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The down & dirty on women's wellness
We Don't Just Get Older:
We Level Up
We Don't Just Get Older:
We Level Up
October 1, 2020
Recently, I was talking with a female local small business owner who is an intrepid traveler, a daring adventurer, a brilliant entrepreneur. During the course of our delightful conversation, she leaned over & whispered surreptitiously to me that she was 65 years old. She felt she needed to hide her age because she felt ashamed by the number of years she has lived her very full, vibrant life. Chances are, she’s got as many more years to live as there are years of life in the youth whose physiques we covet. Chances are, she will still be here living vibrantly for a couple decades more. Despite the fact that the average life span of an American woman is 84 years, we seem to have a collective agreement that women’s lives are basically over the day they turn 40. And, somehow, they become invisible at 50, once they are beyond the age of beauty.
Part of this is fostered by concern about our fertility, the great value we place on a woman’s fertility, & the fertility industry’s urging that professional women take measures to preserve & freeze their eggs, lest they age themselves out of reproduction, but it is mostly a reflection of how little our culture values women after a certain decade, despite that fact that women continue to work for many years & contribute positively to the health of their families, the well-being of their communities & the functions of the world well-beyond that dreaded 40th birthday. In our office, we joke about Morghan being “forever 39” because she doesn’t want to feel that aching pang of lost value that accompanies the 40th decade of a woman’s life. She doesn’t want to admit she’s been losing collagen rapidly for years & that she’s having to refill her elastin stash in ways younger women don’t. In our office, we joke that we all maintain the face of a 26 year-old, & I frequently wonder aloud whether I should dye my grey hairs to continue to promote this façade. I often get congratulated for having “such good Asian genes,” because they have sustained my youthful appearance. All of this is funny, & I am never one to miss an opportunity to have a good laugh. However, there are many pieces of this age-avoidance dance that we as American women perform that are incredibly un-funny.
Among them is the routine dismissal of older women’s concerns: from pain to insomnia to hot flashes to memory loss to sexual problems to bladder concerns. We see women on a daily basis who have been told by their providers, “Well, that’s just part of getting older,” with the implication that they must simply learn to live with whichever bothersome symptom they’ve reported & that there is little use in evaluating it or seeking to resolve their concerns. Often, no steps are taken to assist women in reclaiming lives that have been adversely impacted by a symptom that is attributed to “normal aging.”
We see women each day who have gone ahead & assumed that age is taking its toll & that there is nothing they can do to fight it--their muscles are atrophying, their skin is sagging, their bladders are leaking, their husbands are impotent. Stick a fork in them. Life is as good as done. Except that many women begin experiencing these symptoms HALFWAY through their lives, which means they are NOT problems of the elderly & which also means that these women are NOT old. It also means they might decide to simply suffer through unnecessary weight gain, debilitating fatigue, problematic pain or any array of other symptoms that may be harbingers of underlying disease processes for DECADES, thinking they are just normal parts of aging.
I wake up each morning with an unwavering dedication to serve women better than they have been served before, in the face of a cultural & medical system that routinely engages in ignoring women’s needs or highlighting their value. My team joins me without fail every clinic day before we open the doors to affirm our commitment to providing the best women’s care possible. I receive messages regularly asking me if I will ever return to delivering babies, & my answer is consistently, “no.” This is not because I did not love my role in the delivery room or because I do not love watching women become mothers. It is because catching babies is a fragment of the care I can provide, just as having babies is a fragment of the lives that women live or the health that women have. I went into women’s health care with a passion for helping heal women, & I rapidly realized that “women’s health care” was a euphemism for “reproductive care,” which for me underscores one of the most monumental problems facing women seeking healthcare: when their reproductive years are over, their unique female bodies are often forgotten, as if their femininity & desirability evaporated as soon as they blew out their 50 birthday candles.
We are here to fill that space, to see women as more than their reproductive parts, to honor the female body in all its forms across the lifespan & to provide exceptional care in all stages & phases of women’s lives. We are here to listen to women, to ensure that they have the space they need to tell their stories & be truly heard & openly received. We are here to stop interrupting, to stop talking over, to stop chalking things up to aging. We are here to stop valuing women only for their childbearing or sexual potential. We are here to honor women as the complete beings they are, independent of their reproductive concerns, while still acknowledging any & all reproductive concerns they themselves bring to the table.
We devote our days to ensuring that we assist in optimizing the quality of life for each woman we see, wherever she is on her life journey. We love to help women realize their potential, achieve things they thought were impossible, fall back in love with themselves, learn to truly care for their bodies, find themselves ravishing & beautiful, delight in their own pleasure, understand their symptoms, & powerfully solve their problems. We want you to bring us your hot flashes, your night sweats, your depression, your fine lines, your cellulite, your unwanted hair, your lost hair, your lost sleep, your extra weight, your heavy fatigue, your tears, your fears, your age spots, your sun spots, your red spots, your itchy spots, your worrisome spots, your sexual dysfunction, your bleeding problems, your lubrication concerns, your dying libido, your memory lapses, your limited mobility, your challenges of everyday living. We want you to thrive through menopause & run circles around the woman you were in your 20s. We want you to age better than fine wine & decadent cheese. Not just gracefully. Gloriously.