integrative options for women's health
consultant • educator • advocate
I approach Women’s Health through the integrative lens of naturopathic medicine, conventional medicine, nutrition, and herbalism for the past 35 years. I have also learned how active, empathetic listening combined with time with each patient, creates a positive environment for those looking to maintain and improve their health. People who are given time to share the histories of their health and the impact on their lives often discover that telling their stories has a curative quality.
The focus of my current practice provides treatment and management options for hormonal transitions from PMS to post-menopause, including alternative and conventional modalities through consultations and educational sessions.
Please Note - As my practice turns towards consulting and counseling, I will no longer be able to offer ongoing clinical gynecological care (annual check ups, pap smears, etc). I do, however, encourage patients to establish Gyn Care for their annual exams and follow-ups.
Our current healthcare system can not address the concerns of the patient as a whole person. Office visits are short, doctors distracted, and computers have taken the place of eyes and ears. Clinicians are overbooked, so there is seldom enough time to discuss options and choices in treatment, let alone to acknowledge psychological or emotional narratives. In short, there is often no real dialogue between patient and caregiver. As a result, patients can feel fearful, confused, overwhelmed, unheard and passed over. Clearly, this is no way to approach comprehensive health care.
As a feminist clinician for 35 years, I know that the current medical establishment has been built on misogyny and patriarchal models, which neglects many aspects that contribute to health, especially for women and those with a uterus. I believe that women are a kind of “ walking silenced science.” By this I mean that women are the living embodiment of a science which has not yet adequately been studied, researched nor understood. Most women today feel that the medical system overlooks and under-serves their concerns and it has.
Medicine must learn to listen and, above all, allow and trust women to report their own; “body truth.” I have found that when women are given time to tell their stories, the histories of their health and its impact on their lives, this in itself can be curative. Through the practice of active and empathic listening, clinicians can help patients gain insight into the process of restoring health. Medical science corroborates this concept with strong evidence that the patient-clinician relationship can have profound healing effects. This is how we can all discover and develop a deeper, more nuanced and knowledge-based understanding of the sexual and reproductive health experience for all women of all ages, genders, sizes, races, and ethnicities.
The Pause and Beyond
Today in the 21st century, hormone health still elicits confusion, conflicting opinions, changing science, for both patients seeking care, as well as clinicians and providers. So, it is no wonder menopause is still fraught with fear and apprehension and a lack of medical consensus.
The years prior to our period ending is the time of Perimenopause, which mostly goes unacknowledged and untreated by medicine. But these years can be some of the most unsettling …periods ending, then starting, hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety, PMS on steroids… but we are still menstruating - wha? These are often known as the crazy times and they can last for years.
As we push through into our 50s and through menopause, we begin to witness our aging, our friends aging, the end of the reproductive years - a joy to some, painful for others. Many feel invisible, sleep is deregulated, anxiety reigns, depression is not unfamiliar, uncontrolled sweats, marital and relationship suffer standstills or stand offs, low sexual response, painful and drier vaginas. Often adding insult, it is also a time of more responsibilities... of aging, ill / dying parents, struggles with children, financial solvency, work concerns etc. The body that is weakened by such hormonal chaos will seriously compromise its ability to maintain resilience.
The changes in our bodies can range from mild to dramatic as each woman is different in their response and reaction. That is why information and knowledge of the options of treatment are so important. Despite these physical changes, menopause can also be a time of deep reckoning, editing, reflection, cutting the dead wood, creativity, rediscovery, the end of shame and kicking ass!
I have dedicated my practice to helping women travail these troubled waters to find dry ground and gain more empowerment in our aging, sexuality and life.
Copyright © 2023 Virginia Reath - All Rights Reserved.