Bridging The Gap In Practitioner Care for Period Recovery

Feb 4, 2024 | Let's Hear From The Experts

Bridging The Gap In Practitioner Care for Period Recovery

Join me and my friend Cynthia Donovan a.k.a. the Period Nutritionist as we discuss the gaps we see currently in our healthcare system with properly diagnosing and treating Hypothalamic Amenorrhea and our hope for how our new program, Period Recovery Practitioner will help to better educate and equip healthcare professionals.

In This Episode:

  • Statistics on the prevalence of HA
  • Why all healthcare providers need to know about HA
  • What you won’t learn in books and research papers
  • Understanding the health ramifications of missing periods
  • How Period Recovery Practitioner can help you level up and better serve your patients and clients


Lindsey Lusson  00:00

Hey, hey friends. Thanks for joining me for a special episode on the period recovery infertility podcast where I am joined by my friend and colleague, Cynthia Donovan, aka the period nutritionist. Cynthia and I are gonna dive into our new program launching next month period recovery practitioner, where we are here to train up, educate and equip anyone in the healthcare field to learn more about hypothalamic amenorrhea, and how to best support your patients and clients who are recovering from this condition. So without any further ado, let’s jump in and talk a little bit more about period recovery practitioner, help you guys kind of understand our hope for this program, who this program is for, and next steps for learning more and getting enrolled.

Lindsey Lusson  00:43

Welcome to the Period Recovery and Fertility Podcast. Here we discuss the challenging, rewarding and life changing process of recovering your period and finding freedom with food and exercise. Whether you’re hoping to regain your cycle to get your health back on track, or you’re ready to become a mama, this podcast is for you. While the recovery process isn’t always rainbows and butterflies, it’s my hope to bring you both information and inspiration during your own recovery journey. I’m your host, registered dietitian and fellow HA woman, Lindsey Lusson.

Cynthia Donovan  01:14

Hi, Lindsey. I am so excited to record this podcast together about a very special announcement that we’re going to make.

Lindsey Lusson  01:23

I’m so excited. I feel like we are long overdue for a podcast episode together anyways, and what perfect time than to get back together in early 2024, as we introduce our new exciting project.

Cynthia Donovan  01:35

Yeah, so that new exciting project is the Period Recovery Practitioner Program. And so we took some time to think about the name, and we thought this was the most suitable name and be able to explain like what it is that we are doing and what it is we want to share with a particular audience of medical professionals.

Lindsey Lusson  01:58

And I think that we both just agree that when we’re working with individuals with hypothalamic amenorrhea, the biggest bottleneck for people getting the right information and the right support to actually move the needle and get their periods back the biggest bottleneck is getting this diagnosis and getting the right information and direction from healthcare professionals. A lot of times people are getting the wrong information, they’re not getting diagnosed, they’re getting misdiagnosed, and so I think that this has just been a project that’s been near and dear to both of our hearts for so long. And I’m personally just so excited that we’re finally doing the damn thing.

Cynthia Donovan  02:39

Yes, I’m so excited too because, I don’t know about you, but most of my clients, Lindsey, they come to me after they’ve gone to their doctors after they’ve seen the natural path after they’ve seen the RE, and it’s like, if we could potentially get to these women, much sooner. Imagine how much time they’re gonna save, how much money, how much mental stress, physical stress and so forth. So yeah, this is definitely about educating the practitioner that the women in general out there are hitting before they have exhausted all their options and have come to us. Not to say that we don’t want them to come to us. But [indecipherable].

Lindsey Lusson  03:20

I think our hope, and we’ll get into this a little bit more, but I think our hope is that we are creating a bridge between dietitians between medical doctors, naturopathic doctors, physical therapists, physician’s assistants, so many people in the healthcare team, our hope is that we’re creating this bridge, where we’re in alignment with how we approach dealing this issue. We know when to refer out to other health care practitioners if and when necessary, right? This program as registered dieticians, we lean heavily on the nutrition and lifestyle factors. There are things that we can’t do. We can’t diagnose, we can’t prescribe medication, and so having a team I think is really going to help with making this condition something that is recognizable for a lot of people and hopefully save people a lot of time, energy and money in healing this, reversing this, and moving on with their lives.

Cynthia Donovan  04:13

Yes, yes, and from two, not only registered dieticians that work with women, but the both of us have been through this ourselves.

Lindsey Lusson  04:21

Right, and I think that maybe that even adds a little bit more passion. Our the reason why this is so important to us is because, I went through the wringer with HA, I went to, I am not even kidding, probably a dozen different doctors, half a dozen at least, and just spent years of my life trying to figure out why my period was missing and given basically zero direction. And it wasn’t until I decided I was ready to start a family that, by the grace of God, people were talking more about HA, and so things started to click for me, but I’m not even kidding. Cynthia, what I talk about in grad school poring over the literature and trying to figure out why I wasn’t getting a period because all we had at that time was female athlete triad [indecipherable]. Not an athlete, this doesn’t make sense for me.

Cynthia Donovan  05:16

Same, same. Years and lots of literature, and nothing. So yeah, so here we are today, many years later with babies periods and [indecipherable]

Lindsey Lusson  05:28

And tons of information, tons of research, and I would say, and we’ll get into this too, with our practitioner training program is like if anyone’s listening and their healthcare practitioner, and you’ve been in your role for five plus year, you know that there is so much that you just learn on the job, right? There are things that you can’t read in textbooks, there are things that you might read about, or research papers that don’t make sense in real life. And so I think that that’s something that’s gonna be a huge benefit in having this program and people enrolling in this program is getting the inside info on what do we actually do in scenarios x, y, z and beyond to really help people recover.

Cynthia Donovan  06:10

Yeah, and that’s such an important point. I know, we’ll get into it more. But that type of frontline boots on the ground stuff that you and I are doing is not in the literature yet. Hopefully, one day, hopefully, fingers crossed. Do you want to dive into why do we think that healthcare practitioners out there need to know this information?

Lindsey Lusson  06:33

I think first and foremost, HA is not that uncommon, I think when we look at statistics, and I’ll let you share statistics, Cynthia, but I think that whenever we think about the idea of amenorrhea and a missing period, a lot of times, doctors are looking for a woman with an eating disorder or a woman who is very lean and very athletic. And I think because of this, HA is a really underrecognized an under-diagnosed problem, because practitioners oftentimes have a picture in their head about what it’s supposed to look like, and they’re not asking the right questions. How many times, as a provider, do you ask your patient, “When was your last menstrual period?” Probably every single healthcare visit, right? But how many times do you ask your patient, “How many missed periods have you had in the past 12 months? What do your periods look like? Are they consistent? Are you tracking anything on your periods? Do you know if you’re ovulating?” And then also, talking about if someone’s coming into their office and presenting with a missing or irregular period, I think doctors are so quick to think, ah, PCOS. She’s got a cyst on her ovaries, missing or irregular period, PCOS. And to be fair, PCOS is statistically more common than HA. However, I do think that if you could just ask a couple of questions about food, about weight history, about exercise patterns,  about stress, I think that we could get a lot more information from the patient that might help us to think outside the box and stop over-diagnosing people with PCOS and missing people with HA.

Cynthia Donovan  08:19

Yeah, absolutely. And I was just thinking I’m like, is statistically PCOS higher, a higher, diagnosed issue? Or is it just being not appropriately diagnosed? Right?

Lindsey Lusson  08:30

I mean, I think it’s fair to even bring this up, because I don’t think we had this written down. Initially when we were talking about what we wanted to share today. But women have an 86% chance of being misdiagnosed with PCOS, if they have a lower BMI, if you’re not ruling AJ out first. So I think about the segment of the population and I know you see this in your practice how many people come to you saying I think I have PCOS? Or I was diagnosed with PCOS. But when I really start thinking about it, I don’t think that’s the one I really have.

Cynthia Donovan  09:01

Mm-hmm, yeah, and 86%? Holy moly, like that is an extremely large number, which just another reason why we’re doing what we’re doing. And yeah, statistically, that’s really scary, because a lot of these women are being, well, misdiagnosed or being told they need fertility treatment, so forth, and we’ll get into all the implications, whether it’s mental, physical, financial that happens. So to piggyback off statistics, I’m talking more about HA that, according to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, HA is responsible for about 20 to 35% of secondary amenorrhea, and then it is also estimated that HA affects about 1.62 million women between the ages of 18 and 44 in the US and 17.4 million women worldwide.

Lindsey Lusson  09:57

Whew, and I think even too, when we’re circling back to that 20 to 35% of the cases of secondary amenorrhea, I think about how commonly HA is misdiagnosed or just not diagnosed at all. “What? HA is nowhere in my medical chart. So I’m not even in that statistic.”

Cynthia Donovan  10:16

Yep, same same. Do you know what’s in my chart Lindsey though, PCOS? Because I was one of those women that was diagnosed with PCOS, and guess what that did to me? Made my HA worse.

Lindsey Lusson  10:27

Right, and I think that that’s a key point, too, is like, what is the harm and misdiagnosing people with PCOS? Well, it’s a pretty big deal, because you’re basically telling your patients and clients, you’re trying to treat the wrong issue. And as you’ll learn inside our program, or if you’re following along on our Instagram page, the treatment for HA is gonna look really different than the treatment for PCOS.

Cynthia Donovan  10:50

Yeah, absolutely, and let’s just say worst case scenario, you had both, because it’s a thing it could happen. Out of maybe out of the hundreds of women I’ve seen, maybe like two.

Lindsey Lusson  11:00

I would definitely agree that it’s more on the rare side. I have seen it, and healing HA is still very important. I’ll argue enough to say that, like, you probably won’t be able to ovulate on your own naturally–if you were a dual condition, I’ll argue enough to say you’re not going to be able to ovulate naturally, if you don’t treat the HA aspect of it first.

Cynthia Donovan  11:23

Absolutely. I would 100% agree with you. And so one more statistic we want to share, because this is again, this is worldwide, and again, those statistics I just shared a few minutes ago, this is just the people that are actually diagnosed. There are so many out there that are struggling, and I’m just going to use, not saying this is always the case that unexplained infertility is HA, I’m not saying that at all, but there are a lot of “unexplained infertility” that is HA. And so let’s just go there with who knows how many millions?

Lindsey Lusson  12:00

Well, I’ll throw in another statistic here too, and I don’t know the exact number, but I want to say I will give a ballpark in between 15 to 20%, which I think is considerable. They had done an eating or a “food and mood” questionnaire for patients in a fertility clinic in a particular state, and of those women who were going through fertility treatment, around 15 to 20% fit the criteria for an eating disorder. So there’s a sizable chunk of women that are going through fertility treatment, may or may not be successful with fertility treatment, and they’re just getting missed. And I think in the research study too, the patients weren’t disclosing to the reproductive endocrinologist that they had struggled with an eating disorder or that they were struggling with an eating disorder, so some of this is coming on the patient’s side, too, right? Like providers are only going to be able to do so much with the information that they’re given. However, I think it’s our hope, Cynthia, to also equip practitioners to be a little bit better at asking the right questions.

Cynthia Donovan  13:03

Yes, yes, absolutely, because if you think about it, even if this patient-client isn’t admitting to the eating disorder, or disordered eating, because guess what? Let’s face it, in our world today, disordered eating, and even some eating disorder habits are really normalized.

Lindsey Lusson  13:20

I think that’s why 75% of women have disordered eating habits.

Cynthia Donovan  13:24

Yeah, which is a chunk, and just the thing, if you’re one of those practitioners out there that are helping women get pregnant, 50% of active women struggle with some type of menstrual cycle disturbance. You’ll find out either following us from Instagram or in our program that this “healthy lifestyle” isn’t always the healthiest for fertility and for overall women’s health, because missing period, not ovulating and being able to get pregnant, it’s much more than that. It’s so much more than that. So do we want to dig into–when we say menstrual cycle disturbances, what does that even mean?

Lindsey Lusson  14:14

Yeah, for sure. I think that to any person listening to this episode, they might be like, “What does that mean?” Hopefully, people who work in the women’s health and fertility space, kind of know where we’re going with this, but when we say mental disturbances, we’re talking about an irregular cycle. So most people in the fertility space will say that a normal cycle should be anywhere in-between 24, 25, and 35 days, so if we’re longer than that, or we’re shorter than that, that’s considered to be an irregular cycle. Another menstrual disturbance that we see especially in women that are overtraining and under-fueling and kind of falling on this HA spectrum is anovulatory cycles. And I don’t know about you, Cynthia, but I’ve worked with clients that have pretty regular periods, but they aren’t ovulating, and if you see something that is incredibly apparent, unless someone is actually tracking their ovulation with ovulation predictor kit, confirming it through basal body temperature tracking, like less than 3% of the population actually tracks their menstrual cycle, so I think that this statistic really only starts to surface when people are trying to get pregnant.

Cynthia Donovan  15:21

Yeah, absolutely. That’s a really great point and, I don’t know about you, but I certainly didn’t know anything about cycle tracking until it was a problem for me, and I was trying to get pregnant.

Lindsey Lusson  15:32

Right, and I’ll say this, too, as a registered dietician, going through seven years of school and learning about nutrition, I haven’t learned anything about our menstrual cycle, I learned that we have one, and I think I learned the major players of the hormones, but I have no idea really how things worked. So I think that that’s another gap in at least our training as dietitians that we miss. And we really want to train up more people to really understand that because I think that’s foundational for women’s health and hormones and helping other people just general people understand their cycles and the importance of having a cycle.

Lindsey Lusson  16:05

I do think it’s something you almost have to seek out at this point in time. Again, another reason why we see a need for this program just to circle back real quick to additional hormone deficiencies, that can be a huge barrier for someone to have a regulated mood to have healthy bones and to get pregnant and stay pregnant is luteal phase defect or progesterone insufficiency. In the luteal phase. Again, this is something that shows up and has the same roots as hypothalamic amenorrhea. But again, this is going to present in your patients and clients that are getting their period every single month maybe even confirming ovulation. But unless they’re looking at the length of their luteal phase, or they’re having progesterone tested, the only way that this is going to show up is unexplained infertility, or frequent miscarriage.

Cynthia Donovan  16:05

Yeah, absolutely. And I’m glad you touched on that point about like being a dietitian going to school for so long. Not getting any–because same thing for me. I just remember one–a couple paragraphs on HA and how it relates to the female athlete triad. That’s it. And so, which brings up a great point. So us, as dietitians, HA, it’s nutrition related. If you’re not getting enough, point blank, you may not get a period, but let’s talk about the doctors that are out there in the medical training. So pretty much where there is a huge gap as doctors, dieticians, other healthcare practitioners are not learning this to the extent of what they need to to be able to appropriately treat their patients in medical school. And I don’t know about you, Lindsey, I hope one day the curriculum will be changed. But I don’t think that’s going to happen potentially in our lifetime. I don’t know, I could be being pessimistic about that. But that’s one of the reasons why we’re creating this program is so that we can better equip healthcare practitioners with being able to know about HA, diagnose HA, ask the right questions and be able to help their clients and patients get the care that they need. But it starts there with the medical training or the dietician, training or whatever, we’re just not seeing it.

Cynthia Donovan  18:12

Yeah, and I’m glad you brought that up. Because that is a big one and often very missed when it comes to being in that spectrum, what we like to call the HA spectrum. Okay, so we have some tidbits of what do or can these disturbances look like and we’re chatting a little bit about why have we created this program, and its hopes to be able to support our healthcare practitioners, being able to look at all those things and ask the right questions and support the women and hopefully save a lot of women unnecessary costs and time with all the hormone replacement therapy out there. Lindsey and I are recording from the US, but this is again, this is worldwide.

Lindsey Lusson  18:58

It is world, yeah, and I’m so glad you brought that up, too, this this isn’t just a industrialized nation issue. This is a national issue. I know that we’ve both worked with women all over the world that are experiencing this, and the standard of care is a little different, and in every country, but how wonderful would it be if we could equip more and more people globally to know how to support people through this process?

Cynthia Donovan  19:26

Yeah, absolutely. So anything else on do you want to share about our “why” behind creating this? What I like to say–[indecipherable]

Lindsey Lusson  19:35

I mean, I think [indecipherable] already just in our conversation and going back and forth about helping people feel more comfortable with identifying, diagnosing the saving people time, money and energy. And then I think that something that doesn’t come up for me all the time, but every once in a while, I still hear from people that a missing period isn’t a big deal. And so I would say that’s another one of the reasons why we’ve created this program is we really want to hammer home the idea that the body remaining in a low estrogen state isn’t healthy for your bones for your heart for your emotional well-being, and for your fertility. That’s another thing that we’re going to dive deep into into this program is, what are the health repercussions of a missing period, why is birth control not the solution, and how can we have this holistic approach to heal it and to improve not only fertility, but physical health and quality of life for patients experiencing HIV?

Cynthia Donovan  20:34

Yes, absolutely. And then hopefully, eventually, and this is me looking like super, super big picture, and I don’t think that’s just my hope. I know it’s your hope. I know there’s other health care practitioners out there that work in the HA, missing period world, but in hopes to one day have a period be a vital sign. That would be so freakin cool.

Lindsey Lusson  20:59

I think there’s a lot of research showing that it should be. And I think we’re moving in that direction. I think that women’s health has been so under-studied and underserved for so many years. I think we’re on the brink of a big change. And so that’s exciting to me.

Cynthia Donovan  21:09

Yes, absolutely. Yeah, we will throw a big party, hopefully it will be in our lifetime, Lindsey that we get the period as a vital sign, because HA aside, missing periods aside, there’s so many other things you can tell about your body if you knew what was going on with your cycle, but that’s another, maybe, podcast edition.

Lindsey Lusson  21:34

Yeah, a round two. Hey, should we get into the actual course like what it is? [indecipherable] What are we teaching? What will people get? And [indecipherable]

Cynthia Donovan  21:41

Absolutely, yeah, I mean, I know, as a dietitian, if I was thinking about this course, I would absolutely want to know that. So yeah, let’s dig into that.

Lindsey Lusson  21:50

Yeah. Well, first and foremost, if you are a dietitian, and you’re listening, we are in the process of getting it approved by the CDR for pre approved CEUs. for continuing education credits, we’re thinking the course will probably be anywhere between 20 and 30 CEUs. So if you were to enroll now, at the very least, you can still submit those ahead of time for CEUs, and then you’ll backlog the official things. So I think that that’s a huge benefit. [indecipherable] dietitian, I’m pretty sure everyone in healthcare does need continuing education credits, and so this program can take care of this for you.

Cynthia Donovan  22:27

Yes, yes. Yeah, that’s an important point. I know, when I take courses, I’m like, well, is there going to be CEUs attached to it?

Lindsey Lusson  22:33

And how many times are you scrambling around before your credentialing is up? Right? We have to renew it every seven years, and submit I think 75 CEUs, and how many times are you scrambling to fill those?

Cynthia Donovan  22:46

Yes, absolutely. So yeah, that’s one big important point. So another reason why Lindsey and I believe this would be beneficial for you to take is we have helped hundreds of women recover from ha healthy cycles and get pregnant, but we want the same for others out there, or at least to be able to be better equipped to send them to the right places, right? So what else do you want to add on that? if anything, Lindsey.

Lindsey Lusson  23:12

Yeah, I would just say that we’ve touched upon this already, even in this episode, but there’s really only so much first of all, the research and literature is still limited on HA. We’re seeing more and more, but again, as a practitioner, especially if you are really working on the patient-client side with treating and walking alongside your patients and clients for hormone imbalance issues or fertility issues, there are so many things that come up in real life that aren’t in research papers. And so I think that there is a lot of value in working with people that have literally seen everything under the sun, when it comes to HA, and varieties of HA, and just difficulties that can come up in the recovery process and how to troubleshoot with your patient and client. I think that’s incredibly valuable. I mean, Cynthia, I don’t know about you. But four years ago, before I started my private practice, I would have tilled to have a place to go troubleshoot. What the heck is going on with my client? Because I can’t tell you how hard it’s been to piece together all of the information.

Cynthia Donovan  24:16

Yeah, absolutely, and if we went to books or literature, we would not come up with anything, and so…

Lindsey Lusson  24:22

Right, right. We also had to build a lot of this stuff from the ground up.

Cynthia Donovan  24:26

Yes, absolutely, 100%. and we are just so fortunate that we are able to be very niched in our particular clientele, because that’s going to help us dig even deeper and has helped us dig even deeper into this worldwide epidemic of HA. So we are registered dieticians, at least by day. Dietitians by day moms by night.

Lindsey Lusson  24:53

How often do that? This is a problem that I only see increasing. Knowing that eating disorders are on the rise, knowing that people have lots of really controversially “healthy” information at their fingertips all day long. I mean, I don’t know if you’ve been on Tik Tok recently or not, Cynthia, but people are talking about missing periods left and right. There’s so much misinformation on nutrition. And I just don’t see this being a problem that’s going away. I think that it could, but I think that it starts equipping our healthcare practitioners to better understand it, and to also understand what are the next steps for helping our patients and clients heal from this?

Cynthia Donovan  25:40

Yeah, absolutely. And I mean, even not to, just to use, an example, eating disorder dieticians, where you can have a special certification to become an eating disorder dietician. I’ve had eating disorder dieticians reach out to me, Lindsey, as a period recovery specialist, asking, oh, my gosh, my patient is weight restoring, where the heck is her period?

Lindsey Lusson  26:00

What’s missing? Yeah. And this is something that’s actually part of my personal story. And I work with what I’ve worked with several, several, several clients that reached the point of being incredibly functional, being 80 to 90%, eating disorder-recovered, being weight-restored, maybe even overshooting their previous cycle weight, and still no period. And so there’s definite gaps. There’s a huge knowledge deficit. And beyond that, when you’re working with clients that have eating disorder history, there’s a lot of stuff that’s going to come in from the counseling side that I think is really important that we’re also going to be adding into this program. Because if you work in the eating disorder field, or you work with patients or individuals with disordered eating or food issues, it’s not as simple as just eat a burger, right? There are so many challenges that have to be worked through to be able to do stuff like that, to have a nutritionally adequate diet to support having a regular auditory cycle.

Cynthia Donovan  26:58

Yeah, absolutely, and really, HA is a condition that happens for the same reasons, right? Usually due to inadequate energy intake. I can totally attest to this, but I feel like every single one of my clients over the years has a different story or different scenario, right?

Lindsey Lusson  27:18

I’m so glad you brought that into, because there’s also this whole subset of women who develop HA, absolutely do not have eating disorders, and so I don’t mean to write it off like that, but maybe to paint a background that there are 30 different scenarios that I think we’ve even been able to brainstorm and starting to write the curriculum for this program of people who end up with this condition.

Cynthia Donovan  27:40

So many different scenarios. And yeah, we could probably spend hours talking about the different channels, and we probably, and I mean, I’m not to undermine Lindsey or I, but we’ve seen hundreds of women, and we have a bunch of thousand followers on Instagram, but there’s billions of people in the world, right? So yeah, it’s important to know that there’s just so many so many ways into HA, so many different scenarios and backgrounds and stories, so yeah.

Lindsey Lusson  28:09

[indecipherable] So who is this program for, Cynthia? What is our hope? Who do we want to better equip specifically?

Cynthia Donovan  28:20

Yeah. So at this time, Lindsey and I are accepting individuals who really hold advanced degrees in health-related fields. So for examples, nurses, nurse practitioners, PTs, OTs, speech pathologists, dietitians, of course, PAs, MDs, NDs, and we’re not ruling out, the credentialing, but it’s someone with an advanced nutrition degree or something like that, and if none of this pertains to you, and you’re wondering, okay, would this be a good fit for me? Just reach out to Lindsey or I. We’re happy to, to debunk that and share what it is that we can do to potentially make this work for you, as a practitioner.

Lindsey Lusson  28:59

For sure, for sure. Thanks for clarifying for that, too. We don’t want to make this some like, elite-exclusive thing. However, with creating a credentialed program, we do want to make sure that everyone’s kind of up to speed on learning from us, because this is going to be kind of a higher level deep dive into HA versus what we teach in our recovery programs. So on that note, let’s talk about who maybe this isn’t–who wouldn’t be a good fit for this program.

Cynthia Donovan  29:27

Yeah. So Lindsey, and I chatted for a bit about this, and we want to make sure that we are taking care of our practitioners taking care of our clients and everything in between. And so we had thought, okay, well, what if somebody is actively struggling with HA? Would this Practitioner Program, given they are a credential practitioner, would this be a good fit for them? So after some deliberation between Lindsey and I, we would absolutely love to have you still. However, it would probably, at this time, be most appropriate if it was in either my program or Lindsey’s program. So we really want to make sure this is for practitioners who want to be more equipped to support their clients and patients and increase their knowledge bases of this, not specifically work on this for themselves, and if they do, that’s where we have our group coaching programs or private [indecipherable].

Lindsey Lusson  30:19

Exactly, and that’s what I was going to say. Probably the biggest difference between what we do in our period recovery, regulate your cycle for health and fertility, coaching programs for individuals experiencing HA, versus what we’re teaching in our Period Recovery Practitioner program is nothing as individualized to you. So if you’re struggling with a missing period, you can have all the information in the world, but unless you are having the right level of support, and the right specific customized recommendations to your specific routine, it’s going to be hard for you to recover your period. So best case scenario, reach out to Cynthia or I, enroll in our period recovery programs, get yourself recover to a more stable place, and then your story and your personal experience will probably add to your value as a practitioner, if you want apply for our program in the future.

Cynthia Donovan  31:13

Absolutely, I think that’s a great way to put it. So now that we’ve we’ve went over who it’s for, do we want to talk about–I know we added in bits and pieces of our hopes for this, but what is our outcome and then our impact? So I know for one, we’re gonna want to–I know this is, I think, where Lindsey and I came up with this idea, something that’s been near and dear to our heart, and some of our goals, as women who went through HA, and infertility and registered dietitians that we want to be able to serve more women across the world. And the way I think we can do this, I mean, because we’re only two people, right? So if we are equipping healthcare practitioners, we’re going to be able to serve more women through these practitioners by equipping them with all the information and maybe even inspiration to support women across the world in recovering their periods and restoring their fertility.

Lindsey Lusson  32:13

Absolutely, and another hope, I think for this program, and one of the reasons why I felt it was so necessary to offer this program for dieticians, specifically, is because we want to create more jobs for dieticians. If you’re a registered dietician you know that you went to school, and there’s a limited amount of opportunities for you as a registered dietician. Cynthia, and I believe that at its core, Hypothalamic Amenorrhea is a marker for malnutrition, and it is a nutritional issue. I want dieticians trained up on how to treat HA, just like we’re trained up on how to treat people and support people with diabetes, with kidney disease, with this, that, and the other. I want registered dietitians to be able to be the nutrition expert on healing HA. I want doctors to be able to refer out to us. I want this to just be part of our curriculum as dietitians.

Cynthia Donovan  33:05

Yes, I would 100% agree, and that sort of gave me chills because, I mean, just take diabetes, for an example. There’s so many health implications that come along with diabetes, and there’s so many health implications that come along with HA that most medical professionals just don’t know about. So yeah, thank you for sharing that, Lindsey. And we would love [to], and some of our hope is that we can equip practitioners to become ED, eating disorder informed or disordered eating informed, so they can pick up on these, what I like to call very normalized behaviors that are extremely not normal and very unhealthy.

Lindsey Lusson  33:48

Definitely. And I think that when we start looking at period as a vital sign, this can really be a helpful marker for red flags or further eating disorder screening. Someone comes into your office as a doctor, she is presenting with hasn’t had her period in over a year, she has a low resting heart rate, she has low blood pressure upon a health–a food and mood questionnaire, she has some red flags coming up for eating disorder. This is the time to get her referred to nutrition professionals to psychiatrists and psychologists who can best support her and healing from her eating disorder. Because if there’s one thing that we know about eating disorders is that they get harder and harder and harder to beat, overcome and truly heal from the longer that they go on. So I think early intervention is so important here. And I want to make sure that there are more and more practitioners that are on our team.

Cynthia Donovan  34:43

Absolutely, and, you know what? I didn’t throw out there, I know, we said medical doctors would be a great fit, but a medical doctor, as a pediatrician, I just think about, Lindsey, if we can get these teens where where the pediatricians are like, “Oh it’s quite normal, you’re active and you’re 16, but don’t have a period.” No, that’s not normal. So, really super preventative care. So I’m glad you shared that. And this is definitely not the last thing on our list, but in essence of time, we really want medical professionals on board for understanding what a missing period is, and how it is a big deal, and is a huge health implication. And really just being able to educate them more in asking the right questions to their clients and patients and whether or not they’re going to treat that HA, or they’re going to refer out but still really equipping these medical professionals for understanding more.

Lindsey Lusson  35:38

And proper diagnosis and early intervention’s so key, I mean, I’ve worked with so many clients that this has gone on for decades, and they’re starting to see some very real scary health repercussions with osteoporosis in their early 30s. And I just think, if this could have been identified a decade ago, we could have stopped this.

Cynthia Donovan  35:57

Of course, and let’s not forget to mention heart disease in the US is the leading cause of death in women, and there is a lot of heart disease linked to low estrogen levels. And there’s emerging studies out there linked to stress hormones, as well. So we won’t get into much into the research now. But yeah, this is a big deal. It’s a big deal. So let’s talk about next steps. So if you want to learn more, if what Lindsey and I are chatting about has resonated with you and you’re interested in what’s next.

Lindsey Lusson  36:27

Next is getting enrolled. So we’d love to visit with you more so than I have calendars open, and we’re ready to talk more about our programs specific and details talk about how it might could be a value for you in your private practice in your clinic, whatever you do, to serve women with this issue. And so next steps is to click on the link in our show notes and get a call set up. We’d love to visit with you a little bit more. Our launch date for the program is February 26. So it’s coming up. We have a number of people already enrolled, so spots are filling pretty quickly. I’m excited to get started. And I’m hopeful too that we can pick up a couple more before launch day.

Cynthia Donovan  37:03

Yes, absolutely. So yeah, if you guys have any questions, the best thing to do is really, if we can hop on a call, either Lindsey or I both, whoever you’d like to chat with more is totally fine. We’re a team on this. And feel free to reach over out on Instagram. And again, the link to hop on a call and visit more with Lindsey or I will be in the show notes. So we really look forward to hearing from you. Any feedback? Any questions? Our DMS are always open.

Lindsey Lusson  37:33

Yeah. Thanks, guys.

Cynthia Donovan  37:35

Thanks so much.

Lindsey Lusson  37:36

Thank you so much for tuning in and listening. If you found this episode to be inspiring or helpful, please share on social media and tag me, @food.freedom.fertility. Also, don’t forget to leave a rating and review.


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I’m a fertility nutritionist and registered dietitian who specializes in hypothalamic amenorrhea. My passion is helping women trying to conceive find freedom with food and exercise, so they can recover their period, and get pregnant naturally.

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Jan 19, 2022

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