Women are more empowered than ever—and need the proper health guidance for all stages.
What do women want? They will tell you, without a doubt. Women today are energetically empowered to create and sustain a life of love, health, hearth and success on their terms. They do not want to rely on “fixing” health problems as much as they want to prevent problems, and when something does seem to go wrong, they want to get to the root cause and reverse it, if possible.
Women want health care—not sick care.
“There is [a] resounding chorus of women right now who are saying ‘I don’t want to burden my body unnecessarily. I just want to know what is happening, why I feel this way, and what I can do to address it,’” related Amy McKelvey, CEO and founder of her vital way in California. “For example, hormonal changes and stress throughout a woman’s entire life directly impact sleep, digestion, metabolism, energy and the appearance of our hair, skin and nails. Yes, we can work on the symptoms to make life more enjoyable while also addressing the root cause so that balance is restored.”
Prominent Areas for Concern
Achint Choksy, MD, of Ace Integrative Health, Ohio has observed that toxins in the environment, combined with inadequate nutrition, declining estrogen levels and hormonal imbalances “have a major impact on women’s quality of life. Most common symptoms that women experience after their 40s are chronic fatigue, sleep disturbances, anxiety, mood swings, decreased libido, irregular periods, chronic headaches and weight gain.”
Adam Killpartrick, DC, CNS, chief science officer, DaVinci Laboratories of Vermont, said he also sees toxicity and metabolic imbalances at the top of the list of most negatively impactful factors in women’s health today. He explained that “subsequent endocrine dysfunction occurs which in turn alters detoxification and metabolism even further, and then the cycle continues. This manifests into mood issues, lack of energy, fluctuations in blood sugar and ultimately sets the stage for the development of a variety of chronic diseases.”
Gynecological disturbances—vaginal health—has been in the spotlight—there is no longer any embarrassment attached to discussing problems with “The V.”
Hormonal variations can affect this microflora balance in women throughout their lives. Estrogen stimulates the proliferation of lactobacillus in the vaginal tract. The predominance of the beneficial bacteria lactobacilli in the vagina is known to create an acidic environment that protects women from infection, said Natalie Lamb, technical advisor, Florida-based Bio-Kult. Its absence is a key characteristic of conditions such as bacterial vaginosis (BV), Candida albicans overgrowth and even urinary tract infections.
“Although anyone can get a urinary tract infection (UTI), it is more common in females than males, most likely due to the shorter length of the urethra (so the bacteria do not have as far to travel to enter the bladder) and because of the relatively short distance between the opening of the urethra and the anus,” she explained.
Indeed, “one of the biggest trends we are seeing in women’s health is the growth in popularity of vaginal pH balancing and freshening gels,” observed Suzanne Munson, vice president of product development & compliance, Fairhaven Health, Washington. Munson also said that women of all ages are dealing with recurring bacterial vaginosis, which causes uncomfortable symptoms, including fishy smelling discharge, vaginal irritation, itching and redness.
Munson explained that bacterial vaginosis develops when the vaginal pH increases, causing healthy lactobacillus bacteria to die off leaving pathogenic bacteria room to grow. Like a vicious cycle, without healthy bacteria present to produce lactic acid, the vaginal pH continues to rise, and it becomes difficult to restore the vaginal ecosystem back to a healthy balance. This problem is often compounded by overtreatment with antibiotics (to fight BV) and the use of douches and feminine washes that strip the vaginal mucosa of immune cells and healthy bacteria.
“Another trend we are seeing in women’s health is that peri and post-menopausal women are looking for vaginal products to address the genital and urinary symptoms associated with menopause, one of which is vaginal dryness,” she said. Vaginal dryness causes irritation and burning, and leaves menopausal women susceptible to BV as well as unwanted odor. Further, the hormonal changes can make intercourse uncomfortable and/or painful. “Vaginal moisturizers that women can use every other day to help with vaginal dryness, as well as sexual lubricants are growing in popularity among peri and post menopausal women,” she observed.
According to Arina Pogossian, head of marketing for Australia-based BioCeuticals, nearly 80 percent of women experience menopausal symptoms, with 1.2 billion peri- and post-menopausal women estimated to be at risk of the resulting reduced quality of life by the year 2030. The most commonly reported symptoms, collectively referred to as vasomotor symptoms, are hot flashes and night sweats. Secondary symptoms are often experienced, including vaginal dryness, insomnia/poor sleep, mood swings and muscle aches.
For younger women of childbearing age, dysmenorrhea (painful periods) can be problematic, encouraging them to seek solutions; it can affect up to approximately 90 percent of women of reproductive age, said Pogossian. She explained that dysmenorrhea is divided into two categories: primary dysmenorrhoea (without a cause) and secondary dysmenorrhea (with an identifiable cause).
“While primary dysmenorrhea cannot be attributed to disease or illness, the production of uterine prostaglandins and inflammation has been identified as a key player in the condition’s pathophysiology,” she illuminated. “Women with more severe dysmenorrhoea have higher levels of prostaglandins, particularly in the first two days of menstruation. Thus, the importance of anti-inflammatory compounds in treatment protocols.”
More women are learning how to dive deep into subjects about their health, and this, asserted sources across the board, is a good thing. “Women wanting to be informed, is a blessing,” emphasized Dr. Choksy. “Six to eight out of 10 patients who see holistic integrative practitioners are women, and these women are actively searching for a natural way to deal with their life changes.”
At Women’s International Pharmacy Inc., in Wisconsin, Tami Haas, marketing manager, said most of the women she speaks with “now come to the conversation having done considerable research into their condition and possible therapies. We are rarely starting from square one. Some of the information found online can be misleading, but the women I speak with are looking for correct information and are more than willing to disregard outdated or incorrect information when provided with well-supported, logical information.”
Munson observed that for the most part, women are willing to spend a lot of time researching health issues and comparing products, and they ask their health care providers for product recommendations. Women, she said, are educated consumers who inspect labels, and prefer not to settle for what they perceive as subpar ingredients or products.
Childbearing years bring concerns of fertility for many women, as well as dealing with premenstrual symptoms.
According to Lamb, a 2017 scientific review concluded that the abundance of various bacterial species in the vagina greatly impacts a woman’s reproductive health and pregnancy outcomes. The vaginal microbiome in turn may be altered by exogenous factors that may lead to improved pregnancy outcomes, however more research is still needed to elucidate the balance of bacterial species that result in optimal female reproductive health outcomes.
“It is well documented that a healthy vaginal microbiome is one with an abundance of beneficial lactobacillus species. Taking an oral dose of at least 100 million (1 x 108 CFU) probiotic bacteria daily has been proposed sufficient to restore and maintain a normal vaginal flora,” she explained, adding that Bio-Kult’s Advanced Multi-strain is a unique multi-strain probiotic with 14 strains of beneficial bacteria.
BioCeuticals FemiPain combines zinc and thiamine (vitamin B1) with herbs traditionally used in western herbal medicine (WHM) and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to relieve menstrual pain, according to Pogossian. Ginger is traditionally used in WHM for its anti-inflammatory and carminative actions in the body. Cramp bark is traditionally used in WHM as an antispasmodic that relieves muscular tension and spasm. Black cohosh (standardized to triterpene glycosides NLT 2.5 percent) is traditionally used in WHM as an analgesic and to ease nervous tension. Alongside its analgesic properties, Jamaican dogwood is traditionally used in WHM for nervous system support. Corydalis (standardized to 10 percent alkaloids) is used in TCM as an analgesic and to invigorate the blood and regulate qi. Vitamin B1 supports normal energy production.
BioFloractiv Pregnancy Care contains seven probiotic strains and 35 billion CFU. L. rhamnosus, said Pogossian, can influence the microbiota development in infants when given to pregnant women in late pregnancy and during breastfeeding. “Maternal ingestion of probiotics may have a positive effect on infants’ health, including decreasing the incidence of mild atopic dermatitis/allergy symptoms in children in their first years of life,” she said.
DaVinci Labs’ Daily Best Prenatal, according to Dr. Killpartrick, is a dietary supplement that supports healthy pregnancy and lactation; methylated B vitamin levels, balanced gut bacteria with Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and ginger root extract for upper digestive support and comfort.
The company’s Metabolic Ovary Support is a dietary supplement that supports ovarian health. “Ovarian health is more of a focus than ever and the need for a complete formula is greater than ever,” noted Dr. Killpartrick. “This comprehensive formula features ingredients to support the structure and physiology of the ovaries, metabolism (both glucose and lipid) as well as supporting healthy magnesium levels. Not only do we include the foundational ovary support nutrient, inositol (2,000 mg), but we also have additional glucose support by way of ChromeMate chromium (250 mcg), metabolic support via CoQ10 (100 mg) and N-acetyl cysteine (500 mg) and inflammatory support provided by CurcuWIN (250 mg).
To promote potential for fertility, naturally, her vital way offers SchisandraLa (schisandra berry), TurmerZing (curcuminoid turmeric and ginger), CoQ10 (fermented USP grade), MilkThistle-80 80 percent silymarin and AlphaWave L-Theanine. “We work with a lot of women who are trying to conceive, particularly after being on birth control pills. We love introducing women to the above for comprehensive hormone, inflammation, energy, liver and anxiety support which all improve fertility. This combo has personally worked for us and for many of our clients and customers,” she related.
According to Munson, many couples who are trying to conceive naturally use lubricants to enhance the pleasure and comfort of intercourse. However, she noted, conventional OTC (over-the-counter) lubricants can potentially harm sperm, “so it is vital that couples choose a fertility-friendly lubricant that won’t harm sperm. BabyDance Fertility Lubricant is the only sperm-friendly lubricant made without parabens and cleared by the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration). Designed for couples who are trying to conceive, the patented formula is pH-matched to fertile cervical mucus and semen,” she explained.
In addition, she pointed out, poor vaginal health can impact fertility and lead to pregnancy complications. IsoFresh Balancing Gel was formulated to eliminate feminine odor and support optimal vaginal pH balance. IsoFresh is, according to Munson, “the first isotonic and paraben-free vaginal gel available—a pure, simple and safe natural douche alternative, designed to work from the inside out. It can be taken with IsoFresh Probiotic, a once-daily supplement supplying five strains targeted to support a healthy vaginal ecosystem.
Fairhaven Health also offers several fertility supplements to address cycle regularity, egg quality and cervical mucus production. These products include FH PRO for Women, FertilAid for Women, OvaBoost, FertileCM and Myo-Folate.
“As the symptoms and the experience of estrogen decline differs with age, the Femarelle line provides a very targeted approach to the different stages and ailments that women suffer from,” described Dr. Choksy.
The active ingredient in Femarelle, DT56a, was shown in several studies to decrease the symptoms that are associated with estrogen decline without increasing risk factors, as the activity is selective and does not have any impact on the reproductive organs of the breast and uterus or on clotting parameters. “Most women describe a relief in symptoms within the first month of using Femarelle,” he said, “and literally get their life back—they sleep better, feel better, and have great energy to tackle their days and nights.”
BioCeuticals’ MenoPlus 8-PN features Lifenol hops extract with standardized 8-prenylnaringenin (8-PN), which is, said Pogossian, clinically shown to be effective in relieving symptoms associated with menopause, including night sweats and hot flashes, insomnia mood swings and vaginal dryness. The supplement contains herbs that “possess estrogenic activity and used in traditional western, Chinese and ayurvedic medicine systems to support a healthy transition from peri-menopause to post-menopause.”
DaVinci Labs is set to launch Nature’s Transition in June, Dr. Killpartrick reported.
The formula combines four ingredients to support hormone balance. Patented FenuSMART is a unique composition of fenugreek seeds with a peer-reviewed double-blinded randomized-controlled trial and safety data (published). “FenuSMART has proven efficacy for hot flashes, insomnia, irritability, vaginal dryness and libido among peri and post- menopausal women through establishing hormonal balance,” he explained. “We’ve also included HMRlignan, [which] is also beneficial in supporting healthy hormonal balance.”
For women enduring peri-menopausal transition symptoms, her vital way’s McKelvey recommends SchisandraLa, L-Theanine, TurmerZing and Organic Sea Buckthorn Oil for vaginal moisture and heart health, as well as Strong Sea-K whole food calcium, k2 and d3 for bone health “since declining estrogen levels reduce bone density.”
During this phase, emphasized Lamb, maintaining a healthy vaginal ecosystem is especially important to help alleviate the ongoing effects of declining estrogen levels. For example, she offered, research indicates that probiotic supplementation may also improve bone density, help to prevent vaginal atrophy, dryness and genitourinary infections, improve mood and stress resilience, help to regulate metabolism and weight, protect heart health and support immunity. “I would recommend Bio-Kult Advanced Multi-strain Formulation, containing 14 different strains,” she said.
Today’s post-menopausal woman is typically still youthful in many ways, active, on-the-go, trying new things, and still enjoying her sexuality. To help this latter characteristic, Fairhaven Health will soon launch its Sage Personal Moisturizer and Lubricant, which is a daily vaginal moisturizer and intimate lubricant for peri and post-menopausal women. “It is intended to supplement a woman’s natural lubrication, to enhance comfort and freshness,” Munson described.
UTIs, however, can plague women after menopause, said Lamb. A culprit is the lack of sufficient estrogen, which as mentioned, helps stimulate proliferation of Lactobacillus genera in the vagina. “There appears to be a close correlation between the loss of the normal genital flora and an increased incidence of UTIs,” she explained. A compatible ingredient is cranberry, which contains proanthocyanidins (PAC specifically A-type), which prevent E. coli from adhering to the urinary tract, which reduces the chance of infection; a minimal dose standardized to 36 mg PAC is believed necessary to have this effect, she noted. Bio-Kult Pro-Cyan is a formula combining cranberry, probiotic and vitamin A that supports a healthy urinary tract.
BioCeuticals provides an overall foundation supplement, Women’s Multi Essentials, that provides nutritional support for key women’s health concerns: thyroid function, immune function, glucose metabolism and bone health, according to Pogossian. It contains choline, B vitamins, vitamins A, C, E and D3, zinc, selenium pomegranate and withania, a traditional ayurvedic adaptogenic herb, for adrenal support.
Other nutrients from BioCeuticals that support both cardiovascular health and bone health include UltraPure Omega 85 Range, Vitamin K2, and Advanced Calcium Complex (with vitamin D3).
“In my experience,” asserted Haas, “women are interested in living their best lives. They don’t want to just live longer, they want to feel better and live their lives to the fullest.”
Healthy Take Aways
• Hormonal changes and stress throughout a woman’s entire life directly impact sleep, digestion, metabolism, energy and the appearance of hair, skin and nails.
• Most common symptoms that women experience after their 40s are chronic fatigue, sleep disturbances, anxiety, mood swings, decreased libido, irregular periods, chronic headaches and weight gain.
• Nearly 80 percent of women experience menopausal symptoms.
• Dysmenorrhea is divided into two categories: primary dysmenorrhoea (without a cause) and secondary dysmenorrhea (with an identifiable cause).
For More Information:
DaVinci Laboratories, www.davincilabs.com
Fairhaven Health, www.fairhavenhealth.com
her vital way, www.hervitalway.com
Women’s International Pharmacy, Inc., www.womensinternational.com