In recognition of International Women’s Day and Month, I’ve been doing a lot of reflection on my own health journey. Recently, I found out that I am post-menopausal and that my thyroid has stopped producing the essential hormones necessary for healthy metabolism. The changes and imbalances in my hormones, have affected my weight, my mood, my sleep, along with all the other symptoms that traditionally happen when a woman enters this stage in her life.
But the real problem is, I’m in my early 40’s and have been suffering from symptoms of menopause for years but no one believed me when I told them. Yet now, after getting a proper diagnosis, I find myself taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT). For the first time in a long time, I am starting to get my energy back, the brain fog is clearing and many of the side effects of hormone imbalance are slowly beginning to correct themselves.
But it makes me wonder, could my outcome have been different? I have suffered from hormonal imbalances, particularly estrogen dominance, my entire life ever since puberty. Looking back, it has always been painfully clear. But why did it take so long for someone to identify and properly diagnose me?
If I had been diagnosed sooner, it may have led me along a much different path away from pain medications, anti-inflammatories, injections and invasive and trauma causing procedures. If someone had actually taken the time to look at my full medical history and valued my lived experience, instead of focusing on my individual symptoms, I might not have had to have a hysterectomy in my mid 30’s, as a last-ditch effort to relieve my uterine pain.
But what I have learned over the past decade of trying to be an advocate for myself and get the support and care I needed is this – I am no different than many women. No one really saw me and my health concerns, let alone believed I had hormonal issues because I still had my ovaries after my surgery, and I was “too young” to be out of such balance and because I was dealing with “woman issues” and that’s “part of being a woman”.
Women Health is Often Dismissed or Misdiagnosed
Research tells us that there are many women’s health concerns, particularly when it comes to preventative health, that are often dismissed or discredited by our healthcare system. I can certainly relate having felt unheard by many doctors when it came to my health issues, particularly those that were fundamentally feminine and only associated with a woman’s body. Fact is women’s health is disproportionally treated with a bias that our bodies and our health is the same as men’s and can be treated appropriately within the patriarchal system of medicine.
Allopathic medicine as we know it is a reflection of social values and power which is patriarchal by influence. When you look at the allocation of funding and energy, women’s health issues are systematically under-researched and under-diagnosed while our reproductive health is over medicalized. This gendered inequality has led to a lack of confidence in medicine and practitioners today because they underserve women and are inadequate at meeting the needs of our bodies. That’s why education, especially learning that is female-led and holistically-centered is important to help women make informed decisions for our own health and in alignment with our own beliefs and values.
Holistic Education Empowers Women’s Wellness
Often women’s experiences are undervalued and when we seek help, we are left unheard which means we have to be more persistent and vigilant to get the care we need and deserve. Education is power. When women learn about their bodies and how they are intimately connected to our thoughts, feeling and emotions in a way that is not negative or tied to shame or stereotype, we become empowered and more aligned with our spiritual self with confidence and raised esteem. Two qualities we as women need to embody more.
When a woman is empowered and educated to align with her body and her natural rhythms and gifts, she becomes a catalyst for transformation that transcends and changes the world. When women learn to embrace all aspects of themselves and attain whole wellness, we have more to offer the world for the better. And in the process, we enter into the restorative history of women as holistic healers and the healing arts that we’ve practiced for centuries around the world.
Women as Healers
Women have educated and guided each other and our various stages of life and feminine experiences since time began. Women have always had a firm understanding of what health is and it’s true depth and our objective has always been on healing. Throughout history, we have been both revered as natural healers, as well as feared for our intimate understanding of life and the curative medicine within to unite with their whole self – mentally, physically and spiritually.
We’ve also always had a gift and insight for healing, nurturing and caring for others. And that’s important to remember as we take control of our health rather than leave it in the hands of a system that discredits our legitimate concerns and intuitive knowing when we are out of balance. As women, we are beautifully complex with our hormones and natural cycles, our emotions and mental health, our unique pain and suffering, our digestion and immune systems and it’s all wrapped up in our sacred feminine body that comes is all shapes and sizes.
4 Ways You Can Begin to Align Your Health:
1. Learn to Make Your Wellness a Priority
Wellness is the act of practicing daily healthy habits that improve your physical, mental and spiritual health. Our choices when it comes to movement, nourishment and restoring the body have a huge impact on our energy and vitality and influence our mental health. When we learn to balance our physical and mental health, we create a state where we can connect on a deeper level to our whole Self spiritually.
2. Learn to Identify the Root of Your Dis-ease
Everything within us is interconnected. Our mind affects our body, our body affects our mind and any disconnection or imbalance within either impacts our sense of Self. Two of the biggest precursors for poor health are stress and inflammation and they are shared factors in chronic disease and illness today.
It’s easy enough to pop anti-inflammatory medication or an anti-depressant to combat the anxiety that comes with stress. But these are band-aid solutions because they don’t get to the root or source of our pain or problem. To truly alleviate our dis-ease is to learn where it comes from.
Once we know the source, we can develop a plan of action such as ways to calm our nervous system to decrease stress and inflammation. In doing so, we can create mindful choices that strengthen our mind-body connection, engages our healing response and supports our immune system. When we get to the root of our real pain and suffering then we can make better life choices that promote personal alignment and helps us to create the best versions of ourselves.
3. Lead a Holistic Life
Learn how to embody a positive lifestyle full of self-care focusing on movement, nourishment, stress management, self-reflection and contemplation, as well as self-affirming spiritual practice. You can also learn about the benefits associated with various healing arts like holistic nutrition, aromatherapy, bodywork, yoga, meditation and other natural complementary medicines. Many complementary medicines are now being used integratively alongside conventional medicinal approaches – providing us with more options in therapies and practices that can enrich our overall health and well-being.
4. Get Educated on Your Health
As women we have unique needs. A key to living a healthy life is preventative care and being aware of health issues and those that are particular to our bodies and minds. Learning is essential and teaches us how we can proactively heal and take care of ourselves, instead of relying on intrusive interventions and pharmaceuticals that don’t get to the root of our issues but only mask the symptoms.
If you are interested in the learning how to holistically look after your health or those of others, check out my Align Your Life or Women’s Wellness Programs.