Functional Medicine and Women's Health

Functional medicine is a buzzword in women’s health that has gained a lot of attention of late. This approach focuses on the person and their health and well-being as a whole. It can also sometimes be referred to as integrative medicine. Rather than focus on a group of symptoms, what the patient may be lacking in is looked at, and then changes are made so that the body can begin to function optimally again. This can be imperative when addressing women’s health issues, like infertility.

Functional medicine is all about finding causes, not treating symptoms. The goal is to find the underlying mechanism and how the root cause can be addressed. The following techniques may be used in this approach:

●  Nutrition – the food we eat can play a huge role in how we look and feel. It can give us energy or make us feel lethargic. Its important nutrition is utilized so we can feel our best.

●  Massage – therapeutic massage, deep tissue, neuromuscular, myofascial release, trigger point, etc.

●  Prenatal and postnatal massage – A safe practice for the expectant mother, when given by an experienced prenatal practitioner.

●  Craniosacral therapy – a form of bodywork or alternative therapy using gentle touch to palpate the synarthrodial joints of the cranium.

●  Chiropractic therapies – massage, mobility, and other techniques are used in this type of therapy.

●  Herbal medicine – herbal medicine is an all natural way to experience relief from symptoms and improve overall health.

●  Acupuncture – fine needles are used in specific spots on the body to promote less tension and reduced pain.

● Spiritual therapy – a form of counseling that attempts to treat a person’s soul as well as mind and body.

● Reiki – noninvasive healing practice which facilitates the person’s overall health and well–being.

Finding the right functional medicine health care provider is important, and you can begin the process by making sure you ask the right questions. They are as follows:

● Will test results be followed up?
● Will complete examinations be performed?
● Do the practitioners make more money by upselling supplements and lotions/potions?
● Are evidence-based guidelines followed?
● Is the practice well known and renowned?
● Is this service covered by my health insurance?

Women have unique health concerns, so a range of care services need to be provided. Many concerns can be addressed with functional medicine, such as:

● Menopausal symptoms
● Sexual concerns
● Weight concerns
● Staying healthy
● Wellness promotion
● PMS/Heavy menstrual bleeding
● Annual physicals
● Pap tests
● Breast exams
● STI (sexually transmitted infections) testing
● Pelvic exams for other reasons (symptoms like vaginitis and UTIs)
● Routine vaccinations, including HPV vaccinations
● Contraceptive management

The health provider you choose should be aware that caring for women at different life stages is important. Different care may be required dependent on the stage of life the woman is at as well as the problems they are experiencing.

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