benefit memory and concentration
  • Reduce stress and soothe anxiety
  • Lift depression
  • Boost your immune system to keep you healthy through the seasons

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All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


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Prism Blog, Sex & Relationships

How to Talk to Your Doctor About Polyamory

 

Bringing up alternative relationships styles with a doctor can be intimidating, especially when you don’t know for sure what their experience is with these topics. However, to get the care you need, it can be important for your doctor to know your relationship status. HSDP‘s most recent workshop focused on working with polyamorous patients in clinic: how we can create a safe space for patients to talk about their relationships without being judged. This is a followup post to Talking to Your Doctor About BDSM.

For Poly Patients:

  • You may first want to decide what you want your doctor to know about your personal life based on what is necessary for your care.
    • For example, perhaps it is relevant to tell your doctor that you are in multiple relationships when you have a questions about safer sex practices, but not when you are going in for a flu shot.
    • You may decide that you personally feel more comfortable when you can be open about your identity or relationship status with every doctor, regardless of the reason for visit.
  • The most important thing to remember when talking to your doctor about topics that may be new to them, is that they are primarily looking out for your safety. This means that it’s especially important to remain confident when talking about issues like poly and kink that could be seen as related to partner abuse.
    • Let your provider know that you are happy and feel empowered by polyamory, if that is true for you, so that they don’t have reason to suspect that you are in a dangerous situation.
    • However, if you are actually in a dangerous or uncomfortable situation and want to discuss this with your provider, it is okay to bring that up as well. Many poly people feel that they need to constantly “prove” to monogamous people that being poly is healthy and makes everyone happy, and because of this they may feel reluctant to bring up issues that they actually want to talk about.
    • Remember to take care of yourself, your doctor is there to support you and you have the right to get the help you want. If you feel judged by your doctor for seeking help, or you feel you are not getting the care you want because they are not educated about your lifestyle, consider getting a recommendation from a friend for a new doctor!

For Poly Healthcare Practitioners:

  • The number one thing to keep in mind, with this and any other topic you may be unfamiliar with, is simply to maintain a professional, nonjudgmental attitude when talking to your patients.
    • Though actually knowing about and understanding topics like polyamory is helpful, you can still be an effective practitioner simply by keeping an open mind and paying attention to what your patients are asking of you.
  • Related to this, keep your assumptions at bay. Don’t automatically assume that your poly patient is more likely to get an STI. In fact, most polyamorous people are much more STI aware and are more likely to have safer sex than monogamous people, partly because they have more people to be accountable to.
    • This applies to all aspects of a patients life: don’t assume they’re straight, don’t assume their gender, don’t assume they can afford to pay for the prescription you give them, etc.
    • You can ask more broad questions, like “What safe sex practices do you use?”, “Are you currently dating?/What is your current relationship status?”, and “What genders do you usually date?”. These questions are great because they don’t assume that the patient is having sex, that they use or need birth control, nor do they assume anything about their sexual identity or relationship status.
  • If you are truly concerned for a patient’s mental health or physical safety (and not just because you have not educated yourself about poly relationships), you can ask questions like “Do you feel safe at home?” or “Do you have a support system or someone to talk to?” to decide whether you need to take further steps.

More Helpful Resources:

What Psychologists Should Know About Polyamory

Kinkopedia: Solo Polyamory

Solopoly.net

What Health Professionals Need to Know

A Poly Metaphor


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


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Prism Blog, Sex & Relationships

How to Talk to a Doctor about BDSM


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When practicing BDSM/kink it’s important to know how to talk to your health provider about marks and bruises. Knowing how to talk about it can save you a lot of uncomfortable explanations (and potential investigations into your domestic/sex life if your doctor suspects you are being abused). If questioned, a good tactic is to simply smile and tell your doctor that the marks were consensual.
Check out this article on talking to healthcare providers about poly and kink.
And this article about going to your doctor with bruises and marks.

For any healthcare providers out there, a great way to ask a patient about marks is simply to ask “were these marks consensual or accidental?” Asking how they got them opens up the conversation for a lot of excuses because the patient may not feel comfortable telling you the truth. If they know that you understand marks can be consensual, they will be much more likely to tell you if this is the case. If they don’t say they were consensual, you can evaluate further whether abuse is involved.

You can now find my profile on NCSF’s Directory. Check out their site to find other kink friendly practitioners.


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


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Prism Blog, Sex & Relationships

You Thought You Already Knew Everything About Safe Sex

(Note: this post contains mature information. If you are under 18, please leave this site and visit http://www.scarleteen.com/article/gender/figuring_out_how_to_be_a_lesbian_safer_sexpert)


We’ve all heard about safe sex, right? “Use condoms”. That’s about where the story ends, especially when the person talking has little knowledge of any kind of sex other than PVI (penis-vagina intercourse). Even at queer events where there are “safe sex supplies” provided, often only condoms and lube are available. Rarely dental dams are provided, and almost never gloves, especially not with information about when or how to use them. It’s important to know the potential risks of the kinds of sex that you’re having, so that you can make educated decisions about what kinds of barriers you want to use -which may vary with each partner or for specific activities.

General Safe sex tips:

  • Get regular STI check ups (every 3-12 months, depending on whether you have high risk sex).
  • Especially if you’re not using barriers:
    • Regularly trim and file your nails; check your hands, mouth, and genitals for cuts and sores; and wash your hands before and after each sex activity.
    • Don’t floss or brush your teeth 30 minutes before giving oral sex without a condom/dental dam (2 hours if you’re a smoker, since it takes longer for wounds in smokers’ mouths to heal). If you’re concerned about bad breath, you can use a mouthwash which also helps to kill bacteria in your mouth.
    • Wash your anus thoroughly with soap and water before rimming. If you do douche, use warm water only; chemical products can  increase your risk for STIs.
    • Pee after sex; this can flush bacteria and viruses out of your urethra.
  • Use barriers! This is the easiest way to prevent STI transmission. Using barriers can be awkward at first if you or your partner aren’t familiar with them, but they quickly become comfortable and even sexy!

No-to-low risk sex: masturbation or mutual masturbation (you each touch yourselves not each other), “dry” humping/fucking (pressing your genitals against someone else through clothes), or against someones (clean) leg, chest, or other area where fluids are not present.

For other types of sex, here is a clear list of what you can get or transmit (check out this guide for trans men too):

  • Oral sex with penis/external genitals: chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, HPV, syphilis.
    • Use condoms, dental dams (or a condom cut open), or saran wrap (not the microwaveable kind) to prevent transmission.
  • Oral sex with vulva/innie: herpes; also HPV possible but unlikely.
    • Use dental dams, saran wrap (not the microwaveable kind), or a condom cut open to prevent transmission.
  • Anal sex: chlamydia, gonorrhea, hep b & c, herpes, HPV, syphilis, craps, HIV.
    • use condoms to prevent transmission. “female” condoms are especially effective because they cover part of the external area too. they are easier to use anally if you remove the inner ring before insertion.
  • Intercourse/PVI: chlamydia, gonorrhea, hep b & c, herpes, HPV, syphilis, crabs, HIV, trichomoniasis, yeast infections, BV.
    • Use condoms to prevent transmission. “female” condoms are especially effective because they cover part of the external area too (note: they can’t be used with nuva ring, cervical caps, or diaphragms).
  • Other genital-genital contact, sharing used toys, sharing hands (between multiple partners or between masturbation and touching partners genitals): chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, HPV, syphilis, crabs, trichomoniasis, yeast infections, BV; HIV and Hep B & C possible but unlikely.
    • Use condoms on toys. Use dental dams, saran wrap or condoms during genital-genital contact. Use gloves when sharing hands from one person to another.
  • Oral-anal sex/rimming: amebiasis, cryptosporidium, giardia, hep a, shigella, herpes, possibly hpv (unkown).
    • Use dental dams, saran wrap (not the microwaveable kind), or a cut open condom to prevent transmission.
  • Fingering and fisting: low risk, however you can transmit HPV and herpes, especially if you have cuts on your hands or if your fingernails scratch the vaginal walls
    • Use gloves, especially if you have cuts on your hands. If you choose not to use gloves, wash hands with warm water and soap immediately afterwards.

Remember that the “receptive” partner during anal or vaginal intercourse is more likely to contract STIs. You can have an STI and not know it, and infections can be spread when no symptoms are present. Talk to your partner(s) about STI status, the kinds of sex you want to have, and the kinds of barriers you want to use for each activity. It can be uncomfortable at first, but once you get used to it, talking about sex before you have it is sexy! I recommend this video on the “other ” Safe Sex conversation: communication around sexpectations.


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


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Prism Blog, Sex & Relationships

14 Foods to Soothe Herpes Outbreaks

Two amino acids have a significant impact on both herpes simplex (mouth or genital herpes) and herpes zoster (shingles).

Lysine reduces the strength of a herpes outbreak, while Arginine can actually increase the intensity and duration of the outbreak. You can take lysine as a supplement to prevent outbreak, or eat foods containing lysine and avoid foods containing arginine, before and during the outbreak to shorten the duration.

You can also take the formula Long Dan Xie Gan Tang for herpes outbreaks either externally or internally. It usually takes 2-3 days for the formula to work (edited based on Liana’s comment).

Foods with Lysine: add before/during outbreak (in order from most lysine to least)

  • Fish
  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Goat milk
  • Cow milk
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Cheese
  • Beans (especially mung beans, lima beans, and soy beans)
  • Cottage cheese
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Sprouts
  • Crustaceans
  • Eggs

Foods with Arginine: avoid! (in order from most arginine to least)

  • Hazel nuts
  • Brazil nuts
  • Peanuts & peanut butter
  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Cocoa powder
  • Sesame
  • Cashews
  • Carob powder
  • Coconut
  • Pistachios
  • Buckwheat flour
  • Garbanzo beans or chickpeas
  • Brown rice
  • Pecans
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Oatmeal
  • Raisins
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Corn

All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


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Prism Blog, Sex & Relationships

How Can Acupuncture Help With Hep C?

There are many acupuncture and herbal medicine treatments for Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) and its complications, whether or not you are undergoing western treatment.

Often western medical practitioners will advise patients with early stage HCV to wait to seek treatment until there are drugs available with less serious side effects, but you may already be experiencing symptoms at this point. Chinese medicine can be invaluable in alleviating the symptoms and slowing the progression of the virus until you are able to seek further treatment to clear the virus.

Current standard western anti-viral treatment involves interferon and ribarin, which together are able to clear HCV infection from about half of people affected. By combining these drugs with protease inhibitors, many more people can be cleared of the virus, but this combination produces serious side-effects. Many patients stop taking these drugs because of the side effects they produce, sometimes creating medication resistant HCV strains in their bodies. These side effects can be even worse if the patient is already in poor health when they begin taking these medications. Chinese medicine can be used to lessen the side effects of those western treatments and work on any concurrent health problems that may interfere with treatment.

Guan Ye Lian Qiao (St. John’s Wort), Chai Hu (Bupleurum), and Shui Fei Ji (Milk Thistle) don’t mix with western HCV treatment. Two weeks prior to starting western treatment, and during the course of treatment, the following herbs and supplements should be avoided: silymarin/milk thistle (though this herb can reduce liver inflammation for folks with HCV who are not taking anti-virals), St. John’s Wort, Chai Hu/Bupleurum. The following herbs and supplements can help soothe symptoms of HCV and side effects of treatment: lactobacillus acidophilis/probiotics, b-compex (especially B-12 and folic acid), omega 3 fatty acids & essential fatty acids, selenium, chromium, carotenoids, lycopenes, vitamin E, alpha lipoic acid.

It is recommended to get an acupuncture treatment within 24 hours or receiving an interferon injection, to help relieve side effects of the injection. Furthermore, HCV infection is the leading cause of liver transplants in the U.S., and chinese medicine can be helpful in supporting patients through this surgery and support their transplant as well.


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


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Endometriosis, Fertility and Pregnancy, Menopause and Beyond, PCOS, Prism Blog, Sex & Relationships, Transgender Wellness

Ways Your Doctor Lied to you About Weight

What does weight have to do with health? Not much, it turns out.

Most people in our society believe they’re overweight. And many people are deemed overweight, or even obese, by doctors: did you know the definition of “overweight” for a 5’4″ tall woman is 145 pounds, even though the average weight for that height is 144 pounds? So if you’re one pound over average (aka almost half the population), you’re considered overweight.

Americans are afraid of fat because they believe it’s bad for your health. But it’s less related than you think. Contrary to common belief, there is actually NO correlation between body fat and atherosclerosis (fatty plaque in arteries). There IS however a correlation between amount of exercise and risk of diabetes, but NOT between body weight and diabetes. In fact, obese people who exercise live longer than thin people who don’t.

So what’s really unhealthy about fat? For one thing, it makes you less likely to get health insurance because obesity is a “preexisting condition.” Even if you can afford to pay for preventative care out of pocket, you’re a third less likely to get breast exams, gynecologic exams, and pap smears (but just as likely to get hands-off tests like mammograms) as thin women. This is probably due to both doctors’ and patients’ embarrassment at performing these tests, because of shaming around weight issues in our society. “Peter Muennig did research at Columbia University that found that being under the stress of constant shame and stigma over a long period of time was correlated with the same diseases with which obesity has been correlated” (Dances With Fat).

Doctors also often overlook the health concerns you actually came in for and just focus on talking about weight loss. You might come in to talk about a lump you found in your breast and your doctor won’t even do a breast exam until you’ve talked about weight loss options. So you could end up going months to years without knowing what kinds of health issues you’re dealing with. Even if you find a body-positive doctor, they may not have blood pressure cuffs, MRIs, or other test equipment that fits larger bodies so you can’t get the tests you need. So, though studies seem to show that fat women are more likely to get breast, cervical, endometrial, and ovarian cancer, but researchers have concluded that the lack of preventative care may actually account for this.

Dieting, too, can actually HARM your health. Dieting tricks your body into thinking that you are starving (and maybe you are!) so that when you do start eating real food again, your body automatically stores extra calories, so that it’s prepared for the next diet. This explains why many people gain more weight than they lost after each diet. This jumping back and forth between sizes is extremely hard on your body and can cause more health problems.

So what are the facts about our health? It’s true that getting regular exercise and eating plenty of protein and veggies and limiting sugar intake is better for your health. But this is true for everyone, regardless of body size. So, if we’re really so concerned about health, everyone should focus on eating a healthy diet and getting exercise, NOT losing weight!


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


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Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.