Find a Holistic Gynecologist
Holistic gynecology combines the best of both worlds: the latest technological knowledge that conventional medicine has to offer, especially in the area of diagnostics, along with a range of complementary and alternative treatments your average MD is only beginning to learn about. But there’s a catch: There is no one association to which all such practitioners belong. This is where the Internet comes in handy; typing “holistic gynecology” into a search engine will bring up a number of individual doctors’ websites. Be sure to ask about the therapies that each individual is familiar with and if they are board-certified in holistic gynecology. (Getting word-of-mouth referrals from family and friends can’t hurt, either.)
Learn Your Family Medical History
Health practitioners say that one of the most useful diagnostic tools available is a complete medical history, both personal and family. However “as a woman, you may need to do some extra work when compiling your family’s health history,” according to The Savvy Woman Patient by the Society for Women’s Health Research (Capital Books, www.internationalpubmarket.com). For example, Grandma may have died of a heart attack. But if she didn’t have classic symptoms often seen in men—such as severe chest pain and shortness of breath—her death may have been attributed simply to old age. To compile a family health history, the SWHR recommends trying to uncover the following information going back as far as you can: birth and death dates; cause of death; patterns of disease, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes; race and ethnicity; childhood diseases such as cystic fibrosis and type 1 diabetes; environmental and drug allergies; and history of such mental or behavioral problems such as depression, anxiety and addictions.
Encourage Lymph Flow
One way to support breast health is to help lymph circulate freely through the chest. Deborah Davis, author of Women’s Qigong for Health & Longevity (Shambhala, www.shambhala.com),
suggests an exercise called the Lymph Pump: Start by standing with
your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, arms hanging at
your sides and chin slightly tucked in. As you inhale, open your arms
out to your sides so that your elbows are bent at a 90-degree angle,
forearms at shoulder level and palms facing forward; your back should
arch slightly as you look upward. Then, as you exhale, look down, form
fists with your hands and move your arms in towards your chest as
though you were doing an ab crunch, with your elbows against your
sides. Repeat for a minute or so several times a day.
Can’t Shed Pounds? Check for PCOS
Polycystic ovarian syndrome, a disorder in which small cysts cover the ovaries, can make it nearly impossible for a woman to lose weight (and render her infertile as well). Getting a definitive diagnosis is crucial; to find an endocrinologist who specializes in PCOS, visit the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists website at www.aace.com.