New State Law Expands Women's Health Care Available at Bastyr Center
Have you been considering a visit to a naturopathic doctor but were unsure whether your basic women's health needs would be met?
In the state of Washington, naturopathic doctors (NDs) are licensed primary care providers, and the practitioners at Bastyr Center for Natural Health can perform your annual checkup as well as other women's health care throughout the year.
"We offer a full range of women's health services that includes birth control, support for menopause, support for fertility issues, screening for sexually transmitted diseases, breast health and more," says Jane Guiltinan, ND, dean of the School of Naturopathic Medicine at Bastyr University and a clinical supervisor at Bastyr Center.
"In addition to these important women's health care service, patients are also going to receive the comprehensive approach that's unique to naturopathic physicians," Dr. Guiltinan adds. By taking the time to get to know you as a whole person, naturopathic practitioners emphasize prevention of disease, encouragement of the body’s inherent healing abilities, treatment of the whole person and personal responsibility for one’s own health.
Adding to services available at Bastyr Center, Washington state Gov. Chris Gregoire in April 2011 signed into law Senate Bill 5152, which expands naturopathic doctors' access to contraceptives to include the Mirena intrauterine system (IUS). This birth control device, which a health care professional must insert, works for as long as five years by releasing the hormone progesterone internally. Previously, naturopathic doctors in the state were only licensed to insert the nonhormonal Paraguard intrauterine device (IUD), which is coated with a spermicidal copper and works for up to 10 years.
Both intrauterine contraceptives are preferred by many women because of their convenience compared to other types of birth control.
"They're inserted once," Dr. Guiltinan says. "You don't have to take a pill, you don’t have to take a shot, you don’t have to use barrier methods. They're convenient and they're effective."
However, because of the hormones included in the Mirena IUS, the contraceptive can do more than just prevent pregnancies.
"There are some advantages to the Mirena that Paraguard doesn't have in terms of the progesterone," Guiltinan says. "Paraguard can't usually help with heavy bleeding like the Mirena can."
With both options now available for naturopathic doctors to dispense, Laurie Cullen, ND, a clinical faculty member at Bastyr Center, is looking forward to telling her next patient who chooses the Mirena that she can get it at Bastyr Center, instead of referring that patient elsewhere.
"The benefits of using an IUD or an IUS are many—primarily that they are the most effective reversible form of contraception," Dr. Cullen adds.
However, she notes they don't protect patients against STD transmission, and that practitioners at Bastyr Center are able to discuss other forms of birth control with patients, including barrier methods that protect against STDs.
"All forms of contraception are offered at Bastyr Center," Dr. Cullen says.
And if you've got a list of concerns that goes beyond your birth control options, bring that list with you.
"What's unique about naturopathic health care is that patients are likely to have more time with their provider, more time to ask questions, and an opportunity to have a conversation about health and wellness in general," Dr. Guiltinan says. "We try not to just focus on one body part, but try to always be looking at the whole person to help the patient understand how to be well, stay well and take responsibility for their health and wellness."
To make an appointment for your annual checkup or other health care needs, call Bastyr Center for Natural Health at (206) 834-4100 or submit our quick contact form.