In this episode, we interview Dr. Tara Allmen, MD. who is the author of Menopause Confidential – a doctor reveals the secrets to thriving through midlife.
Coming to you from this time from the Bakersfield Botanical Gardens.
What is midlife?
Because women live into their mid-80’s (average life expectancy) midlife begins at the age of 40. If you’re 40 and beyond, it’s time to get information on what changes you can expect as you journey through peri-menopause, (starting in your 40’s) and head toward menopause, (average age 51) which never actually ends. Menopause begins with our last menstrual period until death do us part.
After menopause, we will spend over thirty-plus years as women without estrogen. That’s what “the change” is all about. Our ovaries have retired and are no longer making estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
A hot flash on hot flashes
The average number of years women experience hot flashes is seven. However, many women will experience them for over twenty years. In some cases, their symptoms can be debilitating.
Peri-menopause – Still having periods but the body is changing and going rogue. Hot flashes, night sweats, brain fog, mood swings, weight gain, low libido, poor sleep, fatigue, etc.
Menopause – When the menstrual cycle has ceased for good.
The bigger picture
Even if you don’t experience menopausal symptoms, you still need to consider what life will be like without estrogen. It’s important to be aware of your heart health, cognitive health, and bone health as well as your health from head to toe. Women going through menopause will experience skin, hair, nails, and vision and fatigue level changes. If you haven’t already, now is the time to make lifestyle changes to stay healthy and to maintain or lose weight. The process will also be much harder.
Dr. Allmen suggests that if you are a woman over 40, visit the website www.menopause.org for detailed information.
It’s time to get a new doctor
As a woman over 40, you need to graduate from your beloved obstetrician, because they will no longer be able to take you through your next journey. He or she won’t know the nuances of choices available for symptom relief, health protection, & disease prevention. On menopause.org, you can find credentialed experts like Dr. Allmen in your area. She practices in NYC.
Dr. Allmen is a gynecologist who specializes in women’s health over 40. She recommends that you find a gynecologist who focuses on women midlife and beyond. Ask your insurance company for a list of GYN onlys. Call each practice to see if women over 40 is the focus of their practice because GYN’s specialize in different aspects of women’s health (pregnancy, fertility, surgery, etc.)
Dr. Allmen’s book, “Menopause Confidential” will provide you with everything you need to know about menopause from head to toe. She is just over 50 herself and going through menopause.
Her book will give you all the resources you need at the tip of your fingertips. She has studied the facts extensively and has made sure everything suggestion in the book is scientifically accurate.
Hormones and cardiovascular health
The number one killer of women is heart disease. Women must be especially careful about their health because up until menopause they’ve been taking care of everyone else. (children, spouses, parents, pets, homes, etc.) Making lifestyle changes now will give you a better chance of being healthy and well when you are in your 80’s and beyond.
Priorities in midlife for heart, brain, & bone health
- Eat healthfully
- Maintain a healthy weight
Women over 40 must do a minimum of 30 minutes of aerobic exercise (as easy as brisk walking) at least 5 days a week.
Secrets of weight loss
We will all gain weight as we get older. It’s a function of aging and lifestyle choices. It’s not a function of menopausal symptoms. However, if you’re symptomatic (not sleeping well or fatigued) you’re not going to make those important lifestyle changes.
If you want to lose weight, the equation changes to 60 minutes of aerobic exercise, 7 days a week. You also have to eat less. As you grow older you need fewer calories. All those calories need to be calorie poor and nutritionally rich. (eat lots of fruits and vegetables)
Dr. Allmen debunks the myth that if you are overweight, you are not at risk for osteoporosis.
Women lose bone rapidly after their menstrual cycles end. Make sure to eat a calcium-rich diet (Vitamin D fortified) and strength train twice a week. However, the only thing that can prevent bone loss is estrogen.
If you’re at risk for osteoporosis (thin, your mother had osteoporosis, (you have a parent with a fracture, are a smoker, a couch potato, take steroids) you should schedule a consultation with a professional to find out if you should take estrogen and in what form. It’s a complicated and individual matter.
Your sex life
Everything dries up from head to toe after menopause. Vaginas are estrogen dependent organs. You have to take care of it. Dr. Allmen gives her patients a weekly homework assignment to masturbate. “Girlfriends can do it for themselves.” It’s the easiest way to get blood flow to the vagina and keep it healthy. You can use something as simple as olive oil as a vaginal moisturizer, or an over-the-counter product. Moisturizers and lubes are two different products. Moisturizers should be applied several times a week for moisture and lube is for the act of insertion.
As an aside, your bladder is located on top of your vagina. When you do your weekly homework assignment, it keeps your bladder from leaking.
Fear of estrogen
Women are often fearful of using estrogen because of the risk of breast cancer. According to Dr. Allmen, the risk is tiny. It’s about as likely as you getting eaten by a Great White Shark. The benefits far outweigh the risks.
During menopause, you’ll notice changes to your hair, skin, and nails. Your head will thin but you’ll notice random hairs on your chin. Your nails may become fragile and your skin thins and wrinkles. It’s all because of lack of estrogen and is part of the journey.
Menopause Confidential by Dr. Tara Allmen
“Menopause Confidential” covers all of the issues above in great detail.
Visit Dr. Allmen’s website here. www.drallmen.com