Health Care Is Failing Women: 3 Questions to Ask to Your Physician

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In today’s doctor’s offices, the health issues that affect women the most are inadequately understood and treated. IBS, hypothyroid, migraines and autoimmune disease affect far more women than men. Not to mention the plethora of women-specific health issues such as PMS, difficult periods, menopause, fertility and postpartum wellness.

What are your treatment options for these conditions? Conventionally, just drugs aimed at covering symptoms, such as antidepressants, birth control, pain meds and immune suppressing or modulating drugs.

If you are one of the millions of women who deal with any of these issues, you probably don’t need me to tell you that these treatment options don’t help you feel well. They may not even adequately deal with your symptoms.

Care for these conditions is also disjointed. You are referred to a different specialist for each symptom or condition. For example, in the common triad of PMS, IBS and Hashimoto’s (autoimmune) hypothyroiditiis. A woman is sent to:

  • A gastroenterologist for IBS, for which there are few options for treatment.

  • An endocrinologist for synthetic thyroid replacement

  • An OB GYN or PCP for birth control to try to cover PMS symptoms (cramping, fatigue, mood, hunger).

No one is looking at the underlying mechanisms and connections of these conditions.

...and no one is actually trying to correct them.

IBS, hypothyroid, PMS and autoimmune disease are not separate conditions, but different symptoms of related underlying causes. None of these conditions or their underlying causes of are well treated by pills that seek only to suppress or cover up individual symptoms.

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So how do we begin to get the health we deserve? The first step is being an informed patient and finding the practitioner who knows how to investigate and treat the underlying causes of your health conditions.

3 Questions to Ask to Find the Right Health Care Practitioner

1) “Can you tell me about the gut microbiome?”
What you want to hear: Anyone who has paid attention to basic research in the past 20 years should be well-aware that the gut microbiome is a foundational part of our immune system. And our immune system is all about inflammation, which is a fundamental driver of all other health issues we may have.

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So investigating and rectifying the gut microbiome is essential for optimizing most health conditions. Tests include Doctor’s Data, Genova or Biohealth’s stool tests and breath tests for small intestine bacterial growth. Ask your practitioner if they run these tests and how they use them to guide your healing process. Tests should guide healing protocols, and protocols should have set time periods. If your practitioner is not well-versed in this incredibly important role of the gut microbiome in human health, testing and treatment: they aren’t going to be able to help you.

2) What role does nutrition play in my health issues?
The microbes that live in our gut microbiome eat what we eat. Since we now know that gut microbiome drives inflammation, which drives our health issues, then obviously what we feed our microbes matters.

Your practitioner should recommend dietary interventions that help you heal your gut microbiome, such as the Paleo diet or another elimination diet. Either they or a health coach or nutritionist to whom they refer you should be able to guide you through these dietary changes and then as you heal, to expand your diet.

If your practitioner thinks that diet doesn’t matter when it comes to female health conditions, including IBS, PMS autoimmune disease and hormone issues, go elsewhere.

3) How do you treat hormone-related issues?
The following tip-offs will let you know if your practitioner is hormone-savvy.

Wrong:

  • If their only treatment options are birth control or other prescription hormone replacements for PMS or menopause

  • It they tell you that PMS is normal.

  • If they tell you that hot flashes, low libido, vaginal dryness and mood swings are normal for menopause or only prescribe anti-depressants to treat them

  • If they prescribe hormone replacement therapy but don’t follow up with testing your hormones or using a test like DUTCH to test hormone metabolism.

  • If they don’t look at the gut microbiome when you have hormone dysregulations

  • If their only treatment for hypothyroid is thyroid replacement hormones (levothyroxine, synthroid, cytomel and even natural forms such as Nature-throid)

  • If their only treatment for fibroids or endometriosis is surgery or prescription hormones.

Right:

  • They test and treat your gut microbiome

  • They ask you to change your diet (if it isn’t already nutrient dense, unprocessed) and free of most major food intolerances/allergies).

  • They use advanced hormone testing like DUTCH

  • They test for metal and non-metal toxicants and support your through an appropriate detoxification protocol(s).

  • They help you figure out how to manage stress and implement proper self-care.

  • They test for infections and biotoxin illness if these other therapies have not corrected your hormone issues.

These criteria will help you find a practitioner who is equipped to help you connect all the dots and optimize your health

Have questions? Need professional guidance? Want any particular topics or health conditions discussed? Let me know! Email me at: Tressa@InHealthRVA.com

Tressa Breindel