An Interview with Dr. Theresa Hardy
Dr. Theresa Hardy is a senior research scientist at Onegevity Health, a leading health intelligence platform. Theresa completed her PhD in nursing a little over a year ago, specializing in women’s reproductive health. She was very interested in trying to find better biological markers of infertility, specifically a marker for ovarian function. She wanted to give women information about their health and fertility at the earliest stage possible.
Theresa was inspired to pursue a career in the women’s healthcare space when her sister invited her to the delivery of one of her children. Theresa was honored to be there during the birth, and after the baby was born, her sister told Theresa she was a “great combination of being very calm and compassionate,” and that she should consider working in healthcare. Thus began Theresa’s career in healthcare. She started her career in the medical field by working as a medical assistant. “I enjoyed the interaction with patients, the ability to serve people,” Theresa said while reflecting on her first job in a medical setting. After graduating from nursing school, she began working with a researcher, where she studied a biomarker of ovarian function, which was very novel at the time. Specifically, she studied AMH (Anti-Mullerian hormone), which gives an idea of the number of eggs remaining in a woman’s ovary. Theresa was working to “provide better biological markers for women that would help them understand their current fertility status, and help them use that information to make changes in their lifestyles to improve their fertility.” She wanted women to feel more “in charge” of their fertility and general wellness. She wanted to teach women that their fertility was not out of their hands, and there was a lot that they could do to have an effect.
Theresa strongly believes that everyone has different needs when it comes to fertility. “Each person has their own fingerprint, and it’s not dissimilar with our reproductive systems.” It’s not a one size fits all situation, and what works for some women won’t work for others. Because of this, Theresa believes it is very important for women to track their cycles. Whichever method women choose, cycle tracking is empowering and leads to a better understanding of one's body. For example, Theresa speaks about the different symptoms a woman can have depending on where she is in her cycle. If a woman knows where she is in her cycle, she can better understand why symptoms (such as headaches or nausea) are occurring, and explore ways to manage them. Theresa believes that because everyone’s body is different, every woman has different fertility needs. She also believes that given the right information, women can play an active and productive role in their health and fertility.
The best way to take control of one’s fertility, according to Theresa, is by realizing everyone’s cycle is different and unique. “What we understand to be the menstrual cycle and its typical pattern is really an average of what we see in the population of women. A lot of women’s cycles follow a pattern that doesn’t align with the average,” Theresa says, explaining the importance of helping women to find what their personal pattern is. She feels that most of the tools available for cycle tracking don’t give all the information women need. Theresa sees a gap in the understanding of individuals’ reproductive health. She strives to educate women on how their reproductive health intersects with other areas of health. Hormones affect many systems and aspects of one’s health, and Theresa is passionate about giving women important and personalized information.