As we headed toward Cozumel, Mexico, on Olivia’s First Cruise For Our Cause, more than 300 women joined Dr. Susan Love, Dr. Nanette Gartrell, and Dr. Deb Shapiro for “Let’s Talk About Sex,” the first Cruise for Our Cause panel discussion.Dr. Nanette Gartrell presented findings from a sex survey completed by cruise participants. Her talk offered a window into the sexual health of the lesbian community, which was better than many had thought— leaving most of the audience quite happy!Dr. Love presented an overview of how menopause has come to be seen as a “disease” that requires treatment with hormone “replacement”therapy. What we need to do, Dr. Love said, is reframe the way we think about women’s hormones. Perhaps, she suggested, we need high levels of hormones during our 20s and 30s so that we will be interested in reproducing. Then as we age, and the levels decrease, we can refocus and regain our power. Surely it’s not a coincidence, she said, that the most powerful women the world has known have all been post-menopausal.Dr. Shapiro’s presentation emphasized the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. She noted that more than 60% of the population would live to be 65. Furthermore, if you reach age 65, you can expect to live to 84, while if you reach 85 you can expect to live until 92.

Advertising for drugs that help prevent osteoporosis has become widespread. In turn, many women have begun to worry about bone loss and getting DEXA scans. Yet, said Dr. Shapiro, it is not recommended that women get a bone scan until age 65. To help prevent osteoporosis, Dr. Shapiro recommended that women take 1500mg of calcium a day, get 400-800 units of vitamin D a day, do weight bearing exercise, and weight lift with light weights.

Dr. Shapiro also noted that although many women are worried about osteoporosis, far fewer know that heart disease is the number one killer of women over the age of 50. She encouraged women decrease their risk of heart disease by quitting smoking, eating a low-fat diet, controlling their blood pressure, exercising and maintaining a low cholesterol level.

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