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This Mother's Day, I want to honor my daughter.
On August 8, 2014, Sarah became a mother to Aviva or as she is now calling herself, "V"! I became Grandma EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!
Never in my wildest dreams did I understand the explosion of love and joy that watching Sarah mother Aviva would bring to my life.
Today's parents do have the Internet and even apps to help them prepare for and cope with the responsibilities of parenthood. But no website or app can teach you how to love your child. That simply comes from within. The flood of love and tenderness that is unleashed with the birth of a baby is beautiful to watch.
Sarah is a SAHM. This was a new term to me. It stands for, Stay at Home Mom. It is a choice and one that was discussed in great detail together with her husband, Sol.
I too chose to be a SAHM. In 1980 smack in the middle of the women's movement, I chose to resign from my job as Deputy Treasurer of the Carter Re-Election Campaign. David and I chose to leave a very successful life in politics in Washington, DC. and move to Tucson, Arizona where my family lived. I had no idea that in doing so, I had "betrayed" the women's movement. Women were furious with me. I had successfully achieved a very high-level job in a man's world – how could I give up my career to stay home with my first born? Apparently, it was a cardinal sin! Who knew???
My definition of the women's movement can really be summed up in two words; freedom and equality. I want to be free to choose the best course of action for me and I want to have the same human rights as my male counterparts. I never allow myself to be confined by any pre or existing notions of restrictions that society may have placed on women. I unbuckled those shackles as a young girl in college. I decide what is best for me. This is how I chose to live my life.
Sarah had quite the career. She always marched to her own drummer. Not a follower, but more of a trailblazer. While attending a performing arts high school, Sarah decided she wanted to model. As a young girl, she would design clothes. She had a seasonal collection which was tacked proudly on our kitchen walls. This love for fashion along with her love for dance morphed into her desire to model. She was signed by the Ford Agency in Scottsdale and then quite quickly was signed by Elite Modeling in NYC and abroad, leaving a conventional high school setting in her junior year to model in NYC and Europe. Living with family friends of friends of ours, she learned French and traveled Europe all while finishing her junior and senior year in one year!
It seems hard to remember a time when everyone didn't have access to a portable phone, but twenty years ago, they were few and far between. I insisted that Elite provide me with a cell phone number so that I could check on Sarah when she was on a location shoot outside of Paris. When I called, invariably, she would be found studying between photo shoots. The modeling agency always seemed puzzled by her commitment to her studies.
Sarah moved back to New York to go to NYU. She started working for Saturday Night Live while waiting for the college year to begin. She continued her job at SNL when her classes at NYU began. I marveled at how she balanced work and a full load at school.
After school, she did some work for a very well established PR/Event production company, while also donating her time for NYC charity work. I remember proudly flying into NYC to attend an Operation Smile Event that she chaired at the Whitney Museum.
Then moving back to the southwest, Sarah was instrumental in helping me kick off the PR for my first book. That first book was a family affair.
Push forward, eventually, Sarah decided she wanted to be a licensed endermologist and open her own studio,[Link Removed] where she shares tips on pregnancy, recovering from a C-section, healthy eating tips for Mom and baby, the real life of a SAHM (stay at home Mom), and much more all delivered with as she puts it, "No BS".
I marvel at the no-holds-barred words in her blogs! She delivers every time!
Sarah has always followed her heart looking for the joy and happiness in each day. She loves being a SAHM. She works 24/7 at this wonderful job. As Sarah said in one of her blogs, "We must rise above what we've been programmed to be or what society tells us we should care about and just care about happiness."
I believe that Sarah will pass down these wise words to Aviva and watch her daughter create her very own best life. I look forward to watching the baton being passed from one generation to another and hope that with each generation freedom to follow your own heart endures.
During menopause, more and more of us are gaining membership to the aptly named "Sandwich Generation," a group marked by its responsibility to simultaneously care for both its children and parents. So if it seems like everybody wants (scratch that, needs) something from you these days, you're not alone.
Here are 4 ways to care for yourself while balancing the responsibilities of work, parenting and caring for parents.
If you don't take care of your health, you can't truly take care of anyone else. After all, you and your family deserve the happiest, healthiest you!
My motto: Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!
My very first menopausal symptom was brain fog! I would lose my train of thought, mid-sentence. My husband, David, began finishing my sentences for me during business meetings and even socially. Next to go was my sleep! I was not sleepless in Seattle with Tom Hanks...I was sleepless – every night -with David!
Then came Ms. Flash. I remember my first hot flash like it was yesterday. It was a beautiful spring day, so I couldn't blame the weather. I was wearing a lightweight pantsuit for work, so I was not overdressed. David and I were in a business meeting and suddenly I felt a flush of heat radiate throughout my body. My whole body seemed to be blushing and then glistening. When I rose from my chair, I noticed that something wet was dripping down the inner seam of my pant leg. For a minute, I thought I had wet my pants! But oh no...I was perspiring!
Luckily, I always carry a big purse (I think it makes my hips look smaller). With my purse planted firmly in front of my body and my husband tightly behind me, I made a quick exit to our car after the meeting. I know I had come from a business meeting, but I looked like I had just finished a Bikram yoga class or I had run a 10K.
So what's a gal to do?? First and foremost, you need a fabulous menopause specialist. If you don't have one, I have some great tips in my free eBook, MENOPAUSE MONDAYS The Girlfriends Guide to Surviving and Thriving During Perimenopause and Menopause!
After I found a good menopause specialist, I took a personal inventory of things that I can control. I eat healthy, exercise every day, and lead a what I call a very healthy lifestyle. Ok, so I do admit, my cocktail hour is sacred! My martini is 7 points on Weight Watchers. It is built into my points every day – period – end of discussion!
I tried incorporating acupuncture into my routine, but, sadly it did not alleviate my brain fog, hot flashes, insomnia or sudden emotional highs and lows. I would have even been happy with a placebo effect! But, sadly acupuncture did not help me.
On a scale of 1-10, my quality of life was around a 2. There was no way I was going to live like this! I was not functioning at work nor at home. I soon found out that I was in a big club! Many women have very difficult, often life changing menopausal symptoms that are only elevated by hormone therapy (HT).
You can learn more about the different kinds of hormones in Chapter 15 and 16 in my free eBook. For the sake of this blog, suffice to say that you can get your hormones from FDA approved pharmacies or from non-FDA approved compounding pharmacies.
Compounding pharmacies prepare medications by mixing raw ingredients to formulate a medication that results in an exact dosage and strength for each individual patient. These medications are compounded based on a doctor's prescription.
The reason they are not FDA-approved is that these hormones are compounded specifically for your personal needs. Pharma cannot get a patent on them. Each prescription is slightly different. Many women do better on the FDA-approved hormones others do better on compounded hormones.
According to Science Daily, close to 36 million prescriptions per year are written for FDA-approved hormone therapy. The number of prescriptions for compounded hormone therapy for women at menopause has reached an estimated 26 to 33 million a year.
To learn more about Compounding Pharmacies, I reached out to Christine Givant, RPH and Deb Hubers Co-Founders of La Vita Compounding Pharmacy (PCAB® Accredited).
I asked La Vita to give us the top 3 myths about Compounding Pharmacies:
A patient may be allergic to or even intolerant to an ingredient found in the commercially manufactured form of the medication. A compounding pharmacist can make the medication without the allergy-inducing ingredient such as lactose, preservatives, dyes, gluten and sugar.
Drug shortages can adversely affect drug therapy, compromise or delay medical procedures. Compounding pharmacists can provide access to discontinued medications and drugs in the short supply by compounding the specific drug, based on a physician's prescription, using pharmaceutical base ingredients to provide patients the care they need.
Fact: Compounding Pharmacies are rigorously regulated by the State's Board of Pharmacy and the FDA.
Physically inspected once a year, requiring compounding pharmacies follow these procedures:
Fact: Compounding pharmacies are not all created equally. Their products are always custom made for the patient so knowing how to find high quality and safety is imperative.
I asked Chris to comment on the recent [Link Removed] to download my free eBook, MENOPAUSE MONDAYS The Girlfriend's Guide to Surviving and Thriving During Perimenopause and Menopause.
During our menopausal years, our sex lives have so much from which they can benefit: a strong sense of self, deep relationships, and bodies we actually know how to use! Nip your vaginal dryness in the bud and you'll really have something to celebrate!
In fact, some say that women's sexual satisfaction actually tends to increase with age despite the hormonal changes of menopause.
"As we age, most of us become more aware of what we need in the bedroom and how to get there. We feel more deserving of sexual pleasure and are more willing to ask for what we want from our partners," says Hilda Hutcherson, M.D. Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center and author of Pleasure: A Woman's Guide to Getting the Sex You Want, Need and Deserve. "In our 50s we are more likely to focus on our pleasure than in our 20s, when we tend to focus almost exclusively on his experience."
So if your current sex isn't the best you've ever had, it's time to do something about it. After all, you do have hormonal changes to contend with.
"Women may first notice sexual changes during the perimenopausal stage, which can begin up to 10 years before your very last period, or menopause. That means that some women will begin to have symptoms of decreasing estrogen in their mid-late 30s or early 40s. The first sexual complaint is often painful sex due to vaginal dryness. Estrogen is needed to keep your vagina moist, plush, and stretchable. When estrogen is low, women may notice vaginal dryness, which can lead to painful sex," says Dr. Hutcherson.
Dry estrogen reserves = dry vagina. Plagued by thinning walls and painful inflammation, a dry vagina can make a woman feel anything but empowered. Even worse, fragile vaginal walls can suffer small tissue tears during sex that can lead to intense pain and bloody sheets.
It's important to remember that declining estrogen levels is just one of many potential problems standing in between you and the best sex of your life. In fact, according to a review published in Pain Research and Management, in some postmenopausal women, low levels of estrogen aren't the only cause of painful intercourse, suggesting that other sex-wreckers such as endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, uterine fibroids, and even stress (what woman doesn't have that!?) are compounding the problem. Basically, anything that zaps your sexual desire can decrease vaginal lubrication, potentially making sex painful, according to Mayo Clinic.
"Medical problems and medications certainly can wreak havoc on desire. Certain meds—including antidepressants, blood pressure medications, and some allergy and cold drugs—can slash your sexual desire. But the most common reason for a lack of libido? "Boredom. Women simply become bored with their sex lives after a time with the same partner. Sex becomes routine, same time, same place, same position, etc.," Dr. Hutcherson explains.
Here is how to get sexually empowered—and yes, even greedy—for better between-the-sheets bliss:
Listen to Your Vagina
If you find that you're all lubed up and sex is still "meh," it's time to find—and treat—the root cause of any pain. Take note (literally) of your below-the-belt symptoms including dryness, itching, burning, painful sex, and bleeding, their severity, and what has and hasn't worked to relieve them. You can use my [Link Removed]!
Take Responsibility for Your Own Orgasm
"First, women need to decide that they are deserving of pleasure. Then they need to accept the fact that each woman is responsible for her own sexual pleasure. That means that she must discover, on her own, what feels good. She can't wait for the 'magic finger or penis' to ride along on a white horse and bring her sexual ecstasy! Once she discovers what works, she must then show her partner and expect that the partner will work with her to make sure that she is sexually satisfied," Dr. Hutcherson says.
Stop Faking It, Already!
"Faking orgasms will guarantee that your sex life with your partner never improves. Your partner becomes convinced that he is providing everything that you need for complete sexual satisfaction. So they keep doing the same thing and achieving the same results—that you are not satisfied," Dr. Hutcherson says. "Let your partner know what you desire and need for complete satisfaction." Being honest (not mean!) increases the chances of a fulfilling sex life for both of you.
Every woman deserves to have a healthy vagina and the best sex of her life—now!
Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!
Click [Link Removed] to download my free eBook, MENOPAUSE MONDAYS The Girlfriend's Guide To Surviving and Thriving During Perimenopause and Menopause.
Is estrogen a friend or a foe? Are you confused???
No need to be, says Dr. Mache Seibel the author of the new book, The Estrogen Window, The Breakthrough Guide to Being Healthy, Energized, and Hormonally Balanced -Through Perimenopause, Menopause, and Beyond coming out April 12, 2016. Dr. Mache Seibel is a global leader in women's wellness and menopause. He was a member of the Harvard Medical Faculty for 20 years and currently a Professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
I receive hundreds and hundreds of emails from women all over the world (thank you, social media) who are scared to death to take any kind of hormone therapy (HT). Consequently, they are suffering with a myriad of menopausal symptoms such as insomnia, brain fog, hot flashes, emotional ups and downs, depression, migraines, vaginal dryness, weight gain, mood swings, anxiety – just to name a few.
While I love a good hot/sexy romance novel, you can see why I was equally as excited to be asked to read Dr. Seibel's unedited manuscript.
Most women, are not aware of the latest studies, the different kinds of HT (all HT is not created equal) or the window of opportunity for taking estrogen that quite possibly could help prevent serious medical conditions later in life. Sadly, many women are still basing their healthcare decisions on what Dr. Seibel calls, "estrogen myth-conceptions."
Before we get into the reasons why we need to understand our "estrogen window." I want to share a little bit of estrogen history which Dr. Seibel explains in an easy to digest format! Granted, it's not sexy or hot, but it is really important background knowledge and will help us all understand why many women are still afraid of HT!
Here are some tidbits that I learned from The Estrogen Window:
The FDA approved estrogen Premarin in 1942. By the late 1960's it was the most prescribed drug in the U.S. Then, in 1975 and 1976 a series of three articles from three different centers were published in the New England Journal of Medicine that proved that estrogen alone given to women with a uterus for long periods of time caused uterine cancer. It was then that the public opinion turned against estrogen. In 1980 evidence was growing that showed estrogen was helpful in preventing heart attacks in women. Remember, heart disease is the #1 killer of women, not breast cancer.
In 1995, The PEPI study (Postmenopausal Estrogen/Progestin Interventions) Trial reported that Premarin plus Provera had a positive effect on HDL (the good cholesterol) and it protected the uterine lining cells from cancer. So, the FDA approved Provera to prevent cancer of the uterine lining in post-menopausal women.
Then in 1990 the WHI (Women's Health Initiative) was created. In 1991, the WHI and the NIH (US National Institutes of Health) began a "gold standard" study which involved 161,808 post-menopausal women. There were two parts of the study. The study was supposed to continue for 15 years.
After 5.2 years, in 2002 the study was abruptly shut down, because there was preliminary data indicating a small, measured increase in risk of breast cancer and cardiovascular heart disease among women who took Prempro. Dr. Seibel explains since this was a prevention study, any increased health risk required that it immediately be discontinued.
You can understand why so many women went into a panic – all they heard was breast cancer and heart disease. No one took the time to read the fine print.
Dr. Seibel goes on to explain, "We now understand that the WHI study had serious flaws! First, they compared a placebo group of mostly younger women (50-59 years old) to a study group of mostly older women (60-79 years old)! To make matters worse – the older group of women contained women who were lifetime smokers, and who already had heart disease"!
I am not a scientist or a doctor, but even I know this was a flawed study. Too many pre-existing factors that no one talked about!
[Link Removed] in 2011 confirmed a decreased mortality risk of 13 per 10,000 per year among women 50 to 59 with hysterectomies who took estrogen. It also found that estrogen decreased rates of breast cancer and heart attacks by 23 percent and 50 percent, respectively.
Now that we all understand the history, I asked Dr. Seibel to give his top 10 reasons why women need to understand their estrogen window. Here is what he told me:
Do you know your estrogen window?
Hurry and pre-order [Link Removed]so that you can start basing your healthcare on facts instead of fear! When your pre-order, you get to take advantage of the many wonderful free bonuses.
My Motto: Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!
There are headaches that gnaw at the base of your spine or throb in your forehead, but pop a couple of aspirin or ibuprofen and you can go about your usual routine. Then there are the monster headaches that derail your whole day, or maybe several days, and no over-the-counter pain relievers make a dent on them. These are migraines, and they can be a real pain for women going through perimenopause and menopause. In fact, some people get them so bad, they become extremely sensitive to light and become sick to their stomach.
Research confirms what women with migraine headaches have told their doctors for years: migraine headaches heat up as women approach menopause. According to a study by researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC), Montefiore Headache Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Vedanta Research, about 12 percent of Americans get migraines and women get them three times more often than men.
According to Dr. Susan Hutchinson, director of the Orange County Migraine & Headache Center in Irvine, California, migraines, unlike other headaches, are often hormonal in nature, so intense fluctuations of hormones, especially estrogen, in women can egg on and worsen migraines. The silver lining is that two-thirds of female migraine sufferers notice a marked improvement when they enter menopause, a time in which hormones finally stop fluctuating. In fact, after age 60, only 5 percent of women suffer migraines, according to the Migraine Research Foundation.
Dr. Hutchinson is the author of The Women's Guide to Managing Migraine Understanding the Hormone Connection to find Hope and Wellness published by Oxford University Press.
Here are some helpful tips for managing your migraines:
Find a Specialist
As with most things medical, visiting a trained specialist is a solid first step. Your Menopause Specialist can evaluate your migraines in relation to your hormonal status. You may find that you need hormone therapy or if you are already on HT, you may need to have it adjusted. If you find that your HT is not doing the trick, it is time to find a good headache and migraine specialist who is versed in how fluctuating hormone levels affect migraines. Ask your menopause specialist for a referral or look for local doctors at the National Headache Foundation or American Headache Society.
Consider Non-Oral Bioidentical HT
Whether you are on hormone therapy or are just thinking about taking the plunge, talk to your perimenopause and menopause specialist about how HT can influence perimenopausal migraines—both for good and for bad. Remember: "All forms of HT are not created equal," Dr. Hutchinson says. "If HT is used, the general consensus in the 'headache world' is to use a non-oral delivery system such as the estradiol transdermal patch. It would be expected to help prevent a migraine as it provides an even level of estradiol and is the same chemical structure as the estrogen/estradiol that a woman's ovaries produce prior to menopause."
On a synthetic, oral pill? It might actually be worsening your migraines.
"If hormonal therapy is used in perimenopause and menopause in women with a migraine, bioidentical is better: fewer side-effects and less likely to aggravate migraines. Synthetic HT such as found in birth control has a higher chance of making a woman's migraines worse. The choice may come down to whether birth control is needed in the perimenopausal woman who could still get pregnant. If birth control is not needed in a perimenopausal woman, then bioidentical hormones especially non-oral are my preferred treatment," Dr. Hutchinson explains.
Fight Your Triggers
Dr. Hutchinson speaks to the importance of getting a full night's sleep and exercising regularly (which can help you sleep better!). She advises eating small, frequent meals throughout the day that pack both complex carbohydrates (think: whole grains, legumes, and starchy vegetables) and protein to regulate blood sugar levels and suggests the following dietary supplements can be helpful in migraine prevention: butterbur, B-2 (riboflavin), coenzyme Q-10, and magnesium. Make sure to drink plenty of water, as dehydration can cause headaches.
Apart from hormone fluctuations, bright or flashing lights, a lack of food or sleep, and stress can all contribute to migraines, according to the North American Menopause Society. Your best defense is good self-care.
Stephanie Weaver, MPH, has been exploring the link between a migraine, nutrition and other lifestyle factors since being diagnosed in 2014 with migraines and vertigo. While migraines often ease after menopause, in Weaver's case it worsened, leading her to a midlife diagnosis.
Weaver suggests, "Since a migraine is an inflammatory process, our Migraine Relief Plan reduces inflammation by removing processed food, gluten, and sugar. We give you dairy-free options for most of our recipes, as dairy can be inflammatory for many people. We recommend high-quality healthy fats like extra-virgin olive and coconut oil, and grass-fed/pastured animals as well as wild-caught fish."
Check out her FAQ page for more helpful information. Her book, The Migraine Relief Plan, will be released in Spring 2017 by Agate Publishing.
So, if it's the middle of the day and you're on your back with the blinds closed, a wet washcloth over your eyes, and a nauseated feeling in the pit of your stomach—do not suffer in silence. Find the solution that works for you.
My Motto: Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!
Click here to download my free eBook, MENOPAUSE MONDAYS The Girlfriend's Guide To Surviving and Thriving During Perimenopause and Menopause.