Last week, my husband reminded me it was time for my car's regularly scheduled tune up. The brake lining, fluid levels, tire alignment, balancing--it all needed to be checked out.
For both David and me, maintaining safe, well-running cars is a huge priority. After all, we spend a tremendous amount of time in those cars, commuting to work, meetings, family gatherings, and just running errands. Then it hit me (a question, not a car!): why are so many of us incredibly organized and attentive when it comes to the wellbeing of our cars, but not when it comes to the wellbeing of our primary vehicles (the bodies that we ride around in 24/7)?!?!
If our cars groan, sputter, or smoke, we take them into the mechanic without a second of hesitation, but when our bodies are flashing, flushing, overheating, and experiencing many of the more than 30 symptoms of perimenopause and menopause, we far too often suffer in silence! Many women, even if undergoing hormone replacement therapy, don't get rechecked when they find themselves experiencing old or new symptoms. Just like our cars need adjustments from time to time, so do our hormones and healthcare.
Our cars have all kinds of flashing, blinking, chirping alarms for a reason: to tell us to attend to their needs. Our bodies are built with alarms, too. When we don't feel right, it's our bodies' dashboards telling us that something is wrong. So why don't we pay attention to them? Why do we wait until we find ourselves on the equivalent of a highway shoulder? When it comes to caring for our perimenopause and menopause symptoms, we all too often wait for a crisis to hit us before attending to them. It's as if we had been waiting for AAA to come and give us a menopausal tow into the nearest garage! (Bad visual, right?)
It's time for some preventative care--a tune up, if you will. Preventative care is the true foundation of living and being well. Every 10,000 miles or so, we take our cars in for a looksee from our friendly mechanic. The same should be true for our bodies. Why check the lining of our brakes, but not the lining of our vaginas?
It's way too common for women to not check their estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and other hormone levels. We need to do this in order to make sure that all of our "equipment" is working well. We would never think of driving with anything less than a well-oiled engine and plenty of fuel, but when was the last time you asked your gynecologist to screen you for vaginal atrophy? Is your vagina lubricating and running right? If not, your health, sex life, enjoyment, and romantic relationships can suffer.
Here are my five steps to getting on the road to hormone happiness:
1. Listen to Your Body. Listening to our bodies' dashboards is the first and most important step in our bodies riding smoothly during perimenopause and menopause. Until you pay attention to those flashing lights, you can't do anything about them.
2. Find a Menopause Specialist. Gynos are great, but they often aren't trained in the specifics of perimenopause and menopause tune ups. To find a specialist near you, consult my Menopause Doctor Directory, get a referral from your primary care physician, or ask the women in your life who's guiding them toward hormone happiness.
3. Chart Your Menopause Symptoms. To help track your symptoms, sign up for my free Menopause Mondays Newsletter to receive my Menopause Symptoms Chart via email. Each day, chart the frequency, duration, and severity of your perimenopause and menopause symptoms and take this chart in with you to your appointment with your menopause specialist.
4. Know Your Numbers. Ask your menopause specialist about receiving a complete blood workup, including a hormone panel. The proper testing together with your completed Menopause Symptoms Chart will enable your doctor to create an individualized program just for you. There are lots of numbers involved, but don't worry, no algebra needed!
5. Stay on the Path. Remember, one tune up is not enough. Constantly listen to your body, monitor your symptoms, and maintain an open dialogue with your menopause specialist.
As we continue on with our summer travels and get our cars all ready to roll, let's remind ourselves to put our own personal health needs on our tune-up list. After all, without that our bodies can't properly take us where we want and need to go. So turn up your car's volume and heed the wise words of the Beatles...
Baby you can drive my car
Yes I'm gonna be a star
Baby you can dive my car
And maybe I'll love you
Let's hang out! Monday, August 12th at 5:30pm PST/8:30pm EST. Ellen is hosting her Menopause Mondays Google Hangouts: Where the Sisterhood helps the Sisterhood. If you would like to get an invite to Ellen's Menopause Mondays Google Hangouts, please email your request to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can RSVP here if you have a Google Plus account and have received an invite. Start sending your questions in here! Get ready to talk menopause with Ellen at this free online event!
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Ellen Dolgen is an outspoken women's health and wellness advocate, menopause awareness expert, author, and speaker.
After struggling through the silence that surrounds menopause, Ellen resolved to help women reach out and end the confusion, embarrassment, and less-than-lovely symptoms that come with "the change." Her passion to be a "sister" to all women fueled Ellen's book, Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness. As a result of her women's wellness journey, and in response to the overwhelming thirst of her ever-expanding audience for empowering information, Ellen's weekly blog, Menopause MondaysTM was born.
Menopause MondaysTM allows Ellen an expansive platform from which she broadens her discussion of menopause, women's health, and life as a menopausal (and fabulous!) woman. Her weekly Menopause News Flash provides a one-stop shop for the latest menopause and women's health news and research, allowing women the access and know-how needed to take charge of their health and happiness. In addition to Ellen's ever-growing social media presence, EllenDolgen.com has fast become "the place" on the web for informative and entertaining women's menopause and wellness engagement. In 2012 and 2013 EllenDolgen.com was named first on the list of the "Best Menopause Blogs" by Healthline. Ellen is also a regular contributor to over a dozen leading women's health blogs. Her motto is: Reaching out is IN! Suffering in silence is OUT!
Ellen has appeared on the "TODAY Show," the "Rachael Ray Show," "The Doctors," Oprah Radio, Playboy Radio, NPR's "Tell Me More," Doctor Radio, and dozens of regional and national media outlets. Ellen is also one of the first regular contributors to debut on The Huffington Post's recently added site, Huff/Post50, which targets 116 million Americans over the age of 50.