Adrienne Rommel is a sex-positive, certified Holistic Nutritionist. She helps women manage chronic vaginal infections through specific holistic nutrition & wellness & lifestyle practices. Her primary focus is on vaginal yeast infections, candida overgrowth, bacterial vaginosis (BV), HPV (human papillomavirus), & Herpes (HSV1 & HSV2). As a passionate STI advocate, a big part of her work is to empower both women and men to overcome the stigma of these very common sexual/vaginal health issues & STI’s as well as shame within their own sexuality, demonstrating that sexual pleasure and sexual wellness practices are an important part of living a happy and healthy lifestyle.
We talked to Adrienne about the most common yoni health issues, preventing them, and managing them with lifestyle and diet.
CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY? HOW DID YOU BECOME INTERESTED IN YONI HEALTH?
I’ve struggled with my own personal vaginal health my entire sexually active adult life! Since I was 16 years old I’ve struggled with recurring yeast infections, with the odd bacterial vaginosis (BV) and UTI infection here and there. In my early 20’s I was diagnosed with HSV2 (genital herpes) and HPV (high-risk cervical dysplasia)in which I had to go for multiple colposcopy’s and the LEEP procedure.
The LEEP is a procedure to remove abnormal tissue from your cervix. During a LEEP, a thin wire loop is used to excise (cut out) abnormal/precancerous tissue on the cervix. Over the years after that procedure, I went through the rollercoaster of abnormal-normal pap smear results, which caused a lot of stress and worry that it could potentially, eventually develop into cervical cancer.
The peak of my vaginal health issues was in my mid-30’s when I suffered from candida overgrowth which took over my whole body. Candida overgrowth is basically a fungal infection that starts in your gut, but can cause all kinds of symptoms in the body like vaginal infections (yeast infections, BV, UTI’s), suppress your immune system, cause sinus infections, allergies and environmental sensitivities, skin issues like acne and eczema, digestive issues like abdominal bloating & cramping and gas, and mental health issues like depression & anxiety, along with brain fog, chronic fatigue, low energy.
IT WAS HORRIBLE. I didn’t know what was wrong with me at the time and my doctor couldn’t tell me what it was. When I kept getting recurring yeast infections, he’d just send me home with a prescription. But I knew something was going on in my body that wasn’t right.When I did my own research, I found out that I was suffering from candida overgrowth and that luckily it could be eliminated with the candida elimination diet.
When I did the candida elimination diet AND IT WORKED, it inspired me to quit my corporate career of 12 years, to go back to school in my mid-30’s to study holistic nutrition so that I could help women going through the same issues I was going through.
I figured that if I’ve been experiencing all of these vaginal health issues, surely I’m not the only one! It’s just that it’s not talked about often because there is still so much stigma and shame when it comes to women’s health issues.
When I discovered all of my personal vaginal health issues were connected to my gut health, I was able to learn how to manage, prevent, & heal them naturally – and it’s working!
I haven’t had a genital herpes outbreak in a long time, I’ve had 3 “normal” pap smear results come back in a row over the past 3 years (which means my HPV has “healed”), and I haven’t had a UTI or BV infection for a long time. I still get the odd yeast infection here and there but that usually has to do with my diet and if I’ve gone off-track with it.
But I now know exactly how to manage it when I do get an infection!
Since I graduated from the Institute of Holistic Nutrition in 2017 as a Certified Nutritional Practitioner, I’ve done so much of my own research to learn more about these specific vaginal health issues, how they work in the body, and about specific nutrition, supplementation and holistic lifestyle practices so that I can other women manage these issues, just like I have.
HOW DO YOU WORK WITH YOUR CLIENTS, WHAT ARE THE THINGS YOU ARE LOOKING AT TOGETHER?
I have a few different ways I work with clients, which are my online programs, 1:1 coaching/support, and customized nutritional protocols that are specific to a combination of women’s health issues.
I have 4 different online programs:
- F*CK Candida – a 6-week online candida elimination program
- The BV Elimination Diet – an e-guide to help women manage & prevent recurring bacterial vaginosis infections
- HPV Healing Guide – an e-guide to help women living with HPV learn to holistically manage, prevent, & heal HPV
- Healing Herpes Holistically – an e-guide to help both women and men living with herpes learn to holistically manage, prevent, & heal herpes outbreaks *when I say “holistically”, I mean healing the body as naturally as possible through specific diet, nutrition, supplementation and holistic wellness practices.
These programs provide the tools & knowledge for people who value learning about this and doing this work on their own. I’ve done YEARS of research, personal trial & error, studying holistic nutrition, and have done the work to consolidate everything I’ve learned and practiced into these valuable, and easy-to-understand guides & programs. It’s also a great option for people who are on a budget, who need help but can’t afford to work with me 1:1.
I also offer 1:1 support & coaching calls on top of the online programs for people who value having an accountability partner and guidance to keep them motivated, empowered and on track.
For women who value a completely customized and personalized nutritional protocol and support program, I create custom weekly meal plans with recipes, a customized supplement list designed for their specific health goals, and offer 1:1 support and coaching calls, as well as provide them with access to me when they have quick questions and need support.
This 1:1 option is great for women who are struggling with their vaginal health/vaginal infections (like yeast infections, candida overgrowth, BV, HPV, & herpes), along with other health issues like hormone imbalances (i.e. thyroid issues, estrogen dominance, PCOS, etc.), skin health issues, digestive health issues, and need a customized approach to their healing.
WHY WHY DO SOME WOMEN TEND TO SUFFER FROM RECURRING YEAST INFECTIONS? IS IT ONLY A DIFFERENT LIFESTYLE AND DIET, OR ARE THERE OTHER FACTORS IN PLAY? (GENETICS, HORMONES, ETC.)
There are many commonalities with women who get recurring yeast infections which are:
- A diet high in sugar and/or refined carbohydrates
- Excess alcohol consumption
- Candida overgrowth
- A history of long-term antibiotic use
- A history of long-term oral contraceptive use
- Hormone imbalances – for those who get recurring yeast infections, very commonly they happen right before a woman gets her period which is an indication of a hormonal imbalance
- Improper sexual hygiene practices (i.e. contaminating the vaginal/vulvar area with feces – this usually happens unintentionally, but wiping back to front for example can cause this cross-contamination of bacteria, this can happen with anal to vaginal sex as well)
WHAT ARE THE MAIN VAGINAL HEALTH ISSUES WOMEN YOU WORK WITH DEAL WITH, APART FROM YEAST INFECTIONS?
Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is one of the most common vaginal health issues, which is a bacterial infection of the vagina caused by an imbalance of the vaginal flora and vaginal pH levels. This differs from a vaginal yeast infection because a yeast infection is a fungal infection of the vagina whereas bacterial vaginosis is a bacterial infection of the vagina. It’s typically treated with antibiotics which often will then cause the woman to get a vaginal yeast infection. It’s a vicious cycle! BV is really common, an estimated 1 in 3 women will get BV at some point in their lives, many women get it chronically (where it goes away, and then comes back even after treatment). When BV keeps coming back, it’s a good indication that something is going on with a woman’s gut heath and that’s how my BV Elimination Diet can help!
HPV (human papillomavirus) is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the world, even the CDC says that almost all sexually active adults will come into contact with HPV at some point in their sexually active adult lives. HPV is often asymptomatic, and there are over 200 types of HPV, 40 of which are transmitted sexually. The most common 2 types of HPV are high/low-risk cervical dysplasia (which can POTENTIALLY develop into cervical cancer if not detected/treated in time), and low-risk genital warts. There is a lot of shame & stigma with HPV even though it’s so common, because of it’s STI classification. There isn’t currently a prescribed way to treat it (other than invasive procedures like the colposcopy and LEEP procedures like what I did), but it IS manageable and preventable through natural ways of healing. It’s a virus so boosting the immune system and supporting gut health is really important, and that’s how my HPV Healing Guide can help! I know it works, because I’ve been “HPV-FREE” for 3 years.
Herpes (HSV-1 & HSV-2) is also one of the most common sexually transmitted infections that is a virus in the world, with 1 in 4 people living with HSV-1 and 1 in 6 people living with HSV-2. HSV-1 manifests itself as cold sores both orally and genitally and HSV-2 manifests as cold sores primarily genitally. I think the stigma of this virus is worse than the actual virus itself. But like HPV, it is a virus that is dependent on the health of your immune system which is dependent on the health of your gut. This is where my Healing Herpes Holistically program can help – it teaches people what to eat, what to avoid eating, which supplements to take and specific lifestyle practices to manage, prevent & heal herpes outbreaks.
Candida Overgrowth – you can have candida overgrowth without having a yeast infection. Candida overgrowth presents itself in numerous ways like chronic BV & UTI’s, recurring genital herpes outbreaks or oral cold sores, skin issues like cystic acne, hormonal acne, eczema & psoriasis, digestive health issues like abdominal cramping/bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, IBS, SIBO, leaky gut, acid reflux, environmental sensitivities & allergies, chronic fatigue, brain fog, lack of energy, depression, anxiety, excessive carb cravings, weight gain, hormonal imbalances, and SO MUCH MORE! Recurring yeast infections are a sign of candida overgrowth but so are all of these other symptoms which most people don’t even realize! That’s where my F*CK Candida program can help because the ONLY way to get rid of these recurring issues, especially if they keep coming back, is by changing your diet.
HOW CAN YOU TELL YEAST INFECTION FROM BV AND WHAT IS THE MAIN DIFFERENCE IN THE WAY THEY ARE TREATED?
Here’s a little table to highlight the differences/similarities of BV vs. Yeast infections.
CAN ONE ALWAYS HEAL YEAST INFECTIONS AND BV ONLY NATURALLY, WITHOUT ANTIFUNGALS AND ANTIBIOTICS?
That’s a tough one for me to answer because I’m not a doctor and in my experience I haven’t been able to heal my infections naturally because nothing works. I need the help of western medicine to treat my personal infection, but then rely on my holistic nutrition and lifestyle practices to manage & prevent them from coming back in the future.
I’ve worked with women who have mild Yeast/BV infections and who treat it naturally, the problem is, especially with BV, it can lead to longer-term health issues like infertility/pregnancy complications if it’s not treated properly and if it always comes back.
I hate to say it, but sometimes we need the help of western medicine to treat the infection to get relief, but then follow a holistic protocol to manage & prevent it from coming back.
WHAT ARE SOME GREAT HERBS THAT CAN HELP WITH YEAST INFECTIONS?
Antifungal Supplements & Herbs:
- Oil of oregano
- Pao D’arco
- Olive Leaf extract
- Grapefruit seed extract
- Caprylic Acid
THE TYPICAL CANDIDA DIET RESTRICTS CARB INTAKE. FOR SOMEONE WHO IS VEGETARIAN OR VEGAN, THIS MIGHT BE DIFFICULT. HOW CAN THIS BE MODIFIED?
The Candida elimination diet is very challenging and restrictive as a plant-based eater BUT IT IS POSSIBLE! I just finished my annual online group candida elimination program and half of my clients in the program were plant-based eaters.
I teach a specific “way of eating” in my F*CK Candida online candida elimination program, and it’s all about proper food combining and a certain “way of eating” at every meal, and consistency is key. Eating 3-4 meals/day is key on the candida elimination diet! I provide a list of foods to eat/foods to avoid eating that are both plant-based and non-plant-based diet friendly.
The key for plant-based eaters on a candida elimination diet is to make sure you’re getting enough protein at every meal. Carbs can’t be avoided but the RIGHT carbs can be eaten in moderation, especially for plant-based eaters.
These are the things I teach in my F*CK Candida online candida elimination program.
HOW CAN ONE SUPPORT THEIR IMMUNE SYSTEM TO AVOID HERPES OUTBREAKS?
Diet – Eat the rainbow of natural, whole foods that are high in nutrients, vitamins, minerals & fiber, that support your gut health and boost your immune system. Avoid the inflammatory foods (gluten, dairy & sugar), and anything processed, junk foods, or high in saturated fats because these foods help to suppress your immune system. Also be mindful of your caffeine and alcohol intake as these things can negatively affect both your endocrine system and your nervous system causing a lot of stress on your body, ESPECIALLY right before your period when your hormones are already fluctuating. This can often cause herpes outbreaks in women right before they get their period. Include foods with high amounts of lysine (which is an important amino acid that helps to manage & prevent herpes outbreaks), i.e. animal proteins like chicken and lean cuts of red meat, eggs and salmon, and avoid/minimize foods with the amino acid arginine, (which can trigger herpes outbreaks), i.e. nuts, seeds & chocolate.
Supplements & Herbs – Include gut-supporting supplements like probiotics, omega-3’s and anti-viral/immune boosting supplements and herbs like Vitamin C & oil of oregano. Lysine is also a really important supplement to take when you live with herpes as it helps prevent cold sores.
Lifestyle – manage your stress, practice yoga & meditation, exercise and get outside in nature, get minimum 7hrs of sleep every night, take care of yourself and prioritize your health!
For more specific information on what foods to eat, what foods to avoid eating, HOW to eat those foods, specific supplements & herbs to take to manage herpes, specific healthy lifestyle practices to manage herpes, sign up to my Healing Herpes Holistically program!
HPV AND HERPES ARE OFTEN CONFUSED AND MISTAKEN ONE FOR THE OTHER. HOW ARE THEY DIFFERENT AND WHAT ARE THE NATURAL TREATMENTS IF ANY?
Here is a table that highlights the high-level differences/similarities of both viruses:
There are MANY natural treatments to treating both HPV and herpes, far too many to list in this email. What’s important is focusing on food, herbs and supplements that help BOOST the immune system to manage and prevent these viruses from coming back, and help to heal them when they come up. That’s where my programs help!
WHAT ARE YOUR BEST TIPS ON KEEPING YOUR YONI HEALTHY.
- Learning about what foods to eat and what foods to avoid that support your gut and yoni health – my #1 tip – STAY AWAY FROM THE SUGAR!
- Learning HOW to eat that works for your body and for your yoni
- Understanding what daily supplements to take that will support your gut health and your yoni health
- DRINKING LOTS OF WATER!
- Managing stress and reducing stress
- Get into your body and out of your mind – with regular dance, exercise, yoga, meditation, walks in nature
- Self-care and self-love! Dedicating time every week to myself to focus on my self-care. I dedicate a day – self-care Sunday!
- Regular self-pleasure and masturbation practices – helps you to understand your own pleasure and your own yoni
- Never stay too long in wet clothes – ie. wet bathing suits, sweaty workout gear
- Practicing good sexual hygiene – ALWAYS wipe front to back, NEVER cross-contaminate anal to vaginal play, ALWAYS PEE AFTER SEX!
- Never douche or use scented/artificial products around your yoni
- You don’t need to wash your yoni with soap, your yoni is a self-cleaning organ. Use essential oils like tea tree oil or lavender oil to give your yoni a refresh if you need.
IF YOU COULD GIVE JUST ONE PIECE OF ADVICE TO WOMEN ON VAGINAL HEALTH SEX AND DESIRE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Your Yoni will tell you when she’s not happy, and it’s important that we tune in! Quite often, we ignore her or we don’t know how to listen to the messages that she tells us – but how would we know that, we weren’t taught! It’s time to tune into her, to listen to what she’s telling you and what she needs. Get quiet and listen. Meditate. Connect with her by getting a mirror and looking at her! Give her positive affirmations and tell her that she’s beautiful and that you love her!
Pay attention to your periods. Get a cycle tracker app. Understand her patterns. Learn about her triggers. If/when she doesn’t feel good, ask yourself why. What’s going on in your life? What could have triggered her to have an issue? And is it potentially related to your cycle?
When you can start identifying certain patterns, you can start to connect to her in ways you never have before! I know that sounds really woo woo, but trust me, it works!
Find Adrienne online on the following platforms:
TikTok - @yoninutritionist
YouTube - @yoninutritionist
Twitter - @healthyyoni
Online programs: https://yoni-nutrition.teachable.com