August 3, 2023 | Teacher Series

FACTS Teacher Series: Lauren Rubal

Looking at Women’s Health Through an Integrative Lens 

By: Louisa Wagner

Director’s Note: As part of our FACTS Teacher series, we are featuring many of the amazing physicians who contribute their time and expertise to help us educate the next generation of medical professionals via our FACTS elective. This month, we highlight Lauren Rubal, MD, an obstetrician-gynecologist and integrative medicine-trained physician whose practice focuses on fertility, recurrent miscarriage, and painful or abnormal cycles using an integrative lens. We are also delighted to welcome Dr. Rubal as one of our keynote speakers at our conference, Revitalizing Women’s Healthcare Together, scheduled for September 29 and 30 in Minneapolis.  Register today to join us!

 

Meet Dr. Lauren Rubal

Like many physicians, Dr. Lauren Rubal always felt a calling to help others heal. She knew early on she wanted to be a physician and thus accepted a position in a unique program where she completed her training after two years of college, followed by medical school. Dr. Rubal was initially drawn to caring for children but, after rotating through pediatrics, realized it was not the right fit. She fell in love with obstetrics and gynecology as a way to care for women of all ages. She appreciated the development of long-term relationships and the ability to treat a wide range of issues, both surgically and medically. She can still remember the miracle of delivering a baby for the first time and the pulsations of blood vessels at her first surgery.

Dr. Rubal completed a four-year residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Southern California, where she developed a deep interest in the endocrine system as the foundation of women’s health. Hormones allow a cross-talk between disparate organs, and the complexity of this communication fascinated her. Women innately sense the power of their hormones. And the ability to develop a deeper knowledge of their precise interactions in various systems — from the brain to the gut — solidified Dr. Rubal’s decision to pursue subspecialty training. Following her residency program, she pursued a fellowship in reproductive endocrinology and infertility (REI). But despite her strong interest in the field, Dr. Rubal felt there was something missing in the healthcare offered to women. The root causes of hormone imbalances and their holistic management was at times glossed over. Aggressive procedures were employed in lieu of healing these issues. Dr. Rubal felt as though she was treating ovaries in a vacuum and that her management strategies were bandaids that failed to address these foundational causes. It was at this time that she left her conventional REI position and opened her own restorative reproductive medicine practice in Newport Beach, California.

“Despite her strong interest in reproductive endocrinology and infertility (REI), Dr. Rubal felt there was something missing in the healthcare offered to women.  The root causes of hormone imbalances and their holistic management was at times glossed over.”

Taking a Turn

At this time, Dr. Rubal decided to pursue a fellowship in Integrative Medicine at the Andrew Weil Center at the University of Arizona. This field is whole-person and patient-focused, healing people through an integrative lens that includes consideration of factors such as nutrition, exercise, mind-body medicine, and lifestyle.

Dr. Rubal realized that combining her Ob-Gyn background with her integrative training to pursue optimal health for her patients fulfilled what she was seeking in her vocation as a physician.

Finding FACTS

When Dr. Rubal first encountered FACTS, she immediately recognized its critical role in restorative reproductive medicine. For most of Dr. Rubal’s career, fertility awareness-based methods (FABMs) had never been discussed, either for family planning or for medical management. Dr. Marguerite Duane, the co-founder of FACTS, shared the same experience and frustration, and it became obvious to Dr. Rubal that FACTS was paving the way for women to understand their hormones and cycles by educating the medical community. Hormonal interactions are complex but understanding them and how they affect the signs of the female cycle are essential for every woman.

“For most of Dr. Rubal’s career, fertility awareness-based methods (FABMs) had never been discussed, either for family planning or for medical management … and it became obvious to Dr. Rubal that FACTS was paving the way for women to understand their hormones and cycles by educating the medical community.”

Since Dr. Rubal found herself aligned with the FACTS mission, she happily accepted the invitation to teach medical students about the importance of the female cycle through the FACTS elective. In her role as a preceptor and case study facilitator, she teaches students the importance of balancing professional roles with a personal patient relationship. Doctors must consider patient medical histories, eating habits, and day-to-day lives in order to understand the whole person.

Future doctors must also understand that modern FABMs are based on solid, scientific evidence. Although conventional medicine has neglected the applications of FABMs for holistic women’s healthcare, physicians like Dr. Rubal are changing the tide. Dr. Rubal noted that contraception and IVF are not the only answers to female fertility challenges. By introducing FABMs, it is possible to expand the spectrum of women’s health care.

In her own words, Dr. Rubal believes that …

FACTS is “laying a foundation for a generation of doctors, teaching them to walk with their patients to better health. No one wants to rely on pharmaceuticals. FACTS is shaping that evolution, to train those who will spread the word.”

Dr. Rubal is optimistic that FACTS is changing the way future generations of doctors will understand and value a holistic approach to a woman’s cycle and fertility.

As part of her collaboration with FACTS, Dr. Rubal leads live FACTS case studies and will serve as a speaker at the upcoming FACTS conference, Revitalizing Women’s Healthcare Together in September. Attendees will hear live from Dr. Rubal about a holistic approach to reproductive and integrative health and the importance of hormones in everything we do and how what we do affects the whole system. She will also present a case study on chronic endometritis. Dr. Rubal has so much to bring to the table from her years in fertility medicine, and you won’t want to miss her valuable insight!

Dr. Rubal concluded by saying: “Women deserve options. Doctors should not tell you what to do but rather explain what is happening inside your body and let you make a decision with actual knowledge and informed consent. That is what women deserve.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Louisa Wagner

Louisa Wagner is a recent high school graduate from Seton High School in Northern Virginia with a strong interest in female fertility. As she discerns her next career steps, she has accepted a role interning with FACTS and is excited to be learning more about women’s health and fertility.

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