Posts made in June, 2009

Gal pals – your second self

Posted by on Jun 5, 2009 in Inspiration, women's health | 3 comments


Ever wonder why spending time with your girlfriends boosts your mood? Researchers from the University of Michigan report that emotional closeness increases progesterone levels and leads to greater bonding between people. Is it possible that social bonding and sharing may help to counteract waning progesterone levels during the the menopause transition as well?

To measure the influence of social bonding on progesterone levels, 160 female college students were randomly assigned to partners and asked to perform tasks:

  • Ask one another specific questions geared towards allowing them to get to know one another better and promote emotional closeness (e.g. “Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?”)
  • Proofread an “emotionally neutral” article together

Before and after each session, the researchers took saliva samples to measure progesterone and stress hormone (cortisol) levels. All sessions were held at the same time (between noon and 7 pm) to insure that factors such as fluctuating daily hormone levels would not interfere with the results. One week later, all study participants returned, played a computerized card game and had their hormone levels measured again.

The bonding between the women caused progesterone but not cortisol levels to increase. Moreover, an increase in progesterone levels tended to influence the likelihood and willingness to make sacrifices on behalf of a study partner (i.e. risk one’s life) when measured again one week later.

The researchers say that the study findings help to explain why social contact has well-documented health benefits. It also appears that progesterone, like other hormones involved in bonding and helping behavior, enables individuals to suppress self-interest in order to take care of family or friends.

I’ve written previously on the importance of social support and bonding, not only during the transition but during our entire lives. Clearly, helping and supporting our sisters during good and bad times helps overall wellbeing and lends our souls a bit of a boost on our journeys.

Give a gal pal a call, send a hug, provide a smile, caress her soul, take care of her “self” as much as yours’.

A friend, as it were, a second self. Cicero.

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Wednesday Bubble: something for da guyz

Posted by on Jun 3, 2009 in menopause | 4 comments

Men! Male menopause? I think not! The closest thing to it? I believe so.

New York Times writer Dana Jennings, wrote a poignant piece in yesterday’s paper about his personal experience with hot flashes — not only as a husband/partner to a menopausal woman — but also as an advanced prostate cancer patient taking Lupron for his condition.  Entitled “My Brief Life as a Woman,” (a title, which by the way, I want to rebel against) Jennings explores the effect that hormone therapy had on his body (night sweats, weight gain), his emotions (fits of crying), energy (fatigue) and overall quality of life (frequent headaches).

What resonates? His admission that “even though I only got to spend a brief time on the outer precincts of menopause, it did confirm my lifelong sense that the world of women is hormonal and mysterious, and that we men don’t have the semblance of a clue.”

I applaud Jennings for his candor, his sensitivity and his humour.

Men – the next time your wife/partner/girlfriend/friend is on the “Good Ship Menopause,” as Jennings so aptly describes it, embrace and offer to carry her “physical baggage.” Although it’s not a trip you’re necessarily prepared for, the journey may help you understand what she is going through a bit more thoroughly. Another helpful resource: Dick Roth’s “No, It’s Not Hot in Here,” a husband’s guide to understanding menopause.

A little understanding, a little support, and someone to sit with during bad chick flicks. Is that too much to ask?!

(Thanks to Steve Woodruff for pointing me to this piece in the NYT)

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