There is something beautiful about age, we all know it. We admire our elders, acknowledge their wisdom, embrace their advice and learn from their mistakes. But, for some reason, we loathe aging ourselves. Our Empowered Women’s Circle held a Women’s Retreat recently and the overwhelming theme was a deeper desire for authentic self-confidence. Women are up to big things, many running personal businesses, most running households and everyone running their lives in a million directions. And, to use an aviation term, we are jettisoning fuel (in our home, ideas are often formalized with aviation and space metaphors). We are leaking energy that would be better used to bring us home safely to ground zero, launch our businesses, be mindful with our loved ones and laser focus our lives on the things that really matter.
It’s because of the eye-opening conversation we had at the retreat that I’ve been overly sensitive about what I’m seeing in the medical news lately.
First, the FDA issued a warning against vaginal laser rejuvenation (including the Mona Lisa and multiple other industry providers of laser therapies). Around mid-life woman have a decline in estrogen and the bladder and vagina need estrogen to stay healthy and comfortable. Laser therapy has been studied and approved for multiple uses including surgery and removal of precancerous skin lesions. Some companies (and hence providers) extrapolate that, if laser applied to the external skin will rejuvenate the underlying layers, stimulate collagen and improve elasticity, why not inside the vagina too? With the current FDA process, once a device is “approved” it can be marketed for uses that were never included in the original science. Many women have benefited from laser therapies and many have, thankfully, gone unharmed but it is becoming obvious that these lasers were never intended to help women “become their best self” as one company offers. Don’t get me wrong, I look in vagina’s all day long and the female body is beautiful and to be celebrated but having a “youthful” vagina does not make you a better woman. Right? If there is pain, irritation or dryness, laser should not be the “go-to” therapy and I’m happy to report that there are plenty of safe, proven therapies to heal and “rejuvenate” a troublesome vagina.
Then there was the disciplining of a doctor in California for treating over 40 000 women over 30 years with untested compounded, bio-identical hormone therapy. Bio-identical hormones (including pellet therapy) have become all the rage and touted as a fountain of youth for women entering mid-life. Why do we need a fountain of youth again? And is there a difference between drinking from a fountain and putting compounds in our body that have never been tested for safety, may be harmful and have become a major money-maker for providers? It makes me angry but it also makes me very sad. If you’d like to know more about proven, evidence-based bio-identical hormones to treat the symptoms of menopause, grab my free eBook from DrCatherineHansen.com or visit Menopause.org (the official website of the North American Menopause Society)
Finally, I was struck by this headline, “The Quest for the Perfect Vagina: What You Should Know about Cosmetic Genital Procedures” (ref 2). A perfect vagina? Unless you are a gynecologist and examine vaginas for a living, how do you define a “perfect” vagina? In my office, women are misled by the mainstream media, their friends and, sadly, their male partners into believing that something is wrong with them. When he says, “It doesn’t feel like my last girlfriend, it’s not tight enough,” a young woman may willingly go under the knife on an endless quest to please. There are reasons a vagina may need surgery but when the biggest reason is another person’s opinion or a photograph in Penthouse, we need to re-evaluate the messages we are sending.
If you have decided to follow one of these paths, there is no shame in that. Many, many women have and will. And, assuming you have made the decision for reasons that are true to your core, you have disposable income and your health is good, you should continue on the path that feels right to you, (under the care of a reputable healthcare provider who knows the meaning of “informed consent”). But for most of the women I see, a deeper connection to authentic self-confidence would lead to a healthy indifference toward the expectations of others and a re-alignment of precious human resources.
In a world where “I am enough,” many of these therapies would not exist.
Women want to feel fit, vital, healthy and alive.
Women want to experience presence and joy in their lives.
Women want vitality and well-being.
Yet, we exhaust our time and money because we are made to believe that all of that comes in the form of a cream, a device or a surgery. It doesn’t.
But the good news is, it’s totally possible to look, feel and BE your best at ANY age. It’s time to re-define what “best” means from information that is within you not what you read on social media, hear from your friends or examine in the mirror when you are crying on your bathroom floor, (yes, we’ve all experienced those times when the bathroom floor is the safest place to shed our tears).
Vaginas are sacred. Think about it! First and foremost, they define our femininity and bring personal pleasure; we can use them to share love in very intimate and powerful ways; they lead to the creation of another human being and deliver the miracle of life. These truths about women remain remarkable to me despite 30 years of studying the science of reproduction.
Being feminine is to be cherished, revered and wildly celebrated. Bringing authenticity to our role as women with wisdom, resources, life experience, capacity and confidence should be our personal quest. It’s time to search for authentic relationships, authentic confidence and authentic power so that we can rise up and help other women lean into an authentically loving relationship with themselves. We can’t do it alone. Let’s call it the “Quest for Imperfect Authenticity”. Now that’s worthy of a news story!
Download my free eBook:
"Meaningful Menopause: Making Menopause a Time of Transformation and Renewal" at DrCatherineHansen.com
- One (of many) Articles about Dr. Hall: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-doctor-hormones-disciplined-20180912-story.html. Accessed Sept 22, 2018.
- FDA Warning about Laser Devices for ‘Vaginal Rejuvenation’. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/900023. Accessed Sept 22, 2018
- Video Series, Coffee with Catherine, available at https://drcatherinehansen.com/empowered/weekly/ Posted Aug 25, 2018
- The Quest for the Perfect Vagina: What you Should Know about Cosmetic Genital Procedures. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/901013?src=WNL_infoc_180922_MSCPEDIT_obgy&uac=178850CG&impID=1742821&faf=1#vp_3 Accessed Sept 22, 2018.
Coffee with Catherine, available at https://drcatherinehansen.com/empowered/weekly/ Posted Aug 25, 2018