Tag Archives | lynette sheppard

Finally! Natural Relief for Insomnia

Sweet Dreams © Dewitt Jones

Insomnia wreaks havoc on so many perimenopausal and menopausal women. One woman I met told me that she took HRT just to try to combat it. She said that she felt nearly psychotic from lack of sleep. She didn’t want to take hormone replacement or Ambien, but felt there was no choice. I get it!

Thankfully, my insomnia didn’t last too long. But I know women who are plagued with it still. It’s miserable to be hot, cranky, AND sleepy.

We recently had the chance to try a new, natural product – Sleep Spray. The folks at Verified CBD Oil sent a sample and one of our satellite goddesses grabbed at the chance to test it. She flat out loved it! Slept through the night the first use!

Sleep Spray’s active ingredients are CBD oil, GABA, and Valerian. Stevia helps the taste.

Here’s the short skinny on what these ingredients are:

CBD oil, also known as hemp oil, interacts with our naturally occurring systems, but is non-psychotropic, it doesn’t make you high. This makes it a safer, less controversial alternative than medical marijuana, while still offering significant health benefits.

GABA is a neurotransmitter that blocks impulses between nerve cells in the brain. Low levels of GABA have been linked to anxiety, sleeplessness, and chronic pain. Researchers suspect that GABA may boost mood or have a calming, relaxing effect on the nervous system.

Valerian root has long been used for insomnia and anxiety. It even is said to have some benefit in reducing hot flashes. I drank Valerian root tea early in perimenopause but while it didn’t seem to affect my hot flashes, I felt calmer.

It’s super easy to use – just spray it under your tongue right before bedtime. It absorbs and works quickly with no grogginess in the morning according to our goddess and numerous testimonials on the site.

This could be a godsend for menopausal women – try it and let us know how it works. This is how we find out about ways to ease this transition – by women sharing wisdom.

Oh, and I saw that they also have an anti-anxiety spray – boy, I sure could have used that early in my journey! If anybody tries that, we’d love to know how it works for you.

Here’s the website: Verified CBD Oil Sleep Spray. Sweet dreams!

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Stay Cool Without Calling Attention to Yourself


Hot flashes and just heat in general are hellish for menopausal women. Often, we find ourselves, mopping ourselves with kleenex or fanning ourselves with the nearest sheet of paper. It just plain sucks.

I found myself in just that situation a few years ago. One of our beloved elders had passed away in Molokai. A few thousand showed up for her memorial service held in a community center on the island. While we could open the doors, it was Hot with a capital H in there. Luckily, I had my secret weapon: the BlowMeCool fan. I’d charged it with the USB cord and dropped it in my purse for just such a menopausal emergency.

I turned it on, holding it in my hand. It was barely noticeable visually, it was QUIET, and blissfully blew loads of cool air right onto my beet red face. It saved my bacon that day and so many others. We’ve carried it in the Menopause Marketplace for 5 years or so.

Now, there is a new, blue edition (the first iteration is orange.) It’s sturdier and the blue color makes it even more unobtrusive. It’s less transparent so the inner workings are less visible. It costs a couple dollars more, but having tried it when the company sent me one, I can definitely recommend you buy the blue one if you can. If you are truly geeky and you want to see the innards, by all means buy the orange one.

And Menopause Goddess Blog readers get a 10% discount just by adding this code at checkout:  MGB18.

In this video, creator Brian Burge explaining why he developed this wonderful fan (spoiler alert: his wife went the the Pause).

Click here to order. And don’t forget to add our Menopause Goddess Blog discount code: MGB18. You won’t be sorry!
 

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Tackle Hormonal Mood Swings

Maelstrom © lynette sheppard

There are powerful things at work in each of our bodies that help regulate the most basic and the most complex of things. Take hormones, for instance: They regulate our growth and they impact our immune system. When it comes to estrogen and progesterone in females, they also control our reproductive processes.

But hormones have long gotten a bad rap, as a reason that women have to ride an emotional roller coaster every month based on their cycle or as changes occur in menopause. The question is—is that reputation that hormones have deserved?

Research suggests a strong maybe, although the link may not be as definitive as once thought. For starters, some women may be more in tune with those hormone level fluctuations, which means that the levels may have more impact on how they feel. And how they feel may also depend on the phase of their cycle and how they experience menopause.

To learn more, check out this helpful graphic shared by Health Perch in partnership with Ghergich and Co.

Health Perch offers these helpful suggestions for dealing with hormonal mood swings:

Balancing Act

If you feel like your hormones are holding you hostage, some relatively simple lifestyle changes may help.

1. Pay attention
Keep a diary of your symptoms for a few months. All women are different, and the only way to understand your moods is to record them and analyze the data. It may bring relief to observe that menopausal mood swings don’t last forever.

2. Eat up
Studies suggest women with hormone fluctuations may be deficient in calcium and magnesium. Foods rich in vitamin B6, omega 3 fatty acids, and zinc may also help prevent mood swings, according to some experts. It can’t hurt to eat a more nutrient-dense diet. Reach for vegetables, leafy greens, beans, seeds, nuts, legumes, whole grains, poultry, seafood and seaweed, and fish.

3. Improve sleep habits
Some women report insomnia when estrogen and progesterone levels plummet; 40 to 50 percent of women experience insomnia during menopause. Women with sleep disturbances are more likely to feel stressed out, tense, anxious, or depressed. To improve your odds of a good night of sleep, make your room dark, quiet, and cool, and stick to routine sleep and waking times.

4. Move more
In one study, eight weeks of aerobic training significantly reduced participants’ premenstrual symptoms. Choose physical activities you enjoy since the point is to feel good.

5. Manage stress
Women who experience stress early in a menstrual cycle are more likely to experience mood swings later in the cycle, according to a study. The same goes for menopause. Walking, mindfulness exercises, visiting nature, and hanging out with friends are proven ways to reduce stress.

6. Reduce caffeine and alcohol
In studies, caffeine has been shown to decrease feelings of relaxation and increase ratings of anxiousness, tenseness, and nervousness. Alcohol may interfere with estrogen detoxification (which could be why it’s associated with a higher risk of breast cancer). Reach for a drink, such as water or herbal tea, that helps you feel calm.

If you experience mood swings that interfere with your daily life and these healthy makeovers don’t help, it may be time to check in with your doctor or naturopath. Herbs, such as chaste tree and red clover, vitamin supplements, or medical treatments may help.

Conclusion
Hormonal changes should not be used to discount or discriminate against women or medicalize normal life changes. However, it doesn’t serve women to pretend our bodies and moods stay constant through the course of a lifetime. Whether the subject is menstruation, menopause, moods, or other topics, we should take women’s health seriously. Recognizing and understanding hormonal fluctuations may help women move through their lives with more awareness and ease.

You can find lots more health and wellness information on Health Perch: click here to go to their website.

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Can the Aging Process Be Stopped? Maybe…

dancing palm © lynette sheppard


Many years ago, I attended a book signing / talk by a well known physician turned healer. I was struck by one thing he said as an MD – that there is no physiological reason why we have to age. Our bodies have the ability for self regeneration and repair. He felt we could figure out why our bodies somehow “forgot” how to continue this process. While intriguing, I thought the premise was “pie in the sky”. Surely, we had to age.

Over the years, many truisms that I learned and believed with all my heart in medicine turned out to be false (or at least less true.) For example, I learned that there was absolutely no way to reverse clogged arteries in the heart – we could stop the process but never reverse it.

That was true…until it wasn’t. Dean Ornish set out to prove otherwise with a 10% fat diet, yoga, exercise regimen. PET scans proved him right. Now we “know” that it is possible to reverse coronary atherosclerosis.

Fast forward to the present time. Research is taking that physician-healer’s premise to the next level. Anti-aging and anti disease remedies may soon be on the horizon. Longevity is not the only concern (or even the main one) but living healthier as we age is a focus. Diseases such as Alzheimer’s, arthritis, Type 2 diabetes and cancer are being targeted as well harnessing the body’s immunity and self repair functions.

One of the leaders in the field just now is Dr. David Sinclair. He briefly explains some of the research in the video below. You can also find his Ted Talk on YouTube.

 

Much more information about aging research can be found on a site called Geroscience based out of Hamburg, Germany. Their mission is to educate and inform us of the science and issues related to the creation of this next generation of medicine. Check them out: click here.

These are exciting times. Google has embarked on an anti aging project called Calico – there is very little known about it and its progress so far. Google has been secretive about any progress or even what is actually being done.

Mark Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan through their foundation have funded an anti disease project bringing together leading scientists and researchers. By promoting networking and cooperation among the best scientific minds, they hope to eliminate, cure, or prevent disease by the end of the century.

In the meantime, we all can avail ourselves of some simple ways of aging vibrantly: exercise, eat well, and diminish stress. And don’t forget the chocolate and red wine.

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5 Ideal Workouts for Women Over 50

Sunny Day © lynette sheppard

In this guest post by Perly Rodolfo, she shares tips and ideas for creating an exercise program to keep healthy as we age. It’s simple, not necessarily easy – especially to keep motivated. My pal, Dee Adams, cartoonist creator of Minnie Pauz, started out slowly – just walking every day. She lost weight and gained fitness (and she took some mighty fine photos on her morning walks every day.) And if/when we backslide? No recriminations, just start again.

5 Ideal Workouts for Women Over 50 by Perly Rodolfo

Even if you don’t exercise regularly now, it is important to know that there is still plenty of time for you to initiate your workout program.

And if you are in your 50’s or older, becoming physically active is advantageous for your health. Staying fit as you age is a necessity rather than an option.

Many women suffer from menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, joint pain, sleeping disorders. But, did you know that a physically inactive lifestyle can increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis? A sedentary lifestyle can also cause emotional problems, even a midlife crisis.

Experts suggest that middle aged women who exercise more have a biological age of 35. This is the reason why you often see celebrities and athletes who are over 50 to be more energetic, fit and healthy.

To reduce your risk of disease and have a healthy life beyond the age of 50, you will want to embark upon a complete fitness program that is ideal to your age.

Without further ado, here are 5 ideal workouts for women over 50:

Aerobic Exercises
Aerobic exercises are perfect for women over 50 as most of the moves are not stressful, less intense and are common workouts at home. This type of exercise focuses on your large muscles benefiting your cardiovascular health as well as keeping your weight in check.

Some of the best aerobic exercises that you can do are walking, swimming, dancing, jogging, cardio machines as well as many others. If you prefer a more advanced exercise, you can try hiking, Zumba dance classes, boxing or other anaerobic exercises (aerobic exercises that are performed at a level of intensity).

Stretching
Stretching exercises focus on your flexibility to help maintain a healthy range of motion in your joints. Doing stretches before and after your regular workout helps reduce the risk of injuries and muscle soreness.  Some of the best stretching exercises for women over 50 are yoga and pilates. These forms of exercise help improve core body strength, increase stability and elevate mental power.

Strength Training
Lifting weights may seem too difficult and dangerous to middle aged women due to the risk of various possible injuries associated with incorrect strength training exercises. But lifting light hand weights can significantly improve your strength and posture, maintains bone strength and reduces your risk of lower back injury.

Above all, lifting weights that give tension on your arms results in a more toned and fit body. This means that lifting weights can burn more fat and in a much faster rate than any other regular exercise. You can start with hand weights that you can comfortably lift for eight repetitions initially. Increases reps until you can do 12 for each routine.

Core and Balance Exercises
Maintaining a strong core and a stable balance will help protect your spine and hips.  For these exercises, you need core equipment such as stability balls and half-round balls. You can use this equipment to help improve your abs, glutes and hips.

Abdominal exercises such as crunches and planks require some perseverance and patience especially if you are a beginner. Doing both balance and core workouts will give you optimal results out of your overall workout program.

Respiration and Relaxation
Women over 50 are not the same as young adult women in their 30’s. Your lung capacity begins to decrease during the aging process.

This results in weakening of your bronchioles and alveoli air sacs, lungs, diaphragm and intercostal muscles.
So how can you improve and maintain a healthy respiratory system? Aerobic exercises and the other exercises mentioned above can certainly help. But breathing exercises are the best. Tai chi is one of the most perfect breathing exercise programs for women over 50.

Tai chi basically helps improve overall well-being – mental, physical and emotional state. Plus, this breathing technique is simple and easy with no extra equipment required.

Conclusion
Remember that every bit of movement counts. Doing household chores or just walking your dog  can be helpful to your workout program. Take  vitamin D to help support your bone and joint health. Above all, follow a healthy and sensible dietary regimen that will support your workout.

Remember, age is just a number and you can prevent many of the signs of aging by just performing simple exercises at home.

Author Bio:
Perly Rodolfo is a health and fitness enthusiast, businesswoman and a mother of two. She spends most of her time with her family and blogging about dietary supplements, healthy lifestyles and online businesses. Learn more about Perly through her website at http://www.populardietpills.net/.

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Helen Mirren made me do it: Visioning a Second Act

© Annie Leibovitz

I loved executive and life coach Tania Carriere’s insightful guest post about “becoming” during our Second Act. I think any woman pondering the person she might grow into will feel its resonance.

Tania will be leading a visioning retreat for women October, 2017 in Molokai, Hawai`i. I’ll be participating as well – this is a not-to-be-missed opportunity. Details and link at the end of the post. Enjoy!

Helen Mirren made me do it

by Tania Carriere

It was a normal enough moment.

I was sitting at a Starbucks, coffee in hand, putting off some work for a few indulgent minutes of Facebook. I was robotically scrolling, only partially engaged with the usual mix of animals, self-help quotes and messages from friends.

That’s when it happened to me.

That’s when this photo happened to me.

I froze, my scrolling index finger mid-air. I was riveted. I could not stop looking. I felt like I had found something of importance. I looked at it and felt…. Awestruck. Not because of her beauty or her fame but because I didn’t realize until I saw this photo, that this is what womanhood can look like.  Real, authentic, vibrant, strong. Bad Ass. Commanding. Awesome. And wrinkled.

And something in me cracked open a little.

I had just started to navigate the changes that come with age. I had gone through 4 different sizes in 2 years as my body decided what kind of metabolism it would like to have that day. There were the reading glasses that I resisted for a year, the lessening of stamina, (staying up past 1 a.m. requires a day off to recover) and the new wardrobe that seemed to have gravitated to tunics and flowing shirts to hide the belly fat and rounded hips that appeared. I tried to hold all these changes with grace and dignity, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to having sat down on the little bench in the Nordstom’s changeroom and cried with dismay at a body that I couldn’t seem to anticipate or understand.

I don’t mean to paint an entirely bleak picture. There are great things that come with age too, like no longer seeking “permission” to be the person I really am, giving up the need for people-pleasing, having enough independence of spirit to leave the house without makeup or shaved legs and knowing, exactly, how I like to spend my time. I am eternally grateful for those gifts and the ease that they bring. So it’s not so much that I resisted the changes that came with age, I realized that with the sagging bits came the reward of newfound wisdom. It was more that aging seemed to have landed me in uncharted territory. I didn’t quite know how I was supposed to be in it.

I was perplexed. I had achieved so much and lived a wonderful, expansive life. I had a delightful circle of loved ones. A wonderful career. I did the things I love; dance, travel, read, theatre. I cultivated relationships that charmed me, I ate glorious meals that I delighted in cooking. But there was unrest in me and perhaps, a little sadness? A part of me that struggled with a loss of vibrancy, a giving up of the coltish legged creature that once seemed fearless. I had a longing for the permission that I used to give myself to be glorious.

I used to enjoy the attention I got for my youthful rendition of beauty. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t anything particularly noteworthy, just enough to fit the checklist that someone, somewhere decided was the definition of who I should be; thin, blonde, nicely shaped, long legged, exuberant, friendly and full of possibility. I excelled in my profession, got invited into the big meetings, was offered top tables in restaurants and skipped the lines. I travelled, bought a house and stood as a vibrant example of thirtysomething femininity. I was used to the attention that my confidence gave me. The world was mine to conquer, to delight, to engage. Yes, that confidence came at a price. I bristled at and occasionally faltered under at the demands of perfection and got lost in the dark world where self-worth equates body image, but I got noticed. I was a part of those who had the right to be vibrant and boldly stride into whatever lay ahead of them. No matter what, I could count on being seen. At the interview, at the audition, at the first date.

And then suddenly, it seemed almost overnight, I was unseen.

Not rejected, just unseen.

I was no longer in the world of 30-something-vibrant-flat-stomached-world-achievers (heck I am about to enter the world of 50 something) and suddenly I did not register in people’s awareness as I walked by. I was no longer the sassy upstart that people used to see when they looked at me.

And that was the problem. I was not sure who I was at this age and I couldn’t seem find the checklist for a powerful, vibrant, sexy woman of 50+.  I was standing there with the old checklist and it was not working. I knew I didn’t want to look like the botoxed version of Barbie, but I also didn’t want the diffuse, shrinking energy of a woman who was no longer in command of her vitality.

Where was it to be found? Where were the examples of women who wore their years, their experience, their glorious ways of being with pride? Women who still exuded vibrant possibility. Women who created a whole new phase of being that lies between Nymph and Crone. Women who left you enchanted, wondering, longing and were over the age of 50?

When I saw this picture of Helen Mirren I became curious. I stopped and looked. I mean, really looked. And then I became envious. Can you believe it??? Envious! The last time I felt envious of anyone older than me I think I was 16 and wishing that I would be a very gown up 21. But look at her – the command of her space, the energy that just leaps out at you, the defiance in her tattoo and her exposed cleavage that just takes the whole notion of being matronly and flips it the bird.

Oh, the stories that she has to tell.
What I wouldn’t have done to pour her a glass of wine (or better yet, a whiskey) and get down to a long talk.

It’s not that I wanted to be her. It was that in seeing her I realized that I didn’t have a vision, a mentor or a knowing of who I wanted to be. I instantly loved this photo, and strangely enough I think I fell in love with myself when I looked at it. The old choices society wanted to offer me just didn’t cut it. The blessing of age is that I could see that they never did. It was high time that I decided how this next decade or two (or four) are going to look and feel. I Re-Imagined myself, finding the new markers for MY new definition of this Self. I erased the page, creating space to be the kind of woman that I would envy.

And if someone asked me about a new sizzle in my responses, the reappearance of my coltish legs from under the tunics, the haircut and the sultry attitude I’d just respond….

Helen Mirren made me do it.
And pour myself a whiskey.

About the Retreat

The Re-Imagined Self is a mini-sabbatical, a moment in time that leaves the everyday behind, where you can drop in, hear the questions that you are already asking, but don’t have the energy, time or courage to answer.

These 7 days in Hawaii, in the company of a small group of like-minded women, will rejuvenate the creative spirit while exploring identity, achievement and what makes yours a life well lived.

As executive and life coach, I have been leading discovery retreats of self exploration for over 15 years. Join me and Lynette Sheppard in this unique opportunity to Re-Imagine the Self you are today. Click the link for details:
https://www.advivumjourneys.ca/retreats/-hawaii

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Menopause Wellness Summit

For those approaching or already deep into perimenopause and menopause, a wealth of information will be offered at the Menopause Wellness Summit. Several experts will offer information and support for the Change. Hosted by Shirley Plant, the cost is only $49. Don’t miss it. Sign up here:  Menopause Wellness Summit.

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Retire Meant: A Few More Thoughts

Blossoming © lynette sheppard

It was a delight to hear so many optimistic, exciting visions for retirement from goddesses in answer to our query. I decided to look up the word “retirement” in the dictionary. Here’s what I found:

noun
1.  the act of retiring, withdrawing, or leaving; the state of being retired.
2.  the act of retiring or of leaving one’s job, career, or occupation permanently, usually because of age
3.  the portion of a person’s life during which a person is retired
4.  removal of something from service or use
Those are some wornout, even depressing definitions. Luckily, we are creating our own definitions and making it up as we go. Most of us baby boomers started out rebelling against the status quo and I don’t see us stopping anytime soon. So here is a my definition of retirement: “a phase of life where one’s own priorities and desires dictate contribution to the whole.” In other words, we decide how we thrive and give back – whether it be gardening, mentoring grandchildren, or volunteering. And give back need not mean externalizing – I met one goddess recently who moved to an island to find and create her own “Walden Pond” to her family’s surprise. She follows her passions of writing and living primarily outdoors. So how does she give back? By simply being fulfilled. It’s a joy to be around those who are following their dreams and modeling living comfortably in their own skins.
I’d love to hear your definitions of retirement – post them here in the comments or email them to me at lynette@9points.com.  Here’s to our next great phase!

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A Paleo Diet May Help With Menopause

Ginger Mint Shrimp © lynette sheppard

Guest blogger Allison Thompson shares her experience with the Paleo diet to relieve symptoms and make the menopause transition easier. Enjoy!

Foods I Enjoy That Help Deal With The Menopause

Hi there, my name’s Allison and I have been going through the menopause for almost 4 years now.  In fact it came as quite a surprise to find out I was in the peri-menopousal stage. I had a friend who thought I was having problems with my thyroid.  So she suggested that I see her doctor.  Before he even prescribed anything I had to had several blood tests carried out. Once he had received confirmation he prescribed some natural treatments.  Along with iodine that I needed to drink in a glass of water, he also prescribed a natural progesterone cream.  This I had to apply each evening before bed.

I decided to do as he suggested for a year.  But then I made a decision that I wanted to see if a change to my diet and lifestyle would help me more.

About this time my husband was looking for ways to lose weight.  Again my friend came to the rescue by giving us some books relating to the Paleo diet.  So I decided to give it a try.

It was difficult at first. I couldn’t find much about Paleo for menopause.  Even so I decided to stick with it even though I wasn’t as strict with my diet as some others are. During the past 4 years I have learned more about what to include in my diet.  But I don’t rely on food alone I also take some supplements.  The ones I take have been suggested to me by reading up about menopause online.  The main ones I include in my diet are Red Clover and Magnesium. But what I want to share with you now are the foods I eat on regular basis. These are the ones I include, as I’ve found they help me deal with the menopause effectively.


Broccoli

I actually love eating broccoli.  I either boil it for a few minutes or steam it.  Occasionally I love to at it in to stir fry’s.   The reason I eat so much broccoli is because it contains calcium, that my body can use. Like me, you are probably aware that during the menopause your estrogen levels have gone down.  But including foods that contain calcium will help to reduce the risk of bone loss.  Of course including dairy in your diet is another great way to get the calcium your body needs.

Flaxseed
I love adding flaxseed into smoothies as well as putting it on top of some fresh fruit with yogurt.   Not only am I getting more fiber in my diet I’m also getting a food rich in Omega 3 fatty acids.  So it’s helping me to keep my heart and arteries healthy. But one other benefit to be gained from this food is that it contains certain estrogen compounds that our bodies need.

Almonds
As I follow a Paleo lifestyle I like to include almonds along with other nuts into my diet.  I tend to use almond flour in place of conventional flour when making baked goods or pancakes.   The great thing about almonds is that they contain a type of fat that can help to slow down the aging process.   Plus for women going through the menopause, these nuts are rich in magnesium and Vitamin E complex.  Both of these help to reduce the symptoms often associated with the menopause. The only problem is that I don’t eat enough of them.  To help me further, I take a magnesium supplement each evening.   By doing this I find that I sleep much better at night.  Okay, I may still wake up occasionally with the night sweats, but not that often.  In order to help combat this situation, I take the Red Clover supplement I mentioned earlier.

Eggs
My husband thinks I eat too many eggs, but I don’t agree.   Not only do eggs provide me with a good source of protein, they also provide me with a good source of Iron.  I include them in my diet as I am still quite active.  In fact this morning I started a HIIT class close to where I live and will be doing the same twice a week.

Fish
I love all types of fish. I’m especially fond of salmon, cod and sardines. The great thing is I live in Spain and we have some really wonderful beach bars close to where I live. So we often take time out to visit them and enjoy fresh sardines.  These are ones that they cook over hot coals. Eating this fish ensures I am getting sufficient amounts of Omega 3 fatty acids in my diet.  Not only is it helping me to keep my skin in shape but it helps to keep my energy levels up.

Liver
I love liver and enjoy cooking it on a regular basis. I tend to opt more for cow or lambs liver as they don’t have such a strong taste. But I also like to use chicken livers to make my own pate.   Liver is rich in Iron and also Vitamin C complex. I’ve found including this food in my diet helps to reduce menopause symptoms.

One thing I think I should mention relates to eggs and meat. If you can, try and opt for meat where the animal has been fed on grass.  As for eggs, then go organic. If you cannot find grass-fed meat go organic.  Also make sure that you choose the leanest cuts you can. All of these will help you to stay in shape and will provide you with essential fats that your body needs.

BIO:
Allison Thompson, a mother of 1 daughter who has been living in Spain for the past 12 years.  For the past 4 years, she has been following a Paleo lifestyle that has helped her to deal with the effects that going through the menopause can have on women, without the need to use any kind of medication.

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How to Get the Government to Care About Women’s Health

Caduceus I © lynette sheppard

Those of you who’ve been reading this blog over the years know that I am endlessly frustrated about the lack of research on women’s health issues, particularly menopause. Cassie, RN and ehealth informer gives us practical steps in this call-to-action guest post. Let’s go for it!

How to Get the Government to Care About Women’s Health

As a woman, you’ve almost certainly experienced gender bias in some form in your lifetime. One place you probably don’t think about experiencing the adverse effects of gender stereotypes is with your health care provider. Unfortunately, gender bias is a real concern that is harming women’s health in definite ways.

The gender bias problem in health care means women often don’t receive the same level of attention and consideration from their medical providers as men. This can lead to women unnecessarily struggling with chronic pain, with enduring needless procedures and being incorrectly diagnosed with anxiety and other mental health disorders. Gender bias also means issues related to women’s health receive less attention and funding than health problems experienced by men.

Since the idea of gender bias in health care was recognized in the 1970s, advocates for women’s health have been documenting and researching the ways women are discriminated against in health care.

By understanding and recognizing gender bias in health care, you can help protect and improve access to nondiscriminatory health care services for yourself and all women.

Speak Up

As women, we are often taught to be deferential to authority figures, such as medical professionals. If a doctor tells you your symptoms are related to anxiety or psychosomatic in nature, it can be tempting to accept the diagnosis and attempt to live with the discomfort as best you can.

Remember, you know your body better than any medical professional. If you’re sure there is something wrong, then stand your ground. Refuse to be put off by a diagnosis that doesn’t relieve your symptoms. Keep asking for tests and referrals to specialists until someone discovers the source of your problems. Don’t allow yourself to be convinced you don’t know your body.

By pushing back against medical professionals who attempt to minimize your symptoms, you will be more likely to get the care you need.

Contact Your Representatives

Though you might not realize it, the government has a lot of influence over medical research. Through the Food and Drug Administration and various grant programs, the government directly influences research across a wide spectrum of the medical industry.

Currently, much medical research skews toward primarily understanding how diseases and medications affect men. As women, though, effects of certain diseases such as cardiovascular disease present very differently in women than they do in men. Inequality in research means treatment for serious diseases is focused on what works for men, leaving women to utilize treatments that may be less than effective for our gender.

To help effect change, you can reach out to your congressional representatives and let them know you support legislation requiring government-funded medical research to include gender considerations, such as the Research for All Act. As more women let legislators know we are aware of the problem of gender bias in medicine, and we support fair and equitable research practices, representatives will be more likely to take up the cause. Representatives can draft legislation requiring researchers to give equal consideration to the ways women are affected by medical issues to receive state and federal funding.

Support Women’s Health Organizations

Organizations such as the Sex and Gender Women’s Health Collaborative, the Stanford Center for Health Research on Women and Sex Differences in Medicine and the National Institutes of Health Office on Research on Women’s Health are all working to improve the gender bias in the medical community. Some of the organizations are working with medical schools and nursing programs. Others are working with legislators to change the laws governing approved methods of medical research. NIH has changed the requirements for grant funding to ensure researchers are testing effects on both male and female subjects to ensure the results of any research apply to both genders.

You can support the organizations working to end gender bias in medicine by joining in discussions and events, volunteering your time or contributing money toward their efforts. These organizations are contributing many resources to promoting equality in health care, and they need our support to continue their important work.

Don’t Give Up

If you are fighting a battle against gender bias in your personal health, it might feel as if it’s one you can’t win. Hearing your doctors tell you the symptoms you’re experiencing are “all in your head” can be frustrating and demeaning. The important thing is not to give up. Insist the doctors listen to you and review all of your records. Keep insisting until you find someone to listen.

Organizing all your medical records in one place so your providers can see your complete history, including the results of any tests, the details about your condition and the dates of treatment will provide undeniable proof of your symptoms.

You can get an app such as My Medical or ChartSpan to record everything related to your medical history. If you are concerned about privacy issues when accessing your medical history on a mobile device, consider using a Virtual Private Network to encrypt your network connection and protect your medical records.

In our modern world, there is no reason women’s health care should be subject to the antiquated gender bias that currently exists in our system. We all need to speak up and demand to be heard and treated for our actual symptoms instead of being told we are imagining our illnesses. As human beings, we all deserve quality medical treatment, regardless of our genders.

Author bio: As a woman and a nurse, Cassie loves writing about women’s health and wellness issues. Helping women live healthier, pain-free lives is her dream come true.

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