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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.

Dec
23
Dr. Anna Garrett
Why You Can’t Diet and Exercise Past a Hormone Imbalance
Healthy Living
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hormone imbalance

One of the most common complaints I hear from clients (and most women in midlife for that matter) is that they can’t lose weight no matter how much they diet and exercise. This is incredibly frustrating!

The thing is, it may not have anything to do with what you’re doing (or not doing).

It may be your hormones.

Hormone imbalances lead to difficulty losing weight and an increased risk of obesity. Unfortunately, the most common imbalances can’t be solved by dieting alone. In fact, they can prevent successful fat loss even when great diet and exercise plans are in place. If you haven’t been successful in the past, chances are, one or more the following hormonal imbalances could be the problem:

1) Inflammation

Digestive disorders, allergies, autoimmune disease, arthritis, asthma, eczema, acne, abdominal fat, headaches, depression or sinus disorders are ALL associated with chronic inflammation, which has become recognized as the root cause of obesity and most diseases associated with aging.

Inflammation causes production of cortisol which is associated with that muffin top you just can’t lose.

2) Insulin excess

Insulin’s main function is to process carbohydrates in the bloodstream and carry it into cells to be used as fuel or stored as fat. There are several reasons for excess insulin, but the main culprits are: stress, consuming too many nutrient-poor carbohydrates (the type found in processed foods, sugary drinks and sodas, packaged low-fat foods and artificial sweeteners), insufficient protein intake, inadequate fat intake and low fiber consumption.

Heart palpitations, sweating, poor concentration, weakness, anxiety, fogginess, fatigue, irritability or impaired thinking are common short-term side effects of high insulin. And our body typically responds to these unpleasant feelings by making us think we’re hungry, which causes us to reach for high-sugar foods and drinks. It’s a vicious cycle which only furthers weight gain and our risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Click here to learn more about insulin and weight gain.

3) Depression or anxiety

Serotonin exerts a powerful influence over our mood, emotions, memory, cravings (especially for carbohydrates), self-esteem, pain tolerance, sleep habits, appetite, digestion and body temperature regulation. When we’re depressed or down, we naturally crave more sugars and starches to stimulate the production of serotonin. And then we become more depressed because we’re gaining weight. The stress of this creates more cortisol which creates more cravings!

4) Chronic stress

Under situations of chronic stress — whether the stress is physical, emotional, mental or environmental, real or imagined — our bodies release high amounts of the hormone cortisol. If you have a mood disorder like anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder or exhaustion, or if you have a digestive issue such as irritable bowel syndrome, you can bet your body is cranking up your cortisol… even if you don’t FEEL stressed.

Click here to find out if your adrenals are fine or frazzled.

5) High levels of estrogen

Researchers have identified excess estrogen (in both sexes) to be as great a risk factor for obesity as poor eating habits and lack of exercise.

There are two ways to accumulate excess estrogen in the body: we either produce too much of it on our own or acquire it from our environment or diet. We’re constantly exposed to estrogen-like compounds in foods that contain toxic pesticides, herbicides and growth hormones. To compound all of this, fat cells MAKE estrogen…so the more fat you have, the higher your estrogen is likely to be.

6) Low testosterone

Testosterone enhances libido, bone density, muscle mass, strength, motivation, memory, fat burning and skin tone in both men and women. When testosterone is low, an increase of body fat and loss of muscle may still happen – even with dieting and exercise.

Testosterone levels tend to taper off with age, increased obesity and stress, but today men are experiencing testosterone decline much earlier in life — an alarming finding, considering low testosterone has been linked to depression, obesity, osteoporosis, heart disease and even death.

7) Hypothyroidism

Without enough thyroid hormone, every system in the body slows down. People who suffer from hypothyroidism feel tired, tend to sleep a lot, and experience constipation and weight gain. Other common symptoms include extremely dry skin, hair loss, feeling cold, brittle hair, splitting nails, and decreased libido.

If you think you may have a thyroid condition, make sure your doctor assesses you and your full range of symptoms, not just your blood work. Even levels of TSH (an indicator of thyroid function) within the normal range have been proven to accelerate weight gain and to interfere with a healthy metabolic rate in both men and women.

Click here to find out more about thyroid’s effects on weight.

If you’re looking for a way to reclaim your natural weight, lose brain fog, gain energy and feel like yourself again, click here. Registration for Lose Fat Over 40 is NOW open!

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

About Dr. Anna

Dr. Anna Garrett is a pharmacist and menopause expert who 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. But her clients would tell you that her real gift is helping them reclaim pieces 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 1-1 with her. You can schedule that at your convenience by clicking here.

Dec
3
Dr. Anna Garrett
Why Blood Sugar Balance Matters if Weight Loss is Your Goal
Healthy Living
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blood sugar

Many midlife weight problems can be tied directly to insulin resistance. This imbalance is underappreciated as a player in midlife weight gain, but understanding it is critical for weight management and preventing chronic diseases such as diabetes.

Biochem 101

Insulin is a hormone that’s produced by your pancreas when you eat. It helps break down carbohydrates into glucose. Glucose is used by your cells for energy. When all is going well, your body produces an amount of insulin that matches the amount of glucose present in your body…..the more glucose…. the more insulin. This keeps your blood sugar in the sweet spot…not too high and not too low.

When you eat a large amount of carbohydrates, the body has to release lots of insulin to make sure your blood sugar doesn’t get out of control. Eventually, the receptors in your cells become less sensitive to having insulin around and they stop responding. That’s called insulin resistance.

Here’s how this process contributes to weight gain. When your cells can’t absorb all the glucose, your liver converts it to fat. All those extra fat cells crank out estrogen. Weight gain contributes to the estrogen dominance that causes so many of the symptoms of perimenopause. In addition, fluctuations in adrenal and thyroid hormones contribute to insulin resistance.

How do I Know if I’m Insulin Resistant?

You are at highest risk for developing insulin resistance if you have a family history of type 2 diabetes or if you’ve had gestational diabetes, high blood pressure or are overweight.

Apple-shaped women who carry their fat round their middle of their bodies are more prone to insulin resistance as are women with abnormal cholesterol readings. And they’re at higher risk of heart disease, which is the number one killer of menopausal women.

If you have a skin change called acanthosis nigricans (darkened patches of skin on the neck or armpits), chances are you have insulin resistance. Ninety percent of women who have this also have insulin resistance.

If you believe you are at risk, talk with your health care provider. Your blood sugar and insulin levels can be tested to give you more info.

How to Eat and Move to Control Blood Sugar Swings

Eating and exercise habits play a major role in preventing insulin resistance (or improving it if you’ve got it). Tweet: Eating habits consist of not only what you eat, but how you eat and when you eat. These practices can help keep blood sugar on an even keel:

  1. Eat regular meals. Have healthy snacks that contain protein and fiber in between meals.
  2. Avoid large quantities of food at meal times. Learn to pay attention to your body’s signals and put your fork down when you’re 80% full.
  3. Avoid “white” foods like bread, sugar and pasta.
  4. Make lean meats, veggies and high-fiber grains the mainstay of your diet. If you’re already insulin resistant, eat no more than 15 grams of carbohydrates (from veggies and fruit) per meal. My personal bias is toward a Paleo approach to eating although this may not be right for everyone.
  5. Do at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise or aerobic physical activity every day. Do weight training at least twice a week.
  6. Increase the general level of physical activity in your life.

The Bottom Line

Insulin doesn’t get as much attention as the other hormones in menopause, but it’s key to maintaining metabolism. If your metabolism goes off the rails, everything else goes with it. The good news is that with careful attention to lifestyle, insulin resistance can be reversed… allowing all of your hormones to do their jobs so you can maintain a healthy weight and decrease your risk of heart disease.

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

About Dr. Anna

Dr. Anna Garrett is a pharmacist and menopause expert who 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. But her clients would tell you that her real gift is helping them reclaim pieces 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 1-1 with her. You can schedule that at your convenience by clicking here.
Please email info@drannagarrett.com for more info.

Nov
6
Dr. Anna Garrett
Why Can’t I Lose Weight??? Conquer Cortisol with 3 Simple (But Powerful) Lifestyle Practices
Healthy Living
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womaneatingsalad2-738

womaneatingsalad2-200There you sit, staring at what seems like your millionth chicken salad (with dressing on the side). Day after day…chicken salad. You’re barely eating enough to keep a bird alive and exercising like a crazy woman.

And yet, the needle on the scale continues to creep up.

You wonder what you’re doing wrong.

You feel like a stuffed sausage in your skinny jeans.

Your muffin top keeps growing.

The good news is that you may be doing nothing “wrong”. The bad news is that cortisol may have climbed into the driver’s seat on the bus…and you’re going to have to put her back where she belongs.

Cortisol can be your best friend or your worst enemy. If a speeding train is heading toward you, she’s your BFF for sure…a rush of cortisol will spur you to jump out of the way.

But in overdoses, cortisol is the “mean girl” in your body’s neighborhood.

Cortisol is released in stressful situations. On a short-term basis, this is healthy. Long-term, it leads to chronic illness, body breakdown and weight gain. Unfortunately, something can be stressful to your body without you actually FEELING the stress in a big way. Three excellent examples of this are lack of sleep, eating at irregular times and overtraining.

In all of these cases, your body goes into “fight or flight” mode and begins to produce more cortisol and hang onto fat. YOU, on the other hand, notice the weight gain and begin to cut back even more on food and exercise harder. You lie awake at night wondering what the heck is going on and your body never has a chance to repair itself. This sets up a vicious cycle that cannot be broken by pushing through it.

What’s a Girl to Do??

We often hear about stress management as it relates to cortisol. But there are other strategies that can help keep the “mean girl” under control. Best of all, these things are free and will really improve the way you feel (and your ability to get to your natural weight).

  1. Get enough sleep. There are reams of data that prove sleeping less than 6 hours a night leads to weight gain. We don’t need more studies. We need to go to bed. Seven to eight hours a night is ideal.
  2. Eat on a regular schedule. Your body expects to be fed at regular intervals. When that doesn’t happen, it thinks it’s going into starvation mode. Cortisol rushes in to save the day by preserving fat stores…this is the exactly what you DON’T want! If you are so busy that you forget to eat, set an alarm that reminds you to do this. Include plenty of protein to keep blood sugar swings to a minimum.
  3. Be gentle on your body. When I trained for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day in 2011, I walked MILES and MILES every week. I did not lose an ounce. But after it was over, I immediately lost 8 lbs. I asked my trainer what was up with that? He said I had been overtraining (more cortisol). When I stopped, the weight came off.

The message here is that flogging  your body with more workouts isn’t the answer. Add in some yoga or a contemplative practice or try gentle exercise like walking to tame your cortisol levels.

Using these 3 practices is a great start toward achieving your weight goals because unless you conquer cortisol, your efforts will feel like slogging through molasses. If you want to go deeper, it’s possible to map out your daily cortisol pattern to help you target your management efforts. This can be done with a simple saliva test. Knowing your baseline allows you to track the effectiveness of changes you make and tweak your plan if needed.

Want to know more about hormone testing? I offer this in my practice. If you’d like to explore ways in which we might work together, let’s talk. I offer a complimentary 30-minute call to discuss your needs and how I can help you. You can schedule that here.

~~~

About Dr. Anna

Dr. Anna Garrett is a pharmacist and menopause expert who 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. But her clients would tell you that her real gift is helping them reclaim pieces 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 1-1 with her. You can schedule that at your convenience by clicking here

Please contact her at dranna@drannagarrett.com. Visit Dr. Anna’s website at www.drannagarrett.com.

Feb
26
Dr. Anna Garrett
14 Years of Hot Flashes and Night Sweats?? Say It Isn’t So!
Healthy Living
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    In case you missed it, PBS recently interviewed the lead researcher about her study of women and the duration of hot flashes and night sweats.

      And the news wasn’t good.

      Her team studied nearly 1500 women (aged 42–52 at baseline) who reported frequent vasomotor symptoms (6 days or more over a 2-week period) at least once during roughly 13 years’ follow-up. Vasomotor symptoms include hot flashes and night sweats.

      The most common duration of VMS was 7.4 years. Women who were premenopausal or early in perimenopause when they first reported frequent VMS had the longest total VMS duration (most common duration >11.8 years) and these symptoms most commonly lasted 9.4 years after the last menstrual period.

      That’s a lot of “personal days at the beach”.

      Women who were postmenopausal when they first experienced symptoms had the shortest duration of problems (3.4 years).

      African American women reported the longest total VMS duration (10.1 years). Additional factors related to longer duration of VMS were younger age, lower educational level, greater perceived stress and symptom sensitivity, and higher depressive symptoms and anxiety at first report of VMS.

      What’s a Girl to Do??

      VMS are one of the problems my clients most commonly complain about (right after weight gain and insomnia). Hormone replacement therapy helps, but I most commonly work with women who are hesitant about going this route for a variety of reasons.

      Pharmaceutical manufacturers would have you believe that hormones and antidepressants are the way to go, but the truth is that lifestyle changes can be very effective. These include:

      • Avoiding caffeine and alcohol. These 2 are huge and in some cases have completely eliminated hot flashes and night sweats.
      • Avoiding spicy foods.
      • Avoiding processed foods. Eliminating sugar and lowering carbohydrate intake can be very effective.
      • Exercising regularly. In perimenopausal women, frequency is more important than duration.

      Consider the Alternatives

      What’s interesting to me is the link between stress, anxiety and depression, and length of symptoms. Given this relationship, it’s clear that learning to de-stress and take personal time outs can make a difference in your experience.

      Depression and anxiety are symptoms of perimenopause, but the study wasn’t designed to delve into whether or not the women in the study were suffering from clinical depression or a hormone imbalance. Distinguishing between these is important because the treatments are very different. Antidepressants can be useful for hot flashes, but they don’t solve the underlying imbalance.

      Alternative practices such as acupuncture, mindfulness and meditation can also help reduce suffering. And using specific breathing techniques has been shown to reduce hot flashes by 44%. That’s better than any thing else that’s been studied (and it’s free!). Read more on that here.

      Herbs and Supplements Can Make a Difference

      The data on supplement use is lacking, but it’s unlikely that large scale studies will be done to prove efficacy. Supplements to consider include chasteberry, black cohosh, soy, clary sage oil, crinum latifolium (Crila®), fish oil, dong quai, DHEA, and progesterone cream. Many of these supplements are not appropriate for women with a history of estrogen sensitive cancer (breast, uterine), so if you have a personal history of this, ask your pharmacist before taking them. In my experience, clients have gotten the best results with progesterone cream.

      As with all supplements, quality matters. Make sure you are buying from a quality manufacturer. You can read more about choosing supplements wisely here.

      And remember, just because the symptoms CAN last up to 14 years doesn’t mean they will for you. Each woman’s journey is very unique. If you’re having trouble managing your symptoms, don’t suffer in silence. There are well-trained practitioners out there who can help you find relief. If you’re looking for a different direction for your menopause experience, I’d love to chat with you

      Feb
      12
      Dr. Anna Garrett
      What To Do When Hormone Imbalance Torpedoes Your Sex Drive
      Love & Sex
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      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!

      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. You may have low testosterone which 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 soothes vaginal tissue, and allows the secretions necessary for comfortable sex. Estrogen is available as suppository tablets, creams, or “rings,” which sit inside the vagina and give off small doses of the hormone over time.
      • Vitamin E. When used locally 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 menopause can be frustrating. But fortunately, there are a variety of options to try. Once the underlying cause is identified and addressed, you’ll be back on track!

      Jan
      15
      Dr. Anna Garrett
      Is Perimenopause Sneaking up on You?
      Healthy Living
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      My client, Sarah, is ready to kill her teenage children. Her nerves are shot and her patience left the building long ago.

      On the days she’s not in a murderous mood, she can barely drag herself out of bed.

      And she is wondering what the hell is going on.

      If you feel like your once-pleasant personality and your mojo have skipped town together, you’re not alone. The likely explanation is that perimenopause has kidnapped them.

      Perimenopause is sneaky.

      Some days she’s subtle, but other days she plows through your body like a pack of alien invaders.

      AND she is the mistress of disguise.

      Signs of perimenopause can start as early as your mid-late 30’s. While you’re in the thick of raising kids (or considering having 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. Your PMS symptoms, which were once mildly annoying, are now raging. You gain weight even though you’re exercising and eating right.

      Is This Normal?

      Hormones begin shifting naturally around the age of 35 when estrogen and progesterone start to taper off very gradually prior to menopause. Because this is usually such a slow shift, many women may hardly feel this change happening in their bodies. However, for many women, these hormonal shifts may overwhelm the body’s ability to maintain balance. The result is severe symptoms that can go on for years. There are some very lucky women who don’t experience any of this until much later…and their symptoms are mild or non-existent. That’s normal too.

      Is It PMS or Perimenopause?

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

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

      The short answer is…you can’t. Lab tests in perimenopause can be unreliable because your hormones are bouncing around constantly on any given day. A lab test only gives a snapshot of what’s going on, and results can vary depending on the timing of the test. 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 progesterone levels). The closer your FSH is to 50, the closer you are to menopause.

      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.

      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 first step is to get tested to see what your imbalance is. This is important because signs of imbalance overlap. Low progesterone can look like low thyroid; high cortisol can look like low progesterone, etc.

      What If That Doesn’t Work?

      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 keep the rest of the musicians in your body’s orchestra from playing their best, so it’s important to have a picture of how you handle 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.

      Sep
      17
      Dr. Anna Garrett
      Why You Can’t Diet and Exercise Past a Hormone Imbalance
      Healthy Living
      0
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      One of the most common complaints I hear from clients (and most women in midlife for that matter) is that they can’t lose weight no matter how much they diet and exercise. This is incredibly frustrating!

      The thing is, it may not have anything to do with what you’re doing or not doing.

      It may be your hormones.

      Any and all hormonal imbalances lead to difficulty losing weight and an increased risk of obesity. Unfortunately, the most common imbalances can’t be solved by dieting alone. In fact,they can prevent successful fat loss even when great diet and exercise plans are in place. If you haven’t been successful in the past, chances are, one or more the following hormonal imbalances could be the problem:

      1. Inflammation

      Digestive disorders, allergies, autoimmune disease, arthritis, asthma, eczema, acne, abdominal fat, headaches, depression or sinus disorders are ALL associated with chronic inflammation, which has become recognized as the root cause of obesity and most diseases associated with aging.

      Inflammation causes production of cortisol which is associated with that muffin top you just can’t lose.

      2. Insulin excess

      Insulin’s main function is to process carbohydrates in the bloodstream and carry it into cells to be used as fuel or stored as fat. There are several reasons for excess insulin, but the main culprits are: stress, consuming too many nutrient-poor carbohydrates (the type found in processed foods, sugary drinks and sodas, packaged low-fat foods and artificial sweeteners), insufficient protein intake, inadequate fat intake, and low fiber consumption.

      Heart palpitations, sweating, poor concentration, weakness, anxiety, fogginess, fatigue, irritability or impaired thinking are common short-term side effects of high insulin. And our body typically responds to these unpleasant feelings by making us think we’re hungry, which causes us to reach for high-sugar foods and drinks. It’s a vicious cycle which only furthers weight gain and our risk of diabetes and heart disease.

      Click here to learn more about insulin and weight gain.

      3. Depression or anxiety

      Serotonin exerts a powerful influence over our mood, emotions, memory, cravings (especially for carbohydrates), self-esteem, pain tolerance, sleep habits, appetite, digestion and body temperature regulation. When we’re depressed or down, we naturally crave more sugars and starches to stimulate the production of serotonin. And then we become more depressed because we’re gaining weight. The stress of this creates more cortisol which creates more cravings!

      4. Chronic stress

      Under situations of chronic stress – whether the stress is physical, emotional, mental or environmental, real or imagined – our bodies release high amounts of the hormone cortisol. If you have a mood disorder like anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or exhaustion, or if you have a digestive issue such as irritable bowel syndrome, you can bet your body is cranking up your cortisol…even if you don’t FEEL stressed.

      Through a complicated network of hormonal interactions, prolonged stress results in a raging appetite, metabolic decline, belly fat and a loss of hard-won, metabolically active muscle tissue. In other words, stress makes us soft, flabby and much older than we truly are! And it wears out our poor little adrenal glands, resulting in adrenal fatigue.

      Click here to find out if your adrenals are fine or frazzled.

      5. High levels of estrogen

      Researchers have identified excess estrogen (in both sexes) to be as great a risk factor for obesity as poor eating habits and lack of exercise.

      There are two ways to accumulate excess estrogen in the body: we either produce too much of it on our own or acquire it from our environment or diet. We’re constantly exposed to estrogen-like compounds in foods that contain toxic pesticides, herbicides and growth hormones. A premenopausal woman with estrogen dominance will likely have PMS, too much body fat around the hips and difficulty losing weight.

      Menopausal women and men with too much estrogen may experience low libido, memory loss, poor motivation, depression, loss of muscle mass and increased belly fat.

      To compound all of this, fat cells MAKE estrogen…so the more fat you have, the higher your estrogen is likely to be.

      6. Low testosterone

      Testosterone enhances libido, bone density, muscle mass, strength, motivation, memory, fat burning and skin tone in both men and women. When testosterone is low, an increase of body fat and loss of muscle may still happen – even with dieting and exercise.

      Testosterone levels tend to taper off with age, increased obesity and stress, but today men are experiencing testosterone decline much earlier in life – an alarming finding, considering low testosterone has been linked to depression, obesity, osteoporosis, heart disease and even death.

      Endocrine-suppressing, estrogen-like compounds used in pesticides and other farming chemicals may be to blame for the downward trend in male testosterone levels. Phthalates, commonly found in cosmetics, soaps and most plastics are another known cause of testosterone suppression.

      7. Hypothyroidism

      Without enough thyroid hormone, every system in the body slows down. People who suffer from hypothyroidism feel tired, tend to sleep a lot, and experience constipation and weight gain. Other common symptoms include extremely dry skin, hair loss, feeling cold, brittle hair, splitting nails, and decreased libido.

      If you think you may have a thyroid condition, make sure your doctor assesses you and your full range of symptoms, not just your blood work. Even levels of TSH (an indicator of thyroid function) within the normal range have been proven to accelerate weight gain and to interfere with a healthy metabolic rate in both men and women.

      Click here to find out more about thyroid’s effects on weight.

      If you’d like to know more about the complexities of weight gain in midlife, please join me TONIGHT for Cracking the Midlife Weight Loss Code: Your 3-Step Plan to Stop the Yo-Yo FOREVER! You can find all the details right here.

       

      Aug
      15
      Dr. Anna Garrett
      Menopause Myth-Busting 101: The Top 5 Debunked
      Healthy Living
      2
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      Myth #1: Menopause begins at 50

      The average age of menopause is 52…but there’s a huge spectrum of experiences out there. 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 perimenopausal symptoms can last for more than 10 years!

      That’s why it’s critical to pay attention to your body. If you start feeling like aliens have abducted you, consider the possibility that hormone shifts are beginning.

      Perimenopause can last from a few months to up to 13 years prior to menopause. Some women experience more symptoms during perimenopause than during menopause itself. This is because your sex hormones, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone naturally fluctuate more during this time. And these hormones are very sensitive to abnormal adrenal function which occurs with ongoing stress.

      And remember, suffering is optional! Hormone testing can help identify imbalances and a large percentage of women can be helped with lifestyle changes and supplements.

      Myth #2: Weight gain is inevitable in menopause

      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. One of the best things you can do to help yourself is eat! 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. One of my recent Lose Fat over 40 clients lost 32 lbs in 12 weeks by working with me to get her hormones balanced and eating a low glycemic index diet.

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

      If you’ve had a hysterectomy, you probably know this is UNTRUE. A hysterectomy creates hormone imbalance overnight instead of over months or years. 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: Sex is a thing of the past after menopause

      Sex can be enjoyable and healthy at any age. But I hear from women that they’ve been told that a decrease in sex drive is a “normal” part of aging. Decreased interest in sexual activity is often a sign of hormonal imbalance, which can cause both physical and emotional symptoms that have an effect on your sex life.

      Approximately 50% of post-menopausal women will experience vaginal dryness which can make sex painful. This can be helped greatly by using an estrogen vaginal cream (you’ll need a prescription.)

      Myth #5: The first sign of menopause is hot flashes

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

      • Fatigue
      • Anxiety
      • Irregular periods
      • Irritability
      • Mood swings
      • Depression
      • Anxiety
      • Weight gain
      • Hair loss
      • Cravings
      • Fuzzy thinking
      • Low libido
      • Forgetfulness
      • Heavy periods

      With such a wide variety of symptoms, it’s no wonder that many of us don’t connect these to a perimenopausal hormonal imbalance. I hear from women all the time who are desperate to find out what’s going on with their bodies. And it’s always a relief for them to learn that what they are experiencing is normal!

      If you’re looking for relief, let’s talk. There’s so much misinformation out there and having someone to guide you through this transition can be helpful and comforting.

      Jun
      18
      VN Editors
      Develop a nighttime routine to avoid hormonal night sweats
      Healthy Living
      0
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      If you think hot flashes are bad, try having hormonal night sweats. You’re at your most vulnerable when you’re sleeping, and there’s nothing like waking up in a pool of sweat to make you realize just how horrible menopause really is. Develop a nighttime routine that will help you avoid hormonal night sweats, and start getting a better night’s sleep.

      Your bedroom environment

      Hormonal night sweats may affect women who don’t have hot flashes during the day, and they may strike at any time during sleep. In menopause, night sweats are triggered by the hormone imbalance that confuses brain chemistry. The brain incorrectly interprets signals from the body, sending a rush of heat through the body in an attempt to regulate temperature. The result? You awaken feeling hot, sweaty, uncomfortable and totally out of sorts.

      By changing your bedroom environment, you can help to prevent and manage hormonal night sweats.

      • Buy cotton. Change all your linens to a light, loose-weave cotton variety. Breathable cotton is non-irritating to skin, and breathes well. The material won’t trap heat, and this helps you avoid hormonal night sweats. You should also wear lightweight sleepwear made from cotton to promote ventilation and air flow around your body.
      • Drink. During the day, drink plenty of water to regulate your internal temperature. Don’t ever drink tea, coffee or another hot beverage in the hours immediately preceding bedtime.
      • Eat. During the day, eat sweet potatoes and almonds, which are rich in Vitamin E, to prevent hormonal night sweats. Vitamin supplements can also give your body the nutrition it needs. Good health is a strong defense against hormonal night sweats. Avoid very spicy foods, particularly in the hours immediately before you go to bed, as these may trigger hot flashes and night sweats.
      • Cool down. Don’t take a hot shower or bath right before you go to bed. Many experts advise that hormonal night sweat sufferers should relax before sleeping, so this advice may seem to be at odds with professional medical opinion. But the hot water and heat can end up triggering night sweats. Take a cool shower or bath instead. To relax before bed, try deep breathing exercises or meditation.

      Hormonal night sweats

      If you’re going through menopause and experiencing night sweats, chances are good that it’s just another one of the symptoms associated with the change of life. However, night sweats can also be caused by far more serious conditions. Cancer, pneumonia, TB, sleep apnea and infection are among the medical problems that could be causing night sweats. Even prescribed antidepressants and alcohol withdrawal may be to blame. If you are having night sweats, you should certainly consult with your physician to obtain a diagnosis and make certain that you’re suffering from nothing more serious than the normal changes of the female life cycle.

      Learn more about surviving your menopause symptoms in our free special report, 5 Proven Remedies to Stop Hot Flashes and Hormonal Night Sweats During Menopause. Download it today to discover proven remedies to stop hot flashes, hormonal night sweats, and other menopause symptoms.

      May
      22
      VN Editors
      Take vitamins to relieve hormonal night sweats
      Healthy Living
      0
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      You can stock your system with drugs, sleep with the windows open and try all kinds of tricks, and it still may not be enough to help you manage hormonal night sweats. Even if you learn how to stop hot flashes that occur during your waking hours, you may still be plagued by hormonal night sweats that make you feel feverish, ill and unable to sleep. Vitamin therapies may be the answer you’ve been looking for.

      Menopause and hormonal night sweats

      Hot flashes are, far and away, the most common menopause symptom. Also known as hot flushes, these attacks can last for a few second to several minutes. Having hot flashes causes women to experience sweating and extreme discomfort unexpectedly, with little to no warning. Hormonal night sweats are hot flashes that occur during sleep, when women are even less prepared to handle them.

      Hormonal night sweats cause insomnia, interrupt sleep and may even affect a partner’s sleep when they occur. Various drug therapies are available for the treatment of hormonal night sweats and other menopause symptoms, but they may not be wholly effective or even safe. Hormone Replacement Therapy, for instance, increases cancer risk in women and may create other complications. Vitamin therapies may be a practical alternative.

      Vitamin therapies for hormonal night sweats

      Your body always needs vitamins, and everyone knows that, but some studies show that vitamins just may help you manage your hormonal night sweats.

      • Vitamin C. One study gave 94 menopause patients 200 milligrams of vitamin C 6 times daily. Because vitamin C strengthens blood vessel membranes and works as an antioxidant, researchers wanted to study the vitamin’s effectiveness on hot flashes and hormonal night sweats. Approximately 67% of subjects experienced total relief from their hot flashes, while 21% experienced partial relief.
      • Vitamin D. During menopause, it’s possible for women to experience severe vitamin D and calcium deficiencies because of decreasing estrogen levels. Many women swear by calcium-, magnesium- and Vitamin D-rich supplements that help to counter-act this natural mineral loss. This nutrient trinity is offered in supplements that are specifically targeted to menopausal women, because balancing out the effects of menopause can help prevent hot flashes and hormonal night sweats. The Vitamin D makes it possible for your bones to absorb the calcium they need.
      • Vitamin E. Many studies suggest that Vitamin E can be beneficial in helping women treat hot flashes and hormonal night sweats. Your body begins to need more of this vitamin when you go through menopause. Vitamin E is very effective at helping to correct the hormone imbalance created by this process.

      Learn more about managing hormonal night sweats in our free special report, 5 Proven Remedies to Reduce Hot Flashes During Menopause.

      Feb
      10
      VN Editors
      What’s really causing your female dryness?
      Love & Sex
      0
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      Menopause isn’t always to blame when female dryness starts to affect your love life. Even over-the-counter medications may be the reason for your female dryness. When you know what’s causing it, you’ll have a better understanding of how to treat female dryness and dyspareunia.

      Treating female dryness

      Female dryness happens to a lot of women, and it’s a common symptom of menopause. Because it is so common, many women may try to ignore it by avoiding sexual relations, believing that in time the problem will correct itself. But you shouldn’t wait, especially if it’s having an effect on your sex life and causing dyspareunia, painful sex. Sexual relations are healthy. Having sex is good exercise to get your heart pumping and blood flowing, it relieves stress and it strengthens intimate bonds between couples. Among menopausal women, abstaining from sex could lead to vaginal atrophy that makes intercourse even more painful.

      Female dryness is a painful, embarrassing problem that can disrupt intimidate relationships and even change the way women approach sex. It’s human nature to avoid pain — that’s why we have nerve endings. When sex hurts, it’s much more difficult to find any pleasure in it. But you can, and should, overcome female dryness…before it ruins your life and your sexual relationships.

      Causes of female dryness

      One of the most common causes of female dryness is lack of estrogen in the body, something that happens as women go through menopause. Many physicians treat female dryness with vaginal estrogen cream as a direct result of that hormone imbalance, but your hormones aren’t always to blame if you’re experiencing dryness and dyspareunia.

      • Common medicines. It’s called the common cold because everyone knows what it’s like to get one. But knowing how, exactly, that cold medicine affects the body isn’t exactly common knowledge. Allergy and cold medicines, both prescription and non-prescription, decrease moisture in the body. And they’ll decrease it everywhere, which could cause female dryness.
      • Mindset. Some women would rather not discuss their personal female dryness with a physician, and may seek alternative therapies instead. They will swear by a certain herbal concoction as a cure for female dryness, though physicians say the formula has few physiological effects. It’s called the placebo effect, and it shows how powerful your mind can be. If you’re feeling uncomfortable with sex and/or yourself for some reason, you may find you cannot produce enough natural lubrication. Once you address what’s bothering you, your moisture should return to normal. Try to set aside your worries during intimate relations, and you may find your dryness decreasing.
      • Fried foods. Believe it or not, what you eat can affect your most private parts. Heavy fried foods cause the body to use up a lot of moisture in order to break down those fats. When so much liquid rushes to one area of the body, naturally other areas of the body become dry.
      • Douche. Avoid using douche products and bidets that stream water or other liquids into the vagina, as this might interfere with your natural lubrication process.

      Learn how to manage female dryness in our free special report, Top 5 Treatments for Vaginal Dryness and Dyspareunia.

      Dec
      8
      EmpowHER Improving Health - Changing Lives
      What’s Got Your Libido Down? Is it Physical?
      Healthy Living
      0
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      In another article called “What’s Got Your Libido Down? Is it Psychological?” I described psychological factors that may cause a lack of sex drive in a long-term relationship.

      This time, let’s look at possible physical issues:

      • Alcohol. You may think having a few drinks before bed will put you in the mood. Alcohol does help lose inhibitions but it’s also a depressant, so things might not turn out the way you planned.

      Another problem can be when one of you has had a few and the other one is sober. Big turn-off. Try laying off the booze before bed and see what happens.

      • Lack of Sleep. Sleep deprivation can cause a multitude of health issues, one being chronic fatigue. Who feels like having sex when they’re exhausted? Nobody. Motivate yourself to get more sleep to revive activity between the sheets.

      If you’re getting eight hours and still feeling tired and listless, make an appointment with your doctor to rule out sleep apnea, insomnia, or other sleep-related conditions.

      • Check your Medication. Drugs taken for blood pressure, depression, cold or allergies, even birth control pills have side effects of low libido, and many more. If you think your medication is causing your sex drive to plummet, call your doctor and ask if the dosage can be cut down, or maybe there’s a possible alternative.

      Unfortunately, medication can be a hugh libido killer, but do not go off them without your doctor’s permission.

      • Lighten up on body image. Have you or your spouse put on weight over the years? It happens to many people. Try an exercise routine together (they say exercise boosts sex drive) or help each other break bad eating habits.

      The most important obstacle to get past is your own image of yourself. Love your body the way it is and your spouse can’t help but love it, too.

      • Menopause. Many women report a vanishing libido once menopause strikes, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Hormone imbalance can cause pyschological as well as physical problems. With issues such as mood swings, incontinence, hot flashes, obesity, and all around low self-image, who has time to think about sex?

      The fact that they’ve come up with real names for these conditions: peri-menopause, menopause, and post-menopause doesn’t help much. The good news is these, too, shall pass in about 10 years, but HRT and alternative therapy are definite options to be considered.

      • Know what you’re eating. Believe it or not, mercury in certain types of fish, pesticides on fresh fruit, plastic water bottles, and other forms of toxic items you might be consuming without knowing it, can have an effect on your sex drive.

      If you’ve ruled out all other problems for your sagging libido, have your doctor order some blood tests to make sure there’s nothing else lurking in your body that shouldn’t be there. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

      http://www.empowher.com/sex-amp-relationships/content/what-s-got-your-libido-down-it-physical