by Susan Post
In October of 2013, FEMM (Fertility Education and Medical Management) opened their pilot clinic near The Ohio State University campus. Anna Halpine founded this health center to help women take control of their well-being through an improved understanding of how their bodies work.
“We try to work with the woman and understand how her hormones are working,” Halpine says. FEMM focuses on hormonal education and how it affects not only a woman’s reproductive health, but also her health in general. “We’re really looking to balance that hormonal experience they have so we can optimize that experience of health,” Halpine continues.
FEMM helps women use natural methods to identify any hormonal abnormalities they are experiencing. The sooner a woman can identify an issue, the sooner she can take action to correct the discrepancy and be back on the path to wellness. It is important for a woman to understand her hormones because of the significant impact they have on her current and long-term health.
“Hormones influence our ability to manage weight, and to have clear skin, stable moods and pain-free cycles,” says FEMM’s OB/GYN, Kathleen Lutter, MD. “Hormonal suppression or abnormalities can lead to a host of health problems for women including depression, weight gain, acne and mood swings. Long-term risks of hormonal imbalance or suppression include higher risks of breast cancer, venous and arterial thromboembolism, heart disease and stroke.” She also notes that hormones largely affect a woman’s sexual experience.
FEMM offers a four-part class that “teaches the science of women’s reproductive health based on sound physiological principles.” Women are taught charting, a method that helps them practice a more natural form of birth control, while also helping to diagnose their overall health.
The classes start by educating women on the complex processes that their bodies go through, including the menstrual cycle and how hormones fluctuate during that time. Since a woman’s hormones regulate reproductive health, understanding these subtle, gradual changes during a cycle, or noticing if something is amiss, has many benefits.
Women are taught to identify and keep a record of their cervical mucus. This mucus provides clues to how fertile a woman is during her cycle. By charting this mucus, along with testing for the luteinizing hormone responsible for ovulation, women can achieve or avoid pregnancy naturally. Combined, these methods can be 92 to 98 percent effective at preventing pregnancy.
While many women take contraceptives to reduce the risk of pregnancy or abate other gynecological issues, it comes at a greater cost to their bodies. With an oral contraceptive like “the pill”, a woman’s hormones flat-line and she does not experience the typical cyclical progression.
“A common cause of hormonal insufficiency is hormonal contraception,” FEMM literature states. For the one-third of women who take the pill for gynecological reasons, “Many health providers concentrate on regularizing the bleeding patterns without understanding the underlying hormonal environment,” FEMM says.
Instead, FEMM is focusing on education to help women understand their bodies. “Our mission is to provide education and information to women about their health, and to work with them to make sure they have the information they need to make informed choices in their healthcare,” Halpine says.
In addition to the wealth of educational information FEMM provides on hormonal health, they also offer basic checkups and assessments, pap smears, basic breast exams and sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment.
If the warm reception at the pilot clinic in Columbus is any indication, FEMM’s educational platform will soon help women across the country to make informed decisions about their health.
“Women love understanding how their bodies work,” Halpine says of the program.
Location: 1872 N High St. For more information, visit FemmHealth.org or call 614-360-9995.
Susan Post is a freelance writer and editor based in Columbus. She enjoys writing about her city and the people and places that make it special. Contact her at Susan.Post.email@example.com.