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Find a balance between work and home

PaulaBy Paula Bowers-Sanchez

This month I will focus on women’s health.

If you are like me, you are the CEO/CFO/Executive Chef, etc. of your household. If you are like me, you are so busy taking care of everyone else and being a strong, independent woman that you will sometimes forget about yourself.

Oh, I understand the demands of managing motherhood, the role of being a great wife and partner, handling work details outside the home and all the daily activities we have to juggle just to maintain a home.

I encourage every one of you to check for lumps and bumps monthly. Breast exams are a must. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women (aside from non-melanoma skin cancer). I just recently read that beautiful actress Angelina Jolie got a preventative double mastectomy after learning she carries a mutation of the BRCA1 gene, which sharply increases her risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

Women 40 and older, please, please get mammograms on a yearly basis. Yes, they are uncomfortable. But early detection can save your life.

Once a year, we should all have a full physical exam or what I like to call the “Healthy Female Exam.” Be sure to have your physician include all the labs necessary to pinpoint any issues that need to be addressed to improve your quality of life and keep you healthy.

And, according to the American Cancer Society, women should get their first colonoscopy at age 50. Yes, this all takes time, but again, early detection is key so you have more time on this Earth.

I was recently asked to include information on menopause. Menopause is a time of significant hormonal changes in the female reproductive system. These changes can cause not only emotional instability but also a host of changes in the body’s equilibrium.

Many different signs and/or symptoms are associated with menopause. Some of the most common are hot flashes and/or night sweats, which are caused by a decrease in the production of estrogen; the change in estrogen levels affects the part of the brain responsible for body temperature regulation. Another common symptom is mood swings. Mood swings are characterized by fluctuations or shifts in one’s emotional state: One minute you’re happy, the next you’re crying.

Serotonin is known as the mood regulator and medical studies have shown that estrogen seems to play a significant role in the brain’s production of this substance. Bottom line: when your estrogen levels are off balance, your serotonin will be off balance, causing mood swings.

If you are in your 40s and beyond, you may begin experiencing the signs and symptoms related to menopause. I encourage you to seek medical advice and get your hormone levels checked because there are treatments available to make menopause symptoms manageable.

I have read that it is not always necessary to seek treatment for menopause symptoms, but you will have to determine whether you need help. Hormone replacement therapies may be medically administered by your doctor.

Natural menopause treatments are also available to help you manage your symptoms. Diet plays a very important role in the management of menopause; avoid excessive caffeine, carbonated drinks, high amounts of sugar and commercially processed foods (it’s a good time to go organic).

And of course, I cannot stress the importance of exercise. It will help you mentally, physically and emotionally. I know I sound like a broken record sometimes . . . but, if you exercise at least three times a week, you are going to feel amazing, strong and in control of your health and life.