- Women’s Health
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- Nurse Barb
“This tastes like a milkshake!”
I overheard this comment after providing bottles of Boost to my friends Sean and Cal who are mountain bikers. They were surprised by how great it tastes and asked for more.
As we talked about how to stay healthy after 50, Sean related that he had just read about the importance of having protein both before and after a ride. This is something that athletic trainers and coaches have known for years. During workouts, our muscles undergo changes as the protein fibers break down preparing for new muscle fibers, made of protein to be added.
The amount of breakdown and repair depends upon the intensity of the workout. A person doing yoga would need a different amount of protein than someone who lifts weights. What is constant though is the muscles’ need for more protein to have available for recovery and repair.
Protein before and after a workout
It’s difficult imagining having a steak before or after a big workout. It’s just too heavy for the stomach and would stop your momentum and ability to move freely. The key is to find something that won’t make you feel heavy and bloated.
It’s not just protein though. Our bodies need calcium and other nutrients to function at our best. That’s where Boost comes in. With 20 grams of protein, 26 essential vitamins and nutrients, plus 35% of the daily requirement for Calcium, it’s a nutritional supplement that also tastes great. How much protein do you need?
This link will direct you to a protein calculator that factors in your weight, height, exercise levels and your gender.
Hidden benefits of protein
As we celebrate birthdays past 50, exercise and maintaining our muscle mass is essential for a healthy lifestyle. Here’s a few hidden benefits of keeping our muscles strong and healthy that many of us forget:
What kind of exercise is best?
Everyone is different, so what I recommend as the best, is the one that you enjoy and will do regularly. Whether it’s walking or tennis, swimming or a dance class, it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is being active for at least 30 minutes each day and finding ways to get some resistance or weight training too.
One of the easiest ways to do that is doing pushups or planks. True confession here: When I first started doing planks, I could barely survive holding it for 10 seconds, now with practice, I’m over 1 minute and I can do 2!
There are a lot of people who are in much better shape than I am, but I’m moving, doing squats, planks, hiking the hills around my house and enjoying my Boost chocolate mocha with coffee in the morning and some Strawberry boost as a snack in the afternoon.
What else to look for
In my busy life, I’m always open to using hacks and tips to optimize my day. I like Boost because I can slip it into a purse, gym bag or backpack and take it with me. Right now, I’m really enjoying the Strawberry flavor. It’s just the right amount so that I don’t feel overly full, but after drinking it, I also don’t feel hungry. The taste is yummy and the protein helps me feel satisfied.
My Mom Loved Boost®
Like many health care providers, I have been recommending and relying on Boost® as a nutritional supplement for friends, family and patients when they are sick and unable to eat. My mom was battling a late stage cancer and was very tired and unable to enjoy her grandchildren and the friends who would come to visit.
To help her regain some much needed energy, her hospice doctor recommended Boost®. I bought a few different flavors and very gently suggested that she try it. At first she was hesitant to try it because she thought it would taste like the nutritional drinks she had in the hospital. I coaxed her, very gently of course because she was very feisty and wanted to maintain her independence in everything including what she ate and drank. She did agree to try just one sip and once she tasted it, she smiled, winked at me and kept on drinking the container.
She loved the various chocolate flavors and the strawberry so to mix things up a bit, I would pour a some Boost® into small cups and add a popsicle stick to make frozen treats for her. She loved sharing these with the grandkids, who vied for their favorite flavors.
My mom’s nutrition was directly related to how much energy she had for the family and so Boost became part of our daily routine. I’m very grateful for her experience because there were not a lot of nutrient dense foods that she liked and foods with a lot of protein left her feeling bloated and heavy. Luckily, she liked the taste and she felt better when she had better nutrition, so we were able to enjoy our time with her.
Disclosure: I’ve been recommending it for years to friends, family and anyone who need to improve their nutrition. And now I’m proud to be an official partner of the BOOST brand.
Disclosure: I’ve partnered with Boost® to discuss ways people over 50 can improve their nutrition with protein, calcium and high quality nutrients for active lifestyles.
As a women’s health care provider, I am always talking to women about optimizing their health by getting enough of the nutrients, calcium and protein their bodies’ need. Many are so busy living their lives that healthy nutrition is often overlooked, and yet a healthy body starts with plenty of sleep, good nutrition and a balance between work and play.
Our Bodies and Muscles Need Protein
Many women are surprised to learn that their bodies’ need for protein may increase as they age. That’s right! After age 30, everyone, yes everyone, starts to lose lean muscle mass. It’s estimated that people lose 3-5% of their muscle mass each decade. That means by age 50, a person may have lost 10% of their lean muscle mass. As people head toward their late 60’s and 70’s the muscle loss accelerates from a number of factors.
It’s much worse for people who are inactive, and less of an issue for people who stay active. While resistance training and more strenuous activities will help preserve and increase muscle mass, any exercise, from swimming and cycling to attending a dance class and walking will help. Weight training, yoga, Pilates and resistance training are also key to keeping lean muscle mass.
Here’s a few secrets:
Enjoying Life to Its Fullest
Virtually everyone I talk to wants to live their lives to the fullest, especially as they pass those milestone birthdays after 50. Many people are seeing friends or family who are not able to do the things they enjoy and they then become even more determined not to let that happen. The people I talk to have no intention of slowing down, in fact, they are often more active and planning more fun activities than ever before. People know that being healthy is the only way they’ll be able to enjoy the things that have meaning for them.
What About Nutrition?
One concern that I hear all the time, is that our busy lives make it difficult to get the recommended 5-7 servings of vegetables and fruits each day, plus adequate calcium for healthy bones and 3 servings of protein, and do all of this without gaining weight. Oh yes, and make time to shop for healthy foods and cook. If it seems overwhelming and like too much to even contemplate, let alone do every day, you’re not alone, because I hear this from patients every day, who ask for tips and advice.
A High Protein Nutritional Drink
As a nurse practitioner, I have been recommending Boost® to my family, friends and patients for years. I think a lot of people look at Boost and think of it as something that’s reserved only for people who have health issues or who are recovering from an illness. The truth is, Boost is a healthy nutritional option for many people at various ages and stages of life for many reasons. I drink it myself, because I like the taste, and with Boost® High Protein drink, I know I’m getting 26 essential vitamins and minerals, including 35% of my daily requirement for Calcium plus 20 grams of protein. (link to client’s choice of websites)
How much protein do you need every day? This is a good question, because unlike many other nutrients that your body can store, we need to get protein every day. I used the protein calculator on the Boost.com website (link here: https://www.boost.com/protein-calculator ) to calculate my daily need for protein. At my height and weight, for my activity level, I need about 80 grams of protein a day.
This might be my typical protein intake for a day:
1 large egg: 6 grams of protein
1 ounce of cheese: 7 grams
1 cup of yogurt : 10 grams
¼ cup of almonds: 7 grams
3 ounces of fish: 17 grams
Grand total: 47 grams
Gosh, even if I have an extra egg, and more cheese, I’m not even close. And, like most of my patients, weight gain from eating too many calories is a concern. That’s why having a convenient, tasty, high protein nutritional option, like Boost can make all the difference when looking for ways to increase protein.
What Works for Me
I like the taste of Boost. I add a half a bottle of Boost’s High Protein Rich Chocolate to my morning coffee, and now I have my Boost Mocha! It tastes great and means I’m getting at least 10 grams of protein every morning. I take the rest of the bottle in my purse and usually finish it during my commute or have it with lunch.
I have patients who drink Boost before or after a work out. One told me that Boost tastes just like a milkshake and she/he (depending upon the photo) likes knowing she/he can get the protein and nutrition she/he needs without the heaviness of a big meal. Another friend who mountain bikes downs a Boost before long afternoon rides on the trails.
When it comes to enjoying a healthy, active lifestyle at any age, and especially after 50, having optimal nutrition, plenty of protein to maintain muscle mass and strength combined with regular exercise are the keys that will keep you moving in the right direction.
Disclosure: My mom’s doctor recommended Boost® for her nutrition, which is when I started drinking it too. I liked the taste and would pour Boost® into little cups, add a popsicle stick and make frozen treats for her. I’ve been recommending it for years to friends, family and anyone who need to improve their nutrition.
This is a sponsored post. Salix Pharmaceuticals compensated me for this post. All opinions are my own.
A few months ago Alana* came to see me for an annual physical. As we reviewed her health history over the last year, she shook her head in frustration as she recounted her recurrent and unpredictable diarrhea, bloating and gas. She underwent a multitude of tests and diet changes that ultimately led to her being diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea (IBS-D).
Alana was working on completing her teacher’s credential, which meant commuting to her own classes and to the schools where she was gaining experience. Though there were always bathrooms nearby, she couldn’t predict when her symptoms would hit and she would need to find a bathroom immediately. She was worried about what her mentor teachers would say about her time spent away from teaching. She felt very alone and overwhelmed by her symptoms.
Like Alana, many people with IBS-D may:
A Closer Look at IBS-D
Earlier this year, I attended a talk by leading gastroenterologist, Dr. Mark Pimentel and learned about the complexities of our GI system’s microbiota. It was not only fascinating, but it’s also helped me understand how disruptions in the healthy bacteria in our intestines can contribute to IBS symptoms.
IBS-D Up Close
I also found a new website, IBSDUpClose.com that was launched to provide information for patients and for health care providers about IBS-D.
As I took a closer look at what IBS-D is, I found that irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common intestinal disease associated with unpredictable bowel movements. People with IBS usually have stomach (abdominal) pain at least 1 day a week, for at least 3 months. If more than 25% of their bowel movements are loose or watery and less than 25% are hard or lumpy, they could have IBS-D.
A Closer Look at IBS Stats:
There is no cure for IBS, but there are treatments that address the symptoms
A Closer Look at the Possible Causes of IBS-D:
I also liked that the IBS-D Up Close site has links to 2 different on-line patient support groups: Patients Like Me and Irritable Bowel Syndrome Self Help and Support Group.
I found the site very helpful. I did refer Alana to a GI specialist who is treating her and seeing her for regular follow-ups. As a health care provider focused in women’s health, I know that I am not an expert in other areas such as gastrointestinal issues; however, I do try to point my patients in the right direction for further evaluation and care. I think IBSDUpClose.com is a good resource for both patients and providers. I hope you also find it helpful.
I collaborated with AMAG Pharmaceuticals to create this post. All opinions are my own.
Recently I was invited to speak to a group of postmenopausal women who were all 50+ (plus) to discuss some of the concerns that we’re encountering from how to deal with wrinkles and weight gain to sleep and yes, we talked about one of my favorite topics – Sex!
Many admitted that talking about sex was something they learned early on as girls was a taboo topic, too personal and private to disclose, even with their closest friends. I’ve heard this at every talk I’ve given, so I asked everyone to close their eyes and then asked them to raise their hands if they had a concern about painful sex after menopause. I’m sure you can image what happened next. Over half of the women raised their hands! Over half!
Then I asked these brave women to open their eyes. After the nervous laughter died down, we realized that surprise, surprise – we’re not alone. An estimated 32 million postmenopausal women in the United States suffer from vulvovaginal atrophy, also known as VVA, and while experiences vary, painful sex is one of its symptoms! I get it, for most of us, it’s a lot easier to have sex, than to talk about it.
I just don’t know where to start
One courageous woman said, “Look, this is a very personal and private issue and it’s embarrassing. Sometimes I feel like it’s easier to just ignore it and focus on other aspects of my life, but then I think, ah, am I really ready to give up my sexuality and the intimacy in my relationship? But, I just don’t know where to start.”
I saw a lot of women in the audience nodding their heads. What I’ve found is that once we open the door to this topic, women rush in and are eager and willing to have the conversations, and let me reassure you, they don’t have to be Painfully Awkward.
What is going on?
What I heard that night and what I hear from my patients every day are these questions:
The Low Down
After 50 and sometimes a little earlier, our bodies experience shifting hormone levels that can lead to hot flashes and night sweats and eventually impact the vulvar and vaginal tissues. They become thinner, drier and less able to stretch. This collection of symptoms is known as Vulvar and Vaginal Atrophy or VVA and can cause pain with sex, also known as dyspareunia.
Unlike hot flashes and night sweats which often improve over time, VVA just gets worse. That’s right, without treatment, these symptoms generally will not improve over time. Some women relate that just wearing tight workout clothes or using certain soaps leads to vulvar and vaginal irritation. Others say that the tissue is so dry that no amount of lubricant makes reduces the pain associated with intimacy. Many have tried various remedies from their pantry to help things slide and glide but find those are just as irritating and they’re not making a lot of progress.
(Images courtesy of AMAG Pharmaceuticals, Inc.)
Don’t just accept this
One of my patients said what many others have expressed. “We get started, and I’m a little nervous, but willing to try again. But then, as soon as we try, it hurts and then poof, the mood vanishes and I’m done. I feel bad for me and for my husband. This is not fun!” She wondered out loud if she should just give up on having sex. And, the answer to that is NO! Do NOT give up on your sex life. You don’t have to put up with this and there’s a lot that can be done. Women deserve to have a sex life after 50!
There are many treatment options available. This video from my friend Dr. Sheryl Kingsberg explains why you deserve better if you’re experiencing pain with sex. https://www.pausesexpain.com/dyspareunia-treatment
Finding a Health Care Provider
Unfortunately, many health care providers are so busy talking about when to have a mammogram and getting cholesterol and diabetes testing that they don’t bring up any aspect of sexual activity, let alone painful sex. Some haven’t been trained to talk about sex and honestly, don’t know how to start the conversation with you. But that doesn’t have to stop you or discourage you from finding a health care provider with whom you are comfortable talking about sex and who has the knowledge and experience to help you find treatment options. Do talk to your friends, read reviews and consider going to the North American Menopause Society’s website, Menopause.org for more information and if you want to find a certified Menopause Practitioner in your area.
Preparing to Talk to Your Health Care Provider
Now that you’ve found a provider to talk to, here are a few questions to jot down.
Talking to Your Health Care Provider
Now that you’re prepared, don’t let embarrassment prevent you from living life and enjoying sex. You can visit www.PauseSexPain.com to learn more.
Though there are undoubtedly people who are born with “The Happy Gene” and are natural optimists, I’ve seen many people choose to be optimistic and not give in to their negative self-talk. Here’s what I use with my patients:
Source: ACOG, Committee Opinion. April 2013 (reaffirmed 2015), number 557.
A Woman’s Normal Anatomy
PALM – Structural causes of AUB
P – Polyp
A – Adenomyosis
L – Leiomyoma (fibroids)
M – Malignancy/Hyperplasia
COEIN – Non-structural
C – Coagulopathy
O – Ovulatory
E – Endometrial
I – Iatrogenic
N –Not Classified
Source: Established by FIGO – Fédération Internationale de Gynécologie et d’Obstétrique (the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics)
Many women I speak to are surprised to learn that they can take birth control pills in their 40’s and early 50’s as long as there are no contraindications.
Many women who are in Perimenopause, that is the time when there are a lot of menstrual irregularities, the start of hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness, will benefit from taking a low dose birth control pill to help with their symptoms as well as provide contraception.
Fertility after 40
While fertility rates do decline after 40, if a woman is still having her period, even if it’s irregular, she can become pregnant. Contraception is advised if a woman does not want to become pregnant.
If you’re asking this question, you’re not alone. If you’re under 30 about 1/3 of women use something slippery (lube or lubricant) to help everything glide and slide with sex. If you’re in your 50’s or beyond, it’s more like 50- 75%.
Which lubricant is best? Well that depends. Most of the manufacturers of lube have several different varieties for any situation. Here are some guidelines:
– These include Good Clean Love, KY, Sliquid, Aloe Cadabra, Sylk, Yes
– These can be used with any toy made out of anything
– Ok with all condoms
– Available in sugar-free flavors
– If you’ve used a water based lubricant and it’s feeling a little dry, instead of applying more lubricant, you can use a little bit of water to rehydrate the lubricant. (hint- your saliva will also work)
– Won’t stain the sheets and rinses off with water
There’s lots of reasons why sex might be painful after you turn 50. For many women as estrogen levels decline during midlife, their vaginas become much more dry and don’t have the same elasticity or ability to stretch.
What you might notice
If you or someone you care about is concerned that they may have herpes, then you know that it can be a very worrisome time with a long list of questions. What makes it even more difficult is that you might be hearing conflicting and confusing information.
Several types of Herpes
What makes it more confusing is that there are several Herpes Simples Viruses (HSV), including the type that causes Chickenpox and Shingles.
Testing for Herpes when symptoms are present
If there are visible or active symptoms, such as sores, small bumps, crusted over lesions or small tears in the skin, then a healthcare provider can do a swab of the area and send it out for a PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction ) evaluation. This is the most accurate way to test because it looks for the viral DNA, which is present even after a few days of symptoms. We don’t use cultures any more because they are not as reliable.