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Menopause is actually a woman's body going through withdrawal. It's super interesting.

Menopause expert Ellen Dolgen made a video featuring dancing ovaries that got me thinking. What even IS menopause? And why do we think it's so weird? Here's what's up. It's not weird. Its just your body (and biology!) functioning correctly.

Menopause is actually a woman's body going through withdrawal. It's super interesting.

Did you know that the symptoms of menopause are essentially the symptoms of withdrawal?

Yep, withdrawal. That crazy intense process that you think about as only happening to people who are rehabbing cold turkey from heavy drug or alcohol abuse. But for women, it's a different kind of withdrawal.

It's estrogen withdrawal.

Menopause (and perimenopause!) is what the female body goes through when the level of estrogen the female body produces gradually (or sometimes dramatically) drops. The estrogen factory doesn't close up completely, but it does produce less. This creates an imbalance in the hormones and, thus, the withdrawal symptoms.


To put that into perspective, puberty is when the estrogen factory opens. Until the hormones balance out, the young female body gets essentially "drunk" on estrogen!

Every woman goes through estrogen withdrawal. And it can be intense.

Wait. What? JLaw GIF from HB TV.

This was my reaction as well when I learned this body hormone science stuff. I'm not even kidding when I tell you that I had no idea that's what menopause actually is. And I thought I knew things about things!

Estrogen withdrawal has some seriously hefty physical AND mental side effects.

Estrogen regulates body temps, so hot flashes are a major side effect. Estrogen also helps a body's intake of serotonin (which regulates mood), so when that's going bye-bye — hello mood swings! As if those aren't enough, there's also memory loss, weight gain, headaches, itching, dryness, pain during sex ... just to name a few possible symptoms!

"Half of women aged 45 to 60 years report experiencing menopausal symptoms. Of those, 69% reported that their symptoms have a negative effect on their lives."
— Endocrine.org, 2012

That's nearly 7 out of 10 women legit suffering from estrogen withdrawal.

It's not weird. It's a woman's body doing its thing.

And when you're not quite at menopause, you'll wind up in PERImenopause. Which is like exponential PMS.

Clip via Ellen Dolgen.

Despite this being a real thing with real(ly negative) symptoms, only a fraction of women reported speaking to their healthcare providers about getting help.

Sounds like it's time to get the word out: When estrogen ain't there, the body needs to get used to it. Plain and simple. Estrogen withdrawal and menopause are real things with real symptoms, and real help is available!

Women don't have to suffer through this alone.

Just like there are people — entire facilities! — to help with withdrawal from other substances, women are in luck. Actual satisfactual specialists exist to help anyone suffering from estrogen withdrawal. There are specific doctors for menopause who can figure out what can help ya through this.

There are even movements around "conscious menopause" where instead of the old-fashioned view of postmenopausal women like, "Your ovaries are so OLD the key on Ben Franklin's kite was to their apartment"* to "You're going from a mother to a queen" vibes.

So, congratulations, organs doin' your menopause and perimenopause science dance!


Clip via Ellen Dolgen.

The science in you is working. Cool.

Take it away — and bring on the details — singing uterus!

Canva

Prior to European colonization of North America, millions of bison roamed the Great Plains. By the turn of the 20th century, those numbers had dropped to less than 1,000. The deliberate decimation of buffalo herds was a direct attack on the Native American people, who colonizers saw as an obstacle to their "Manifest Destiny," and who the U.S. government engaged in a systematic attempt to eliminate or force into docile submission.

For thousands of years, bison were a sacred, inseparable part of life for Indigenous tribes of the Great Plains, used for food, shelter, utensils, and clothing, in addition to spiritual and emotional well-being. Wiping out the bison population nearly wiped out the Native tribes they were connected to.

Though bison numbers have increased significantly thanks to conservation efforts, governments are still grappling with the ugly legacy, and some municipalities are taking steps to try to repair some of the damage done. As one example, the city of Denver, Colorado has taken the step of giving some of the city's bison population managed by Denver Parks and Recreation to Native American tribes engaged in bison conservation efforts.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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