This post is in partnership with Everlywell. Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Bubby & Bean possible.
As adult women – whether we’re moms, grandmothers, daughters, career badasses, students, wives, girlfriends, single babes, or all of the above – we tend to put ourselves on the back burner while we take care of other people and other things first. So many of the conversations I have with my girlfriends revolve around what we’re doing for our kids, our jobs, our partners, our homes, etc., – but only occasionally do we talk about things we’re actually doing for ourselves.
I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten older that one area where this especially holds true is health. I am constantly focused on my kids’ health and my parents’ health, encouraging healthy lifestyle choices and doctor check ups and all around wellness, when in truth, I very rarely think about my own health. When your daily to do list feels endless and involves taking care of multiple tasks and people, it’s not easy to prioritize yourself, and things (like your health) don’t feel like immediate concerns. But just because it isn’t easy doesn’t mean it’s not incredibly important. I do go to the dentist twice a year, and have my annual visit to the gyno, and (eventually) go to my primary care physician if I’m sick. But as I get older (I swear I blinked and suddenly entered my 40s), I am realizing more and more that my health is just as important as the health of the rest of the people I love – even my kids. In fact, if I want to be the best mama I can be to my little ones and continue to be active with them, one of the most crucial things I can do is own my health as a woman.
This week is Women’s Health Week, so I thought it would be the perfect time to share my personal story with you about something I did (and am doing) to take responsibility of my own health as a woman.
My hormones have been all over the place for over 5 years now. This is because since April 2013, I have been either pregnant, or breastfeeding, or both. Yep. 5 years. (As I type this, I am at the very end of my breastfeeding journey, as Emmett is almost fully weaned. But it’s been a long one.) I always had regular menstrual cycles before getting pregnant, but after years without periods due to pregnancy and breastfeeding, when I finally began getting them again, I noticed they weren’t as regular as in the past. They lasted for less time, and did not come at regular 28 day intervals anymore. My PMS also seemed to be much more intense than in the past. On top of this, I know that while it is likely still years away, menopause is on the horizon. Since even a slight hormone imbalance can affect how you feel, your menstrual cycle, your metabolism, your libido, your sleep, and your overall mood, I started to think that it would be in my best interest to take charge of my health and to check my hormone levels. So I ordered Everlywell’s Women’s Health Test.
Everlywell‘s Women’s Health Test is a comprehensive hormone panel for women at all stages of life, that can tell you if different hormones are balanced in your body, or if there are imbalances that could be preventing you from feeling your best. It tests for a variety of hormones known to be instrumental in women’s health: Estradiol, Progesterone, LH (Luteinizing Hormone), FSH (Follicle-Stimulating Hormone), DHEAS, Testosterone, Cortisol at four times throughout the day, TSH (Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone), Free T3, Free T4, TPO (Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies). I’d taken Everlywell’s Breastmilk DHA Test last fall, and was impressed by how easy it was to take and how quickly I got my results (which fortunately were in normal range). I couldn’t wait to get this one in the mail.
When I got my test, I registered it online and read over the directions. The test itself began with my taking a blood sample (super easy; just a prick and a few drops on a piece of paper) at the beginning of my cycle. Then a couple of weeks into my cycle, I took another blood sample, as well as saliva samples at four different times throughout one day. I filled out a simple form, packed it into the provided box, slapped on the return shipping label, and dropped in the mail. About a week later, I got an email that my results were ready.
Twelve of my levels were in normal range. Three were not. First, my FSH (Follicle-Stimulating Hormone) level came back slightly high. This usually indicates a decline in ovarian reserve, which was not surprising to me considering my age. (And I’m fine with that, as we are 100% done having kids!) Next, my Free T3 (a hormone made by the thyroid) level showed as being slightly low – but so very slight that it’s likely not enough for any sort of concern. There was one hormone level though that was a little more out of normal range than the others – my Progesterone/Estradiol Ratio, which was 80 and should be between 100 and 500. I had no idea what this meant, so I read more about it on Everlywell’s site. It explained how reproductive hormones, especially estrogen and progesterone, maintain a delicate balance, and that both hormones can affect fertility, as well as your metabolism and mood. Estradiol is the primary estrogen, and your progesterone to estradiol ratio can help assess whether you are more predominant in estrogen (which apparently I am, as my ratio is low) or progesterone, if your ratio is high. I actually have an appointment with my OB/Gyn next week and am looking forward to bringing my results with me to my appointment and learning more about this imbalance, and what (if anything) I need to do to correct it.
After a long time of putting my own health toward the bottom of the list, I feel really good to be doing something proactive (taking the Women’s Health Test and discussing the results with my doctor). I am empowering myself (so important!), but I’m also doing the right thing for the people in my life (especially my children) by taking responsibility for my health so I can be at my very best. I chose to share my specific results of this year with you guys in hope that that it will inspire you to take the test as well, in honor of Women’s Health Week. If you do take it, I’d be happy to talk with you about the test or share more specifics about my results. I’d also love to hear some ways you’ve taken responsibility for your health (it will motivate me to continue to do the same!). And if you’d like to take a Women’s Health Test (highly recommended!) or another of Everlywell‘s tests, you can take 15% off your purchase with code BUBBYANDBEAN.
Thank you for letting me share my personal women’s heath journey with you!