At Maternal Mental Health NOW’s Sex and Perinatal Mental Health conference, leaders in research and emerging voices will convene to delve into the complexities of perinatal mental health and sex and sexuality. We will examine how healthcare and culture address issues of sexuality during the reproductive period. In addition, we will discuss the many ways in which individuals cope with and recover from birth trauma, sexual trauma and societal influences. The conference includes dynamic keynote presentations, diverse speaker panels, small group workshops and first-hand accounts of those with experience and expertise in this area.

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Online registration for the Sex & Perinatal Mental Health Conference has closed.  Live stream registration will remain available through Sunday, January 12, 2020. Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for further registration information.  


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Melissa Bangs Headshot Personal Story

Melissa Bangs, Writer, Producer, National Advocate

Melissa Bangs is a storyteller, director, producer and partner to MMHNOW. For the past five years, she has toured her tragicomedy on postpartum psychosis, Playing Monopoly with God & Other True Stories, all over the country. Additionally, she leads storytelling workshops for moms. This peer to peer model for overcoming trauma in the perinatal period creates a radically nonjudgmental space for the truth of our early motherhood experiences.


 Personal Story

Nicole Blaine, Comedian

As a stand-up comic, Nicole Blaine has been seen on NBC’s Today Show, E’s That Morning Show, The Big Sky Comedy Festival, San Francisco Sketchfest, Laughing Skull Comedy Festival, The International FringeNYC Festival and Boston's Women in Comedy Festival. Nicole and her producing and life partner, Mickey Blaine, executive produced the HBO comedy special, Burning the Light. For six years Nicole and Mickey produced the monthly hit show, Virgin Sacrifice, at the Westside Comedy Theater. Nicole is the head comedy writer for the online magazine She is the Executive Producer and Festival Director of The Showdown, a stand-up comedy festival, at The Westside Comedy Theater that has been running since 2014. Nicole lives in Santa Monica with her husband and two kids. They all suck so she has great material. You can see her perform every Monday in Los Angeles at Canter's Deli in the Kibitz Room Comedy Show. To see her info or stand-up go to:
Instagram: nicblaine


Chavkin  Panel: Fertility Challenges and Perinatal Mental Health

Diana Chavkin, MD, FACOG

Dr. Diana Chavkin is a board-certified fertility specialist who helps people build families. Having struggled with her own infertility, she knows the value of a compassionate, transparent and effective medical team. She sees patients at HRC Fertility in West Los Angeles. She specializes in diminished ovarian reserve; unexplained, tubal, and male-factor infertility; PCOS; egg/embryo freezing; and recurrent pregnancy loss. She works with cancer survivors, singles, same-sex couples, and those seeking third-party reproduction. She earned her medical degree from New York University and completed her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology as well as her fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Chavkin has authored many research papers in renowned medical journals as well as book chapters and is active in multiple professional organizations including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. She has received multiple peer reviewed awards such as Top Doctors Los Angeles and Super Doctors Southern California Rising Stars. 


Dossett Headshot 2014   Reproductive Justice and Mental Health

Emily C. Dossett, MD, MTS

Emily C. Dossett, MD, MTS is a reproductive psychiatrist and Director of Women's Health & Reproductive Psychiatry at the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. As a reproductive psychiatrist, Dr. Dossett works with women struggling with mental and emotional issues connected to times of hormonal change, including pregnancy, postpartum, the menstrual cycle, and perimenopause.  Her work for DMH aims to improve mental health care for all women served by the Los Angeles County safety net.


lashonta   Eyes Front: Sexual Violence, PMADs and The Military

LaShonta Edwards, Sexuality Coach

LaShonta Edwards attended her first pleasure party in 2008 as a young single mother in the throughs of Postpartum Depression. New to the “toy party” process, she sat quietly, smiled, and listened. While listening, she realized that there was so very little that she knew about her own body and had been engaging in sexual acts merely to keep her partners happy. LaShonta decided it was time to take back her relationships and sex life and became a Romance Consultant with her clients dubbing her as the Romance Paramedic. As she completed a romance enhancement order for a client, she decided that it was time to further her education. Upon further research, LaShonta became a student of The Dr. Rachael Institute to obtain her certification as a Sexuality Coach. Through countless hours of education, the course teaches the science behind relationships and sexual wellness problems. LaShonta is extremely motivated to make a positive impact by helping people create the relationships and sex lives that they desire.


samara fabrick  Postpartum Sex Panel

Samara Fabrick, LCSW, Clinical Psychotherapist

Samara Fabrick is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been in private practice in Beverly Hills for the past 20 years. Samara specializes in couples therapy and taught the premarital course, Making Marriage Work, at the American Jewish University for 15 years.  As part of her extensive work with couples, Samara works with a variety of sexual issues, including those associated with postpartum sexuality and sexuality in the course of long term relationships.


  Postpartum Sex Panel 

Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz, M.D. F.A.C.O.G.

Diplomat of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz received her medical degree from the USC School of Medicine and her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Dr. Gilberg-Lenz is involved in women’s empowerment and public education, and appears frequently as an expert in women’s health and integrative medicine on TV, in print and on-line. She completed her clinical Ayurvedic Specialist degree at California College of Ayurveda in 2010 and was board certified in Integrative and Holistic medicine in 2008.


Haeflinger  Let's Get It On: Starting the Conversation about Sex and Mental Health During Pregnancy

Jenna Haeflinger-Kurtz, LMFT, IFECMHS, RPF-II

Jenna Haeflinger-Kurtz is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and the Director of Early Intervention & Community Wellness at Wellnest in Los Angeles. She is an endorsed Infant-Family and Early Childhood Mental Health Specialist focusing on birth to five issues such as trauma, parent-child relational issues, and developmental delays.


Hanna Morgan  EMDR: Healing Sexual Trauma that Resurfaces in the Perinatal Period

Ashley Hanna-Morgan, LCSW, PMH-C

Ashley Hanna-Morgan is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker specializing in perinatal mental health, grief and loss, and trauma. In 2016, she wrote the Afterglow Curriculum and started the first free Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Mindfulness Therapy based support group in Los Angeles for parents with Postpartum Depression and Anxiety. In 2017, she published a collection of poetry called I Gave Birth to My Heart that she hopes will throw back the curtains and shed some light on what Postpartum Depression and Anxiety actually feel like, as well as, most importantly, what the recovery looked like. She is currently in private practice and a Postpartum Support International Volunteer Coordinator for Reno, Nevada, where she now lives with her family. When Ashley is not advocating for parental mental health, she loves to explore nature, practice yoga, experiment in the kitchen, read with a cup of tea, meditate, and write.


TJ Hill  Personal Story

TJ Hill, Parent

TJ Hill is the Executive Director of the Disability Community Resource Center (DCRC) in western Los Angeles.  He has over 20 years of experience in public interest law and public policy. TJ and his husband Jay adopted their daughter Chloe from birth in 2013.  They all live in Santa Monica, CA.


 Deborah  Panel: Fertility Challenges and Perinatal Mental Health

Deborah Kanegsberg, LCSW, CD(DONA)

Deborah Kanegsberg has worked in the perinatal and early home visiting field for nearly 25 years, and nearly 20 years of experience in Early Head Start. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Birth Doula with extensive direct, supervisory and management experience working with high need families. Deborah has extensive experience working with pregnant and parenting teens, trauma survivors, diverse populations of families, immigrant families, and parents with a wide variety of mental health challenges. Deborah has personal experience with fertility testing and treatments, including in-vitro fertilization and embryo donation/adoption. She is the proud mother of a very feisty and funny two year old.


Kaufman  Postpartum Sex Panel

Gabrielle Kaufman, MA, LPCC, BC-DMT, NCC, PMH-C

Gabrielle Kaufman, Clinical Director of Maternal Mental Health NOW,  is a dance/movement therapist and licensed professional clinical counselor. Prior to this, she directed the New Moms Connect Program of Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles and has spoken widely, published articles on parenting, and served as editor for Bringing Light To Motherhood. She is Los Angeles coordinator for Postpartum Support International and has a private practice providing services in both English and Spanish.


thea monyee  Twerk: Decolonizing Sexuality & Pleasure in Black Bodies

Thea Monyee', LMFT, Sex Therapy Trainee 

Thea Monyee’ is an artist and licensed marriage and family therapist creating healing opportunities through decolonizing mental health, joy, and pleasure in marginalized bodies. Her credits include TV and radio appearances, countless keynotes at colleges and universities throughout the country, and published work on topics ranging from speculative fiction to decolonizing mental health.


nagoski  Come As You Are

Emily Nagoski, PhD

Emily Nagoski, Ph.D., is a sex educator and author of Come As You Are: The surprising new science that will transform your sex life. Her job is to travel all over the world, training therapists, medical professionals, college students, and the general public about the science of women’s sexual wellbeing.


SarahOreck 1  Sexual Side Effects of PMADs and Psychotropic Medications: An Integrative Approach to Treatment

Sarah Oreck, MD

Dr. Sarah Oreck attended medical school at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and completed her Adult Psychiatry residency and fellowship in Women's Mental Health at Columbia University. After graduation, she returned to her hometown of Los Angeles, California where she has a private practice focused on reproductive mental health and is a staff physician at Cedars Sinai Hospital. She is passionate about women's health and addressing gender bias in medical training and education. She has become an active member of Maternal Mental Health Now and Postpartum Support International.


Molly Quinn  TRANSforming Family: Supporting patients with gender dysphoria in starting families

Molly Quinn, MD

Dr. Molly Quinn completed her undergraduate studies at Stanford University and medical degree at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. She completed her residency training in obstetrics and gynecology and fellowship in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) School of Medicine. Her clinical interests include infertility, fertility preservation, recurrent pregnancy loss, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and helping LGBTQ individuals build families.  She has a special interest in fertility preservation for transgender and gender-diverse individuals. Dr. Quinn’s research interests include optimizing pregnancy outcomes subsequent to assisted reproduction, the role of the reproductive laboratory in improving in vitro fertilization (IVF) outcomes, and the long-term safety of IVF and related treatments.


Skoczylas  4th Degree Obstetrical Lacerations:  Not Your Average Postpartum Recovery

Laura Skoczylas, MD

Dr. Skoczylas is currently Director of Urogynecology at Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles.  She is board-certified in both Obstetrics and Gynecology and Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery.  She attended residency at the University of California Irvine. During her fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh, she received a Masters in Clinical Research. 


singley  Postpartum Sex Panel, Dads Just Need a Place: The Myths and Realities of New Dads and Sexuality

Daniel B. Singley, Ph.D., ABPP

Dr. Singley is a San Diego-based board certified psychologist and Director of The Center for Men’s Excellence. His research and practice focus on men’s mental health with a particular emphasis on reproductive psychology and the transition to fatherhood. Dr. Singley’s won the American Psychological Association’s 2017 Practitioner of the Year Award from the Division on Men & Masculinities. He is Past President of the APA’s Section on Positive Psychology and currently serves on the Board of the APA’s Society for the Psychological Study of Men and Masculinities as well as Postpartum Support International. He conducts trainings and presentations around the country to assist individuals and organizations to enhance their level of father inclusiveness and founded the grant-funded Basic Training for New Dads, Inc nonprofit and Padre Cadre social networking application just for dads in order to give new fathers the tools they need to be highly engaged with their infants as well as their partners. In his free time, Dr. Singley likes to cook, surf, read, and drive his two sons to activities all over town so they can’t escape his annoying shrinky questions. Follow him @MenExcel and


 ElyseSpringer  Postpartum Sex: Tips, Tricks and Tools

Elyse Springer, MA-CLP, LMFT, PMH-C

Elyse Springer is a Los Angeles based licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice with focus on Perinatal Mood and Anxiety disorders, LGBTQIA+, trauma, anxiety, OCD, and HIV/AIDS. Prior to private practice, Elyse worked at a cross-section of community mental health organizations, including APLA Health, where she successfully piloted one of the very first programs embedding mental health in housing services in LA County. Elyse served as co-chair of LA County's HIV Mental Health Task Force for several years. For the last seven-plus years, Elyse has been teaching faculty at LA-based Maternal Mental Health NOW as well as Governing Council member and Governance Sub-Committee chair. She has served as a board member at large for 2020 Mom for the past five years, and currently serves on the clinical advisory board of non-profit perinatal loss org Return to Zero: HOPE. Elyse is among the first clinicians with the national PMH-C (Perinatal Mental Health Certification) designation.


Helena  Vaginal Space: Symbolic Assertion of Female & Maternal Subjectivity

Helena Vissing, PsyD, PMH-C

Helena Vissing is a Licensed Psychologist in private practice in Westwood, Los Angeles, specializing in Developmental Psychology, Play Therapy, Perinatal Mental Health, and somatic trauma treatment. She is Adjunct at Antioch University and Faculty on the Training Committee of Maternal Mental Health NOW. Helena is at the Intermediate Level of the Somatic Experiencing trauma treatment program and is Perinatal Mental Health Certified through Postpartum Support International.


Janelle 0098  Family Building Through Third Party Assisted Reproduction: Everything you need to know about surrogacy and egg donation

Janelle Watson, LMFT

Janelle Watson has worked in the field of mental health since 2011 and sexual & reproductive health since 2006. She is a skilled therapist, educator, and trainer, serving audiences of teens, parents, families, and couples. Her specialties include third party assisted reproduction, sexual and reproductive health, and LGBTQ affirmative psychotherapy.


Amy Weimer  TRANSforming family: Supporting patients with gender dysphoria in family building

 Amy Weimer, MD

Dr. Amy Weimer majored in Neuroscience at Brown University, and attended UC San Diego for medical school. She completed her residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, followed by a year as chief resident in Internal Medicine. She has since practiced primary care for patients of all ages, and through this work became very committed to caring for transgender and gender-diverse individuals. In 2016, she co-founded the UCLA Gender Health Program, and over the years has cared for hundreds of children, adolescents and adults whose experienced gender is different from the sex they were assigned at birth. She is very active in education, and is collaborating on research designs to improve the health care experience for this population.


White  Panel: Fertility Challenges and Perinatal Mental Health

Penny White, MSW

Penny White has an MSW degree in clinical social work, with a concentration in health care, from USC.  She was a maternal/child health social worker, specializing in NICU, at Northridge Hospital Medical Center for ten years.  She teaches psychosocial issues/skills to second-year medical students at UCLA, where she has developed perinatal mental health case studies for first and second year curriculum.  She co-created and co-directed an embedded maternal mental health assessment and treatment program at the USC/Eisner Family Practice Clinic.