The world of gynecology is not a fun place for women such as myself. It can be pretty tough to find a physician willing to take a holistic approach in treating health/fertility issues.
From the start, I had irregular cycles. When I was in middle school, it was attributed to my body adjusting to the fertile years of my life. When I was in high school, I was told that cycling 3-4 times a year was normal enough not to be concerned. When I was in college and still could go as long as six months without a complete cycle and had sudden weight gain, I was lying about my sexual activities or needed to be on birth control to “even me out”. It seemed that every physician I saw was unable or unwilling to diagnose or treat my cycle irregularity. I felt as though every gynecologist thought I was liar. I put my health on the back burner and tried to ignore the problems I was experiencing. If no one was able to give me a reason why my body wasn’t normal, then there is nothing wrong, right?
The game changer came when I discovered there were “symptoms” of fertility, and that these same “symptoms” are a wealth of information. For instance, my scattered waking temperatures indicate a lack of ovulation. My irregular cycling was indicative of hormone imbalance. Hormonal birth control may have prompted my body to cycle more regularly, but it also would have masked the underlying health issues that needed to be treated. I researched gynecologists in my area that recognized the signs of fertility and were familiar with temp charts, etc. Within a few months, I had all the answers I needed and more. My physician was able to diagnose me and we created a treatment plan that addressed the underlying causes of the cycle irregularity. This treatment plan not only shortened my average cycle length, but it spurred ovulation as well. I learned how fertility issues or irregular cycles had other health consequences that were not just about whether or not I could have a baby. (If you are interested in learning about my experience with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, click here.)
The best part about treating my irregular cycles? The health issues that were a direct result were also corrected: I was able to gain control of my weight again, I had a clear understanding of insulin resistance and how to best control it, and I just felt better. It was not just about potentially getting pregnant or not getting pregnant. Treating the hormone imbalance and the insulin resistance enables me to address health concerns beyond fertility: holistic care. The more I learn and understand about my body, the more I feel at peace with “my normal.” I learn what is normal for me and how to make sense of what my body is telling me.
My own struggle with health and fertility is one of the many reasons why I support the type of care for which The Guiding Star Project advocates. I want other women to have an easier time finding a physician that can help them learn about their body. Preventative care is really important for many reasons, but I might have been able to save myself some struggles had I been given the tools to monitor my health sooner. The GSP vision seeks to encourage women to have the tools they need to make informed decisions about their bodies. From my perspective, this type of care promotes and fosters trust between women and the physicians they see. Women deserve holistic care, and real solutions to health problems, not band-aid medicine, or treatments that mask the underlying issue.
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