Daily it seems someone will remark to me -”I’m not really at midlife yet. I’m still having my menstrual cycles” or “I’m past midlife; I stopped having my menstrual cycles years ago”. This usually makes me smile because my definition of midlife has nothing to do with menstrual cycles and unless you’re in your 20’s (beginning of life) or close to death (end of life) you are midlife. You enter midlife when you turn a corner in your health and notice that to look good and feel good maintenance is required. Gone are the days when you can stay up all night, eat junk food and still function well the next day. Most of us notice this health change after our 20’s. At this health juncture you have a choice – pay attention to what your body is telling you and make appropriate health changes or ignore the signals your body is sending and begin a health decline. The goal at midlife is to plateau your health for as long as you can. So after your 20’s don’t deny being midlife, choose midlife and be proud of it. If you’re not in midlife, you’re at the end of life.
In this part of my column I want to share with you each month some of the fascinating things I have learned in my office working with women. And on the topic of midlife, I have so much to tell you. In fact, it was seeing women who are so noble and who give so much to others experience such poor quality of life during their midlife years that prompted me to open the Midlife Wellness Center. It’s a challenging time and women never have one complaint, they have a list at midlife. I call midlife the perfect storm. Women feel different, they look different. They are having difficulty functioning, family issues are common and they are worried about what’s yet to come. It’s a very busy, stressful, confusing time of life. Over the years, I have found that the 3 most common areas of health that need attention at midlife are hormonal changes (which include multiple hormones), changes in metabolism and the need for preventive health measures. Suffice it to say, to do well at midlife you need to be a health participant and address these issues. Don’t ignore important messages from you body. If you’re experiencing PMS, heavy cycles and weight gain, these symptoms are not just pesky symptoms that decrease your quality of life; they are potential risk factors for breast cancer. After midlife your health will decline, so take the time at midlife to investigate what is changing in your health and develop an action plan to address it. If you are experiencing menopausal symptoms, get evaluated; quality of life at midlife is important. Because numerous factors can affect your health at midlife, you may need help - recruit it. Use your family, friends and doctors to assist you when needed. Women who I see successfully navigate midlife rarely do it unassisted.
The average American is not willing to do health maintenance and at midlife they begin a slow decline that ends in death. Humans like animals survive the longest when they are willing to adapt to their surroundings, not just accept them. Be inquisitive at midlife, be above average. It’s exciting to be a lifelong learner. Choose to live vibrantly. Create a midlife for yourself by doing the maintenance that is required. Look at the diagram I have provided that maps out the two most common health scenarios for women at midlife. Choose to be Patient A- get a (mid) life for yourself – you deserve it.
Action Tips for Midlife
Choose a health plan – see diagram
Dear Fellow Women,
Early in my medical career I noticed that women at midlife (30-60's) were suffering a decline in their health, but were mostly ignored due to time restraints in the typical medical office. Being a woman myself, I developed a real passion for filling this void in medicine. I began to extensively study the problems women face at midlife and I learned from carefully listening to my patients. In 1993 I was the first physician in Kansas City to begin prescribing bioidentical hormones. In 2005 my love of solving the problems you and I face at midlife resulted in my opening the Midlife Wellness Center. This is the only center in Kansas City devoted to helping midlife women achieve vibrant health.
At the Midlife Wellness Center it is my privilege to offer my unique services to women. I tell every patient "I am so glad you are here" and then I proceed to give individualized time and attention, provide in-depth evaluations and help formulate a comprehensive, personalized Wellness Plan. This is the way I always dreamed of practicing medicine.
If you're not feeling like yourself anymore, call me. I created the Midlife Wellness Center just for you.
Your partner in health,
Brenda S. Smith, M.D.
Dr. Smith is board certified in OB/GYN by the American Board of OB/GYN
Dr. Smith was on staff at Saint Luke's Hospital of Kansas City as well as a partner in the medical practice Ferns, Matile, Smith & Perryman for 15 years
Dr. Smith was on the teaching staff at St., Luke's Hospital training residents in OB/GYN for 15 years
Dr. Smith completed her residency in OB/GYN at St. Luke's Hospital in Kansas City in 1990
Dr. Smith received her medical degree from the University Of Kansas School Of Medicine in 1986
Dr. Smith's first degrees was a B.S. in Education at Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State) in 1979
The Midlife Wellness Center offers patients a unique experience by combining Dr. Smith’s scientific knowledge and clinical expertise with a beautiful, spa-like environment.
The center is conveniently located just north of the Downtown Kansas City Airport in the BMO Bank Building near the intersection of 169 North Highway and Briarcliff Parkway at 1201 N.W. Briarcliff Parkway, Suite 300.
The Midlife Wellness Center does not accept assignments from insurance companies. Instead, we choose to work directly for our patients. Therefore, the Midlife Wellness Center does not belong to any HMOs, PPOs or other types of managed care programs. Furthermore, the Midlife Wellness Center does not participate in Medicare or Medicaid programs, nor do we accept Champus.
Though we do not accept insurance, we will be happy to provide you with an insurance-ready receipt after receiving your payment. You can use this receipt to submit a claim to your insurance company, with any reimbursement from the company being paid directly to you.
Most insurance plans will cover any lab work ordered during your consultation if you use the company’s approved laboratory for testing. The Midlife Wellness Center will gladly send you to the appropriate lab to facilitate coverage of your laboratory tests.
Payment for services is requested at the time of your consultation. For your convenience, we accept cash, checks, Discover, MasterCard, Visa and American Express.
For five plus years I tracked my moods on a calendar. I would place a happy face on my good days and a sad face on my bad days. As it turned out, my tracking would go on for about 12 days each and every month. These mood swings were taking a huge toll on my life. Clearly, a half of every month (or half one’s life) is too much to suffer and feel totally miserable, especially if it might be helped.
Call it serendipity, but somehow the concept of bio-identical hormone therapy began to pop up in my world time and again through articles I read, advertisements I saw and hearing other women talk.
Elatedly, since doing the hormone testing and bio-identical hormones with Dr. Smith, I haven’t looked at a calendar other than to see what engagement I could fit into my new life. I hope it lasts forever!
After struggling for years to find the right hormone treatment for me I wanted to see a specialist, but was unable to find one until Dr. Smith opened the Midlife Wellness Center. She spent a lot of time with me going over my health history and methodically created a plan for my hormones as well as disease prevention, diet, exercise, etc. Each time I speak to Dr. Smith, she reviews that detailed health history to evaluate where we’ve been, where we are now and where we are going. She has a wealth of specialized knowledge, a lot of which I hadn’t heard before. Today, I am feeling better than I have in
years and my treatment is easier to use. I did wonder whether the extra out-of-pocket costs would be worth it and the answer is absolutely YES! I felt good about spending the time and money on myself and I was treated like a queen while I was there. New patients will not be disappointed!
Going to Dr. Smith was the best investment I made in my health. Her tailored Wellness Plan has really made a difference in the quality of my life. I highly recommend the Midlife Wellness Center.
Dr. Smith is helping make the transition into menopause a much easier experience than I thought it would be. She has helped take the fear, worry and anxiety out of the decision making process by educating me about how to best take care of my body.
I have learned about vitamins, nutrition and hormones and how they play a role in my health. After thorough analysis of my blood work she explained in detail what I need to do to help my body correct imbalances and how I can remain healthy through this time in my life.
It is such a comfort to know that you have a doctor that is there for you whenever needed. To have someone call you back and spend time with you, answering your questions when necessary is a godsend. No more waiting for the nurse to hopefully call you back for a one minute conversation!
I feel comforted by the fact that this can be a powerful time in my life and that I am in control of my health with a great doctor to help guide the way.
I have had a great experience with Dr. Brenda Smith. Before coming to her, I had been with a doctor who did not listen to my problems with my hormone imbalance issues. I felt miserable - night sweats, hot flashes, trouble sleeping. Dr. Smith takes the time to get to the root of the problem. She listens, asks questions, and utilizes lab results to come up with a treatment plan. She educated me not only on my current issues, but helped me to understand what issues may come up in the future. I even received information from her regarding nutrition and how to stay healthy. Dr. Smith is not afraid of changing something if it is not working for you. She tries something and listens to your feedback. She will re-run lab work if necessary and re-evaluate. She returns phone calls promptly. She sticks with you until you feel the issue is resolved. The fee is definitely worth all of the time and experience that you get from Dr. Smith!
At the age of 40 I was experiencing all the symptoms of menopause I had been to physicians who were unable to help me other than pain medication for “arthritis pain” and a diagnosis of early menopause, ovarian cysts and fibroids. A hysterectomy was my only option. I felt surgery to be premature since I really didn’t know exactly what was going on. I heard about the Midlife Wellness Center and did some research. At first the cost was prohibitive, but the longer I suffered without relief, I decided my health was worth it and made the call. I had fears that I still wouldn’t get answers, but it turned out to be the best call I’ve ever made. Dr. Smith listened, answered questions, educated me & ran tests. With the test results and notes from our discussion, she put together a plan exclusively for me with nutritional, supplemental, diet and medication recommendations that, combined, would balance my hormones. It changed my life. I am now virtually pain free, losing weight, getting quality sleep and all the other menopausal symptoms are gone. But most important,
Dr. Smith gave me the information and tools that empowered me to better understand my body and take charge of my health. I have never felt healthier thanks to Dr. Smith and the Midlife Wellness Center.