Your Health In the Headlines
Robin McGraw, Dr. Phil’s better half and best-selling author of What’s Age Got to Do with It?: Living Your Happiest and Healthiest Life, Bravo’s Millionaire Matchmaker, Patti Stanger, author of Become Your Own Matchmaker, and Jill Zarin, star of Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New York City and author of Secrets of a Jewish Mother, co-written by her mother and sister, join OB/GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson to discuss the latest women’s health issues making headlines. Meet the Bravo stars!
If you’re feeling tired, groggy or forgetful, the culprit may not be the common stressors of life such as work, family and kids – it may be your hormones. Gynecologist and hormone specialist Dr. Prudence Hall says a woman’s health, personality and happiness are inextricably linked to her hormone levels.
“When a woman’s hormones become imbalanced, she experiences depression, weight gain, anxiety, sleeplessness and lack of sensuality,” Dr. Hall says. “Replace the hormones and the symptoms disappear.”
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, see your doctor for a complete hormone workup.
"As women, we're hormonal beings," Dr. Lisa says. The fluctuation of the hormones estrogen and progesterone during a woman's menstrual cycle plays an important role in regulating mood. “Hormones affect the body, skin, food cravings and mood because they also affect the brain," she explains.
Perimenopause can start as early as age 35, and menopause starts around age 50. But hormone levels can start changing as early as a woman’s 30s. “Menopause is when your period actually stops,” Dr. Lisa says. “But all of those changes, the symptoms, and the period actually change because of the hormones.”
Understanding Bioidentical Hormones
Bioidentical hormones mimic the estrogen and progesterone that the body produces, and are manufactured to have the same molecular structure as those hormones in the body. They are extracted from soy and yams, and are considered natural, and thus different from conventional hormones, which are synthetic. Synthetic hormones and bioidentical hormones are not the same.
Hormone replacement therapy should always be taken under the supervision of a doctor, especially if a woman is at risk for breast cancer or heart disease. If a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer while she’s on hormone replacement therapy, she has a much lower mortality rate than someone who is not. However, if a woman is estrogen-receptor positive, then the risks of cancer are greater.
When a woman reaches menopause, the risk of suffering from a heart attack is equal to that of a man. “Bioidentical hormones help prevent 75 percent of heart attack deaths,” Dr. Hall says.
Robin, best-selling author of What’s Age Got to Do with It?: Living Your Happiest and Healthiest Life, shares her experience with menopause and hormone replacement therapy.
“Two of the smartest things I’ve ever done in my entire life were to make sure I have balanced my hormones and to really embrace menopause,” Robin says. “I look at it in a positive way, in a life-changing way for the better, to a healthier me.”
Robin devoted an entire chapter to hormones in her book. Read it here!
“E” was so taken aback by menopause that she wrote a book, Shmirshky: Think Inside the Book, chronicling her experience. “No one told me that one day, I would not be able to think clearly,” E says. “That I would not be able to grab a thought or remember my kids’ names, or I would start gaining weight, that I wouldn’t be able to sleep, that my libido would be crashing, that I would have random hot flashes.
“And then,” she continues, “If that’s not enough, no one told me that my “shmirshky” would spend some time in the Sahara desert.”
Treatment for Vaginal Dryness
Estrogen keeps the vagina moist, elastic and lubricated. As a woman approaches menopause, her estrogen levels decrease rapidly, causing vaginal dryness. Vaginal rings, suppositories and creams contain estrogen that can help lubricate the vagina and restore sexual health.
Vitamin E oil can also be used to improve vaginal lubrication.
“You can use it locally in the vagina, simply by applying some of the oil directly, even if you’re not planning on having sex,” Dr. Lisa says. “But this shouldn’t be the only thing you’re trying; you should also use the lubricant of your choice during sex. Vaginal dryness can have several causes, including hormones and age, but if it’s a persistent problem, definitely bring it up with your gynecologist.”
Keep Your Age a Secret!
Plastic surgeon Dr. Drew Ordon and dermatologist Dr. Ava Shamban lists the most commonly neglected body parts that can betray your true age. See ways to combat the ravages of time!
• Neck and chin
Most babies will not sleep through the night. They will probably need to feed a few times and then be helped back to sleep. But over time, a child will start sleeping longer and longer and will get into a good sleeping routine, such as a bath, a massage and some snuggling.
If a baby cries vigorously by itself for longer than 10 minutes, blood flow to the brain can be decreased, so never ignore those cries.
Pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears weighs in on how to:
Sleep train your kids
Soothe a crying baby
Decipher a baby’s cry
Learn the dos and don’ts of crib safety.