Published On: November 16, 2023

Embracing Transition: Thriving Through Menopause with Dana Lawson

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Imagine entering a new phase of life, one marked by hormonal change, transition, and growth, yet feeling completely unprepared to navigate the journey. This was the reality for Dana Lawson, a certified health coach, who faced her menopausal transition head-on. Dana joined us to share her personal experiences and insights, shedding light on the often misunderstood subject of menopause and its effects on women’s bodies, with special emphasis on women of color.

Navigating menopause need not feel like wading through a dense fog. With the right knowledge, support, and resources, it can be a journey of self-discovery and empowerment. For the men in our audience, this episode provides invaluable insights on how you can support your female family members through this significant life transition.

Diving deeper into the episode, Dana emphasizes the significance of holistic care, touching on essential aspects such as nutrition, stress management, exercise, and quality sleep. This episode is not just about managing menopause – it’s about thriving through it. Listen in to access Dana’s wealth of knowledge and resources, empowering yourself or the women in your life to navigate this major life stage with grace and confidence.

About Dana Lawson:
Dana Lawson is a Certified Health Coach and Menopause Expert. She spent 15 years in the health and wellness industry and understood the importance of maintaining optimal health. However, when she reached menopause at age 51, she was faced with crushing fatigue, debilitating hot flashes, lack of sleep, weight gain, and depression. She tried everything she knew and activities that had worked for her in the past. This time, however, nothing seemed to work. Dana used the feelings of confusion and frustration to inspire her to seek answers for herself. But she didn’t stop there. Dana sought mentorship from a Menopause Expert and Certified Hormone Specialist in Canada. Dana’s mission is to help all women especially women of color, to understand what’s happening to their hormones during the menopause transition and why. She then teaches them how to get rid of symptoms and improve overall health with high-quality nutrition, prioritizing sleep, stress management, and intentional exercise. Dana also helps these women create mindset shifts in order to develop a positive relationship with their bodies so that they can confidently embrace midlife and be the happiest, healthiest version of themselves during the menopausal transition and beyond. 

Her Training and Certifications:
Certified Health Coach
Mentorship with a Certified Hormone Specialist
Dietary Supplement Specialist
Advanced Nutrition for Health Coaches
In Training for Menopause Doula Certification

You can find her here:

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Show Credits:
Richard Dodds (Host/Producer): @Doddsism
Show Music: @IAmTheDjBlue
Podcast Website:

Still Talking Black is a production of Crowned Culture Media LLC. All rights reserved.

Richard Dodds:


This is Still Talking Black, a show where we discuss issues that affect blackness from a black point of view. I’m your host, richard Dyes. On today’s show, I’m joined by Dana Lawson. Dana Lawson is a health coach and she specializes in helping women in menopause. I really didn’t know that much about menopause until I sat down with Dana, and she gives a wealth of information that helps you be able to identify, when you’re going through menopause, what menopause really is and all of the things that go along with it, and why, and also why it affects minorities, sometimes more than other ethnic groups. So I hope you enjoy and, without any further ado, here’s Dana.

Dana Lawson:

Hi, my name is Dana Lawson, I’m a certified health coach and I focus on women in the menopausal transition. So from parry to post, and I help them using the four pillars of health sleep, getting adequate sleep, nutrition, exercise and managing stress. And I help them to align their values along with this new way of living according to those four pillars, so that their transformation is complete and they’ll have the best success throughout the menopause transition.

Richard Dodds:

There you go. It’s great to finally get to connect back with you.

Dana Lawson:

I agree. Thank you so much for having me.

Richard Dodds:

I’m so glad that you came on. I know when we talked before, you had this phrase that you said and it was like such a great thing. And you said you had a time in your life where you had a mid-life awakening and that journey led you to what you’re currently doing now. Can you tell everybody about your mid-life awakening?

Dana Lawson:

Yeah, sure, I had been at a corporate job for about 16 years and I became very dissatisfied During that process. I was going through parry menopause and didn’t realize it, and so I had poor sleep, I had hot flashes, night sweats, depression, a lot of sadness, and I just felt like I was a person that I couldn’t even recognize myself. So after 16 years, I just got out one day and I started getting ready for work and I said, nope, I don’t want to do this anymore. And so mentally, emotionally, I kind of checked out and I started looking for something that really appealed to me in this time of my life. And I was always interested in health. And before my accounting career I was in health care, had a variety of different roles front office, back office, management. I gave injections and took vitals, called patients after surgery to make sure that they were doing well, and so my heart was always there. I even went back to school to become a childbirth educator. So I was a certified childbirth educator. I did early childhood breastfeeding, you know, instructing moms that way. So I went back to my roots. I’ve always loved health care and understanding how health impacts women and just people in general. So I just started Googling what are, what are careers for women over 50? And I kept seeing health coach, health coach, health coach come up and I was like what is this health coach thing? So I started to do some digging and that’s where I landed. I landed back in school to become a certified health coach.

Richard Dodds:

Yeah, I never even heard of a health coach before. I’m pretty sure, like you’re the first person like a health coach. Like, how would you describe a health coach to somebody who doesn’t really know what they do?

Dana Lawson:

Yeah. So a health coach is a person who works with the actual patient or client and they don’t replace the doctor because, obviously, since they don’t have a license, we can’t prescribe or, you know, tell people what they should do. Rather, we help a person work along in conjunction with their doctor and to work on their health goals or their health challenges. So, for example, if a woman comes out of the doctor’s office and the doctor says you know, your blood pressure is borderline high, so I need you to lose weight, exercise, I want you to come back in 60 to 90 days and we’re going to check your blood pressure again to see you know how you’re doing. If you’re not doing better, we’re going to put you on medication. So what are the women here out of the doctor’s office? Oh, my God, I’m going to be on medication and she’s. Then the next thought is well, how am I going to do this? He wants me to lose weight, he wants me to exercise. How do I do that and make it sustainable for me? And so a health coach can actually work in conjunction with the patient and the doctor to help them implement practical lifestyle changes, to support them in whatever the goal is. So, if it’s exercise, if it’s nutrition, then the health coach works with them in that way, and it’s a little different for people who don’t really understand health coaching, because it’s a cheerleader role, but not really so. While you’re encouraging the client, you’re cheering them on, so to speak. You’re also overcoming mindset blocks that keeps them from actually working on whatever it is they need to change.

Richard Dodds:

Kind of like a little bit of therapy in there too.

Dana Lawson:

A little bit. We don’t call ourselves therapists, though, but there are stories that we’ve been told about ourselves, about life, about food, and so we create these beliefs based on these stories. For example, don’t eat, that You’ll get fat, or this food is bad, or this food is good, and labeling those things. For growing up in that kind of environment, you develop these thoughts, these beliefs that food is good or food is bad, or these thoughts that you have. That may not even be true, but if you believe it, then that shapes your actions, and so it’s important to kind of uncover and people are really not aware of these beliefs that they have and so a health coach works on the back end to uncover what those beliefs are, how they came about, and then help the person to discover the truth for themselves Like what is really true about that, how is that true for you? And help them to develop better, different beliefs, a new understanding of themselves and their place in the world and how it relates to their health now. And so it’s mindset, it’s lifestyle, and it’s the support that they need, in addition to just saying, hey, you got to do this and you know, have fun with that.

Richard Dodds:

It’s hard. It’s hard changing lifestyles and especially like a lot of times that physical stuff is a lot mental. So it’s great that you said that because you know, like my dad always said, he says when I was young they told me to clear my plate, don’t leave anything on the plate. So it’s like now it’s like your mom, make a big plate of food for me, I’m gonna eat it all, like regardless, because that’s where my tendencies are. That’s how so that stuff like for him. It’s like for him to be able, either he needs somebody else to make his plate or he need to make a smaller plate, or he has to break that mental thing to where I have to clear my plate for anything to actually start to change in that manner. So I mean like so it sounds like a health coach really is like like that third pillar, because when I think about like holistic health care, I think about mental health, physical health, and then that like a health coach seems like it’s a supplement.

Dana Lawson:

Yes, and you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned the idea about mom says clean your plate or there’s starving children in Africa.

Richard Dodds:

Right, you hit us stuff. Is it so with the health coaching? Is it any advocacy? So, like if someone like I know, like I was just reading a report my wife was telling me about it too when, a lot of times, when women go with concerns to the doctor, a lot of times doctors don’t always take their concern concerns as serious as they should. And I’ve even been at a doctor with my wife and seeing how like she has to press them sometimes to actually they were like, well, we’ll just put you on this and it’s like, but why are you putting me on this? Because before I was good and you’re saying that everything is the same, but now you want to put me on medication. So I see her advocate for herself. Do health coaches do any application for people?

Dana Lawson:

Yes, so part of my program is I have a whole section dedicated to self advocacy. I’m not sure what other health coaches do. I know a few of them who also include that in their process. But I especially include it because you know the area of what that I focus on in midlife, metapause and and and you know that midlife change Women are often told that they’re exaggerating that it’s not as bad as they think. Are you sure this is what’s happening? You’re too young and all of those things to discredit a woman and her feelings and what she’s experiencing. And then you know, women of color are, have always been, the pillars of society and they carry a lot of responsibility, whether it be to the man in their life, the children you know, grandchildren, the community, and so for her to experience discomfort and metapause and then verbalize it or show it on her face or you see her sweat dripping down, or she’s got to sit down because she’s tired it creates a stigma. Women themselves feel bad about it, but then society also makes them feel bad about it, and it’s easy for them to get gaslit, and especially if they’re feeling unsure. So one of the one of the processes that I use in my coaching is to, after we learn about the whole process, help them, to give them options on how they can manage it holistically, and then they can go to the doctor with the decision that they’ve made and learn how to partner with their doctor instead of. This is what I have. This is how I feel. I don’t like this. What do you think I should do? Because, then you are giving your power away. You’re actually giving someone outside of your body a way to tell you what you should do, when actually your body is telling you what it needs. And once you know the right things to do to take care of your whole person, then it’s not just a pill, it’s not just a diet, it’s not just you know something like that. It’s now you have the control of what you want. You already have decided, and then you present that to your doctor in a very in a way that where you want them to be on your side, you’re trying to gain them on your side and it’s not a competition of who knows more you know or anything like that, but it’s more of let’s partner together on my health and teaching them how to create their health care team, because it takes more than a physician. It’s a physician who’s experienced and is knowledgeable on the hormonal changes, but also someone like a health coach that can help them to implement the other lifestyle and behavior changes that will give them the greatest success.

Richard Dodds:

I think that’s so important because I think about intersectionality, especially when we talk about women. You talk about a woman that’s a minority and I think about my sister, my sister. She passed away last year and when she was going through her health stuff, she was going to the doctor and they were telling her like it’s this, is this, is this. And she’s like it’s not that. And then they were running tests and is like, oh, it’s not that. And I feel like if she had had an advocate, like someone who could help her advocate better, that maybe she could, maybe she will still be here Just because it’s like so much, so much against you. They’re telling you how you feel and they were. It’s just, they just didn’t, they weren’t solving the problem, you know, and they don’t listen. They don’t always listen. So it’s very important to know have that ammo when you go in to be able to say like it’s not this, like let’s look at some alternatives, and keep that power, because I don’t think my sister was taken seriously. You think about she’s a black woman, she’s overweight, she’s, she has a wife, where most women have a husband, and you think all those, all those things are strikes against her and it should still just be a person who’s coming to you for a service that you were supposed to provide and you supposed to listen. But it doesn’t always happen. They saw her, she was overweight and they was like, oh, it’s your heart and high blood pressure. And then they take a look at her heart and their blood pressure and I know yours good and your blood pressure is good, it’s not that. And then they then she comes back again and they start it’s your heart and your blood pressure again. So you know, it’s so like for me, like hearing stuff like that. Advocacy is very important, especially for minority women, because it’s like a whole another level. It’s like you’re black and then you’re female and then you’re. This is, it’s a stacks up. So I think I definitely commend you on that, on giving people the strength that they need in order to advocate for themselves, because that’s not something that we’re always taught right away.

Dana Lawson:

No, we’re not. And, as you know, people come into situations with their own bias that they might not even be aware of, and so, like you said, you see someone overweight immediately. Like the problem is, you need to wait. Yeah well, that’s helpful, but that’s not. That doesn’t solve every single problem that a woman may face and it could. It’s likely a combination of things that put her in this, in the situation where she is carrying more weight than she needs to or even wants to. So, yeah, the, the biases, women overweight, you know, if, if there’s other other things that people can use, other things that doctors use to to buy, to create bias or have bias against, it just makes it all the more difficult, and women have a tendency to not speak up anyway. So that makes them, that makes them shrink, that makes them, you know, really retreat when this is the time that they need to really assert themselves in a way that they can be heard and again, to really partner with their physician. And, of course, if you’ve tried the you know self advocating and trying to partner with them and they’re really just not listening to you, fire them. You can get another doctor.

Richard Dodds:

Yep, yeah, I think that’s important. So switching gears just a little bit, because it’s two parts of the health coach and the other part is menopause. Specifically, that’s like your area of is it what I say? Area of expertise? That’s that’s your focus area and, honestly, before talking to you, I really did not know much about menopause and I don’t. It’s like it’s like some words you hear and you have an idea of what it is right and so like what is it like? Not like the idea of what it is, but like actually what is it?

Dana Lawson:

It’s like oh, I know what, it is kind of you know what I mean.

Richard Dodds:

Like. So, what, what? What is menopause, and what effects does it have on a woman’s body?

Dana Lawson:

Yes. Well, richard, you’re not alone, because most women don’t even know themselves. So here’s the quick and dirty. So, first of all, menopause itself is really only one day in a woman’s life. It marks when a woman reaches 12 consecutive months without a menstrual period. That next month or that 13th month, the first day of that 13th month, she is considered in menopause. And it’s only one day, because every day of her life after that she is post menopausal. And I think some of the confusion comes because the way that we use the word menopause, we use it as a blanket time to just bring attention to this part of the midlife space where a woman is, is experiencing hormonal changes, but there are stages to that before she actually reaches the point where she’s no longer able to their children and her years of fertility are over. So there’s perimenopause, and peri means around menopause, and peri is the time period before menopause actually happens. So she can experience symptoms such as the classic ones like half-lashes, night sweats, irregular periods, headache, moodiness, weight gain, things like that, emotional disturbances, things like that. And so these start to happen in perimenopause or that time period before the end of menstrual cycles starts anywhere in the mid 40s. But for black and brown women, it starts earlier. So a woman, a woman, can start in her late 30s, early 40s. That’s when I started and that’s the perimenopausal space. So that can last anywhere from five to seven years on average, but it can go up to 10 years, especially for women of color. So, if you think about it, a woman who may a black or brown woman, who may start experiencing the symptoms of low mood, irregular menstrual cycles, you know, night sweats perhaps is 39 or 40. She may not have her last period until she’s 50, 51. In fact, the average age in the United States was moved up just a bit A year or so ago. It was 51. Now it’s 52. So imagine you’re 38 or 39, maybe 40, and you don’t stop menstruating until you’re 52. That’s a long time to experience the discomforts that that we experience in menopause.

Richard Dodds:

Is there. Have they done any studies? Is there any like scientific reason why it affects women of color in such a different way?

Dana Lawson:

That’s. That’s a really interesting question. There is a study it’s called the swan study, a study of women across the nation, where they had thousands of women and they they followed them throughout perimenopause through postmenopause, and the African American women and the Latino women displayed symptoms earlier. Like I mentioned, they were more severe in in the intensity of those hot flashes and night sweats, mood changes and they lasted longer. And so some of the reasons that were mentioned in the study were disparity, access to health care, prejudice. Women of color seem to tolerate their symptoms longer than other people, so by the time that they do go get to you know, get treated or go to get seen about it, it’s already like they’re in the heat of these symptoms and so it takes longer to kind of calm them down. So the study was really interesting, and some women don’t even associate those changes to perimenopause and menopause, which is also a problem, because if you’re, you’re thinking that it’s something else, which is very easy to do, by the way, it’s very, you know, hormonal changes can mimic other problems, and so it’s very easy for women to brush it off and say, oh, I just didn’t get a good night’s sleep. Or oh, I’m not eating well. Or, yeah, I knew I do need to lose weight. I’m carrying all this weight and that’s why I’m so hot. And so they start blaming themselves for a process that happens to the body naturally as we get older, as we start to end our fertile, fertile years. So all of those things combined make it so that women of color experience menopause differently. We do not experience it the way our counterparts do.

Richard Dodds:

I wonder if in that study, that if it had any like economic markers in it. Just because you know like it’s no, it’s no secret, like a lot of times minorities are less affluent. You know what I mean. Like just during the pandemic, you know like a lot of us minorities had to work and you know these, what did they call them?

Dana Lawson:

Like, whatever, was based or service based it was.

Richard Dodds:

It was like something like where it was like important you had to go. So they’re doing a service based and they’re, they’re on the ground. They have to be out there. They can’t work essentially that’s it Like. So black people tend to be those essential workers and they tend to be on the front line, so that put us more at risk, because it was like a lot of us didn’t have the opportunity, like I’m gonna work from home or whatever, so I want, I’m just curious, like I don’t know. You might not know, but it’s like I’m curious if they had any of those economic markers in that study.

Dana Lawson:

Yeah, they did. I failed to mention that but since you, since you brought it up, there were socio economic factors that that did play into. You know when a woman seeks help, or if she seeks it at all, or you know, and those socio economic factors will determine her level of stress around. You know if she’s a single parent, or you know she’s got multiple children. You know she’s sole provider. All of those factors play into how a woman of color experiences menopause.

Richard Dodds:

Yeah, so much to think about and it’s it’s crazy because we know that the things that are happening in the world to minorities and specifically the United States, the things that happen to us, we know that it affects our health and a lot of times when we think about our health, we think about our mental health. But what a lot of people fail to realize is that your mental health affects your health overall in your body. So it’s like it’s repercussions for dealing with the mental strain and the soul, like just the way the system has been set up and crafted is just is just harder overall. So, like I was just curious, I was like I like I wonder if it, if it, plays a role.

Dana Lawson:

Yes, definitely.

Richard Dodds:

So, going back to your midlife awakening, I love, I love. Like when you wrote, when you said it, I wrote it down. I was like that’s such a great it sounds like a title of a book, right Midlife Awakening. So you, you decided to go into to be a health coach and then you specifically just wanted to become a menopause coach or add that specification on there. What was really that? That pushing? Was that more education that you have to go back to school to do that Like is that another like kind of certification or what?

Dana Lawson:

Yeah, no, all those questions are good because, by the way, midlife awakening I’ve borrowed that. That is a term that’s frequently used to women in the midlife space on social media. It’s so good though it is a good way to powering. Yes, it’s like the lights finally came on or something. But yeah, so my, the reason why I chose the midlife Awakening was because I chose the menopausal transition from Perry through to post was a bit self serving, just a bit. I had the worst transition ever In my opinion. I had all of the symptoms, every single last one of them, and it was really. I didn’t have anybody that I could really talk to about it. I didn’t know anybody who experienced it. I went to my mom and I said, mom, did you have the hot flashes? And couldn’t sleep. And she’s like, oh, I don’t remember. And I remember taking a little, you know some herb, and you know I felt better so I stopped taking it. But I don’t really remember my transition and I was like Mommy, that’s not helping me and then my grandmother’s deceased so I couldn’t ask her and so I really felt alone, I felt unseen. I really felt like if I could just sink into the ground right now and like have the dirt cover me. I don’t mean in the grave, I just mean.

Richard Dodds:

I just mean I just want to disappear.

Dana Lawson:

I felt like I wanted to disappear and I couldn’t understand why. To me it seemed like it was a very quick trend, it like it happened overnight. But, as I learned, this was a gradual process that was happening at least five years prior to to, you know, me experiencing the symptoms. So what I did was, since I’m a health coach and I went to school with other health coaches, we stayed in touch. I know how important health coaching is in a person’s health journey. So I thought, well, maybe I just need somebody to coach me and I can get this together. Because what I did everything that I knew to do as a health coach and none of it worked and I was. I was devastated. I was like this can’t be happening to me. What is going on? I just didn’t understand it. So I went to a cohort and I said, hey, listen, I think I just need a little coaching, you know, just to kind of get me through this rough patch. And she said, sure, sure, I’ll help you. So I worked with her for about two months and in the process she really helped me to change my opinion, my view of myself, how I saw myself because, in addition to all of the other changes, I had gained about 30 pounds and I really felt bad about that and wanted to hide, and so she helped me to transform my thoughts about my own body, and so that was really powerful. So then she looks at my labs and she says you know, I think you’re in menopause. And I said, okay, what does that mean? So she said, well, I’m not the expert, but I’m gonna share a podcast with you of someone who is. I listen to her podcast. And I said she’s talking directly to me. I contacted her, started working with her and I saw changes within the first month and it just got better after that. I started sleeping better, my nutrition was different, I thought I was doing all the right things and here it was nope, midlife is a big change and if you don’t change the way you eat, it’s, it’s not gonna work and nothing you’re doing is gonna work. So she helped me dial in my nutrition, my sleep, my exercise, and so things were really looking up. I was getting excited, but part of me was angry because I said why, why, why didn’t anybody tell me about this? Why don’t women know what to expect? I mean, mothers prepare their children most to the best of their ability. You know when a girl is approaching her menstrual cycle. You know they tell them how to, what’s gonna happen, how to take care of themselves, etc. Nobody prepares a woman for perimenopause. And we also get education on when you’re pregnant, how to eat, what to expect when you’re expecting. You remember that book?

Richard Dodds:

definitely heard of that book yeah.

Dana Lawson:

So so we get prepared for these major life events in a woman’s life, except for midlife and perimenopause. So I went to my, my coach, my choose to transformational nutrition coach and a certified hormone specialist. And I went to her and I said, listen, I know you’re probably gonna kick me out of the group, but I’m a health coach but I really needed this help and I’m getting such great results. When I was telling her and she laughed at me and she said I’m not gonna kick you out of the group, I’m honored that a health coach would seek, you know, help from another health coach. So I told her, I admitted to her that my met, my, my 101 call with her was two-fold I wanted to let her know about all the great things that were happening. But I also had a proposition for her, because no one we’re not prepared and no one talks about menopause and I thought, especially our community. You see women suffering, but you don’t make the, you don’t connect the dots and you don’t know what to do. And I said I would love to bring this back to my community. I want women to understand what’s happening and what they can do, that that it’s more than just the, the symptoms that it’s actually has a huge impact on your brain health, your cardiovascular health, your bones, your muscles, like everything is affected. And I want to help these women, and so I begged her literally to mentor me, and she did. I was under her mentorship for about two and a half years, so I did have to start learning all over again. You know the, the female body in a different way and and the hormones that that make us up and, and really they’re not just for fertility, which most people believe, but the delicate hormonal balance throughout a woman’s life controls her health and controls every important metabolic function for her. So naturally, when things start to take that downward slide in perimenopause, it’s no wonder that she feels so terrible and that her, their, her health is affected. So I bought all these books and I did papers and blogs and and all kinds of things, but she really showed me the ropes and and and really showed me how to to help and bring this information back to to the community now see, I love, I love hearing that story.

Richard Dodds:

It’s a great story and I’m hearing you say you want to take it back to the community. What was the makeup of the class of your coat? Like the coach’s coach, you’re the coach, your coach. What was the makeup of your coach’s class for you to want to bring it back to our community?

Dana Lawson:

yeah, well, I was the only black person in over a hundred women wow and it was. It was shocking to me and I was like, wow, and. And one of her goals was I want other women to know. I want to shout it from the rooftops. You know, this is why this is happening and this is these are the things that you need to do. You don’t have to suffer, you don’t have to be on medication for high blood pressure and and high blood sugar and and and all that. You can really take your whole body and and do this gradual shift and change and really be the person that you need to be at this time of life. You can have your energy and and your sleep and you can enjoy being around friends again and travel and and really just enjoy this part of life and not be so scary and dreaded and oh, I hate this life, you know. And so I said, well, I’ll get up on the rooftops with you if you show me. Yeah, teach me though.

Richard Dodds:

I love it. You like went out and got the information and he’s like I’m gonna bring this information back to the tribe. Like this is great. Like I wish we I wish we as a community did more of that, because we’ve done a lot of ways. I mean, our sense of community has been kind of ripped away from us through American history and whatnot not gonna get too much into that, but this is great to like to. Like I got. When you first told me your story, it’s like I loved it. I thought, oh, this is great. Like you went and you found the information you needed and you didn’t keep it to yourself. You was like, alright, I’m gonna bring it back to my community so my community knows what’s going on. So I think you’re more about like the process that a woman’s body’s goat goes through. Another thing that’s kind of related to that like I wonder how it affects the transition is like I know that for various different reasons, some women, when they start menopause, they have to get a hysterectomy. How does that play into perimenopause?

Dana Lawson:

yeah. So let’s talk about hysterectomy for a minute, because I remember when my doctor offered me one, like she was doing me a service. Now, granted, I have fibroids and they were very irritable during perimenopause and and I think that is the case with many women in addition to fibroids, another complication is endometriosis. Pcos is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. So these types of problems, which is due to, you know, hormonal imbalance during, you know, your fertile years, and then it gets worse as your hormones decline, and so, for those reasons, some doctors offer a woman to get her out of her misery and her suffering, the heavy bleeding, the flooding, you know, carrying personal products in your car and in your purse and your desk at work, and it just really becomes a nuisance. In addition to the pain and the unexpected nature of these bleeding episodes, you know it catches you off guard, and so you have to carry clothing and underwear. I mean, it’s a whole, it’s a whole big deal. So the the option that doctors many times offer is a hysterectomy, which is the removal of the uterus. So a woman, the uterus and the ovaries work together. The ovaries are the factories where our sex hormones are produced estrogen and testosterone and so they work in harmony. They almost it’s almost like they talk to each other because in response to the message or the signals that the harmels from the ovaries produce, it creates a response from the uterus. The uterine lining thickens as a response to estrogen and so these responses, they coincide. You know, throughout the month the lining thickens Once progesterone enters the picture, about midway through the cycle. Then, you know, later on in the cycle it creates the menstrual bleed. So women, in this space where they’re suffering and they’re in pain, first thing, women suffer a long time and many times, instead of going, taking action as soon as they see these fluctuations, that the periods are getting heavier, they’re more painful, they’re more frequent, they last longer, they kind of brush it aside and they don’t address it. And so by the time they go to the doctor and say, okay, I’m done, the doctor’s like okay, great, we’ll just take the, we’ll just take your uterus out and then you won’t have to worry about the bleeding. So I think there’s it’s a two-fold issue. One women wait too long. They need to address it sooner. They need to understand it and address it sooner. Secondly, hysterectomy is, may not always have to be the only thing that’s done. There are other options, especially for fibroids. There are other options other than just removing the whole uterus. That’s almost like you have a cut on your finger or you have an infection in your cuticle and your doctor wants to cut off your whole hand or your arm. I mean it’s just, it’s very drastic. Now I’m not saying that it’s not necessary in some cases because it is, especially if there’s uterine cancer or some other disease that requires that. But for some women it’s not necessary and so it is very drastic. So a hysterectomy is just the removal of the uterus. But because the uterus and ovaries work together, what happens is the uterus is gone, so the ovaries are still making those hormones and the hormones are sending messages, but there’s no uterus to respond to those hormonal messages. So it actually makes the ovaries age faster, so it actually accelerates perimenopause and so it actually can move a woman in that direction earlier than maybe she should. So the total hysterectomy is when the uterus and the ovaries are removed. That happens in cases of cancer, obviously, but also endometriosis, because it’s scarring in the uterus that sometimes grows outside of the uterus into the ovaries, and so surgeries to remove the endometriosis scarring is done, but sometimes it gets to a point where there is no more surgery to do. It has to be removed. And so when the ovaries are removed it immediately puts a woman in menopause, because now she no longer has the factory to reduce estrogen and so now she’s estrogen, she’s lacking estrogen. So as soon as she comes out of the anesthesia she can have hot flashes and all of the other symptoms that are going to take her down that spiral in perimenopause and menopause.

Richard Dodds:

You’re so knowledgeable and I really hope that my male listeners like really like tap into just because you know, like I’m a man, it’s important for me to know this so that I know how to treat my wife and future daughter. And you know, like in family members, like just being able to know like you have a different. When you have a different understanding, you treat people more appropriately, and I don’t always feel like we have the proper understanding of what other people are going through. So it’s like for me as a as especially as a black man with a black wife, like I really want to understand whatever she has to go through. So the more information I know about this stuff, the more I can be understanding, and not only understanding but helpful in the ways that I might need to be helpful when that time comes, you know. So I like, so like for me, like I really like appreciative of the information. So what are some of the warning signs? When do women need to start like looking out, like what are the shifts, the subtle signs that they can start to go and do their check-ins sooner as opposed to waiting?

Dana Lawson:

Yeah, and I love how you said you know, as a male husband, you know whether your uncle or father or whoever whatever male in your life, if you’re familiar with you, know these changes. Then you can kind of keep an eye on her. You know, especially she’s, you know, shrinking back and not really wanting to talk about it. So some of the signs and symptoms are irregular periods. So a normal menstrual cycle is anywhere from 28 to 31 days and if a woman has more cycles than that then there’s a hormonal imbalance. And so if she has a cycle before that 28 day period, that 31 day period, then her cycles are shortening for some reason and especially once they get heavier, they last longer. There’s a lot of pain involved. So maybe she’s missing a day from work or your daughter’s missing a day from school. You know those are key indications that this is not a normal menstrual cycle. If they’re feeling nauseous, headache, vomiting. Now some people may hear this and say well, I do that, everyone I know I did when I was a teenager, but we didn’t think anything was wrong. There should be some uterine cramping because again, the uterine lining is shedding. There has to be the contraction to initiate that shedding, but it shouldn’t be debilitating. And with that heavy bleeding comes anemia. So now she’s low energy, she’s not able to keep up with her life. So these are not just passing days of feeling tired. We’re talking about periods of time where she just cannot function, whether it’s due to pain or low energy, anemia. And so those are mood changes, are time to kind of look after her, slow her down a little bit. Slow her down. She woman needs to understand. It’s time for me to step back, just slow things down a little bit, get my rest, proper nutrition, things like that. So some of those warning signs that maybe this is stepping into a zone where she needs to get medical attention are those things. And it is very, very, very common for women in perimenopause to have irregular cycles, heavy bleeding and lots of pain.

Richard Dodds:

So for women that may be going through that or like have an including that, they may be starting that or maybe they’re in the middle of it what are some things that they can start to do to start to lessen the impact of it overall so that they’re not they don’t have to go through it for as long of a time as possible? You know, yes.

Dana Lawson:

So one of the first things that they could do is start to look for a qualified practitioner. And so where? Obgyn does not necessarily mean that they are well-versed in hormones. I personally know of OBGYNs and they have told me that if they don’t get special training as a certified menopause practitioner, they have hours of training on menopause hours as opposed to a more lengthy study of it and so looking for a certified menopause practitioner is a great start. Also, women, when they start to see the changes in their energy and notice some of the other symptoms of hot flashes, night sweats and things, it’s time to start caring for yourself. I always say that perimenopause is an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to step back, look at some of the things that you’re doing and take better care of yourself. So instead of thinking that, oh, this is awful, I’m gonna hate the next decade of my life, no, you can actually improve it by caring for yourself more. And think about it. Richard, if you’re in your late 30s, early 40s, women are receiving promotions at work. They’re at the peak of their careers, generally speaking, they finished college and so now they’re really well-established. They’re in leadership and management roles. Maybe they decided to hold off on having children. So now they’re having babies and in that whole process, their parents are getting older, they’re getting sicker, and so now it’s like this perfect storm for all of these things to start happening, and the hormonal changes as they enter perimenopause. So, with all of those things going on, their stress is heightened. They have a racing brain. It’s hard for women to fall asleep because they’re thinking about all the things that they didn’t do that day, the things that they need to do tomorrow, and feeling guilty. Women have anxiety, more anxiety, more worry. Those are very, very common. Especially at night, it seems to take over and they feel heaviness in their chest. Some women have palpitations, heart palpitations, and so it’s like all of these things combined and mixed up at a time in a woman’s life that coincide with her declining hormones. So it’s really time to focus on what can I stop doing so that I can take care of myself?

Richard Dodds:

I think that’s a start before menopause starts.

Dana Lawson:

I agree, I agree, but tell me which woman’s gonna do that.

Richard Dodds:

I don’t know a lot of people in my life who would do that all, including myself. I don’t even stop. I don’t have to worry about that, but I don’t stop either.

Dana Lawson:

So Right, right, and as a woman, you, just you, just. That’s part of who we are. We’re the nurturers, the caregivers, the on the go, the soccer mom, the support person. You’re there for your friends, you’re making meals, you’re volunteering at church. I mean, you’re doing a whole bunch of things and so these. This is the time where a woman can really take a, take her opportunity to kind of step back. What can I delegate? If you have small children, I understand you probably can’t do much delegating to them. But if you have, if you have teenagers, then maybe they can run some of those errands. They can help in meal prep. Your, your spouse, can help clean the kitchen and do laundry. And where can you? How? How many things can you take off of your plate so that you can focus inward? Because that’s the key to really navigating through understanding what’s happening to your body and dialing in what do I need right now? And then you can also help your family to appreciate this time with you, and so, instead of making it a chore for them, you can, you can. It’s an opportunity for them to support you.

Richard Dodds:

I think that’s I think that’s all I will say Like just thinking about, like women’s health from you know, from from the females in my life specifically, I think that like women’s health, it just seems like it needs to be a lot more evolution and a lot more education, and I think that not just for women, but for men as well, like we really need to be more educated about our health and the food that we’re eating and mentally, so like holistic has been like a really big word, not only holistic and like food, but I mean like holistic. Like in looking at the whole picture and looking, and it sounds like like a lot of what you do is like looking at the whole picture of everything put together. And I think that’s like so important when it comes to caring for yourself. Because, like, as I start to get older, I remember I could go off for two hours of sleep and be good, and now like it’s consequences for me If I only get two hours of sleep, if I only get six hours of sleep or five hours of sleep. It’s consequences, and it’s not just a day worth of consequences, sometimes it’s a whole week worth of consequences. So it’s getting different. So, like even thinking about all of that, like for people that want to know more about like perimenopause, like just women’s health in general, or even menopause coaching, like where can they go to get that information, to learn more?

Dana Lawson:

Well. So as you know my story, I went and sought it out. I sought it out from the person that helped me. There are courses that women can take to work with women in perimenopause and menopause. I’m currently enrolled in a menopause doula program and that I’m super excited about, because then I’m that woman’s companion for the entire journey and really be by her side as things change, because you can help a woman at the beginning or maybe at the end and she’d still get great results. But having them through the entire journey is really transformational and really supportive, and that’s the reason why it’s so important for women to seek assistance, because it’s. You can Google a lot of information on perimenopause and menopause and when people are talking about it a lot more now. But how are you going to apply that information? How do you know what’s right for you? That’s where a coach comes in. That’s where a doula can be part of your life, in this stage of your life, and really create that accountability, help you to really dial in. Look at the whole. Like we said earlier, look at the whole person. You can’t just isolate symptoms and not look at the contributing factors to those symptoms and there’s always contributing factors, and so when you approach it with nutrition, with stress management, exercise and quality sleep, then there’s a lot that can happen on the positive for a woman in perimenopause. So it’s a broader picture. There is training out there and so it’s a lot of work. It’s available for women who are interested in being a support practitioner or a support person for women on the journey.

Richard Dodds:

So you do coaching classes and courses, right? I do so. If somebody was interested in finding you, where would they go to find that information?

Dana Lawson:

Well, my primary outlet is Instagram, so my Instagram handle is Adeline and Shine, now it’s the same for my Facebook and my website is alignandshinenowcom. And so those are the main outlets that I work from and people can find me and reach me there. I have group coaching, which is very effective because women feed off of each other’s energy and so they also find camaraderie, they find support, they find common interests with each other and they encourage each other. So I really enjoy the group setting, and so I have a 10-week course that is in a group setting, and I also offer one-on-one for those who have specific goals and desires, one-on-one pampering and care. And you know, no, I don’t want a group, I want it to be all about me, and I’m for that. So I do offer one-on-one as well.

Richard Dodds:

That’s awesome. I’ll make sure that anybody who’s interested will put all that information in the show notes so you can go and follow her and make sure that you get all the information that you need and that you want, because you’re such a resource of information, you have such good knowledge and like bringing it back to the community is so important. So I really want to thank you for coming on the show. I really appreciate the knowledge that you dropped. I feel so much more knowledgeable about this information. I feel like whenever that time comes, I’ll be ready to handle it better than I would be if I was unprepared.

Dana Lawson:

Oh, you definitely will handle it better. Thank you so much for having me. It’s been wonderful.

Richard Dodds:

Again, I’d like to thank Dana for coming on the show. If you’d like to learn more about her, I’ll leave all of her information in the show notes. Still Talking Black is a Crown Culture Media LLC production. You can find out more about the show by going to stilltalkingblackcom. You can find new episodes on YouTube and anywhere else that you get your podcasts, whether that’s Apple Podcast or Spotify. But until next time, keep talking.