Hi! My name is Ashe Milkovic Schalles and I’m on a mission to create a world where women everywhere have access to exceptional healthcare.
Through IAFHH, my role is to support women’s health professionals with high-level mentorship and education in the most up-to-date research and strategies for functional hormone health. Together, I believe that we can revolutionize the way women receive care and support all over the world.
After 5 years of clinical experience running both in-person and virtual private practices, extensive study in the fields of functional nutrition, female health, and hormone physiology, including being trained under 11 different educational bodies and independent leaders in the industry, I saw a greater need for this work in this world, as well as a lack of quality education and resources made available to health practitioners to help do so.
I created IAFHH as a way to help make advancements in this education accessible for women’s health professionals everywhere so that women all over the world can more easily receive the quality healthcare and support they deserve.
To date, I’ve worked with hundreds of women in their hormone health journeys, and through IAFHH, have supported hundreds more practitioners in developing and refining their women’s health practices.
I bet you may be wondering… how did such a young woman manage to create an international association that educates and supports hundreds of practitioners all over the world?
Looking back at where I was when I first started my career in 2017, and all the events that led up to that point, I’ve come to realize that my passion for human health, nutrition, and hormones has truly been a life-long journey.
One of my earliest and fondest memories of discovering my passion began when I was just 5 years old. Every weekend I would visit my grandparent’s house and the first thing I would do was run to grab my favorite book to have my grandfather read to me. Any guesses on what that book was? It was a medical school anatomy and physiology textbook. Yup, that’s where it all began.
Growing older, I was homeschooled from the ages of 7-13, and with that experience, I was allowed to explore even more of my interests and passions in human health. By the age of 10, I was already taking high-school-level biochemistry, anatomy, and physiology classes. At 14, I attended public school and went on to graduate top of my class with a 4.8 GPA and a full-ride scholarship to college.
Outside of my academic interests, I was still a normal teenager. Except, there was a level of stress and grief at home as my mother experienced a long line of mysterious miscarriages that ranged all the way from early-term to stillbirth. We soon learned this troubling mystery was caused by a genetic blood clotting disorder that was worsened by estrogen excess and by taking hormonal birth control.
Through my teenage years and into becoming a young adult, my relationship with my fertility, hormones, and period was challenging. The trauma I experienced as a young girl from watching my mother grieve her losses left me fearing my own fertility. I carried that with me for quite some time, and I believe a large part of my passion for women’s hormonal health and fertility has stemmed from that experience.
At the same time, each month my periods left me feeling debilitated. The menstrual pain I experienced was worse than any pain I had felt in my entire life. Later on, I came to realize that the physical pain from my periods was even worse than that I felt during a miscarriage (more on this shortly). Beyond my dysmenorrhea, I also experienced raging PMS as well as a host of other uncomfortable symptoms including irritation, anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue, body aches, digestive issues, and frequent mouth lesions that were so painful I couldn’t eat, talk, or even smile.
Eventually, as anyone would, I had enough of feeling this way. In my early 20s, I started reaching out for support with my health issues and concerns about endometriosis. Of course, just about every physician I saw told me there was nothing wrong with me. According to all my blood work, I was the “epitome of health”.
The only option I was ever provided was to take hormonal birth control – something I knew was not an option because of my family’s blood clotting disorder. Other than that, I was told to “get some rest” and to work on “managing my stress”. That’s about it. No further education. No resources or alternative options. Nothing…
Thankfully, I had the love of learning and great skill at teaching myself due to my upbringing. So, I dove into the research and connected the dots between my symptoms and my lifestyle. I realized that the bulk of what I was experiencing was due to a bad case of gut dysbiosis, intestinal permeability, adrenal insufficiency, and estrogen excess amongst other hormone imbalances.
Discovering the connection between my nutrition and lifestyle and my overall health was an absolute game-changer. This entire experience re-ignited my interest in health and gave me a newfound passion for functional nutrition, gut health, and hormone balancing.
As I dove deeper into this interest, I eventually graduated as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner from the Nutritional Therapy Association. I put my practice to work immediately and after a year of navigating my private practice, I was offered a health coaching position at a corporate grocery store chain whom I worked with for another two years before taking off on a journey to re-open my private practice yet again.
Since that point, I’ve refined my methodologies in working with clients to help them achieve real & lasting results in their hormone health journeys. This is now a philosophy and method that I train other practitioners – an approach that I’ve coined “functional hormone health”.
Although my effort to expand functional hormone health principles within my community has succeeded to great lengths, I still can’t help but feel enraged by how women are treated by conventional medical systems daily.
At just 27 years young, I almost lost my life to a very rare form of ectopic pregnancy – a cornual ectopic – due to the negligence of my doctors. It wasn’t until 12 weeks into my pregnancy, after fighting for weeks knowing something wasn’t right, that I miscarried. Thankfully, my body was already in the process of miscarrying when we discovered what had gone wrong. If my pregnancy had continued any longer, I would have lost my fertility, if not my life along with it.
Despite having a background as a functional nutrition professional and hormone health expert, I was constantly dismissed and gaslit by the physicians who were supposed to be caring for me at that time. Through this traumatic experience, my eyes were opened even wider to just how dysfunctional the root of these systems truly is, and how that has negatively impacted women all over the world.
Having had both personal and professional experience in the field of hormone and reproductive dysfunction, it became clear to me why I had struggled so much with receiving adequate support in my journey, and why so many of the clients I saw came to me with very similar stories and experiences.
What I’ve come to realize is that the physiology and research of female hormone health is very poorly understood in many medical fields (as well as alternatives). Despite the research and understanding we have about the female body, hormones, and fertility, many physicians are still being taught (and are still practicing) outdated material.
This just proves how important it is that initiatives are being taken to expand our understanding and accessibility of functional hormone health principles to practitioners everywhere. In addition, there needs to be a reform in how women and AFAB subjects are being included within research and clinical practice.
Realizing just how important and desired this work is, I’ve compiled my years of research, experience, and wisdom in functional hormone health into a 12-week practitioner certification program, which we now host 1-2 times per year within IAFHH.
Outside of instructing the IAFHH Functional Hormone Specialist Certification Program, I serve as a mentor for other practitioners both personally and professionally in their hormone health journeys and careers.
Being the visionary and creator behind IAFHH is my life’s calling and dream come true. Through IAFHH, my mission is to create a new generation of practitioners that are dedicated to the innovation of women’s healthcare practices.
By joining IAFHH, and becoming a part of our mission, you are not only investing in yourself, your clients, and your business, but you’re also joining a community that’s a part of a greater movement; helping to facilitate monumental change in the realm of women’s health and research all over the world.
About the Author
Ashe Milkovic, NTP, IC-FHS, FBCS
Ashe is the founder and CEO of The International Association for Functional Hormone Health. She has a passion for spreading awareness about the power of functional nutrition for optimizing hormones & fertility, and her mission is to build community and safe space for other practitioners and aspiring learners to expand their knowledge and expertise in functional hormone health.