Making the transition from childhood into the teenage years and young adulthood is a tender time for most young women. Navigating the world of menstruation, sexual relations, sexual health, and even understanding how her body works, can create anxiety, wonder, excitement and, inevitably, loads of questions. How can we best support young women as they make this transition? The answer lies with using a more holistic approach to Gynecology.
Traditional gynecology is solely focused on reproductive health. It can feel cold and medicalized no matter how warm the practitioner is. And, let’s face it, our reproductive system is only a small part of our entire body.
The Integrative (which includes Functional Medicine) approach to Gynecology focuses on the entire body. This holistic way of viewing a woman addresses nutrition, exercise, stress management techniques, and lifestyle choices, all of which positively sets up a young woman for a lifetime of excellent reproductive health. Often, all kinds of issues, like PMS, painful periods, and polycystic ovarian syndrome, can be treated using lifestyle approaches, either alone or coupled with herbs and supplements.
Perhaps the most important difference between me and a conventional gynecologist, is that when I start working with you or your daughter, my goal is to develop a relationship. It is important to create a partnership based on trust and respect in order to most effectively help you, the woman sitting in front of me. What are your goals? These drive everything. I start with a detailed history, paying great attentiveness to your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.
In creating a reproductive wellness plan I incorporate nutrition, exercise, mind/body techniques, supplements, and herbs. I may recommend acupuncture, massage/manual therapies, energy work. Of course, if birth control is desired also, we do include contraception with or without hormones. Again, it is co-created with you, and It all depends on your goals.
For a teenager or young woman an initial appointment often may not include a pelvic exam. This is because, truthfully, many questions/concerns don’t require one. Eventually we’ll get to an exam but first there is benefit in educating you about your own anatomy.
Often our first visit is just a “talk” visit. I understand that there can be fear surrounding a pelvic exam. My belief is that we don’t need to do anything that is not necessary, especially if it is uncomfortable or anxiety provoking! Even for mature patients, we are moving away from reflexively doing a pelvic exam at each visit because the evidence shows that it is not always necessary. I would rather spend our time with education.
So many routines that are started in our youth carry forward. What better time to take the steps needed to build your bones up, maintain your gut microbiome, establish food choices that support reproductive health and decrease the long term risks of cancer, diabetes, heart disease? We also teach mind/body techniques like deep breathing, meditation that helps you to handle all the stress that our crazy world throws at us. As a young woman, the sooner you learn to manage this, the better off you will be. It’s also important for you to learn about how toxins in the environment, food, plastics, cosmetics impact your reproductive health. If you take steps early in life to lower the toxic load, we can ensure your future wellbeing.
You can see that I believe strongly that if we can teach the young women of today the principles of nutrition, exercise, stress management and toxin avoidance, they will be a much healthier generation tomorrow! And my goal is to help make that happen.
Would you like to learn more and live in our neighborhood? Join Dr. Bronwyn Fitz at Blum Center for Health on May 4th at 7pm for her free community talk, An Integrative Gynecologist’s Advice for Teens and Young Adults. Dr. Fitz will describe the Integrative approach to some of the common health concerns that face young women: irregular and difficult periods, birth control, HPV vaccination, sexually transmitted infections. Register Now
About Dr. Fitz:
Dr. Bronwyn Fitz is a board certified Obstetrician Gynecologist who is fellowship trained in Integrative Medicine. In her practice she melds traditional medicine with non-Western approaches, nutrition, botanicals, mind/body therapies and lifestyle interventions to help women address their gynecological and reproductive health concerns. Her interest in mindfulness and meditation led her to pursue a two-year Fellowship at The Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, under the leadership of world-renowned Integrative physician, Dr. Andrew Weil.