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Wait? Aren't those the symptoms of menopause? Nope. When most women think of the meaning of menopause, they really aren't thinking of menopause at all. They are thinking about perimenopause, a time that can begin in your late 30s or early 40s and reach into your 50s. Perimenopause comes with a host of hormonal changes and lasts anywhere from 6 to 10 years—until you haven't had your period for a full 12 months in a row. Then you have graduated to menopause! (Sorry, no cap and gown for this one.)
The first step to finding hormone happiness is to ID and track your symptoms. Download my free Menopause Symptoms Chart and start tracking. Each day, chart the frequency, duration, and severity of your perimenopause symptoms. Talk them over with your perimenopause and menopause specialist to learn how to not just mask the symptoms, but treat their underlying cause. Don't have a perimenopause and menopause specialist? Here are some simple tips to help you find the perfect one near you!
Want to proactive about your perimenopausal journey? Here are some perimenopausal symptoms to be on the alert for along with some solutions:
Hot flashes, probably the most infamous of perimenopausal symptoms, strike about two-thirds of women during "the change." During perimenopause and menopause, the levels and balance of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone begin to fluctuate. When your estrogen levels begin to decrease, they can trigger your body's thermostat to send a signal that you are overheated. This causes your body to send out an all hands on deck alert: your heart pumps faster, the blood vessels in your skin dilate to circulate more blood to radiate heat, and your sweat glands release sweat to cool you even more. Your body cools down when it otherwise wouldn't, and you are left feeling miserable: soaking wet in the middle of a board meeting like me or in the middle of a good night's sleep.
The Fix: Regular exercise, healthy eating, acupuncture, herbal remedies, antidepressant medications, and hormone therapy (HT) are some of the most common options to reduce and even rid your life of hot flashes. Which treatment (or a combination of treatments) works for each woman varies. Talk with your specialist about these perimenopause coolers.
If you can't see through the fog to find your thoughts, you're not alone. Forgetfulness and other memory difficulties plague between one- and two-thirds of women during perimenopause. Many women even have trouble focusing and manipulating times, prices, and other information in their head.
The Fix: Your brain is the center of your health. Treat it right by first consulting your specialist to test your hormone levels and see if they need tweaking. Then, support the formation of new, healthy brain cells by eating omega-3 fatty acids and exercising regularly. Plus, simple meditation practices and even brain games like Cranium Crunches can help you tap your brain's potential. Check out the best natural ways to break through brain fog.
Fluctuating estrogen and progesterone levels impact neurotransmitters (aka mood regulators) in the brain. While these highs and lows can take most women's moods for a wild ride, some women—especially those who had severe PMS when they were younger—may be particularly susceptible to unpredictable and ever-changing dispositions during perimenopause.
The Fix: Ditching refined sugar and upping your exercise routine can improve your blood sugar and insulin response to prevent the high-lows that send your family running for cover. If you find yourself in a constant low, hormone therapy (HT) or antidepressants, particularly SSRIs and SNRIs, are incredibly effective at easing depression in perimenopausal women. Learn more ways to keep perimenopause's mitts off of your mood.
Don't remember the last time you woke up feeling rested? During perimenopause, levels of progesterone, nature's Valium, can take a nosedive. Mix in sweat-soaked sheets and soaring stress levels, and what woman would wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed?
The Fix: While natural progesterone treatments can help restore your body's sleep-well chemicals to the right levels, good sleep habits—establishing a routine, keeping regular hours, only using your bed for sleep...and sex—can also help. Following a Mediterranean diet rich in produce, whole grains, and wine (yay!) has been linked to fewer night sweats while yoga reduces symptoms of insomnia. Check out more advice for scoring better sleep.
Sure, perimenopause is all about hormones. Problem is, so are most migraines. The silver lining: Two-thirds of female migraine sufferers either reduce or completely ditch their migraines when they have their last period, enter menopause, and their hormones finally stop fluctuating.
The Fix: Talk to your specialist about your symptoms, triggers, and explore your hormone therapy options. When it comes to a migraine and headache prevention, estradiol transdermal patches are generally your best bet. Learn more about how you can win the war on migraines.
Between hot flashes, mood swings, and flat-out life as you know it, how could you not suffer perimenopausal stress? But as if stress weren't bad enough all on its own, it turns out it can also exacerbate hot flashes, sleeplessness, migraines, and even weight gain.
The Fix: While your staple stress-busting tactics (think: bubble baths, exercise, and meditating) can work miracles, you might also need to start saying "no" every now and again. You can't take care of anyone else if you don't put yourself on the top of your to-do list! Here are more secrets to slashing stress during perimenopause.
Estrogen is a major player in maintaining the structure of the vaginal wall, the elasticity of the tissues around the vagina, and production of vaginal fluid. So when your estrogen dries up, so can your nether region. I like to refer to it as the other ED! Vaginal discomfort can have a negative impact on your relationship with your partner, your sexuality, quality of life, and self-image.
The Fix: When it comes to the vagina, thin is out—and silence is not golden! Vaginal atrophy is a chronic condition and requires ongoing treatment to remedy the underlying cause. Don't wait! Call your specialist now! Get more tips to save your vagina!
When it comes to women's health, misinformation abounds. Unfortunately, it's women who are paying the price. So learn the truth about perimenopause so that you can get the help you need and deserve to lead a happy, healthy life!
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.
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!