Q: Is it a relatively standard practice for women to use their gynecologist (Gyn) in the dual role of primary care physician?
Marla Ahlgrimm: According to a study performed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist, over 50 percent of women said that their Gyn also served as PCP. A Gyn may specialize in an area like infertility, endocrinology, preventative health, behavioral problems, pregnancy and delivery, health maintenance, operative gynecology and urinary tract disorders.
Q: How much of the Gyn’s medical education is focused upon primary care?
Marla Ahlgrimm: An Gyn is required to undergo primary care training for up to six months of his or her four-year residency. About 20 percent of the Gyn’s certification is concentrated on the practice of primary care. The training and education in this highly complex field often occurs concurrently.
Q: Based upon your past experiences, how have women typically approach dieting in unhealthy ways?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Limiting starches and salt may cause a woman to lose quite a bit of weight at first, but it’s merely fluid loss and not fat loss. Exercising more and eating less is the only surefire way to see consistent weight-loss results.
Q: What are the cornerstones for a proper diet program?
Marla Ahlgrimm: In my opinion, the healthiest diet focuses on lean proteins such as shellfish, skinless chicken breast, lean meat, soy products, egg whites, and complex carbohydrates, vegetables and fruits. It’s very important to drink eight glasses of water each day and never skip meals.
Q: What is the standard definition of a gynecologist?
Marla Ahlgrimm: A gynecologist (commonly referred to as an GYN) is a physician whose specialty is women’s reproductive health, with the ability to perform routine examinations of the reproductive organs.
Q: How does a gynecologist help a woman’s overall health?
Marla Ahlgrimm: To remain in good health, regular consultations and yearly checkups with a gynecologist are necessary. Admittedly, finding the right doctor can be a daunting task. Since these are private and personal appointments, it’s crucial to use a specialist who offers a warm and welcoming environment. Since different physicians focus on different specialties, a patient must understand her particular needs. Being comfortable is key.
Q: Can you explain exactly what heart failure means?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Heart failure does not necessarily mean that the heart has quit working. It simply means that the organ’s pumping power is not quite up to par. Approximately 6 million people in the United States are affected by heart failure. The heart is unable to pump enough nutrients and oxygen for the body.
Q: How does the human body respond to the lack of nutrients and oxygen?
Marla Ahlgrimm: When the heart muscle weakens, the body may retain salt and fluid. If fluid continues to build up in the lungs, feet, ankles, legs or arms, the body can become very congested. The resulting condition is called congestive heart failure.
Intriguing new research underscores the importance of progesterone balance for women. Pharmacist and entrepreneur Marla Ahlgrimm says it sheds further light on the risk of deficient or excess levels of this essential hormone.
There is evidence that testosterone may protect brain cells while decreasing the likelihood of developing heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes, according to Marla Ahlgrimm. Researchers at McGill University in Toronto have reported that androgens have been shown to raise lipid levels in the blood and thicken the artery walls. Higher androgen levels can potentially raise the risk of heart disease. Therefore, Marla Ahlgrimm and other health professionals have concluded that closing the gap between progesterone and estradiol levels may reduce the risk of heart disease.
Testosterone is often misleadingly and widely defined as a “male” hormone, according to women’s health expert Marla Ahlgrimm. A respected pharmacist and the co-author of The HRT Solution: Optimizing Your Hormone Potential (1999), she points out that while men produce 10 times as much testosterone as women, it is a vital hormone for the health of both sexes. Women in their early reproductive years are shown to produce 10 times more testosterone than estrogen. Testosterone is the most abundant active hormone. Adequate levels of this hormone are necessary for mental and physical health in both men and women.
Many experts and researchers have come to believe that a loss of testosterone can cause women in midlife to feel fatigue, gain weight and lose muscle tone, bone density and mental focus. Beginning in their early- to mid-30s, women can experience low testosterone levels, says Marla Ahlgrimm. Not all women have demonstrated the wide range of symptoms like mental fogginess, fatigue and low libido. Marla Ahlgrimm notes that adult acne, developing wrinkles and lines, and dry skin are other noticeable changes seen in perimenopausal women.
Given the right program of health and wellness, a person can enjoy a long and fulfilling life, says pharmacist, Marla Ahlgrimm. In her experience, attaining this higher level is simply a numbers game.
One-percent milk is a terrific lower fat source of calcium and protein, and lowers a person’s LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and risk of heart disease.
Five a Day
Five servings of vegetables and fruits each day will help lower a person’s risk of getting cancer by up to 30 percent. This strategy reduces the risk of stroke and heart attack as well. Marla Ahlgrimm points out that most Americans eat just half of the recommended amount daily. Add berries to cereal, crisp lettuce and juicy tomato to sandwiches and hearty vegetables to a favorite soup recipe.
Every woman’s experience with menopause is different, says Marla Ahlgrimm. Some women have mild symptoms, while others find themselves significantly affected by changes in productivity, memory and mood. Uncomfortable symptoms like hot flashes are also quite common. Here, Marla Ahlgrimm takes women step by step through this life cycle.
Perimenopause is defined as the time of declining and shifting hormone levels as a woman approaches her last menstrual period. In many cases, perimenopause will go unnoticed. Marla Ahlgrimm notes that the most common symptoms of perimenopause are hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, mood swings, anxiety, irritability, increased bone loss and irregular periods.
According to Marla Ahlgrimm, hormone therapy most often includes one or more of the following hormones: estrogen, testosterone and progesterone. Ahlgrimm advises women to consistently measure their levels of cortisol and DHEA, which may influence the levels of these three hormones.
Estrogen is the most common term recognized by women, but estrogen is actually an entire category of hormones, explains Marla Ahlgrimm. A woman’s body produces many types of estrogen, but three are produced in large amounts. Estrogen protects the body against tooth decay and loss, urinary incontinence, colon cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and osteoporosis. Estrogen also enhances skin tone, sex drive, digestion, mood, sleep and mental acuity.
Q: How can I combat the symptoms of PMS?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Self-help methods like exercising regularly and eating well can be extremely beneficial if you are experiencing the emotional and physical symptoms of PMS. Some women may need natural progesterone therapy to help alleviate these symptoms. You should know the basic facts and evaluate all the options with your physician or healthcare provider.
Q: What is progesterone, and how does it affect my body?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Progesterone is a term meaning “for gestation.” It is a hormone that prepares the uterine lining for a fertilized egg. Progesterone levels fluctuate in a monthly pattern. In the first half of a woman’s cycle, progesterone levels will be low. After ovulation, levels will start to rise. If a woman becomes pregnant, the placenta begins producing significant levels of progesterone.