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Aug
4
Dr. Anna Garrett
Are Your Hormones Like Unruly Toddlers?
Healthy Living
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hormones

If you’ve been in perimenopause for more than a few minutes, you’re very aware of the delicate balance of hormones in your body.

Think of your hormones as a group of toddlers playing in a sandbox in the park. They’re building sandcastles and everyone is getting along fine. But it can all change in a second if one of the little darlings gets mad about something. Sand flies, a fight starts and moms come running!

That’s how it is with your hormones. Some days, all is well. But on others, you’re ready to rip your hair out (and that of the people around you)!

Common signs of imbalance include fatigue, weight gain, brain fog, night sweats, insomnia, hot flashes, big-time crankiness and about 27 other things you’d rather not deal with.

Here’s why this happens.

Estrogen levels can drop as much as 40% as a woman approaches menopause, but progesterone levels can drop up to 90%. This difference in the ratio between estrogen and progesterone creates estrogen dominance and this is a prime cause of many of the symptoms women experience during perimenopause.

Managing estrogen dominance involves getting these 2 kids playing happily together. The approach depends on the degree of the imbalance. Some women do well with a good lifestyle cleanup. Others may need a plan that reduces estrogen (eating more fiber) and adds progesterone.

The rest of the kids on the playground include testosterone, cortisol and thyroid.

If testosterone is off, your libido hits bottom! If cortisol’s kicking sand, weight gain and insomnia will be unrelenting. You can read more about that here.

Thyroid regulates the metabolism in nearly every cell in the body. If it goes rogue, you may experience fatigue, cold intolerance, low libido, dry skin and hair, hair loss, memory loss, irritability, depression and constipation. Yuck!

There’s a lot of overlap in these symptoms, right? So how do you know which one is off? One simple way is to do saliva or blood testing. Each has its advantages, but the convenience and ease of saliva testing makes it a good choice for testing estradiol, progesterone, DHEA, testosterone and cortisol levels.

Don’t suffer needlessly through the changes that age and stress bring. Get tested, get treated and get better. Once your imbalance has been identified, a trained provider can help you make choices about lifestyle, supplements and bioidentical hormone replacement (BHRT) if needed.

Before you know it, your hormone kids will be playing together happily again.

Dr. Anna Garrett is a menopause expert and Doctor of Pharmacy. She helps women who are struggling with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause find natural hormone balancing solutions so they can rock their mojo through midlife and beyond. Her clients would tell you that her real gift is helping them reclaim parts of themselves they thought were gone forever.

Find out more about working with her at http://www.drannagarrett.com/work-with-me/.

Jul
21
Dr. Anna Garrett
Are you Living in the Circle of Perimenopause Hell?
Healthy Living
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Perimenopause hell

If you feel like your once-pleasant personality and your mojo have skipped town together, you’re not alone. Symptoms of perimenopause can start as early as your mid-late 30’s.

And the signs can be easy to miss.

Maybe you notice that you’re just a little grouchier or that your periods aren’t quite as regular.

Your PMS symptoms, which were once mildly annoying, are now raging.

You gain weight even though you’re exercising and eating right.

You begin having anxiety and heart palpitations.

You begin to hyperfocus on every ache, pain and twitch.

This can feel like you’re stuck in a circle of hell with no way out.

How You Land in the Circle of Hell

Hormone shifts can start in your mid-30’s when ovulation becomes less regular. This results in lower progesterone levels which causes symptoms that can be subtle or hit you with the force of a Mack truck. Fatigue, mood swings, insomnia and irregular periods are some of the most common problems. And this can go on for 5-10 YEARS.

The other part of the equation is estrogen dominance. This is closely related to low progesterone levels and happens because of an imbalance of estrogen to progesterone. This is worsened by exposure to compounds that act like estrogen in your body. Estrogen dominance shows up in your life as weight gain, heavy periods, long periods and over-the-top PMS (among other things).

It’s a Hormone Problem, not a Prozac® Deficiency

It’s important to recognize what’s going on because many a woman has ended up on antidepressants, sleeping pills or birth control pills because she (and her healthcare provider) did not recognize that these problems were related to a HORMONE IMBALANCE. None of these “solutions” really fixes the underlying problem and in fact, can cause other side effects that are worse than what you’ve got going on.


Tweet: Misbehaving hormones can often be corrected with lifestyle, herbal and nutritional supplements.


Misbehaving hormones can often be corrected with lifestyle, herbal and nutritional supplements. Simple changes such as avoiding alcohol, cutting out sugar and managing stress can make a big difference. In some cases, hormone replacement may be necessary, but that’s rarely the place to start.

How to Turn Hormone Hell into Hormone Harmony

If changes in lifestyle don’t help, then it may be time to test your sex hormone levels and your cortisol levels. High cortisol levels can throw off the balance of all your hormones, so it’s important to have a picture of how your body handles stress and address that first. Testing can be done with saliva, blood or urine (there are plusses and minuses for each method). Knowing your specific imbalances allows your hormone care provider to create a unique management plan for you.

If you’d like to learn more about how to navigate the circles of menopause hell, my friend Susan Hyatt and I are teaming up on August 3 at 3 PM EST for a free webinar that will teach you what’s going on with your body, what to do to reign in the chaos and how to create hormone harmony. You can register for that here: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6958845751954099460

Visit Dr. Anna’s website at www.drannagarrett.com.

Dr. Anna Garrett is a menopause expert and Doctor of Pharmacy. She helps women who are struggling with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause find natural hormone balancing solutions so they can rock their mojo through midlife and beyond. Her clients would tell you that her real gift is helping them reclaim parts of themselves they thought were gone forever.

Find out more about working with her at http://www.drannagarrett.com/work-with-me/.

Jul
7
Dr. Anna Garrett
9 Ways to Avoid Exposure to Estrogen Impostors
Healthy Living
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avoid exposure to estrogen impostors

Excess estrogen can cause all kinds of unpleasant symptoms in women — bloating, breast tenderness, mood swings, irritability, insomnia, and crying spells for no reason.

Hormone imbalances due to changing levels of estrogen and progesterone are hard enough to deal with. And on top of that we are exposed to hundreds of chemicals that act like estrogen in our bodies. These chemicals are called xenoestrogens and they lurk in seemingly harmless things like plastics, makeup and sunscreens.


Tweet: Xenoestrogens are obnoxious hormone party-crashers and can stay stored in fat tissue for decades!


Xenoestrogens are obnoxious hormone party-crashers and can stay stored in fat tissue for decades! We are exposed to more than 700 of these compounds on a daily basis. The consequences of this can be seen in just about everyone…male and female. Xenoestrogens can cause “man boobs” in men and have been linked to the onset of early puberty in children.

If You Can’t Live in a Bubble…

It’s almost impossible to completely avoid xenoestrogens. The best approach is to try to limit exposure as much as possible. Here are some tips to do this:

  1. Reduce the amount of canned food you eat. Xenoestrogens can be found in metal can liners.
  2. Avoid eating from plastic containers. Stick with ceramic, stainless steel and glass.
  3. Don’t microwave food covered in plastic wrap. If the plastic melts, chemicals leach into your food.
  4. Remove your shoes in your home. This avoids bringing pesticides into your home.
  5. Use organic bedding. Conventional mattresses are full of formaldehyde and other chemicals.
  6. Wear shoes made of natural materials instead of rubber or plastic. Plastic can be absorbed through the soles of your feet.
  7. Don’t eat commercially-raised meat products. Some farmers fatten up their livestock with hormone injections and supplements.
  8. Check the ingredients list of your sunscreen and other cosmetics. Researchers in Europe found that certain chemicals found in sunscreen and UV-block products can mimic the effects of estrogen. Chemicals to avoid include oxybenzone, avobenzone, benzophenone-3, homosalate, 4-methyl-benzylidene camphor (4-MBC), octyl-methoxycinnamate and octyl-dimethyl-PABA. You can find out more about safety of chemicals at the Environmental Working Group web site.
  9. Learn about using natural products for daily household chores and skin care. Some examples of substitutes for xenoestrogens-containing commercial cleaners/cosmetics include:
  • White vinegar for cleaning hardwood floors
  • Sunscreens that contain zinc oxide or titanium oxide instead of chemical sunscreens.
  • Witch hazel as a skin toner
  • Coconut oil as a moisturizer

While it’s impossible to completely avoid endocrine disruptors, it is possible to limit exposure and improve your hormone balance. Take the time to do your homework to assess where your exposure is coming from. Your body will thank you!

Visit Dr. Anna’s website at www.drannagarrett.com.

Dr. Anna Garrett is a menopause expert and Doctor of Pharmacy. She helps women who are struggling with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause find natural hormone balancing solutions so they can rock their mojo through midlife and beyond. Her clients would tell you that her real gift is helping them reclaim parts of themselves they thought were gone forever.

Find out more about working with her at http://www.drannagarrett.com/work-with-me/.

Jun
23
Dr. Anna Garrett
When Perimenopause Meets Middle School: A Survival Guide
Healthy Living
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perimenopause meets middle school

My client, Lisa, is in a tailspin. She’s just entering the throes of perimenopause. Sleepless nights, hideous mood swings, crying jags at odd times and crushing fatigue are making her life hell.

And to top it all off, there’s her once-darling 7th-grade daughter, Meredith.

Meredith is a ticking time bomb most days. She’s prone to go off about anything and nothing on a moment’s notice. And Lisa has no idea what to do.

Lisa and Meredith are at the intersection of menopause and middle school. And it ain’t pretty.

Many women of our generation postponed having children until relatively late in life so they could build careers. In fact, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, the birthrate for women ages 35 through 39 rose steadily from 1979 to 2007 (though that number has slipped some since). Meanwhile, the birthrate in 2013 (the latest data available) for women ages 40 through 44 was 10.4 births per 1,000 women, the highest rate reported in more than three decades.

If you waited to have kids until your 30’s, there’s a REALLY good chance that you’re either in this position or you’ll be there soon.

Like Lisa, you may be at a loss for ideas. The first step is to take action and do some research. As the parent, it’s up to you to navigate this storm. Even when you don’t feel like it.

Having an understanding that the two of you are going through many of the same emotional swings can be really helpful in bringing peace to your home. Both of you are having huge shifts in hormonal levels (in girls, estrogen levels increase eight-fold during puberty!)

Want to dial down the drama?  Here are some survival tips for days when it feels like you and your little darling are turning your family upside down.

  1. Keep the lines of communication open. Have an honest talk with your daughter about what’s going on with YOU. Let her know you can relate to what she’s experiencing. As a bonus, know that she will thank you later when she hits perimenopause!
  2. Empathize. Recognize that even though you were a teenager once, chances are you didn’t have to deal with the kinds of pressure today’s kids experience. Yes, we dealt with mean girls and cliques. But no one could bash you on social media. Getting into college was not the anxiety-producing experience that it is now. We weren’t overscheduled and under-rested. Today’s teens report much higher levels of anxiety and stress than our generation.
  3. Be quick to call a time-out. When an argument starts to spiral out of control and you sense that you may say things you’ll regret, walk away and cool off. Revisit the issue later when everyone’s had a chance to calm down.
  4. Check your stress level. The physical symptoms you’re experiencing combined with the day-to-day stress of work and home life can be recipe for a short fuse. Figure out what your top 3 priorities are and consider letting the rest go. Your sanity will thank you for this.
  5. Remember, this is a season. The hormonal chaos will eventually die down for both of you and if you can keep a sense of humor your relationship will survive and thrive.
  6. Get support! If you’re looking to connect with women who are in the same situation, join my Hormone Harmony Club. You’ll get answers to your questions AND a great group of ladies to hang out with.

Tweet: Today’s teens report much higher levels of anxiety and stress than our generation.


Lisa decided that her best bet was to start by controlling her symptoms so she could be less reactive. We tested her hormones and re-worked her lifestyle to help her body into better balance.  I also helped her create some strategies to manage stress and say yes to less so she could focus on herself and her relationships.

Not everyone’s symptoms or experiences are the same, and no magic solution exists. But as more women find themselves in hormone hell, it’s good to know that there are options to avoid at least some of the fireworks — ours, anyway.

Because as far as I know, teenage drama is here to stay!

Visit Dr. Anna’s website at www.drannagarrett.com.

Dr. Anna Garrett is a menopause expert and Doctor of Pharmacy. She helps women who are struggling with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause find natural hormone balancing solutions so they can rock their mojo through midlife and beyond. Her clients would tell you that her real gift is helping them reclaim parts of themselves they thought were gone forever.

Find out more about working with her at http://www.drannagarrett.com/work-with-me/.

Jun
9
Dr. Anna Garrett
7 Ways to Break Free from Midlife Mindset Muck
Healthy Living
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Break free

“The biggest problem I’ve had since menopause is lack of passion/interest/direction in my life.”

“I feel frozen somehow.”

“ I seem to have lost myself.”

“ I don’t know what’s normal and what’s not. I focus on every little thing about my body.”

These are common comments I hear from my clients and the ladies in the Hormone Harmony Club. It’s almost as if their bodies are conspiring against them and they don’t know where to turn or what to do.

It’s very easy to get stuck in mental quicksand in midlife. But here’s the danger of staying in that place.

You get more of what you focus on.

It’s easy to get caught up in negative thoughts about aging, beauty, life purpose and health (among others). These lines of thinking are sure-fire mojo suckers!

If you find yourself stuck in the muck of menopause, try one of these simple tips to break free.

  1. Get outside. There are 2 great reasons to do this. First, sunlight greatly enhances your feeling of well-being (and give your Vitamin D levels a boost). Second, a number of studies have documented the effect of being in nature on mood. Spending as little as 5 minutes a day connecting with the outdoors helps.
  2. Take the FIRST step (not the first ten). Want to lose 10 lbs? Start with the first one.  Exercise? Start with 5 minutes once a week. That may sound so small that you think “why bother?”  But your goal is to create momentum…and small successes are the key to achieving that.
  3. Start a gratitude journal. We ALL have something to be grateful for every day. If you are spending your mental energy looking for those things on a daily basis, you have less time to focus on what’s going wrong. Try writing down 5 things you’re grateful for at the end of each day. This simple exercise can really shift your perspective.
  4. Relax. Take a few minutes every day to take an intentional time out. Do some deep breathing, meditation or do yoga.  Take a nap. Sometimes when we’re stuck in our gunk, we’re just plain TIRED. It’s OK to wave the white flag and care for your body.
  5. Put your worries in a box. If you’re prone to anxiety and worrying about every ache or pain, give yourself a specific, limited time for this. Here’s what I mean. Schedule your worry time daily. Say from 8-8:15 AM. For that 15 minutes you get to worry about everything on your list. Go big! Because at 8:15, you’re done for the day. Another way to do this is to get a decorative box and write down what you’re worried/anxious about. Put it in the box and turn it over to whatever Higher Power you believe in. Consider it handled.
  6. Consider a hormone imbalance as the root cause of what’s going on. If you’re lacking drive, passion or vitality, that could indicate a testosterone deficiency. Insomnia, fatigue and anxiety? That’s likely to be a progesterone deficiency. Hormone testing can help you identify exactly which imbalances are contributing to your problems so they can be addressed. If your health care provider isn’t on board with checking it all out, find another one. Or contact me. Learn to be a partner with your provider. You can find out how to more effectively do that here.
  7. Reach out. Surround yourself with friends who love and support you. Find a live or virtual community of women who are traveling this road to be a part of. It’s incredibly helpful when you discover that what you are experiencing is VERY common and that you are not alone. That single realization can be a game-changer for many women. That’s what the Hormone Harmony Club is all about.

Tweet: We ALL have something to be grateful for every day.


Perimenopause and menopause can be a challenging time of life. But it can also be a time of great awakening. Take time to educate yourself about the process and symptoms to watch out for. Learn to be your own best advocate. But above all, give yourself grace and know that this too will pass.

Visit Dr. Anna’s website at www.drannagarrett.com.

Dr. Anna Garrett is a menopause expert and Doctor of Pharmacy. She helps women who are struggling with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause find natural hormone balancing solutions so they can rock their mojo through midlife and beyond. Her clients would tell you that her real gift is helping them reclaim parts of themselves they thought were gone forever.

Find out more about working with her at http://www.drannagarrett.com/work-with-me/.

May
12
Dr. Anna Garrett
Help! Why Are My Periods So Irregular?
Healthy Living
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irregular periods

One of the most common questions I’m asked in the Hormone Harmony Club is “what is going on with my period!?”

These women are experiencing flooding, clots, short cycles, abnormally long periods, cramping and symptoms that are alarming, and in some case, life-altering.

Irregular periods are often one of the first signs that a woman is entering peri-menopause. The exact symptoms of irregular periods vary depending on a woman’s unique cycle. Most women experience irregular periods for three to ten years before periods stop completely.

What’s Normal?

For most women, the average cycle length is 25-31 days with bleeding that lasts about 5 days. Irregular periods are defined as changes in this typical cycle and are characterized by abnormal bleeding and/or unusual cycle lengths.

Causes of Irregular Periods

For women approaching menopause, the most likely cause is fluctuating hormonal levels.  The menstrual cycle is controlled by estrogen and progesterone, both of which begin to decline in a woman’s 40’s and 50’s. When hormone production begins to taper off, periods begin to vary in length and bleeding amount.

Estrogen. Estrogen is responsible for thickening the uterine lining before ovulation. As levels of estrogen become erratic in menopause, this lining is often shed irregularly and can lead to heavy bleeding, clots and variation in cycle length.

Progesterone. Progesterone is responsible for triggering the shed of the uterine contents after ovulation when fertilization hasn’t occurred. It is also responsible for controlling the intensity and duration of menstrual bleeding. In months where no egg is released, progesterone is not produced. This can lead to build up of the uterine lining and estrogen dominance. When the lining does shed in this situation, bleeding can be very heavy and prolonged.

Can I Still Get Pregnant?

Many women wonder about their fertility when they begin to experience irregular periods. It is important to remember that pregnancy can occur anytime before menopause, even if a woman’s periods are irregular. It is not uncommon during perimenopause to go months without a period, only to have it return. During this time, it is still possible to become pregnant.

How to Manage Irregular Periods

A three-tiered approach can be used to manage bothersome symptoms. I generally recommend using lifestyle changes and supplements together before moving to surgical options.

1. Lifestyle changes.

Lifestyle changes can help with irregular periods. Leading a sedentary lifestyle or consuming too much caffeine or alcohol can exacerbate symptoms. Increased stress can also increase the severity of irregular periods. Stress-relief techniques such as yoga or meditation can be helpful for this.

Some simple dietary changes can also be helpful. Increasing the intake of complex carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, fiber and water can help balance the hormones.


Tweet: Increased stress can also increase the severity of irregular periods.


Avoid foods and products that contain xenoestrogens such as soy, plastics, pesticides and cosmetics because they can alter estrogen levels.

2. Supplements.

Supplements that target improvement of the progesterone/estrogen ratio can be helpful for managing symptoms like flooding, cramps and clotting. Chasteberry is one supplement that is helpful, however, it is less effective the closer a woman is to menopause. Bio-identical progesterone supplementation can also be very effective for heavy or prolonged bleeding. The goal is not necessarily to completely normalize cycles, but to control symptoms that affect quality of life.

DIM (diindolylmethane) or IC3 (indole-3-carbinol), which are both created from compounds in cruciferous vegetables, help lower estrogen levels thus improving the balance of estrogen/progesterone.

3. Surgery.

Surgical alternatives such as hysterectomy or endometrial ablation are options for women who have tried other options without success.

When to See a Doctor

It is perfectly normal during perimenopause to have irregular periods. However, there are other conditions that can affect bleeding and warrant getting checked out. If you’ve tried some of the tips above with no success, it’s time to see your doctor.

Blood clotting issues, fibroids, pregnancy and occasionally cancer are some of the reasons that might cause abnormal bleeding. Any bleeding AFTER menopause should also be evaluated by your doctor.

Visit Dr. Anna’s website at www.drannagarrett.com.

Dr. Anna Garrett is a menopause expert and Doctor of Pharmacy. She helps women who are struggling with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause find natural hormone balancing solutions so they can rock their mojo through midlife and beyond. Her clients would tell you that her real gift is helping them reclaim parts of themselves they thought were gone forever.

Find out more about working with her at http://www.drannagarrett.com/work-with-me/.

May
5
Dr. Anna Garrett
How to Keep the 7 Dwarves of Menopause Under Control
Healthy Living
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7 Dwarves of Menopause

Let’s talk about progesterone.

This is the magic potion that keeps the 7 Dwarves of Menopause (Itchy, Bitchy, Bloaty, Sleepy, Sweaty, Forgetful, and Psycho) and YOU cool, calm and collected.

Progesterone is the hormone that is primarily produced in the second half of your menstrual cycle. In the first 14 days of the cycle, estrogen is in charge. Estrogen’s job is to grow the cells of the uterus to prepare it for implementation of a fertilized egg.

At day 14, presumably when ovulation occurs, progesterone production ramps up in case you become pregnant. If a fertilized egg implants itself, progesterone levels will continue to rise. If not, progesterone drops, signaling the end of the cycle, and the whole process starts over again.


Tweet: Progesterone is the magic potion that keeps the 7 Dwarves of Menopause calm and collected.


But that’s not progesterone’s only job.

Progesterone receptors are located in the blood vessels, the liver, breast tissue, the bone, and the brain, and the hormone has an important influence in the functioning of all those parts of the body.

Most of your progesterone is produced by ripened eggs. That means when your ovaries slowly wind down their function and you stop ovulating, progesterone production slows down.

Estrogen, however, can be produced by other cells in the body besides the ovaries, namely fat cells that convert testosterone into estrogens. Plus, we are all exposed to compounds in the environment that act like estrogen in our bodies (xenoestrogens).

Do You Have a Progesterone Problem?

During perimenopause, progesterone is dropping, but estrogens may not be, leading to a situation called estrogen dominance. This basically means that you don’t have enough progesterone to balance out the activity of the estrogens still circulating in the blood stream. Estrogen dominance causes all kinds of symptoms such as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Aching body and joints
  • Fatigue
  • Breast tenderness
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Mood swings
  • Allergy symptoms
  • Insomnia
  • Weight gain
  • Water retention
  • Hair loss
  • Migraines
  • Heavy periods and bad cramps

Does any of this sound familiar? Welcome to perimenopause!

And the irony is that doctors have been prescribing estrogen, synthetic progestins and antidepressants to women who complain of these symptoms since the 1950’s! This makes no sense. They likely need natural progesterone.

I have worked with dozens of women with perimenopausal and postmenopausal symptoms and 90% of them have some level of estrogen dominance on their hormone tests. So progesterone is an important part of their personalized hormone management plan.

Bioidentical progesterone is safe, easy to use, and often resolves symptoms without the need for other hormones.

Visit Dr. Anna’s website at www.drannagarrett.com.

Dr. Anna Garrett is a menopause expert and Doctor of Pharmacy. She helps women who are struggling with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause find natural hormone balancing solutions so they can rock their mojo through midlife and beyond. Her clients would tell you that her real gift is helping them reclaim parts of themselves they thought were gone forever.

Find out more about working with her at http://www.drannagarrett.com/work-with-me/.

Apr
21
Dr. Anna Garrett
Three Ways to Get Back Your Health and Energize Your Life
Healthy Living
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Get back your health

Living in a 24/7 world of “busyness” creates a roller-coaster ride of highs and lows that your body perceives as stressful. This can leave you with one of your fight-or-flight hormones, cortisol, running the show, putting your health and your business or career at risk.

When this happens, you’ve essentially hired cortisol as your C.O.O. And cortisol is not world-renowned for making good decisions!

If health and stress management are not high on your priority list, the challenges of juggling your day-to-day responsibilities increase the likelihood of making less-than-ideal choices about nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress management and other health habits.

This creates a vicious cycle. A lack of time and energy to devote to treating your body well leads to fatigue and a bad case of “I don’t give a crap.”

Before you know it, your body, with its toxic load of stress, worn out adrenal glands, processed food and flabby muscles has become a “bad neighborhood”.

This is important because your body is a complex network of systems. When one part of the system (say, cortisol) goes rogue, ALL of your hormones go rogue. Cortisol is made at the expense of your sex hormones (progesterone, estrogen, testosterone) during stressful times, so those levels go down when cortisol goes up. Ignoring this won’t make things better and could ultimately lead to a roaring case of burn out, wild swings in sex hormones or chronic illnesses.

No thanks to that.

So how does a busy, rock star life-juggler get back her health and energize her life? (And fire her C.O.O. on the spot?)

Make Your Health a Priority

Your health should be one of your top 3 priorities in life. Without it, you are unlikely to be wildly successful and able to fully rock your mojo. Give yourself the gift of a conscious commitment to creating the healthiest you possible!


Tweet: Give yourself the gift of a conscious commitment to creating the healthiest you possible!


Create Systems and Habits to Support You

We all know that infants and young children thrive on routine and structure. Why not apply this principle to yourself? Here are several great places to start:

  • Get up and go to bed at the same time every day (even weekends). Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep. This allows your body to repair itself and keeps cortisol in check.
  • Eat on a regular schedule. This goes a long way toward keeping your cortisol levels low. Set an alarm if you need a reminder.
  • Schedule exercise time just as you would any meeting.
  • Take frequent breaks from work. Sitting is the new smoking and actually takes years off your life!

Create a Plan

Creating good long-term health outcomes requires attention to ALL of you – mind, body, and spirit. Try applying the same principles to your health as you would to business: identify the outcomes you want, set reasonable goals and establish a clear path to achieve success.

Creating new habits takes time and a willingness to commit to consistency. The key to success is taking baby steps and giving yourself permission to be imperfect. No one gets it right all the time and that’s fine!

If you find yourself off track, regroup, tweak your strategy if needed and recommit. Before long, you’ll have created a “good neighborhood” that includes a healthy body with rockin’ energy!

And your former C.O.O.? She’ll be hanging out in the unemployment line.

In the comments below, please share one change you’re making to give your health higher priority (or where you’re feeling stuck in doing so).

Visit Dr. Anna’s website at www.drannagarrett.com.

Dr. Anna Garrett is a menopause expert and Doctor of Pharmacy. She helps women who are struggling with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause find natural hormone balancing solutions so they can rock their mojo through midlife and beyond. Her clients would tell you that her real gift is helping them reclaim parts of themselves they thought were gone forever.

Find out more about working with her at http://www.drannagarrett.com/work-with-me/.

Apr
7
Dr. Anna Garrett
Are You at Risk for Adrenal Fatigue?
Healthy Living
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At Risk for Adrenal Fatigue

Is your stress level putting your health at risk? Every day, your body is subjected to a wide range of physical and psychological stressors that it senses as stress. Typically, we think of work, finances or relationships when it comes to stress.

But the list is much bigger and broader than this. Lack of sleep, dieting and winning the lottery are also stressful! Why? Because all of these situations signal your body to produce cortisol. One of your stress hormones.

This is helpful up to a point (because it helps us get our to-do lists done), but when our adrenals are required to chronically crank out cortisol, they eventually become impaired in their ability to respond. The resulting adrenal imbalance not only zaps your mojo in a big way, but also affects your body’s ability to produce and balance other feel-good hormones like DHEA, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. This throws your hormone symphony way off key!

Signs that Trouble is Ahead

When symptoms develop, it’s your body’s way of waving a red flag and letting you know that it is not receiving the support it needs. Ignoring what’s going on WON’T make it better….this is not a situation you want to just “power through”.


Tweet: If you have symptoms of adrenal imbalance, your body is waving a red flag letting you know it needs support. Pay attention!


Here are some of the signs and symptoms that can indicate adrenal imbalance. See if you recognize any of these tendencies in yourself:

High Cortisol

Low cortisol

Sleep

  • Difficulty winding down
  • Difficulty staying asleep
  • Difficulty getting out of bed in the AM
  • Sleep is not refreshing
Energy

  • Always running
  • “Wired and tired”
  • Constant fatigue
  • Weariness
  • Lethargic
  • No energy
Coping style

  • Anxious
  • Panic attacks
  • Short-tempered
  • “Driven”
  • Inability to handle everyday stress
  • Overwhelmed by little things
  • Mild depression
  • Struggling to get through the day
  • Avoid conflict
What Your Mind is Doing

  • Racing
  • Scattered and splattered thoughts
  • Can’t focus
  • Foggy
  • Fuzzy thinking
Weight

  • Abdominal weight gain
  • Eating more at night
  • Carb cravings
  • Caffeine is your best friend

There is a lot of overlap of the signs and symptoms listed above with sex hormone imbalances or other illnesses, so adrenal imbalance may not always be the root cause.  Saliva testing can identify which imbalance is the actual problem, allowing you and your provider to target treatment appropriately and get your mojo back on the right track.

The remedy for adrenal fatigue may be as simple as getting more sleep or cleaning up your diet. But for more advanced cases, support with herbs and vitamins may be necessary. The good news is, when addressed in time with proper support, you can heal adrenal imbalance and reverse the damaging effects of chronic stress.

Visit Dr. Anna’s website at www.drannagarrett.com.

Dr. Anna Garrett is a menopause expert and Doctor of Pharmacy. She helps women who are struggling with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause find natural hormone balancing solutions so they can rock their mojo through midlife and beyond. Her clients would tell you that her real gift is helping them reclaim parts of themselves they thought were gone forever.

Find out more about working with her at http://www.drannagarrett.com/work-with-me/.

 

Mar
17
Dr. Anna Garrett
What is “Normal” in Perimenopause?
Healthy Living
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what is normal in perimenopause

Sarah is ready to lock her teenagers in their rooms.  Her nerves are shot and her patience left the house long ago. On the days she’s not biting the heads of her family off, she can barely drag herself out of bed and her anxiety is crippling.

Sarah is 42, scared and wondering what the hell is going on.

She wants to know if what she is experiencing is normal.

Sound familiar?

A New Normal

Hormonal transitions can start as early as your mid-late 30’s. While you’re in the thick of raising kids (or considering having just one more), your ovaries may be looking toward retirement.

Maybe you notice that you’re just a little grouchier or that your periods aren’t quite as regular. Or, like Sarah, you may be a bitch-on-wheels. Your PMS symptoms, which were once mildly annoying, are now raging. You gain weight even though you’re exercising and eating right. And you lie awake night after night, staring at the ceiling.

In a perfect world, estrogen and progesterone start to taper off very gradually prior to menopause. Because this is usually such a slow shift, many women may hardly notice this change happening in their bodies. However, for some, these hormonal shifts may overwhelm the body’s ability to maintain any semblance of balance. The result is severe symptoms that can go on for years (on average, 5-10).

And then… there are some very lucky women for whom the whole perimenopause/menopause thing is just a blip on the radar. That’s normal too.

Is it PMS or Perimenopause?

Many of the symptoms of PMS overlap with perimenopause. In both cases, hormone swings are the culprit. The difference is that PMS happens during the second half of your cycle. Perimenopause symptoms can happen at any time. Keep a journaling of your symptoms may help you sort this out if you’re not sure what’s going on.


Tweet: Many symptoms of PMS overlap with perimenopause. In both cases, hormone swings are the culprit.


How Can I know for Sure if I’m in Perimenopause?

The short answer is… you can’t. The symptoms you’re experiencing are the most reliable indicator. Many a woman has been dismissed with “your lab tests are normal” when she is, in fact, in perimenopause. You know your body better than anyone, so don’t settle for this if you feel like something is off.

If you do have blood tests, your doctor will most likely test your FSH (and maybe your estrogen or testosterone levels).  The closer your FSH is to 50, the closer you are to menopause. But that number tells you nothing about your progesterone/estrogen balance… and that’s what you really care about. Saliva testing on day 19-21 of your cycle (when progesterone should be highest) can give a snapshot of whether these 2 hormones are in balance.

It’s a Hormone Problem, not a Prozac® Deficiency

It’s important to recognize what’s going on because many a woman has ended up on antidepressants or sleeping pills because she (and her healthcare provider) did not recognize that these problems were related to a HORMONE IMBALANCE and not true depression. Antidepressants won’t fix the root cause of the problem. Neither will birth control pills.

Misbehaving hormones can often be corrected with lifestyle, herbal and nutritional supplements. In some cases, hormone replacement may be necessary, but that’s not usually the place to start.

The Next Step

If changes in lifestyle don’t help, then it may be time to test your sex hormone levels and your cortisol levels. This is important because signs of imbalance overlap. Low progesterone can look like low thyroid; high cortisol can look like low progesterone, etc.

Testing can be done with saliva, blood or urine (there are plusses and minuses for each method). Knowing your specific imbalances allows your hormone care provider to create a unique management plan for you.

Visit Dr. Anna’s website at www.drannagarrett.com.

Dr. Anna Garrett is a menopause expert and Doctor of Pharmacy. She helps women who are struggling with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause find natural hormone balancing solutions so they can rock their mojo through midlife and beyond. Her clients would tell you that her real gift is helping them reclaim parts of themselves they thought were gone forever.

Find out more about working with her at http://www.drannagarrett.com/work-with-me/.

Feb
25
Dr. Anna Garrett
How to Lower Your Cortisol in 4 Minutes
Healthy Living
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Starting Over

We live in a soundbite, fragmented world. Some days it feels like you’ve been tossed into your Vitamix with no escape route.

All of this rushing around leads to high cortisol which creates a LOT of problems you don’t want like insomnia, weight gain, anxiety and that wired but tired feeling most of us know too well.

The cure for high cortisol is managing stress. And one way to manage stress is to spend time in nature… just being present and appreciating everything that surrounds you. Trees, flowers, birds, the smell of the woods, wind rustling through the trees.


Tweet: The cure for high cortisol is managing stress.


Or perhaps it’s stopping long enough to view a gorgeous sunrise or sunset.

I am finishing up a vacation in Kaua’i as I write this. And last week, I decided to create 4-minute video of the sunset from our condo. I posted it on Facebook and got lots of “thank-yous” for the chance to pause.

So I offer this to you today as a pause.  Click the link below and give yourself a 4-minute break during your hectic day. Or save it til bedtime if you need to unwind.

AG_videothumb_02-25-2016

Mahalo

p.s…I’d love to see what beauty looks like in YOUR world. Please post a video or image to share with us in the comments section or in the Hormone Harmony Club on Facebook.

Visit Dr. Anna’s website at www.drannagarrett.com.

Dr. Anna Garrett is a menopause expert and Doctor of Pharmacy. She helps women who are struggling with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause find natural hormone balancing solutions so they can rock their mojo through midlife and beyond. Her clients would tell you that her real gift is helping them reclaim parts of themselves they thought were gone forever.

Dr. Anna offers a complimentary 30-minute Get Acquainted Call to anyone who’d like to learn more about working with her. You can schedule that at your convenience by clicking here.

Feb
18
Dr. Anna Garrett
What to do When Your Sex Drive Goes Missing
Healthy Living
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sex drive
Tip of the Week

Of all the changes perimenopause brings, lack of interest in sex due to hormone imbalance is one of THE most common (and least discussed symptoms).

How Perimenopause Creates Hormone Imbalance

Thanks to progesterone production, Mother Nature gives us a natural increase in the desire for sex beginning just prior to ovulation. This lasts for several days afterwards to make sure our bodies take full advantage of prime time for conception. But as we enter perimenopause we ovulate less frequently and lose that regularly scheduled boost.

A decrease in circulating estrogen can bring your sex drive down for the count AND cause thinning of the lining of the vagina, which makes sex very painful for some women. Testosterone production also declines as we age. This is the hormone we typically think about when it comes to sex drive.

Sprinkle some negative thoughts about aging or weight into the mix and it’s no wonder things come to a screeching halt.

This is not a recipe for fun times!


Tweet: Lack of interest in sex due to hormone imbalance is one of THE most common symptoms of perimenopause.


Ready to Ditch the Dry Spell?

If you’re ready to put some sizzle back into a sagging love life, check out these suggestions:

  • Rule out medical reasons. Get tested for low thyroid function and iron deficiency anemia. These are two common disorders that can affect sex drive.
  • Find out if your hormones are imbalanced.  Low testosterone can zap your sex drive. This can be replaced with compounded cream. You’ll need a prescription for this.
  • Look in your medicine cabinet.  If you are taking an SSRI antidepressant drug, birth control pills or diabetes medications, these may be contributing to lack of interest. You may have other options that won’t cause this side effect, so talk to your doctor or pharmacist about this.
  • Put estrogen on the spot. Using estrogen cream in the vagina plumps up that tender tissue. Estrogen is available as suppository tablets, creams, or “rings,” which sit inside the vagina and give off small doses of the hormone over time. It’s minimally absorbed into your body which reduces the chance of side effects.
  • Vitamin E. When used in the vagina, Vitamin E can help rehydrate tissue and may possibly increase sensation. No need for a prescription here. Just stick a pin in a vitamin E capsule and apply to the vagina several times a week, even if you’re not having sex. And be sure to use a lubricant when you are having sex – either vitamin E or a commercially prepared product such as K-Y Jelly or Astroglide.
  • Go nuts for coconut. Coconut oil (organic/expeller pressed) is very helpful as a moisturizer and lubricant. Proceed with caution if you’re also using latex condoms. Many oil-based lubricants can increase the risk of condoms breaking.
  • Talk to your partner. Open communication is always important…this is especially true in this situation. None of us wants our partner to feel rejected and that’s exactly what can happen if we’re not talking to each other! Explain what’s going on and the options you have to improve things. Approaching the problems as a team will help alleviate anxiety and fear.

Mojo that is MIA in perimenopause can be frustrating. It’s important to note that any loss of libido during perimenopause is not necessarily a permanent condition.  Once the hormonal chaos of perimenopause passes, many women report the return of their sexual desire. With the added benefit of hormone therapy to address any potential physical issues, there is no reason that women in menopause cannot continue to enjoy a healthy sex life.

Visit Dr. Anna’s website at www.drannagarrett.com.

Dr. Anna Garrett is a menopause expert and Doctor of Pharmacy. She helps women who are struggling with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause find natural hormone balancing solutions so they can rock their mojo through midlife and beyond. Her clients would tell you that her real gift is helping them reclaim parts of themselves they thought were gone forever.

Dr. Anna offers a complimentary 30-minute Get Acquainted Call to anyone who’d like to learn more about working with her. You can schedule that at your convenience by clicking here.

Jan
28
Dr. Anna Garrett
5 Things Men Should Know about Menopause
Healthy Living
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men should know about menopause

“I don’t need him to fix me! I just want him to listen and try to understand that I’m doing the best I can.”

This is a sentiment I hear a lot in my Hormone Harmony Club. I recently asked these ladies what they want men to understand about menopause. As you might expect, the responses were plentiful and varied.

Women aren’t the only ones who need to understand menopause. As a woman, you are one-half of your marriage and when that half changes, it changes the relationship right along with it. It’s hard enough for the women who are experiencing these bewildering changes, but try imagining what it must be like for the men who navigate this time with us!

We’ve only just begun to talk openly about menopause; so while we’re at it, let’s include men in the conversation.

Here are the top 5 things we’d like them to understand:

  1. We don’t need you to fix us. We’re not broken and menopause is not a disease. We don’t need advice. Even though you can’t experience what we’re feeling, please take the time to just listen. Sometimes a big hug and a sincere “I love you” can completely turn our day around. We really are doing the best we can in spite of the hormonal chaos that’s raging inside.
  2. Don’t make fun of us. When you crack jokes about menopause or being old in front of us (and other people) it doesn’t feel very good. Women don’t want to be the object of jokes and this kind of behavior doesn’t do anything to build your relationship. How would you feel if we were making jokes about your “Low T” or ED?
  3. Don’t touch the thermostat. Go put on a sweater. ‘Nuff said.
  4. Tell us we’re beautiful (especially when we aren’t feeling it). Wrinkles, saggy bits, expanding waistlines, thinning hair. These are all a recipe for self-confidence and mojo that’s in the toilet. We want to feel like we’re still hot in your eyes. The years may be taking their toll physically, but we want to know you’d choose us all over again and that we’re aging like fine wine. Tell us. Often.
  5. We still love you (even if our mood swings suggest otherwise). Let’s face it, when riding the hormonal highs and lows of menopause, we can say and do some pretty hurtful things. Sometimes they shock even us. We are sorry and we’re doing the best we can to keep ourselves together. It’s not you; it’s our hormones.

Click to Tweet: The best thing that men and women can do for each other is learn what happens in menopause.


Don’t withdraw and pretend like nothing’s happening. Openly talking about the process can lead to creative problem-solving. Enlist professional help when needed and get to the root causes of hormone imbalance. Remember, this is a season and eventually it will pass!

Visit Dr. Anna’s website at www.drannagarrett.com.

Dr. Anna Garrett is a menopause expert and Doctor of Pharmacy. She helps women who are struggling with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause find natural hormone balancing solutions so they can rock their mojo through midlife and beyond. Her clients would tell you that her real gift is helping them reclaim parts of themselves they thought were gone forever.

Dr. Anna offers a complimentary 30-minute Get Acquainted Call to anyone who’d like to learn more about working with her. You can schedule that at your convenience by clicking here.

Jan
21
Dr. Anna Garrett
The Top 5 Myths of Menopause Debunked
Healthy Living
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Menopause Myths Debunked

The changes that women experience during menopause are confusing and Dr. Google doesn’t always point you in the right direction. Let’s take a look at the top 5 myths I commonly hear and set the record straight.

Myth #1: Menopause begins at 50

Truth: The average age of menopause is 52…but there’s a huge range of what’s normal.


Tweet: Menopause is the day that marks 1 year since your last period, so it’s technically one day of your life.


Anything before that is perimenopause; anything after is considered post-menopause. It’s possible to reach menopause in your 30’s or 60’s; both of which are normal even though outside the average.

Myth #2: Weight gain is inevitable in menopause

Truth: Weight gain is very common in menopause because hormonal shifts make weight loss more complex. It’s no longer as simple as “calories in, calories out.”

As you transition into perimenopause and menopause, your ovaries make fewer sex hormones, and your body may respond by trying to protect itself. Its preferred method of protection is to store fat, especially around the waist, hips, and thighs. Fat stored in these areas also produces more estrogen, which in turn, leads to more weight gain. Add stress to the mix with higher cortisol production and it’s a recipe for weight gain around the waist.

Despite these changes, you can still achieve a healthy weight. If your first reaction to weight gain is to cut back calories, think again. That throws your body into stress mode and cortisol kicks in. Excellent nutrition and lowered carbohydrates help women balance their hormones and gradually return to their natural weight.

Myth #3: There’s no difference between natural menopause and “surgical” menopause

If you’ve had a hysterectomy, you probably know this is UNTRUE. If you have your ovaries removed, you’re thrown into menopause overnight instead of gradually. This is very hard on your body.

Even if your ovaries are left intact, there’s likely disruption of the blood supply to them which will keep them from fully functioning. Changes may be less severe when you keep your ovaries, but they are unpredictable. Many women need estrogen, progesterone and testosterone replacement to feel their best after a hysterectomy.

And don’t let your doctor tell you that you don’t need progesterone. You have progesterone receptors all over your body (not just in your uterus). They need love too.

Myth #4: The first sign of menopause is hot flashes

There’s huge variation in the symptoms women experience in perimenopause. Some women sail through with nary a hot flash. But others begin having symptoms like weight gain, irritability, fatigue, anxiety and insomnia in their mid-30’s. And symptoms can last for more than 10 years!

There are approximately 34 symptoms of perimenopause….any of which could be your first sign that your hormones are shifting.

This why it’s critical to pay attention to your body. If you’re starting to feel like Mother Nature has doing a hit-and-run on your mojo, consider the possibility that hormone shifts are beginning.

Myth #5:  After menopause, your body doesn’t produce hormones

Truth: No matter how far past menopause you are, you still have hormones! Most of the production is from the adrenal glands. In fact, in menopause 50% of the estrogen and progesterone are produced by the adrenals.

Some hormones like estrogen and progesterone do decrease once your reproductive cycle ends because they’re needed less. Your body still produces them, just in smaller amounts. Even so, they can still be out of balance.

For some women, the symptoms of hormonal imbalance disappear or decrease post-menopause. For others, symptoms continue and include vaginal dryness, hot flashes, urinary incontinence, urinary tract infections and weight gain.

With such a wide variety of symptoms and the fact that many of them look like something else, it’s no wonder that many women don’t connect these to a perimenopausal hormonal imbalance. If you want to understand more about what’s going on you’re your body, let’s talk. You can schedule a complimentary 30-minute call with me to talk about ways we might work together.

Visit Dr. Anna’s website at www.drannagarrett.com.

Dr. Anna Garrett is a menopause expert and Doctor of Pharmacy. She helps women who are struggling with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause find natural hormone balancing solutions so they can rock their mojo through midlife and beyond. Her clients would tell you that her real gift is helping them reclaim parts of themselves they thought were gone forever.

Dr. Anna offers a complimentary 30-minute Get Acquainted Call to anyone who’d like to learn more about working with her. You can schedule that at your convenience by clicking here.