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Healthy and Happy Relationships During and After Menopause

Healthy and Happy Relationships During and After Menopause

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“It’s never too late -never too late to start over, never too late to be happy.” —Jane Fonda Most of us believe that being HAPPY is our goal in life, and we often define our happiness in terms of our relationships.  While some fortunate women sail through peri-menopause into menopause with few symptoms or ill effects, many of us DO NOT!  Happiness seems elusive when you do not feel like yourself, and this affects how we are in our relationship with our partner, husband, or significant other. The average age of menopause is 51, which is not so old these days. You could easily have many happy and healthy decades ahead of you and in fact, research suggests that happiness typically increases as we age.  Why then, is this time in our lives often so challenging for our relationships? Menopause affects all of our relationships: those with our husbands or partners, as well as with our children, parents, friends, and colleagues in both positive and sometimes negative ways.  There are many positives.  Freedom from pregnancy brings sexual liberation, financial freedom and freedom from child-rearing responsibilities bring time for intimacy, time for nurturing friendships, new and old hobbies, and time to explore sexually.  Whether married or single, most boomers report they still want to have happy, sexual and intimate relationships.  They also admit that many of them do not. Many women experience the common symptoms of menopause – irritability, anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, low libido, ‘brain fog,’ and vaginal dryness. These symptoms can make any and ALL relationships challenging.  It is difficult to be loving, sexual, kind, and patient in the throes of hot flashes, anger, exhaustion, depression all while not feeling like yourself anymore.  To make matters worse, many physicians prescribe the usual RX cocktail consisting of Ativan and Prozac which may make you numb, but may not help you live the life that you want at this age! There are solutions.  Here is a list of my best and most useful tips to help you sail (even at half-mast!) into menopause with a healthy and happy relationship intact or perhaps even better than ever! Educate yourself on the hormonal changes you are going through, and then educate your loved ones so they understand.  You are your own best health advocate and as such, you owe it to yourself to be informed.  Put yourself in the driver’s seat: this will help you feel more in control of YOU even when you do not always recognize yourself. Humour: find it, use it and spread it around!  Sometimes laughing together at the changes you are both experiencing helps. Try new sexual positions if you are having more aches, pains, and reduced mobility.  Be playful and have some fun!  Accommodations can make you more creative.  Use femMED’s Libido to enhance arousal, increase lubrication, and sexual response. Be more emotionally intimate:  listen to each other,...

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How Our Hormones Affect Our Libido Through The Decades And What We Can Do About Them

How Our Hormones Affect Our Libido Through The Decades  And What We Can Do About Them

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Hormones are the KEY to vibrant sexual health for women. Did you know that we have over 50 known hormones secreted by our body!?  Our sex hormones, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and DHEA and their balancing act or lack thereof, largely influences our sex drive or libido. What makes this even more challenging is that our hormone levels fluctuate with each decade.  The good news is, that armed with insight and knowledge, we can help make our libido BE what we want it to BE! In our teens, our sex hormones change wildly – resulting in some crazy behaviour. It helps to have patience and structure, knowledge and boundaries around emerging sexuality.  Our twenties bring on more hormonal stability as we mature and establish ourselves in careers and self-identity. It’s also a good time to start thinking about using a good quality multivitamin (containing calcium and magnesium as well). It can assist in laying a healthy foundation and calm PMS symptoms if present. Many hormonal changes that can affect our sex drive begin in our thirties.  Testosterone starts to decrease slowly for both men and women, affecting everything from desire to muscle tone. Pregnancy can also dramatically your alter libido, although this varies vastly from woman to woman.  Generally the second trimester is a time of increased desire and continues throughout the third trimester.  Post-partum brings on its own hormonal challenges with fatigue and body image playing enormous havoc with our sex lives. For some women,  it may take upwards of 12-32 months to fully feel “like yourself” after having a baby. The good news is that oxytocin, which is secreted with breast milk, is known as the “love” hormone and makes us feel warm and amorous to both our baby and our sweetheart, so save some of that loving for him! Let’s take a moment now to talk about cortisol. It’s one of the most important hormone’s that affects us throughout each decade.  Cortisol is mostly known as the hormone our bodies secrete when we’re under a high level of stress. It’s often called the “flight or fight response”. Whenever we’re feeling threatened or stressed this hormone allows our body to best manage the situation, too literally, survive. Many of us do not realize the impact that high, prolonged cortisol levels can have. When we’re under chronic stress, our bodies never have the downtime to recover and get back to normal. According to Dr. Kristy Prouse, Ob/Gyn and founder of The Institute of Hormonal Health, cortisol affects libido MORE than testosterone! Once the body does get back to normal hormone levels, a healthy sex drive often follows, usually.…… Hormone levels begin to decline more rapidly for most women in their forties and fifties.  Decreased progesterone may cause irritability, anxiety and elevated cortisol levels.  Testosterone decreases quickly (hormone of desire) and many women are perplexed as to why they simply...

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Menopause and Relationships

Menopause and Relationships

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Girls are like phones. We love to be held and talked to. But if you press the wrong button you’ll be disconnected! -author unknown Isn’t that the truth, especially during  perimenopause and menopause. For many of us, one wrong move or word by the people who matter to us the most, can mean a quick disconnect (read SNAP!!). The average age for menopause is 51 — which is not so old these days. You can easily have many happy and healthy decades ahead of you, and in fact, research suggests that happiness typically increases as women age. Why then, can this time in a woman’s life, be so challenging for our relationships? Menopause can affect our love relationships, in both positive and sometimes negative ways. The freedom from pregnancy and for many of us, child-rearing, can provide us the time to rediscover our sexual selves and our partners. The challenge is now that you finally have the freedom to rediscover yourself sexually, the common symptoms of menopause – irritability, anxiety, depression, lack of  sleep, zero libido and a dry vagina can make it somewhat challenging. It is difficult to be loving, sexual, kind, and patient in the throes of hot flashes, anger, exhaustion, depression and simply not feeling like yourself. There are solutions. A recent client of mine illustrates what is possible after menopause when we are proactive, knowledgeable and find collaborative health providers. Margaret is 55 and found that her previously healthy relationship with her husband changed dramatically after menopause. She was cranky, had no sex drive and suffered hot flashes every night. Her experience made it impossible to get a restful sleep. She felt miserable and isolated. She missed the way things used to be between them. Being proactive, she began her own research and found an integrative health professional who advised her to have her hormone levels tested, suggested a therapist, and a nutrition expert. They helped her work through the various issues that were interfering with her relationship and her health. I worked with Margaret for 6 sessions and during that time she started taking natural health supplements that I use and recommend; specifically, femMED’s Menopause Relief and Libido. Menopause Relief is an excellent product that helped Margaret manage her menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and mood swings and femMED Libido which helped boost Margaret’s libido. Because our relationships can really improve for the better during this time, I recommended that she read “Passionate Marriage” by Dr David Schnarch. It is my favourite book for learning how to grow within yourself and thereby grow your relationships. Margaret reported major breakthroughs in how she felt physically, mentally and emotionally during our last session. I encourage you not to give up if menopause is adversely affecting YOUR relationships. There is hope, help and many years left to both thrive and embrace life to its fullest!   Camille Lawson Camille...

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Beat Holiday Stress, Easily, With These Tips

Beat Holiday Stress, Easily, With These Tips

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Stress is a response that we all feel at some point in our lives.  Some stress is considered healthy, as it sharpens your mental faculty, however,  too much can be harmful to your health. Stress causes the release of a hormone called cortisol into your bloodstream. Cortisol in and of itself is not a bad thing as it is important for many functions such as regulating your metabolism, blood pressure, the amount of insulin in your bloodstream and your immunity. Prolonged high levels of cortisol, however, can effect your body detrimentally with a myriad of health problems such as: high blood pressure, lowered immunity, blood sugar imbalances, decreases in bone density, and a decrease in the amount of testosterone produced. Psychologists have long known that chronic stress causes psychological ailments as well, such as: depression, anxiety and anger. I don’t know about you, but I know many otherwise reasonable stable people experience these feelings during the holiday season! For many of us, the upcoming holiday season produces more cortisol surges than any other time of year!  However, the good news is that there are simple things you can do to significantly reduce stress and – get this- even ENJOY yourself more!! So, what can you do about it?  Visualize this, according to Life Extension Magazine: Don’t let stress stick to you like fuzzy stuff to Velcro. Let it slide away, like a cooked pancake off a Teflon skillet. Meditate every morning for just 3-5 minutes – YES you can!  Studies show this will calm your mind, energize you and set you up for a busy day and night.  The simple act of stilling your mind chatter for a few minutes each day can be incredible and not just for your stress levels. Meditation is thought of as a great way for finding solutions to problems. Highly successful people regularly use meditation as a tool to rebalance themselves as well as coming up with new business or creative ideas. We have all the answers inside of ourselves, so meditation is used to quiet the external noise so you can hear your creative internal voice. There is not a right or wrong way; just do it and watch Aunt Sally’s shrill voice fade comfortably away…This simple act of stilling your mind will help lower your stress levels. Exercise most days even if it is ONLY 20 minutes!  During the holidays one of the first routines we give up is often our exercise pattern – Don’t!   20 minutes of a brisk walk, light weights or quick cardio will assist you more than you realize to feel good and enjoy the holidays. Stay healthy:  Have a protein shake before you go to a party. Indulge as you wish, but the protein will help you stay full and balance any sugars and carbs you consume. Use a good quality, natural multivitamin with antioxidants daily, such...

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Hormones: The Key To Vibrant Health And Sexuality For Women

Hormones:  The Key To Vibrant Health And Sexuality For Women

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There is SO much for us to learn about our hormones!  This is part one in a brief overview about their importance in our daily lives, how to keep them balanced and at the same time improve our sexual lives. There are over 50 known hormones in our body and they regulate cell function, influence cellular activity and are chemical messengers.  They do this best when they are “balanced”. When hormones are NOT balanced, things happen in small or BIG ways. Imbalances occur due to internal and external factors. Estrogens Made in ovaries, adrenal glands and some fat cells 3 types: Estrone, Estradiol, Estriol Formation of female secondary characteristics, stimulates endometrial growth  Maintains skin and blood vessels,  increases bone formation, involved with protein synthesis, coagulation, lipid (fats) function, sodium and water balance and gastrointestinal function Link between increased Cortisol levels (stress hormone) and increased fat cells which increases levels of Estrogens (can cause Estrogen Dominance) Low Estrogen may cause: Brain fog Painful intercourse Recurring urinary tract infections Urinary incontinence Vaginal dryness Thinning of vaginal wall Low Libido Any of these sound familiar? Progesterone Progesterone is a very critical hormone, often underestimated in importance! Produced mostly by the ovaries and adrenal glands Regulates menstrual cycle and maintains a pregnancy Assists in thyroid function, bone building, relaxes smooth muscle, anti- inflammatory, regulates immune response, reduces gallbladder activity, normalizes blood clotting, zinc and copper levels use of fat stores for energy, helps promote quality sleep! Regulates effects of estrogen Low progesterone may cause: Anxiety & Sleep problems Difficulty handling stress Elevated Cortisol levels Estrogen dominant conditions Headaches Heavy periods Low bone density Miscarriages Water retention Abdominal weight gain   DHEA Makes testosterone and estrogen Peaks in our late 20’s then decreases steadily Increased Cortisol levels (stress)cause a decrease in DHEA Considered to be anti- aging in some studies Testosterone Essential to sex drive, maintains muscle, bones, skin, and the heart in women Produced mainly in the ovaries and much of it is converted to estradiol BCP decreases testosterone Low testosterone/DHEA may cause: High Cortisol Loss of strength, stamina Low or NO sex drive Memory decline Muscle wasting and weakness Fatigue Osteopenia Osteoporosis Sleep problems Vaginal dryness   Bio-Identical Hormones As we enter into perimenopause our hormones fluctuate and eventually decline with menopause and  as you can see from the lists above in the possible symptoms with low hormone levels, getting our hormones balanced can really assist us in feeling like ourselves once again!  There are a few options available to those who chose to treat low hormone levels. I do NOT ever recommend using synthetic hormones (HRT) such as Premarin and Provera, however, I DO recommend both natural supplements and Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement (BHRT). I personally use and recommend the femMED  line of natural, quality supplements.  In particular, many of my clients find Breast Health, Hormonal Balance and Menopause Relief  have really...

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Summer Survival Tips and Vitamins for Skin, Nails And Hair

Summer Survival Tips and Vitamins for Skin, Nails And Hair

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Now that the glorious summer that we Canadians long for all year is well underway it is time to ensure that we survive (and enjoy!)  the sun, heat, water, and the other elements.  I find that by mid-July, after a couple of weeks visiting friends at cottages on rocks and beaches my beauty regime can stand a bit of tweaking.  Our skin, nails and hair can all take a beating from our beautiful outdoor lifestyle that we are unaccustomed to – not that I am complaining one bit! Here are a few tips that work well for me: Use a broad-spectrum, natural sunscreen at all times with an SPF of 30 or higher.  Don’t forget skin on your hands and feet that are exposed most often. Speaking of feet, many of us wear flip flops frequently and these can cause cracked heels and rough skin.  Use a good quality, paraben free moisturizer.  Certain vitamins can also help to maintain smooth skin (see below). Hydrate frequently – think of water as moisturizer from the inside out. Your skin will thank you! Make sure if you shave, wax, or laser hair that you do it several hours prior to sun exposure or else sensitive skin may get irritated. Bug bites can be more than annoying – my best natural tip is to use Tea Tree Oil.  Works like a charm and stops scratching! Hair can become very dry from the heat and sun.  Use a deep conditioner while IN the sun once a week then wash out after an hour or so. If you get a sunburn, apply aloe vera gel to soothe the skin and promote healing. Use a loofah or body scrub to gently remove dead cells from the top layer of skin. Follow with a good moisturizer. Eat lots of berries and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as fish and chia seed. Hair, Skin & Nails Auto-ship* $29.99 One-time 39.99 Add to cart Add to cart When choosing vitamins for skin, nails and hair to stay looking their best and healthiest be certain these key ingredients are present in sufficient quantities. Biotin  – research shows improvement in brittle nails and hair loss.  BONUS:  studies show improvement in blood sugar control Silicon – very important mineral for strong bones and good connective tissue to have healthy skin and hair. BONUS:  Maybe useful for atherosclerosis Vitamin B3 or Niacin – very important for maintenance of healthy skin and blood circulation.  BONUS:  can lower and control cholesterol levels Vitamin B6 – essential for amino acid conversions (protein) to make them bioavailable.  BONUS:  VERY good for our nails, skin, and hair Antioxidants such as Vitamin C, alpha-lipoic acid and selenium, protect the skin against free radical damage and aid in tissue repair. Zinc has anti-inflammatory properties and facilitates skin healing As always, I do my research and have found the...

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Multivitamins and Antioxidants: The Bottom Line

Multivitamins and Antioxidants:  The Bottom Line

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Supplements, like so many other aspects of health information, are confusing! One extreme says we do not need any supplements if we are eating a healthy, whole food diet; the other side promotes using supplements to combat every possible health issue. I grew up with a father who believed in being pro-active with his health, so he took – no kidding – 25 different supplements every single day! He even took all the separate bottles with him while traveling! So, needless to say, I have had to do my homework to find a healthy balance between extremes. Supplements ARE necessary in addition to a whole food diet because much of our food today is nutritionally bankrupt and depleted of many vitamins and, most importantly, trace minerals that are vital for the body to function optimally. This is in part due to the fact that the quality of the soil used for growing food has become degraded and certain fertilizers binds minerals so they are less available for the plants and to us. This is true of organically grown foods as well. Dr Gladys Block, formerly with the national Cancer Institute, conducted a large study comparing people who regularly took multi-vitamins and anti-oxidants with those who took none or only a low dose RDA multi-vitamin. The study showed that the regular takers had 73% less diabetes risk than non –supplement takers; 52% less risk of heart disease and were 74% more likely to rate their own health as “good” or “excellent”. How to Identify High Quality Multivitamin Supplements I do believe that dietary supplements — including vitamins and minerals — can help compensate for some of the damage your body incurs through living in a contemporary culture. However, it’s not wise to use supplements to justify a poor diet. In my experience no amount of supplements will ever be able to substitute for healthy food choices. That being said, the case for taking a daily, high quality multivitamin, mineral and antioxidant supplement is strong, especially as we get older. Several nutrients are less well absorbed later in life and because the body systems become less efficient and need more support to function optimally. You need to look for; A very high quality line. If the vitamins and minerals are not in the right form and quantities our body will not absorb it properly and it is a waste of money! I recommend femMed highly due to its commitment to nutritional excellence. Ideally split into two daily doses. Our body can only absorb so many nutrients at once and approximately 12 hours apart allows for optimal absorption. No binders, fillers, dairy, egg, yeast, gluten, artificial anything. Multivitamin for Women Balanced vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients (specific for women – our needs are different!) to enhance energy, stamina and performance. Look for one that also has folate, magnesium, and zinc to support a...

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The Missing Link: Stress and Weight

The Missing Link:  Stress and Weight

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Who has not experienced 24/7 STRESS?  As busy women most of us do regularly, however, we were never meant to experience CHRONIC STRESS!  We are supposed to have small amounts which are both beneficial and necessary, followed by a return to a state of relaxation.  Hmmm, what is that you ask? Stress releases the hormone CORTISOL responsible for many important functions in our body: Glucose metabolism Blood pressure regulation Insulin release to maintain level blood sugars Inflammation response When we have too much cortisol in our body for too long (that would be for most of us!)  it adversely affects many important functions.  The missing link for many women and problems with weight loss is stress and cortisol! Here’s why: Too much cortisol causes Decreased thyroid function Sugar imbalances Increased abdominal fat Decreased immune system function (this is another very significant finding that stress=sickness) I see women in my practice who complain that they exist on “carrots and celery”, yet do not lose any body fat at all, ever.  While a low calorie, deprivation diet is very unhealthy (e.g. lowers metabolism and deprives the body of needed nutrients) when I ask about their stress levels inevitability one of the missing pieces becomes clear. The reason for stress and weight gain? Cortisol is often the culprit! So, what can we do to reduce our constant stress and therefore reduce our cortisol levels? Here are some useful tips – both nutritional and lifestyle: Walk daily – for exercise AND very therapeutic.  I personally have conversations with myself Yoga – studies do show it definitely works to reduce stress and weight and has numerous other health benefits Breathe deeply, often!  Simple, yet extraordinarily effective and feel effects immediately! Sex – YES, sex reduces stress in many ways, not the least is that in women it releases our “feel good and loving” hormone, Oxytocin.  Try it and see for yourself! Use femMed natural supplements formulated specifically for women.  In particular, I recommend Weight Management, Hormonal Balance and Menopause Relief to help reduce stress and cortisol. Exercise moderately 5-6 times a week.  Even 30 minutes makes an enormous difference. 200 mcg Chromium may help reduce sugar cravings Carbs are not ALL bad – try eliminating all white carbs and do add in brown rice, sweet potato, whole and ancient grains, oatmeal and lots of brightly coloured vegetables.  Why?  Helps raise your feel good neurotransmitter – SEROTONIN.  Amino acids also do this, naturally. Empower yourself with supportive personal development seminars and weekends As women, our health must come first – without it we cannot assist our families, colleagues, friends and most of all, ourselves!  Please commit to adding in just 3 of the stress reducers for the next 30 days and let us know how you feel.  Fight stress and weight gain. YOU are worth it! In health, Camille Stress is one of the main...

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