The Natural Evolution Podcast

Season 2

Episode 6

S2E6 – Beyond Food as Medicine for Pelvic Pain: Tapping into The Healing Power of The PSNS with Dr. Jessica Drummond

Dr. Jessica Drummond is the CEO and founder of The Integrative Women’s Health Institute and has over two decades of experience working with people who battle pelvic pain and women’s health concerns. She is passionate about empowering and caring for those struggling, while educating other clinicians on how to use conservative and integrative tools to do the same.

In this conversation we focus on endometriosis, when it develops, the common signs and symptoms, and what the current treatment is for the condition. 

Dr. Drummond discusses the stress and barriers this condition can have on peoples’ lives and how her approach to healing is centered around acknowledging and supporting that.

To learn more about her practice visit Home – Integrative Women’s Health Institute (integrativewomenshealthinstitute.com).

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Click the link to Browse the Course Catalog. Popular courses included are:

  • Endometriosis, Personalized Nutrition and HRV MasterClass
  • Endometriosis and the Gut-Immune Link MasterClass
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Listen to Episode #6

Dr. Drummond & Michael focus on endometriosis, when it develops, the common signs and symptoms, and what the current treatment is for the condition. Included in this discussion are the barriers endometriosis can have on the lives of those it affects and how her approach to healing is centered around acknowledging and support.
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About our Guest

Dr. Jessica Drummond is the CEO of The Integrative Women’s Health Institute and author of Outsmart Endometriosis. She holds licenses in physical therapy and clinical nutrition and is a board certified health coach.

She has 20 years of experience working with women with chronic pelvic pain, facilitates educational programs for women’s health professionals in more than 60 countries globally, and leads virtual wellness programs for people with endometriosis. Dr. Drummond lives and works with her husband and daughters between Houston, Texas, and Fairfield, Connecticut.

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Podcast Transcript

Michael Roesslein: We are recording. Hello, we are here today with Dr. Jessica Drummond. Dr. Drummond, thank you. It’s weird to call you that because I’ve known you for a while, but thank you for being here. This will be fun.

Dr. Jessica Drummond:

Yes, thank you so much for having me.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah. For those who don’t know, Dr. Jessica Drummond is the CEO of the Integrative Women’s Health Institute and author of Outsmart Endometriosis. She holds licenses in physical therapy and clinical nutrition and is a board-certified health coach. She’s got 20-years experience working with women with chronic pelvic pain, facilitates educational programs for women’s health professionals in more than 60 countries globally and leads virtual wellness programs for people with endometriosis. She lives and works with her husband and daughters between Houston, Texas and Fairfield, Connecticut and it sounds like Vermont and maybe Italy.

Dr. Jessica Drummond:

Yes, so anywhere we are. The pandemic threw it all in the air.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah, I can tell this was before then.

Dr. Jessica Drummond:

Yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah. And before we came on, both of us are working on some form of relocation to Italy potentially, so we’ve been chatting about that quite a bit the last year or two. So maybe we’ll do something live from Amalfi Coast at some point in the future, or Cilento, where you’re looking.

Dr. Jessica Drummond:

Yeah, even better. Great. Tuscany, wherever.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah, yeah, it’s all fine. So today, we are going to be talking a lot about your specialty, women’s health, pelvic pain, endometriosis and we’ll just jump right in. So I’m curious how you started as a PT and was working with women in chronic pelvic pain, endometriosis, those type of things, did that just fall in your lap or did you seek that out? Or how did that come about in your career trajectory?

Dr. Jessica Drummond:

Well, I started in orthopedics. I was an athlete as a kid and I was most interested in that when I first got out of graduate school. And then I started working just by happenstance with… I worked in an outpatient orthopedic clinic and I started working with some breast cancer patients who had shoulder issues after their cancer surgeries, and I started working with pregnant women with back pain. So women’s pelvic health and women’s health in general, in physical therapy terms, is essentially a subspecialty of orthopedics that focuses on pelvic health and the pelvic floor and the integration of the pelvic floor with the spine and the nervous system and how that interacts with the hip and the abdomen and the back and everything. And so, in cancer, that can be anywhere from ovarian cancer to breast cancer. And I’d worked…

And that’s where I first sort of got my interest in working with women’s health specifically. And then I worked in a women’s specialty hospital for many years, so I did even working with women in high-risk pregnancy or delivering babies and having more spine pain than birth pain, so going into labor and delivery, doing manual therapy. And the most complex issue that we dealt with in that subspecialty was chronic pelvic pain. And at the time, so this was now, gosh, in the very early 2000s, there weren’t many choices for pain management other than physical therapy and they would implant stimulators. The surgeries weren’t very good. Many of my patients were given opioids and were addicted to opioids.

And so between pelvic pain, which is everything from muscle pain of the pelvis to endometriosis, to bladder issues, to vulvovaginal issues, there weren’t many solutions, so the gynecologist were just like, “Well, go see the PTs and see if they can do anything.” And we very often could because pelvic pain, especially vulvodynia and the sequela of endometriosis, oftentimes has to do with pelvic floor dysfunction, which is a musculoskeletal issue, a muscle joint nerve issue of the pelvis, but there were some patients where that would plateau.

So that’s where I then started to learn more about nutrition for some of my own postpartum healing, actually, when my oldest daughter was born back in 2003, and I had no idea at the time that nutrition could impact hormone health or even endurance, recovery. And so what I learned from my own healing postpartum, I was able to then start bringing and integrating with dealing with just the musculoskeletal issues to start thinking about hormones, which was common because endometriosis kinds of pain is often cyclical with the menstrual cycle, for example, or microbiome was related to vulvovaginal health. So that’s how over the last 20, 25 years, I became more and more specialized in working in women’s health.

Michael Roesslein:

Quite the road, and it seems like it just happened organically, saw a need and decided to try to fit it in there. And it’s another… From the conventional training side who didn’t learn about nutrition and about a lot of things that play a huge role and increase out, improve outcomes doing the same type of thing that you’re trained to do, I’ve noticed that kind of differentiates the really good PTs and people who work with chronic pain and things are the ones who have stepped over the threshold into more of a integrative functional medicine, like nutrition and lifestyle and stress, and how does that affect one’s response to these treatments, to these therapies. I’m sure there’s a pretty clear cut-and-dried difference in improvement if you get a patient’s lifestyle and diet honed in versus if you don’t.

Dr. Jessica Drummond:

For sure. And I think that especially with endometriosis and especially now versus then, now there’s some much more information we literally didn’t even have. I didn’t have a cell phone when my oldest daughter was born, so we didn’t have all the social media conversation. But now the challenge that I see-

Michael Roesslein:

For the younger listeners out there, that really was a thing. So I just watched a movie the other night with, I think it’s… Is it Michael Keaton? It’s called Worth, about the actuary who had to determine payouts after 9/11 to families for the victim fund and it showed that day. And there was only a handful of people in this big crowd on these cell phones. And I remember thinking, I didn’t have a cell phone then.

Dr. Jessica Drummond:

No, I didn’t either in 2001, for sure.

Michael Roesslein:

And yeah, how did news spread then? How did we learn things? How did… So yeah, that was a thing. And you mentioned endometriosis. For people who have endometriosis, they’re very familiar with it. For those who don’t or don’t have anybody in their life who does, can you just give a brief overview of what is endometriosis? And I guess that would just be the starting point.

Dr. Jessica Drummond:

Yeah. And sometimes people have endometriosis, but don’t get very well diagnosed. We still have, it was about 15 years to diagnosis when I first started working in this field, and still about six to 12 years.

Michael Roesslein:

Wow.

Dr. Jessica Drummond:

So endometriosis generally looks like someone around eight to 12 to 14, starting their menstrual cycle, having a lot of pelvic period pain, menstrual cramps that are pretty significant, or this pain can happen acyclically initially too, because the cycle itself is not established, so sometimes the pain seems to come out of nowhere. And often, it’s mistaken for digestive symptoms. So a lot of bloating, a lot of digestive discomfort, a lot of gut issues. So if you have a girl in her tweens or early teens, who’s been to all the different GI doctors and everything looks normal, it’s a huge index of suspicion for me for endometriosis.

It’s also a genetic issue with autoimmune and inflammatory components. So what we’re seeing now, which is a good thing compared to what I used to see is that more women are aware that they have it, so they’re starting to look for it with their daughters. But sometimes, this is also part of what can normalize it because let’s say every woman in this family or many of them had bad periods, if you will, significant cramps, they’re like, “Oh, welcome, that’s just how it is in our family. Your periods are going to be just terrible.” But that’s not normal. There shouldn’t be vomiting with menstrual pain, there shouldn’t be period pain, really at all, very, very mild occasional pain is about the most I would accept at all. And as I said, sometimes the pelvic pain is not always with the cycle.

And endometriosis is like a benign cancer. It’s not cancerous, but it’s little growth outside of the uterus, so definition, it’s outside of the uterus and it can be anywhere. They’ve found it on the knee, in the nose, the diaphragm is very common, it’s commonly growing on and around the bowel and intestines. So there can be painful sex, there can be infertility. Sometimes it’s very silent and people don’t know they have it unless they struggle with infertility, which is another one of those things that might be like, oh, silently in the history of this family, there was infertility in several aunts or things like that.

And then it also tends to present with vulva pain, especially pain with penetration during intercourse, or just vulvodynia which can be just pain with anything. It can be provoked or unprovoked even just wearing certain pants can bother it, or it just can happen anytime, the vulva pain and bladder pain. So it can feel like you constantly have a UTI or urgency, frequency, bladder irritation. And yet every time you go in for a test, it’s like, oh, we’re not finding anything. That can overlay with endometriosis, or it can be its own thing, painful bladder syndrome or interstitial cystitis. The good news is that all of these things can be improved in management and managed, and the ability to do so is increasing all the time. So I don’t want people to get discouraged, but it can be a very debilitating condition.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah, and it’s so wide-ranging, I can see how it would be difficult to diagnose and locate, especially if somebody is not a specialist with that because there’s a lot of overlapping symptoms there with different types of conditions or situations. And it’s also something that, I don’t know, women probably aren’t as bad with this as men are, but that they keep things to themselves about certain types of symptoms and problems and things that are either embarrassing or they don’t want to talk about it, or they think it’s normal because they hear everyone else complaining about the same things. And so it’s also probably something that doesn’t get treatment sought after as quickly or as often as it probably should.

Dr. Jessica Drummond:

Yeah, and there’s an organization called Endo What? they produced a documentary film as well. And I’m involved in that organization just donating money to start educating school nurses in middle school and high school, because ideally that’s where we would catch this. But as you said, it can be embarrassing to talk about and your traditional gynecologist is by and large, just simply untrained to handle this. They literally don’t know about it, learn about it really in school, which is amazing because it occurs in one to nine, about 10% of every human with a uterus.

Michael Roesslein:

Wow.

Dr. Jessica Drummond:

And they even see this 9% rate in fetuses, in female fetuses. So there at birth, but there are no easy diagnostic tools, there’s no blood work or imaging. If they can see it on imaging, great, and it exists, but often it’s difficult to see on imaging. So the only way to truly diagnose endometriosis is with a skilled laparoscopic surgery and there are just not that many surgeons who are really skilled at this. Again, it’s increasing in the last 25 years, but a lot of times women will have had several surgeries with either their traditional gynecologist or they’ll have had the wrong surgery. So you absolutely want skilled excision surgery, you don’t want ablation surgery.

And ideally, you want that to be with someone who essentially their whole job is doing these kinds of excision surgeries because they have to bring in bowel specialists, they have to know to look beyond the abdominal pelvic area, into the diaphragm and other parts of the body, look for if it’s impacting breathing. I mean, endometriosis can cause lung collapse if it’s not assessed in that area because there’s so much bowel involvement and bladder involvement, they often need to go in with a team, including a general surgeon. So it’s something that has to be really carefully assessed.

And we work with some really great surgeons, and when you do that, first, you have kind of what we do for everything else, and when it comes to sports injuries, back to my PT days is, we give people a few months of prehab, like let’s lower the inflammation, let’s do some of the things that we can talk about in a minute, prior to doing those surgeries so that they’re easier, they’re easy to recover from, digestive function is better, inflammation is better, autoimmune and inflammatory markers are better. In fact, the surgery itself makes such a change in the autoimmune expression that it increases fertility for at least a year or so post-op. And in my experience, when you combine it with functional nutrition and skilled PT, that window can be extended relatively and definitely.

Michael Roesslein:

Wow, I didn’t know that about the surgeries. And so it’s visible to the surgeons if they’re trained on how to look for it and where to find it, and then it’s removed.

Dr. Jessica Drummond:

Yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

And the body heals then theoretically, without like new tissue that doesn’t have…

Dr. Jessica Drummond:

Right, yeah. It’s removed just like you would remove a cancer.

Michael Roesslein:

Like a tumor cancer, yeah. Okay.

Dr. Jessica Drummond:

Yeah. Now, it can grow back and they can miss smaller… There’s lots of different presentations of endometriosis. Occasionally, it’s missed, occasionally, it grows back, but so much rare with skilled excision surgeon. So again, 15, 20 years ago when I was doing this, I would very commonly in PT see patients who had had 16, 20 surgeries before they’d come to me or maybe they had come in between. Now, I would suggest people are really careful about the first surgeon they choose and then your expectation is no more than one to, in a very severe case with some complications, maybe three surgeries in a lifetime, but not 20. That’s just-

Michael Roesslein:

So many surgeries, that’s crazy.

Dr. Jessica Drummond:

No.

Michael Roesslein:

Okay. So if it’s present in fetus and in newborns in 9%, and that percentage seems to carry, like it’s genetic-related. But then I would guess the severity of it or the flares, does it come in flares versus remissions? Or is it more like overall severity? Are there things that like, say, somebody goes through a trauma or a really stressful period of time or their sleep cycle gets disrupted, or any one of those highly-disruptive, or a global pandemic happens with tons of stress, or an infection, something like that, does that seem to alter the severity or is it just hormone-related or?

Dr. Jessica Drummond:

No, I would say it’s definitely inflammatory-related. And so because it’s inflammatory-related, both the expression, it’s more how the symptoms express. Level of severity is tricky in endometriosis because someone could have Stage 1 endo, which is less severe by staging like how extensive it’s growing, and have really severe symptoms. And someone can have Stage 4 endo and have no symptoms. So symptom expression is highly variable, which is important because in some cases, surgery is unnecessary at all. It’s not a life-threatening condition, but it’s a significantly quality of life-threatening condition for many women. But it’s not always necessary to have surgery, except I do strongly recommend it sooner rather than later in women who have fertility goals, because it does is help protect and prolong fertility.

But let’s say someone comes to me, they’re 38, they’ve already had their children, or they don’t intend to have children and they just, they haven’t had surgery but they’ve had a lot of symptoms, they’ve been maybe off and on pain management medications for years and years, and they just want to improve the symptoms but they don’t want to have surgery, then there’s a lot we can do addressing the inflammatory and autoimmune health in general to reduce the symptom expression and absolutely, the most important thing we monitor now.

So I used to start people with a relatively strict elimination diet, it’s a gold standard and lowering inflammation. However, in this population, there are a lot of eating disorders because people are so afraid to eat because everything hurts to eat. So really from the beginning, we encourage… Now, we have people take away some of the most inflammatory foods;sugar, soy, gluten, and dairy, basically, that’s it. Less meats but still animal protein is absolutely fine. There’s a little bit of data showing that beef can be problematic, but I haven’t seen that in grass-fed beef.

So we reduce the most common inflammatory triggers or eliminate them for a period of time, at least usually three weeks to about 12 weeks and then kind depends on when they have the surgery. And then what we’re focused on is adding anti-inflammatory foods. But the thing we’ve started tracking about a year and a half ago is we sent every single one of our clients a Garmin fitness tracker, and we’ve started tracking HRV. And to me, that is a better method-

Michael Roesslein:

Which is heart rate variability for people that don’t know the abbreviation.

Dr. Jessica Drummond:

Yeah, sorry, heart rate variability-

Michael Roesslein:

No worries.

Dr. Jessica Drummond:

… which is objective measure of stress. And that has been the most important metric in terms of helping people improve their symptoms and even fertility and hormonal regulation and everything else, because that’s the root of everything. So stress could come from your nutrition, it could come from living in a global pandemic, it could come from… We had many girls who went back to college in our practice, January of 2021, I guess, yeah, who got COVID. And so that was another layer of challenge, trying to help support that recovery because many of them… Endometriosis and vulvodynia are at least somewhat autoimmune conditions, and so you layer a pretty severe infection on top of that, that can be challenging.

So anything that stresses the body, but certainly mental health things, as much as physical health things, stress, the best thing about HRV tracking and we also track sleep on those devices, is the device itself starts to help women. We combine it with a lot of health coaching, but the device itself also helps women set better boundaries and just be like, oh. In Garmin they measure HRV through an algorithm, so it’s expressed as a thing called body battery. And it’s like, oh, my body battery is only 20. I need to say no to X.

Michael Roesslein:

So real-time feedback as to how your system is doing, right?

Dr. Jessica Drummond:

Yes, mm-hmm (affirmative).

Michael Roesslein:

I’ve never used the Garmin one, but there’s a lot of devices out there. There’s the Oura Ring, the HeartMath, there’s different ones that maybe don’t have like the real-time feedback. That one sounds like you can see it any time?

Dr. Jessica Drummond:

Yeah, that’s why we chose it. I tested a number of things for that particular practice. I actually use the Oura Ring myself and I like it. And I’ve used the Garmin too, but the reason we chose the Garmin for this program, number one, it just seems to fit everybody which not every device does. But two, it’s that during the day feedback. And what a lot of women benefit it from is seeing in real time if they look, I mean, it’s expressed on the watch, you can choose to look at it or not. But the downside is it’s a little bit of a fitness-pushing device versus the Oura Ring which is more of a recovery-focused device, but what it does show how stressed the system is in the moment.

And those daytime stressors as we start modifying those, sleep gets better, it’s easier to eat healthier, people’s energy is better. Everything spirals from that and it has to do with so many things, vagus nerve toning and emotional stressors. And just the stress of living with a chronic illness for 12 years before you were even diagnosed, is sometimes the most important thing is we’re addressing that. We’re a safe space for someone to come and we’re going to be patient with their recovery for however long it takes, and then they have this reminder of like, oh, I really… Today is not a day I should push it. How am I going to focus on some breath work, spending more time outside eating less sugar, eating more vegetables, eating more herbs and spices which are very anti-inflammatory, just implementing that full anti-inflammatory lifestyle.

And boundaries is such a huge issue. We talk about autoimmunity being about the lining of the small intestine of the gut, leaky gut syndrome, same thing with bladder pain, it’s leaky bladder. Chronic systemic musculoskeletal pain can sometimes be about leaky brain, but on a day-to-day practical level for patients, a lot of times it’s about leaky emotional barriers which is a little harder to explain. But if you have sort of a fitness tracker that’s like, hey, every time you talk to that person, there’s a big orange spike. And we start to understand how emotional boundaries are so key to physical healing. And that’s been a really valuable tool for the practice in the last couple years.

Michael Roesslein:

I think that would benefit anybody with any chronic condition or anybody looking to optimize their health in any way. I think anything that brings education around the fact that stress is stress to your system. And we know in our, there seems to be some that are more accepted or understood. Oh, I just ate a whole box of Oreo cookies, that’s probably pretty stressful on my system. Or people will joke about like, oh, I just ate three paces of cake, or I did this thing, or I did this thing.

And some of the food things that we tend to guilt or shame ourselves around, people know that that’s stressful on their system. They know probably now at this point that like staying up till 2:00 in the morning and shorting their sleep is stressful to their system, but you mentioned like, oh, every time I talk to that person, there’s a spike and when that person lives in your house.

Dr. Jessica Drummond:

Yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

Or is your partner or your spouse or your boss or your coworker or a teacher or somebody you see at school, or somebody that you’re consistently running into or around. I saw that a lot when I used to work with people with pretty complex chronic conditions was that they’d be doing this, the diet, and they’d be like, “I’m doing everything to the T and I’m taking these supplements.” And then they would start talking to me about issues in their marriage or their job, or with their sister who doesn’t talk to them, or whatever the thing is.

And I started to put two and two together that a lot of times with the people, the needle doesn’t move. That’s an area that is often overlooked, even in integrative medicine and an in functional medicine. We want everything to fit the protocol, do this diet and take these supplement and you’re going to be awesome. And I think having a device like that and being educated in that way as a patient to say like, “Hey, pay attention to this.” Because you know, you know who those people are, anybody who’s listening to that.

There’s social situations and individual people that right now, as we’re talking about this, they’re popping into your head and there’s probably a little bit of like a, oh, I don’t know if I want to see that kind of thing. But I think that it’s so huge and essential and valuable for people with obviously endometriosis, but any condition that’s flared with inflammation or stress, which is pretty much every chronic condition that exists. I think that’s a really forward way to be working with people and to give them that out too. Because I think it removes some of the guilt that people tend to feel like there’s these superhero, do-everything people out there. No offense if you’re one of those people, but-

Dr. Jessica Drummond:

I’ll just write my hand over here, yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah, and what you’ve been through the last year and a half too, she’s a long-hauler COVID, and so that’s what I mean with that is learning that it’s okay. It gives you a validation or an excuse or a hall pass to not do the thing, that’s probably the thing that’s too much for your plate right now, where I think a lot of people in our culture struggle with doing that. And you have this intuitive like, oh, I don’t really feel up to that. But with the actual number right in front of you or a device being like, “Hey, look at this.” I think it’s a huge thing.

Dr. Jessica Drummond:

It’s been so helpful because as you said, generally, people know what these issues are. I used to say this all the time when I was teaching. Like if you just sit here and think about, what’s the thing that I’m carrying in a backpack all the time? You know what it is. And in endometriosis, it can be some pretty big things. Any chronic pelvic pain, it can be your sex life, it can be with your partner, which is going to influence your whole relationship. It can be your fertility, which can influence many things about your life, and it can also just be chronic pain that you’ve been managing and gas-lighting. And some of the medications that are used in endometriosis are pretty harsh. And less and less… They’re not that effective. A lot of times girls are just given birth control or some hormonal suppression when they’re young and just like, oh, that’ll cure it, which is not going to cure it at all, it’ll just suppress it for a while.

And I was talking with one of my patients recently and she’s like, “Oh yes, I refer to the Lupron years.” Lupron is a very extreme medication that the current version of which exists called Orilissa that really suppresses estrogen. So the challenge with that is that endometriosis lesions also create their own hormones and it’s not just an estrogen-dominant-driven disease. That’s what we used to think that just suppress the estrogen, but endometriosis lesions can upregulate estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors. So sometimes people are taking naturopathic like progesterone cream that may or may not help, it may actually make things worse. And we can’t know any of that, there’s no good testing for it. So we can’t know unless someone has that lesion removed and then histology is done. And the research that’s all been done on that shows that the same woman could have multiple kinds of lesions. So there’s not like a clear hormone suppression or hormone replacement or even natural hormone suppression or replacement strategy.

So you really have to look at the overall inflammatory environment and digestive function. I think that’s another thing that really can to be overlooked, which all of this starts in the brain. So heart rate variability is that unconscious passive way to track it. And as you said, it’s so valuable because one of my clients just recently, the watch broke for a couple weeks and took a little time to get a new one. And it was just like that idea of the hall pass, as you’re saying is so true because it’s like, she knew when she was overdoing it. It’s not like she didn’t know, but she had no excuse in her own mind.

Michael Roesslein:

It’s almost like somebody is watching now.

Dr. Jessica Drummond:

Yes. And over time, there is some research on doing coaching with digital apps and devices like this, and it actually works even better than doing in-person coaching, which is really interesting to have this combination. But which makes sense if you’re figured the watch is following your client around all this time, there’s pros and cons-

Michael Roesslein:

It’s like having a little miniature you on their shoulder.

Dr. Jessica Drummond:

That’s right. So there’s pros and cons to the nudges of technology, but that’s one potential benefit. But just the idea that if you don’t have that external feedback initially, at least for a while, and people need that for at least six to 12 months. Eventually people don’t need the watch, they start to get stronger in their boundaries and that gets easier too. You talk a lot about, and others talk a lot about mind-body medicine, which I think is really important, but I have always approached things coming from a physical therapy background, I’m like if you look at all the different signs and everything, I’m always one of the earth-grounded kinds of things.

And I know there are people that approach life from a more spiritual perspective and some people that from more of a physical perspective and so that’s my just natural set point. And I’ve often find that if you help people physically start feeling a bit more resilient, doing the mental health work is easier. It’s easier to say no when you’re not like exhausted and worried about your relationship. When you have more like less vulnerability, I guess, more stability in your own self, then you can have hard marriage conversations. That’s very hard to do when you feel vulnerable in that relationship, even if that’s the core driver. You know what I mean?

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah, and I think that, that goes both ways too. Like one becomes easier with the other and vice versa.

Dr. Jessica Drummond:

Yes, I agree. And so I think for each person that’s different, but I think some of the physical things we can do are really have that hall pass. And that’s a kind of a mental health thing too. One of my daughters, when she went back to school post-pandemic, the younger one, imagine like literally being a home with their parents all day for a year and a half and going to school, but not really and then going to middle school. It was the worst case scenario, never been there, never even been in the building.

Her first couple weeks in middle school were a little rough, and the counselor though, I called her cause I was like, “Look, I’ve done all the things, I’ve given her CBD and melatonin, and we’re meditating.” I’m like, “I don’t really know how to deal with this, I’m not a mental health therapist and certainly not pediatric. I work with teenagers only for this one thing and not for everything.” And the thing they gave her that helped her the most is like a pass to go see them anytime she needed to. She almost never uses it.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah, but it’s there.

Dr. Jessica Drummond:

It’s there, it’s there. And then this is kind of the same thing. You’ve got a coach on your team that’s helping you understand the surgery, figure out the questions to ask your physical therapist, not stress when you ate a piece of birthday cake and your pain flared. Sometimes we just need a person or a team or a group of people, or the whole system to help support the recovery.

Because you mentioned that I have long COVID, one of the things I’ve most learned from that is that as much as you might understand about the condition, it’s very hard to heal anything yourself. And it has to be done with a patient-supportive hall pass. Because you don’t always know, is this getting worse? Is it flaring it? When I say to my patients, “Okay, your goal is to keep your stress score below 30.” And we notice that every day when you go into the office, it’s 40, how can we change that? What are some of the things we can do?

It’s a much more objective measure because symptoms, and again as you know from some of your work in mental health, symptoms are not always reliable. And having something that’s a little bit more objective that you can look at moment to moment gives you much clearer boundaries and it’s helped people in their marriages, in their work-life balance and that’s really the key to healing. Because in endometriosis, they did a study that was published about two years ago that showed that 74% of women with endometriosis feel like the disease has just taken them off their career path. Because it’s the most problematic roughly ages like late teens to early, late twenties, so that 10 years. And that’s when you’re trying to go to law school and start your first job, and when you can’t show up for work consistently, it’s very frustrating. And people literally drop off the trajectory of their whole lives from it.

But if you can start building boundary, if you will, barriers around it and you have a way to communicate it with either your supervisor or your teachers or your spouse or your parents, it becomes more manageable. And everyone can help you manage it because then the parents of my 15-year-old girls are like, “Okay, now I can help advocate more for her because it’s really clear what’s going on.”

Michael Roesslein:

Pulls more people onto the team.

Dr. Jessica Drummond:

Yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

Where feeling like alone and isolated with something’s going to cause more stress and more inflammation too. So, wow. This was a different direction than I expected this conversation to go and it was great. And I know you primarily as a teacher of practitioners, you’ve mentioned working with patients, some, which you still do. And so before we go, we’re going to have a couple links down below and the show notes for them. And one link is more for patients and lay persons to learn, and one link is more for practitioners and courses. You have a ton of amazing trainings and courses you’ve put together for practitioners who want to specialize in these things and bring themselves up-to-date and up to speed. So can you tell us just a little bit of what would be found in both locations?

Dr. Jessica Drummond:

Yeah. So for anyone struggling with this yourself, or if your daughter or family member, you think you might have this, or you just need more information, I would love to give you a free copy of my book. Just go to outsmartendo.com and that maps out our program, at least, and you can start following it yourself. And that’s also the path too, if you want to come work with us as a client. As I’m recovering, we’re slowly ramping that back up, but we’re a little bit booked in the moment, which is one of the reasons why… And I haven’t been sick this whole time, that’s more recent.

But the other reason that I’ve started training practitioners is there are 176 million people worldwide with this. I can only see so many of them. So for our practitioners, we have an endometriosis and chronic pelvic pain certificate training program, we have coaching certification programs that are global third-party approved and oversight. Most of them have continuing education credits with many different subspecialties. We have physicians, PTs, health coaches, nutritionists, occupational therapists, nurses, PAs, on and on. And that can all be found in our professional course catalog that you’ll have to link to there.

Michael Roesslein:

That just recently launched, so congratulations on that. I know-

Dr. Jessica Drummond:

Thank you.

Michael Roesslein:

… how challenging it can be to put that together. And we’ll be sending out information on that probably even before this airs, or maybe we’ll do it around the time this airs and we’ll get it all in one spot. But so if you’re looking for yourself as a patient or someone a loved one, download a free copy of her book at… We’ll make it really clear which link is which.

And then if you’re a practitioner that works with women with endometriosis and pelvic pain and hormone-specific issues with women, the trainings there will help bring you up to speed and help you… Because I agree, training practitioners is really the way to reach the most people. You can’t work with 179 million or however many you just named. So the training programs there are great and we’ll have links over there to that too, for those who want to learn to bring this type of skill and knowledge and experience into their own practice. So thank you so much for everything you shared and for all the courses you’ve created, and the book, and the trainings and everything you’re doing to help shine a light on something that a lot of women have been dealing with in the dark for a long time, I think.

Dr. Jessica Drummond:

Thank you, yeah, I really appreciate it.

Michael Roesslein:

Awesome.

Dr. Jessica Drummond:

Thanks so much for having me here.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah, it’s fun. We’ll come back, we’ll do more.

Dr. Jessica Drummond:

Yes.

Michael Roesslein:

All right.