Me, Menopause??? My Work with Dr. Anna Garrett...
This post is part personal story, part exciting announcement.
I’ve known Dr. Anna Garrett since 2012, when we started Dr. Sara Gottfried’s year-long Hormone Mastermind program. Little did I know that I’d need her a few short years later when I was going through early menopause.
Upon hearing my news, one of my close friends and colleagues lovingly said, “You, the hormone guru, early menopause? That’s hilarious!”
Dr. Anna >>>
Dr. Anna was the first person I called when, after years (decades) of a pretty regular and uneventful cycle, I started “crossing over to the other side.” It was more shock and wanting answers (WTF is going on??) than hot flashes and night sweats, thankfully. The transition was also relatively uneventful from a traditional peri/menopause symptom standpoint—and probably stayed that way because of my work with Dr. Anna.
The average age of menopause is 51 and as the medical community says, “If you want to know how and when you’ll go through menopause, ask your mother what it was like for her.” So several years ago, I asked—and my mom said, “Well, I was 51 and it was a blip on the radar.” I went around the room high-fiving my sisters.
Mine was also a relative blip, but was five years “early.” Dr. Anna challenged me on this one—she asked why I was so hung up on “51” and said just because mine came early didn’t mean I was all that far outside the norm. Okay.
And right, I’ve worked with clients who’ve been post-menopausal at 42 or still cycling at 56. Who cares what the average is?
But! As things started going sideways, before I was officially post-menopausal (12 consecutive months without a cycle), I started dumping hair. I’d had a 30+ year history of relatively mild alopecia, so short-lived hair dumps (and bald spots) weren’t that unusual, but I was in new territory now—I ended up becoming 1/3 bald with no hair on the sides of my head, above the ears, and around the back, at the nape (alopecia ophiasis).
Perhaps my alopecia worsening and going through menopause was coincidental? Yeah, I don’t think so!
Looking back, I s’pose I did start to see (and still have) a couple of the lesser known symptoms of menopause that I talk about on this page: social isolation and tendency toward introversion (yes, I’m a huge introvert and homebody, but I was also parenting, researching, and writing), not wanting to be a people-pleaser anymore (not sure I ever was to begin with), and a sense of, “That’s fine, but I don’t care.” (To be clear, I care a great deal about my family, my health, my clients, and my work. Others’ drama? Not so much.)
I had some relatively minimal weight gain, but that didn’t come on until many months later. (I’m 5’ 10”, so I “carry it well.”)
Anyway, yes, Dr. Anna and I talked a lot about things that I already knew as a health and hormone educator, but sometimes even we coaches need coaching. It never hurts to hear what you already know coming out of someone else’s mouth.
I of course knew that cortisol—our primary stress hormone—is “the great shape shifter” and can “steal” our sex steroid and androgenic hormones. And I’d had plenty of stress in those two years leading up to things getting unpredictable—working my a** off on starting a publishing company and working on researching and writing my Essential Thyroid Cookbook, traveling every few weeks to help take care of my ailing mother, adopting a baby, seeing my father’s and brother’s health decline, and the eventual passing of all three of these family members in a very short time. I was traveling so much, my baby made 17 round trip flights in the first 21 months of her life.
In fact, because of all of this, I ignored that my cycles had become wildly irregular, assuming it was all the travel and stress. Had I had typical pre-menopausal symptoms, I would have paid more attention.
Plus! I was making prolactin (the breast milk hormone), even though I didn’t give birth to my daughter. My gosh, the human body is amazing—just by virtue of me bonding with my sweet little nugget, I was making the breast milk hormone (which was enough to cause changes in my cycle, but not enough to actually make breast milk). (My daughter was exclusively fed breast milk for the first 14 months of her life, but that’s another story.)
Peri/menopause was a primary focus of my coaching practice for a number of years.
It happened by accident—I didn’t intend to become a “menopause coach.” But as I learned more and more about thyroid and adrenal health and learned that the health of a woman’s thyroid and adrenals has everything to do with how she moves through peri/menopause, it was a natural fit and one that I felt that I needed to have a good grasp on to support my clients, especially given that it all works together. We can’t isolate our thyroid and adrenal hormones from our reproductive hormones. Not even close.
And frankly, I found it all incredibly interesting and thought, “Well, I’m going to need this information someday anyway.”
So yes, I’m very knowledgeable about peri/menopause support and can help women who are struggling with this time of life—and I think this knowledge is why I’ve remained largely unscathed. But I prefer to support my peri/menopausal clients in the context of Hashimoto’s and/or alopecia, my two primary areas of practice.
In fact, earlier this summer, in an effort to distill things down to what I’ve become known for and what I love, I made an announcement that I was taking Menopause off of my website as an area of practice. But as the weeks went on, it felt…weird, given the demographic of women I largely work with.
I felt like something was missing, like I’d cut off an arm.
I’m now honored to have Dr. Anna as Healthful Elements’ official peri/menopause referral partner.
My Menopause page is back up and Dr. Anna has a profile on my website. (She and I have no financial relationship—we don’t receive compensation for referring clients to each other.)
I’ve loved her straight-talking, no nonsense newsletters for years and she’s is funny and sometimes irreverent. Like me!
If you’re seeking support around peri/menopause specifically, I can’t recommend her highly enough. She and I are in alignment with everything here, including the information and guidance in my Easing Into Menopause chapbook (which you’ll find within the above link).
And she’s writing a book! I’m thrilled because she knows her stuff, she’s a myth-buster, and I LOVE her writing style. She doesn’t yet know her pub date, but we’ll let you know more as that date draws closer.
March 2019 update: You can find Dr. Anna’s book here >