COVID 19: The New Era of Women’s Health By Dr. Alexandra Mathern

In this new COVID-19 era of medicine, we are led to think that less contact is safer, not only socially but especially in the healthcare realm. The implementation of telemedicine has been a great resource in this time of uncertainty to continue providing some level of care to our patients, but has it been enough? Or will it be enough moving forward during our new normal? As a gynecology office, we provide several services that screen for often asymptomatic precancerous or cancerous conditions. However, these services are reliant on a physical exam, particularly the dreaded vaginal and pelvic exam. In the last few years, lines had been drawn in the sand between certain medical societies about the importance of a pelvic exam. In 2017 the USPSTF (United States Preventive Services Task Force) published a guideline stating there was insufficient evidence to weigh risks and benefits of annual pelvic exam in those that are asymptomatic and not pregnant. Recommendations for exams are still indicated for pap smears and STI evaluation, but that annual pelvic at the yearly exam when the above were not needed were not found to be beneficial (nor harmful). Later that same year AAFP or American Academy of Family Physicians took the USPSTF recommendation and went a step further, actually recommending against an annual screening pelvic exam for asymptomatic and non-pregnant females. The reasoning behind these recommendations is that the most common conditions that cause potentially serious issues for women either present with symptoms or the pelvic exam is not sensitive enough to detect them.

As gynecologists, however, we respectfully disagree on the account that most gynecologic precancerous or cancerous conditions are asymptomatic, or symptoms are so vague they are often ignored. For GYN providers (pre-COVID) who performed upwards of 10-20 pelvic exams daily, the rate at which abnormalities were found is likely higher than a general practitioner. In the light of COVID and less in-person exams, it is concerning to think about the potential delay in the diagnosis of potentially cancerous diseases.

Gynecologic societies such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Gynecologic Oncology recognize that the data presented across a number of different specialties does demonstrate annual pelvic exams often do not identify the high-risk conditions before symptoms. However, we still strongly recommend at least a discussion of the importance of the pelvic exam in order to provide a comprehensive assessment of all organ systems for women.

It is not infrequent for us as gynecologists to recognize small and, at times, significant changes during the pelvic exam that the patient was unaware of, some benign and others not. From cervical polyps to HPV lesions, from the reassurance of normal anatomy to vulvar melanoma to name examples in my own practice alone.

As providers, we take an oath to do no harm. In these uncertain times, we are challenged with the seemingly impossible task of balancing this new public health threat and continuing to provide comprehensive women’s health. As we start bringing patients back into the office for routine and follow up exams, please know that it is you and your health that are our main priorities and that providing you with the most comprehensive gynecology care we can, just include a short stint in the stirrups.   Don’t delay.  Schedule your pelvic exam today.


Be Empowered with EMSELLA

The pelvic floor consists of layers of muscles that stretch like a supportive hammock.  Being pregnant and giving birth stretches these pelvic floor muscles-the muscles that keep your bladder from leaking.  If your pelvic floor muscles are weakened, you may find that you leak urine when you cough, sneeze, laugh or exercise. Urinary incontinence (bladder/urine leakage) is very common, but you don’t have to live life wearing pads, or avoiding certain activities and exercises!

Be empowered with EMSELLA: A revolutionary, FDA-cleared treatment for urinary incontinence.


Urinary incontinence is the loss of bladder control or leaking urine.  EMSELLA for urinary incontinence treats all types of incontinence:

  • stress (leak urine with a cough or movement)
  • urge (leak urine after you cannot suppress the urge to urinate)
  • mixed (the combination)


  • painless
  • simple (you sit on a chair!)
  • non-invasive
  • no downtime
  • remain fully clothed
  • 4-week treatment


Schedule your consultation today or call 692-6838.  

Love Your Hormones Pellet Therapy

Love your hormones again with customized hormone replacement therapy for men & women.

Our hormones change as we age. Testosterone, the most critical hormone the male body produces, decreases around age 40 and continues to decline by about 1% each year.  A normal part of aging, low Testosterone (Low-T) can significantly impact the quality of life.  Recent studies show that women, too, are experiencing menopause at much earlier ages. By age 40, most women are totally depleted of normal levels of estrogen and have lost nearly all their progesterone and more than half of their testosterone. Untreated, imbalanced hormones cause a variety of undesirable symptoms:

Symptoms of hormone imbalance:

  • Anxiety/Depression
  • Fatigue/Loss of energy
  • Weight gain/Increased body fat
  • Decreased libido/Sex drive/Erectile dysfunction
  • Hot flashes/Night sweats
  • Hair loss
  • Insomnia/Sleep disorders
  • Loss of muscle tone/Strength
  • Brain Fog/Loss of memory
  • Irritability
  • And more…

Get back in the game with our simple, proven bioidentical pellet therapy, T by Couri for men and harmonié for women.

Schedule an evaluation:

If you suspect fluctuating hormones are causing undesirable changes in your body, it’s easy to get your hormone levels checked. Call the Couri Center 309 692-6838.

Power Couples: hormone pellet therapy for men & women

Power couples enjoy life and you should too.

Our hormones change as we age. Testosterone, the most critical hormone the male body produces, decreases around age 40 and continues to decline by about 1% each year.  A normal part of aging, low Testosterone (Low-T) can significantly impact the quality of life.  Recent studies show that women, too, are experiencing menopause at much earlier ages. By age 40, most women are totally depleted of normal levels of estrogen and have lost nearly all their progesterone and more than half of their testosterone. Untreated, imbalanced hormones cause a variety of undesirable symptoms:

Symptoms of hormone imbalance:

  • Anxiety/Depression
  • Fatigue/Loss of energy
  • Weight gain/Increased body fat
  • Decreased libido/Sex drive/Erectile dysfunction
  • Hot flashes/Night sweats
  • Hair loss
  • Insomnia/Sleep disorders
  • Loss of muscle tone/Strength
  • Brain Fog/Loss of memory
  • Irritability
  • And more…

Get back in the game with our simple, proven bioidentical pellet therapy, T by Couri for men and harmonié for women.

Schedule an evaluation:

If you suspect fluctuating hormones are causing undesirable changes in your body, it’s easy to get your hormone levels checked. Call the Couri Center 309 692-6838.

What I Learned During COVID-19 By Leslie Rusch-Bayer, RD, LDN, CPT

It is hard to believe it has been almost four months since we unexpectedly altered our lives due to COVID-19. Schedules, plans, trips, and vacations are cancelled. Gym memberships are put on hold. Jobs are in limbo. Trips to the grocery store cause anxiety. Social media is anything but safe or positive. Stress is immense. Unlike celebrities, most of us have not had the ability or time during this pandemic to perfect our summer body.

Anxiety, depression, and mental health issues continue to rise throughout this pandemic. Increased stress often results in stress eating. Alcohol sales are skyrocketing. Soda, sugar-sweetened coffee drinks, and candy help many people push through their mid-day slump. Inexpensive, processed, and packaged foods, which are often calorie-rich and nutrient-poor, may be the only form of substance for families struggling with the unexpected financial loss. The stress of this pandemic, children and spouses at home, gym closures, sports cancellations, and ever-changing Illinois spring weather has also decreased personal and family physical activity. No wonder #COVID15 is trending.

The medical community is starting to accumulate new research and hypothesize what affects the broad spectrum of COVID-19 symptom severity. Symptoms could be affected by duration of exposure, vitamin D levels, gut health, uncontrolled chronic disease, and overall health. COVID-19 has exposed possible insecurities in our health.

We must all take measures to understand, protect, and improve our health, especially during the pandemic. Do not let COVID-19 negatively affect health and weight. Instead of relying on “youth” and hoping for immortality, we should focus on improving health, instead of depending on medical options that manage health. Treating a symptom is not the same as finding the root cause of the symptom. The most significant lesson I have learned during COVID-19 is to protect and prioritize my family’s health.

As sunshine, summer weather, and slightly looser regulations approach Central Illinois; it seems many are starting to seek change. Is it possible to flourish and avoid the #COVID15, while maintaining proper risk reduction from COVID-19?

Taking Charge of Your Health:

  1. Understand your health. Seek information and new recommendations if you do not understand your current health. If current medical recommendations are not helping, seek alternate options. The Couri Center specializes in women’s health and integrative medicine. Objective and comprehensive labs will identify areas where improvement is needed. If you have never had labs drawn, the time is now! Consider a personalized disease prevention program like TLC: Total Lifestyle by Couri, which is now on sale in JULY!
  2. Move. Exercise at an intensity that challenges your lung capacity. Sweat! The heart and lungs are organs that require exercise and adapt to intensity levels over time. Remember to alternate low, moderate, and high-intensity levels throughout a variety of exercise options.
  3. Consider your gut health. If you struggle with IBS, acid reflux, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea, I recommend a consultation to further discuss dietary options.
  4. Evaluate your weight and your lifestyle. Plant a garden to help decrease grocery store costs. Decrease consumption of inflammatory foods. Consider an exercise buddy for accountability. Quit nicotine use. Seek positivity. Weight loss is never easy and can be very frustrating. If you are struggling to implement weight loss changes, please call the office to discuss our new TLC: Weight Management program.
  5. Check your mental health. Prioritize stress management. Reflect. Enjoy the sunshine. Talk to your spouse or a friend. Enjoy the sounds of your children laughing. Breathe. Figure out ways to appreciate what you have. Consider counseling or therapy.
  6. Detox. Detoxification may look different for many people. Consider a dietary, alcohol, financial, social media, or mother-in-law (HA!) detox. Everyone has a weakness for something unhealthy. Balance is key. A detox will help “reset” your lifestyle. If you are looking for a dietary detox, consider the 6-Day Micro Detox by Xymogen.

Women’s “health” is multi-factorial, complex, and never the same for each person. Let the practitioners at the Couri Center help you to understand better and improve your health. Consider a complimentary consultation to discuss our many programs and options.

Difficult circumstances and “storms” in life force great change, and most challenges are understood in hindsight. Charge yourself to implement positive change during this pandemic. Dr. Mark Hyman, MD said “As a doctor, on the front lines of the chronic disease epidemic, it is increasingly clear that our health crisis, along with our social, environmental, climate and economical challenges start with food.” Seeking an “outside the box” perspective may change, and improve, your life. Do not be the person looking back wishing things would have turned out differently.


Leslie Rusch-Bayer, RD, LDN, CPT



SALE: $99 Peel + Free Dermaplaning

Welcome back to the Aesthetic Studio!  We’re celebrating re-opening/Phase IV with our NEW customized SkinCeuticals Peels and Dermaplane services!  Enjoy our favorite $99 SkinCeuticals Peel and get a FREE Dermaplane ($160 value).  Dermaplaning, when combined with one of our custom peels, helps generate smooth, exfoliated + youthful skin.  Learn more at your complimentary consultation with Ashley.  Call 692-6838 or click below.

An Interview with Esthetician, Ashley Gardewine


We are so excited to welcome Ashley Gardewine to the Couri Center’s Aesthetic Studio.  Ashley is a licensed esthetician & certified laser technician. She has over 12 years of experience in the industry, with 7 of those owning her own business. Ashley specializes in corrective anti-aging treatments for sun damage, fine lines, and acne. Whether you’re looking for laser hair removal, dermaplaning, or are simply searching for a solution to wearing less makeup, she’s your go-to.  Her passion is to find customized solutions to help you love your skin. We hope yo enjoy getting to know Ashley better in this interview.


What is one word you would use to describe yourself? 

I could think of several words to describe me, but if I had to pick just one, it would be: driven.  In this industry, you cannot be lazy.

So, you’re both an Esthetician and Cosmetologist. Tell us what inspired you.

Several things inspired me to become both an Esthetician and Cosmetologist. Both my grandfather (Dad’s side) and grandmother (Mom’s side) owned hair salons. My grandpa, Fran, was well known in the Effingham, IL area for giving the best perms and roller sets in town! I guess you could say it’s in my blood. As far as skincare goes, I always was obsessed with wanting to take good care of my skin while growing up. I also had a passion for wanting to help people with their skincare goals. While growing up, we are taught so many things but little about how to properly take care of our skin (our largest organ). I wanted to be that girl who teaches them all the tips and tricks.

I’ve heard you LOVE taking care of your patient’s skin! How much do you love skin/skincare? 

I love skin/skincare so much that my friends and family are probably sick of me talking about it.

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of my children. They are tiny humans still, but they are good kids.

How do you recharge?   

I am a mom; do moms ever get a chance to recharge? Lol. If I get a chance to myself, I enjoy reading or taking an uninterrupted bath.

If you were to tell one person “Thank You” for helping me become the person I am today, who would it be, and what did they do? 

I would thank my Mom. She was a single mom and struggled a lot to raise my sister and me. We did not have a lot growing up, but she made sure we always had what we needed.

How do you stay on top of skincare trends?

I follow several well-known Estheticians in the industry whom I have learned a lot from over the years. I also am a firm believer in continuing education. One thing no one can ever take away from you is your education.  The more you know, the further you will go in this industry.

What does happiness look like for you? 

This is a tricky question. We are always chasing something to be happy, whether it be a new car, a new promotion, a significant other. This leads to the belief that, “When (blank) happens, I’ll finally be happy.” I have learned that major events make me happy at first, although it doesn’t last. To answer your question, I guess happy for me would be to slow down so I can appreciate life’s little pleasures.

What characteristic do you most admire in others? 

Honesty. We are all so afraid of hurting each other’s feelings. I always tell my clients if you are unhappy with something, please tell me so I can fix it.  Do not worry about hurting my feelings because what would hurt my feelings more, is if you went somewhere else before giving me the chance to make it right. I think they deeply appreciated that, and it opened this circle of trust.

What are you most passionate about?

Skincare. DUH. 😊

What would a “perfect” day look like for you? 

A perfect day for me would be a day where my entire family could all be together. We are all scattered all over the US, with one being in Canada.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in the last year?

Do not plan out your entire life. God’s plans are bigger than our own.  

If you could volunteer your time, what would you do? 

I would volunteer mine and my family’s time at a homeless shelter. I believe there is a lot to learn from the less fortunate.

What is your favorite season? Why?

My favorite season is the fall. I love sweater weather and all things pumpkin spice.

What type of music do you enjoy? 

I don’t have one specific favorite genre of music. I listen to what moves me at the time.

What do you like to do for exercise?  

For exercise, I like to sit on the couch and watch my favorite reality tv show, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Oh wait, that’s not exercising. When I do exercise, I enjoy lifting weights and walking. 

What motivates you?

Results in this industry really drive me. I thrive on creating a strategy to help my clients achieve the results/goals they are looking for.

What are your MUST HAVE product(s) for our skin? 

The biggest must-have products you should be carrying in your cabinet are SPF, Vitamin C, and Retinol.

Biggest skincare myth—what should we know?

Myth: Age or liver spots are a part of getting older. Reality: These spots are actually sun damage and have little to do with getting older or your liver. This is why I am always preaching about SUNSCREEN!  SPF IS YOUR BFF!

We have so many incredible female patients here at the Couri Center. What would you most like to share with them? 

We all have imperfections when it comes to our skin, so don’t beat yourself up. I am here to help you love your skin!


Schedule your complimentary skin care consultation with Ashley now:


SALE: Integrative Wellness Programs

Take advantage of our summer sale: $50-$100 OFF all TLC™ Integrative Wellness Programs!  Sale ends July 31, 2020.

Programs can incorporate tele-health visits, if preferred.

What is Total Lifestyle By Couri, TLC™

TLC™ is a customized lifestyle program based on traditional and integrative medicine principles. Total Lifestyle by Couri is science-based and incorporates your lab results, detoxification, nutrition, physical/exercise goals, and infrared sauna therapy. Together, your provider and our Registered Dietitian/Certified Personal Trainer, prepare a wellness program based on in-depth labs including:

  • Food sensitivity testing
  • Hormone balancing/labs
  • Metabolic and expanded lab profiles

Whether you need a boost to lose weight & improve eating habits or a comprehensive wellness program, our experienced team can help guide you.

In 2012, Dr. Couri, MD, graduated from a 2-year Fellowship in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona under the direction of the all-inspiring Dr. Andrew Weil. Inspired to share the integrative principles gleaned from her Integrative Fellowship, with her patients, Total Lifestyle By Couri was born. The TLC™ program combines the power of Integrative Medicine with the foundation of traditional Western Medicine for an unsurpassed experience that you will benefit from for years to come.

Is TLC™ a one-size-fits-all program?

No. TLC™ is completely personalized and programs can incorporate tele-health visits, if preferred.  At your complimentary consultation, we’ll help you determine what best suits your needs:

  • Integrative Consultation: 60-minute consult with nutrition/labs/detox/exercise
  • TLC™ Core: 12-appointment program
  • TLC™ Plus: 15-week program

Each is customized just for you. Some also utilize our infrared sauna therapy. Schedule your complimentary consultation for details and to review pricing options.

How do I get pricing and learn more?

Teen Girls: Starting the Conversation By Renee Alwan Percell, PA-C



Adolescence means the process of developing from a child to an adult.  There is not only biologic growth occurring but emotional/social growth too.  Healthy development will likely occur if risk factors are limited.  The most common threats to the well-being of adolescents typically result from lifestyle habits, experimentation, and psychosocial stressors.

The American Academy of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend the initial visit with a gynecologist should occur between ages 13-15.  This initial visit provides an opportunity to start a patient-provider relationship, build trust, and counsel patients and parents regarding healthy behavior.  Risky behavior among adolescent high school students in the U.S includes poor diet and low physical activity, sexual activity, and substance abuse.  Other safety concerns should also be addressed, such as the use of wearing a seat belt and no texting while driving. The most common cause of death among people ages 10-24 is motor vehicle crashes.  Following closely behind are unintentional injuries and suicide.

When we think of a gynecological or physical checkup, we think of preventing future disease and prolonging longevity.  For young adults, this includes addressing common safety issues and addressing social and emotional issues.  To promote well-being, adolescents need to be encouraged and feel valued.  In preventing harmful factors, it is vital to empower young adults by focusing on an individual’s strengths, so they form healthy social connections and develop healthy lifestyle habits.

Physical health and mental health go hand in hand.  Meeting with a dietitian for guidance in developing healthy eating habits helps to create a positive body image.  This can help ward off negative mental and emotional thoughts.

At the Couri Center, we treat the whole person.  In a world with mass social media, cell phones, and Snapchat, it can be challenging to help your adolescent stay happy and healthy.  Early conversations and education can make a big difference later.

We are happy to help.


Be well

Renee Alwan Percell, PA-C

Bikini Medicine: The Brain Game  

“Bikini Medicine” is the misconception that women are similar to men in all ways biologically, except for those body parts that fit under a bikini. In other words, women were assumed to be men, but with breasts and uteri. Women have long been understudied in science and medicine, and this has led to non-existent funding for medical studies which would be tailored towards women. Specifically, the female brain has received astonishingly little attention and was rarely studied by medical researchers, resulting in a wealth of misinformation about women’s health.

Women’s brains are significantly different from men’s brains. For example, in men, the path to Alzheimer’s disease is primarily vascular, whereas in women, it’s more metabolic and hormonal. These differences are significant in understanding the processes which can lead to Alzheimer’s disease. Male and female brains age differently, and hormones affect the brain in different ways. Estrogen, the female hormone, is neuro-protective, boosts the brain’s energy levels, which supports the immune systems and also keeps the brain young. Testosterone does the same in men; however, estrogen and testosterone have different life spans: testosterone declines gradually, while estrogen declines quickly. The estrogen deficit in women can potentially trigger episodes of mood changes or increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

The focus is often on hormone deficiency and how those deficiencies impact women’s menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, weight gain, bone density, etc. While those issues are critical in the quality of life and protection of bone density, brain health should also be considered equally important.

Women are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, 2 out of every 3 Alzheimer’s patients are women and twice as likely to end their lives suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, even when their longer lifespans and family history are taken into account. In addition, women in their 60s are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s over the rest of their lives as they are to develop breast cancer; however, breast cancer has been clearly defined as a women’s health issue, while Alzheimer’s is not. 

Dr. Lisa Mosconi, the director of the Women’s Brain Initiative at Weill Cornel Medical College, has a Ph.D. in neuroscience and is the author of The XX Brain. Dr. Mosconi has extensively studied the female brain and its connection with Alzheimer’s and has found that as women age, life events can be the cause of increased stress, and stress can steal estrogen away from the brain. When experiencing stress, the body produces an overproduction of the hormone cortisol. When cortisol increases, estrogen decreases. Estrogen protects the female brain and keeps the brain from shrinking, and since estrogen begins to decline in the 4th decade, proactive brain health is the key to preventing Alzheimer’s risk. Proactively embracing a healthy lifestyle, a low-fat, high fiber diet, and the consideration of bio-identical hormone replacement can optimize brain health in women. Women need to reclaim their health. It takes discipline, perseverance, and knowledge.

Luckily, it is never too late to take care of yourself. No matter when you start, the benefits are undeniable. Let us help you live your best life.


To your brain health,

Dana Humes Goff, APRN, CNM, DNP