Why choose us?
Because the professional is personal.
Yvonne Parker and Danielle McCarthy are healthcare professionals with decades of experience in research and in supporting women though their reproductive lives, from puberty to menopause. Helping women navigate this hormonal minefield is more than just a job: it’s a vocation born of personal experience.
Danielle is an AfN Registered Associate Nutritionist with over 20 years’ professional experience as a practitioner in fertility, pregnancy and nutrition. She holds an honours degree in Traditional Acupuncture and an MSc in Applied Human Nutrition, and has extensive knowledge of biology, anatomy, pharmacology and supplements.
As part of her Master’s degree, she researched infertility, food intolerances and gut disturbances (IBS). She has also undertaken professional cooking and food safety training and continues to update her knowledge and skills with professional development courses, seminars and conferences.
A personal insight
We met as students on the MSc Applied Human Nutrition course at Oxford Brookes University and spent many hours on our commute discussing our frustration at observing women coping with life-changing experiences who could have been helped before they got to the medical intervention stage.
“My background in IVF and pregnancy practice frequently left me wishing I could have seen couples much earlier and helped them ‘clean up’ their nutrition,” says Danielle.
We both have personal reasons for exploring hormonal challenges and nutritional impact.
“I’d had period issues from the age of 16,” Yvonne reveals, “ranging from migraines, bloating and horrendous cramps which led to a prescription for the contraceptive pill as the solution to provide some relief.
“As my business career progressed, the problems increased. I suffered flooding, with hugely embarrassing incidents at a business meeting in Germany and a holiday with my husband in Italy that left me mortified and severely dented my confidence.
“During one of the worst phases, I was passing clots the size of golf balls and became severely anaemic. Fibroids were diagnosed and I was prescribed medication to stem the blood loss.”
Danielle’s experience was equally distressing. “I suffered with heavy, painful periods right from the beginning,” she recalls. “I battled PCOS and endometriosis and went through years of hormone treatment, medication and surgery. Searching for alternative options led me to discover and study traditional Chinese medicine, which is holistic in nature. This was complemented by the nutrition knowledge I gained in clinical practice and during my studies at Oxford.”
Understanding and action
Learning about the effect of nutrition on reproductive hormones helped both of us join the dots between the symptoms we’d endured. “My genetics put me at an increased risk of obesity and insulin resistance,” says Yvonne.
“Combine that with global travel, eating a poor diet rich in refined carbs like cereals, bread and pasta, plus a stressful career, and it was a recipe for hormonal imbalance.
“Looking back, I had major gut issues, my liver was clearly under stress and I had all the hallmarks of insulin resistance. If only I’d known that with a few changes to the food I was eating, I could have saved myself from such a distressing experience.”
A determination to help other women avoid the same fate is why we’ve formed Plena Health.
“Health is the key,” explains Danielle. “We don’t call ourselves Plena Nutrition, but Plena Health. Plena is Latin for full, so full health. A comprehensive and holistic approach to health is at the core of our business.”
We’re committed to helping women avoid the unnecessary suffering of hormone-related symptoms – symptoms which are often dismissed or over-medicated.
Understanding how nutrition can increase your well-being throughout the reproductive stages can empower you to make dietary changes which will reduce the chances of experiencing challenges conceiving, during pregnancy or throughout the perimenopause.
Our Warwickshire clinic
The Plena Health clinic is located in the beautiful Warwickshire town of Royal Leamington Spa, notable for its broad boulevards and Regency architecture.
Leamington has long been associated with wellbeing, and in the 18th and 19th century was popular with visitors ‘taking the waters’ for the benefit of their health.