I have a problem with purchasing anything. I dive deep into every posted review, cross-reference those between different sites, then follow it up by trying to find the best deal. This usually ends with a few gray hairs, slightly gnashed teeth, but also the most economical yet functional blender of 2021.
And now my headache is your reward. Have you ever wondered what’s in your OBGYN’s medicine cabinet? Here is your chance to see!
I’ve also exchanged many products once I started my Integrative Medicine Fellowship. So this reflects a more holistic and natural approach to women’s health.
Supplements in an OBGYN’s Medicine Cabinet:
This deserves an explanation regarding quality. I used to think that supplements were the Wild West of medications. This is not true. Though the FDA doesn’t regulate them, they must comply with multiple federal rules.
However, there is still a large range between brands and their commitment to testing standards. The best quality brands are those which undergo 3rd party testing (examples of this independent quality control include the labels “USP” or “NSF”). What does this stamp actually mean the company is doing?
- Ensuring per-lot testing of suppliers
- Performing continuous assessment for contaminants
- Using organic materials to decrease exposure to pesticides
- Confirming that the supplement has accurate and appropriate potency.
So, do your research to ensure that you are getting the product you are seeking. This is especially true if you’re using it medicinally. It may takes weeks or even months to see the full effect of these supplements.
And of course, check with your doctor first before taking any of these!
Without further ado… an Integrative OBGYN’s Medicine Cabinet
1. A probiotic specifically made for the reproductive tract.
Our microbiome protects us from invading organisms. And these bacterial good guys are organ-specific. So, even though you’re taking a gut probiotic (which I also recommend!), the species colonizing the reproductive tract are different. They are mostly Lactobacilli dominant. This creates as acidic vaginal environment. In turn, this helps fend off the higher-pH-loving bacterial vaginosis bugs, amongst others. Which are the bacteria that are associated with better pregnancy, fertility, and urinary tract outcomes?
- Lactobacilli rhamnosus (especially strain GR-1)
- L. reuteri (strains B-54 and RC-14)
- Lactobacilli crispatus
- L. jenseneii
2. Ginger root powder is a potent anti-inflammatory.
It has been shown in studies to be as effective as pharmaceuticals in decreasing period cramps. It’s also accepted as first-line treatment of nausea in pregnancy. In doses greater than 5 grams daily, it may thin the blood.
3. Medicinal mushrooms and their properties were revelatory to me.
They are immunomodulators, anticarcinogens, antibacterial and antiviral. Certain species improve focus, decrease fatigue, and optimize blood pressure, sugars, and cholesterol. I use a blend to optimize mental clarity. It’s so effective that I didn’t realize I hadn’t had my daily latte until I got a raging withdrawal headache.
4. Uva ursi is what I use to help with a bladder infection.
This botanical has antiseptic and antibacterial actions in the bladder through its conversion to hydroquinone in the liver. It’s active against common bladder infection-causing bacteria in vitro, like E. coli, Ureaplasma urealyticum, and Staph aureus. And double-blinded clinical trials confirm it may be effective in prevention of recurrent urinary tract infections when combined with dandelion root.
5. A prenatal vitamin with sufficient choline, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and methyl folate.
This is true even if you’re not actively trying to get pregnant. It supplies essential nutrients that we may not be adequately intaking from diet alone.
6. Valerian root to help with insomnia.
This botanical may also be helpful for anxiety and menopause. There have been studies comparing this root (in conjunction with passionflower or St. John’s wort) to pharmaceutical anti-depressants and found equivalent improvement. It can take weeks to become effective, so don’t expect an immediate result. I combine it with therapeutic toe-tapping and a relaxation 4-7-8 breath (Dr. Andrew Weil has an informative video about this) for sleep readiness.
OBGYN Products in My Medicine Cabinet:
7. A quantitative LH kit to help determine exactly when ovulation is occurring.
The menstrual cycle is our 5th vital sign and is so important to overall health (since many hormone imbalances manifest as irregular ovulation). The 1st generation of ovulation predictor kits only give you a positive (falsely 7% of the time) or a negative (which can be incorrect a whopping 35% of the time … meaning that even though it says you aren’t ovulating, a third of the time you may be but the test isn’t picking it up). The quantitative tests look at the numbers and build a woman-specific curve to best determine when ovulation is happening.
8. Period underwear.
This is another game changer because it feels like what you’d normally wear and not some sort of huge diaper.
9. Organic pads.
It was shocking to realize how many chemicals are in our household products. And thinking of all of them getting absorbed vaginally has been quite the impetus to switch to a brand that minimizes these toxins.
I hope this may broaden your self-care options! No jade eggs here or wearable tech… yet. For now, I’m off to research the best tweezer to pluck out those aforementioned gray hairs. Hoping to be ready to purchase in about 30 hours — wish me luck.
I am a USC-trained Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility physician with a boutique practice in Orange County, CA. I am also a Fellow in Integrative Medicine at the Andrew Weil Center at the University of Arizona, a FEMM Fellow at the Reproductive Health Research Institute, and serve as Associate Clinical Faculty at UC Irvine. My goal is to radically reimagine my field by focusing on whole body methods to identify the root cause and heal reproductive issues, like fertility, miscarriage, and abnormal cycles. I do this through integrative medicine practices coupled with traditional REI techniques, all while avoiding aggressive procedures. I’m grateful to have been selected for multiple years running as a Southern California Super Doctor and Rising Star, Orange County Physician of Excellence, and Top Doc in Pasadena. I am a Healthcare Task Force member for Life Perspectives, a leader in education, research, expertise and support after reproductive loss; serve on the Advisory Board for Pre-Health Shadowing, a non-profit that makes discovery of different medical specialties accessible to students; and have been an invited guest at multiple conferences and podcasts as well as an author of book chapters and multiple articles. I am excited to use an integrative medicine lens to educate about women’s issues!