What Is a Holistic Gynecologist—and Should You See One?

How natural treatments can be used for your reproductive and sexual health.

You've probably heard the wellness term "holistic." It refers to an approach to health that considers the whole body rather than only looking into symptoms afflicting one body area. Holistic doctors consider overall physical and mental health and lifestyle factors in diagnosing and managing illness. And they often use alternative therapies like herbal remedies and supplements, in addition to pharmaceuticals and surgery, to help a patient heal.

Gynecologists, by definition, focus on conditions that affect the vagina, uterus, ovaries, and breasts, managing everything from infections to fertility to sex issues. But would it be better for your reproductive and sexual health to see a holistic OB-GYN rather than a conventional doctor?

To find out, Health spoke to Eden Fromberg, DO, a holistic OB-GYN in New York, to break down the term and discuss what a holistic gynecologist can do for you. Here's what you need to know.

What Is a Holistic Gynecologist?

According to Dr. Fromberg, one main difference has to do with treatment. A conventional OB-GYN relies on "pharmaceutical drugs, synthetic hormones, and surgical procedures to solve women's health problems," explained Dr. Fromberg.

On the other hand, according to one study published in 2018 in the journal Cureus, holistic medicine offers alternative strategies such as acupuncture, nutrition, and mindfulness. While seemingly unconventional compared to clinical medicine, those strategies are also derived from scientific findings.

"I use techniques that are in concert with the body's natural processes and rhythms," said Dr. Fromberg. 

Dr. Fromberg also explained that a holistic OB-GYN takes into account trauma, illness, and injuries and tries "to restore balance and connection instead of severing it or giving people drugs that make it hard to get back on track from." 

Like a convention gynecologist, a holistic gynecologist is certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Beyond that, they should also have board certification for integrative holistic medicine. And ideally, they should have some other experience in osteopathic or naturopathic medicine.

Why Do Some People Choose a Holistic Gynecologist?

According to Dr. Fromberg, patients often turn to a holistic approach when their needs haven't been met by their conventional healthcare provider. Other people simply lead a holistic lifestyle in general and want to have a connection with their gynecologist.

"Patients also just want to be heard," explained Dr. Fromberg. "They know from the beginning that I will spend a lot of time with them." 

According to Dr. Fromberg, fertility issues are among the most common concerns among her patients. Another common issue is chronic pelvic pain.

Per the Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library, pelvic pain is a severe problem that can make it challenging to engage in everyday activities and enjoy sex. Dr. Fromberg explained that conventional medicine often treats that pain with antidepressants and painkillers. 

On the other hand, instead of only treating the pain, a holistic gynecologist evaluates the patient's lifestyle, addressing various concerns. Those concerns may include stress, inflammation, and autoimmune diseases

What Is an Office Visit Like?

Often, conventional gynecologists squeeze their patients into 10-minute windows. However, according to Dr. Fromberg, a holistic gynecologist will try to make each appointment as pleasant and comfortable as possible.

"We'll start by discussing everything to make you feel comfortable," explained Dr. Fromberg, who said she dedicates one to two hours per patient. "I don't rush people through their exams—I give them the time that they need."

Do Holistic Gynecologists Prescribe Drugs?

A holistic gynecologist makes thoughtful decisions about what medications are necessary for the patient. 

"In reality, some of my patients who come to me are already on two or three different medications," said Dr. Fromberg. "If somebody just needs regular prescriptions, I might not be the [healthcare provider] for them." 

Additionally, on the topic of birth control, Dr. Fromberg explained that many holistic gynecologists strongly believe in the right of a patient to make their own reproductive choices rather than imposing their personal beliefs. 

"So if they chose to take the pill, it's done in the context of true, informed consent," noted Dr. Fromberg.

Instead of telling her patients what choices to make, Dr. Fromberg mentioned that she informs them of side effects and risks. 

Is a Holistic Gynecologist Covered by Insurance?

Unfortunately, according to Dr. Fromberg, most holistic gynecologists do not accept insurance, given the amount of time they lend to their patients. 

Some people will contact their conventional healthcare provider to keep costs low. They are likely covered by their health insurance policy, so people can make an appointment for a birth control prescription or a Pap test without raising their bills.

Summary

Dr. Fromberg shared some advice if you consider going to a holistic gynecologist. 

"It's important that they acknowledge the emotional, spiritual, and psychological component of women's health," emphasized Dr. Fromberg. "Look for a holistic gynecologist that shows appreciation for that aspect."

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