237 Shifting Perspectives on Menopause with Dr. Mary Claire Haver

Shifting Perspectives on Menopause with Dr. Mary Claire Haver


Be prepared to shift the way you approach your health as we dissect the hormonal ebbs and flows that characterize menopause and their unique impact on each woman. Dr. Mary Claire Haver's expert perspective illuminates the often misunderstood physiological changes, fostering a sense of compassion and community that's as necessary as it is overdue in women's healthcare. 

In this episode, we cover:

  • Insights into the stages of menopause, including perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause
  • The lack of education and recognition surrounding perimenopause, both among healthcare providers and in society in general
  • How knowledge about menopause can empower not only women currently experiencing it but also future generations

Connect with Dr. Haver:
Website - www.thepauselife.com
TikTok - @drmaryclaire
Instagram - drmaryclaire and the.galveston.diet
Facebook - The Galveston Diet Mary Claire Haver, MD
YouTube - Mary Claire Haver, MD
LinkedIn - The 'Pause Life with Dr. Mary Claire Haver

Mentioned in the episode:
The New Menopause: Navigating Your Path Through Hormonal Change with Purpose, Power, and Facts by Dr. Mary Claire Haver


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Megan: 1:09
At least everyone needs to listen to this episode today. I don't care how old you are. The information that's going to be shared here is something that every single woman needs to listen to, and this has had a tremendous impact on the harmony I have in my life. Our guest today is Dr Mary Claire Haver. She is the leading expert in all things pause, post-menopause, menopause and if I had been educated in my 30s on this information, I can tell you what the entire decade of my 40s would have looked very differently. So, regardless of your age, I cannot encourage you enough to listen in today. Start following Dr Haver and make sure you get her new book, which we're going to be talking about here on the episode today. Let's go ahead and get started.

Megan: 2:02
Welcome to the Work Life Harmony podcast. I'm your host, Megan Sumrell. I'm the creator of the top program and top planner teaching all things time management, organization and productivity for women. I'm also a mom and wife and, just like you, I'm juggling, hashtag all the things while running multiple businesses and a family. Guess what? You don't have to feel constantly overwhelmed, exhausted and stressed out. There is another way. When you have the right systems and tools to plan and manage your time, you can live a life of harmony. This is your show to learn from me and other amazing women how to master your time, planning an organization to skyrocket your productivity, so you can have work life harmony. If you're ready to stop feeling overwhelmed, this is the show for you, and if you're new here, I'd love to get you started with my work life harmony assessment. All you have to do is DM me on Instagram at Megan Sumrell, with the word harmony, and my team will send it right over.

Megan: 2:57
Hey everyone, welcome back to Work Life Harmony. I have a guest that I mean literally. I couldn't sleep last night. I was so excited, mostly because it gives me an opportunity to thank her for how she has changed my life. So, dr Mary Claire Haber, I would love to welcome you to the show. I feel like me introing you would not do it justice, so I would love for you to tell everyone a little bit about yourself, who you are and who you help.

Dr. Mary: 3:23
So my name is Mary Claire Haber. I'm a board certified OBGYN. I have other certifications as a menopause practitioner and also as a culinary medicine specialist and I've kind of married all of those degrees with my passion for menopause care. I'm trying to get a groundswell around the lack of resources for menopausal women, whatever stage you're in Perry, during and post. And I put my toe in the water here when I was trying to get menopausal women to approach their nutrition differently, which was my first book, a Gallus in Diet and the online program, and that kind of started catapulting me into this social media sphere.

Dr. Mary: 4:09
But as I was talking to more and more people online and focusing my medical practice on menopausal women, I realized we have a ton of work to do and there's still so much of a lack of education and knowledge, not only with our healthcare providers but with just the world in general. That led to my second book, the New Menopause, as a way for me to offer resource and guidance to women to how to navigate this part of their lives outside of the nutrition and wellness stuff I had talked about before. So as we stand now, this book the second book's coming out at the end of April we have almost 200,000 of Galveston diets. We have over 4 million followers across all social media platforms and I just spend all day, every day, talking about menopause. And people still want to listen to me.

Megan: 5:00
But there's what's been shocking to me since I've been in your world is how much there is to learn. And, ladies, I want you to know I'm still learning every day Every day, I bet. And, ladies, the reason I really wanted to have Dr Haber here on the show is this is something that we need to learn about, and we need to start learning about it early. So I personally started experiencing what I thought was perimenopause symptoms when I turned 40, and everyone I talked to said that's not it, you're too young, and I was disregarded everywhere I went, and so I kept thinking like there's something wrong with me, or I'm just getting old, or you know, and I just kept getting one door slammed after another and I hit actual full, like I'm in postmenopause. I hit it younger. I was 48, which is, you know, on a little bit on the younger side, and everyone just kept telling me it wasn't it, and the only solution anyone ever gave me was oh, you just need to get on testosterone, like without any conversation exactly.

Megan: 6:04
And thankfully, last year, a dear friend of mine, Mindy, is the one that introduced me to you and your book. I got it. Ladies, this changed my life. If I had been educated sooner, my 40s would have looked very different, but now I'm in my 50s and I tell you what I feel like I am kicking ass on postmenopause side because of the education and the knowledge that you give out there, and so I really, really, really want to thank you for that. Well, thank you, and so I thought we could maybe kick things off Again. Ladies, you don't have to be in what you think is positive to get empowered with this information. So what is the difference between perimenopause, menopause, postmenopause?

Dr. Mary: 6:48
No great question. So let's kind of back it up to win our eggs for okay, it's the easiest way for me to explain this. So we're actually born. A lot of women don't understand this and I kind of didn't get it, you know, and how it really related to my menopause. And that's a doctor. We're born with all of our eggs. They're crazy to think about.

Dr. Mary: 7:12
When we're in utero, at five months your mom was five months pregnant with you when you had the most amount of eggs that you were ever going to have, okay, and they start deteriorating then. So we start with quality and quantity. Okay, you're born, you're down to about a million eggs. Okay, we're not going to ovulate a million eggs, so they continue to deteriorate. We begin to ovulate a puberty, meaning we lose, you know, one of those eggs gets set free and is it fertilized or not? And pregnancy, no pregnancy. So by the time we're 30, we're down to about 10% of our eggs supply. So we're down to about a hundred dollars. Okay, and then by the time we're 40, this is average. So you had less than that because you came into menopause at the earlier end of average. Okay, then by the time we're 40, we're down to 3%, on average 3%. Then when we hit full menopause, we're done. We have exhausted our eggs supply through ovulation and then through egg quality, and that they just dissolve. So it doesn't happen to a man. He makes genetic material fresh from puberty until death. He can father a child the day he dies? Lot, not likely, but it's still fine, right, I'll be right back Perimenopause.

Dr. Mary: 8:38
So we have these stages. We have pre-menopause. Basically, you're ovulating regularly. You have enough eggs, good enough quality where your body is just humming along and it's normal, perfect cycle. Now that's a healthy one. It's. 10% of us don't ovulate regularly, for different reasons, okay, so I don't want to exclude those people. But every month your menstrual cycle looks like an EKG. You know you got a estrogen and a surge percent of just around the second half and we'll repeat this cycle about every 28 days until we'll be perimenopause.

Dr. Mary: 9:10
So perimenopause is when you reach a critical egg level that your body is and it's you're not producing your estrogen and progesterone like you used to and that is going to start expressing symptoms in your body. It could be your brain at first. It could be your sleep disruption at first. It could be musculoskeletal pain at first. You know it's usually weight gain, and not so much. Weight gain goes up with age, regardless of menopause. Okay, but body composition changes. We have some new visceral fat deposition, where and how we store fat changes. That's what led to the galvanist diet. So perimenopause is something right. Okay.

Dr. Mary: 9:54
Now, medically, we like to define that by the menstrual cycle you begin to have, you begin to not ovulate regularly. Now that in your body could be expressed as missing periods, heavy periods, light periods, no periods, hemorrhaging periods everything's on the table. So, but it's much, much more than right. Menopause is one day in your life, medically one year after your last bleed. Now, I hate that we define it by that, because it really signifies ovarian failure, castration, natural castration. I mean, I hate to use these horrible terms, but I want people to realize what's happening in their bodies. So everything after that, from the last menstrual period till death, is postmenopause, okay. So everything I say is so when are these ages? So average age of menopause is 51 in the US. However, normal is still 45 to 55. Perimenopause we know earlier than what people think of.

Megan: 10:55
Right, if you're not talking about it, right?

Dr. Mary: 10:56
And we're not teaching perimenopause. In med school residency I received zero lectures on perimenopause Zero lectures. It wasn't until I was practicing and one of my older, lovely professors male, absolutely fabulous was like there's something you know, perimenopause is really affecting women only, and you know this is not general knowledge. Yeah, the perimenopause symptoms begin at least seven to 10 years before your period stopped. So do the math. It is completely reasonable for a woman between 35 and 45 to begin to express perimenopausal symptoms that are being gaslit and ignored and dismissed and misdiagnosed because of lack of education and training. Not sometimes people are just assholes who shouldn't be in medicine. But outside of that, we are not training our healthcare providers to recognize this and they're only taught to recognize menopause, which is 51. And so a woman at 43, 44 is coming in in gynecologic.

Megan: 11:57
We used to call it when I was a resident the whiny woman syndrome, ww, and that's what it felt like I was like I don't want to, I don't want to bring it up anymore because they're going to think I'm just complaining they can't put your finger on it.

Dr. Mary: 12:08
Oh my God Can't sleep. She's gaining weight and we're all like, oh, I did not know to recognize this as classic perimenopause. I do now. I mean I was part of the problem, but it was a systemic educational thing. It's a problem the way society treats a woman as she ages. It's a. You know, we are medically. We are more than little men with breast and uterus in ovaries. No, our health is different. Our needs are different.

Megan: 12:34

Dr. Mary: 12:35
Oh my gosh.

Megan: 12:36
Bring it for days. So one of the things that I talk about a lot with women is they're, you know, supporting them and getting control of their calendars in time, and all of that is the importance of aligning the right type of things that we do during our day to the right times where we have more energy and we don't. And I know, for me, that was one of the things that I battle quite a bit in. Perimenopause was very erratic, the bouts of energy and I couldn't I almost couldn't find a norm of like I used to right, I'd have my, you know, burst of energy, and all of that Is how is perimenopause, or even postmenopause, affecting our both sleep and our energy throughout the day?

Dr. Mary: 13:16
Okay, so in perimenopause. So our brain, our hypothalamus and pituitary glands are pointing because they're behind our eyes and back in the brainstem. Um, the hypothalamus has a finger in the pull in the blood, okay, and it's constantly checking on estrogen levels, that's you know. So, like, what's going on? What's going on? Okay, good, estrogen levels, you ovulate, right, estrogen levels are good. That part of the brain is like we're cool, we're good, we're good, all right. So then those that estrogen from ovulation, that estrogen level starts declining, right, and progesterone goes out and the brain's like whoa, estrogen starting to get low.

Dr. Mary: 13:52
Hey, pituitary make more LH and FSH, which are the stimulating hormones for the ovary. So those Pulsatil things start happening. Lh and FSH starts rising, rising, rising. And then you develop, you start. So all the eggs you get about a hundred of them maybe that are like oh, it's my turn, my turn to ovulate. They all go into a race. The cells around them, the called the chelodion cells, start producing more estrogen, you know, and then the LH surges from the pituitary gland. That makes one of those eggs pop. We have an ovulation and then the cells left behind in what we call the corpus luteum start producing progesterone, which surges at the second half Okay, which is why we can kind of predict what our energy levels are going to be when that's happening, normally In herring the ovaries are starting to decline.

Dr. Mary: 14:45
It's much harder for those cells to do their job, so that brain's like whoa we need it starts making massive levels of LH and FSH to try to get that poor little ovary to rich jobs, and so it takes longer and it's a harder job and we're getting less estrogen and progesterone produced. And so that's why we lose the predictability of our energy levels, the predictability of our cycles. It might be fine for a few months and it goes back to being cattywampus, and then it's okay for a little while and it's literally the hormonal zone of chaos. And just knowing what happened can you realize how women would just feel so much more normal. Yes, knowing, okay, it's happening. This is my time. I know what's going on. Literally all I do is validate on the internet. I mean, I've made an empire out of validation of this is real.

Megan: 15:38
I think, when we get validated and everything I read, I was like, oh my, it's just almost. First of all, you get a chance to forgive yourself, because as women we're going to blame ourselves, right. But then it also has taken. I don't know. I can almost laugh at some stuff now. I'm like, oh, there it is. And I noticed the other day you shared the holderness reel that she did about me and I love that. It just, I don't know, gave some lightness and some humor to it and it makes us all go oh, it's not just me, like there is a I'm in a community and we are all of that together.

Dr. Mary: 16:06
Yeah, and our expression is really really diverse, really different as individual as our fingerprints. How menopause is going to hit us. We will all eventually stop having periods and not be able to bear children anymore, thank God, and you know so but how each organ system is affected. There are estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, testosterone receptors in every organ system in your body, and so we really have these unique expressions of how it's going to affect us, which makes it harder for doctors to see this common thread. They're not being caught. They don't know how to recognize it. This is all very vague. Every single woman seems to be going through this, but I don't know. Here's some antidepressants.

Megan: 16:49
And it's all so different.

Megan: 16:50
I think it was very interesting for me and ladies this is why I believe everyone needs to read this book is it's the empowerment of knowledge that you give us that allowed me to change the conversation I was having with my healthcare provider and ultimately, what I've learned from you empowered me to get a different healthcare provider that was willing to have the conversations, that was interested, had she actually made sure was like I'm not going on with anyone that hasn't at least read this book and have some knowledge.

Megan: 17:21
But as I was going through a checklist of symptoms, if you will, it was astounding for me to see things I never would have related to menopause on there. I'm like, oh my gosh, that's because of it. That's because of it, and I think that as women again reading what you are offering we need to empower ourselves with the knowledge to take better control of our health, because we're not in the thing where we're putting women on ice floes and sending them out to sea at age 60. I mean, we're living so long, we're gonna have such a large portion of our life in this menopause window. We deserve to have healthcare providers taking care of us the right way, and I think that's your biggest gift to the world is giving this knowledge out there so that we can find the resources that we need. Yeah, it's it's the.

Dr. Mary: 18:16
You know healthcare is really ignoring the menopausal women after reproductive or, you know, once our reproduction is over. When you look at the resources and funding that go into women's health, there's like we get 0.3% of the women's health care research dollars. Menopause does. Mmm, almost all of it goes into reproduction Getting you pregnant, keeping you pregnant. You know which are important things, right, but I'm not. You know, I've got great training in menopause, but just not in menopause care. But everything else that learned was amazing. There's just what. And so you know, one of my biggest advocacy platforms is like getting the entire medical you know the menopause association on board with rethinking menopause as medicine and how we treat the menopausal women.

Megan: 19:06
Oh, so good, the middle.

Dr. Mary: 19:06
third part for the last third of her life, not just the middle third, yeah.

Megan: 19:12
And it's the knowledge I have getting from you. It's interesting, you know, here I am on the other end and then I have a daughter who's 13 on the. You know, just starting into this and the conversations I get to have with her now, because I know when I was younger you know it wasn't talked about, it was so hush-hush, you didn't talk about that. Well, now I get to talk to her openly and freely about it and it's giving her more knowledge about what's going on in her body to talk to me as well. And so, again, any mom out there, a parent out there, reading this, if you have young girls, I think it's incredibly empowering so that we can normalize that conversation there too. I get a lot of women and I know I fell victim to this too and I became a mom always blaming motherhood as to why we forgot things like the common phrase of mom brain oh, I have mom brain, oh I have mom brain. Does menopause affect that kind of remembering stuff? Part of our brain as well?

Dr. Mary: 20:06
Yeah, so the brain is actually completely rewired. The effect that estrogen, the loss of estrogen, it's two things. One, inflammatory markers in the entire body, including the brain, go up. So we have much more neuroinflammation, which makes the wear neurons process not work as well. Number two estrogen has a tremendous effect on our neurotransmitters. So when we loop the estrogen we have less dopamine, which is why ADHD symptoms.

Dr. Mary: 20:37
You know, for us it's not usually hyperactivity, it's yeah, here we go. The word can't come out of my mouth right now. It's happening and we're not hyperactive, we're attention deficit. So word recall, all of it. And our serotonin, so our mental health, you know the norepinephrine and serotonin levels decline in the absence of the healthy estrogen levels. And so all of this is so important. Lisa Moscone's book is coming out. Anyone who has any family history of Alzheimer's, dementia, you know mental health struggles please go and get her book, because not only does she validate it, she is the world's expert in the woman's menopausal brain. She's a neurosurgeon. As she did Pet stands throughout a woman's menopause journey, she can show you every single brain change you can expect. It's absolutely fascinating. Her book comes out in March, so I think between your two books.

Megan: 21:32
This is going to educate all of us on everything we need to know.

Dr. Mary: 21:35
I think that's my plan you know my book is obsolete in five years. That's so much new information comes out and all this new research. I have to write another book. You know.

Megan: 21:47
I tell you, what you have gifted women as a whole again is like changing. My only regret is not having found this sooner than I did. So, ladies, I, truly I can't encourage you enough. We're going to have the links in the show notes to go out pre-order your new book. Can you hold up and tell everyone the name of it so they know where to go search for it as well? So it is the new menopause and educate yourself. If you're 20, get the book and educate yourself.

Dr. Mary: 22:20
Really will set you up for success in your manner.

Megan: 22:22
It will, and if you're on the other end of the spectrum, as I am, it's not too late to get educated. I was able to change Absolutely yeah, completely changed my relationship with my healthcare provider. I had very anti-formal replacement therapy vibes from everything I heard. I got very educated on the reality of a lot of benefits from that through you. It allowed me to make different choices for myself and I just think that until the rest of our healthcare community gets caught up on this, ladies, this is your leading resource for information, and I mean truly.

Megan: 23:00
Go follow Dr Haver on Instagram. There's a wealth of free knowledge that you give out there. So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for changing my life. I'm making 50 and beyond going to be amazing and thank you for all that you put out into the world. Getting on top of all things time management, organization and productivity doesn't have to stop just because this episode is over. If you want one tap access to all of my training and current top podcasts, go to the App Store or Google Play and download the Pink Bee app. It's one word the Pink Bee. It is jam-packed with simple yet powerful tips and strategies to get you out of overwhelm and into harmony and if you have a question you want me to cover on a future episode, go to iTunes and ask your question in the podcast review section and while you're there, don't forget to leave a five-star review.

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