Every now and then I am surprised and delighted. When I write these newsletters, because I do not have a professional editor, I ask my husband to read them and to help me spot the spelling and grammatical errors. Two heads are better than one hopefully, whilst he picked up a couple of errors he did say ” Oh my goodness Darleen, I hope this is going out to men, a lot of men would have no idea about these things.” I love him so much!
When we were younger and in the busy lane, we did not get into too much of the detail either and we had few people to ask really due to feeling extremely judged, it was the 80’s 90’s don’t put your hand up someone will cut it off !
Although I am one, I thank God for the middle person today, the counselling professionals, who can help close the gaps for us in our learnings about self.
Dr Edward de Bono said “Start at the beginning with the end in mind” With this being said, this newsletter is to help mums and dads, husbands and wives understand the landscape of a female as she experiences changes over her life. #Empathy is a great word
Women are wonderfully made; they give life, preserve life, nurture… yet most of us have not stopped to think about what a woman’s body goes through over her life. Who is she? She is much more than a sexual being, she is a living miracle, who deserves to be respected and understood.
One of the challenges we have today is the amount of information and misinformation we have out there, it is difficult to know what is true.
The internet is a money-making machine, selling products, ideas the root being advertising…
Do you know young girls going through puberty and women going through menopause are prescribed anti-depressants after a 15-minute Gp appointment. They are not referred on to a counsellor, gynecologist an endocrinologist or any other investigative practitioner to help find the root?
Back in the day, seems like BC now, I was an educator on medications in “Big Pharma” and one of the things I learned was, Doctors would not entertain reading a medical case study, if it did not reach an end point. That means the medical trial detailed in the case study needs to meet all the requirements and has reached an end point. The outcome needed to be believable from a medical standpoint and there was a clear path forward for treatment of a patient with that particular medication “Efficacy.”
With this being said the internet sells many trial studies that do NOT reach the ethical standards required, but they sell a good story. Resulting in many people wondering around lost in the abyss and quagmire of the internet.
My view is sometimes we need to get back to basics and that is understanding the root of a patient’s presentation through “enquiry.”
Working from the Counselling Therapy seat my job is to help, understand, educate, support, then point patients in the right direction and refer on when needed.
Where there are benefits and happiness on the internet, there is also so much pain and sadness as people search endlessly, particularly in the mental health and well-being space.
My challenge with term of “Mental Health” is most people align it with Anxiety & Depression “diagnoses done”… I prefer to use the words “Mental Wellness” and looking for ways we can improve our mental wellness by looking deeper into the root of the surfacing presentation. Understanding the root is key to understanding the presenting problem as a whole and in part.
Good quality question asking is a skill and time is also needed in this space. A lot of GPs just do not have the time to do the enquiry needed to uncover what the root of the problem is.
Then of course many people are lining up for months to see a phycologist on “Mental Health Plans.”
Okay, let’s start to understand the journey of a women from puberty to menopause.
Early menopause, also known as premature menopause or premature ovarian insufficiency, refers to the cessation of menstrual periods and the decline in ovarian function before the age of 40. While the exact causes of early menopause are not always clear, here are ten potential reasons for its occurrence in women:
Genetic factors: Certain genetic abnormalities can contribute to early menopause. For example, conditions such as Turner syndrome (also called Gonadal dysgenesis) and Fragile X syndrome (also call Martin Bell syndrome) are associated with an increased risk of premature ovarian insufficiency.
Autoimmune disorders: Autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and thyroiditis can affect ovarian function and lead to early menopause.
Chromosomal abnormalities: Structural or numerical abnormalities in the chromosomes can cause early menopause. For instance, women with a chromosomal defect called X chromosome abnormalities are more prone to premature ovarian insufficiency.
Family history: Women with a family history of early menopause are more likely to experience it themselves, indicating a potential genetic predisposition.
Cancer treatments: Chemotherapy and radiation therapy used to treat cancer can damage the ovaries, leading to early menopause. The risk depends on the type and dosage of treatment.
Surgical removal of the ovaries: Surgical removal of both ovaries (bilateral oophorectomy) for medical reasons, such as to treat ovarian cancer or reduce the risk of certain diseases, will induce menopause.
Pelvic radiation therapy: Radiation therapy directed at the pelvic area, often used to treat cancers like cervical or colorectal cancer, can cause ovarian damage and early menopause.
Chronic medical conditions: Certain chronic conditions, such as diabetes, epilepsy, and hypothyroidism, have been linked to an increased risk of early menopause.
Smoking: Smoking has been associated with an increased likelihood of early menopause. It can accelerate the decline in ovarian function and deplete the ovarian reserve.
Environmental factors: Exposure to certain environmental toxins and chemicals, such as certain pesticides, may contribute to early menopause. However, further research is needed to establish definitive links.
It’s important to note that each woman’s situation is unique, and in many cases, the cause of early menopause remains unknown. If you have concerns about early menopause or irregular menstrual patterns, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional for a proper evaluation guidance and treatment.
I am very much a cheer leader of “Functional Medicine” this is a biological approach that focuses on identifying and addressing the root cause.
“Where you have agency, you have responsibility.”
What happens to a girl’s body as she goes through puberty?
During puberty, a girl’s body undergoes numerous physical and hormonal changes as she transitions from childhood to adolescence and eventually reaches sexual maturity. Here are some key changes that occur in a girl’s body during puberty:
Breast development: One of the early signs of puberty is the development of breast tissue. The breasts grow in size and shape as the mammary glands and fatty tissue increase.
Growth spurt: Girls experience a rapid growth spurt during puberty, typically between ages 9 and 14. They grow taller, and their limbs and torso lengthen.
Body hair growth: Pubic hair starts to appear in the genital area and then spreads to the underarms. Additionally, fine vellus hair might become coarser and darker in various areas of the body, including the legs and arms.
Menstruation: The onset of menstruation, or the first menstrual period (menarche), marks a significant milestone in puberty. It usually occurs between the ages of 9 and 16 and signifies the beginning of a girl’s reproductive years.
Development of reproductive organs: The uterus, fallopian tubes, and vagina undergo growth and maturation during puberty in preparation for potential pregnancy.
Skin changes: Increased hormone production during puberty can affect the skin. Some girls may experience oilier skin, acne breakouts, and the development of sweat glands.
Body shape changes: Girls typically develop wider hips and a more defined waist as fat redistributes in the body. This contributes to a more curvy body shape.
Maturation of the reproductive system: The ovaries start releasing eggs in a monthly cycle (ovulation), and hormonal changes trigger the development of secondary sexual characteristics.
Voice changes: The vocal cords thicken, causing the voice to become deeper. However, this change is not as prominent as in boys going through puberty.
Emotional and psychological changes: Hormonal fluctuations can lead to mood swings, increased emotional sensitivity, and changes in behaviour during puberty. Girls may also experience heightened self-awareness and self-consciousness.
It’s important to remember that the onset and pace of puberty can vary among individuals. Puberty is a natural and gradual process that can last several years, and each person’s experience will be unique. At this time in a girl’s life, when her body takes on internal challenges, mental wars and physical changes, she will need support, she will need to learn about the importance of self–care and personal self-management. These messages will need to be delivered with great care, time and compassion because we are all different.
Tip: Your environment can play a big part in how you are feeling!
Do females inherit genes and other physical/mental characteristics from parents and grandparents?
A granddaughter carries her grandmother’s genes through a process called genetic inheritance. When a person is conceived, they receive genetic material from both their biological mother and father. Each parent contributes half of their genetic material to their child.
In the case of a granddaughter, she inherits half of her genetic material from her mother and half from her father. Her mother, in turn, inherited half of her genetic material from her own mother (the grandmother in question). Therefore, some of the genetic traits and characteristics present in the grandmother can be passed down to her granddaughter.
The inheritance of genetic traits occurs through genes, which are segments of DNA located on chromosomes. Genes are responsible for determining various physical and biological features, such as eye colour, hair texture, and height. They can also influence the risk of certain diseases or predispositions.
During the process of sexual reproduction, genetic information from the mother’s egg and the father’s sperm combines, resulting in a unique combination of genes in the offspring. This combination includes genes inherited from both maternal and paternal grandparents.
It’s important to note that the genetic inheritance is not limited to just the grandmother’s genes. The granddaughter also inherits genetic material from her other biological grandparents, both maternal and paternal. As a result, her genetic makeup is a combination of genetic contributions from multiple generations, including her grandmothers, grandfathers, and ancestors further back in her family tree.
Note: Genes do not only impact your characteristics & personality, but we also inherit what we Counselling Therapists and Phycologists call “Generational Trauma”
Hence, it is very important to know as much history about your family’s genetic makeup as possible, if possible. You do have agency over your body, therefore you have responsibility. I am very much all about helping you achieving a Quality of life QOL for YOU because we are all different.
Patience, compassion and understanding is so important: As young girls go through puberty, they may encounter various physical and mental challenges. Breast soreness: Breast development can be accompanied by tenderness or discomfort.
Note to dads: This may be a time when the rough tackling and general dad child play may need to become gentler with your approach.
Menstrual cramps: The onset of menstruation can bring about abdominal pain and cramping.
Acne: Hormonal changes may contribute to the development of acne or skin blemishes.
Body odour: Increased sweat production can lead to changes in body odour. This can be embarrassing please be mindful teasing is going to hurt and can cause ongoing negative systemic thought cycles. Tip: mums and dads educate brothers
Growth spurts: Rapid growth can cause temporary muscle and joint discomfort.
Weight gain: Hormonal fluctuations and changes in body composition can lead to weight gain.
Body image concerns: Girls may experience body image issues or dissatisfaction with their changing appearance. This is a very difficult conversation to have, the internet and bullying are two of a young girls most debilitating challenges to navigate in the 21st century.
Development of body hair: The growth of pubic hair and hair in other areas of the body can be distressing for some girls.
Development of curves: The development of wider hips and breasts can influence body proportions and impact self-perception. (The internet is not promoting curves as healthy)
Tip: Men & Dads you can play a big part here by showing acceptance by encouraging the women in your life to stay healthy. (Skinny and sexy should not be promoted as wonderfully normal) Young women are being targeted through the porn industry by young males, the average age of a child being introduced to porn is 11yrs of age. I have noticed more young women are asking me “What is normal? What is a healthy sexual relationship?
NOTE: Mums and dads please be aware your young women are facing some pretty illicit behaviours out there in the big world. Help them to know what is right from wrong, teach them to self- correction, self –management and most importantly help them to understand personal agency, personal responsibility, boundaries and that NO means NO.
Skin changes: Skin may become oilier or experience changes in texture and complexion.
Girls will Experience Mental and Emotional Challenges: As a parent there will be moments which require you to be there for them. The 3 “T’s” Time Tenderness and providing a shoulder for Tears.
Young girls are becoming young women during this time and they may not come to you. Therefore your awareness of what could be going on for them will be important. If you notice some of these changes in your daughter, you can then change the way you interact with her by showing patience, kindness and compassion.
Mood swings: Hormonal fluctuations can cause mood swings and emotional instability.
Self-consciousness: Girls may become more self-aware and concerned about how they are perceived by others.
Peer pressure: Social pressures and the desire to fit in may increase during puberty.
Increased self-awareness: Girls may start to question their identity and place in the world.
Body image issues: Puberty can trigger body image concerns and comparison with peers.
Anxiety: Some girls may experience heightened anxiety or worry about various aspects of their lives.
Self-esteem issues: Changing bodies and societal expectations can impact self-esteem levels.
Emotional sensitivity: Girls may feel more emotionally sensitive or prone to experiencing intense emotions.
Dealing with stereotypes: Girls may face gender stereotypes or societal expectations that can affect their self-perception.
Cognitive changes: Puberty coincides with changes in cognitive abilities, including increased abstract thinking and self-reflection.
It’s important to note that not all girls will experience every challenge mentioned, and the intensity of these challenges can vary from person to person. Additionally, supportive environments, open communication, and access to appropriate healthcare can play a vital role in helping girls navigate through these challenges and promote their well-being.
What part does our brain and mind control during puberty and menopause?
During puberty and menopause, the brain plays a significant role in regulating and controlling various changes that occur in the body. Here’s an overview of how the brain influences the body during these two stages:
Hypothalamus: The hypothalamus, a region in the brain, releases hormones called gonadotropin-releasing hormones. The pituitary gland releases follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinising hormone (LH).
Pituitary gland: The pituitary gland stimulate the ovaries in girls. FSH helps with the development of eggs, while LH triggers the production of estrogen.
NOTE: Pituitary disorders can cause a range of symptoms. They can also be challenging to diagnose. They share these traits:
- The pituitary gland may raise or lower one or more hormones.
- A hormone imbalance can cause physical or mood changes. At the same time, pituitary disorders often develop slowly. It may take a long time until you notice symptoms.
- Symptoms of pituitary disorders are similar to those of other diseases. Many people are misdiagnosed or go undiagnosed.
Common signs of something maybe off:
Common symptoms include:
- Anxiety or depression.
- Hair loss.
- High blood pressure.
- Irregular menstrual periods.
- Unexpected breast milk production.
- Low energy or low sex drive.
- Stunted growth or unusual growth spurts.
Ovaries: Estrogen is produced by the ovaries in response to stimulation. Estrogen plays a crucial role in breast development, the growth of pubic hair, and the development of the reproductive system.
Feedback loop: The hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and ovaries communicate through a feedback loop. As estrogen levels rise, they provide feedback to the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, influencing the release of GnRH, FSH, and LH.
Life happens between Puberty and Menopause: The wonderful women in our communities today are going through so much. Some are mentors and supporters for the women who are giving life and raising families. Some women are putting their bodies on the line in War and on the line when they go through IVF to give life or suffering trauma from giving life, during birth. There will also be a time in life when a woman loses her primary role model, being her mother or primary carer, changing her again into a different version of herself. All the above is happening whilst navigating marriages, careers, friendships, wars, loss of loved ones and loss of self at times.
Hypothalamus and pituitary gland: During menopause, the hypothalamus and pituitary gland continue to play a role in hormonal regulation. However, changes occur in the feedback loop due to declining ovarian function.
Decline in hormone production: As a woman enters menopause, her ovaries produce less estrogen and progesterone. This decline in hormone production triggers changes in the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. Irregular hormone function highs and lows
Hot flashes and other symptoms: Fluctuations in hormone levels during menopause can lead to symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and sleep disturbances. These symptoms are believed to be influenced by changes in the brain’s regulation of body temperature and neurotransmitter systems.
Hormone replacement therapy: In some cases, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may be prescribed to manage menopausal symptoms. HRT supplements the declining hormone levels and helps alleviate some of the associated changes. Note: There are many older studies around HRT which are very negative that are no longer true.
Throughout both puberty and menopause, the brain acts as the control centre, coordinating hormonal changes that impact various aspects of the body, including reproductive function, physical development, and the regulation of body temperature and emotions. The intricate interplay between the brain and hormonal systems is essential for maintaining overall health and well-being during these stages of life.
The benefits of a healthy brain so we have a healthy mind.
Having a healthy brain is crucial for maintaining a healthy mind and overall well-being. Here are some benefits of a healthy brain:
Cognitive function: A healthy brain supports optimal cognitive function, including memory, attention, learning, and problem-solving abilities. It allows for better focus and mental clarity.
Emotional well-being: A healthy brain helps regulate emotions, promoting emotional stability, resilience, and the ability to manage stress. It plays a role in mood regulation and can contribute to a positive outlook on life.
Mental health: A healthy brain is linked to better mental wellness outcomes, reducing the risk of conditions such as depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline.
Decision-making: A healthy brain enables better decision-making abilities, facilitating sound judgment, and reasoning skills. It supports the ability to weigh options, consider consequences, and make informed choices.
Creativity and problem-solving: A healthy brain fosters creativity and innovation. It allows for flexible thinking, problem-solving, and the generation of new ideas.
Adaptability and resilience: A healthy brain is more adaptable and resilient, enabling individuals to cope with and adjust to life’s challenges and changes effectively.
Physical health: The brain plays a vital role in maintaining physical health. It regulates bodily functions, including hormone production, immune system responses, and autonomic functions like breathing and heart rate.
Sleep quality: A healthy brain contributes to better sleep quality, facilitating restorative sleep patterns. Sufficient and restful sleep is essential for cognitive functioning, mood regulation, and overall health.
Longevity: A healthy brain is associated with a reduced risk of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, promoting brain health and potentially extending cognitive function and quality of life in later years.
Relationships and social interactions: A healthy brain supports positive social interactions, empathy, and effective communication. It plays a role in understanding and connecting with others, fostering meaningful relationships.
Taking care of your brain health involves adopting a holistic approach, including regular exercise, a balanced diet, sufficient sleep, stress management, mental stimulation, social engagement, and avoiding harmful habits like smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. Engaging in activities that challenge your brain, learning new skills, learning about you and maintaining an active social life, can also contribute to brain health and well-being.
NOTE TO SELF: I am a woman, I am strong, I am resilient, I am beautifully and wonderfully made. I have gone through a lot, and I am still here! Congratulations well done to me and I WILL keep moving forward!
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