Episode 32: Is It Hot in Here?! What You Need To Know About Hot Flashes

In this episode, Dr. Lisa and Dr. Toni are talking about a hot topic: hot flashes! Whether you call it a hot flash or hot flush, they can be an annoying and uncomfortable symptom that you may start to experience in perimenopause. We discuss: what hot flashes are and why they happen; the potential causes and triggers for your hot flashes and night sweats; and what you can do about them so you don’t have to suffer.

According to research, anywhere from 35%–50% of perimenopausal women suffer sudden waves of body heat with sweating and flushing that last 5–10 minutes.

What is a hot flash?

A hot flash or vasomotor flush can vary from feeling slightly warm to more like a fire from the inside out. They can come on rapidly and last anywhere from 1-10 minutes. 

You may get them anywhere from a few times per week to more than 10 times during the day and night. They can be combined with visible flushing with your chest, neck and face turning red, with a little bit or a lot of sweat.

Hot flashes often continue for a year or two after menopause, but in up to 10% of women, they persist for years beyond that. They can disrupt your sleep, which can worsen: fatigue, irritability, anxiety, metabolism, weight control and immune system function.

Why do you get hot flashes?

Although hot flashes have been studied for more than 30 years, no one is absolutely certain why or how they occur. The Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research (CeMCOR) at UBC attributes hot flashes to “estrogen withdrawal”, as their research has found that hot flashes closely resemble an addict’s drug withdrawal due to the hormonal associations and brain effects seen.

Your level of estrogen while in perimenopause is fluctuating and can be unpredictable. When your estrogen level drops from normal to low or high to normal, it can trigger a hot flash in your body.

Estrogen drops can trigger the release of your stress hormone norepinephrine, as well as other stress hormones and brain neurotransmitters. Norepinephrine narrows the range of body temperature where you feel comfortable (also called your thermoneutral zone) so you’re more sensitive to both heat and cold. 

A hot flash is a vasomotor symptom where your blood vessels dilate to release more heat because of the narrowing of your thermoneutral zone.

Causes of hot flashes can include:

  • Blood sugar imbalances that can trigger your stress hormones, resulting in you feeling hot and wired
  • High stress and cortisol levels that can worsen night sweats
  • Inadequate detoxification through your organs of elimination or emunctories. Things that can make your hot flashes worse by negatively affecting your body’s ability to detox include:
    • smoking, constipation, being overweight, not exercising and not sweating (via exercise and sauan usage)
  • Triggers are different for each women. It is useful to keep a hot flash journal, tracking your potential triggers such as:
    • Hot drinks, caffeine, alcohol
    • Sugar, spicy foods, garlic
    • Nightshades like tomatoes, eggplant, peppers
    • Perceived stress or stressful situations

What can you do about your hot flashes?

  • Avoid your known triggers
  • Manage your temperature
    • Turn your thermostat down, put on a fan or A/C 
    • Sleep naked or in loose-fitting breathable cotton
    • Under-dress during the day and wear layers
    • Use a breathable weighted blanket like ZonLi, Chilipad or gel pillow
    • Drink cool or ice water
    • Use an essential oil spray with peppermint, clary sage, geranium
  • Manage your stress
    • Have stress-releasing time EVERY DAY! Be proactive to improve your response to stress
      • Meditation, yoga, deep breathing, singing, humming
  • Get a sweat going during the day with exercise, sauna or a hot bath
  • Eat nutritious food to:
    • Balance blood sugar levels – see Episode 10: What to Eat? Nutrition Tips for Hormone Balance
    • Include liver-detoxifyng and phyto-estrogenic foods
      • Ground flaxseeds (can add to chia pudding, smoothies, cereal, yogurt)
      • Organic fermented soy like miso soup or tempeh
      • Brassica vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts
  • See a Naturopathic Coctor for hormone testing and individualized treatment including:
    • Herbs like maca, vitex, black cohosh, sage, red clover, pueraria (Thai kudzu), hops, milk thistle, dandelion, artichoke
    • Nutrients like berberine, plant sterols, N-acetyl cysteine, magnesium, vitamin E, L-glycine
    • Acupuncture
    • Homeopathy
    • Bio-identical hormone creams
      • Natural progesterone has been shown in recent research to be safe and effective for hot flashes and night sweats, avoiding some of the adverse effects of classic estrogen therapy or synthetic estrogen with synthetic progesterone (progestin)

Today’s Mama Must Have:

Dr. Toni has a favourite oat and fruit bar recipe for a quick and easy breakfast or snack that Frankie loves:

Dr. Toni’s Banana and Fruit Breakfast Bars

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 cup chopped apricots, cranberries, dates and/or prunes
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup sunflower and/or pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup milled flax seed
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Mash bananas and combine with fruit and oil. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Spread onto a pan or cookie sheet and flattened with a fork. Bake at 375oF for 10-15 minutes until slightly browned.

Dr. Lisa found a tasty gluten-free beer called Glutenberg to enjoy in moderation on hot summer days.

Thank you for joining us today! 

Email us or connect with us on Facebook and Instagram. We’d love you to subscribe, leave us a review and a 5-star rating if you enjoyed this episode.

Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!

Stay safe everyone!

Episode 31: How To Adopt a Growth Mindset in the Face of Challenge (AND Shift Your Body Image) with Dr. Stacy Thomas

You don’t want to miss this episode! Dr. Stacy shares many truth bombs that will help you: shift your perspective on your body image; transform pain into gain; use the “pause” during perimenopause (and menopause) to look within to see what is and isn’t serving you in your life; why you need to put yourself first; and how to build awareness and resiliency by incorporating her unique journaling practice into your routine. Learn how to come into who you really are as a woman transitioning into perimenopause and menopause.

Dr. Stacy is a clinical psychologist, CEO and Clinical Director of the Design Your Life Centre, and host of the Mindful Parenting Summit. Her work with clients interweaves: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, mindfulness, mental skills for high performance, and clinical hypnosis, with a keen understanding of the limiting life patterns that need to be broken in order for us to break free and truly show up as our authentic selves. Her mission to democratize mental health motivated her to create The Growing Forward Journal and The Growing Forward Soul School, an online community focused on helping people grow consciously through whatever life brings. 

In this episode, we cover:

  • The idea of embracing the “pause” in perimenopause (and menopause) to reflect on what you really want in life
  • How stressful events as children can cause anxiety and trauma by impacting on your ability to maintain emotional boundaries
  • The importance of listening to your body when you are being ruled by a pattern of: showing up completely for others, putting yourself last and believing that whatever is happening to you doesn’t matter
  • How to embrace the changes in your body that you are noticing and stop taking a dump on your body!
  • The idea of living in your body instead of being outside of your body
  • How to practice listening and tapping into the truth and answers within yourself
    • The Growing Forward Journal – a tool based on the understanding that in order to grow, you must leave something behind
  • The idea that growth is always uncomfortable and that your mindset allows you to get through it to a place where you can accept what is instead of pushing and fighting against it
  • The importance of letting go and healing from an old theme or story in your life 
  • How you are socialized to be accommodating and how hormone fluctuations can actually reveal the truth instead of stuffing it down
  • The importance of giving yourself empathy and compassion and how to do it (by repeating these 3 phases to yourself every morning):
    • “There is nothing you can say, think or feel that would ever compromise my regard for you”
    • “There is nothing you can say, think or feel that would ever compromise my respect for you”
    • “There is nothing you can say, think or feel that would ever compromise my love for you”
  • How daily practices can build your resilience during stressful times
    • Recognize 3 unique moments of gratitude for the day
    • Noticing 3 moments of joy and things that you enjoy
    • Noticing 3 areas of competence and things that you do well that mad you feel confident
  • The importance of creating and adding to your brain’s treasure box (by storing and re-living happy memories) to move away from your brain’s natural tendency to focus on the negative

Check out Dr. Stacy’s website and follow her on Instagram.

You can find The Growing Forward Journal HERE.

Today’s Mama Must Have:

Dr. Lisa uses Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) for improving her sleep.

Dr. Stacy always has her journal and a special pen (purple with unicorns!) on her.

Thank you for joining us today! 

Email us or connect with us on Facebook and Instagram. We’d love you to subscribe, leave us a review and a 5-star rating if you enjoyed this episode.

Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!

Stay safe everyone!

Episode 30: Get Outside: What You Need To Know About Forest Bathing with Dr. Cyndi Gilbert, ND

In today’s episode, Dr. Toni talks with Dr. Cyndi Gilbert, ND about the health benefits of getting out in nature for your mental health, stress resilience, blood pressure, immunity and more. Also, learn ways to create your own mindful practice for self-care and self-reflection in nature.

Dr. Cyndi is a naturopathic doctor, a mom of two kids and the author of two books: the Essential Guide to Women’s Herbal Medicine and Forest Bathing. Dr. Cyndi’s naturopathic medical practice in Toronto has a clinical focus in mental health, trauma, addiction, sexual/reproductive health and LBGT2SQ health.

In this episode, we cover:

  • The impact of quarantines and stay-at-home orders, in addition to what neighbourhood you live in, on access to green space
  • How less access to green spaces makes you at higher risk for a number of different health conditions related to stress including :
    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    • Heart disease
    • Diabetes
    • Dementia
    • Migraines
  • The health benefits of just sitting outside for both you and your kids includes:
    • Lower heart rate
    • Increased stress resilience measured through heart rate variability
    • Lower blood pressure
    • Lower cortisol stress hormone level
    • Increased concentration and ability to think clearly
    • Improved eyesight
    • Decreased rumination over negative thoughts
    • More cooperative and compassionate with ourselves and others
  • How your immune system can benefit from smelling the essential oils of the trees, as well as from the vitamin D your body makes from sun exposure
  • The importance of mindfulness and getting away from your daily responsibilities to decrease your level of stress
  • How you experience nature and green spaces is impacted by your sense of nature connected-ness and safety, which can also depend on your sex, gender and racial identity or level of mobility
  • The importance of considering and acknowledging the history of the land you are on and people who have cared for that land
  • How to create your own mindful practice for self-care and self-reflection in nature
    • Five Senses Forest Bathing – use each of your five senses to acknowledge what is around you
  • How nature can provide a place for both self-care and building community

You can order Dr. Cyndi’s books on her website https://cyndigilbert.ca/

You can find Dr. Cyndi on social media (facebook and instagram) @drcyndind or on a hike or in a canoe with her family.

Today’s Mama Must Have:

Dr. Toni is grateful for her neighbourhood park to spend time outside with her family with a ball or bottle of bubbles. 

Dr. Cyndi recommends introducing more green into your life, even if it is as simple as having a potted plant. She always brings a plastic bag and glove to clean up garbage in the green spaces she enjoys.

Thank you for joining us today! 

Email us or connect with us on Facebook and Instagram. We’d love you to subscribe, leave us a review and a 5-star rating if you enjoyed this episode.

Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!

Stay safe everyone!

Episode 29: A Pain in the “Urinary Tract”: All About UTIs

In today’s episode, Dr. Lisa and Dr. Toni talk about urinary tract infections and why they can rear their ugly head during perimenopause.

In this episode, we cover:

  • Different symptoms and causes of urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Why you might have more as you transition into perimenopause and menopause
  • Other health issues that can mimic UTIs
  • The best way to test to see if you have a UTI
  • Strategies for preventing and treating them

Urinary tract infections or bladder infections are the most common reason why women are prescribed an antibiotic. 

Symptoms of urinary tract infections can include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Urgency – you gotta go!
  • Painful burning urination
  • Cloudy urine
  • Blood in your urine or on your toilet paper
  • Cramps, aches, pressure in your lower abdomen
  • Fatigue, malaise, feeling unwell
  • More severe if: fever, chills, flank pain
    • This could mean the infection has traveled to your kidneys!

Genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM):

  • As you transition into menopause, you can have lower levels of estrogen
  • Estrogen receptors throughout your lower genitourinary tract respond by thinning the vaginal and urinary tract lining, decreasing collagen, tissue elasticity and numbers of blood vessels
  • Symptoms can include: 
    • vaginal dryness, irritation, itching, painful sex, diminished lubrication
    • recurrent urinary tract infections, painful urination, urinary frequency and urgency

Do you have a urinary tract infection? It’s important to see your doctor to rule out other issues that can cause similar symptoms like:

  • Painful bladder syndrome or interstitial cystitis
    • A type of chronic pain syndrome with symptoms similar to UTI without infection
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like chlamydia, gonorrhea
  • Vulvovaginitis
  • Irritation from yeast infection in urethra

Testing for Urinary Tract Infections:

  • urine dipstick – provides info about blood, white blood cells, blood in urine, doesn’t confirm or rule out bladder infection, but can raise or lower suspicion by looking at nitrate level, results affected by bladder pain medication phenazopyridine (turns pee orange)
  • urine culture – growing bacteria from urine, more definitive test, takes 1-2 days to get results
  • It’s important to know:
    • Up to 5% of perimenopausal women have bacteria without symptoms (up to 10-15% of postmenopausal women)
    • You might have a UTI but not enough bacteria for culture to show growth
    • Pregnant women and women with recurrent infections (4 or more infections a year) should have urine cultures done

What Causes UTIs in Women?

  • Bacteria, such as: E.Coli (75% or more of cases); other: Klebsiella, Proteus, Staph saprophyticus shorter urethras,
  • Having a shorter urethra, whose opening is close to your vaginal tract and anus as compared to men
  • Wiping back to front: E.coli travels from your intestinal tract to your urinary tract
  • Having frequent intercourse, causing “Honeymoon cystitis” . Sex can irritate the urethra and bacteria from your vaginal tract can get into the urethra, resulting in a UTI
  • Not urinating after sex
  • Taking antibiotics for other infections, which disrupts your microbiome and kills off lactobacillus (your good bacteria)
  • Using oral contraceptives (the birth control pill): can double your risk of developing a UTI!
  • Hormonal imbalances, such as low estrogen
  • Dehydration
  • Genetics
  • Stress 
  • Diabetes (poorly controlled)
  • Increased alcohol and sugar intake
  • Weak immunity 
  • Irritation caused by: personal care products, synthetic fabric underwear or thongs, spermicides on condoms, 
  • Bacterial biofilms: these are the protective layers that bacteria create around themselves that make it hard for antibiotics and antibacterial herbs to penetrate and kill off the bacteria

How can you prevent urinary tract infections? 

  • Increase your water intake
  • Urinate after sex, especially if it’s not a burden
  • Reduce your sugar and alcohol intake
  • Avoid unnecessary antibiotic use to reduce antibiotic resistance
  • Take probiotics
  • Drink unsweetened cranberry juice and take D-mannose if you’re more susceptible to UTIs and you are having more alcohol, sugar, and/or sex (especially on vacation)
  • Support your hormone balance and general immune function

Naturopathic approach to treating acute urinary tract infections includes: 

  • All of the above prevention strategies with increased D-mannose dose
  • Herbal support such as uva ursi, yarrow, garlic, marshmallow, plantain, calendula
  • Biofilm disruptors like NAC, serrapeptase, special enzyme blends
  • Nutrients to support immune function like zinc, vitamin C and D
  • Homeopathy or biotherapeutic drainage
    • For example, staphysagria can be helpful if you also have anger, irritation or feel “pissed off” at someone

If your symptoms are not improving after 48 hours or symptoms get worse, it’s time to consider antibiotics or a new treatment plan with your Naturopathic Doctor.

Today’s Mama Must Have:

Dr. Toni is a fan of having a homemade popsicle mold on hand to make yummy and simple fruit popsicles like Dr. Lisa’s blended watermelon popsicles. 

Dr. Lisa likes adding a superfoods powder for kids to unsweetened coconut yogurt and homemade popsicles to make them even more nutritious.

Thank you for joining us today! 

Email us or connect with us on Facebook and Instagram. We’d love you to subscribe, leave us a review and a 5-star rating if you enjoyed this episode.

Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!

Stay safe everyone!

Episode 28: Supporting Your Child’s Mental Health with Tasha Belix, Psychologist

In today’s episode, Dr. Toni talks with youth and family psychologist and author Tasha Belix about how to support your kids through these challenging times and have tough conversations about mental health, the pandemic, suicide, violence and racism. 

Tasha is the mom of 3 girls and a registered psychologist with over 20 years of advanced training in affective neuroscience, trauma-informed care, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) and emotion-focused family therapy. She is also the co-host of Raising Strong Kids Through Divorce podcast, author of What Do You Do With A Feeling? and founder of B’tween Girls program that builds essential relationship skills, confidence and emotional regulation in girls grade 4-9 through skills based therapy. She has spoken at Lionheart Foundation for girls with anxiety-based issues and Fast and Female Summit for young girls in sports. 

In this episode, we cover:

  • The different coping mechanisms that both you and your kids might automatically adopt when the structure around your life changes
  • How stressful, challenging times can affect your kids’ behaviour including things like sleep and toilet training
  • The importance of normalizing and speaking about how you feel all emotions including grief, sadness and anger
  • How always pushing happiness and striving for high level performance on your kids has a cost 
  • Which hard questions you can ask your kids to learn more about their inner world, giving them an opportunity to share any pain that they are feeling
  • How having a conversation about suicidal thoughts will not plant a seed in your kid if it’s not already there
  • The first place you can go when you are concerned about your kids’ mental health (hint: it’s your family doctor)
  • Tasha’s mental health recipe for everyone each day to take care of your:
    • Head – mindful activity like playing in a sandbox, sitting on your yoga mat, writing a poem, listening to music, looking out at nature
    • Heart – connecting to another human being in real life with eye contact and voice (not texting!), even if it’s only with the barista at Starbucks
    • Body – moving to sweat and release your stress hormone cortisol and feel good endorphins
  • How to know if you and your kids are super-feelers
  • The importance of moving your feelings through your body and looking for silver linings to step through depression and feel more happy
  • Using the pandemic as an opportunity to have conversations with your kids (with curiosity and love) around what they know, think and feel about what is going on in the world around the pandemic, racism and police brutality, as well as what it may feel like to be “the other”


Tasha Belix to connect with Tasha and find more resources for your kids’ mental health

Common Sense Media for parents and educators

Something Happened in Our Town book read on YouTube

Something Happened In Our Town Animated on YouTube

Today’s Mama Must Have:

Dr. Toni recommends having a family doctor that you can connect with, share your struggles honestly and provide information on mental health resources in your area.

Tasha recommends taking some time for yourself so you can step back from your care-taking role as a parent or at work and give yourself a daily dose of care for yourself and your soul. It’s necessary, and not selfish. It could look like going for a walk by yourself, getting back to a place of worship or even simply reflecting on 3 good things that happened before your head hits the pillow at the end of the day. She provides Facebook Live videos for more self-care tips.

Thank you for joining us today! 

Email us or connect with us on Facebook and Instagram. We’d love you to subscribe, leave us a review and a 5-star rating if you enjoyed this episode.

Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!

Stay safe everyone!