Hey Sleepyhead! Where’s your get up and go?

Do you ever feel like your get up and go got up and went? Well, understanding and supporting your adrenals is the most helpful way to get it back.

First thing to know is that a rising level of cortisol is the main hormonal signal telling your body to wake up. In the early hours of the morning, cortisol steadily rises until it brings you to waking. Levels continue to rise to a peak about 30min after you get up, and then gradually decline. Through the mid-day and afternoon, the cortisol curve flattens, and then it drops at night as you wind down and prepare for sleep.

At least that’s what is *supposed* to happen!

If you have a hard time getting up and going in the morning, chances are your cortisol isn’t rising as much as it should.

Low morning cortisol is usually a result of chronic stress. The adrenal system initially responds to stress by producing MORE cortisol. But over time the system down regulates, produces LESS cortisol, and leaves you feeling sluggish and burned out.

I know it’s easier said than done, but when this happens you need to try to reduce your stress and give your body the nourishment and support it needs.

When you are really busy, it may seem impossible to reduce your stress. However, it is critical to do so in order to stay healthy enough to continue doing all the important things that you do.

One of the best ways to get back your get up and go, is to… well… get up and go. As much as you can, stick to the same wake up time every day, within 30min +/-. ¬†And when you wake, get moving right away.

Ideally get outside for a walk to wake your body up with movement and fresh air. Plus, the sunshine provides bright light which shuts off your melatonin from the night before, and tells your endocrine system that it is morning time. If the weather makes that difficult, dance to a favorite soundtrack or do a little workout routine indoors. When time is tight, try just doing a big stretch and shake out your arms and legs for a minute to help wake your body up.

After a couple weeks, your adrenals will start to learn this rhythm and will naturally produce more cortisol for you at that same time every morning. Then waking up actually becomes easier.

You might not ever be as chipper as a true morning person (I know I’m not!), but you’ll find that your body is ready to wake up and face the day!

To learn more about your adrenals, get a FREE download of my ebook The Busy Woman’s Guide to Adrenal Health at www.DrAmyDay.com/adrenalguide. Or, if you are ready to make some shifts in your self-care routines to reduce stress, increase energy, improve sleep and balance your hormones, my online wellness program is the perfect place to start: www.DrAmyDay.com/recharge.

When your body says “STOP”

Have you ever hit that wall where you just HAVE to stop?

I believe that your body is always talking to you. And when you’ve pushed things too far, your body can tell you in a variety of ways. It may be pain, exhaustion or sickness. It may be mental, emotional or physical. But the message is the same. Your body is asking you to “Stop”. And it may be asking you to change something or get help, too.

If you don’t listen at first, it will send you a stronger signal ūüėČ . Have you ever known anyone who was being a little too tough and just putting up with pain and discomfort? Unfortunately that often leads to further sickness or a more serious injury.

Ignoring early symptoms may allow a disease to progress to a more advanced stage before getting treated. I know that happened to me when I first started having really painful periods, before I found out that I have endometriosis. I was being stoic (and a little stupid?) just hoping that the next month would be better. Now I know better, and I really try to listen to my body and give it what it needs.

If you are like many of the women I work with, you probably struggle to balance work and family and all of life’s demands, and end up pushing through one stress after another and another. Take a minute to consider, is your body giving you any signals lately?

One common theme I see in many of my patients is that chronic stress puts your adrenal system at risk for dysfunction. This “burnout”¬†may lead to fatigue, low immune function, blood sugar dysregulation, stubborn weight gain, anxiety, depression, insomnia and hormonal imbalances.

If you think that¬†your body might be saying “Stop” then listen, and give yourself a break. Plan a vacation, get a massage, take an epsom salt and lavender bath, go to bed early, let go of something on your to do list, and allow yourself to ask for, and receive, help.

If you’d like help in deciphering the messages and symptoms your body is sending you, I’m here for you! Consider an adrenal evaluation and saliva test to see how well you are holding up with all the stress that you are under. I can help you create a custom plan to give you the rest you need, build your resilience and help your body be ready to “Go!” again, in a healthier and more sustainable way.

Endometriosis is my reason, what’s yours?

I don’t know about you, but when I have a REASON I am better able to do what I am supposed to do.

Do you have so many things that you “should” be doing for your health, but have a hard time actually sticking to them? Most of the women I speak with struggle to find the time, wish they knew what to prioritize, and aren’t sure how to stay¬†motivated to continue¬†their healthy habits for the long term.

When it comes to my own self-care, one of my top motivations is the fact that I have endometriosis.

For Endometriosis Awareness Month this year, I thought I’d share with you a bit about my personal journey and how I turned my fear and frustration into empowerment and commitment to my own health. If you want more info to “Get in the Know About Endo,”¬†see my past blog article here¬†or check out the documentary film “Endo What?” here.

My Story:

While in naturopathic medical school, I decided to go off of the birth control pills I had been on for over ten years. Due to family history, I knew I might have endometriosis (endo), and within only a few months, severe pain landed me in emergency surgery.

I was terrified to get my period again afterwards, so I went on a strong hormonal therapy to prevent it for the next year. ¬†I remember feeling so lost and scared during that time until I joined an Endometriosis Association support group, saw a few specialists, and learned¬†how other women handled this condition. Because I was in school, I also dove into learning everything I could about endometriosis, pelvic health, women’s hormones, and how to restore my health naturally. I discovered many strategies that to this day help me to balance my hormones, digestive system and immune system.

Then, instead of being driven by fear, I learned to connect with and care for my body, explore various treatment options with an open but discerning mind, and ultimately listen to my body’s signals. I discovered what worked and what didn’t so that I could feel vital in my life and at peace in my body.

I then went on to specialize in women’s health in my private practice, and found that I could successfully support other women on this type of journey.¬†After being diagnosed with a painful chronic disease, I have been able to find the silver linings. I have turned my experience into a very proactive and fulfilling life, where I can give to others and also maintain a high commitment to self-care.

There are many other long term, big picture “reasons” for me to want to be healthy, too. I want to have a bigger impact in the world and be able to inspire more women through my work. I want to be able to enjoy time with my son as he grows up and I want to have a have long life ahead with my husband. I want to stay active and healthy so I can continue to enjoy all that life brings in the upcoming years and decades. And I know that ALL of this makes it “worth it” to make healthy choices and take great care of myself now.

I’m always curious to find out from my patients, and I encourage you to consider, what is YOUR reason???¬†Having a reason, and keeping it in mind, will help make all the effort you put towards your health feel worth it, and will help you to stay on track towards your own health and life goals more easily.

And if you could use more support to discover your reasons, to prioritize your efforts and to have a partner on your health journey, I welcome you to schedule a complimentary phone consultation HERE.

 

Taking care of your HEART <3

Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 4.23.10 PMHeart disease, the #1 killer of women, is a topic that we all need to take seriously.

It is sobering to look at some of the US statistics saying that heart disease and stroke cause 1 in 3 women’s deaths each year. Or that approximately 44 million women in the US have cardiovascular disease of some kind, causing one woman’s death every 80 seconds.

On a more positive note, the American Heart Association reports that 80% of heart disease and stroke events may be prevented by lifestyle changes and education. See their website for women to learn more general background information and answers to common questions: www.goredforwomen.org.

Also be sure to check out their entertaining video HERE to help you learn, and remember, the signs and symptoms of heart attacks in women.

And adding naturopathic care will help you to keep up with the cutting edge, take control of your health and be as preventive as possible.

I recently attended a cardiology training, taught by Dr. Steve Parcell, a fellow ND and author of the book, Dare to Live. I will share with you here some of the latest updates, and bust some of the most commonly held beliefs.

#1 Blood Tests: It’s not just about Cholesterol!
Common medical practice has already moved from simply testing total cholesterol, to also looking at “good” HDL, “bad” LDL, and triglycerides. Now there are several other tests available that can reveal more of the story of your cardiovascular health.

Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the artery walls, is only about 35-40% caused by cholesterol. Inflammation, measured by cardio-CRP, also known as hsCRP or highly sensitive C-Reactive Protein, is another very important factor. Without inflammation, the cholesterol can simply pass through an artery along with the blood. However when inflammation is present, irritated artery walls cause more turbulent flow and the cholesterol passing through may stick as a plaque, causing a narrower space for the blood to flow through.

Some other examples of blood tests that may help to inform the picture include homocysteine, ApoB, Lp(a), lipoprotein particle number and size, glucose, insulin, hemoglobin A1C, vit D, CoQ10  and some others that are still not used commonly.

#2 Imaging/Other testing: It’s not just about Stress Tests!
So it turns out that a stress EKG, where they monitor your heart while on a treadmill, can miss many less advanced cases of heart disease. You may have seen stories in the news about people who have died of a heart attack after having a normal result on a stress test just days or weeks prior.  We need to be using other methods of assessing heart health to more accurately catch and monitor early to moderate disease.

I admit that this is not my area of expertise and I would not be the one to order this kind of imaging for my patients. However, I thought I’d share with you that Dr. Parcell was recommending a combination of two specific imaging test, a Heart Scan and a CIMT.

The Heart Scan, also known as Coronary Calcium Scoring, can be monitored over time to verify that a treatment plan is working as intended. The word “coronary” means that this is looking at the vessels within the heart itself.

The second test, a CIMT or Carotid Intima Media Thickness, is named after the two layers of the artery wall called intima (inner layer) and media (middle layer). This is an ultrasound of the carotid artery in your neck, and can actually measure the thickness of any plaque in the artery.

Unfortunately, though insurance will usually cover mammograms for the less common and less deadly breast cancer, most insurance plans do not cover these imaging options. Therefore, you will need to talk with your doctor or cardiologist about your options.

#3 Natural Treatments: It’s not just about Statin drugs!
There are many well-studied and highly effective natural treatment options for reducing your risk factors and optimizing your heart health. And when a statin or other prescription drug is needed, a natural treatment approach can help you use the minimal dose and minimize side effects.

  • Lifestyle factors include: reducing and managing stress (cortisol causes a LOT of problems for cardiovascular health), getting adequate sleep, exercising regularly, stopping smoking and maintaining an ideal weight.
  • Dietary factors include: eating plenty of good fats and colorful vegetables, following an anti-inflammatory diet, avoiding fried foods, reducing salt if you have high blood pressure, decreasing sugar and carbs if you have signs of insulin resistance. The mediterranean diet is one of the most well studied diets for heart health and would be a great starting place.
  • Supplements/Herbs to consider: Omega-3 fish oils (high doses that provide at least 2,000mg combined EPA and DHA), red yeast rice (always along with coQ10), resveratrol (concentrated supplement not just from drinking red wine), coQ10, anti-oxidants (to prevent oxidation of the bad LDL cholesterol), and anti-inflammatory herbs.
    Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, is one of the most effective ways to naturally improve cholesterol. It will increase the good and decrease the bad, will reduce Lp(a), and can also help to shrink plaque build up. The form of niacin to choose is the “sustained release niacin” because the regular one causes flushing and the flush-free one doesn’t work, so steer clear of plain niacin or inositol hexaniacinate. Due to possible elevations, it is important while on niacin over the long term to monitor liver enzymes, blood sugar and homocysteine.

The field of cardiovascular health is changing rapidly. We’ve come a long way (though there’s still further to go!) in recognizing the difference between women and men when it comes to heart disease. We are still learning which assessments and markers are more important, and which treatment approaches will most effectively reduce disease and save lives.

If your other doctor ran a basic cholesterol test and said you were fine, or just offered you a statin drug but you want more options, I’m here for you. If are ready to take a more holistic and proactive approach, and need a guide to help you on your journey, you¬†can learn more about my practice and request a complimentary phone consultation at www.DrAmyDay.com/contact.

(#5 of 5) I’m SO busy, how can I help my hormone health in the *easiest* ways possible?

This is the final post in my 5-part series where I answer “The Top 5 Questions Every Woman in (or near) Her 40s Should Be Asking about Her Hormones and Her Overall Health.”

Today I¬†will be answering the question:¬†“I’m SO busy, how can I help my hormone health in the *easiest* ways possible?”

The previous posts explained that perimenopause is a natural, normal phase of life that lasts about 5-10 years before your period ends. We covered the importance of key lifestyle habits and adrenal health to help set the stage for this hormonal transition. Then we took a look at what kinds of tests and screenings you should be considering now that you are in your 40s. And finally we reviewed what is really happening to your different hormones as you go through perimenopause. If you missed those, you can read Post 1 Here,Post 2 Here, Post 3 Here, and Post 4 Here. 

I know you are SUPER busy, and that is exactly why you need to get your hormones balanced as quickly and easily as possible! You don’t have time for foggy thinking, crazy periods, and irritable outbursts that stress your relationships at work and at home. You don’t have time to be feeling so tired all day long, only to be woken several times a night with heart palpitations or hot flashes. You don’t have time or energy to spend worrying about what is going on in your body, and figuring out what the heck you can do about it!

Here are 3 strategies to help your hormone health in the *easiest* ways possible:

1) ONE STEP AT A TIME

Hormones can¬†be a very complex web of interactions in your body, and it can be daunting to think about all the ways you might be off balance. However, when you approach hormone balancing one step at a time, in a logical order, and at a pace that feels sustainable, you can get reliable effective results. I’ve figured out what it takes¬†after working with hundreds of women in my practice.

Most women are amazed at how easily many hormonal symptoms can be turned around with fairly simple¬†diet and lifestyle changes (as discussed in post #2). When that doesn’t do the trick, specific herbs and supplements can give you the boost, the calm or the balance that you need depending on your adrenal, thyroid and female hormone issues. It is also often quite simple to address the other key influencing factors of¬†digestive health and the mind-body connection.

We will be going into more detail for all of these steps in my¬†perimenopause group program starting in January, so you can learn more about what you can do now, and build your toolbox for future needs. You will be guided step-by-step so you will know exactly what to focus on.¬†I always recommend that you start with¬†small steps that can build momentum.¬†As you create an upward spiral it will¬†help make the next step that much easier to take. Most of my recommendations require very little time because, as a busy working mom myself, I understand that you don’t have time to waste.

I’m also always a big proponent of “progress not perfection”. If you have a slip such as, ahem, the holidays, then get back on track afterwards so you are still moving in the right direction. If you are in the Bay Area, I hope to connect with you in the New Year to help you take your first (or next) steps towards hormone balance and a more easeful perimenopause.

2) AVOID INFORMATION OVERLOAD

Find a few things that you know work for you, or choose your top priorities so you can focus on those. Get expert advice from sources you trust rather than wasting time in the black hole of internet research.

When one site says one thing, and another contradicts it, or when one book recommends a certain diet and then an article you read tells you something completely different, who do you listen to???

First and foremost, learn to tap into and trust the wisdom of your own body. Notice how you feel when you eat a certain diet or get more or less sleep, or take a certain herbal formula. Your body is always talking to you and your job is to listen. Then do your best to adjust your lifestyle, diet, and treatments in the way that helps you feel healthy, happy and balanced.

And if you feel confused or need more straightforward support, consider my upcoming group program in Berkeley.¬†I¬†will guide you to understand your body’s signs and help you cut through the trial-and-error of treatment options that you may have considered. This program combines my knowledge of natural medicine, my 11 years of experience, and my insightful approach so you get the information you need in a way that will really work for you. Plus, the intimate group setting will allow plenty of opportunity to ask your questions and get the specific answers you need.

3) BUILD YOUR COMMUNITY

One of the fastest and easiest ways to learn about what really works is to learn from other women who have figured things out before you. Chances are that you probably have some insights to share that would really help others, too!Perimenopause remains a fairly unrecognized subject in our society, so you’ll need to be purposeful about building a community of support. I hope that women start talking to each other about it more. I hope we can inform those who haven’t reached this stage yet about what to expect and how to get help if they need it. Too many women are totally taken by surprise when perimenopausal symptoms begin, and their regular doctors usually know very little about how to help them.You are not alone in this, even though it may seem like none of your friends are having the same problems that you are. The more you talk about it, the more likely you are to start hearing of other women dealing with similar issues. And if you don’t find this community in your own circles, consider joining my upcoming group program to connect with like-minded women who get what you are going through.

Because I know how important it is to have access to more resources and support, I’m excited to invite you to….

Dr. Amy’s Perimenopause Program
Get Informed ~ Get Empowered ~ Get Balanced

If you are local to the Bay Area and want to go deeper or could use more support, CLICK HERE to learn more about my upcoming 6-month group program, starting in January 2016. I will be guiding you step-by-step as you learn the most effective natural strategies for balancing your hormones and optimizing your overall health. Plus, you will connect with a group of like-minded women who totally get what you are going through, and will be there to support you on your journey.

We’ll meet just once a month, on a Sunday afternoon, for our circle and discussion, plus¬†a special guest activity such as yoga, dance, pilates or art. The rest of the program is flexible so you can get the help you need at a pace that fits into your busy life!

Get all the details and register here ===> www.DrAmyDay.com/perimenopauseprogram

THANKS FOR READING
This 5-part series has been answering your top questions about hormones and overall health, and teaching you many tips about taking care of yourself to stay healthy for the years and decades ahead. Thanks for reading!
If you know other women who might benefit from this information… Please pass this on!

(#4 of 5) What is REALLY going on with my hormones?

This is the fourth post in my 5-part series where I answer “The Top 5 Questions Every Woman in (or near) Her 40s Should Be Asking about Her Hormones and Her Overall Health.”

Today I¬†will be answering the question:¬†“What is REALLY going on with my hormones?”

The previous posts explained that perimenopause is a natural, normal phase of life that lasts about 5-10 years before your period ends. And we covered the importance of key lifestyle habits and adrenal health to help set the stage for this hormonal transition. Then we took a look at what kinds of tests and screenings you should be considering now that you are in your 40s. If you missed those, you can read Post 1 Here, Post 2 Here and Post 3 Here.

To answer the question about what is actually happening with your hormones, let’s first look at what *generally* happens. When a woman gets into perimenopause, like it or not, her body is less focused on reproducing. Therefore, she can start having anovulatory cycles. That means that some months she won’t ovulate, or release an egg from her ovary.

An important thing to know about your hormones is that progesterone (named after “pro-gestation” for it’s support of pregnancy) is only produced after ovulation. So, in perimenopause, the first hormone change that usually happens is that progesterone levels drop.

This results in a relatively high level of estrogen, also known as estrogen dominance. This low progesterone/high estrogen imbalance causes many common symptoms such as worsening PMS, cramps, heavier bleeding, anxiety, insomnia, mood swings and irritability. Symptoms are often worse in the second half of the cycle because the progesterone that previously had been there to balance the estrogen is not getting produced. Once the levels of both estrogen and progesterone drop, the period starts and most women feel better, at least for the next week or two.

As an aside I’d like to share with you that, during this phase, there is one particular herbal supplement that works really well for many women. Chaste Tree Berry, or Vitex, acts as an overall female hormone balancer as it helps with regulating the cycle, increasing progesterone production, and decreasing PMS.

Then, as a woman moves into later perimenopause and closer to menopause, that is when her estrogen levels may start to drop as well. Low estrogen can lead to depression and crying, poor mental clarity, skin dryness and wrinkles, vaginal dryness and low sex drive, heart palpitations, joint pains, hair loss, fatigue, temperature swings (hot/cold). It’s interesting to note that hot flashes and night sweats can be caused by either low progesterone earlier on, or by low estrogen closer to menopause.

So that is what happens in general, but the detailed version¬†is a bit more complicated. As a woman goes through perimenopause, her hormone levels can swing wildly high and low, and can change drastically from month to month. This is the rollercoaster of perimenopause. Most of the symptoms are caused by the swings and changes in the hormones, rather than from levels simply being low or high. The ovaries can have reduced function for months or years, and then kick in for a last hoorah before menopause sets in fully. Each woman’s experience is unique.

WHAT ABOUT TESTING?
Measuring hormone levels with lab tests can be very helpful, especially when the symptoms are confusing or overlap with symptoms from other imbalances such as adrenal or thyroid problems. There are blood, saliva and urine tests that can give insight into different aspects of your sex hormones. However, there is no perfect way to test accurately. Plus, what might be true one month can be very different the next. That said, there are indeed times when certain tests can be very helpful, as long as you understand their limitations and have a doctor who knows how to interpret them.

Because I know how important it is to be informed and to have access to more resources and support, I’m excited to invite you to….

Dr. Amy’s Perimenopause Program
Get Informed ~ Get Empowered ~ Get Balanced

 

If you are local to the Bay Area and want to go deeper or could use more support, CLICK HERE to learn more about my upcoming 6-month group program, starting in January 2016. I will be guiding you step-by-step as you learn the most effective natural strategies for balancing your hormones and optimizing your overall health. Plus, you will connect with a group of like-minded women who totally get what you are going through, and will be there to support you on your journey.

We’ll meet just once a month, on a Sunday afternoon, for our circle and discussion, plus¬†a special guest activity such as yoga, dance, pilates or art. The rest of the program is flexible so you can get the help you need at a pace that fits into your busy life!

Get all the details and register here ===> www.DrAmyDay.com/perimenopauseprogram

NEXT UP
This 5-part series will be answering your top questions about hormones and overall health, and will teach you many tips about taking care of yourself to stay healthy for the years and decades ahead. Keep an eye out for the next post soon!

(#3 of 5) What health screenings should I be considering, now that I’m in my 40s?

This is the third post in my 5-part series where I answer “The Top 5 Questions Every Woman in (or near) Her 40s Should Be Asking about Her Hormones and Her Overall Health.”

Today I¬†will be answering the question:¬†“What health screening tests should I be discussing with my doctor now that I’m in my 40s?”

The previous posts explained that perimenopause is a natural, normal phase of life that lasts about 5-10 years before your period ends. And we covered the importance of key lifestyle habits and adrenal health to help set the stage for this hormonal transition. If you missed those, you can read Post 1 Here and Post 2 Here.

An important topic on the minds of many women during this time of life is screening health tests. Whether you are having many perimenopausal symptoms or not, just being in your 40s or 50s can be a great motivator to get a good thorough check-up and a baseline to compare to in the future.

Just like you go to the dentist to get your teeth cleaned or take your car in for service, health screenings are an important part of taking care of your body. Since you will be living in your body for the rest of your life, you do want to check in with it in a deeper way from time to time.

Physical exams and lab testing can provide important insight into what your body needs to stay healthy, and can identify imbalances that you wouldn’t have otherwise known about. And if you are having any symptoms, this might be a way to figure out what is going on, and what to do about it.

Here are some of the tests that you might want to learn more about and discuss with your doctor:

 

  • Blood Testing: screenings for anemia, blood sugar and cholesterol, plus thyroid, nutrients¬†and other more detailed markers for diabetes and heart disease risk factors. A typical panel in my practice might include CBC, CMP, Lipid Panel, TSH, free T4, free T3, reverse T3, TPO Antibody and Thyroglobulin Antibody, Ferritin, 25-OH Vit D, Vit B12, HbA1C and cardi0-CRP.
  • Functional Medicine Testing: these tests are not typically ordered by conventional doctors, as they measure the “function” of your body systems, rather than screening for a disease. I often use saliva tests for adrenals and hormones, digestive stool tests for IBS symptoms, and others depending on the specific case.
  • Breast Imaging: talk to you doctor about starting¬†at 40 or waiting until 50, but also do self exams and get to know your own body. (See my recent blog post about breast health for more reading.)
  • Pap and HPV testing: both should be done, along with a GYN exam, every 1-5 years depending on your risk factors. If you do have an abnormal result, know that natural medicine treatments are extremely effective.
  • Colonoscopy: usually starting at 50 unless you have risk factors
  • Bone Density (DEXA): usually starting at 65

 

Unfortunately, many doctors will order a few basic tests and simply tell you everything is normal. That is certainly better than having a test come back showing anything concerning, but most of the women I speak with¬†would prefer “optimal health” over “normal”. It can be frustrating when you go in for help, and you know there’s something off inside, and your doctor tells you there is nothing wrong. Or they just say it’s normal without even showing you the numbers or explaining what any of it means.

This is when it can be so helpful to get more thorough testing and learn more about any imbalances that may be happening. Knowing about your adrenal or thyroid function, your nutrient levels, or your blood sugar and cholesterol can clue you in to what you need to do to feel better fast, and to keep your body healthy going forward.

Because I know how important it is to be informed and to have access to more resources and support, I’m excited to invite you to….

 

Dr. Amy’s Perimenopause Program
Get Informed ~ Get Empowered ~ Get Balanced

 

If you are local to the Bay Area and want to go deeper or could use more support, CLICK HERE to learn more about my upcoming 6-month group program, starting in January 2016. I will be guiding you step-by-step as you learn the most effective natural strategies for balancing your hormones and optimizing your overall health. Plus, you will connect with a group of like-minded women who totally get what you are going through, and will be there to support you on your journey.

We’ll meet just once a month, on a Sunday afternoon, for our circle and discussion, plus¬†a special guest activity such as yoga, dance, pilates or art. The rest of the program is flexible so you can get the help you need at a pace that fits into your busy life!

Get all the details and register here ===> www.DrAmyDay.com/perimenopauseprogram

NEXT UP
This 5-part series will be answering your top questions about hormones and overall health, and will teach you many tips about taking care of yourself to stay healthy for the years and decades ahead. Keep an eye out for the next post soon!

 

(#2 of 5) What can I do NOW to ease the hormonal transitions ahead?

This is the second post in my 5-part series where I answer “The Top 5 Questions Every Woman in (or near) Her 40s Should Be Asking about Her Hormones and Her Overall Health.”

Today I will be answering the question: What can I do NOW, in the earlier stages, to help ease the hormonal transitions that lie ahead?

The previous post explained how perimenopause is a natural, normal phase of life that lasts about 5-10 years before your period ends. If you missed that, you can read Post 1 Here.

Thankfully women¬†these days talk more, and know a lot more, about¬†menopause than we used to. However, this “peri”¬†phase still catches too many women by surprise, and without many tools or resources.

I hope this series helps you to be more informed, and raises your awareness that NOW is the time to get your self-care on track!

THE POWER OF SELF-CARE
Your diet and lifestyle choices during your 40s¬†sets the stage for your health in the years and decades ahead. Many of the women¬†that I’ve helped over the years have had significant improvements from changes in what I call the Four Cornerstones of Health:¬†nutrition, fitness, sleep and stress management.¬†While supplements, herbs or bioidentical hormones may have their place when needed, don’t underestimate the power of your self-care habits.

This is an important time in your life¬†to get in shape, eat your protein, good fats and veggies, get your stress under control,¬†and get the sleep that you know you’ve been needing. These “simple” steps will improve your health in profound ways. Effects such as a¬†stronger immune system, better insulin responsiveness, and less inflammation in your body will help you to prevent the 3 major causes of death in our country:¬†cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

START WITH YOUR ADRENALS
When it comes to balancing your hormones specifically, the #1 key is to optimize your ADRENAL HEALTH. As you go into menopause and beyond, your ovaries decrease their production of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. At the same time, the adrenals are actually able to step in and produce a smaller amount of those hormones for you!

However, if your adrenals have¬†burned out from chronic stress, they will be sluggish and won’t be able to produce the hormones you need. The good news is that¬†they are capable of recovering!

Improving your self-care and shifting your lifestyle habits can help you restore your adrenals and help your hormone system be more resilient to whatever may lie ahead.

Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone,¬†is the main hormone produced by your adrenals, and it helps to regulate your 24-hr circadian rhythm. In the¬†morning, your cortisol¬†level¬†increases¬†to¬†help¬†you get up and go. Over the day it tapers down, then drops at night to allow you to get a calm¬†and restorative night’s sleep.

You can support that rhythm with daily habits such as¬†getting up at the same time every morning, doing your more vigorous exercise early in the day, eating healthy meals at regular times,¬†keeping your blood sugar stable throughout the day, and having a relaxing bedtime routine (with no screens)¬†that allows you to get 8 hours¬†of sleep before your chosen wake time. There may be many other things that you’ve heard you “should” be doing, but the ones I’ve just mentioned¬†are the ones I’ve seen make the biggest difference for my patients. These are the “small hinges that swing big doors” and are really worth doing.

Of course, you also need to take a close look at what is causing your stress and take steps to reduce it where you can, and decrease the effects that stress is having on you. If that all sounds like a pipe dream, take it a step at a time. Figure out what you *can* do and gradually make changes that allow you to restore your natural rhythms.

KNOW YOU ARE NOT ALONE
Another thing that I’ve found so important for my perimenopausal patients is to know that¬†the symptoms they¬†are experiencing are¬†actually fairly common.

We need to talk about this more as a society, but in the meantime try to connect with other women who are also going through perimenopause. While your journey will always be unique, it can really help to hear other stories, learn what has helped others, and share and support each other.

If you don’t get caught in information overload, you can definitely find some help online. I also suggest reading books and other sources to learn more about all the changes that can happen. You will feel more confident about the whole process as¬†you¬†build your knowledge base and¬†learn about self help strategies.

Because I know how important it is to be informed and to have connection with other like-minded women, I’m excited to invite you to….

 

Dr. Amy’s Perimenopause Program
Get Informed ~ Get Empowered ~ Get Balanced

 

If you are local to the Bay Area and want to go deeper or could use more support, CLICK HERE to learn more about my upcoming 6-month group program, starting in January 2016. I will be guiding you step-by-step as you learn the most effective natural strategies for balancing your hormones and optimizing your overall health. Plus, you will connect with a like-minded group of women who totally get what you are going through and will be there to support you on your journey.

We’ll meet just once a month, on a Sunday afternoon, for our circle and discussion, plus¬†a special guest activity such as yoga, dance, pilates or art. The rest of the program is flexible so you can get the help you need at a pace that fits into your busy life!

Get all the details and register here ===> www.DrAmyDay.com/perimenopauseprogram

NEXT UP
This 5-part series will be answering your top questions about hormones and overall health, and will teach you many tips about taking care of yourself to stay healthy for the years and decades ahead. Keep an eye out for the next post soon!

 

(#1 of 5) What IS “perimenopause” and how do I know if I’m in it?

This is the first post in my 5-part series where I answer “The Top 5 Questions Every Woman in (or near) Her 40s Should Be Asking about Her Hormones and Her Overall Health.”

Today I¬†will be answering the question:¬†“What IS perimenopause¬†and how do I know if I’m in it?”

Do you remember when you were a young teenager and your body started¬†changing? Do you recall that¬†you got all grumpy and irritable, and everything felt so out of control? Well, that’s pretty much what happens when your hormones are changing, whether it’s due to puberty or perimenopause.

Picture a bell curve that represents the menstruating years of your life, typically from your early teens to your early 50s. As your ovaries kick in with your first periods during puberty, the curve swings upwards. It then stabilizes for a while through your 20s and 30s. Then, as you go through your 40s, your ovaries down shift and eventually you have your last period.

DEFINITIONS
Those last 5-10 years before (and¬†one year after) your last period are called “perimenopause”.

Technically “menopause” is the one day when it has been exactly a year since your last period. And by the way, I often recommend women¬†throw themselves a party on that day!

The time of your life¬†after that one day is¬†considered¬†“post¬†menopause”. And the years of fluctuating hormones before that, up to 10 years in some cases, are¬†called “perimenopause”.

SIGNS OF PERIMENOPAUSE
For most women, the initial signs are rather subtle and then things gradually get more and more off balance. For others it can be quite pronounced right from the very start. And for others still, there may be very little evidence of anything changing until one day they just no longer get their period (yes that is actually possible!).

The timing between your periods may get more variable or the bleeding may get heavier or lighter. PMS symptoms may get more pronounced and you can feel more sensitive, emotional or irritable.

You may lie awake at night unable to sleep, leaving you exhausted during the day. Hot flashes or night sweats may start and can become quite disruptive.

Your body may start to hold on to extra weight, especially around the belly, and your usual¬†diet and exercise strategies¬†just don’t work any more.

Foggy thinking can make it hard to get stuff done at work and makes every day more stressful as you try to stay on top of everything.

Every woman’s experience is different, but the one thing you can count on is… CHANGE.

EXAMPLES FROM MY PRACTICE
“My periods have become impossible. I never know when I’m going to bleed and I have to keep super plus tampons and pads with me at all times. I¬†had to leave a meeting¬†at work when I literally flooded my pants – ugh!”

“I’ve been having hot flashes and night sweats and I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in months, but my other doctor said I was too young for menopause.”

“Then my period came and I¬†realized maybe everyone else wasn’t quite as annoying and horrible as I¬†had been thinking they were for the past week!¬†I never used to have PMS like this. I¬†don’t want this to cause problems for me at work, or with my husband.”

“I’m in my 40s now and my body feels like it’s changing. I have family history of cancer and heart disease and I’m worried about turning into my mother!¬†My doctor told me everything was “normal” but I want to¬†go through this next phase¬†with as much knowledge and grace as possible.”

PERIMENOPAUSE IS NOT
Perimenopause is not a disease or health condition. It is a natural, normal, healthy phase of life that every woman goes through.

Some women have more symptoms, some have less. If you are struggling, know that there is a LOT you can do naturally to ease any symptoms that you are having, and to prevent other challenging issues that may lie ahead.

And if you are smooth sailing thus far, that’s great! By taking a proactive approach and building your knowledge base now, you will help yourself to¬†stay healthy and can prevent any problems that might¬†arise as you move through menopause and beyond.

ANNOUNCEMENT…

 

Dr. Amy’s Perimenopause Program
Get Informed ~ Get Empowered ~ Get Balanced

 

If you are local to the Bay Area and want to go deeper or could use more support, CLICK HERE to learn more about my upcoming 6-month group program, starting in January 2016. I will be guiding you step-by-step as you learn the most effective natural strategies for balancing your hormones and optimizing your overall health. Plus, you will connect with a like-minded group of women who totally get what you are going through and will be there to support you on your journey.

We’ll meet just once a month, on a Sunday afternoon, for our circle and discussion, plus¬†a special guest activity such as yoga, dance, pilates or art. The rest of the program is flexible so you can get the help you need at a pace that fits into your busy life!

Get all the details and register here ===> www.DrAmyDay.com/perimenopauseprogram

NEXT UP
This 5-part series will be answering your top questions about hormones and overall health, and will teach you many tips about taking care of yourself to stay healthy for the years and decades ahead. Keep an eye out for the next post soon!

3 Tips for Healthy Breasts

October is breast cancer awareness month so this is a great time of year to think about how to keep your breasts healthy! Here are a few tips to help you.

-absolutely_free_photos-original_photos-pink-tulip-2056x3088_886191) Check Yourself
A breast self-exam is something that every woman should know how to do. ¬†Here’s a fun video that explains how to check in with your girls, with a very positive mental attitude. As you practice, think of it not as searching for the big “C” word,¬†but rather ¬†with the idea of “I’m getting to know my own body”. Just as you might watch a mole on your arm, it’s good to know your breasts well, so you would be able to tell if there were any changes.

Many women have a lot of density or texture in different areas of their breasts, and this is usually completely normal. By doing a self-exam every month (at the end of your period) you get to know what’s normal for you. And if you find anything that doesn’t feel like “you” or doesn’t go away with your cycle, then you know to go check in with your doctor about it.

The Keep A Breast foundation released a great free app to help keep you on track. Search the app store for “Check Yourself!” and download it now.

2) Get Imaging (probably)
No matter how great you are with your self-exams every month, or your doctor is with your clinical breast exam each year, there are some abnormal changes that you just can’t feel. It is typically recommended to get some sort of imaging to help you be more knowledgeable about what is going on inside your breast tissue.

The standard medical recommendation is to get mammograms, though there have been many arguments raised about their relative harm to benefit. I also have patients who choose to get thermograms, though there is a lot of concern about their efficacy. Neither is perfect and both have their pros and cons. Here is a blog article by Tori Hudson that sheds some light on this controversial topic: http://drtorihudson.com/cancer-prevention/screening-mammography-controversies-whats-a-woman-to-do/

3) Be Proactive
There are many lifestyle practices that can help you to keep your breasts healthy now and into the future. Maintaining a healthy body weight, exercising, spending time outdoors (vitamin D!), using safe cleaning products, avoiding plastics, choosing organic foods, eating a variety of colorful vegetables, sleeping in darkness (melatonin!), not smoking and reducing alcohol intake to less than one drink per day are all significant ways to reduce your risk of breast cancer. You can also minimize or avoid caffeine in order to reduce the fibrocystic changes that can make breasts lumpy and tender. Fibrocystic breasts do not have a higher risk of cancer, but they can be uncomfortable and make self-exams more difficult.

If you use estrogen as hormone replacement, do not use synthetic progestin along with it. The bioidentical (more natural) form, called progesterone, is safer. Hormones are a complicated topic so ask your doctor if you have questions, but the biggest concern regarding breast cancer, from the biggest studies, is the synthetic progestins (not the estrogen).

Eat your crucifers! We know that cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, bok choy, cabbage and brussels sprouts contain two important nutrients that help us to safely metabolize our estrogens. DIM and Calcium-d-glucarate can also be taken as supplements, or are most concentrated in the sprouts of these vegetables.

Seaweeds are a great source of iodine, which can help with breast health as well as thyroid health. The key here is to ensure that you are not deficient, but not to take in too much. I do not recommend mega-doses of iodine.

Other general cancer preventive nutrients/foods are good to include: green tea, raw ground flax seeds (2-4 Tablespoons per day), turmeric, resveratrol, immune supporting mushrooms (maitake, reishi), etc.

There are many things that we can be doing to help ourselves stay healthy… in our breasts and in our whole bodies. Please feel free to share your own suggestions in the comments!

Specializing in Women's Health and Hormones