Wondering what questions are best for assessing your client’s hormonal health and wellness? This article is going to share with you the most important questions to know and be asking.
Think back to the last time you visited your OB/GYN. What types of questions did they have for you?
Most likely, they asked you questions like:
- Are you sexually active?
- How many partners have you had in the last year?
- Could you be pregnant?
- Do you want to discuss birth control options?
And sure, these answers are important to know. However, they may not offer you any tangible insight or support for your hormonal health.
So what questions can be more relevant?
- How are your periods? Tell me more about your symptoms.
- What’s your family history of menstruation, fertility, and hormone health?
- What are your fertility goals for the future?
- What kinds of menstrual or vaginal hygiene products do you use?
We are so quick to ask about sexuality, pregnancy, and birth control. So why are we not asking about menstrual experiences, family history, or menstrual product usage as well?
These questions are absolutely dire to better understand our client’s situations, goals, desires, and struggles.
These questions can help you to:
- better understand your client’s experience so you can more strategically provide recommendations for support
- assess risk factors and strategize on ways to ensure a quality menstrual and fertility experience for your clients
Top 4 questions to ask clients about their hormonal health and wellness
1. What is your period like? Do you have any symptoms? If so, when do they show up?
These questions are important to ask to assess the quality and status of your client’s menstrual and hormonal health.
Paying attention to a woman’s monthly cycle and the symptoms she experiences can tell you quite a lot. Learn more about using the menstrual cycle as a diagnostic tool.
Understanding the language of the female body and a woman’s monthly report card (aka her period!) is wisdom we teach extensively within our IAFHH mentorship services and within our practitioner training program, The IAFHH Functional Hormone Specialist Certification Program.
Although, if you’re unfamiliar with what I’m talking about, here’s a little taste for you…
Qualities of a Healthy Menstrual Cycle:
In a healthy, optimal cycle, menstrual-related symptoms should be minimal to non-existent. Period pain can be a sign of increased inflammation and imbalanced prostaglandins. This can tell us we may need to dial in their nutritional habits and address inflammation and oxidative stress. Whereas, in more severe period pain situations, endometriosis, fibroids, or ovarian cysts may be a factor. In which case, we may need to investigate further.
Without asking the question “how are your periods?”, we may never know what’s going on with our client’s experiences, nonetheless how to best support them.
2. What is your family history of menstruation, fertility, and hormone health and wellness?
This is a big question that often gets overlooked by many health professionals. Asking this question is important for helping you gain a better understanding of your client’s risk factors and hereditary patterns.
What the Research Says:
One Norwegian study found that there’s a 7-fold increased risk for endometriosis in first-degree family members of patients with endometriosis.
In another 2010 study, women with endometriosis were 5.9% more likely to have a family member with the condition.
Additionally, the National Institutes of Health recently found evidence of a genetic component of PMDD expression in women. This new finding now opens up more room for research and understanding of the prevalence of PMDD!
Does having a relative with a condition guarantee your client will have it as well?
Being related to someone with a reproductive health condition doesn’t guarantee all family members will develop it. However, family members often live and grow up within the same environments. This means they can share the same epigenetic risk factors for developing similar conditions.
Knowing your client’s family history can help you to better assess their risk factors for certain conditions. This can help you more easily provide them with targeted, strategic recommendations and support for their hormonal health and wellness.
3. What is your history with birth control and what are your fertility goals?
Instead of only asking women if they want to discuss options for hormonal birth control, here’s what to do instead.
- Approach the topic by asking what their history, opinions, and goals are for their fertility
- Provide them with ample resources, education, and tools to support their autonomous decision
What the Research Says:
About 98% of sexually active women in the US have used birth control at some point during their reproductive lives. (Wolters Kluwer. (2015). The john hopkins manual of gynecology and obstetrics.)
It is also well known that hormonal birth control puts women at risk for various nutrient deficiencies. B vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Magnesium, Zinc, and Selenium are just a few to name.
Why This Question is Important:
By asking clients about their history of birth control usage, we can glean insight into their risk for nutrient deficiencies. This is important as nutrient deficiencies can greatly affect a woman’s overall hormonal health and wellbeing. It can also be an easy thing to correct to improve their hormone health and resiliency post-birth control!
In addition, prolonged hormonal birth control usage can increase the risk for gut-related issues such as leaky gut and dysbiosis. It may also contribute to other metabolic issues like insulin resistance and thyroid disorders.
Let’s consider a woman who has recently come off contraceptives and wants to get pregnant in the near future. Addressing these deficiencies and imbalances will be critical for supporting her to have a healthy conception and pregnancy.
Even if she is not wanting to conceive the near future, identifying and addressing these imbalances is still important. In fact, doing so may very well improve her overall quality of life!
4. What kind of menstrual products do you use?
Every menstruator uses menstrual products.
If you’re not asking your clients what products they’re using to manage their periods, you could be missing out on some critical information about their hormone health and wellness.
There is plenty to learn by asking your client’s what their period is like. Although, you can learn so much more if you ask them what products they use monthly.
Period pain and PMS
Does your client suffer from hormone-related symptoms and they tend to use conventional menstrual products? If so, it may be beneficial to switch out their products to 100% organic or reusable options. This simple switch will reduce their xenoestrogen exposure, supporting their long-term hormonal health. As an added bonus, it could also help with their most pressing period symptoms in the moment!
Is your client is prone to developing vaginal dysbiosis or yeast infections? Conventional products may contribute to an imbalanced vaginal microbiome, increasing one’s risk for developing those issues. Making the switch can support a healthier vaginal microbiome, reducing the risk for bacterial and yeast overgrowths.
Menorrhagia & Hypomenorrhea
In addition, be sure to ask how quickly your clients burn through period products. This question can help you assess how much blood they are losing each cycle. Knowing this information can provide you insight on if there could be a hormonal imbalance involved, such as estrogen dominance.
Blood loss less than 20-30 mL (less than 4-6 fully soaked tampons or less than 1 full menstrual cup), can be a sign of Hypomenorrhea. This is a situation that is common with low estrogen levels or anovulation.
Alternatively, blood loss over 80 mL (16 tampons or more than 3 full menstrual cups), could be a sign of Menorrhagia. This may be a symptom of estrogen imbalances, thyroid disorders, and/or anemia.
A simple question such as “what menstrual products do you use?” can easily turn into a very impactful conversation that may help to improve the quality of their menstrual experience.
In The End…
These questions are just a few of many that you can ask to assess your client’s hormonal health and wellness.
Regardless of whether or not your niche is in women’s hormonal health… If you work with female clients in your practice, you need to be asking these questions.
Menstrual health is an inevitable part of the female experience. By paying attention and asking the right questions, you can learn a lot about your client’s hormonal health and wellness.
Looking for More Resources?
Did you enjoy this article and you want even more tools, resources, and education on how to optimize your practice? Be sure to check out our practitioner training, the IAFHH Functional Hormone Specialist Certification Program.
With the most up-to-date education in functional hormone health in tandem with high-level mentorship… We set you up with everything you need to master your women’s health practice!