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About one in eight women in the United States, about 12 percent, will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime, according to BreastCancer.org. Early detection is key to catching breast cancer before it spreads to help boost survival rates.

A mammogram is an X-ray of breast tissue that's used to detect breast cancer. Traditionally, mammograms are taken two dimensionally. They produce flat black-and-white pictures that a doctor can look at on screen.

The 3D mammogram test takes multiple photographs of the breast from different angles. Three-dimensional mammograms can be used with a 2D mammogram or alone. This test, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, can give a clearer and more dimensional image.

Benefits
Standard mammograms are effective at detecting breast cancer. But, combining a 3D mammogram with a 2D one offers some advantages. It can reduce the need for follow-up images. It can detect slightly more cancers than a 2D one alone. Studies indicate that combining a 3D mammogram with a standard mammogram can result in about one more breast cancer diagnosis for every 1,000 women screened when compared with a standard mammogram alone. And it improves breast cancer detection in dense breast tissue since the 3D image lets doctors see beyond areas of density.  

Disadvantages
A 3D mammogram is a safe procedure. However, because a 3D mammogram is usually combined with a standard mammogram, the level of radiation may be greater than a standard mammogram alone, says the Mayo Clinic. Some newer 3D mammogram machines can create both 3D and 2D images at the same time, which lowers the amount of radiation.

Cost
Still, cost is one of the main reasons that deter people from getting the 3D mammography. A 2D test is often covered in full, considered part of preventative care. But, for a 3-D mammography, insurance may not cover all the cost or make you reach your deductible first. In fact, cost is one of the biggest misconceptions about 3D mammograms. "The biggest lie to me on mammography issues is the myth that if a woman has dense breasts, her test will be covered. That is simply not true. It technically may be covered," says Mary Jane Minkin, MD, a gynecologist who practices at Temple Medical Center in New Haven, Connecticut. "But it goes to the woman's deductible. And since many women never meet their deductible that will be several hundred dollars out of her pocket."

A 3D mammogram also may identify an abnormality that, after additional tests, turns out not to be cancer—to be benign or consistent with normal tissue. That's known as a false-positive result, and it can cause unneeded anxiety if you undergo additional imaging and testing, such as a biopsy, to further assess the suspicious area. Plus, that's all done at an extra cost for you, too. "Unfortunately, as with many medical tests, there are false positives," says Dr. Minkin. "It requires workup. Fortunately, most of the time the finding is benign. But the workup isn't automatically covered. So you may end up paying for these extra tests out of pocket."

Medicare will not cover a 3D mammogram. They'll only cover a mammogram if it's a yearly, routine screening, though. They won't cover it if it's diagnostic, which is what a 3D mammogram is considered. Under the Affordable Care Act, breast cancer mammography screenings are covered every one to two years for women over 40. But three-D mammograms aren't part of coverage at this time.

Some states mandate that insurers cover 3D mammograms and others don't. Contact your health insurance provider to find out your plan's specific coverage.

Regardless of what method you choose, be sure to get a mammogram screening annually. It's the best way to catch breast cancer before it spreads.

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Let's just say you are around the age of menopause and begin to notice a few stray hairs growing where they don't belong.

Then, seemingly overnight, your face becomes fertile ground for hair, sprouting an abundance from ear to chin to upper lip.

Fueling that growth: Changing hormone levels (surprise!) of estrogen and androgen. "High on the list of menopausal characteristics is an increase in facial hair," says David Shafer, MD. Shafer, a New York City certified plastic surgeon, has a burgeoning practice where he treats a diverse clientele, including many menopausal women with this precise concern.

While it might be true that we grow wiser as we grow older, but no one wants to grow hair where it doesn't belong. Let's keep the peach fuzz where it belongs—on the fruit.

Here are some wise solutions to turn a hairy issue into a manageable one.

For when you want to tackle it yourself

Tweeze. An old wives' tale: A plucked hair will make more hairs grow and grow in thicker to boot. But this is true: While plucking will temporarily remove stray hairs, it can cause ingrown hairs or folliculitis (acne-like bumps).

Bleach. If your hair is dark and coarse, bleaching can make it less noticeable. Be prepared to stick to a weekly or biweekly schedule to stay ahead of the game.

Wax. A good option at-home (or in-salon) for some, but if your skin is too thin (skin can thin during menopause), it might cause it to tear and bleed. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) also warns to avoid this method if your skin is sunburned or very sensitive, and if you use creams containing retinoids, avoid them two to five days before waxing. Waxing will give you one to three weeks of hair-free skin.

Shave. While it might not seem "ladylike," why not give it a try? At least we know it's an effective way to whisk the hairs away. Rumor has it that Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor both shaved their faces, and their skin was beautiful because of it. (Shaving is exfoliating without the grittiness, encouraging new cells to the surface of your skin.) Consider one of these products from Panasonic, Wahl or Dermaflash or many others on the market. And don't believe the rumor that shaving will make facial hair grow back darker and thicker—it won't. Shaving is also known as "dermaplaning." Read more about Shaving Face: The Truth About Facial Hair.

Remove. Depilatory gels and creams break down the chemical bond in the hair follicle, thus weakening them so they can then be rubbed away. But use caution if your skin is sensitive (they can irritate or burn), and if you're looking for long-term results you're out of luck: at most, you'll get a week or two.

Prescribe. A prescription known as eflornithine (Vaniqua), a cream that is applied topically, can slow the growth of facial hair. But the hair won't slow down overnight. It can take up to eight weeks to see results.

Ignore. Some women aren't bothered by facial hair, or it's so pale that it isn't that visible. If this is you, that's great! You'll save a lot of time and money.

Let a professional do it

Electrolysis. This procedure (which isn't used much anymore) destroys the hair follicle using a chemical or thermal injury. Because each follicle is targeted individually and the procedure must be done weekly, it can be costly and time-consuming. The other possible downside is that it could leave you with larger pores.

Dermaplaning. Yes, you can do it at home, but many medical practices to this, too. There are many ways to customize dermaplaning, explains Shafer. "Fun add-ons or combination treatments may include masks, boosters or lasers to help boost skin clarity, texture and discoloration."

Laser. A laser is used to damage the hair follicle and, in turn, slow hair growth. The AAD says to be wary of any business that claims laser will work on blond, white, gray or red hair—it won't. Yet, it can work on all skin types (in the past, people with dark skin were discouraged from having it), "as long as there's a contrast between your skin and hair color." The caveat: Darker-skin individuals are more prone to burns and hyperpigmentation, so make sure the person treating you has experience with darker skin tones.

Although laser hair removal is permanent on most areas of the body, the exception is the face, which has a different cycle of growth. Multiple sessions are required to target all the hair follicles while they're in the growing phase, says Shafer.

Note: Laser devices sold for at-home use cannot be used for facial hair; they're for below-the-neck areas only.

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If you find yourself pushing too hard, stopped up, clogged, unable to go (or whatever you like to call it), it may be a by-product of menopause. When going gets tough, the tough can't always get going.

I think it's constipation, but I'm not sure. What is the definition, exactly?

Constipation is defined as having fewer than three bowel movements a week; having hard, dry stools; feeling as if you haven't completely eliminated and/or doing a lot of straining when you try to go.

So, what is it about menopause and not being able to go?

Constipation becomes increasingly common around menopause. And, in general, it's more of a woman's problem than a man's (in case you hadn't noticed).

Has anyone mentioned hormones?

Well, yes. The connection begins to make sense when you consider that constipation is more common during pregnancy, during your menstrual cycle, and then again, during menopause. What they all have in common is hormones. The alterations of estrogen may be responsible, according to research, which finds that "ovarian hormones influence gastrointestinal function because estrogen receptors have been found in the gastric and small intestinal mucosa."

Translate, please?

Female hormones can affect a lot of things—we already know that. They can latch onto receptors in your gut and, hence, affect your digestive tract, causing your colon to slow down. Voila: constipation.

Other things that might mess with your regularity include diabetes, an overactive parathyroid gland, pregnancy or an underactive thyroid. Find out about 5 Surprising Constipation Triggers.

So, now what?

The good news is that it's not hopeless; you have some control over it. Paying attention to things like diet, exercise and everyday habits could make a big difference. Learn more about How to Deal With Constipation.

Let's talk about diet.

Certain foods can cause constipation. For many people, it can be cheese, high-fat meats, dairy products and eggs. Rich desserts and gooey, sugary sweets can plug you up as well.

Also pay attention to fiber: Many of us aren't getting enough of it. You need fiber to bulk up your stools so they can pass more easily through your intestines. It's recommended that women 50 and older get at least 21 grams each day. (Consider that the average American consumes only about 13 grams a day, and you can figure out why lots of people are constipated.) You need both soluble fiber (which draws water into your stools) and insoluble fiber (which adds bulk to your stools) to prevent constipation.

Let's talk specifics.

Especially high in fiber (as well as a ton of healthy nutrients) are something called "pulses," which are beans, lentils, chickpeas and peas.

Prunes (and prune juice), as we all know, are associated with helping constipation. Dried fruits like apricots and figs are also high in fiber. Also valuable are wheat bran, broccoli, apples, grapes, pears and kiwis.

And you can't go wrong with whole wheat breads, cereals and pastas, as well as olive and flaxseed oils.

Don't forget to drink plenty of water. Dehydration is the cause of constipation in many cases. Water is important, because it helps add that essential hydration to your stools.

What other lifestyle things should I look into?

Posture. There's research to show that tweaking it can help, because it changes the angle of things, allowing your pelvic floor to relax, allowing waste to pass more easily. Think the posture of Rodin's famous sculpture, "The Thinker." That is, sitting leaning forward while resting your elbows on your knees. You can also achieve something similar by placing your feet directly in front of you onto a small step-stool. That puts your body at that all-important 90-degree angle.

Coffee. Can't go until that morning cup? That's because caffeine doesn't just wake up your brain, it stimulates the contractions of the muscles in your gastrointestinal tract. However, it's not always about the coffee itself, but more about the habit: Drinking or eating anything first thing in the morning can helps jump-start your gastrocolic reflex (meaning, it starts a series of tummy contractions to get things moving).

What if my diet is already good, and I get enough exercise? What else could be getting in the way of my movements?

Don't hold back the urge to poop. Granted it may not always be convenient or desirable, but holding it in for too long can backfire and make you not go at all. If you can, try to create a regular schedule of bathroom visits.

Check your meds. Some medications can cause constipation. Among these are drugs that treat depression and antacids that contain aluminum or calcium. Certain allergy medications (antihistamines) and painkillers can do it, along with drugs used to treat high blood pressure and Parkinson's disease. Add to the list sedatives, diuretics, iron supplements and anti-inflammatories.

There are also certain medical conditions that might contribute to constipation, like stroke, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome or an intestinal blockage.

Use laxatives cautiously. They can be helpful, yes. But they can be overused and actually backfire. If you use them too often, your body may become dependent on them and stop being able to function on its own by decreasing your colon's ability to contract.

Kinder, gentler natural laxatives you might want to consider include castor oil, senna tea, aloe vera and magnesium citrate supplements or those that contain psyllium or methylcellulose, such as Metamucil or Citrucel.

So, when should I see a health care professional about my problem?

Contact your health care professional if:

  • You have a sudden change in your bowel movements

  • There's blood in your stool

  • You have severe stomach pain

  • You're losing weight without trying

  • All other anti-constipation measures fail

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By Nicole Kwan

When it comes to overactive bladder, women have a particularly hard time getting their physicians to address their symptoms. If your health care provider says everything "looks good" and your urine tests are clear, the issue tends to get dismissed.

"There are other things that patients come in with that health care providers find to be more pressing — blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, vascular health, asthma. By the time they get to the bladder, they say, ‘Let's just see how you do,' or push it off," says Elizabeth Kavaler, M.D., urogynecologist, urologist, and managing partner of Total Urology Care of New York in New York City..

If your health care provider doesn't acknowledge that you may have an overactive bladder, it only adds to the embarrassment and feeling like you should suffer in silence. It's common for women to buy pads in secret and hide their symptoms from their spouses and families.

"A lot of women will have [overactive bladder] but it won't be validated by a health care provider," Kavaler says, adding that patients are often told to hold it, that there's nothing wrong with them.

Don't downplay your symptoms, especially because they're likely affecting your mental, sexual, and emotional health. Your health care provider should address them or refer you to someone who can. If he doesn't, go elsewhere, Kavaler says.

"It's really common that women have to go to another health care provider; you may want to see a urologist or gynecologist. You have to see somebody who's interested in managing the problem," Kavaler says. "Not every health care provider is created equal. You've got to find a health care provider you connect with, who validates your symptoms and tries to help you."

It can be embarrassing, but it's important to tell your health care provider if you have the following symptoms and if they're disturbing your quality of life:

  • Urgency: Do you often feel sudden, strong need to urinate?

  • Frequency: Do you urinate over eight times in a 24-hour period?

  • Incontinence: Do you involuntarily urinate when you feel the sudden urge to go?

  • Nocturia: Do you wake up at least two times a night to urinate?

Beyond those guidelines, reflect on whether you've dealt with any of the following:

  • Stressing over travel because you have to pack pads and won't know where bathrooms are located.

  • Hiding your symptoms from your spouse and not wanting to have sex because your bladder is uncomfortable or you feel unclean.

  • Forgoing drinking water, even when you're thirsty, because you're worried about incontinence.

  • Getting up from the table multiple times during dinner with friends.

"If you think you have a problem, you have a problem," Kavaler says. "See someone who can help you sort through it."

This resource was created with support from Astellas.

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As you may have noticed, products with CBD are now touted for all sorts of conditions, including pain relief (for fibromyalgia, for example), anxiety, depression, insomnia, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and cancer. But how effective is CBD, what risks are associated with using CBD and why are we suddenly seeing it advertised and sold everywhere? (For example, this flag has appeared outside a small pharmacy across the street from where I live.) Many important questions do not yet have answers.

The proliferation of CBD products is an important women's health issue for several reasons. First, chronic pain is a concern for many women – it's the focus of HealthyWomen first scientific summit, Chronic Pain in Women, on July 17 and 18. Second, as a fat-soluble compound, CBD (like THC), crosses the placenta, and is present in breast milk. And third, it is possible that CBD products could cause a woman to fail a drug test. (If a CBD product contains THC (the chemical in marijuana that causes a "high") above the 0.3% threshold allowed under the new federal law, or a drug test is sensitive enough to detect low levels of THC, an individual could test positive. Likewise, if an individual has used a lot CBD products containing low levels of THC, or if a test is specifically looking for CBD, a positive drug test is possible.)

What is CBD?

CBD is cannabidiol, one of many compounds found in the cannabis family of plants, which includes marijuana and hemp. Products containing CBD can be "pure" (if it is the single compound), or it can be "full spectrum" when they contain all the compounds extracted from the plant material, (i.e., hemp), and some products many indicate "active hemp extract" without mentioning CBD.

Why All the CBD Products Now?

The manufacturing and sale of CBD products have exploded since a December 2018 federal law removed CBD from the list of controlled substances and allowed hemp production, as long as the hemp doesn't contain more than 0.3% THC.

What Might CBD Be Good For?

So, what might CBD good for? The FDA has approved a medicine with CBD (Epidoliex®) for two very rare forms of childhood epilepsy. Some of the advertised CBD products tout benefits for neurological conditions, which may be based on research showing CBD interacts with certain types of neuroreceptors, and some limited clinical data. This information was summarized in a 2017 report from the National Academy of Medicine: "The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids." However, CBD (like its psychoactive cousin THC) has not been rigorously studied outside of the clinical trials for the FDA-approved medicine, and most of the claims about CBD are based upon anecdotes or poorly conducted investigations. What this means for women's health is that there are significant unknowns and many questions still to be researched.

The FDA is moving forward with developing rules about CBD. A hearing was held in late May, but it is unclear how long it will take FDA to develop and implement new regulations. (See the FDA's Q&A page about CBD, related products and its regulatory activities here.) In this regulatory void, some states have enacted rules about how CBD products can be sold, marketed, or labeled.

Until the FDA acts, CBD products (with the exception of Epidoliex®) are not being regulated as prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins or as foods, (including dietary supplements). Therefore, adding CBD to any of those products is in violation of federal rules. Because of potential risks to consumers, the FDA has sent warning letters to some companies selling CBD products, particularly when claims are made about the CBD product as if it were a medicine, such as a treatment for cancer or other medical conditions.

Using CBD products rather than FDA-approved or physician-prescribed treatments is another risk associated with the proliferation of CBD products. As the FDA Commissioner wrote about CBD products in April 2019, "We also don't want patients to forgo appropriate medical treatment by substituting unapproved products for approved medicines used to prevent, treat, mitigate or cure a particular disease or condition."

Safety and Quality Concerns

The major safety and quality concerns about CBD products can be divided into a few categories:

  1. The good news is that there doesn't seem to be many direct side-effects of CBD for most people – although the clinical trials for Epidoliex® found some patients developed liver problems. However, outside of the studies on children with rare forms of epilepsy, large well conducted trials are limited, which especially raises concerns about health effects from long-term use. For women with chronic conditions and taking prescription medicines (including birth control pills), the unknown side effects and drug-drug interactions could be particularly important.

  2. Quality, dosing and contamination issues are also serious concerns. How CBD is manufactured or purified is important because different extraction and purification methods produce different mixtures of compounds. Also, extraction from cannabis plant material has traditionally been done using butane or propane, which can leave petroleum residues in the final product. There are potentially other quality and safety problems that can arise in manufacturing – particularly when there is so little oversight or regulations. Specifically, researchers have found CBD products can contain THC, pesticides, lead or other heavy metals. The lack of data also means there is great uncertainty about what appropriate dosage levels might be for particular people or for different uses. And, of course, accurate dosing is a problem when quality control is inconsistent, i.e., how do you know how much CBD you are receiving, if the manufacturer may not be certain about the concentration of CBD in their products.

  3. And why is CBD being added to foods (both for humans and pets) despite this violating FDA regulations because CBD is an active ingredient in an approved medicine? Maybe it is trendy and sounds like a great new thing? Or maybe it is a revenue-driven marketing strategy that is leveraging off state laws allowing the legalization (and taxation) of medical and recreational marijuana – despite marijuana still being illegal under Federal law.

Conclusions about CBD for Women's Health: Buyer Beware

The bottom line is that you likely can get CBD oil, capsules or foods where you live, but are there possible harms? Yes. But what these harms may be is still largely unknown. Therefore, until there are clear rules about the types of CBD products that can be sold and quality manufacturing requirements, including the information that manufacturers and sellers must make available (perhaps similar to the labels on foods or for OTC medicines), what is appropriate dosing, and of course, what CBD might actually be good for, it is "buyer beware."

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Your milestone birthday—the half-century mark—is fast approaching. If you've been paying attention to your health, then this big birthday shouldn't be a big deal.

But don't worry if you've put your health by the wayside at times. We've all slipped up a bit. Still, it's never too late to get on the path to good health. That way you'll avoid health problems later in life and can sail into your 50s with a strong body and mind. 

Here are some health choices women should make by age 50.

Consider scheduling breast screenings.
Breast cancer screenings can be confusing and scary. Experts agree that detecting breast cancer early offers a better outlook, but when to start screenings and how often to have them has changed repeatedly. That leads many women in their 40s to just put off the screenings. 

The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that women ages 45 to 54 get mammograms every year. Women ages 40 to 44 can choose to get mammograms if they wish. However, the United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends that women 50 to 74 who are at average risk for breast cancer get a mammogram every two years. It recommends women should weigh the benefits and risks of screening tests when deciding whether to get mammograms before age 50.

For women with an average risk of developing breast cancer, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends a yearly mammogram starting at age 40. If you haven't started screening in your 40s, you should begin getting screening mammographies no later than age 50 years. 

Most groups agree that every woman should get an individualized screening schedule after talking about her personal and family health histories with her health care professional. Women with a parent, sibling or child with breast cancer are candidates to start earlier screenings and to possibly also have an annual breast MRI. It's also important to know whether you have dense breasts and, if so, what type of mammography (such as 3D imaging) is best for you.

2. Get a colonoscopy.
For years, the ACS and other medical groups have advised people with an average risk of colon and rectal cancer to begin screening at age 50. Earlier screening has been reserved for people at increased risk. 

However, most people should now begin colorectal cancer screening at age 45, according to guidelines that were spurred by the rising rate of the disease among younger Americans. An ACS study found that since the mid-1990s, colon cancer rates among Americans aged 20 to 54 have been steadily inching up, by between 0.5 percent and 2 percent each year. Someone born in 1990 now has twice the risk of colon cancer and four times the risk of rectal cancer as someone born in 1950, the new report noted. The risks of screening, meanwhile, are low. Those hazards include, rarely, puncturing of the colon wall or significant bleeding. Here is how to prepare for a colonoscopy.

3. Remember birth control.
Yes, fertility does decline with age. But if you don't want to get pregnant and you're sexually active, avoid an unintended pregnancy. You're still at risk for getting pregnant until you reach menopause. If you're not using a birth control method, talk with your gynecologist about the right one for you.

Healthy women over 35 can safely use oral contraception, as long as they don't smoke, have normal blood pressure and have no history of cardiovascular disease. In fact, you can keep using it until age 50. Other estrogen-based birth control options include a vaginal ring, which is inserted into the vagina or a skin patch embedded with hormones.

Progestogen options include injections and hormone-releasing intrauterine devices (IUDs). All use the hormone progestogen for long-term prevention of pregnancy. 

Copper IUDs, spermicides, the sponge, diaphragms, cervical caps and condoms provide protection without hormones. 

3. Keep on or start exercising.
We all know that exercise yields tons of benefits. It can help stave off or manage chronic disease like diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis and heart disease. Still, a study found that 31 million Americans (28 percent) 50 and older are inactive. 

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that you get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity (brisk walking, swimming) or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity (running, aerobic dancing) a week, or a combination of both. Muscle mass and strength decreases as we age. To build muscle mass and muscle strength, fit in strength-training exercises at least two times a week for all major muscle groups. Find out ways to stay motivated.

Sitting less is important, too. Sitting too much can be detrimental to your health and longevity, even if you get enough daily physical activity.

Any activity is better than none. Even brief bouts of activity offer benefits. If you can't fit in one 30-minute walk during the day, try a few five-minute walks instead. Make regular physical activity part of your lifestyle. 

4. Screen for diabetes.
Experts recommend routine testing for type 2 diabetes if you're age 45 or older. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. If you have type 2 diabetes, your body doesn't use insulin properly. At first, your pancreas makes extra insulin to make up for it. But, over time it's unable to keep up and can't make enough insulin to keep your blood glucose at normal levels.

5. Visit the eye doctor
Beginning in the early to mid-40s, some people may start to have difficulty seeing clearly at close distances, especially when working on the computer or reading. This normal change in the eye's focusing ability will continue to progress over time, says the American Optometric Association. You may need bifocals or multifocal lenses (if you already wear prescription glasses or contact lenses) to help your vision.

Other common age-related vision changes include needing more light to see, problems with glare (such as you see extra glare from headlights at night), less tear production (often true for women undergoing hormone changes) or difficulty distinguishing between certain color shades. An exam at an optometry office can help detect these changes and eye disease, like glaucoma or cataracts.

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It's hard to put into words what it feels like to lose a parent. The death of a parent can profoundly impact your life whether you were BFFs, estranged or something in between. The passing might impact your living situation or financial stability. It can make you feel sad, angry, alone, scared, shocked, depressed or guilty. Here are some tips to help you cope with grieving the death of a parent.

Know you're not alone.
You may feel afraid and isolated. Still, many other people have gone through the same experience. Yes, it may be one of the most difficult things you'll ever deal with. But it will get easier. Surround yourself with loved ones who make you happy. Ask for those who knew your parent for stories to keep her/his memory alive. Read about 10 things about you that change when you lose your parents.

Take your time.
Don't try to rush through the grieving process just because you think you should've moved past it already. No fixed timeline or cut-off point exists for the grieving process. For example, a reminder of the loss can reignite the grieving process. Be patient. Embrace and acknowledge your emotions. Don't feel like you have to move on or get over your feelings.

Be aware that sadness will come and go.
It's normal for your feelings to come in waves. Sometimes you'll feel low. And other times just fine. Push through the low times by remembering your strength. Talk about your feelings with others so they know what's going on. People want to support you but they likely just don't know how or don't want to bring up feelings and upset you.

Do things your way.
Some days will be harder than others like holidays, birthdays and anniversaries. Think about how you want to honor your parents on these days. Create new rituals or participate in traditions. You may just want celebrate his life, light a candle, tell stories. Remembering the good times can make it easier to cope on these days. Regardless, observe these days in a way that is comfortable for you.

Grieve in a way that's best for you.
How you handle your loss is unique to you. There's no one particular way to grieve. How your friend dealt with a similar situation or how your sister is coping with the death of your mom may differ from your grieving process. And that's ok.

It's ok not to cry.
While a death can bring up fond memories, it can also conjure painful ones. Your last memory may have been a bad one or maybe you had a complicated relationship. Regardless, it's common not to cry. You may just want to shut down feelings that are too overwhelming to deal with.

Talk it out.
If you're having a particularly hard time, consider getting professional therapy from a grief counselor. It's a safe space where you can talk about your emotions with a third-party listener. Or try support groups, where you can connect with others going through the same thing. These methods of support can give you the tools to deal with what's going on.

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Our mouths are very busy. Between all the chewing, spewing, grinding and other demands we put upon our oral cavity, problems can happen, like bad breath and more. It's not just about a pretty smile.

Here are some great ways to keep your mouth in good working order and how to avoid bad breath!

For when you are afraid you're offending those closest to you

It's not always a matter of being self-aware or covering up bad breath by popping a mint. Sometimes you have to get swishy and use some good mouthwash. This one by Listerine kills bacteria without a drop of alcohol and without drying out your mouth (both a dry mouth and bacteria are often culprits behind bad breath). Learn more about the connection between bad breath and menopause.

For when you're on the go and can't brush

Chances are good that once in a while (OK, maybe more than that), you're eating on the go, without access to a sink where you can properly clean your teeth. And while you know you should brush after every meal (or at least twice each day), you can't always follow this golden rule. Carry these preloaded, disposable mini brushes and brush surreptitiously on a plane, on a train, on a date or in a tent—and emerge with gleaming pearly whites.

For when there's some food stuck

Ugh, isn't it the worst when you have spinach stuck between your teeth (and no one tells you)? Slip away to "powder your nose" and carry these gentle dental picks with you. In addition to removing the offending food particles, they give your gums a nice, gentle massage.

For when you want healthy gums

Floss, floss, floss. That's what dentists tell you, and that's what you may (or may not) be doing. Flossing once a day helps dislodge errant food particles, reduce food decay and eliminate sticky bacteria (aka, plaque), which can cause gum disease. Here's a primer in doing it right, and here's a no-brainer type if you hate to floss. Tip: It's best to use floss before you brush, rather than after.

For when you want to give your tongue equal time

Consider a tongue scraper. That's because your tongue can also harbor harmful bacteria, which contribute to decay, gum infections and bad breath. After brushing, flossing and rinsing, run the scraper over the surface of your tongue once or twice—a quick and simple way to get a squeaky-clean mouth.

For when you need a quick spritz

Stash this in a pocket or makeup bag for a burst of freshness when your breath tastes anything but. It comes in peppermint or spearmint—or, if you'd rather not spray, you can chew on the real thing.

For when your mouth is dry, and you just can't take it anymore

Age and certain foods and medications can slow our saliva production, leading to dry mouth, which can cause bad breath and other oral woes. These lozenges help moisturize the tissues of your mouth while freshening your breath with their minty flavor. An added plus: They contain xylitol, which helps kill bacteria, often a byproduct of dry mouth.

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Everyone just seems so happy in the summertime. Besides the fact that it's warm out, people get to spend time in green spaces and nature. Even a few minutes outdoors offers respite from the craziness of daily life. It promotes lower stress levels and offers other positive health benefits. That's what we call the nature effect!

A study published in Frontiers in Psychology asked participants to spend time in a place that brings a sense of contact with nature for at least 10 minutes per outing, three times per week, for eight weeks. The 36 participants could freely decide where and when they spent their time in nature. They couldn't use phones or internet-connected devices to browse social media or the internet. They couldn't make calls or read during their time outside. Their nature experiences couldn't include aerobic exercises. So, when they went to the place they chose, they actually had to feel connected to nature. You might sit next to a tree and just be with it. Or you might go to a city park, free of the noise of traffic.

People who spent at least 20 minutes per outing in a nature experience had a significant decrease in their levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Study authors said they envision a low-cost (even free) “nature pill” that physicians can offer to their patients. And that pill is time spent outside. Researchers know that going into the wilderness might relax one person while terrify another who just wants to decompress in an urban park. So, they want doctors to tell their patients to go where they feel most connected to the outdoors.

How to get some nature into your day
Thirty minutes a week in nature may not be doable for you. You may be unable to easily get to a green space or able to commit to that much time. Here are a few easy and practical ways to integrate nature into your life.

Get some sun. Fifteen minutes of sunlight a day can increase your vitamin D levels and help ease anxiety. Even being in the shade helps. You'll feel peaceful being surrounded by stillness instead of getting reminders of what needs to be done.

Lie on the grass and soak in the sun (wearing sunscreen, of course). Basking in nature can lift your mood and reduce stress.

Plant a tree, vegetable garden or flowers. Nature makes you feel more alive, happier and creative.

Sit near a window and stare at the stars. Don't forget that nature isn't just for the daytime. Take it in at night, too.

Go for a walk alone or with a buddy. Walking can calm your brain without taxing your body. It can boost your mood and feel meditative. That's not to mention the fact it doesn't cost a penny.

Buy some fresh flowers to display on your desk or kitchen table. The smell and the sight of the floral arrangement can revive your senses.

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Natalie Hayden is a #teamHealthyWomen Contributor and this post is part of HealthyWomen's Real Women, Real Stories series.

Hey IBD mamas and moms-to-be—this article is for you! I wanted to share 5 of my "life hacks" for taking on motherhood while living with IBD.

As a mom of a 2-year-old and an almost 4-month-old, I'm in the thick of motherhood right now. While it's an amazing season of life, it definitely has its challenges. A toddler, a baby, and a chronic illness. Ah, I'm exhausted just reading that myself! While it's far from easy, I've found some ways to help embrace the ups and downs and everything in between. 

Here are my 5 helpful tips for IBD moms: 

1.  Don't be afraid to ask for help.

By verbalizing your pain and communicating openly with family and friends, you open yourself up to a network of support. Don't try and be a martyr or a superhero. In the end, the only person you are hurting is yourself. A few hours to yourself will do wonders for your psyche, you'll feel rejuvenated and refreshed and you'll be a better mom because of it.

2. Stay on top of daily disease maintenance: your medication, your doctor appointments, blood tests, and annual scopes. 

Moms have a reputation for putting themselves on the bottom of the totem pole. When it comes to chronic illness, a lapse in taking medication and managing your illness can set you up for a flare-up. No one wants to be hospitalized or deal with pain. Give yourself the best chance for having feel-good days and make your disease management a priority. If you feel symptoms presenting and you're concerned, alert your GI immediately. Be proactive, nip each flare in the bud as best you can. 

3. Busy boxes for the win!

Once you have a toddler—or more than one child, these are lifesavers! Look up ideas on Pinterest and create boxes to keep your little one busy when your fatigue is overwhelming or when you're in a lot of pain. I went to Hobby Lobby, Michael's and Target and created fun boxes for Reid—filled with everything from puzzles to coloring books to sensory activities with noodles. I made a busy box for each day of the week. You can do so very economically!

4. Practice self-care as often as possible.

Yes, I know. Self-care. We hear it all the time. It's something that's constantly talked about, that seems unattainable. But try and do something each day for yourself, whether it's taking a shower, eating a meal sitting down, going for a walk outdoors with your little one and keeping your phone on silent, or reading a book before bed. Try and find the moments in your day when you can unplug and relax. Practice yoga and meditate during nap time instead of doing the dishes or laundry. You owe it to yourself! 

5. Give yourself grace. 

Motherhood is an incredible experience, but it's not easy. Add chronic illness to the mix and it becomes even more difficult. Don't beat yourself up on the days you aren't feeling well and need to stay indoors and lay low. Stop comparing yourself to the mom who seems to have it all together on social media. We all know we have hot mess moments—that's life. Focus on all the happiness and joy you bring to your little ones life. You are their world. You were given this role and this family because you were meant to have it and you were destined to live this life. 

Bonus Tip! Wear your baby. Baby wearing will do wonders for your joints and your wellbeing. Not only does baby love being close to you, it helps give you a bit of a break whether you're out and about or at home.

I commend every woman for their efforts. You are remarkable. You are a warrior. You are a guiding light for your loved ones. And you deserve to be celebrated for all that you do, day in and day out. 

A version of this article originally appeared on Lights Camera Crohn's.

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