Live during SXSW: Ashley Greene Khoury and Olivia Khoury discuss reproductive dysfunction
Co-founders of Hummingway Ashley Greene Khoury and Olivia Khoury sat down with Giddy's Bri Jenkins and a live audience to discuss their experience navigating menstrual issues and hormone imbalance and their mission to ease menstrual discomfort with their product-based company.
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A Conversation with Ashley Greene Khoury and Olivia Khoury
In this live interview with Giddy's Bri Jenkins in Austin, Ashley Greene Khoury and Olivia Khoury open up about their experiences with menstrual disorders, including hormone imbalance and PMDD. The duo decided to tackle their issues head-on and found a way to utilize functional medicine to improve their quality of life.
By timing their exercise, sex life and diet to various stages of their menstrual cycles, they were able to better find relief from their pain, mood swings and other ailments tied to their monthly cycle. This realization spurred them to create Hummingway, a product-based company dedicated to improving the lives of women everywhere.
If y'all want to share kind of how you got into this work, and what your journeys have been as well.
So I got on birth control when I was 16, and so I had no symptoms surrounding my menstrual cycle until I was in my thirties and decided to get off birth control.
I got off any prescription that I had ever been on because I started finally learning about all of the adverse side effects that these prescriptions had, and I wanted to really, truly figure out if these were some things that I can manage myself. Everything else I got off of, I was pretty much fine, but when I got off hormonal birth control, I experienced every symptom under the sun to a very severe degree. I had debilitating cramps and adult hormonal acne and terrible mood swings and went back to my health care provider and said, "Okay, what's going on? How do we fix it?" I was met with, "You can get back on hormonal birth control. You can take Accutane."
I never really got any kind of answer as to why this is happening and how to actually fix the problem versus putting a Band-Aid over the situation. For me, it was a really frustrating, lonely time as a 30 something year old woman going, "I have absolutely no idea what's going on inside my body. I have no idea how to fix it, and it doesn't seem like the person that I have trusted most knows how to fix it either."
I was very embarrassed by this — and now that I think about it, I'm like, "Why was I embarrassed? It's not my fault that I wasn't given the tools or the knowledge." But you do feel embarrassed. So I didn't tell people for a while, and then I finally confided in Olivia because she and my husband grew up in a very different household than I did. They grew up with a more functional medicine background. So I said, "These are the things that are happening. I know that you've been finding ways to heal yourself over your entire life. What do you think?"
So that's how we started working together, that I was like, "Olivia, please, help me with this."
Can you tell us a little bit more about how you grew up, Olivia? What was that conversation around health?
Four years ago, I was diagnosed with premenstrual dysphoric disorder, also known as PMDD, which is essentially two weeks before every period — which is your luteal phase — I have extreme depression, anxiety, irritability. It's essentially PMS, but on steroids, and it gets in the way of your daily life. You don't feel like the person you were in the phase before.
So I was on my own journey. I knew that I didn't want to go on birth control because birth control wasn't going to balance my hormones. It actually shuts them off completely. And for me, coming from that functional medicine household, I didn't want to take SSRIs or mood stabilizers just yet — which I haven't done yet, who knows? — so it was up to me to kind of be the hero of my own story.
I started researching what actually happens through the menstrual cycle because the menstrual cycle is not just your period. We actually go through multiple different phases. And Ashley and I started researching together, and we realized that you can actually map your diet and your sex life and your exercise to the phase of where you're at in your cycle to ultimately rebalance your body. Once we learned that, we were like, "Wow, how do we not know this? And how come so many of our friends don't know this?"
It's definitely becoming more common now, but we started researching and talking to our community, and everyone was suffering from something like endometriosis or PCOS. We decided to do something about it, and we created Hummingway, which is a product-based company, but also an educational platform.