Volume: 1, Issue: 3

August 8, 2011

Gynecology of the Mind

Managing Menopause
I had a call this week from a 35-year-old woman wanting to know at what age she should begin menopause management. My answer to her forms the substance of this article.

In psychotherapeutic terms, mid-life begins at approximately age 35 for women; this is probably the impetus for my caller’s “seeking.” Medically, a woman in her mid-thirties is in the period called “advanced maternal age” if she is trying to conceive and suffering from “premature ovarian failure” if she begins menopause at this age. This is the terminology; the way in which it fits with the fluidity of women’s health and the liquid shifts and changes of a body is an entirely different matter.

The answer to the question is complex and simple. Menopausal management begins in adolescence!

I’m not kidding. The reality is that we should have begun the care for ourselves which we begin to be concerned about at mid-life in our adolescence. The further truth is that we should also be doing this for our daughters, nieces, our best friend’s daughters….Every young woman with whom we have contact receives the modeled behavior that we demonstrate: “This is what a woman’s life and body are about.” How often do we think this? How often do we teach this?

I was blessed with a remarkable man for a father….he was a gynecologist and healer using the very best in natural healthcare….he practiced against the flow of his time fifty years ago. He taught me about my body and helped me to appreciate the miracle that my body is. His wisdom guided me through my quest for fertility and pregnancies and through miscarriages. And, my gifts as a parent I also attribute to him. He was my first and best teacher. Having said this, I will tell you in part what he has taught me about managing the health care of women. Current research is the foundation for all the work/healing/treatment that we do in our Centers. Bless him, my father was ahead of his time; what he practiced anecdotally is being demonstrated through today’s research. And, in the 36 years I have practiced, I have done the same for my patients.

How a woman begins menarche, starts having her periods, shapes her psychologically and physically for her lifespan. This is why when you go to a healthcare practitioner she wants to know all about your early menstruation, medical care, diet, and exercise….she wants to know you. There are medical conditions which present in adolescence, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, endometriosis, amenorrhea, that express themselves differently across a woman’s reproductive years and finally bring consequences into her menopause and the healthy functioning of her body as she ages into the end of life. The question of menstruation is not, “when did you start” and “when will you stop!” It is a matter of using this biological, psychological functioning as a diagnostic tool to describe the endocrinology of any specific woman’s body, to predict what care she might need for successful conception, to bring into awareness the complex functioning of her body as it impacts other aspects of her life (such as her relationships with others, which often are hormone based!). We forget that this marvelously obvious part of a woman’s life indicates to us the hidden aspects of her personal life…what supplements she may need, what is precipitating her exhaustion and fatigue….all can be diagnosed from a clear understanding of this particular woman’s body and its comparative functioning in relation to what is known about other women’s bodies.

By the time a woman reaches climacteric, she begins to exhibit bodily changes that reflect all that has gone before in her life. How her pregnancies were, what her marriage or intimate relationships were, what career, what wishes, dreams and longings are present directly affect her menopause. This is true for the treatment and care she will accept and how she will collaborate in her own health management. How a woman quests for her own life, seeks the path for her journey, is expressed in everything she does. No woman can not express her Self (no man cannot either for that matter!), and the way in which she approaches changes in her body, her life, are as much a self expression as any other area. Which hormones she uses, how she perceives weight loss, what her sexuality is (or is not) is as much a self expression of the soul and longing of each woman as is the color of her lipstick and the clothes she wears.

When a woman enters treatment for “the change,” we are really looking at all the aspects of her life changing…What that means to the individual patient and how it is managed will go back to her adolescence and winds its path into the future woman she is building. The mistaken notion that a woman at menopause simply has to deal with her hormones and hot flashes and she’ll be alright must be dispelled.

Dr. Kathleen Quinn is the CEO of Discovery Integrative Healthcare Centers in four states. She holds five graduate degrees, with a Doctorate in psychotherapy, Master’s/Nurse Practitioner in obstetrics/gynecology, and certification in high risk obstetrics. Dr. Quinn is beginning a growth group for Menopause Management in our NEW CREEKSIDE OFFICE COMPLEX LOCATION (7300 Blanco Road). The group will include the use of meditation, QiGong and discussion of weight loss techniques, natural medicine and hormone therapy and much more. This group will be limited in number, so CALL OR EMAIL TODAY to register! 877-4-DRQUINN (877-437-7846) or info@drkathleenquinn.com.

Other Stories

“Gynecology of the Mind”…

It is not often that one has the chance to write in a manner that is accepting of all the parts of an issue. It is my hope that what we will accomplish in this medium is the possibility of a dialogue. I would be delighted to receive any questions, thoughts or comments at the email address below, or you may phone me to talk. I will try to answer questions as fully as possible.

For me, “fully” means several things. In the Greek, psyche (spirit/essential mind) and soma (of the body) are the root words which give rise to our word “psychosomatic.” In the past, it was thought that illnesses deriving from a psychosomatic origin meant that the individual was somehow mentally defective or dysfunctional and became ill because of this intrinsic defect. Nothing could be less true.

In the 1950’s, Hans Seyle began his landmark research in General Adaptation Syndrome that paralleled Milton Erickson’s work in Hypnosis. The fruits of that original research in the two areas of physiology and psychology became the foundation for the research that followed developing the concepts of mind/body medicine. Psychosomatic medicine simply means that there is a foundational connection to physical illness in the mind of the person, as well as mental and emotional factors influencing the course of the disease.

It is pure foolhardiness to believe that what is in the mind causes illness in the body. If this were true, there would be no consistency in the way bodies function nor would it be possible to determine the etiology of a disease, predict its course, or devise treatments that are applicable across populations. What the mind does do is predispose the body to respond in certain ways, as well as precipitate chemical reactions in the body. The whole concept of stress influencing the body and supporting illness is part of this concept.

Later in this month, we are going to be presenting a workshop (free) on “Gynecology of the Mind” which is designed to look at women’s health from a variety of perspectives across the span of a woman’s lifetime. We will begin to explore the concept of illness and health, along with the implications of mental and emotional functioning as a response to life events. Then, we will weave into this the view of life as a spiritual evolution/journey that embodies itself in women’s health and wellbeing. Should be lots of fun! I plan to use art materials to help us explore and create a visual image for each participant to take home.

Remember, this workshop is for women…of all ages….and the men who know and love them. That means that sons, husbands, lovers, fathers….oh well….just any interested person is welcome! Now, send letters and thoughts to me and let’s see where this journey will lead us!__also seen in March 1 Light Forum

Dr. Kathleen C. Quinn is the CEO of Discovery Integrative Healthcare Centers in four states; she holds five graduate degrees, with a Doctorate in psychotherapy, Master’s Degree/Nurse Practitioner in obstetrics/gynecology and certification in high risk obstetrics. She is a consultant nationally to healthcare organizations in transition as well as corporations developing an integrative approach to global workforces. She is in pre-production for a weekly television show. She holds retreats, workshops, and seminars and is a much sought after lecturer. 


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