Part 3: Women’s Health Isn’t Just About Fertility – Engaging FemTech in Your 50s & Beyond
For a long time, women’s health research primarily focused on fertility. It wasn’t until recently that this research expanded past the reproductive years, and began to dive into maintaining women’s health beyond just giving birth.
By 51 years of age, many women have already gone through menopause. Many women over 50 experience heart disease, chronic pain, cognitive decline, diabetes, weight gain, and their level of independence. Most importantly, women want to thrive beyond just mere prescription medications and doctor visits.
So, I wanted to take some time to address FemTech in relation to this stage of life. How can technology and innovation serve you? What should you focus on when it comes to optimizing your health and wellness past 50? How can femtech and now new evolving terms-“femaging” help in the emerging femhealth space?
The Top 4 FemTech Aspects You Should Consider
1. Technology to Address Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
Pelvic floor dysfunction is a common issue for women over 50. About 24% of women experience pelvic floor issues. And this increases with age, with 40% of women between 60 to 79 years of age and 50% of women over 80 experiencing pelvic floor disorders (1).
A weakened pelvic floor can lead to:
- Urinary incontinence
- Back pain
- Discomfort during sex
All in all, most women would rather not experience any of the above. Yet, even if you are experiencing these symptoms, there is help. First up, health professionals, such as pelvic health physical therapists, can help you understand what exercises you can do to strengthen this area and create modified techniques to best serve you.
Additionally, FemTech is beginning to start to address these common problems, helping you strengthen your pelvic floor while leveraging technology. The Elvie Trainer is an award-winning kegel trainer that claims you can get results in as little as four weeks. It even measures force and motion, helping you make incremental improvements and solving one of the biggest issues facing women over 50. But it’s not the only option available. The Elitone device provides gentle, low pulse frequencies that tone your pelvic floor muscles throughout your day. Attain and Pelvital are also other options, FDA approved, for urinary incontinence. Inevitably, technology is opening a ton of doors for women struggling with common issues after 50. Consequently, many women now have access to various options beyond surgery, allowing you to take more control of your health – all with accessible and easy-to-use tools and resources.
In fact, 26% of African-American women between 40 and 65 years of age indicate that managing incontinence is crucial for them. Strengthening your pelvic floor can help in this regard. In fact, the Elvie Trainer offers a viable solution and option when compared to Depends or Poise underwear. This has opened up avenues for other products geared to meeting the needs in this market place.
2. Anti-Aging & Longevity
Anti-aging and longevity is attached to all of what we talked about above and throughout this article. But I wanted to explore this a little more in its own section.
After menopause, there is a reduction in significant sex hormones that have multiple roles in our body. Let’s face it, it’s all about being more intentional with what you put in your body, what you do, and using technology to bridge any gaps. As science advances in the field of understanding our longevity genes and sirtuins (proteins involved in metabolic regulation and longevity), we can capitalize on not only the effects of aging, but how we age. Research indicates that longevity genes aid in more efficient DNA repair, contributing to increased longevity (2).
It’s interesting to know that cells that have completed their life cycle in our body actually can control how we age if our body doesn’t properly get rid of them. It’s like hanging on to old trash or garbage in our system that can affect the healthy cells around them. These cells are called senescent cells. In the age of emerging products that affect femhealth, senolytics or natural compounds can help address this problem with potential solutions. In other words, leveraging more modern approaches to address anti-aging effects and combat chronic disease. There is even early reported research regarding how this may affect the impact of mortality with COVID (3).
While the older generation might get a bad rap for its use of technology, I encourage you to employ it in your daily life and to learn the ins and outs, as well as how it can benefit you.
For example, a Harvard study spanning over 80 years concluded that genes do matter for health, happiness, and longevity, yet what’s more important is community and meaningful relationships (4). Spend time connecting with your loved ones. This can truly be the best medicine for your body and mind.
Taking this a step further, use technology, such as Zoom, Facebook, FaceTime and more, to connect with friends and family from afar. It’s available, and it’s free. Why not use every tool in your toolkit to strengthen and deepen those connections? They might just help you live longer and even decelerate aging to an extent.
3. Activity Trackers for Heart Health, Stroke Prevention, & Osteoporosis
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that 1 in 5 women between ages 55 and 75 will experience a stroke (5). In fact, strokes are the third leading cause of death in women, and African American women are at the highest risk of dying from a stroke. The good news is that the majority of strokes are entirely preventable based on what you do.
Generally, stroke and heart disease prevention involves minimizing risk factors, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and chronic inflammation. Physical activity combined with a balanced diet has been studied extensively in relation to reducing these risks, such as the role of exercise in weight loss (6).
What does this mean? It means that maintaining a physical activity routine past 50 is of the utmost importance for your heart health and overall quality of life. This is where aerobic activity is crucial, such as walking, swimming, or biking.
However, let’s take it a step further. Strength and resistance training are paramount but it also matters what type you’re doing and consistency of such body movements to maintain better muscle, which improves bone and muscle health. Ideally, this gives a constant and much needed optimal hormone boost to offset oxidative stress and inflammation. Most resources or health departments will recommend at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity a week. Schedule it in. Plan for it. Find someone to keep you accountable to your goals.
And most importantly, harness the use of technology to help you! Many activity trackers, such as FitBit, Garmin, Whoop, Apple Watch, and Oura Ring, can help you stay on top of it and ensure you move enough to optimize key target areas such as sleep, heart rate variability, and resting heart rates compared to its active state. This can help judge your trends and activate an even better strategy toward your overall performance to stay independent and thrive at any age.
On top of this, osteoporosis impacts 1 in 3 women over the age of 50 (7). Osteoporosis is a condition where bones become less dense and weak, which increases the risk of fractures. Incorporating strength training or walking activities into your regular exercise routine can help counteract this, as well as paying attention to your diet.
For instance, activating the sirtuins is emerging as a key piece in increased longevity and anti-aging. And research shows that certain foods may be capable of activating these pathways, such as curcumin found in turmeric (8).
Additionally, bone-boosting technologies, such as Osteoboost, stimulate the bones via vibration. This product is even backed by research claiming just one 30-minute session using osteoboost decreased bone loss. Combining a balanced and healthy diet, alongside regular exercise, with technologies like these can go a long way in improving your quality of life now and down the line.
4. Boosting Immunity
A whopping 80% of individuals diagnosed with autoimmune diseases are women (9). I don’t know about you, but I would like to actively work toward not being part of that statistic.
One of the most common autoimmune diseases impacting women is rheumatoid arthritis, a disease where the immune system attacks the tissues at the joints. This can quickly become very unpleasant and painful, interrupting your daily life and satisfaction.
It has further been speculated that autoimmune diseases may arise during or after menopause due to hormonal changes (10). Thus, proper immune function is critical during this stage of life. This also ties into recent world events involving COVID and vaccines. Protecting yourself is all about longevity and anti-aging (which is explored in more detail above).
Aging has significant impacts on your immunity. While most of this continues to be a bit of a mystery in the medical community, experts do agree that older adults tend to not respond as well to vaccines, get sick more often, and recover from illness or injury much slower than their younger counterparts.
While there is no specific age at which immunity decreases, we are well aware of the impact of chronic inflammation due to toxins in our environment, such as BPAs, pesticides, phthalates, formaldehyde, and more. Further, toxic overload, and toxic people add to the equation, piling on the stress and consequently, upping inflammation within the body.
Part of this is reducing stress and inflammation caused by oxidative stress, which involves areas that impact our health on a cellular level and drive our very state of being, such as how we perform, produce, and feel energy daily. Stress, in many ways, is a pandemic across the western world. Utilizing mindfulness apps, like Headspace, Calm, and Insight Timer, is invaluable at this stage in a woman’s life. Other benefits of these applications include a clearer mind, sharper cognition, better memory, and more – all of which are important for aging gracefully.
Taking Back Your Power
FemTech, more specifically Femaging health-related products, in the 50 plus age group, and other technologies mean you have more control over your health now compared to any other time in recorded history. Doing so could add years to your life. Not only that, but you could age happier and healthier. Who doesn’t want that?
Get ahead of the curve. Focus on what you can control. Use data to propel your life forward. It’s truly incredible the direction technology, research, and innovation has taken us.
If you want to learn more about getting your mojo back during menopause and the modern customized approach to aging and living your full potential—book a strategy call with Dr. LaReesa today. All the areas mentioned in this blog piece are married together in her holistic approach to make your transition into midlife with ease and grace. Together, we can help you achieve optimal health where you feel good and can thrive in your day-to-day life. Visit www.drlareesa.com for more information. Stay tuned for more excitement Dr LaReesa is helping to create and contribute to this emerging and exciting femhealth space.
Wellness & Epigenetics Coach, Consultant, Physician, Health Advocate, Mentor & Author.
Note: This content is meant to be for informational purposes and not for any specific marketing and solicitation of purchase or investment in the products mentioned. Please consult your healthcare provider for your unique health situation.