Are you friends with your hormones?
Did you ever feel that you needed to be?
As women, we are often called "hormonal" if we make certain comments, or if we are perceived as "having an attitude." Sometimes, we state to ourselves that we are feeling "hormonal."
What does this mean though? Hormones are the enemy that we contend with from puberty through adulthood. This is responsible for the red blotches and acne that creep up right before photoshoots, or "Aunt Flo" comes on the day you wear your nice new crisp white pants to the picnic.
What if we could stop our go-go-go lifestyle long enough to hear what our body is saying, and learn that these hormones are whispering to us. It is for us to hear them, and answer accordingly. With this, we can move forward with fewer mood swings, better weight control and a happier life.
I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Dr. Aviva Romm as she launches her latest book- Hormone Intelligence: Hormone Intelligence: The Complete Guide to Calming Hormone Chaos and Restoring Your Body's Natural Blueprint for Well-Being.
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In Good Health!
Hello, welcome to in the rising podcast. My name is patina brown, and this is the platform I've chosen to talk about living our best life, being authentic and gaining knowledge to really take advantage of every single opportunity we have in this lifetime to live healthy, emotionally, physically, psychologically, spiritually. And so this is the platform. I also talk about leaving the shame blame game behind because it does so little for your life. It really does nothing for your life. It's more negative. I like to preface every podcast by saying that I am not a licensed counselor , psychologist, psychiatrist, but I am a healthcare professional as in physical therapist. And I've had thousands upon thousands of hours of one-on-one experience, really talking to women about what is important to them. And I am an international certified life coach. And so I bring that to the table. So in today's podcast, I had the opportunity to interview someone that I hope to emulate in so many ways. As I quote unquote, say, when I grow up, this is a phenomenal woman who is a Yale trained physician specializing in and the founder of the integrative medicine for women and children, meaning that she navigates healthcare from a whole person and entire person perspective and adds on the Western education and medicine. With that, she has authored several books, including the adrenal thyroid revolution and the botanical medicine for women's health. Her latest book was just published and it's called hormone intelligence, the complete guide to calming hormone, chaos and restoring your body's natural blueprint for wellbeing . It's now available. And I would absolutely encourage you to read it's phenomenal book. She is not only a woman herself, but the mother of three daughters. And what really struck me about Dr. Aviva Romm is the huge smile that you see , uh , reaches her eyes in all of her photos. And you can hear that intense passion as well in her own podcast. So I was so fortunate to spend some time with her and let's go ahead and get into it. So welcome to in the rising podcast. Thank you so much for your time. And congratulations on another book that is really going to change the way people are really women think and feel about their bodies. And I was looking at your website and I love this phrase. Being a woman is not a diagnosis. Where did this phrase come from?Speaker 2:
No , it popped into my head, I think in the, well, first of all, thank you. I think in the book I say being a woman is not a disease. And then as I've been talking about it just in my own community and my students, like I keep saying being a woman is not a diagnosis. And what it means to me is when you go to the doctor and you say , um, I have the periods from hell and your doctor says that's normal. Cause you're a woman. You go to the doctor and say, you know, I have horrible PMs. Well, that's normal because it's a woman, you're a woman. Or we say it to ourselves. Like this is normal as if being a woman itself is the diagnosis and it's not, it's not a diagnosis. So that's how that came about.Speaker 1:
I love it because I , I am a woman and I've heard it many times. I've heard it so many times just right. And so you've also, I quote you in the book here. We have come to accept the belief that it's normal to suffer because you're a woman. And you know, you talk about 80% of women struggle with hormone or gynecological issues in their lifetime. How have you seen this evolve as your time as a midwife and a physician?Speaker 2:
You know, I've seen it evolve in so many ways. I think the most startling, two things to me are, you know, because I've been a midwife for so long, I've been around women getting pregnant, but also women struggling and trying to get pregnant and not getting pregnant easily. And back in the day, you know, 35, 37 years ago when I started even until really the last seven or eight years, it was more rare that a woman would have such difficulty getting pregnant, that she'd go to see a reproductive endocrinologist. And now I have women come into my practice, 30, 30, 2 years old, who are already going down or exploring the infertility route, but they're not even surprised. They're like, I hoped I didn't have to deal with this, but all my girlfriends are dealing with it. So it's so normalized. So that was one really , um, kind of like flashing red light to me that something has changed. And it's not just that we're talking about it more. The other was about seven years ago. I wrote an article about early puberty because I was concerned about it. I was reading more about it. And I thought, this is just interesting. I'm going to explore it and write about it. Even if nobody cares about this article, the response I got to that article from mothers all around the world, but especially around the U S was astonishing, how many women were saying, oh my gosh, I'm so glad you wrote about this. My six-year-old is developing breast buds. I'm so glad you wrote about this. My eight year old just got her first period. And it was around the same time. I think what really triggered me to write that article was I had seen a press release from the Kotex company that they had created a line of menstrual products for girls between six and 10, with hearts and stars and rainbows, because so many girls were needing them now. And that's not right. That is not a problem that we have seen until the last decade or, and we also know that that problem is also , um, really politically , uh , and culturally driven in the sense that there's a disproportionate, even though we're seeing it in all young girls across the board, it's somewhere between seven and 15% of white girls, but up to 26% of black girls with , uh , Latino girls in-between so there are issues of what are we being exposed to what's happening to our daughters. And also why are certain communities also at higher risk? So those were the two things that I've really, I feel like have just changed dramatically, but the number of women with polycystic ovary syndrome, the number of women with endometriosis, these weren't conditions that were widely talked about 20 and 30 years ago. And it's not just that we weren't talking about them. I was in healthcare . We just weren't seeing them the way we are. Yeah . Yes.Speaker 1:
Wow. So I'm glad you brought all of that up because I certainly learned a lot. And just as a woman in her forties, having conversation about, you know, our daughters. And so I'm noticing that change myself, but I had no idea until I read that information from you. So I'm just really glad you brought that up. And there is, you know, this is June and I was starting through your book and I loved how you talked about cause you are, you know, integrative healthcare professional. And the first thing you do talk about is what's in a name, gender, and language. You introduce your book that way. And you really talk about, you know, anatomy is really how you're going to describe it. So we all have a common language, but you really are inclusive from the point. It brings your entire audience to that table. And I feel like it sets not only your book apart, but you apart. Um , you're welcome. I stillSpeaker 2:
Struggle tremendously with language. You know, I find myself quite dated , uh, you know, just as simple as like growing up in New York, I still say you guys , um, you know, I really am trying to find language that works for , uh , a widely inclusive audience. You know, there are a lot of people who were born as women who identify as women who don't want to be sort of non-gendered they want to be called women and referred to as women. And then people who were born with a womb who aren't women , um, people who have, who were born, not with a womb who are women and just trying to find the right language. So I just tried to say, look, if you were born with women's tack and you struggle with typical issues that are related to that, this book is your, and please forgive me for all my blunders and no put your, put your preferred language in anywhere I mess it up. Yeah .Speaker 1:
Well, I did appreciate it right from the beginning because you talk about being inclusive as a whole person. That's what integrative healthcare is. And you started off on that foot immediately. Thank you . Um, and so I was going through, and again, I was just like, wow, you wrote, you are not broken. So, you know, you often hear these words in your , in your practice or your you're going to the doctor. Well, this is wrong, this is wrong. And you feel like a broken person. How do you feel that that phrase you are not broken? How has that transformed your practice as a physician? And also as a woman?Speaker 2:
I mean, for me, I know as a woman, you know, the first thing that my natural tendency to do when something is going wrong, or when something's going on in my own body or with my kids is like, what did I do wrong? What's wrong with me? And I really want us to one stop blaming ourselves, no matter what's going on in your body. It's just not your fault. And your body isn't broken in the sense that your body is responding completely appropriately to whatever it's being exposed to or challenged by. So if you're struggling with any number of hormonal or gynecologic challenges, what is it that's causing those, it's not something fundamentally wrong with you. And it's not something fundamentally wrong with 80% of women who are going through a hormone problem, or, you know, one in 10 women is not broken. If she has endometriosis. One in six is not broken if she has a fertility challenge. So I would say that in some ways it's more my practice that led me to that phrase in two ways, one, I started out integrative. So my entree into all the world of women's health really came through my interest in environmental science and my understanding of how food affects our, our wellbeing . And that led me to start exploring, well, what are the real roots of illness? You don't just wake up one day and have diabetes. You don't just wake up one day and have endometriosis. Something is happening that is con is causing that. And we're really amazing organisms as humans. We have incredible healing capacity. We have incredible capacity for resilience. So what are the factors that are overwhelming that, and making us so much sicker than people who live more traditionally or than our ancestors. So there are things we can do. We can look at, for example, Dan Buettner's work on the blue zones. Why are there pockets around the world that people are living, not just living into their, you know , centenarian years, but living well and independently and still, you know, doing their finances and having sex and working in their gardens. Um, what's going on there. And I think the other thing just CA the other part of that came out of just a really deep compassion for women who go to doctor after doctor, after doctor, after doctor being told, you're fine. When they know they're not, or being told to just take the pill and they end up feeling like they're broken, or there's something wrong with them. So for me in my practice, this , this understanding that you're not broken, it's a really fundamental fact we're not broken. And the things that are throwing our hormones off balance are the answers to what we can actually do about them. So our diet, our environmental endocrine, disruptors, all of that. Thank you for sharing that.Speaker 1:
I just think your book is full of great phrases. And I really enjoyed that. You use the F word once in a while . It was like, you're just too old to not anymore.Speaker 3:
I'm just like,Speaker 1:
I really love that. And you talk that hormones are messengers and symptoms are messages, and you mentioned the power of hormones as your allies. And I just stopped. And I did talk with a few friends of mine. I said, do you view your hormones as your allies? And they're like, no, like there was this definitive. No. And I didn't realize that I did not feel, I felt more mine were my enemies until I read that line. There's a view of hormones as enemies feeds into the women's perception of themselves that you've noticed as , as a provider.Speaker 2:
Yeah. I mean, how often do we love our periods and love our hormones? Not too often, because if they're, if they're off balance and all over the place, we feel horrible. I mean, they can make us feel completely insane and rageful or tearful or irritable or bloated, or our breasts ache or what, you know, or worse if we actually have conditions that are being caused by our hormones. So here's the thing. And this is really interesting back in 2005, the American academy of pediatrics and the American college of obstetricians and gynecologists made a really important statement that nobody ever followed up on nobody's ever done anything with in the medical world. And probably a handful of us doctors have even heard of it. And what they said was that our menstrual cycles are our sixth vital sign and what they meant by that was like our pulse, our blood pressure, our heart rate, and our temperature , um , our respiratory rate and our temperature and pain, which is the fifth vital sign. Our menstrual cycles give us tremendous clues as to what is going on in our bodies and our environments beyond just the menstrual cycle as a reproductive event. So we know, for example, if your periods are really heavy or really heavy and really painful one, it could be endometriosis. And if you figure that out on, early on in your teens or early twenties and deal with that, whether that's alternatively or medically, or a combination of both, you can forestall life, a lifelong of discomfort, pain, bowel problems from adhesions, urinary problems , uh , fertility challenges , um , pain with sex. And also as many as 20% of women with endometriosis are actually prescribed narcotics because the pain can be so bad. So understanding that when your menstrual cycle is bothering you, it's actually an ally. You know, it's like we're shooting the messenger by blaming the hormones. When the hormones are saying, they're screaming at us, something's going wrong here. Something's going wrong here. Please listen to me and tell me, what's , you know, do something , um, and going even a step deeper than that. Looking further under the hood, let's say you have wildly irregular periods. One month, it's 30 days. The next month, it's 45. The next month at 62, then you're back down to 28, or you're just wildly skipping periods. You have cystic acne, you have hair where you don't want it. Maybe you have some depression. Maybe you have some binge eating your doctor's going to say, well, that's PMs and depression and irregular cycles. That's normal. Take the pill. Or they may say, well, you might have polycystic ovary syndrome, take the pill. But here's the thing with polycystic ovary syndrome. It's a metabolic condition and untreated, and the pill is not a treatment for it. It's a bandaid for it untreated. It carries all the same lifelong risks as diabetes. So if your period is driving you nuts because it's irregular. Yeah. You're not going to be in love with your period. If you're having cystic acne, you're going to want to blame your hormones. But those things aren't happening because your hormones are bad. They're not happening because you're broken. They're happening because you're getting exposures and your hormones are responding appropriately. Albeit maybe making you feel miserable. They're like a toddler saying, mom, mom, mom, mom. You know, if we don't listen to the toddler, the first six times the toddler's going to be on the floor, having a temper tantrum, it's not going to be fun. So how do we start to actually use our hormones as a scorecard, in a sense, our menstrual cycles as a checklist every month. And we check in and say, oh, wow, this is going on. If I'm hating my hormones, what can I do to reframe that? See them as my friends, trying to tell me something, and then what am I going to do about that? It's a completely different, it's just like , and you know what? I also want us to stop being, I want us to stop. We would never accept being called the word by someone. So why do we accept being called hormonal? You know, it's such a dismissive, like the actual word hormonal is used. I want to do a , a PO a post called hormonal is not a four letter word, but we're dismissed. Even with the things that we say, if we say them emphatically or emotionally as, oh, she's hormonal, or we may even say it about, oh, I was just hormonal. Forget what I just said.Speaker 1:
I like that. I like that. So the last question, cause I know we're going to be running short on time because I am a physical therapist and I primarily treat women with breast cancer who have gone through breast cancer. And soSpeaker 2:
I love physical therapists and I S I think physical therapy is such an under-recognized. I send patients for physical therapy all the time. It's so important.Speaker 1:
Well, we do women's health as well. You know, I've done that myself . So I was really just wanting to target. You talked about estrogen and risk factors in breast cancer. And, you know, I do get the question often. Well, are my hormones a factor? And, you know, I know some types of cancer, estrogen sensitive, some are not, but how could you, if that person's in front of you, where would you even start with that conversation for prevention? In other words, correct?Speaker 2:
Or if someone already has breast cancerSpeaker 1:
Prevention or just, you know, just a short phrase when you have, this is something you can look at or be aware of. Yes.Speaker 2:
I mean, so we know that breast cancer has preventable factors. Look, we can't get rid of a BRACA one. Gene. If we have a BRACA one gene, there, there are some overwhelming factors that are just what they are. But for most of us, breast cancer is a preventable medical condition. And we know that this overexposure to estrogen for at least estrogen dependent breast cancers is significant. So I say, look at your body products, get body products that are clean and green. Cause we do absorb those dilates and other chemicals through our skin. And through the sense that we're bringing in, reduce things in the diet that are pro estrogenic. So dairy, especially conventional dairy. If you're going to eat dairy, eat organic dairy, lean into something like sheep dairy, which is less inflammatory, eat, less red meat and more fish, no more than read one time a week for red meat, because it does actually increase estrogen and inflammation and then bump up your fruits and vegetables like crazy. Now here's the one thing I'm going to say that is not going to win me a lot of best friends, but I'm going to say it because it's that important alcohol alcohol is the one food, if you will. Or the one thing that we consume that has been on doubtedly linked to estrogen positive breast cancer, and it affects our sleep. It affects our circadian rhythm. It affects our gut microbiome. Most of us don't actually feel good the next morning after we've had a glass or two, even of organic red wine, it doesn't matter. So if you, and there's no healthy amount of alcohol, all that stuff about red wine being so good for us was create is just marketing campaigns created by the alcohol and wine industry. And you can read Marion Nestle's work on this. It's well-documented if you want to do one really great thing for yourself is 86, the alcohol, or if you're going to drink half a glass of something you love, not more than once a week,Speaker 1:
Well , you produced a wonderful gift to the world with this book, the time and research you put into it as massive. I really learned so much from you. Um, what would you like to tell people to, to learn more from you? What are your projects that you're working on just to briefly discuss , uh , we can get in touch with you and learn more from you? Yeah,Speaker 2:
So, you know, you can only put so much in a book and as it is, the book ended up being four times the amount of my contract required and we whittled it down to half. So it's, it's a huge book and, but you still can't put everything you want in it. So I would say if you want to go deeper with any one specific condition, if you want to learn more about courses and things you can do with me, head over to a Viva rom.com . It's my website. It's pretty, self-explanatory hang out in there and look through, there will be increasing numbers of online programs and a group medical practice starting in the fall of 2021. That's going to be a really wonderful experience for women. Um, and then hang out with me over at Dr. Aviva Romm on Instagram or Aviva Romm MD on Facebook. I try to be creative and meaningful with my social media and I'm the one checking my comments . So you really get me over thereSpeaker 1:
Too . Well, I'm on your notification list. Thank you so much for your time today and best wishes. And thank you so much for what you do for around the women, for women around the world.Speaker 2:
Thank you, Bettina. It's such a pleasure to talk with you. Take care.Speaker 1:
So this interview, I walked away with just nugget after golden nugget, after golden nugget of information and excitement to learn more. And I hope the same is for you as well. I love the fact that in her book, she does use expletives. I am a woman that uses expletives, and I certainly feel that they have their purpose in life. But, you know, I really did appreciate her saying that we don't say the C-word . Why are we seeing hormonal? And I think it just goes off to not dismissing ourselves are our emotions and our views because we are women or because we are having hormonal changes in our body. And that all relates back to how we feel about ourselves, how we present ourselves to the world. There's so much more than just the physical presentation and how this affects us emotionally and psychologically, and even in our spirit that we are able to give to the world. So I really enjoyed this short time with her. I was so grateful for it. And I thank you for listening to the podcast today. If this is something that is of interest to you, go ahead and hit subscribe. And I do present new material every Tuesday until next time, keep building one another up .