Womanhood used to feel oddly scary and isolating. I grew up feeling (and still sometimes feel) so shameful about natural bodily processes. I believed periods must be gross since they couldn’t be spoken about in public. Many women assume it’s “normal” not to want to be intimate after a certain age. There’s nothing scarier than being thought of as dramatic so it’s also common practice to underplay our symptoms or to not speak about them at all. The medical care many of us grew up in included: “When in doubt, take the pill” or “a C-Section is always the cleaner and safer choice”. These are just some of the topics that came up our recent Women’s Health Talk in The Remedy Bar at Hanya House. Three professionals in female healthcare – Dr. Rav James (Metabolic Health & Functional Medicine Doctor); Dr. Allison Blair (Integrative & Aesthetic Doctor), and Petro Zietsman (Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist) – came together to address our burning questions on female, sexual, and hormonal health. As we sipped on our smoothies, I realised there was so much wisdom being shared that our Hanya House readers could benefit from. So, here are three insights from our conversation that I wanted to share with every woman:

Incontinence may be common, but it’s not normal, AND it’s something we can fix.

One of the prevailing myths debunked during the talk was the notion that incontinence is an inevitable part of ageing or having children. Petro emphasised that while it’s common, it’s not something women should resign themselves to. Proper assessment and targeted exercises make it possible to lead a “leak-free” life. There was a tangible relief when this topic came up, and so many women realised they were not alone in having to do a squeeze with their sneeze. Petro explained how your pelvic floor can and should return to full function even after having children. All it takes is awareness and the proper treatment (targeted exercises, for example). This intimate process naturally makes some women nervous – but after meeting and talking with Petro, it’s clear what a comfortable and professional environment and experience she creates with all her patients. 

Dr. Rav, Petro, & Dr. Alli at our recent Remedy Bar Wellness Talk on Women’s Health

Ageing is inevitable – suffering is optional

Dr. Alli reminded us that while ageing is a natural process, suffering doesn’t have to be part of the equation. Our bodies are resilient and we have the power to address and alter all that happens to, and in, our bodies as we age. Leaning on a point from earlier about how women tend to underplay their symptoms – the first takeaway from Dr. Alli is how essential it is not to dismiss signs of hormonal imbalance or menopause. Historically, women have been ignored or not taken seriously when seeking medical advice. Recognising the uniqueness of women’s health experiences is crucial in providing effective and compassionate care. Dr. Alli opened our eyes to the power of HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) under the right circumstances. She reminded us that symptoms like low energy, papery, weak skin, and nails all become reasons for us to take action with help from our trusted doctor (as opposed to something we ignore and have to live with). She armed us with options against low libido and other sex related issues – including something called the O-Shot (which is as interesting as it sounds). 

Women are not small men and further insight into the use of the oral contraceptive pill.

Dr. Rav highlighted how the disparity in sports research on women led to misconceptions and misinformation about fasting, protein, and recovery protocols. New studies show us that, contrary to popular belief, fasting may not yield the same benefits for women as it does for men. Protein requirements change as we age, and not getting enough could result in fatigue, muscle loss, and a slowed metabolism, to name a few. Ageing well means training well, and the research is clear: Strength training is essential for women. 

Additionally, many of us have little understanding of the contraceptive pill. For example, many women believe that they are having menstrual cycles while on the pill when in fact they are not. The oral contraceptive pill (OCP) suppresses the body’s endogenous production of hormones and halts ovulation. As more research is being done in this area, we are gaining insight into the importance of ovulation on a woman’s health well into post-menopausal stages. Dr. Rav discussed a different approach: Rather than using the OCP frivolously, use it only when appropriate. Otherwise, in cases where it is possible, use your menstrual cycle as a window into your health, as a vital sign. Attend to the imbalances and work with a healthcare professional to regulate your hormones and cycles rather than switching off your hormones, only to have to deal with the imbalances in the future.

Tailored hormone support.

One of the most valuable aspects of the talk was the guidance on hormonal imbalances and PMS symptoms. Dr. Rav and the team at Hanya House shared insights into supplement combinations specifically designed to alleviate mood swings and discomfort associated with menstrual cycles. We discussed a combination including Vitamin B6, Magnesium Glycinate, Omega 3, and Taurine. Here’s a summary of what I learned: 

Taurine is a unique and semi-essential amino acid. It interacts with and supports the production of the neurotransmitter GABA. Dr Rav recommends taurine for premenstrual and perimenopausal mood symptoms; this Taurine research shows that it also helps improve sleep and prevent migraines. 

B6 works by boosting serotonin and GABA. Interestingly, Vitamin B6 also lowers histamine levels. Histamine levels rise and fall with the menstrual cycle due to the changing levels of oestrogen and progesterone (which influence histamine levels). High levels of histamine symptoms include headaches, irritability, insomnia, brain fog, and even anxiety and irritability (sounding familiar?).

Magnesium Glycinate contains the amino acid Glycine, which acts similarly to Taurine in GABA production. Magnesium Glycinate is also one of the easiest forms of magnesium to absorb. Glycine is the precursor for the anti-oxidant, glutathione. While powerful for many processes Glutathione is interestingly also helpful in potentially increasing the general rate of ovulation. During the premenopausal period glutathione may even help us prevent premature ovarian ageing

Keeping it simple.

At the Remedy Bar we’re always about simplifying supplementation. Dosage and the correct combination should be based on your unique circumstances. That’s why it’s always better to consult your trusted doctor or at least come in and discuss to make the most informed decision possible. Dr. Rav’s recommended simplification could be a product like MetaRelax from Metagenics, combining Magnesium Glycerophosphate (Glycinate), Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D3 and Taurine. Dr. Rav suggests a product like this a few days before you expect your period to ease some of the PMS symptoms. A dosage of two MetaRelax tablets with an Omega 3 supplement works well for many women (associated with a decrease in menstrual pain).

The Women’s Health Talk not only answered pressing questions but also fostered a sense of empowerment and community among attendees. If you’re eager to join the conversation and stay informed about future events, be sure to contact Hanya House to reserve your spot. Remember, your health matters, and it’s time to demand better—for yourself and for women everywhere. Until next time, let’s continue prioritising our well-being and supporting each other on this journey toward optimal health.