Women’s healthcare can be complex. We have symptoms that feel hormonal or cyclical in nature, but many traditional providers don’t want to test hormones to try to determine what is causing those symptoms. They don’t see it as an effective option and instead, they throw a bandage on the symptom instead of looking for the root cause.
We leave those appointments feeling unheard. The provider hasn’t taken the time to listen and we’re back to square one. We feel frustrated and may even give up trying to find help, knowing the next provider is going to do and say the same thing.
Listen to Your Body
Here’s a novel concept: The people who are living in their own bodies know what’s happening and what they’re feeling.
Integrative medicine believes in body speak, understanding that everything is connected. In integrative medicine, the body is viewed as a system of systems. Symptoms are multifactorial, meaning many things are taking place to cause them, whether it’s something in their personal life, not relaxing/restoring enough, not getting enough exercise, insufficient nutrition, and so on.
So even if our symptoms feel hormone-related, hormones themselves aren’t always the problem. Our hormones are how our bodies communicate with us, and imbalances or issues are often a symptom of something else.
Good Partnerships Are Crucial – in Your Body and in the Exam Room
Think of your hormones as a symphony. They all play a role and when they work together, beautiful things happen. But, say, cortisol over here on cello is playing from different sheet music, playing an entirely different symphony. We need to get our cello the right sheet music so it plays in harmony with the rest of the orchestra.
This takes detective work – we need to peel back the layers and find what needs the most support. There’s a system of trial and error to determine what could be happening, and then testing and tweaking solutions until they’re just right.
This is where patients must buy in.
This process is a partnership – an honest, open, ongoing conversation. Patients must be met where they are so the solutions are sustainable for them. Because everything is connected, if they think something isn’t going to work, it’s not going to work.
What Is the Approach?
The partnership of shared decision-making is critical. Integrative medicine brings the information to the patient, taking their history and preferences into account, discussing the standard of care and recommendations for treatment, but also asks how the patient feels about those options. Ultimately, the patient makes the final decision – one she feels is best for her.
At Swan Integrative, the first appointment is set for an hour to give the provider time to get to know the patient – to really listen and hear their story. We focus on the person, their problems, and their feelings. Patients often don’t know where to start, so we work on individualizing the plan for the person. And we make it accessible, with small, achievable steps toward the goal of better health and happiness.
The validation patients feel when an anomaly is discovered, the joy they have when they feel heard and solutions are in place for healing, means the world.
Maura Aaberg, APRN, is dually certified as a certified nurse midwife and women’s health nurse practitioner. She has been caring for women almost 15 years, and her goal is to help them heal themselves and live healthier, happier lives. By working together, she helps women find the root cause of their symptoms, create space for healing, and aim to avoid chronic disease. Active listening and targeted interventions help find the right balance between lifestyle changes and modern medicine.