With 88% of members improving or resolving their menopause symptoms within their first year of membership, and 30% reducing medications related to menopause treatment, our protocol has proven to be lifechanging for women who might otherwise suffer in silence.
Now, we’re formalizing our menopause protocol to ensure our all our providers are officially trained in it so that our menopause care is available to everyone, everywhere. “We’re rolling out a national program now because we believe every woman should know that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) isn’t her only option,” says Parsley CEO and Founder Dr. Robin Berzin, MD . “Indeed, many don't need HRT (even when it’s prescribed), and many others get prescribed HRT yet don’t receive the proper testing to ensure the dosage is safe.”
So how is Parsley’s approach to menopause different? We sat down with Parsley’s Dr. Svetlana Stivi, MD, for a look at the science.
“In this country’s healthcare system, we often want to label menopause as a disease, but it’s not—it’s a natural state of endocrine reorganization. It’s a transitional experience as a woman goes through life. There’s a lot of misinformation about how unpleasant it is for everyone, but in my experience and based on statistics, the majority of women over 60 report feeling pretty great. The symptoms associated with this period and menopause itself can have many different sources, and they’re individual to each woman. That’s why menopause symptoms need to be addressed individually.”
How is Parsley’s holistic approach to menopause care different?
“When you go to your first medical visit, your Parsley physician will start with an in-depth health history that would include not just your symptoms but also the factors that can affect the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. We assess your nutrition, your stress levels, your environmental toxicity levels, your genetics, and even your beliefs about menopause, because that matters, too. Women who think menopause is a disease and take their symptoms as a sign of disease will have much more pronounced symptoms than women who think of menopause as a natural state of life.
Women aren’t just coming up with this narrative out of nowhere. In our society and our healthcare system, women’s health concerns are often either dismissed or stigmatized, especially when it comes to reproductive health. As the same time, it’s not uncommon for women's underlying health conditions to be left untreated because doctors dismiss their symptoms as menopause. At Parsley, our closer, more personal look, backed by data, lowers the risk of missed diagnoses.
Of course, even as a normal healthy state, menopause can have symptoms that can interfere in womens’ daily lives, so we assess your nutrition, stress, genetics, and environmental toxicity because these factors can impact your hormone levels and how they fluctuate. If you’re dealing with poor diet, high stress, lack of sleep, and environmental toxicity, it will impair your body’s ability to tolerate menopause’s normal hormonal changes, in turn causing those perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms.
The Parsley difference goes beyond how we gain insight about that particular member. We’re also different in the way we approach diagnosis and treatment. We use advanced diagnostic testing through urine, blood, and saliva testing to assess how your hormones interplay within your body. Then, we create a personalized health plan to address any hormonal imbalance—or other underlying condition—through lifestyle as well as with nutritional/botanical support or prescription medicine, when needed. That’s where they’ll get support from their health coach as well as from their clinician.”
“Let’s take an imaginary member, Jane Doe. She’s 51, the average age at which women reach menopause. She’s a professional woman with a full-time job and a family with children, living in New York City. She’s having an array of symptoms, like mood swings, weight gain, bloating, brain fog, breast tenderness, hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, irritability, anger, fatigue, headaches, decreased libido, vaginal dryness and pain in intercourse. All of these interfere with her daily functioning as a person and as a woman.
In our first meeting, I will spend an hour doing an in-depth personal health and life history, which will include an assessment of the severity and frequency of her menopause symptoms, how they interfere with her daily life and in what way and to what extent, what has been done before to alleviate symptoms, and what she is doing currently. Normally there isn’t enough time for this, right, since most clinicians spend about 15 minutes with their patients—if that. I’ll also ask her about her past use of medications, herbs, supplements, hormones, and surgeries.
Then I find out more about what Jane’s average day looks like, starting with what time she gets up, to where she works, what her hours are, if she takes breaks to eat meals and healthy snacks. Does she enjoy her work? Does she hate it? Next, her nutrition. What is that like? Is it homemade or processed? Does she have any allergies or sensitivities? I’ll also ask if there’s any substance use, recreational drug use, and if she uses tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine.
Then we look at how much time Jane spends relaxing. Does she have time at the end of day for self-care, like an activity she enjoys, quiet time, meditation, walking in nature, or playing with her kids and grandchildren? This feeds into her mental wellbeing. Our feelings about ourselves, our jobs, our families, and our health also affect our stress levels, which in turn can affect our hormonal health. How is Jane’s social life and community? Does she belong to any clubs, or have a religious affiliation? Does she have enough time for friends? Does she have pets?
We also look at her genetic and medical history, collecting the results of any physical exams, recent gynecological exams, including breast exam, pap smear, mammogram, bone density test. What about her family health history? We factor that in, too.
There are so many things to find out about—from environmental toxicity to exposure to microplastics—just to begin to understand how Jane’s health and lifestyle impact her menopause symptoms. Most of it has to do with how she manages stress, which causes spikes in adrenaline and cortisol, hormones that will interfere with natural fluctuations of estrogen and progesterone, thereby increasing the intensity of her menopause symptoms. With advanced diagnostic testing, we may also discover that she has an underlying condition, like SIBO, that exacerbates her menopause symptoms.It’s all connected! While we call what we do at Parsley holistic medicine, I would simply say that it’s a commonsense medicine.”
“Menopause affects more than 55 million American women and yet 73% of these women will suffer in silence without treatment,” says Dr. Berzin. “When we look at the body as an integrated system—rather than isolated parts—we’re able to implement the right solution at the right time, which halts the cycle of frustration women experience when they’re stuck in the revolving door of specialist referrals and prescription drugs.”
While medications like hormone replacement therapy (HRT) will be prescribed when appropriate, Parsley’s menopause protocol emphasizes advanced testing and personalized lifestyle changes implemented with the guidance of a doctor and personal health coach. With our holistic approach, we take a closer look at every aspect of health impacted by menopause—from metabolic, to mental health, to inflammation—to offer a holistic path to healing that actually works.
Parsley Health is the doctor that helps you live healthier, longer, by treating the root cause of symptoms and conditions. Our medical teams—staffed by leading clinicians and health coaches—spend more time with you, order the right tests, and prescribe food, sleep and movement alongside medications so you can get better—and feel better.