In honor of national nutrition month, the dietetic internship class of 2019 attended a remarkable presentation by Dr. Serena Chen on March 18. Chen is the director for the Division of Reproductive Medicine in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at St. Barnabas Medical Center. She also teaches as a clinical associate professor at Rutgers Medical School and the St. George’s University School of Medicine.
Chen covered topics relating to women and reproductive health such as fertility, preconception nutrition, endometriosis, pregnancy and bariatrics. Maintaining a healthy weight is a large component of health and wellness associated with improved reproductive health outcomes. Supplementation of vitamin D3, vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids has also shown to combat symptoms of various reproductive health issues in women.
Chen feels that doctors and dietitians need to work together with their knowledge and skills to combat the rising health issues related to reproduction and hormonal health.
Allison Thibault, one of the current dietetic interns at Montclair State University, also believes that by doctors and dietitians working hand-in-hand for patient care, the best outcomes are possible.
“Dr. Chen made it clear that doctors should sit in the audience as dietitians educate about nutrition, and the doctors may have very little training in nutrition,” Thibault said. “In healthcare, collaboration among all of the specialties, including nutrition, is important to the patient and the future of healthcare.”
Individuals with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) make up a large part of Chen’s patient population. According to research, 7 percent of the female population suffers from this health syndrome.
This disorder negatively affects women’s hormones, frequently leading to infertility. Moderate exercise, along with seven to eight hours of sleep and a low glycemic diet are a few of the things Chen advises patients to do to help prevent the development of PCOS and to better female reproductive health overall.
Endometriosis was another health condition that Chen felt had a positive relationship with health and wellness intervention. Research has shown that forms of alternative medicine, such as acupuncture and increasing exercise weekly, can help to decrease the inflammation that occurs in the body due to this condition.
Females are not the only ones who experience fertility and reproduction issues. Chen explained how males have just as much influence on pregnancy outcomes as females.
“You’re all the future of nutrition,” Chen said. “I’m hoping some of you will push the envelope and get involved to make our healthcare system more health and wellness focused.”
Chen also enjoys educating people through her social media platforms. For more information on fertility, reproduction and hormonal health, you can follow Chen on Instagram and Twitter, @drserenahchen.