O Positiv rē•prioritizes Ovarian Health
And how inositols can help.
Brianna and Bobby Bitton, the sibling co-founders of the brand O Positiv, know that hormonal fluctuations significantly impact women’s quality of life and sense of wellness. Fueled by the success of their viral pink gummy vitamin for PMS, FLO, they have expanded to address more avenues of women’s health. To help spearhead their efforts with hormonal transitions of womanhood with supplements, they brought on board-certified OB/GYN and menopause expert Jessica Shepherd as a medical advisor.
“O Positiv wanted to make sure they had medical collaboration to ensure the products had foundational and scientific evidence behind it,” Dr. Shepherd says of their partnership. “We work together from a consulting collaboration perspective; namely, what are the things that impact hormonal health from a medical and supplemental perspective? That’s how we work together to get the formulation right.”
Informed by Dr. Shepherd’s understanding of the complex nature between physiology, lifestyle factors, and women’s changing hormonal needs over time, O Positiv has expanded its offerings to support menstrual health, gut health, vaginal health, and more. Their August 2023 launch of Ovarian Health, $34.99, is the offering that corresponds most closely to a woman’s needs during the perimenopausal and menopausal time frames but can also be beneficial for those who deal with PCOS. It aims to support healthy hormone balance, regular periods, reproductive health, and healthy weight management.
Below, Dr. Shepherd provides more insight on how to pair Ovarian Health with lifestyle changes to help manage hormonal shifts.
The Challenges of Hormone Optimization
“Everyone is different, which makes it hard [to create a singular supplement for all women] from a medical standpoint,” Dr. Shepherd says. “Hormonal health also requires a lot of individualization and behavioral modification — what that person is doing outside of an exam room or doctor’s visit.”
At her practice, she works with her patients on finding their optimal levels of hormones and educating them on lifestyle changes (i.e., diet, exercise) to implement in their efforts. But keeping this challenge in mind, there are some things that can be widely beneficial when you take specific symptoms of the perio- and menopausal life phases into consideration.
Inositols, Insulin, and Weight Gain
Unwanted weight gain and bloating are two of the most common hormonally-related complaints among women, regularly impacting the way our clothes fit and the flatness of our stomachs. But longer-term weight gain becomes a matter of particular concern among peri- and menopausal women. Insulin resistance-like states are often at the core of a hormonal level.
To help address this, Ovarian Support uses inositols, a type of sugar that influences the body’s insulin response. “Inositols really look at metabolic function,” Dr. Shepherd explains. “They work with metabolic health and how your body regulates insulin, glucose, and that relationship. Many times when people have metabolic issues, they have an insulin-resistance type of state, which means their bodies are not utilizing glucose in the best way.”
When functioning properly, insulin helps glucose get stored in the muscles, liver, and fat cells. But insulin-resistance and its precursor states result in the improper storage of glucose, causing a cycle that results in unwanted weight gain. This is particularly notable around the belly.
Insulin-resistance occurs when your body becomes desensitized to the pancreatic hormone insulin. This stems from chronically high elevations that are triggered by high blood sugar. Even without a dietary change, this may begin to occur around perimenopause as the body becomes more sensitive to ingredients like carbs, which suddenly elevate blood sugar levels more so than in the past.
Lifestyle Factors to Optimize Blood Sugar
Aside from supplements, Dr. Shepherd loves educating patients about the lifestyle changes that will assist with glucose homeostasis, the same metabolic process that Ovarian Support targets.
“A well-balanced meal, in general, is the best way to go. I don’t think it should be restrictive,” Dr. Shepherd says. “A more plant-heavy diet is always going to be best, with less processed foods. Protein is also a really big part in creating the muscle stores for glucose utilization.”
You can become empowered in your diet by learning how what you put into your body breaks down in your blood. Focusing on increasing your protein, fiber (we like this vegan Fiber Gummy by Hilma), and alkalizing leafy greens often feels better than emphasizing what to restrict. But being mindful of sweets, alcohol, and simple carbohydrates (like white rice, pasta, and bread) can also help reduce blood sugar spikes.
“We can maintain glucose homeostasis by using our muscles because the muscles are the main organ that is going to take up glucose,” Dr. Shepherd says. “Certain types of exercise can absolutely help with this.” She is a big proponent of weight-lifting and weight-bearing exercises that help to build muscle.
The Bowflex Max Total 16 Elliptical, $2,149, is a versatile and compact way to build muscle from home. It offers full-body workouts, HIIT, and regular elliptical options, with built-in workouts that can be easily followed while you stream Netflix, Hulu, Prime, etc. For ultimate versatility, it can also be paired with your Bowflex Weights with an instructor via the JRNY app.
To make the most of your session, strap on some ankle and wrist weights — like 1 lb Bala Bangles, $55 — wear your Elastique workout wear with built-in lymphatic drainage, and sip on some Cure Electrolytes, $23.99 (go for Lime or Strawberry Kiwi) from a Leela Quantum Water Bottle, $90, that neutralizes EMFs.
As always, there is also a direct stress connection. “Disruption to hormones can come via stress levels and inflammation, and high-glycemic diets create inflammation in the body,” Dr. Shepherd says. “Hormones are like the oompa loompahs of the factory, doing their thing every day. So when things come and disrupt the sequence of events, changes to your physiologic and cellular state create an off-kilter effect in your hormones.”
Dr. Shepherd emphasizes stress reduction with her patients, advocating in favor of learning tools for inducing the relaxation response, like mindfulness and meditation. “Mindfulness is not just a fad or a trendy term. There really is the ability for people to learn how to utilize their brain energy and calm their brains down throughout the day,” she says. “We have so much stimulus throughout the day, with information coming at us at all speeds, and sometimes we do need to check out for a little bit to allow our brains to recover and recoup.”
There are even ways to help reduce stress via apps. The Othership App guides you through music-enhanced breathwork sessions, while the SOAAK app allows you to play therapeutic binaural beats chosen for specific wellness outcomes.
There are unseen disruptors to the hormonal status quo coming at us in unexpected ways. Dr. Shepherd names culprits in certain plastics — like the plastic container you use to heat up leftovers or the plastic water bottle you drink from. She adds that there are also endocrine-disruptors found in our beauty products, especially fragrances.
“Exposure to these endocrine-disruptors is all dependent upon degree, and it comes down to the amount of exposure [an individual lifestyle entails],” she explains. “Because there are so many environmental factors that can impact hormones, it is all the more important to pay attention.”
Shift Begins with Intention
First things first, it’s important to find an OB-GYN, naturopath, or integrative physician who works with you during this process. Even when you successfully begin, it is a normal part of the process to “fall off the wagon,” and they will help to keep you motivated and point you in the right direction.
Keeping in mind that wellness is a practice, the important thing is recognizing when you err non-judgmentally and getting back on track to meet your goals. “It comes down to intention,” Dr. Shepherd says. “You have to decide to do it. Then, simply learn how to accomplish it and start doing it.”Our belief is that the journey of incorporating changes like the ones discussed above can help to make you more empowered on your women’s health journey.