The Impact of Nutrition in Women With PCOS

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PCOS diet nutrition 144866 edited.jpg?t=1506621331726&width=600&name=PCOS diet nutrition 144866 edited - The Impact of Nutrition in Women With PCOS

If you were recently diagnosed with PCOS, or you want to try a more natural approach to balancing your hormones, there’s some good news for you. A study found a link between nutrition and hormones in women who weren’t medicated during the clinical trial.

In fact, the glucose tolerance test (OGTT) revealed positive changes after only 16 days of a low carbohydrate intake. It seems that what we put on our plate can dramatically impact our hormones.

If you want to find out more about what aspects of PCOS you can improve using nutrition, read on.

Eat Fat, Lose Fat

While experts don’t know for certain the cause of PCOS, insulin spikes, genetics, and low grade inflammation all contribute to hormonal imbalances and ultimately weight gain.

Insulin is the fat storing hormone, and since women suffering from PCOS develop insulin resistance, they gain weight faster than their healthy counterparts. The good news is that insulin simply reacts to our diet.

That means that if you eat a diet high in carbohydrates and low in protein and fats, you should expect insulin spikes. The more insulin spikes, the more fat your body stores. Fat and protein do not cause insulin spikes in the same way simple carbs do. As a result, the higher percentage of fat and protein, the more likely you are to lose weight.

The takeaway

Don’t be afraid of eating healthy fats and lean meats. What you should restrict are grains and sweets. Aim for less than 100 grams of net carbohydrates per day.

Fighting Low-Grade Inflammation and Acne

The cosmetic industry is booming since so many women are desperate to find a cure to acne that doesn’t seem to go away after puberty. Unfortunately, many of us are looking for the cure in the wrong place.

If you’re suffering from PCOS and have acne, you should know that low-grade inflammation in your body is to blame, and no cream can help with that.

So, what can you do about it?

Remove inflammatory foods from your diet.

This includes any types of grains, processed or whole sweets, (you can still have dark chocolate), and dairy. There is actually a link between dairy and hormonal imbalances. In some people, the consumption of dairy triggers both inflammation and androgen production. While not all women who suffer from PCOS respond negatively to dairy, removing dairy for just 2 weeks can help you figure out if it’s the root of your breakouts or not.

Growing a Beard While Fighting Hair Loss

Hormones can be tricky!

Even a slight hormonal imbalance can stimulate hair follicles in unwanted places to grow longer, thicker, and darker. On the flip side, your locks might get oily and start shedding.

Nutrition can help in this case too!

High androgen levels cause abnormal hair growth and hair loss on the scalp. However, there are a few vitamins and minerals that contribute to the health of your hormones.

Women suffering from PCOS are known to also have a magnesium and vitamin D deficiency. Therefore, consuming foods rich in those vitamins and minerals can improve your condition.  Zinc and iron also help preserving the health of your locks.

Adding more peanuts, walnuts, lentils, spinach, and eggs to your diet can allow you to address these deficiencies naturally.

Preventing Diabetes and Heart Disease

Unfortunately, PCOS is not just about aesthetics and fertility. It can also lead to more serious complications such as diabetes and heart disease. Inflammation and hyperglycemia feed the hormonal imbalance. If left untreated, hyperglycemia can turn into diabetes over time.

Preventing diabetes can be tricky. Unlike what most people tell us, if you’re suffering from insulin resistance, you shouldn’t eat that many fruits. A woman’s body that’s affected by insulin resistance is going to respond to an apple as if it were a Snickers bar.

While fruits are not forbidden, you should consume them with protein or fats.

Also, if you’re diagnosed with PCOS and suffering from insulin resistance, you should make sure you don’t go over 100 grams of carbs daily.  Hyperglycemia can also elevate the number of triglycerides and increase the bad cholesterol.

Obesity is one of the factors that increase the risks of heart disease. But at the same time, your metabolism slows down when your hormones are disrupted.  This is why nutrition plays a big role in the prevention of heart disease too . A diet rich in healthy fats and lean proteins can help women suffering from PCOS defeat their metabolic disadvantage.

Wrapping Up

Not all women respond the same to a nutritional approach to PCOS. Although all women can benefit from it, you should speak to a specialist before starting any diet.

A lot of women manage to get by without medication. However, if your symptoms don’t go away on their own after making dietary changes, you should consider medication.  Keep in mind that regular visits to a specialist are a must, especially when PCOS is linked to more serious conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease.

 

Carbs Will Diminish Stress While Dieting

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Take anyone out of their real life, put them in a spa, and they will lose weight. Alas, the day-to-day at an expensive spa is not a permanent way of life, and often the simple stress of flying back home is enough to start the pounds returning.

A woman I know spent an entire summer at a Canyon Ranch spa and lost a considerable amount of weight. About 18 months later, I saw her at a party telling the hostess that she couldn’t eat because she had just started a weight loss program at a nearby Pritikin center and had to adhere to their food plan. The programs at both of these centers are nutritionally sound, well-researched and holistic. The participants are given psychological support, as well as training in how to eat and exercise to maintain  weight loss and improved health. What these programs cannot do, however, is make life perfect for their clients. I suspect that, like the rest of us, this woman had her own share of stress, and in this less-than-perfect world, ate her way through it.

Why was this acquaintance unable to handle her stress without gaining weight? Probably because few weight loss programs have the solution to this ubiquitous problem. The triggers that make dieters and non-dieters reach for food are endless, and they range from a computer virus erasing our data to caring for a chronically sick relative. Distress triggers can also arise from the hormonal changes of premenstrual syndrome, menopause, chronic pain, exhaustion from too much work, too little sleep, or decreased sunlight. Regardless of its cause, stress often leads to the abandonment of a diet and overeating.

Consumer Reports recently published their evaluation of well-known weight loss programs. The top-rated program, Jenny Craig, gave the participants free food and counseling for two years. Do you want to know how much weight loss this comprehensive program produced over two years? The obese participants lost an average of 16 pounds, and this was the best program among the many tested. 

Why such a miniscule weight loss? A stomach virus could produce half of that weight loss in seven days, so if the participants adhered to the diet for 104 weeks, shouldn’t they have lost more weight? Of course, if they had stayed on the diet for the entire time. But a 16 pound weight loss over two years suggests that they must have stopped dieting for part of the time, and I suspect it was due to stress. 

The Consumer Reports study was not set up to answer this question, but it is reasonable to assume that if the dieters encountered the almost inevitable stresses of health, family as well as the daily annoyances of dealing with computers when seeking customer service, they may have turned to food to ease their frustration, anger or pain. Since it is doubtful that the foods they ate under such stress were on the diet plan, the healthful eating was probably abandoned until the stressful event was resolved.

Eating obviously doesn’t remove the cause of the stress. No food will make the sun shine through clouds or restore the hard drive in your computer. But if the right foods are eaten at the right time, the emotions associated with stress will diminish. In a study we carried out at MIT we found that our stressed volunteers had less anger, depression, anxiety and irritability after consuming a carbohydrate-rich beverage. When they drank a similarly flavored beverage containing protein, however, there was no improvement in their mood. The effect of the carbohydrate drink so astonished one of our volunteers, he demanded to know what was in his drink because he was sure we had added a tranquilizer!

Carbohydrates help us endure stress because eating any sweet or starchy food (except the carbohydrates in fruit) allows the brain to make new serotonin. Serotonin makes us feel calmer, and as a result we believe we can cope. Most diets insist on favoring protein foods over carbohydrate and rarely, if ever, allow carbohydrates to be eaten alone. Protein has no positive effect on lessening the emotional impact of stress, and if eaten alone or along with carbohydrate, can actually worsen it by preventing serotonin from being made. Thus the dieter no longer has the option of eating foods that will help her bear the stress-of-the-day; they are forbidden.

High-fat foods may obliterate the perception of stress. Some of my weight loss clients deliberately binged on fatty foods so they would not have to confront a difficult situation. One told me it was like excessive drinking, “After a while, you don’t feel anything except fatigue. It is like being in an emotional coma. It doesn’t help me solve my problems but at least I can pretend they don’t exist.”

If dieters are told how to eat to make stress bearable and still lose weight, perhaps they would adhere to their diet more consistently. It is true that meditation, behavioral modification, counseling and exercise offered by many programs help the stressed dieter. They help the way physical therapy helps relieve the pain of a slipped disc… until it doesn’t. Just as the pain of an inflamed disc drives the patient to seek more potent pain relief with an injection into the spinal cord, the dieter, in pain from their stress, will seek relief by eating. And there goes the diet.

In my latest work, we acknowledge that stress is probably going to happen and tell the dieter how to eat when it does. One of the diet plans offered allows the dieter to eat enough carbohydrate throughout the day to boost serotonin synthesis. The carbohydrate foods recommended are very low in both fat and protein. (Obviously protein, fruits and vegetables are on the diet, but the timing of their consumption does not interfere with serotonin synthesis.) What distinguishes this plan is that the dieter is given the option of switching to a specific stress relieving food plan when dealing with acute emotional distress, such as bad premenstrual syndrome or very bad news.

No diet will make stress disappear, and sometimes stressful events demand so much of the dieter that weight loss at that moment becomes irrelevant. But a diet that allows people to eat foods to diminish the distress of negative events will certainly improve the odds that they will reach their weight loss goal.

When Sex Hurts: Tips and Tricks to Overcome Discomfort

I’m only 28yr about to be 29 years old in Oct, my

boyfriend and i met 4 years ago and till this day sex is

so painful. Before i met him i was an unexperience

person who didn’t know alot about sex, done it a few

times in the past but with no problems like this ever..

Makes me not want to do it anymore We are

engaged now i don’t want this to be a problem in the

future 🙁

I Do have Diabetes,Got it right around the time when

i first met him 2010, i understand yeast infections

have a role in why it hurts/Itches like crazy, but i

don’t know what to do. The doctor gave me

medications but they never seem to go away and

when they do it just comes right back a few days

later, i dont have insurance so its not easy to go to

the doctors all the time because it cost so much. Ive

tried to explain to my doctor but not sure if they any

of them get it.

My Skin is also dry down there sometimes, I notice

my skin there is not strong very weak & Thin Im

guessing,Because I Get so many cuts and tears down

there and they start to bleed and sting when i go to

the bathroom and last for day’s. I Tried using so

many diff lubricants but i can’t they burn me inside

feels like Acid inside me same for a condom. There

are times when sex is great but thats like 1 or 2

times a month and then the rest of the time it hurts,

We can’t even do any different positions at all and

when we do try them it just ruins it for us both then i

start to hurt real bad. Only postion i can do is

laydown while he’s on top and he gets so tired of it

and its not comfy for his arms, he has to be a certain

way for me so i don’t end up hurting, My muscles do

tense up sometimes becuase just the thought of me

hurting makes me cringe inside and i end up squeezin

the pillow or sheet to calm me down just a bit, same

way for when im completely relaxed n ready to do it.
the pleasure is just not great anymore and i can see

when i look at him that he’s just dissapointed like

always even when he does climax.
We tried it all from foreplay and taking it extremely

slow and reading things to help, Still nothing.

This is the most hurtful thing ever in my life that i

never thought would happen, hurts me every day

because its all i think about and its not that good

because it mixes in with my Anxiety and depression

has gotten worse. As a women i feel very

unattractive and so sad im not a light female im on

the thicker side i weigh about 200 and im struggling

trying to lose weight like any other women out there

and i know its not easy My doctor did say once i lose

some weight it might start to feel better but i doubt it

because my skin is very sensitive.

My fiance is a great guy he’s understanding and loves

me no matter what, he said it does hurt him, he’s

doing the best he can to get through this. I just dont

want no problems in the future, we both want

children later on also and to live that dream like any

other fun family out there. My mom and some cousin

don’t have this problem.

i dont know what its called or why its happening i

have read so many articles out there an it all kinda

describes how i feel and what symptoms i have but

still a mystery. i dont know what to do im lost and

need some type of help. just strange how this started

happening out of no where 🙁
Just wish i can be normal and enjoy it like any other

women out there 🙁

Here’s a list to what i have found that kinda seems to

what i have maybe, doctors don’t think i have this..

1. Vaginitis” is a medical term used to describe

various conditions that cause infection or

inflammation of the vagina. Vulvovaginitis refers to

inflammation of both the vagina and vulva
Abnormal vaginal discharge with an unpleasant odor.
Burning during urination.
Itching around the outside of the vagina.
Discomfort during intercourse.

2. Vulvodynia
Symptoms of vulvodynia usually begin suddenly and

can last anywhere from months to years.
These are the most common symptoms of

vulvodynia:
Burning, stinging, or rawness
Aching, soreness, or throbbing
Itching
A burning pain is the single most common symptom

of vulvodynia. Some women describe it as a knife-like

pain or like an acid poured on the skin.Although the

vulva usually appears normal, it may look a bit

inflamed or swollen.

3. painful intercourse is dyspareunia

(dis-puh-ROO-ne-uh) — which is defined as persistent

or recurrent genital pain that occurs just before,

during or after intercourse

Will Your Empty Nest Be Boomeranged?

When my last child left for college I had been a mother for more than 30 years. I thought I was prepared, but nothing prepared me for the day my last child left for college. We took our son to his new dorm and got him settled in but I felt so empty. I thought “Who will I nurture now?” “Where do I belong?” Although I had continued with my education and had my own psychology practice, this loss was deep, deeper than anything I had experienced. I remember the next week offering coffee and a bagel to my accountant when he came by my house to update my books. “What is this?” He asked. “I need to nurture someone.” He smiled and enjoyed.

The term empty nest trivializes the painful passage for many women. The nest is our life, our memories of our lives with our children. We nurtured them and nudged them out to fly. Who is here to nurture us and nudge us toward a new life? It is a very hard time but there are ways to cope and eventually enjoy the process.

There was a silent voice inside of me screaming to be cared for, listened to, acknowledged and loved. During my daily walks I learned to breathe and connect to my body, the body that had carried three children, given birth, washed, fed and cared for, laughed with, tied their shoes, comforted their hurts for so many years.

My children are living their lives in a different time zone now. They share their worlds with me when we visit each other. The best times for me are when we are all together and I refer to this as having “all of my chicks in the nest.” It is comforting for me to see them together, safe and happy.
Living life creatively during the empty nest phase can be a wonderful experience. New research in psychobiology indicates that creativity is connected to living in the flow of daily rhythms which affects our energy levels, moods, sense of stress, and addictions. Living with the flow instead of resisting helps us to move through one transition after another. I teach this concept of creative living and have adapted it to my daily life.

When at home I enjoy naps in the afternoon which are a new pleasure, sleeping late in the morning is divine especially when I crawl back into bed with my French pressed cup of coffee so that I can read my favorite book with no interruptions. I can read what I want, eat what I want and sleep when I want. This is freedom I hadn’t known for many years.

I am finding pleasure in “being” instead of “doing”. There is a world of difference between the two. Our culture’s expectation has been that women give to others. I was taught to care for others and that self indulgence was selfish-maybe even a sin. It took me many years to rebirth my passion through journaling. I taught an Artist Way course at a local art gallery. I learned to nurture myself by spending time alone writing, and listening to my inner voice, a part that had become silent during the last busy twenty years.

 Living creatively and savoring empty nest time is the best thing we can do for ourselves. I have developed a seven step plan for creative living that I share with my life coaching clients. I encourage and help them to enjoy the empty nest transition because I tell them “You never know when your children may return”.

“Boomerang kids” are young adults who return to the nest either upon finishing college or after a stint of independent living. Their numbers are increasing. According to the 2010 US Census Bureau, 16.4 percent of men and 10.5 percent of women were living with one or both of their parents. See more about creative living and my seven step life coaching plan to get you through the empty nest period.

*Copyright (Jean Pollack)

 

 

Pregnancy at 40: How Realistic Is It?

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Why is it that some women wait until they are 40 to begin trying to conceive? Is it that finally their lives have settled down enough to contemplate children as the next step? Are they in a new marriage that they hope will be blessed with parenthood? Is the tick of the biological clock getting louder and louder? Are they feeling out of sync as some of their friends are anticipating grandparenthood? Or, as a recent New York Times article posed, do women who physically look much younger than their age actually believe their 40-year-old eggs are up to the challenge of conceiving a healthy baby?

Certainly there are many reasons and circumstances that cause a woman to try to become pregnant. But waiting until age 40 is risky, no matter what one’s motivation. Particularly worrisome is the belief that it’s just fine to wait until the time “seems right.” I would be the last person to advocate trying for a pregnancy when the timing is all wrong – that’s risky in a different sort of way, as the consequences of adding a new baby to an already stressful life can be devastating for all concerned. But if there is a guiding assumption that becoming pregnant at (or after) 40 is a breeze for a healthy woman, then we need to challenge that assumption.

Let’s start with the information most of us were given in eighth grade health class: females are born with all their eggs, as opposed to males who begin producing sperm at puberty and continue to do so into old age; neither old eggs nor sperm of older men are as healthy as those of younger adults. Defective sperm or eggs can be at the source of infertility, pregnancy loss, or congenital defects in newborns. The most healthy fertile years for women are in their twenties, when their bodies are mature, when their eating habits (hopefully) are healthy, when they can understand what they are reading about good reproductive health, and when they are capable of restricting behaviors known to harm developing fetuses, such as smoking, drinking, or substance use.

So how is it that some women reach their forties assuming that conceiving and carrying a pregnancy to a healthy birth will be a smooth process? Some of these women have forgotten their eighth grade health class lessons and haven’t brushed up in the intervening years; others have never initiated a discussion with their ob-gyns about fertility and the risks of first trying to conceive in their late thirties; and still others, who have done everything to keep their bodies supple and young-looking, believe mistakenly that their bodies contain young and healthy eggs. In fact, their eggs are aging, with higher risks for chromosomal abnormalities, and their hormone levels are progressing closer to those of menopause with each passing year. By the time a woman is 40, most doctors would agree that her chances of getting pregnant each month are approximately 5 percent.

But women are increasingly being influenced by the sensationalist magazines in the grocery store, the Hollywood stars celebrating birthday number 40 with a baby (or multiples) in arms, and the television coverage given to sex-symbol actresses who, at age 40, are embracing new parenthood. No longer are woman and their partners being guided by the factual information about aging eggs and infertility. Or aging eggs and pregnancy loss. Or aging eggs and birth defects. Now only a prolonged inability to conceive or unexpected news from prenatal tests may be what shocks them into conversations with their ob-gyns or propels them to an infertility clinic.

That is when they are likely to learn the news that the Hollywood coverage never revealed: that donor eggs, donor sperm or a surrogate may be necessary for a woman in her 40’s to have a baby. This then becomes a new pathway that some couples decide to pursue. And for couples with determination, energy, patience and a significant amount of money, they may yet be able to bring a baby into their lives. But others may be deterred at the immense disruption that medical, legal and financial efforts will introduce into their relationship, their health and their work lives. For those women and their partners who once believed it was possible to use Hollywood as their guide in matters of fertility, the wake-up call may have come too late. And with more and more domestic and international adoption agencies placing age limit restrictions on prospective parents, the feelings of loss become even more profound.

How can we move beyond this gulf of misinformation and move women and couples more realistically in the direction of planning for parenthood? Clearly it would help if the Hollywood new 40-something parents would come clean and be open about the extraordinary means (including financial) they have pursued to welcome children into their lives. It also would be an important medical contribution if ob-gyns and Planned Parenthood staff would routinely query their patients about whether and when they are thinking about conceiving. And if those same reproductive health care offices had literature about infertility and pregnancy loss on their tables that are too often crowded with parenting magazines, it might lend a bit of balance to the way women view the issues on which their doctors can advise them.

Women have worked far too long for reproductive freedom to be thwarted by an unexpected twist of fate in our late 30’s and early 40’s. We need to talk with our peers, to encourage balanced reading material in ob-gyn waiting rooms, to raise with our sons and daughters the issues we hope they remember from their health classes, to advocate for insurance companies to cover costs associated with infertility, and to remember that reproductive advances come with many costs at many levels that just may be too much for the prospective 40-something parent to afford.

Migraines, Marijuana, and Chocolate

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Regular supplementation with some nutrients can reduce the frequency and intensity of migraine. First, what is a migraine? Medical science has yet to provide a definitive answer to this question although the recent application of sophisticated scanning techniques have provided some important insights into what’s actually happening inside the head of migraine sufferers.  Migraine is currently viewed as a sporadic disorder of brain excitability.  Studies of blood flow using a variety of methods, including computed tomography (CAT scans), positron emission tomography (PET scans), and functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI scans) studies show significantly decreased blood flow within specific brain regions. In some people, this is followed by a sustained increase in blood flow that correlates with the actual migraine attack.  Although these findings suggest that the problem is with blood flow, additional studies suggest that changes in blood flow are neither necessary nor sufficient for a migraine headache to occur.  Many of the contemporary drug therapies are thought to work by constricting blood vessels, yet some evidence suggests that this is not the primary mechanism by which migraine drugs produce their therapeutic benefits (J Neurol 1991;238:245).

Partially because no one is certain what causes a migraine, finding a treatment has been extremely challenging.  Many migraine sufferers have turned to alternative therapies when standard prescription medications have failed to provide relief.  The National Headache Foundation lists many options as possible alternative therapies, three of these are found in chocolate: magnesium, riboflavin and a cannabinoid similar to marijuana. 

Magnesium: Hundreds of enzymes in the body require magnesium to work properly; many of these enzymes are critical for normal brain function. Inadequate levels of magnesium in the brain can induce very dangerous neurological dysfunctions. When present at optimal concentrations, magnesium acts similar to some of the most successful migraine medications on the market today: it blocks calcium channels.  Magnesium may also interact with other dietary and genetic factors to increase the threshold for when a migraine attack can occur (J Neurol Sci 1996;134:9). Chronic stress, a common trigger for migraine headaches, induces the body to increase its excretion of magnesium via the urine (Magnes Res 2006;19:102).

Chocolate: Magnesium levels tend to decrease during menopause (J Trace Elem Med Biol 2002;16:9); this is a time when migraine headaches also become more common.  Women in their fifties, the typical age when menopause symptoms begin, often develop sudden strong cravings for chocolate. Why? Chocolate contains significant levels of magnesium salts (about 2.6 mg/gm), the absence of which in elderly females may be responsible for the common post-menopausal condition known as chocoholism.  Fortunately, eating magnesium salt tablets can reduce these bothersome chocoholic urges.

Marijuana: Chocolate also contains a small amount of the marijuana-like chemical called anandamide that can easily cross the blood-brain barrier.  Anandamide, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and many of the ingredients of the marijuana plant, such as cannabidiol, cannabidiol and cannabigerol, have relatively potent pain-reducing and anti-inflammatory actions within the body. These effects are several hundred times more powerful than that of aspirin (Planta Med 1991;57(Suppl.):60). All of these compounds are capable of stimulating the brain’s marijuana receptors; this action has therapeutic potential during a migraine headache (J Pharmacol Exp Ther 2007;320:64) in two important ways.  First, stimulation of marijuana receptors in the brainstem changes in the activity of the trigeminal nerve (Neurosci Lett 2009;461:116); the activity of this cranial nerve is thought to be responsible for the pain associated with the migraine headache.  Second, the brain’s marijuana neurotransmitter system can exert a gating effect upon incoming pain signals via its control over descending serotonergic pathways (Eur J Pharmacol 2010;649:183).  Therefore, until medical science finds a cure for migraine headaches, some sufferers might find modest relief by enjoying a piece of dark chocolate. 

© Gary L. Wenk, Ph.D., author of Your Brain on Food (Oxford, 2010)

See also: Marijuana and Coffee are Good for the Brain.

You Don’t Have a “Sexpiration Date”

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I just came across a blog by sexpert, Dr. Laura Berman where she was writing about older people and sex. I love this topic especially as I enter the second half of my life. And what I am loving more and more is the fabulous role models that we have begun to have for aging sexuality. The Baby Boomers are not going quietly into the night. It is no longer unusual to see people in their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and beyond being portrayed as sexy or sexually active in the media. What’s more, there is no “ick factor” being tied to aging sexuality. It is being put out there as fabulous and something to aspire to keep in our lives. I think we are getting past the day when most people think that aging has a “sexpiration date” as Berman called it. And I think that is not only important—I think it is life affirming.

In fact, what I see in my sexuality coaching practice is more and more women and couples are wanting to step up their sex lives in what some call “The Golden Years”. And no one is feeling shy about looking for support to make that happen. There are some frank realities for aging bodies—our hormones change (both men and women) and what might have been a rush to the finish in our youth —may be a more graceful and delicious slow dance after 50. Personally, I think that this is a positive not a negative. Too bad many folks didn’t learn to waltz in their youth. Instead of eating fast food in the bedroom—as we age we learn to have gourmet meals and take our time.

When women reach menopause, decreased estrogen levels may lead to a slower sexual response. Don’t worry—it’s there! Reach for the support in the forms of lubricants and non hormonal topical lotions that increase female arousal and orgasm such as Zestra. For women, adding in these two simple tools can make all the difference in the world.

For the guys it is about blood flow too. Many men experience erectile difficulties as they age, in which they have difficulty attaining or maintaining an erection. Please remember that body parts can receive pleasure even when they are not erect. And circulation and blood flow to the genitals can decrease as part of the natural aging process. Viagra and Cialis can help improve genital blood flow and thus help with erectile concerns.

Whether we are young or old—our sexuality is really not about performance. It is about pleasure, touch and intimacy. So, don’t let body changes discourage you – for both men and women – there are no sexpiration dates!

A Global Apology on Behalf of Physicians Everywhere

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Since I wrote this post about the doctor-patient relationship of the broken, outdated, patriarchal system, I’ve been inundated with emails from all of you, telling me your horror stories. (Fortunately, you’re also telling me the good stuff in response to this post about the doctor-patient relationship in The Pink Medicine, so thank you for that!)

Because of the state of affairs of our current health care system, especially as it is here in the US, I find myself apologizing on behalf of my profession often these days.

So let me do that formally, here on Owning Pink.

I’m Sorry To Anyone I’ve Hurt Personally

I’ll start with my personal apologies, most of which are aimed at people who knew me back when I was seeing 40 patients/day in a busy managed care practice.

I’m so sorry to that kid I chewed out in the grocery store after I had been on call for 72 hours – the one who couldn’t get my bagel scanned for the life of him, which led me to spew, “If I did my job the way you did your job, there would be dead people everywhere.”

I apologize to any patient who didn’t feel like she could speak up and tell me what she was really feeling because I was crabby or rushed or too caught up in my own pain to notice hers. I’m sorry to that nurse whose advice I may have dismissed or that OR tech I yelled at when he handed me the wrong instrument because he couldn’t read my mind. I’m sorry to that acupuncturist whose work I didn’t understand. I’m sorry to my medical assistant, who was doing the best she could, and I’m sorry to my husband, who I’m guilty of ordering around like he was part of my staff.

If I’ve ever hurt anyone because of how I practiced medicine or who I am, I’m truly, deeply sorry. Please forgive me.

And because they may be too tired, busy, or asleep to do it themselves, let me also apologize to all of you on behalf of physicians everywhere.

I’m Sorry, Patients

If you’re a patient (as we all are), I apologize for any doctor who touched you brusquely and without asking. I’m sorry for all the times a doctor asked you a question and then cut you off before you answered or answered your questions with technical jargon that left you feeling stupid and scared, if they took the time to answer you at all. I’m sorry someone laughed when you suggested that your rash might be stress-related, and I’m sorry someone looked visibly annoyed when you did your homework and showed up to your appointment with internet printouts.

I’m sorry you overheard your doctor call you “Room 314,” and I’m sorry your doctor called you over the phone to tell you that your biopsy was cancerous, rather than delivering the results with a hug, the way it should be. I’m sorry your doctor stormed out when you refused to take the anti-depressants he prescribed to treat your menopausal symptoms, and I’m sorry you had to wait two hours to be seen for a scheduled appointment, as if your doctor’s time was more valuable than yours.

I’m sorry you were treated like a gallbladder or a hip bone or a liver or a vagina. I’m sorry if anyone ever called you a room number (as in “Go put an IV in Room 302.”) I’m sorry your doctor forgot that you’re a whole person with a brain and a heart and a soul and a family.

You deserve to heard, touched with gentle, loving hands, and invited to make informed, autonomous decisions about your own body. You deserve to have your innate self-healing mechanisms empowered and activated by those you trust with your whole health. You deserve to feel heard, nurtured, cherished, and, most of all, LOVED.

Love, presence, tenderness, and healing touch are the most healing gifts we can offer you, and yet, we’re denying you what you need like blood, like oxygen.

You have a right to be upset, because you deserve more than we’re giving you. You have a right to feel held in the warm arms of those to whom you entrust your body, mind and spirit. It is our job to hold dear that privilege.

I’m so sorry, darling. Really, I am. You are why we’re here. Let us appreciate the gift.

I’m Sorry Nurses, Medical Assistants, and Hospital Techs

If you are a non-physician health care provider, I’m sorry for that doctor that treats you as if you’re not fit to scrape gum off her shoe. I’m sorry you feel like nobody appreciates the wisdom you’ve accumulated from years of experience. I’m sorry for the inhumane treatment you may have suffered at the hands of my colleagues, and I’m sorry you don’t feel validated, loved, respected, and cherished for the many times you’ve borne the indignities of your profession because you feel called to serve, and patients need you.

Without you, we couldn’t do what we do, and without your loving touch and healing words, patients would suffer. We appreciate you. I’m sorry if you can’t tell sometimes, but we do. We know things would fall apart without you, and we know you protect our patients and cover our asses more times than we even know.

Thank you for cleaning up our messes, returning the phone calls we should be making ourselves, holding the bedpans, squeezing the patient’s hand as she drifts off into an anesthetic sleep, picking up the instruments we throw on the ground in a huff, wiping the patient’s soiled bum, doling out the pain medicine, hand feeding the applesauce, and most importantly, sitting at the bedside long after we storm in and out in 2 minutes without listening. 

We love you. I’m genuinely sorry, honey. What you do matters. YOU matter. Love matters. And you are the love messengers who pick up where we leave off. We might remove diseased organs or set broken bones, but our patients heal because of what you do. We bow to you and invite you to take equal seats at the healing round table, so we might better serve those who need us.

I’m Sorry, Complementary & Alternative Health Care Practitioners

If you’re an complementary or alternative medicine provider or some other sort of counselor, coach, or healer, I’m sorry so many physicians respond to what they don’t understand by dismissing you or making you wrong. I’m sorry you’ve had your treatment plans changed without the respect of a simple phone call. I’m sorry you’ve gone to all this trouble to build a relationship with your client, only to have some doctor tear it apart with one ignorant and closed-minded comment. I apologize for that doctor who told your client that what you do is a bunch of valueless woo woo hooey not deserving of their hard-earned money.

I’m sorry they don’t teach us much about what you do in medical school, and I’m sorry we’re not motivated to learn more so we can better collaborate. I’m sorry we act like we’re “better” than you and lord our medical degrees over you in a misguided attempt to assuage our own insecurities.

What you do heals. Patients transform. You love. You listen. You spend time laying on hands as we rarely do anymore. It’s no wonder people value what you do, even when insurance companies don’t cover it. Ancient traditions bring great gifts to the healing toolbox we all share. By embracing the scientific method in Western medicine, we’ve made the mistake of throwing out the baby with the bathwater, but you hold the baby. You nurture the baby. And that baby is time, presence, healing touch, and most of all – LOVE.

I’m so very sorry, dear ones. Thank you for what you do. You round out – and often replace (in a good way) – what we docs do, and we are grateful to anyone who transforms illness, sadness, or trauma into vitality, no matter how it happens. After all, the patient is what matters most, right? Don’t we all share a common goal?

Thank you for your healing gifts, and please – join us at the healing round table, where we can all be equal partners in the quest to facilitate the healing journeys of those we serve.

Why Am I Apologizing?

You may think, “But it’s not your fault, Lissa.” And no, it may not be directly my fault, at least not this time. No, maybe I wasn’t the one who never looked up from the computer when you last saw your doctor. Maybe I wasn’t the one who forgot your name, or shoved a prescription for an anti-depressant at you when you were crying without bothering to listen to what triggered the tears. I wasn’t the one who told your patient that Reiki was bullshit, when you were healing her illness.

I may not have been the one who yelled at you in front of the patient when you offered a suggestion you thought might help more than what I had ordered. I may not have thrown that bloody scalpel at you in the OR or squished you like a bug with my words. I may not have tormented you in medical school or mocked you when you cried.

And yet, I am not beyond reproach. I have been guilty of some of these wrongdoings, and my heart is full of remorse.  After embarking upon my own healing journey and releasing much of the post-traumatic stress I suffered on the inside of the health care system, I am now a recovering physician, seeking reform, and I want to encourage a global healing between doctors, patients, and all others in the healing profession.

So please, I know I speak on behalf of hundreds of thousands of physicians when I say, “Please forgive us. We are sorry. And we want things to change.”

Do You Deserve An Apology?

Have you ever felt diminished, hurt, dismissed, or disenfranchised by one of your health care providers? Tell us your story here.

Apologetic,

****

Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of OwningPink.com, motivational speaker, and author of What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend and Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide To Creating Fine Art With Wax.

Learn more about Lissa Rankin here

Valerian: A Help for Post-Menopausal Insomnia?

Here’s some potentially good news for the millions of women who are coping with insomnia as a consequence of menopause: a recent study indicates that the herbal supplement valerian is an effective treatment for women with post-menopausal insomnia.

Researchers at the University of Tehran examined the effects of valerian on post-menopausal women suffering from insomnia. One hundred women between the ages of 50-60 participated in the study. All the women had reported problems with insomnia. The women were divided into two groups: the first group was given a twice-daily dose of valerian for two weeks and the second group received a placebo. The women who received valerian experienced a significant improvement in the quality of their sleep, compared to those in the placebo group. Researchers reported that 30 percent of women who took valerian for the two-week study period saw a positive change in their sleep quality, compared with 4 percent of women in the placebo group.

Valerian, a flowering plant that is native to both Europe and Asia and is now also grown in North America, has long been used medicinally, particularly for sleep—the ancient Greeks wrote about its power in treating sleeplessness. It is the plant’s root that is cultivated and processed for use in supplements, which have been popular and widely available for decades. There has been no significant research into the long-term effects of valerian use, which is a significant omission-as with any medicinal sleep aid, “herbal” or not, we need an understanding of its effects on the body over the long term, both in terms of its safety and its effectiveness. The short-term side effects of valerian, however, we know to be relatively mild, consisting of headaches and stomach upset.

Women face challenges to sleep throughout their lives, but menopause often brings with it particularly difficult obstacles to sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 61 percent of post-menopausal women report experiencing some degree of insomnia. What happens during menopause that wreaks such havoc with sleep? There are several factors:

  • Hormone shifts. Starting in peri-menopause, the hormones estrogen and progesterone begin to fluctuate, and these short-term shifts can be disruptive to sleep. Over the course of menopause, the body’s levels of estrogen and progesterone decrease. Both estrogen and progesterone have effects on sleep, and the new, decreased, post-menopausal levels of these critical hormones can make sleep more difficult. 
  • Physical symptoms. Menopause brings about a number of physical symptoms that can be very uncomfortable and also challenging to sleep. Hot flashes in particular can pose frequent interruptions to a woman’s nightly sleep, leaving her feeling fatigued and sleep deprived. Over time, interrupted sleep can take on a life of it’s own—insomnia and disrupted sleep can persist even after the hot flashes have disappeared. 
  • Mood changes. The process of menopause has not only significant physical changes, but also emotional ones. Some women will experience depression, anxiety and other mood disorders in greater frequency during menopause. These mood-related shifts can be a cause of sleep deficiency—they can also be a consequence of insufficient sleep.
  • Lack of sleep during and after menopause can be disruptive to a woman’s overall physical health, and also to her general sense of well being and quality of life. One recent survey indicated that 76 percent of women who experienced insomnia related to menopause reported a moderate to significant impact on their quality of life. More than one-third—34 percent—said their intimate lives were affected.

Women and their physicians are not talking about sleep problems nearly as much as they need to be. A recent survey revealed that 62 percent of women who participated had not spoken with their doctors about their problem sleeping. If that’s not bad enough, here’s an even more distressing piece of data: of the women who did talk with their doctors about their struggles with sleep, 90 percent reported having to initiate the topic themselves. We can—and must—do better than this, both as patients and physicians.

Valerian may be a promising option for post-menopausal women experiencing insomnia, but I do encourage my patients to try making adjustments to their regular habits and choices as a first step before pursuing any sleep aid-and make no mistake, even herbal remedies are chemicals in the body. Here are some options to consider: 

  • Exercise, especially early in the day. Physical activity is a mood booster for the rest of the day, and exercise in the morning, especially in sunlight, can help strengthen our circadian clocks, which weaken as we age. 
  • Limit caffeine. Start by cutting yourself off from caffeine to later than 2 p.m. Your morning cup of coffee may still be okay, but if you continue to have trouble sleeping, it may be time to consider pulling that no-caffeine deadline back even earlier. 
  • Mind-body exercise. Yoga, tai chi-these disciplines work to strengthen both the physical and the mental self, and there are indications they provide benefits for sleep. 
  • Talk to your doctor. This one is a must, for everyone. Make sleep a part of your regular conversation with your doctor. Don’t wait for the topic to come up on it’s own—initiate the conversation. And always consult your physician before adding a chemical sleep aid—even an herbal one—to your regimen.

Sweet Dreams,
Michael J. Breus, PhD
The Sleep DoctorTM
www.thesleepdoctor.com
The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan: Lose Weight Through Better Sleep
Everything you do, you do better with a good night’s sleepTM
twitter: @thesleepdoctor
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Lindy Micheals: Discovering My Inner Crone

dc6a3973e92635fec075480434e5dfaa - Lindy Micheals: Discovering My Inner Crone

When I began going through that monumental change in my body called menopause,experiencing hot flashes and just not feeling ‘right’ in my body, I came across the book,Crone by Barbara Walker and it changed my life,forever. I realized it was impossible to separate becoming a Crone and the history of women. They are inexorably intertwined.I admit, I have never been religious and had no idea that once upon a time,as far back as eighty thousand years ago, it was a woman who was worshipped, Mother Earth, the Goddess. I looked at all I was learning, solely from a sociological point of view, not a religious one and suddenly, it made such sense to me. Didn’t the Earth burst forth with life, just as women did? It was the long and peaceful time of Matriarchal rule. Women were revered and respected, even more so as they became elders: Crones.

As I went through my menopausal years of sweating, bursting into tears while watching Seinfeld, weight gain and that sense of loss and depression,I read about the three aspects of a woman’s life: The Maiden, The Mother and The Crone.At forty-eight would I now be called a Crone? I knew I had to do something to get the image of what the dictionary defines a Crone to be… a withered old woman, a hag, a witch, out of my mind.And thus my educational and emotional journey was under way.

Although having always been a feminist, marching and burning the bra I never needed for women’s rights in the 70’s, suddenly for the first time in my life, I was slowly becoming incredibly empowered by the mere thought of being a woman and especially an aging woman.But I won’t lie, it wasn’t easy reconciling myself to the fact that my child bearing days were done and gone, that over half of my life had already been lived,that I might never fall in love again. And who might want this old Crone, anyway?

My head buried into book after book, I think I went through many of the steps of grieving: denial, anger, depression… but would acceptance ever creep into my heart? My first mini “aha” moment came when I read the words, “Don’t think you’re in the old age of your youth, but rather why not perceive yourself as being in the youth of older age?” Words are so powerful, but in reality, could they really boost my spirits, help me to embrace this stage of life I was now entering into?

And then one day, you might well call it some kind of kismet, I met Marti, a woman whowas on the same journey as I was. I do believe we were destined to meet at this very time in our lives.We began to take long walks, together. And we talked endlessly about the changes going on in our bodies and minds, about what we had been reading. The words said, over and over again, it was now the time to celebrate ourselves, our knowledge and strength and all we had accomplished as women. But living it was much harder than reading or thinking it. Was it possible, when the heat stopped flashing, when the moodsstopped swinging, was it really possible to revel in our post-menopausal zest, as one book put it? Was there even such a thing?

It certainly took a while, but, eventually, I started believing, knowing, that with older age, it mattered less what society told us about these years, that along with our newly inactive uterus and all the other physical changes our bodies were going through, I couldn’t still be a force in society as a whole, I couldn’t feel good about myself, couldn’t find worth in my life, now that my nest was as empty as my womb? With every step I trudged on the fire roads of the Santa Monica Mountains, I slowly began to feel free, truly free. Free to love myself, wrinkles and all. Free to celebrate my life, what I had started out as and what I had become. And from that I would find joy and strength and peace. At least I sure as hell hoped I would!

It didn’t take overnight, or many overnights, but eventually I came to believe,to know the truth, that I was a woman to be reckoned with, vibrant, courageous and still filled with life. No, I don’t beat the drums with Wicca women, nor dance naked near the Beltane bonfires to celebrate the greening of the earth’s first day of spring, but quietly,peacefully, gently, I try to remember to celebrate myself and my life, for all the years I’ve walked upon this dusty earth.

I am well past my days of menopause and I admit there are times, even now, when I forget there’s anything to celebrate, as I continue to journey through my life. And then I say to myself, “Hey, I’m still living, so everything’s okay.” And it is. I have two daughters and two granddaughters… Maiden. Mother. Crone. We are the three aspects of the feminine and I try to teach them to start now, today, to celebrate their lives and who they are, their hopes and dreams of whom, one day, they shall become. For we are women. We are Goddess.I am Crone.

Lindy Michaels is a book and script analyst and author of two Nook e-books: CRONES AMONG US, A City Slickers For Menopausal Women and THE GHOSTS OF WINTHROP MANOR. Enjoying her Cronehood, she lives in Southern California.