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5 Tips and Tricks for Keeping the Weight Off for Good

14/05/2019 jleff 0

Each year, an estimated 45 million people will go on a diet, spending nearly $33 billion on weight-loss products.

And yet, the disturbing trend remains: Nearly two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese.

Research demonstrates that only about 10 percent to 20 percent are able to maintain a weight loss of about 5 percent. Sadly, nearly 97 percent of dieters will either regain the weight they lost or gain even more than that within three years.

Something’s wrong somewhere.

The lament of so many dieters is that it’s not as hard to lose the weight as it is to keep it off.

Rather than concentrate on how to lose weight—just about any diet will help you do that—maybe it’s time to figure out how to make all that effort stick. Losing weight takes effort, but keeping it off takes mindfulness.

The hardest part of weight loss might be easier than you think.

  1. Get enough sleep. There’s scientific evidence that shows a link between sleep deprivation and weight gain. That’s because when you don’t get enough sleep, the hunger hormone ghrelin increases, and the hormone that signals you are full, leptin, decreases. Read more about how much sleep you need.

  2. Get enough exercise. Regular physical activity, research shows, will increase the likelihood that you’ll maintain your weight loss. That doesn’t mean you have to go all-out at the gym, either: Any exercise is better than none. Walking, jogging, running, biking, swimming, fitness classes all count. So does gardening or dancing—just about anything that gets your heart pumping counts. Just move. (Of course, the more you move, the more calories you’ll burn.) The main idea here is to make physical activity a regular, rather than once-in-a-while, part of your life.

    Though the exact amount needed varies for each person, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, 75 minutes of vigorous-aerobic activity or a mixture of the two each week.

  3. Step away from the TV. This might be a tough one. There’s so much good stuff on that it’s likely you can’t even get to all you want to watch. But television-watching can put on the pounds in sneaky ways that you might not even realize. For one, you plop down with a bag of snacks and get immersed in the show—mindless snacking ensues and before you know it, that bag is history. Or, you try to do double-duty and catch up on the evening news while eating dinner; chances are you won’t even know that you’ve eaten or you’ll miss the cues that you’re full. And unless you’re watching TV while you’re on the treadmill or another cardio machine, you’re sitting—and sitting doesn’t exactly burn a lot of calories. In fact, researchers find that engaging in any “sedentary” activity puts you at an increased risk for weight-related diseases like diabetes and other health risks like heart disease and early death.

    (Tip: Break up all the sitting and watch TV while you’re standing, doing jumping jacks or push-ups. Added bonus: It’ll keep you from nodding off, too!)

  4. Be boring. Some people might not like this idea, but it can really work. Research finds that when people are fed the same food five days in a row, they eat less than when they are served the same food once a week. Eating the same thing for breakfast and lunch every day can help fight the urge to overeat and overindulge, and take the guesswork out of what to eat. It can save money and time, too. Of course, you can be more creative at dinnertime; just don’t forget to keep portions and calories in mind.

  5. Use your intuition. Most of us are born with the tools to do this, but we lose the freedom to carry it with us, as we age, for various reasons. Trust yourself to know when you’re hungry and know when you’re full; waiting to eat until you’re excessively hungry will only lead to overeating. Intuitive eating is about honoring your feelings and realizing that when you eat what you really want, you’ll be satisfied; deprivation leads to uncontrollable cravings.

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The Native Influence Q&A with Beth Battaglino

09/05/2019 jleff 0

HealthyWomen CEO Beth Battaglino, RN, was recently interviewed for a Q&A with The Native Society.  The Native Society is an online publication covering Successful and Influential people in New York. The Native Society highlights the Successful & Inspiring with thousands of Q+A’s read by the expanding global community of business professionals and creatives.  Beth shared details on everything from what makes HealthyWomen successful, to the latest trends in the industry, to her favorite way to relax. Read the interview here.

Thursday, May 9, 2019
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Anger a Threat to Health in Old Age

09/05/2019 jleff 0

HealthDay News

THURSDAY, May 9, 2019 (HealthDay News) — The loss of loved ones can hit the elderly particularly hard, but a new study suggests it’s anger, and not sadness, that may damage the aging body more.

Anger can increase inflammation, which is linked with conditions such as heart disease, cancer and arthritis, the researchers said.

“As most people age, they simply cannot do the activities they once did, or they may experience the loss of a spouse or a decline in their physical mobility and they can become angry,” explained lead author Meaghan Barlow, of Concordia University in Montreal.

“Our study showed that anger can lead to the development of chronic illnesses, whereas sadness did not,” she added.

For the study, the investigators looked at 226 adults, aged 59 to 93, in Montreal, who completed questionnaires about how angry or sad they felt. The participants were also asked if they had any chronic illnesses, and blood samples were collected from them to measure inflammation.

According to study co-author Carsten Wrosch, of Concordia University, the findings showed that “experiencing anger daily was related to higher levels of inflammation and chronic illness for people 80 years old and older, but not for younger seniors.”

However, sadness was “not related to inflammation or chronic illness,” Wrosch added in an American Psychological Association news release.

Barlow suggested that sadness may help older seniors adjust to challenges such as physical and mental declines because it can help them disengage from doing things that are no longer possible.

So, she explained, negative emotions — including anger — aren’t always bad and can be beneficial under certain circumstances.

“Anger is an energizing emotion that can help motivate people to pursue life goals,” Barlow said.

“Younger seniors may be able to use that anger as fuel to overcome life’s challenges and emerging age-related losses, and that can keep them healthier. Anger becomes problematic for adults once they reach 80 years old, however, because that is when many experience irreversible losses and some of life’s pleasures fall out of reach,” she added.

Education and therapy may help older adults keep anger in check by regulating their emotions or by providing them with strategies to manage aging-related physical and mental changes, the study authors noted.

“If we better understand which negative emotions are harmful, not harmful or even beneficial to older people, we can teach them how to cope with loss in a healthy way,” Barlow said. “This may help them let go of their anger.”

The findings were published May 9 in the journal Psychology and Aging.

SOURCE: American Psychological Association, news release, May 9, 2019

Copyright © 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Signs You Have a Sugar Addiction

08/05/2019 jleff 0

After a long day, you head for your stash of chocolate chip cookies. And then after dinner, you help yourself to a heaping bowl of ice cream, topped with whipped cream and sprinkles. You repeat the cycle, day in and day out. As you likely know, t…

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Do Adults Need a Measles Booster Shot?

08/05/2019 jleff 0

WEDNESDAY, May 8, 2019 (HealthDay News) — New York’s ongoing measles epidemic alarmed midtown Manhattan resident Deb Ivanhoe, who couldn’t remember whether she’d ever been vaccinated as a child.

So Ivanhoe, 60, sought out her long-time primary care…

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How You’re Hurting Your Liver

07/05/2019 jleff 0

The liver plays an important role for your body. It does tasks ranging from producing cholesterol, bile and proteins to storing minerals, vitamins and carbohydrates. It breaks down medications and alcohol. That’s why it’s crucial to maintain the health of this powerhouse organ. Here are some habits that you may not realize are harming your liver.

You eat too much sugar.
Sugar isn’t just harmful to your teeth. It can hurt your liver, too. Too much refined sugar and high-fructose corn syrup causes a fatty buildup, which can lead to liver disease. Limit foods like soda and baked goods. Stick to natural sources of sugar like fruit. Read more about why you should limit sugar.

You’re overweight.
Obesity is thought to factor into nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, NAFLD. It’s the buildup of extra fat in liver cells. It’s one of the fastest-growing forms of liver disease, says the American Liver Foundation. Weight loss can help reduce liver fat.

You practice unsafe sex.
If you have unprotected sex, especially with multiple partners, you put yourself at risk for hepatitis. It’s a potentially deadly liver disease that can be sexually transmitted. Practice safe sex by using a condom whenever you engage in intercourse.

You drink too much.
You know that alcohol can damage your body. How much is too much varies from person to person. If you drink too much for you, you can cause your liver to have ongoing inflammation and have to overwork. That can lead to development of scar tissue and cirrhosis (a late stage of scarring of the liver). Talk to your doctor about what amount of alcohol is right for you. You may be told to drink alcohol only in moderation or to quit completely.

You smoke.
Smoking can raise the risk of liver cancer and cirrhosis of the liver. A study found that smoking was the cause of nearly half of all liver cancers. Smoking stresses your system and can cause liver cell damage as well as cellular damage of the entire system.

You don’t follow directions on your medications.
Medications used incorrectly—taking too much, the wrong type or mixing them—can harm your liver. Don’t mix alcohol with medication. Tell your health care professional about any medications you use and get instructions on how to properly take them.

You adore salt.
On average, Americans eat more than 3,400 milligrams of sodium each day—much more than the American Heart Association and other health organizations recommend. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 mg a day and moving toward an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults. If you have pre-existing liver issues, too much salt can promote water retention and inflammation in the abdomen. That can overwork your liver. If you have scarring of the liver or cirrhosis, it’s important to follow a low-sodium diet. That can prevent complications from fluid building up in the body. Learn more about salt, sugar and dietary guidelines.

You use a dirty needle.
They’re not just associated with intravenous drug use. Follow up with your doctor and get tested if your skin has been penetrated by dirty sharp instruments or needles. Also, be sure tattoos and body piercings are done with clean needles, says the Liver Foundation.

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Letters to thePause: Dressing Your Age: Removing the Stigma

06/05/2019 jleff 0

Dear thePause,

I’m a 55-year-old woman, yet emotionally I feel so much younger. Which is a way of saying that I still feel like a kid and don’t want to dress quite like an adult. My clothing, I feel, is an expression of who I truly am.

Yet, even though I still can rock things like miniskirts, shorts, tank tops and other “youthful” attire, I can’t help hearing messages in my head that I must “dress my age.”

And my (adult) kids don’t make it easy for me, giving me disapproving looks when I dress in what I love. Do I really need to tone it down and dress like a grown-up?

Signed,
Don’t Wanna Look Like an Old Lady

Dear DWLLAOL,

I can relate in many ways.

I remember looking at my mother when I was a teenager, embarrassed by her short skirts and tight jeans, thinking that she should take it down a notch and dress like all the other mothers. In my mind, she should have been wearing “proper” things like trench coats, two-piece suits and a structured leather handbag rather than a rain slicker, jeans and a fringed suede shoulder bag.

She was all of 35. And in retrospect, she looked damned good.

But I’m afraid at 55, it would look even more inappropriate to be dressed like that, although since then, the “rules” of dressing have relaxed a lot. Add to that the fact that we’re so much more fit and body conscious.

But. Let’s pause here. Although l thought I’d never admit this, there is a point of no return, I’m afraid—when we teeter on the brink of looking just.plain.wrong. We may have fabulous legs, a toned tummy and a better-than-most butt, yet that doesn’t mean we should wear a Band-Aid for a skirt or a cropped top that hovers dangerously close to revealing what’s underneath.

Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t look good—or that you have to dress like an old lady. The good thing is that fashion is no longer so limiting, and there are so many more choices than ever before. The confusing thing, though, is that you have to figure out what you want to wear and how you want to wear it.

You can still show off your legs, of course! But more age-appropriate (and flattering) is a skirt that comes right to the knee or a tad below it, rather than five inches above it. And there’s nothing wrong with showing off your arms, either, or for that matter any body part you want.

The key is looking tasteful and thoughtful. After all, you want people to remember what you say, rather than what your clothes say.

Your clothing, writes Vanessa Friedman, the fashion director of the New York Times, should not be the focus of attention. If you’re having trouble relating to dressing like an adult, Friedman advises you to “Think of your clothes as costume. Figure out your own chosen role and dress for the part.” In other words, choose clothing that makes you feel like an adult, then “play act” at it until wearing them feels natural.

I was speaking to an old friend of mine yesterday (not old as in years, but old as in us going way back to when our children were infants), and we were discussing just this. My friend was a self-described hippie child of the ’60s who dressed in overalls, tattered flannel shirts and work boots—all the way up to her mid-50s. That’s when she suddenly had a revelation while watching an episode of Dancing With the Stars.

“Betsy Johnson (the fashion designer, popular in the ’60s} was on,” my friend recalled. “She was still wearing the same type of clothing she wore 40 years ago—a tutu, a bow in her hair and striped leggings. And although she was thin and could do a split, I was horrified at the way she looked. At that moment, I thought to myself, ‘I never want to grow old and embarrass myself.’ That’s when I started dressing differently.”

She replaced her worn, inexpensive jeans with premium denim; pricier, yes, but good and tasteful rather than trendy and cheap. Nice sneakers took the place of her work boots. “I realized I could still keep the essence of who I was in the way I dressed, but could look more polished and grown up.”

I think my wise friend has the right idea. And although I don’t agree with—or heed—a lot of popular counsel—like older women cannot/should not have long hair, wear leggings out in public, or wear booties—I still know, intuitively, when my outfit is dangerously veering into the wrong territory.

How do I know? When I look in the mirror and I see a woman who is trying too hard to look like someone she once was, rather than celebrating the someone she has become.

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How I Turned My Declining Bone Health Around

01/05/2019 jleff 0

By Barbara Hannah Grufferman

Ten years ago while walking my dog around my neighborhood in New York City, I tripped on a crack in the sidewalk and fell to the ground. While attempting to break the fall, I landed on my right arm in a very weird way. The pain and swelling were immediate.

After getting my dog back home (luckily I was only a block away), my husband escorted me to the local urgent care facility. The x-ray was quite clear: a fracture in my wrist. 

The attending physician wrapped my arm in a splint, and suggested I see an orthopedic specialist who soon confirmed the fracture and sent me home with instructions to return in six weeks. Even though I was 51 and postmenopausal, none of the doctors or nurses I saw that day uttered the words “osteoporosis” or “bone density test” or questioned why I had suffered a fracture from a seemingly low-impact fall. 

A copy of the report was sent to my primary care physician who called and said, “Barbara, here’s the number to make an appointment for a bone density test. We need to know why you fractured your arm from that fall and I need a baseline of your bone density. I’m also sending you for a blood test to assess your vitamin D levels.” 

This is the kind of discussion every doctor should have with a patient if she falls, fractures a bone, is over 50 and postmenopausal . . . but that may not be the case. 

The non-invasive and super-quick DXA test (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) measures the spine, hip and sometimes the forearm for levels of bone mineral density. The denser your bones, the stronger they are. My first DXA showed osteopenia, or low bone density, which meant I was on the path to osteoporosis—unless I took immediate steps to stop the progression in its tracks. 

The blood test showed my vitamin D levels to be low at 21ng/mL, when my doctor wanted the number to be over 34ng/mL. If you don’t have enough vitamin D in your system, your body can’t adequately absorb the calcium you’re eating and drinking.

In partnership with my doctor, we created a plan: strength-training several times a week, jumping jacks, running, more calcium-rich foods, a daily vitamin D supplement (2,000IU a day). Be sure to always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise and treatment plan. I made an appointment for a blood test and bone density test six months later to see if the plan was working. Not only did the plan work then, but it’s still working. According to the follow-up DXA tests, which I get every two years, my bone density levels have remained stable. 

That said, if there comes a time when my bones get weaker and thinner and medication is recommended to supplement my healthy lifestyle choices, I will give serious consideration to this option. 

Since the life-changing event of discovering I hadosteopenia, I’ve become a vocal advocate for positive and healthy aging, which to me means becoming more knowledgeable, taking control and embracing habits to live better, healthier and possibly longer. I write books that encourage women to make smart choices, and tour around the country giving talks on the importance of keeping bones healthy throughout our lifespan. I also became part of the National Osteoporosis Foundation team as Bone Health Ambassador, and a trustee to promote the importance of bone health for life and its deep connection to successful aging.  

Fractures can be life-changing. For me, it was a positive experience because I made the choice to focus on my health and make small changes. But that’s not always possible. My mother, who just turned 82, fell in her bathroom almost a year ago, broke her hip, had emergency surgery, and has been in and out of the emergency room and rehab ever since. Her life has changed in many ways. Completely mobile before she fell, she now depends on a walker to get around and often forgets to use it. My mother is no longer living independently in her own home, but moved to an assisted living facility where she can get the support she needs.

Recently, I was out with our new dog for our morning walk and a loud noise startled him as we were crossing the street. In a flash, he leapt in front of me, causing me to trip and tumble to the ground, right in the middle of the street. This time I landed hard on my left arm in an attempt to break the fall. Sound familiar? As when I fell ten years ago, the pain was immediate. Once again, my husband escorted me to the local urgent care facility, where my bloodied knee was bandaged and my left arm x-rayed. The pain was excruciating but the X-ray was “inconclusive.” Hopeful, we immediately went to the orthopedic specialist’s office where they took more X-rays. My doctor declared me “fracture free” and sent me home with a prescription for super-strength ibuprofen to help with the pain, and instructions to take a few days off from running until my knee felt better. 

As we were leaving, he said, “Barbara, there’s no question in my mind that the changes you made ten years ago after the first fall have had a huge impact on the outcome of this fall. Congratulations and keep doing what you’re doing. 

I never knew I could be so proud of my bones.

This resource was created with support from Radius Health, Inc. This post does not constitute medical advice. My personal story and opinions are my own. I am not a medical professional and am not qualified to give medical advice. Please talk with your healthcare provider about your individual medical situation. DS-Osteo-US-01079.

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I Knew I Didn’t Have Postpartum Depression, but I Also Knew Something Wasn’t Right

30/04/2019 jleff 0

By Amber Jo Peterson

This post is part of HealthyWomen’s Real Women, Real Stories series.

Six months after I had my second son, something just wasn’t right. I wasn’t sad, I didn’t feel like hurting myself, and I was able to connect with my baby just fine. But I just knew something wasn’t right. Despite my insisting I wasn’t depressed, all I could get from my doctor was medication for depression.

Throughout my ordeal, I was researching postpartum depression, but nothing I read or listened to resonated with me until I heard a mom on a podcast say, “All I could think about was death.”

I immediately started to bawl my eyes out. For several months, I would have horrible, detailed images of my children getting hurt—not like falling and scraping their knee, but falling and their heads caving in. I can only describe it as having a disturbing horror movie scene on repeat in my mind—and they were impossible to stop. It was always the worst before bed. I would cry myself to sleep, with my husband lying by my side having no clue. Even worse, I would compound my anxiety because I felt so horrible for having the thoughts I did. I would think, “What the hell is wrong with you? This is sick. You’re sick. If you tell anyone, they are going to take your children away, your husband will leave you, and you will be thrown into a mental institution.”

I was never educated on postpartum depression or anxiety. Instead, I was handed a pamphlet for PPD, which was tucked away under 30 other pamphlets on how to take care of my baby. My doctor never said there was a high probability of developing a maternal mental illness and I never heard any other moms discussing their own issues. This only worsened my shame. I was ashamed to say anything about my own.

READ MORE: Recognizing Postpartum Depression

It was a blessing to hear something I could relate to on that podcast because at that moment, I didn’t feel alone. I decided to get out of my head and to be vocal. I told other moms what I was going through and they began to open up to me. Moms who, to me, were absolutely picture-perfect examples of motherhood were having their own struggles. It was through those conversations that I realized I was suffering from postpartum anxiety.

Talking and sharing has been my key to dealing with postpartum anxiety. It has inspired me to start an Instagram account where moms can feel safe to talk openly about maternal mental health—where we can share other mothers’ experiences no matter how mild or severe. My hope is that a story on this account, Melancholy Mamas, will have the same impact that that podcast had on me.

Because when we share our stories, it can help another mom feel like she is not alone.

Let’s lift each other up and get rid of this image of “perfect motherhood.” All mothers have issues and we shouldn’t have to deal with them alone. So let’s get uncomfortable. Let’s talk about this.. Let’s show other moms that what they’re feeling is more common than they may think.

If you are struggling with any type of maternal mental health disorder, please reach out and ask for help. I promise talking about it makes it a little bit easier.

Read more Real Women, Real Stories posts about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders:
Drowning in New Motherhood: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression and Anxiety
Living With Postpartum Depression and Anxiety Isn’t the End
Overcoming the Fear of Having Another Baby After Postpartum Depression

And Follow Amber Jo Petersons community at her account @melancholymamas.

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Are You Getting Enough Magnesium?

29/04/2019 jleff 0

(HealthDay News) — Magnesium is a mineral that is important for regular bodily function, says the Office of Dietary Supplements. Magnesium is commonly found in various plant-based and animal-based foods.

READ: Are You Deficient in Magnesium?

Foods …

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What’s Happening to My Vagina During Menopause?

23/04/2019 jleff 0

During menopause, your body changes. Chief among women’s complaints: vaginal dryness and other “down there” symptoms. Women agree this condition has a very big negative impact on their lives and self-esteem, using words and phrases like “old” and “less sexual” when describing how it makes them feel.

Why is this happening?

Renowned obstetrician/gynecologist Mary Jane Minkin, MD, a member of HealthyWomen’s health advisory council and a champion of getting the word out to women, helps us out by explaining. She says this group of symptoms was previously known as vulvovaginal atrophy or VVA and is now genitourinary syndrome of menopause, also known as GSM or GUSM.

That’s a mouthful. What exactly is it?

GSM encompasses a group of bothersome symptoms, like vaginal dryness, itching, urinary urgency and increased frequency, urinary tract infections and dyspareunia (painful intercourse) that affect more than half of women during and after menopause.

Why does this happen?

Blame hormones. Waning levels of estrogen and progesterone can affect the thin layer of moisture coating the vaginal walls. Suddenly, your vagina is more like a va-DRY-na, one of the most irritating (pun intended) aspects of menopause.

I know what a changing vagina feels like, but tell me if what I’m feeling is normal.

Itching, burning, stinging? Yep. All due to dryness, which can cause the vagina to become less elastic, or “stretchy,” too. Sort of muscle weakness, if you will.

If that weren’t enough, there’s more possible fallout from lowered estrogen, like increased urinary tract infections, since estrogen helps to keep “bad” bacteria in check and allow the “good” bacteria to thrive.

And not to load it on, but you may also have problems with urination—like burning, urgency or incontinence.

Read What No One Tells You About Menopause.

And things like exercise and sexdon’t even mention them. Ouch.

Yes, your less-lubricated vagina can feel tender and sore. It may even chafe or tear and bleed when you exercise or have sex. But, ironically, having more sex is one of the best things you can do for a dry vagina.

Why should I have more sex if it hurts? I don’t get it.

Don’t feel badly about not knowing this fact. The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) reports that, “Many sexually active women are unaware of the effect these changes (decreased estrogen) can have on the vagina in the absence of sexual activity.”

Here’s the thing. Sexual activity (or vaginal stimulation) promotes vaginal health by getting the blood flowing, which, in turn, keeps your vaginal muscles supple, toned and flexible. Kind of along the lines of that old saying, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.”

Also, your vagina can become shorter and narrower when you don’t have sexual activity regularly after menopause, reports NAMS.


Learn more about When Sex Gives You More Pain Than Pleasure.

So, don’t tell me I have to live with this. Is this my new normal?

Not at all. Vaginal issues won’t go away on their own, but they can be treated in lots of ways. And you get double points for treating them: All of the meds that help the vagina also benefit your bladder. Win-win.

Like what?

An over-the-counter (OTC) vaginal moisturizer (like Replens) can keep a dry vagina more comfortable by drawing moisture into the vaginal wall. Minkin suggests using it two to three times a week.

Another OTC moisturizer available online, Revaree, contains hyaluronic acid, which can help moisturize a dry vagina.

Both of these are non-hormonal, safe and effective treatments.

Anything else?

Lots. An OTC lubricant can help ease painful sex by reducing friction you feel as a result of thin and dry vaginal tissue These go to work immediately, and are not absorbed into the skin.

A tip from Minkin: “I always encourage women to try a small amount (samples are great) of any lubricant—just to make sure it agrees with them (no sensitivities, etc.)—and then get a larger amount.” 

And what if I need something stronger?

Minkin is reassuring: “There are lots of prescription alternatives like vaginal estrogens (with which there is minimal absorption of estrogen into the bloodstream); vaginal DHEA suppositories (Intrarosa), which is not associated with any significant absorption into the bloodstream; osphena (Ospemifene), an oral non-estrogen medication; and oral systemic hormone treatments. “But keep in mind that most experts do not push systemic therapy if you are not also experiencing hot flashes or wanting to protect against bone loss, and especially if you are far out from your last period,” says Minkin.

Did someone say something about vibrators?

No, but we will. Minkin is a fan. “Vibrators are excellent, as they increase pelvic blood flow—and anything that encourages pelvic blood flow is good for moisture,” she says.

What about the so-called “natural” remedies, like wild yam, soybeans, red clover and herbal medicines?

Whoa, Nelly. The research is scant. So says the U.S. National Library of Medicine and others.

What more can I do?

NAMS suggests cleansing the inner parts of your vulva with clean water—not soap—and using white unscented toilet paper. They also suggest ditching irritants like fabric softeners and anti-cling laundry products and any lotions and perfumed products, which could further irritate already fragile vaginal tissue.

Always consult your health care provider, who can help in your decision-making process and find the best treatment for you. “Never be afraid to discuss dryness and pain with your health care provider,” says Minkin. “These are really common problems. And sometimes providers are embarrassed to bring up these options—but they shouldn’t be. Suffering in silence is never a good idea!”

One last thought

Surprisingly (or maybe not), a recent survey conducted by HealthyWomen found that 70 percent of the respondents were unaware of the culprit behind many vaginal issues. This makes sense. GSM is also reported to be way underdiagnosed.

So now you know. And all that knowledge adds up to power over your body.

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What’s Happening to My Vagina During Menopause?

23/04/2019 jleff 0

During menopause, your body changes. Chief among women’s complaints: vaginal dryness and other “down there” symptoms. Women agree this condition has a very big negative impact on their lives and self-esteem, using words and phrases like “old” and “less sexual” when describing how it makes them feel.

Why is this happening?

Renowned obstetrician/gynecologist Mary Jane Minkin, MD, a member of HealthyWomen’s health advisory council and a champion of getting the word out to women, helps us out by explaining. She says this group of symptoms was previously known as vulvovaginal atrophy or VVA and is now genitourinary syndrome of menopause, also known as GSM or GUSM.

That’s a mouthful. What exactly is it?

GSM encompasses a group of bothersome symptoms, like vaginal dryness, itching, urinary urgency and increased frequency, urinary tract infections and dyspareunia (painful intercourse) that affect more than half of women during and after menopause.

Why does this happen?

Blame hormones. Waning levels of estrogen and progesterone can affect the thin layer of moisture coating the vaginal walls. Suddenly, your vagina is more like a va-DRY-na, one of the most irritating (pun intended) aspects of menopause.

I know what a changing vagina feels like, but tell me if what I’m feeling is normal.

Itching, burning, stinging? Yep. All due to dryness, which can cause the vagina to become less elastic, or “stretchy,” too. Sort of muscle weakness, if you will.

If that weren’t enough, there’s more possible fallout from lowered estrogen, like increased urinary tract infections, since estrogen helps to keep “bad” bacteria in check and allow the “good” bacteria to thrive.

And not to load it on, but you may also have problems with urination—like burning, urgency or incontinence.

Read What No One Tells You About Menopause.

And things like exercise and sexdon’t even mention them. Ouch.

Yes, your less-lubricated vagina can feel tender and sore. It may even chafe or tear and bleed when you exercise or have sex. But, ironically, having more sex is one of the best things you can do for a dry vagina.

Why should I have more sex if it hurts? I don’t get it.

Don’t feel badly about not knowing this fact. The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) reports that, “Many sexually active women are unaware of the effect these changes (decreased estrogen) can have on the vagina in the absence of sexual activity.”

Here’s the thing. Sexual activity (or vaginal stimulation) promotes vaginal health by getting the blood flowing, which, in turn, keeps your vaginal muscles supple, toned and flexible. Kind of along the lines of that old saying, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.”

Also, your vagina can become shorter and narrower when you don’t have sexual activity regularly after menopause, reports NAMS.


Learn more about When Sex Gives You More Pain Than Pleasure.

So, don’t tell me I have to live with this. Is this my new normal?

Not at all. Vaginal issues won’t go away on their own, but they can be treated in lots of ways. And you get double points for treating them: All of the meds that help the vagina also benefit your bladder. Win-win.

Like what?

An over-the-counter (OTC) vaginal moisturizer (like Replens) can keep a dry vagina more comfortable by drawing moisture into the vaginal wall. Minkin suggests using it two to three times a week.

Another OTC moisturizer available online, Revaree, contains hyaluronic acid, which can help moisturize a dry vagina.

Both of these are non-hormonal, safe and effective treatments.

Anything else?

Lots. An OTC lubricant can help ease painful sex by reducing friction you feel as a result of thin and dry vaginal tissue These go to work immediately, and are not absorbed into the skin.

A tip from Minkin: “I always encourage women to try a small amount (samples are great) of any lubricant—just to make sure it agrees with them (no sensitivities, etc.)—and then get a larger amount.” 

And what if I need something stronger?

Minkin is reassuring: “There are lots of prescription alternatives like vaginal estrogens (with which there is minimal absorption of estrogen into the bloodstream); vaginal DHEA suppositories (Intrarosa), which is not associated with any significant absorption into the bloodstream; osphena (Ospemifene), an oral non-estrogen medication; and oral systemic hormone treatments. “But keep in mind that most experts do not push systemic therapy if you are not also experiencing hot flashes or wanting to protect against bone loss, and especially if you are far out from your last period,” says Minkin.

Did someone say something about vibrators?

No, but we will. Minkin is a fan. “Vibrators are excellent, as they increase pelvic blood flow—and anything that encourages pelvic blood flow is good for moisture,” she says.

What about the so-called “natural” remedies, like wild yam, soybeans, red clover and herbal medicines?

Whoa, Nelly. The research is scant. So says the U.S. National Library of Medicine and others.

What more can I do?

NAMS suggests cleansing the inner parts of your vulva with clean water—not soap—and using white unscented toilet paper. They also suggest ditching irritants like fabric softeners and anti-cling laundry products and any lotions and perfumed products, which could further irritate already fragile vaginal tissue.

Always consult your health care provider, who can help in your decision-making process and find the best treatment for you. “Never be afraid to discuss dryness and pain with your health care provider,” says Minkin. “These are really common problems. And sometimes providers are embarrassed to bring up these options—but they shouldn’t be. Suffering in silence is never a good idea!”

One last thought

Surprisingly (or maybe not), a recent survey conducted by HealthyWomen found that 70 percent of the respondents were unaware of the culprit behind many vaginal issues. This makes sense. GSM is also reported to be way underdiagnosed.

So now you know. And all that knowledge adds up to power over your body.

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10 Things Everyone Over 50 Needs to Know About Strokes

23/04/2019 jleff 0

I recently found out that a friend of my husband’s had a stroke a few weeks ago.

That jolted me, big time.

Although we are in this so-called midlife, after all—and I’m fully aware that health risks increase with age—I suppose I don’t feel that we’re “old enough” for something like this to happen.

But that way of thinking is faulty, and this is proof.

My husband is hoping to speak to his friend sometime this week, and I’m sure we’ll learn more then. Although his wife has been in touch and assures us that the stroke was “mild,” it’s still worrisome.

And in thinking about it, I realized there’s a lot I don’t know about strokes. So, I believe it’s incumbent upon me to research this type of “brain attack” and share some important facts so that we can all be well-informed about the possible health threat that is the fifth-leading cause of death in the U.S. and strikes someone every 40 seconds.

1. A stroke, which is the leading cause of adult disability, can happen to anyone, at any time. It’s not—as many people believe—reserved for the elderly. People age 55 or older do have a higher risk of stroke than younger people; after that age the risk doubles for each decade a person is alive.

2. You’re at higher risk for a stroke if a parent, grandparent or sibling had a stroke or heart attack at an early age.

3. Lifestyle risk factors include being overweight or obese, being physically inactive, drinking heavily or using illicit drugs like cocaine and methamphetamines.

4. Medical risk factors include diabetes, high cholesterol and/or blood pressure, obstructive sleep apnea, smoking or cardiovascular disease.

5. Men have a higher risk of stroke than women. But women, who are usually older when they have a stroke, are more likely to suffer greater disability and/or die of strokes than are men.

6. Strokes kill twice as many women as breast cancer does each year.

7. If you are African American, Hispanic or Asian/Pacific, your risk of stroke is higher than if you are Caucasian.

8. During a stroke, blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off. The extent of the damage that occurs when brain cells are deprived of oxygen depends on where in the brain the stroke occurs.

9. The damage may be minor, resulting in weakness in an arm or leg, or major, causing permanent paralysis or the inability to speak.

10. There are three types of strokes:

  • Least common but most serious is a hemorrhagic stroke, caused by a brain aneurysm burst or a weakened blood vessel leak.

  • An ischemic stroke happens when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel transporting blood to the brain.

  • A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is sometimes known as  “mini stroke.” It occurs when blood flow to part of the brain stops for a short time. The symptoms, which are temporary, can mimic those of a stroke; they develop and are resolved within a short time (minutes to hours). But, often, TIAs are warning signs that occur prior to an actual stroke and should be taken seriously.

Up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable. 

  • Know your risk factors and follow a healthy lifestyle.

  • Control high blood pressure by exercising, managing stress, maintaining a healthy weight and limiting salt and alcohol use.

  • Don’t smoke.

  • Eat less cholesterol and fat (especially saturated and trans fats) and more fruits and vegetables.

  • If you have diabetes, keep it under control.

  • Treat obstructive sleep apnea.

Learn the warning signs.

  • Dizziness

  • Changes in vision (blurriness, blackened or double vision) in one or both eyes

  • Tingling (paresthesia)

  • Difficulty speaking (dysphasia) and/or confusion understanding words

  • Numbness or weakness in face, arms and/or legs (usually on one side of your body)

  • Loss of balance or trouble walking

  • A sudden, severe headache (possibly accompanied with vomiting, altered consciousness or dizziness)

If you think someone might be having a stroke, think FAST.

  • Face. Ask them to smile. Is one side of the face drooping?

  • Arms. Ask them to raise both arms over their head. Is one arm drifting downward or unable to go up?

  • Speech. Ask them to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?

  • Time. Call 911 immediately if you see any of these signs. Time is of the essence, and the potential for disability or brain damage increases the longer a stroke goes untreated. Read more about how a stroke is treated.

This post originally appeared on mysocalledmidlife.net.

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Asparagus: A Veggie That Boosts Gut Health

22/04/2019 jleff 0

MONDAY, April 22, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Asparagus is a great spring vegetable that can be a tasty side dish or the starring ingredient in a main course like risotto. And it’s more than just delicious — asparagus is great for digestive health, too….

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Medical Marijuana Use Rising Among Cancer Patients

22/04/2019 jleff 0

MONDAY, April 22, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Americans with cancer are more likely to use marijuana and prescription opioids than those without cancer, and the use of medical marijuana by this group is on the rise, new research shows.

READ: Weed Words…

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5 Places Germs Are Hiding in Plain Sight

17/04/2019 jleff 0

Every time I go out in public, I think about germs.

I wash my hands after touching anything whenever possible. I make sure to have hand sanitizer in case there’s no sink nearby. I think about germs at the gym, on an airplane, in a public restro…

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FDA OKs Two New Drugs for Multiple Sclerosis

16/04/2019 jleff 0

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved two new multiple sclerosis drugs.The first drug, Mavenclad (cladribine), can be used to treat relapsing forms of MS in adults, including relapsing-remitting disease and active secondary progressive dis…

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New Prescription Drug Proposal Will Help Women and Their Families

16/04/2019 jleff 0

By Elizabeth Battaglino, RN, CEO, and Michael D. Miller, MD, Senior Policy Advisor

April 16, 2019

At HealthyWomen, we believe access and affordability are key issues for improving women’s health. The Federal government recently proposed changing rules for how prescription drug discounts (also called rebates) would work. This proposal has many positive attributes and could be a good first step towards making prescription drugs more affordable because it would likely reduce what women pay at the pharmacy when they pick up prescription medicines. However, it also would likely lead to higher monthly insurance premiums.

We know affordability of prescription drugs is a concern for women. Our 2018 WomenTalk survey of 1001 women in the U.S. between the ages of 34 and 64 found that 48 percent of women with chronic conditions have difficulty paying for their prescription medicines. Almost half of the women surveyed said that out-of-pocket costs were the most important factor to them when choosing medical plans. Therefore, HealthyWomen supports accepting somewhat higher monthly premiums for lower costs at the pharmacy, as long as this tradeoff delivers greater assurance of long-term affordability when someone becomes ill and needs medicines.

While the current proposal is specific to the rebates between manufacturers and health plans for the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit (and Medicaid-managed care plans), we are interested in this proposal because 57 percent of all Medicare Part D enrollees are women, who on average, have lower incomes and less savings than men. Additionally, women in their 30s, 40s, and 50s are often the health care decision-makers and supporters for not only their spouses and children, but also for their parents and older relatives.

The proposal would be a positive change because it should increase transparency about costs and accountability for both pharmaceutical companies and health insurers. This would advance HealthyWomen’s goal of providing women with resources and insight into access, affordability, prevention and self-care for themselves and their families. Greater transparency and more accurate information will also help women make better choices about health insurance, and with their clinicians, make better decisions about health care services and products. In addition, according to many economists, greater transparency and better information should help control the long-term growth in health care costs with a better functioning marketplace.

We understand that there are great uncertainties with the government’s proposal, something discussed in a recent Kaiser Health News article. But overall, to the extent that this proposal would make prescription drugs more affordable at the pharmacy, with only modest increases in monthly insurance premiums, HealthyWomen supports the proposal as a positive change for all women and their families, and for improving the health of women nationwide. In support of this proposal – and to help improve it – HealthyWomen recently joined others to provide written comments. We look forward to this proposal being finalized and implemented in a responsible and measured way, and to other initiatives that can lower health care costs for women, their families and communities.

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