menopause confidentialA few years ago, we had an opportunity to interview Dr. Tara Allmen, one of America’s leading experts in women’s midlife health and author of a new book, Menopause Confidential. Dr. Allmen is a Board Certified Gynecologist and NAMS Certified Menopause Practitioner.

She recently released Menopause Confidential to help women everywhere take control of their health and flourish in midlife. And it’s more than just a clinical guide to understanding your menopause symptoms. Dr. Allmen shows you how midlife can be the beginning of the happiest years of your life.

We caught up with Dr. Allmen, but this time we let members from our online community, Menopause ChitChat, ask all the questions.

I’m 45 years old and am in menopause. My last period was July, 2015. I started having terrible anxiety in 2013, with fears of going placing in the car when my menopause symptoms came full force and continue to have anxiety. Any suggestions on what to do, what to take naturally. I take B vitamins, I meditate, I exercise, I’m gluten free, caffeine free. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you! Susanne, Brockton, MA

If you have not had a menstrual cycle in 12 months, you are officially a menopausal woman! Welcome to the club. Anxiety is a component of the midlife transition and can cause terrible disruption to our quality of life. Healthy lifestyle choices are the first place to start.  However, many of us will need to kick it up a notch. My first approach is to use hormone therapy, which helps with a multitude of menopausal symptoms, including anxiety. The risks for the 50-59 year old group are so low and the benefits are so high for overall health and wellness. If your anxiety is a component of menopause, you will experience improvement within 3 months.

I have always heard that your mother’s menopause will likely be your menopause, but my OBGYN says not always the case. Can you please clarify? Jo-ann L, Quebec

There is a relationship between when our mothers transitioned through menopause and when we will in terms of age, not severity of symptoms.

I’m so tired of trying to figure out why I feel I can run a marathon one day and feel like I’m walking through sludge the next. Can hormone fluctuations be responsible?Leslie D, Cleveland, OH

The first clarification needed is whether or not you are still having menstrual cycles. If you are and they are changing, then you are experiencing hormonal fluctuations and have joined the Perimenopausal Club. Feelings of fatigue, poor sleep, brain fog, moodiness and an overall lack of your usual get up and go is part of this journey to menopause.

Is it true that the findings are now pointing to progesterone as the important factor in heart health as opposed to estrogen as they originally thought? Becki H, Omaha, NE

Heart health and wellness is mediated by estrogen, not progesterone. Women are generally protected when their ovaries are still producing estrogen. Once we enter menopause, we lose this protection.

Are there certain certifications or credentials you can look for in a doctor who specializes in menopause issues, and will be able and willing to do more than smile and shrug at you? Gina P, Pearland, TX

My best advice to all midlife women is to search for a GYN-only, meaning someone who is not also delivering babies who has a credential or focus on midlife women’s health.

Our thanks to Dr. Allmen and to the dozens of members who submitted questions.

Got questions of your own? Or are you struggling with menopause symptoms and just want to get back on the right track? Pick up a copy of Menopause Confidential. It’s available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and from booksellers everywhere.

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Dr. Marla ShapiroWe recently had an opportunity to chat with Dr. Marla Shapiro, medical expert and trusted guide to personal health and well-being, especially for women. Dr. Shapiro, while running her own family practice, is also a medical consultant, television show host, and columnist for The Globe and Mail. She is the recipient of the 2005 Media Award from the North American Menopause Society for her work in expanding the understanding of menopause. Her current focus is debunking the myths and misconceptions about bladder health as an expert for Always Discreet.

For those of our readers who aren’t familiar, what is a sensitive bladder and how does it impact our lives and relationships?

A sensitive bladder is the involuntary loss of urine, whether it’s a light leak after you sneeze or a heavier leak when you can’t get to the bathroom in time. While as many as one in three women experience bladder leaks, across all ages, many patients are reluctant to talk about it with their health care provider. The impact on women can range from affecting quality of life and psychological upset to anxiety and even depression. Many women will avoid participating in activities such as exercising and dancing, because they have bladder leaks when they least expect it. It impacts relationships and intimacy, and therefore emotional health, as women fear sudden ‘accidents’ and possible odor. This is why it’s important to use a product like new Always Discreet, which can help alleviate these kind of fears. Its innovative product technology provides incredible comfort, protection, discretion and odor control, in a full line of pads, liners and underwear, specifically made for bladder leak protection.

Most women have experienced bladder leaks at some point when coughing, sneezing or laughing. At what point does it become a medical concern and not just an “oops”?

This kind of bladder leak is called stress incontinence. While it’s more common in older women, it’s important to discuss this with your health care provider to rule out reversible or any serious underlying conditions. Also, your health care provider can offer you lifestyle tips, such as cutting back on caffeinated beverages and spicy foods, which might help as well as how to best to manage your symptoms.

Marla, you’re a physician, TV personality, author, columnist and now a spokesperson for Always Discreet. What can you tell us about your new role and how this product can change a woman’s life?

The most important thing I do, whether in the office or on national television, is to educate women and empower them to make the best and right choices when it comes to their health. While lifestyle changes, medication and, on occasion, surgery may be indicated in management of these urinary issues, many women will also need an absorbent product. Eight out of 10 women are not using the right protection when it comes to their sensitive bladders. Many women take years to be adequately diagnosed and treated and, in the interim, are often cutting back on their activities. It’s important to educate women on products that can help them stay active, like new Always Discreet for sensitive bladders, which offers amazing protection and neutralizes odors. Women want protection AND discretion, and Always Discreet is a product that answers this need. Partnership in education is what my role is about.

As women age, we begin to face new health challenges, including menopause and its laundry list of symptoms. How can we prepare ourselves, both physically and mentally, for what lies ahead?

Menopause is a great time to take charge of your health and lifestyle. It’s never too late to introduce a healthy diet and exercise into your daily routine. Menopause is a time of transition and change and it CAN be a doorway of opportunity to invest in yourself!

Weight gain is an issue for many women as we approach menopause. It’s also a contributor to increasing bladder leakage. What are the ways in which we can better manage our weight during this stage of our lives?

As we get older, we need less calories and more exercise to maintain a healthy weight. Of course this can be challenging! The best way to manage our weight is to think of our investment in a healthy lifestyle that will incorporate being active and making healthy food choices. Small steps towards change are important. Set small goals to begin with – baby steps if you will. Incorporate these changes so that you can sustain them over the long run.

Between your personal journey and your commitment to women’s health, you’ve inspired so many women to make wiser choices. Where do you find the time and motivation to continue making a difference?

I think it’s simple really – if you love what you do, you will find the time to do it! Balancing it all can be a challenge, but as I like to say: balance one ball at a time, remembering to put that ball down to balance the next ball. Be it family, work or personal investment, all these balls need attention. One of my favorite words is “mindful” – and I think that is how to approach balancing all the things we all do.

Visit Dr. Shapiro at her website and learn more about her new book, Life in the Balance.


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