Education about breast cancer risk reduction, menopausal health, body changes post childbearing years are just a few of the things I like to talk about. Lately, however, I’ve been struck with the notion that while this education is important AND necessary, we need to talk about why some women still aren’t sure about the current state of their health.
The Problems We Face
Women excel in our ability to care for others, yet we fall short in making ourselves a priority. As we age, not only do we tend to lose our voice, we trust our voice less and we are forever putting everyone’s needs first at the cost of our own. And this extends to our health.
Women minimize their problems, especially their health concerns. And the current healthcare model isn’t really helping their cause either. There is a true gender disparity for women in the current healthcare system. Did you know cardiovascular disease remains the number one killer in women? There is a rapid increase in our cholesterol after menopause, yet all the research is done in men.
Additionally, menopausal health is not taught in a standard medical residency for OBGYNS. Where do we fit as we begin to age? After childbirth, we end up bouncing around between our primary care doctor and our OBGYN trying to find someone who can spend the time with us to discuss our taboo issues like low sex drive or no sex drive, our dry vagina and our rapidly increasing short temper which we can only assume is all due to our hormones.
The typical 15-20 minute appointment with your doctor doesn’t really afford you the chance to talk about the things that are severely impacting your quality of life. Women often leave with questions unanswered. We are told we “look good” and are then dismissed for another year.
Why Concierge Health
You (and your health) deserve more than a once a year 15-20 minute appointment.
When I see women in my office, I give them the time and space to discuss any health topic, yet most of the time, they brush their concerns under the rug and discard them as something that is unimportant. By them, not me. So I’ll ask multiple times in various ways until they admit to an issue.
My goal in concierge healthcare is to create an environment where women can actually address their concerns. To build a medical practice with a clear mission behind it. To become a better entry point to the healthcare system. To be the modern OBGYN in Texas that truly provides what Dallas women needed.
This concierge only works when the woman in front of me is willing to put her needs out there. Women must be brave to share their concerns – their joy and health is worth it!
A Moment of Levity – The Pee Leak
Women assume that what we are living with regarding our health is “fine” or “just what comes with age”. For example, take urinary incontinence. Have you have ever leaked urine? Well, I have after having 3 vaginal deliveries and yet I continue to take my chances and pray the next time I sneeze it won’t happen.
I assure you that if a man were to pee is pants for whatever reason, just once, he would not roll the dice and see if it happens again, nor would he fail to seek a medical solution for this. He’d go straight to the doctor and fix it!
Maximize Your Health Post Babies
A woman’s life expectancy is 81 years, and for men it is 75. We are expected to live, on average, approximately 6 years longer than our spouse or significant other.
This higher longevity can be explained by our biological differences mainly due to our hormones. There is endless data to support that estrogen production in women decreases risk of heart disease and is cardioprotective. Estrogen also works as an anti-inflammatory in the brain, as well. It is also thought we live longer because we have stronger immune systems than men. It’s a good thing since we can never take a day off from carpool, work responsibilities and buying the groceries.
The average age of menopause is 51, but the menopausal changes begin 7-8 years prior to the actual time a woman realizes she has already gone through menopause. Many of you reading this have already experienced this transition.
If you do the math, we women live to be in our 80’s, start the transition into menopause somewhere in our 40’s, then that means we spend approximately half of our lives in menopause and without estrogen, which I just told you was protective.
So here we are, living longer than men, expected to make 1000 decisions a day, and we are largely dependent on social media for our education. You deserve to maximize your health and life, even after your reproductive years have passed!
What Women Need For Their Health
You need a community of honesty, accountability, and a reliable source of information. You need to be amongst the educated and those that want to be educated so you may come to know what you don’t know about your health. I want to help you step out of fear of a diagnosis, work with you through any past trauma and help you get on the right path so you can be in the driver seat of what your health looks like.
Begin by educating yourself so you can educate the women you love. Have the conversations with your doctor. If they don’t have time, consider making at appointment at Charleston House. I’d love to help guide you in your health journey.
A Yearly Conversation Checklist:
Here are the things in no particular order you should be discussing with your doctor on a yearly basis:
- Mood and any symptoms of depression or anxiety
- Changes due to menopause: hot flashes, sleep disruption due to hot flashes, forgetfulness or memory issues due to menopause
- You should have a thorough, in depth conversation about whether or not you are a candidate for hormones and which ones are right for you.
- Know your cholesterol numbers, if you are 50 you should have a coronary artery calcification score.
- Discuss your risks of inherited cancers and if you should undergo hereditary genetic cancer screening.
- You libido matters, we have very promising medications on the market to help with a woman’s low sex drive. And it turns out, we now understand why women stop wanting to have sex and how to treat it.
- In addition to these medications, Testosterone is now considered to be safe use in post menopausal women with low sex drive. Ask about it.
- Discuss your bone health, there is a 50% mortality rate associated with a hip FX that’s high. Now your FRAX score which is your 10 year risk of having a fracture
- Ask your doctor about the latest in breast cancer screening. We now calculate something called a TC score which if elevated will qualify you to have a breast MRI every year.
Prioritize your mental health, this impacts your life span almost more than anything. Mental health is not a luxury. It is not a weakness to struggle with depression, anxiety. These things are normal and your women’s health provider can help you.
Put Yourself First
Healthcare needs to change for women and we’ve taken one step towards that with a concierge healthcare model at Charleston House. If women are going to be here longer than our male counter parts, we need to make it count. We have no choice but to move from last to first. Let’s make that change right here in East Dallas as a collective community of like-minded women. That is a gift we can give to the next generation.