International Women’s Day. Women and Health Empowerment By Artemis Skye McNeil

You’ve been preparing your whole life for this, whether you knew it or not, a time after puberty and young womanhood; a time that would one day become your “second Spring”- and whether you realized it or not, the decisions you would make as a child, young adult, and well in womanhood, would all come back as reminders when you reach "the time" in your life where your ovaries stop making the hormones estrogen and progesterone. The ovaries also stop releasing eggs (ova, oocytes). After menopause, you can no longer become pregnant.

For some this comes at a time after the children are grown and personal identity is no longer in question. The woman knows who she is and is comfortable in her skin as she looks to the rest of her years in a somewhat type of freedom that allows the next phase in life to begin.

For many though, what should be a new found freedom comes with turmoil: weight gain, bloating, mood swings, migraines, brain fog, fatigue, and depression among other debilitating symptoms. To make it worse, a visit to the doctor will claim all these body discrepancies as “normal,” or be given symptomatic medications, leaving a woman feeling anxious, and defeated adding insult to injury.

In recent years, a new awareness has come to light regarding this time of a woman’s life. That is that our hormones do not have to turn into “horrormones” (I have coined this word taking it to heart from my husband’s observations), and they can remain our “heromones” if we become aware of this phase in our life and prepare for it early on.

Because we are adults, that does not mean our body stops changing. It may just not be as evident on the outside as getting our baby teeth pulled to allow for new teeth, or as our breasts start emerging, or as we notice body hair, and begin a period, that demarcates puberty.

This later "change" comes on more subtly at first then a bit like a lion, if we are not prepared.

As our hormones start to decline, we may feel foggy, have some weight gain, become lethargic, and many will address the symptoms. Maybe I need an anti-depressant, a vacation, to go on a diet, up my cardio, take some vitamins…but what if we were to realize, that going into menopause could truly be a freedom that needed some tending to just like we needed a bra or pads/tampons because our body was undergoing another type of change?

So then what is it that we need for our “Second Spring” to be refreshing and not depressing?
Well the answer is not a simple one since it can be as varied as the women who go through it- but it there is underlying common denominator that can change the course (towards menopausal years) if taken to heart today whether 16 or 46. That answer is 5 words.

They are probably the most important 5 words for your body, and that is — “Take care of your liver.” That’s right your liver, the most beautiful organ that conducts more than 500 vital functions. Some of the more well-known functions include the production of bile, which helps carry away waste and break down fats in the small intestine during digestion. It plays a key role in cholesterol, in glucose.

The liver regulates the balance of sex hormones, thyroid hormones, cortisone and other adrenal hormones. It transforms or removes any excess from the body. If the liver cannot do this properly, there is the risk of emotional imbalances. So by the time we reach menopause, if we haven’t taken care of our liver, it will let us know that it isn’t happy by some, or all of the above “communications” mentioned at the beginning of this article.

Suffice it to say that we couldn’t begin to address how we should take care of our liver in one article. But the information is out there as more and more women strive to take back autonomy of their bodies. If you are experiencing these symptoms and not happy with what your doctor says, seek a qualified practitioner who will listen and understand your discomfort and help educate and empower you to not settle for what has been stated as “there is nothing you can do.” Seek out menopausal doulas, read up on what happens to your body at this time and make good, educated decisions accordingly.

Let’s take back our autonomy when it comes to our health. It has been said many times that doctors don’t always listen when women complain of their symptoms. But as women, we live in our bodies every day. Do we listen when it is trying to communicate with us? Stop, breathe, listen, and understand that our body is all about communication and protection. What has it been trying to tell us?

As International Women’s day helps us seek empowerment, let’s do just that with ourselves first, in the privacy of our own quiet. Then seek out the correct assistance with accurate information, and follow through.

As a final note to this article, here are some things that we can do right away to show our liver that we want to take better care of it and in turn help our hormones:

1. Eat real food. Chemicals are not real food. The liver has to work all these chemicals out of its system (food coloring; caramel color; Blue 1, Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6; MSG; artificial sweeteners, sodium nitrite, guar gum, high fructose corn syrup, etc…).

2. Drink plenty of filtered water to help flush out toxins and stay hydrated.

3. Move daily (10 minutes of walking after a meal can help lower blood sugar).

4. Rest well (The body regenerates during sleep)

5. Watch alcohol consumption (liver, liver, liver)

6. Question whether you really need that OTC or prescription. While they have their place, they are way over prescribed and many times an alternate answer to address the issue can be just as effective.

7. Take high quality supplements without a lot of fillers, like Vitamin D and Magnesium.

8. Take time to rest and recharge with low key meaningful “re-creation.” (Scrolling through social media is not considered as an activity to recharge. It is draining.
While there are many more suggestions, the above can help put you on the right road towards your ‘Golden” years or back on track as you continue to educate your mind and listen to your body.

All women deserve great stories in their lives through adventures, relationships, goals, and memories. They don’t deserve illness to rob them of beautiful years if they can help it. From 6-96-may you always continue to thrive.

"What is strength anyway?" She mused."Is it how much you can lift, or how much you can carry?In reality, isn't it how much you can let go of?"And I knew then, she was one strong woman.

Find peace in release

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