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VA blasted for problems plaguing $543M technology contract

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11 Menopause Skincare And Makeup Tips

Menopause Skincare


If you are an avid user of social media, you can’t have missed the myriad of makeup and skincare tutorials out there. And yes the transformations are amazing. BUT, how many of them are aimed at menopausal woman? I have to say there are few by comparison to those available to women in their late teens or 20 year olds. And in my own experience that probably stems from the fact that there are so many different aspects to consider for the menopausal woman, her skin, and her makeup routine.

From perimenopause, decreasing hormones (oestrogen and progesterone) begin to have an effect on your skin, meaning that from your mid 40’s onwards you’ll definitely see changes happening and often appearing quite suddenly. As oestrogen levels drop, fat becomes redistributed and you lose the supportive fat located just below your skin on your face and neck. The fat contributes to you looking youthful, and as it disappears, you will notice that your skin appears less elastic and not as plump as it once was.

Fine lines will have started to appear in your 30’s, mostly around your eyes due to simple muscle usage over the years. Feathering lines around your lips become apparent in your 40’s and everything becomes more obvious from your 50’s onwards as wrinkles deepen and sagging occurs. Some of it is genetic – which is great for you if you’ve got older relatives with few wrinkles, as you may have inherited their good genes!

Facial hairs, either odd wiry hairs, or a fine ‘peach fuzz’ are often due to hidden testosterone becoming more prominent as your oestrogen declines. You may feel that you need to use no!no! hair removal device that uses flashes of light to remove facial hair. An alternative you may prefer is a bleaching product if your hairs are particularly dark and you don’t want to remove them.

In your 20’s you can get away not paying much attention to your skin and skincare routines. I remember going to bed without taking my makeup off! And I was slapdash about cleansing, face masks, exfoliating and moisturising. I didn’t give a second thought about ageing and the future effects of what I was doing to my skin. But it catches up with you in your 50’s and now I do what I should have been doing years go. Hopefully, it is never too late to make your skin feel and look better. Changes in your skin texture can be improved with tweaks to your skincare routines.

Changes In Your Skin That You May Notice As You Hit Menopause:

  • Acne
  • Spots and lumps
  • Rosacea
  • Redness caused by hot flushes
  • Change in skin tone
  • Age spots
  • Skin becomes drier/oiler/more sensitive – each area seeming to have different needs
  • Crepey skin on eyes
  • Hooded eyes
  • Puffy eyes
  • Enlarged pores
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Lips become less defined
  • Eyebrows become more sparse
  • Eyelashes are sparse and shorter
  • Facial hair increases
  • Make up seems to disappear and needs reapplying, particularly when suffering from hot flushes
  • Eye shadow slides into the crease of your eyes

Tip 1. Know About Your Skin Structure

To understand how to care for your menopausal skin, you first need to understand its structure. Human skin is the largest organ in the body and we only need to be concerned with three here, which are:

The Epidermis

The outer layer of skin that provides your skin tone. Blood flow through the capillaries reduces as oestrogen falls and causes thinning epidermis, with cell turnover also slowing down. A good skincare regime ensures the epidermis looks as good as it can – it is never too late to start looking after your skin.

The Dermis

This sits below your Epidermis. It has collagen and protein fibres which when you are young are thick, strong and very elastic. As oestrogen drops in menopause, these ‘building blocks’ of your skin suffer. They weaken through lack of hormones, your skin will visibly age, wrinkles develop, you will notice sagging (particularly round the eyes and jowls) and age spots may develop.

The Hypodermis

Is a deeper layer that is susceptible to environmental and lifestyle damage, becoming thinner, losing the ability to replenish easily and its elasticity. Blood flow to the skin decreases, tone changes (redness, brownness, yellowing) and texture alters.

Skin damage can accelerate when you follow bad lifestyle choices. Diet, alcohol smoking, sunbathing, little exercise and sleep deprivation all play a part in how healthy your skin looks and feels. Freckles increased throughout perimenopause for me, with several joining together! I looked more tanned but in an uneven way – not a good look! I looked at ways of reducing the freckle effect some helped.

Tip 2. General Skin Care Through Menopause

You now know how your skin is structured and can appreciate possible damage you’ve done to it up to menopause. Factor into the mix the knowledge that your skin is covered in millions of microbes, bacteria and yeasts that no amount of showering, bathing or scrubbing can remove. Although these are present on our skin you don’t want or need to get rid of them all. It is a delicate balance that is sometimes upset by some ingredients in cosmetics and perfumed products that may cause allergic reactions as your skin becomes more sensitive throughout your menopausal years. Choose fragrance free products that absorb easily to avoid problems.

Particular problems that may affect your general skincare and makeup routines during perimenopause:

  • Your face may have areas that need treating in differing ways.
  • ‘Clogged’ pores each side of your nose and on your chin, with dry spots on cheeks and above the outer edge of eyebrows are not uncommon.
  • Your skin may get easily irritated from some perfumed products and not others which makes choice difficult.
  • The middle of your forehead can become really oily with outbreaks of lumpy spots.
  • Some menopausal women suffer problems such as extreme dryness and flaky skin.

We’ll look at dealing with these later. But with all of these problems it is not surprising that a multi-million pound industry has sprung up around skincare and makeup for the midlife and menopausal woman!

As part of your general skincare you may want to introduce anti-ageing products (if you haven’t already). Two of the most popular ingredients in this market are hyaluronic acid and retinol that fans of both report as improving skin texture and firmness. Let’s look at both in a little more detail.

Hyaluronic Acid

As we age we lose natural hyaluronic acid in our body, which is one of the causes of wrinkles. This acid has many benefits to the skin and is therefore included in many creams, serums, supplements and via injections. Hyaluronic acid helps retain plumpness and moisture, and is key to a more youthful looking skin.

Active ingredients are retinoids, peptides and HA and it is said that by using regularly you can undo the effects of ageing on your skin. However, it is worth pointing out that the effectiveness of hyaluronic acid supplements taken orally causes controversy in beauty circles. I would advise carrying out your own detailed research prior to use. If you would like to try a hyaluronic acid product then for optimum results I would look for a hyaluronic acid serum and use this under your daily moisturiser.


Retinol is often recommended as an anti-ageing product – but – carry out a skin test check for sensitivity. Unwanted side effects can appear as additional dryness, with irritation that can be problematic. Sensitivity to sunlight, redness and swelling have all been reported. Improvements in the condition of skin condition have been reported by using a good vitamin A cream.

If you don’t want to use these particular product ingredients, then consider using a nurturing rich lotion instead to help counteract any dryness. You can also apply it to dry or rough skin on your arms, elbows, knees and heels to moisturise and nurture. Alternatively, soothe and spoil your skin using essential oils.

Tip 3. Know Your Skin Type To Find The Right Products

Building on the general tips, it’s time to check your skin type to find products that suit you, and most importantly help your skin:

3.1 Thin Skin

As oestrogen falls during perimenopause, blood flow decreases and there are less nutrients and oxygen feeding your skin. This is a contributory factor both to the thinning of your skin and reduced cell turnover rate – leading to dry, often flaky skin. Moisturising regularly may help improve the look of thin skin.

3.2 Dry skin

Is most often reported during menopause years. It can be flaky, sensitive to products, and easily irritated. It needs careful handling to avoid frequent flare-ups, so make sure that you use gentle, simple products. Remember to check the ingredients lists on products you purchase to become familiar with them. This will help you identify any that may cause irritation or sensitivity.

  • InstaNatural cleanser works for all skin types, removing dirt and makeup easily.
  • As a daily moisturiser CeraVe Lotion may be suitable for your dry skin.
  • Using a thicker advanced night cream like No7 Protect and Perfect before bedtime has been reported by a number of my friends as working for their dry skin, so I tried it, and it was a good choice for me, leaving my skin feeling hydrated.
  • Using a serum each morning and evening (under your moisturiser) helps to retain moisture. Apply it, wait a few minutes and then put your usual daily moisturiser on top each morning and your night cream in the evening. Doing it this way ensures you’ll get the maximum out of your products.

Dry skin happens as your skin ages because it fails to produce natural oils partly due to a decrease in hormone production, but seasonal changes also affect menopause skin. You may be affected by sunlight or in the cooler weather by extreme cold, or the drying effects of central heating so remember to consider these in with your routine.

3.3 Oily skin

Is caused by overactive glands. As your oestrogen levels decrease through your perimenopause years, testosterone is no longer ‘hidden’ and starts to produce a thicker sebum that can leave you looking shiny and give you spots, pimples, blackheads and even acne (caused by blocked pores). This type of skin is however, less prone to wrinkles as it keeps more moisture trapped in the epidermis.

You will find that most products are generally ok, but you’ll need to manage the oil build up. However, as oily skin can be prone to acne and clusters of spots, you may need to try a breakout control such as Dermalogica Special Clearing Booster that has no artificial colours and doesn’t dry out your skin too much.

3.4 Combination skin

Is generally defined as being dry cheeks, with an oily nose, brow and chin area. Use a gentle cleanser morning and evening, rub in well and rinse off with warm (not hot) water.

  • Retinol (vitamin A) cuts down oil, reduces large pores and is a good anti-ageing choice. It can be found naturally in green, leafy vegetables, with retinol creams and serums effective for anti-ageing.
  • Use a safe, non-paraben, salicylic acid cream for breakouts of spots, blackheads and even acne, or a medicated cleanser 2 to 3 times a week. For combination skin you will find that an oil-free moisturiser with an SPF30 should be suitable.
  • Cleansers need to be mild and gentle and not medicated, and used once a day to avoid problems.
  • Salicylic acid creams help to reduce black heads, whiteheads and spots. In my experience the appearance of whiteheads during menopause was a shock and very difficult to eradicate. I still get outbreaks of them from time to time, including on my eyelids.
  • Natural treatments include antibacterial eucalyptus and peppermint as these refresh without drying. Also try baking soda together with a foaming cleanser to help dissolve grime and to exfoliate. This is just what skin that is prone to blocked pores, blackheads and whiteheads needs.
  • A skin balancing option for combination skin is Made From Earth’s Essential Kit that removes oil from areas that are problematic and balances out moisture.

Combination skin types need to carry out the same basic skincare routines outlined above but will more than likely need to adapt to a little of each.

To find an anti-aging cream for all skin types you will need to look for a product that will plump your skin, smooth it out, provide firming capacity, deal with uneven skin tone, and reduce fine lines and wrinkles. And don’t forget to look for sun protection, calming ingredients for red and sensitive areas, and natural ingredients that won’t cause inflammation or irritation.

3.5 Make Your Own Natural Skincare Products

If it is important for you to use natural products, try making your own face products (for immediate use) with ingredients you might already have in your fridge and kitchen.

These are some of the blends that I’ve read about over the years, tried, adapted and found to be soothing and gentle on my sensitive skin:

  • Cucumber and oatmeal blended together with a little yogurt. Leave it on your face for 20-30 minutes and then rinse off.
  • Cucumber mashed with a little sugar can lift dead skin cells – take care to avoid your eye area. Rinse well with cool water and pat dry.
  • Rinse your face with warm water to gently open your pores. Rub a small amount of honey into the areas with large, open pores (generally nose and chin). Leave for 20-30 minutes and wash it off with warm water. When it is all removed, splash on cold water to close your pores.

A particular favourite of mine (but a little bit messy), is one that is actually suitable for all skin types. Use the juice from half a lemon and mix it with an egg white that has been beaten until it is really frothy. Put it on your face, avoiding your eyes and your mouth areas. Leave it on overnight whilst you’re in bed and wash it off when you get up with warm water, followed by a splash of cool. Then you can use your serum and moisturiser in your usual way.

  • Rosehip oil can be used as a daily moisturiser as it contains Vitamins A C and other antioxidants. It promotes healthy skin, keeping it looking well hydrated. But don’t forget you can also make a cheap moisturiser for your dry skin by using a little good quality olive oil.

Tip 4. Conditions That Can Affect Your Skin During Menopause

Certain factors can appear around perimenopause that can be alarming when you’ve never experienced them before:

4.1 Rosacea

Rosacea is a common skin condition, with some women reporting development during menopause. If you suffer from rosacea during menopause further information on treatment is available on the UK NHS website.

It manifests as small red patches, some containing lumpy spots and is generally on the nose, forehead and chin, though the cheeks can often suffer a flare-up too. Blood vessels are visible just under the skin with the exact cause not currently known. There are regimes to follow for rosacea care with products to soothe and calm inflamed skin.

Some women report flare-up’s after eating ‘trigger’ foods such as chocolate, bread and pastry, with alcohol, particularly red wine, known to bring on an outbreak for many women.

To ease a flare-up try using skincare products specifically for super-sensitive skin. Be meticulous in your cleansing routines and clean your brushes and cloths regularly. You may need to use topical creams or gels when spots or pustules appear, or even resort to prescribed antibiotics in severe breakouts. See your G.P. for further help.

4.2 Sun Damage

Melanocytes are cells that manufacture melanin which is controlled by oestrogen. Through perimenopause, melanocytes degenerate, meaning we produce less melanin. Your skin throughout menopause is therefore more prone to sun damage, so it becomes even more important to use a sunblock at this time. Use cream, spray or lotion with a high Sun Protection Factor (SPF) and a wide-brimmed hat to shade your face and neck.

Wrinkles become more pronounced with sun damage, poor skincare and cigarette smoking, making you look older than you actually are. So don’t forget to protect your eyes and the delicate skin around the eyes with good UVA and UVB blocking sunglasses.

(I personally know lots of menopausal women who forget about their hands as part of their skincare regime. Your hands give away your true age so don’t forget to apply sunscreen to them).

4.3 Age Spots/Hyperpigmentation

When your body goes into perimenopause, oestrogen can’t regulate melanin production properly, so the areas that have been most exposed to UV rays over the preceding years can develop brown “age spots”.

These age spots are generally flat and can be either black, brown or grey in colour. Age spots are actually harmless, however, they are very similar to some skin cancers. If you see a very dark spot, one that looks mottled and has several shades in it and/or an irregular border or one that increases in size then you need to see your G.P. immediately.

Women who have fair skin, particularly those who have been sunburned in the past, are more susceptible to developing age spots. They become more apparent around perimenopause. As a long time sun-worshipper I began noticing these dark spots around my mid-40’s. There are ‘bleaching’ creams to reduce the colour plus other treatments such as: laser therapy, dermabrasion (my sister swears by this), or chemical peels.

4.4 Hot Flushes

Hot flushes typically show up as redness in your face, followed by an excess of wetness! A hand fan can help when you suffer from hot flushes by cooling your skin down quickly but there is no doubt that flushes play havoc with your skincare routines and make-up. Managing your hot flushes naturally, can have an added bonus of improving your skin health.

Always carry a little hand or battery fan in your bag to cool your face down if a hot flush strikes. It’s also a good idea to have some cosmetic blotting sheets in your bag. These absorb moisture or oil quickly to reduce wetness and shine.

Tip 5. The Best Vitamins To Support Your Menopausal Skin From The Inside Out:

To improve your skin as much as you can it is suggested that you follow a diet that is rich in antioxidants to support your body’s fight against free radicals. Ensure you take in adequate vitamins, minerals and good fats (through fruit and vegetables, oily fish, nuts, seeds, avocados, and olive oil) daily. Make sure that you drink plenty of water (or green tea) to keep your skin hydrated and to lessen inflammation.

If outbreaks of spots and pimples are a problem for you then cut down on your sugar intake and try to reduce gluten in your diet too. Eating healthily is much better for your skin than taking lots of supplements a day – and is much kinder on your pocket as well.

Here’s a brief note about the most crucial vitamins you need to include in your diet to care for your skin from the inside too:

5.1 Vitamin A

This vitamin has so many skincare benefits, dealing efficiently with dead cells. Also, during menopause, testosterone is no longer ‘masked’ as oestrogen decreases so the sebaceous glands produce thicker sebum giving oily looking skin – Vitamin A helps to deal with this. It is often found in skin care products as a ‘corrector’ to skin conditions and is a good choice as it helps you to have clearer, healthier looking skin and reducing menopausal wrinkles.

Following a diet high in vitamin A and antioxidants helps skin as you age. Increase your intake of carrots, oranges, eggs, and omega 3 and 6 foods too.

5.2 Vitamin B Complex

There are eight B vitamins that all have some skincare benefits. B complex can’t be stored in the body, meaning that you need to top it up within your diet every day. The whole B complex helps to deal with the free radical damage that you’ve accumulated over the years up to menopause. Try to include Vitamin B foods in your diet daily for healthy skin and remember that B vitamins can be applied topically for a radiant glow.

5.2.1 Vitamin B1

This is known to affect your skin condition if you are deficient, making it sensitive to products, environmental factors and fluctuations in temperature. Your skin can flare up in spots, and you may notice dryness and flakiness. Your lips can also feel dry and crack.

Vitamin B1 is known for its anti-ageing and antioxidant properties that boost circulation, giving you glowing skin. It helps dull skin due to menopause hormones declining.

To boost B1 in your diet include: beef, pork, eggs, nuts, oats, peas, and oranges regularly. Some foods are fortified with vitamin B1 – rice, pasta, cereals in particular.

5.2.2 Vitamin B2

Supports cell turnover and growth of tissues. It is equally important to women suffering from menopausal acne as it helps with spot breakouts.

To incorporate B2 into your diet choose: milk and yogurt, grains, quinoa, seafood, lean meats, eggs, beans, peas, nuts and seeds.

5.2.3 Vitamin B3

Improves the condition of your skin by softening and soothing rosacea, acne, eczema and ageing skin. In addition, if you start suffering from dermatitis, notice hyperpigmentation and sun damage as you hit menopause, you might like to think increase your Vitamin B intake.

To incorporate Niacin (vitamin B3) into your diet choose: Tuna, mushrooms, oats, peas, avocados, squashes, oranges, peaches.

5.2.4 Vitamin B5

Improves skin elasticity and dry skin that is looking flat and dull. It helps to temper inflammation and redness so is helpful for acne, spots, rosacea and regulates oil levels.

To incorporate B5 into your diet choose: chicken, pork, beef, salmon and shellfish, wholegrains, avocados. mushrooms, milk, yogurt, lentils and split peas.

5.2.5 Vitamin B6

Helps with growth and repair of skin cells. It is understood that it regulates hormones responsible for acne outbreaks (that are hormone-based), by reducing inflammation.

To incorporate B6 into your diet choose: chicken, pork, wholegrains, oats, brown rice, beans, legumes, peas, nuts, sunflower seeds, bananas and fortified cereals.

5.2.6 Vitamin B7

Is vital for healthy growth and repair of skin cells. Being deficient in vitamin B7 means you will be liable to rashes, eczema, sensitivity, and acne.

To incorporate Biotin into your diet choose: oats, nuts (walnuts and almonds in particular), liver, egg yolks, avocados, salmon, sweet potatoes and spinach.

5.2.7 Vitamin B9

Helps with cell turnover and tissue growth, giving healthy looking skin, whilst reducing spot breakouts and acne. Too much however, can increase acne!

To incorporate Folic Acid into your diet choose: Spinach, lentils, edamame beans, asparagus, broccoli, avocado, lettuce, sweetcorn, mango and oranges.

5.2.8 Vitamin B12

Supports production of skin pigment, helps to prevent age spots, promotes cell growth and repair to damaged skin.

To incorporate Cobalamin (B12) into your diet, choose: Cheese, eggs, shellfish, fish (sardines, salmon and trout), liver, beef, fortified cereals, milk and dairy.

5.3 Vitamin C

Is known to be an antioxidant, provides protection and, due to its role in collagen production, keep your skin healthy. It can decrease cell damage, help with healing and repairs dry skin. Vitamin C is a key ingredient in anti-ageing products that supports dry menopausal skin.

To incorporate Vitamin C into your diet, choose: Oranges, strawberries (in fact most berries), kiwi fruit, mango, spinach, broccoli, kale and tomatoes.

5.4 Vitamin D

This is most often made when cholesterol converts to Vitamin D from sunlight taken in through the skin. It is taken right through the body and used to grow healthy cells, especially within the skin, where it has an important role.

To stay healthy you will need approximately 15 minutes of sunlight a day onto your face, arms, legs and/or your torso, so that Vitamin D can be absorbed for optimal health benefits.

Vitamin D is in: Fortified cereals, orange juice, yogurt and salmon, tuna and cod.

5.5 Vitamin E

Its main role in skin care is to protect against skin damage, preventing wrinkles, fine lines and dark age spots. Creams containing Vitamin E as a main ingredient are known to help in an anti-ageing capacity. We produce Vitamin E as sebum through our pores, which helps keep dryness at bay, and it is this lack of sebum that is evident in menopausal skin.

Increase Vitamin E in your diet by choosing: Almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, vegetable oils, broccoli, avocado, spinach and fish.

5.6 Vitamin F

This vitamin is best known as the essential fatty acid Omega-6, Linoleic Acid. Along with Omega-3 it plays an important role in skin regeneration, building skin cells and hydrating our skin. Both Omega-6 and Omega-3 cannot be manufactured by our bodies so need to be obtained from food.

You can increase your Vitamin F consumption by choosing: healthy oils, almonds, egg yolks, avocados, salmon, trout, mackerel and vegetables. Remember, not all fats are bad.

Tip 6. Back To Basics With Your Makeup During Menopause

Now that you’re working on your menopausal skincare, it’s time to turn your attention to the contents of your makeup bag and how you apply what’s in there!

You clearly can’t turn the clock back and make your face look like it did when you were many years younger, but you can make the best of what you’ve got using tools and techniques suitable for the midlife woman.

I found that I needed to almost relearn everything that I’d been doing over the years. My skin had changed drastically so needed a different care regime, my face shape had changed and my makeup look was frankly out-of-date. Yes I had bought new cosmetics over the years but I’d more or less stuck to the same colour palette and brands, without even thinking about whether or not it still suited me. Maybe you’ve done the same?

Wearing makeup can make you feel instantly better, and more confident as you make the best of the visible signs of ageing. Many women stop wearing makeup as they hit perimenopause, because they know they don’t look how they want to look when they see themselves in the mirror. The expression ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ is often quoted to me. They are lacking in confidence when it comes to products and in the knowledge of how to apply it to their skin that has become different in texture, feel and tone.

So, even if this frightens you, as you haven’t a clue where to start, you can start to look younger than you actually are by practising good skin care and some clever makeup tricks and tips on your midlife or mature skin.

Makeup doesn’t need to be expensive, just look at the awards that budget supermarkets have achieved with their low cost make up ranges, and compare the prices and quality reviews with high-end products. If you opt for natural products then you may want to give organic makeup a try so there is less chance of irritation or rashes.

Tip 7. Foundation For Mature Skin

As you age, and particularly when you are over 50, the tone of your skin is likely to be different than it once was. Your face usually becomes paler, and even more translucent, as your collagen and pigment decreases, leaving you looking washed out or lacking in colour.

Many makeup videos for younger women stress the importance of knowing how to opt for the correct undertone (generally pink or neutral). However, for most women over age 50 a yellow undertone to your foundation is likely to be the most suitable.

Opting for a yellow undertone gives your skin more of a glow, more colour, and a healthy look. Other undertones emphasise its sallowness and dullness. This tip really helps when you stand at a makeup counter without a clue what you are looking at. Further enhance the ‘glow’ by sweeping blusher or bronzer over your foundation to give your cheekbones definition. Use a highlighter, as part of contouring, to give contrast and radiance.

You look younger if you can manage to even out blemishes, variations in skin tone and cover problem areas without looking as if you’ve put on your makeup with a heavy hand.

On a personal level, I found a lot of foundations felt too ‘thick’ and felt ‘caked on’ when I first starting experimenting again. This was particularly awful when suffering from a hot flush! I felt as if the foundation was melting or sliding off my face and as if I just couldn’t touch it. I feel better wearing my ‘full face’ these days now the danger of a full blown flush is passing. My more mature skin sometimes seemed to be more absorbent and after an hour or so all of my make-up seemed to disappear. This made life so difficult!

Choose a liquid foundation with light reflecting particles if you can, and change to a cream blusher and/or bronzer rather than powders as this will enhance your ‘glow’. I explored tinted moisturisers as an alternative to foundation and had a fair bit of success with these as they sit so lightly on your skin and often include sunscreen of at least SPF15.

I also began experimenting by ‘mixing’ my own concoctions. I just wasn’t happy with my own ‘bare’ face that didn’t look youthful any more. I tried using my moisturiser (with SPF30) and mixed it with my usual foundation. It worked in a way, but at that time I was unaware of the need for a yellow undertone, so didn’t exactly get the look I’d hoped to achieve. At least I was able to adjust the coverage to a ‘full’ makeup look for evenings that felt more comfortable and moisturised, and during the day I knew that I had my sunscreen needs covered. I was more confident knowing that my dry, patchy, spotty skin had good coverage that didn’t show up spider veins and age spots!

Think of your foundation (and concealer) as products to unify and even out your complexion. In my experience I’ve found that my older skin also needs a primer before foundation. Once you have a good even base to work from you can add extra coverage by using a concealer – over breakouts for example. However, those women suffering from menopausal eczema or rosacea or even a general sensitivity may need to use specific products, such as a redness neutraliser underneath their foundation. In particularly bad cases you may need to use camouflage make-up on the worst of the red areas.

There are many products available for contouring, with palettes in lots of shades! I bought some, I tried them, I looked a mess. What worked best for me was buying a bronzer slightly darker than my main one, sweeping it over the areas where I needed it and buying a brilliant blending brush to even it all out so the ‘lines’ aren’t obvious. Simple, cheap and great for those of us not used to contouring, and class ourselves as beginners. It is worth investing in a good set of makeup brushes so you’ve got the right ‘tools’ for the job!

One of the best ways to give your face an instant lift is to use a highlighter. Clever contouring, highlighting or using a luminiser can draw the eye away from jowls and a sagging neck and put attention back to your eyes. Use it sparingly between your eyes, the top of your cheekbones and a little bit on your brow bone. You will be amazed at how it brightens your face.

Try and avoid any formula of makeup that is dry and powdery as it highlights your wrinkles and will gather there as the day goes on. This applies to your eye make-up too. Opt for cream based whenever you can as they will last better and longer. You can even use a good, moisturising lipstick as your blusher, making sure to blend it in well. Peach lipstick works particularly well but pink will work too, as will red if you choose the shade carefully.

When younger, I always finished off my look with a dusting of powder. What a mess that started to look as wrinkles, creases and sagging skin developed! If you’ve got oily skin then you can carry on with powder longer than those of us who developed dry skin around menopause. Powder sits on your skin, making it look dry, flaky, dull and is really ageing. There are setting sprays to hold your makeup in place that do a much better job than powder on mature skin. Bella Jade setting spray with organic tea tree gives a fine mist that is gentle and suitable for all skin types.

My foundation routine now consists of cleanse, moisturise, serum, primer, foundation or tinted moisturiser, concealer, blusher, bronzer and highlighter.

Tip 8. Making Your Eyes A Fabulous Focus

You’ve managed to even out your skin tone with the correct foundation, so now you need to think about how you can make your eyes a fabulous focus in your face.

Losing collagen from around menopause is unfortunately ageing. As your skin thins, you often develop dark circles under the eyes, making you look tired and old. You can deal with the blueness by using a colour neutraliser under your foundation with a little concealer on top of the foundation if you feel you need it. Sometimes the dark circles can look blue and other times maroon and bruise-like. If blueness is your problem try using a corrector with a peach tone and if the bruised look is your problem use a green tone corrector. Eye creams can give you a noticeable improvement within a relatively short time period.

Sagging skin around eyes often leaves us with a hooded look and makes it difficult to actually see any eye shadow. Your eyes can therefore seem smaller and deeper set. To address this, use an eye primer to ensure your eye shadow doesn’t disappear into the socket line, then use a darker shadow in the crease to add depth and dimension, with a brighter colour on your lid to open up the eye. Blend it well with a brush and you will look as if you have gained your socket line back. To avoid emphasising the crepey skin in your eye area stay away from shadows that shimmer and sparkle and stick to matte shades.

Way back in the 1970’s the fashion was for finely plucked eyebrow, but no one prepared me for the eyebrows I ended up with at menopause. They faded, thicker hairs sprung out at weird angles, and they became patchy. I’ve become adept at feathering my bows into shape using a light brown powder or pencil that suits my colouring. If you don’t feel confident in doing this yourself then see a beautician to have them done professionally – avoid the big, thick eyebrow look as they generally won’t suit your ageing features.

I also noticed my eyelashes changing around this time too. After a lifetime of using volumising mascara to give me wonderful long lashes I had to switch to a mascara for sensitive eyes and now use one without any added fibres as this is much less irritating. It is possible to buy a eyelash primer and I do use this. It works as a base coat for your mascara, keeps them in good condition and help your lashes to look longer.

Remember, when you apply mascara, to start at the roots of your lashes, zig zag the brush a little at the base and then take the mascara wand up to the tip of your lashes. Give this first coat time to dry before applying a second coat.

Of course you can always resort to lash infills or false eyelashes if you want a wider eyed, fuller lash look. False eyelashes are much better now than the ones I remember from my late teens and early twenties. Choose natural looking ones rather than very long ‘spidery’ sets and don’t be afraid to cut them to fit. They look more natural if you don’t apply them from one end of your eye right to the other – go for approximately the outer two-thirds of your eye. Apply the glue (if these are the type you’ve bought) and wait 10 seconds for it to go tacky and use tweezers to place the strip. Infills are different in that they are bonded onto your natural lashes and last about 3-4 weeks, due to normal lash-shedding.

8.1 Failing Eyesight – Makeup And Glasses

One of the problems with ageing that I found problematic was my failing eyesight. During peri-menopause I found it deteriorated rapidly and meant my ability to apply eye shadow and lipstick became seriously impaired!

This is what I discovered:

  • I couldn’t get away with eyelash curlers. To me they are instruments of torture, but I know friends who swear by them, saying that they look more awake when wearing their glasses if they have used them.
  • I needed to deal with my sparse eyebrows anyway, but you really couldn’t see them behind the frame of my glasses otherwise. I have extremely fair brows so used a very light brown to feather in hairs.
  • Large frames caused shadows under my eyes so I needed to use a good concealer to hide my dark circles.
  • A friend who is a lifelong glasses wearer shared with me that she uses a white liner on the inside of her lower lash line and a very light eye shadow on the inner corner of her eyes to bring her eyes forward from the depth of her very thick lenses.
  • Glasses will stop sliding down your nose if you apply a tiny amount of primer onto the bridge of your nose.
  • And generally, you need to think about the shape of your glasses and what works for your eye and face shape.

8.2 Failing Eyesight – Makeup And Contact Lenses

If you wear contact lenses you might find that eye makeup irritates. Here’s a few tips for you:

  • Always, always, always wash your hands well.
  • Put your clean, dry contact lenses in before you start, to avoid contaminating them with cleansers, moisturiser, oils etc.
  • Products containing oils can get into the eyes and blur the lenses.
  • Stay away from applying products to the inner lash lines to avoid getting products on or under the lenses.
  • Don’t use mascara with added fibres in. They have a tendency to come off and getting one under the lenses can be very uncomfortable.
  • Use non-allergenic makeup.

Where in your house do you apply your makeup? You need good, natural lighting and not an overhead light that casts shadows parts of your face. If you put your makeup on in a poorly lit room you risk applying foundation too thickly, too much blusher or too little, so you vary between looking clown-like or totally washed out. For a darker room look for a mirror with lights. Before you leave home, make sure you can check out your face in another mirror in another room to make sure you haven’t inadvertently messed up!

Invest in a good quality makeup mirror to make application easier if failing vision is a problem. You can buy a makeup mirror with great features such as magnification up to x10 and lighting. Another handy plus is that this one swivels and has a soft white light. I really can’t do without a good magnifying mirror in my bathroom and bedroom.

Tip 9. Lips:

Visible signs of ageing include the loss of plumpness in your lips, natural colour fading and the development of fine lines around them (these are most pronounced in women who smoke). Lipstick colours that suited you before menopause, don’t seem to ‘work’ anymore because your skin tone has changed and colour tends to ‘bleed’ away from your lip line.

When your lipstick feathers out away from your natural lip line your lipstick never looks in its right place. You can deal with this by using a lip primer, a lip pencil, (the right shade for your colouring) and a dab of simple lip gloss. Draw in your lip line smoothly and don’t line too far away from your original line.

If you find that you are constantly reapplying lipstick throughout the day because you’re leaving it on cups and glasses, then after using primer, apply your lipstick with a lip brush and blot with a tissue between each coat.

Although, (or because of) being a smiley person, I have developed deep lines that make me look unhappy and this sagging means I need to apply some concealer to avoid it looking dark and to pep it up a little. The concealer means that my lip line looks more pronounced and I don’t look so miserable!

Tip 10. Makeup Removal

As you start to use gentler products on your skin during menopause you might like to think about the products you use to remove your make-up at the end of the day. I’m moving away from my previous reliance on wipes to washable cloths. The last thing I want is for missed bits of makeup remaining or a gloopy mess that needs a good scrub to get it all off.

If it is important for you to have a gentle yet thorough cleanser you may like to try a product like Simple Miscellar Cleansing Water. I have friends who prefer washable cloths, oil-free lotions, balms, wipes, and oils. I find baby oil is gentle for my sensitive skin but you might have a preference in terms of texture so may need to try several until you find one that suits. Never go to sleep with makeup on.

Because your eyelashes have thinned, make sure you remove every trace of eye shadow and mascara. To condition your eyelashes, try putting some baby oil on your cloth (or a cotton wool ball) and after you’ve removed your eye makeup gently swipe across your eye. Keep your eye closed as it will sting if you get it in your eye

Tip 11. Dealing With Excess Menopausal Hair (That Spoils The Your Makeup Look)

I just want to mention ‘peach fuzz’ and the odd wiry hairs that appear on your chin during and after menopause. These are the bane of many a midlife woman! Nothing is more confidence sapping than looking in the mirror and seeing a long dark hair, leaving you wonder if anyone at work saw it yesterday, and didn’t like to tell you, as it can’t have grown that much overnight! Tweezers became my best friend and still are! I also developed a nice set of sideburns, fine hairs all over my face and nasal hairs too. Whilst my sensible side knows this is due to less oestrogen and progesterone and more testosterone, the effect on your well-being can be huge.

It’s a myth that pulling out a stray hair makes it grow back thicker, but it can be time consuming if you develop a lot of them and it does affect the way your foundation ‘sits’ on your face.

Your choices of hair removal can include:

  • If you only have the odd wiry hair, carry on using tweezers.
  • Use an epilator if you have a lot to remove as it will be quicker and easier.
  • Waxing and hair removal creams give more or less the same effect but you will need to do patch tests to check for sensitivity first.
  • Laser treatments target hair follicles but you will need several treatments and that can be expensive. It isn’t as effective on white and grey hairs either.
  • Electrolysis is best done by a suitably qualified beautician. It is slow and I understand uncomfortable.
  • Dermaplaning is where the skin is ‘scraped’ and seems to be suitable for women going through menopause where hair growth has become more noticeable, particularly on cheeks and to get rid of ‘sideburns’.
  • Cold wax strips are gentler than hot strips and work well on hair on the cheeks.

Final Thoughts:

I thought I would share my daily routine with you:-

  • First thing – I wash my face in warm water using a clean cloth but no drying soap.
  • I use 3 drops of serum – 2 on my face and one on my neck.
  • When the serum has soaked in I apply moisturiser with SPF30
  • After 5 mins I apply primer if I’m putting full makeup on.
  • I apply my foundation next, followed by eye shadow and one coat of mascara. Then I apply concealer where needed.
  • Lastly I apply blusher, bronzer and highlighter, a second coat of mascara and two applications of lipstick.
  • At the end of the day I take it all off, using a cloth and a cream cleanser. I don’t use a toner as I find it too abrasive for my skin. Lastly, I carefully use baby oil to remove eye shadow and mascara.
  • Just before bed I use a serum again and a lighter night cream.

This routine works for me. You may need to adjust it for your skin type and the makeup you choose.

Many menopausal women want to look healthy, glowing and confident as they age but don’t know where to start on their own blank canvas. Probably, like me, they have wasted a lot of money on the wrong products that are gathering dust on shelves and in drawers all over the country!

When you flounder like this it is too easy to just do nothing. I went from full makeup to just wearing mascara and lipstick, down to using no makeup at all. Thankfully, at the end of menopause I came out of this ‘fog’ and as I started feeling better about myself, my confidence improved and I now wear what I want, when I want.

It is very easy to fall into “I won’t bother anymore trap”. You feel that you’re too old to try new products, you feel intimidated by beauty counter staff and, particularly during menopause you just can’t be bothered. Making an effort can still mean that you have confidence-sapping incidents but I’d encourage you to start experimenting with these products to develop the new post-menopausal face that you want to see.

Amid all the fears you may have, and problems that you might be experiencing with your makeup, be assured that you are not alone. You will make mistakes for sure, but try doing what beauty influencers do: put your makeup on, take it off, and in the comfort of your own home try applying it in a different way or using a different colour combination. Critically examine what works and what doesn’t work for YOU.

It may be that you decide your eyes are your best feature so you want to enhance these, or that you love to wear bright lip colours so go for that. It’s usually better to choose one over the other, as choosing to highlight both can mean it looks ‘too much’. Not having makeup overload will give you a more balanced look overall.

Remember how when you were a teenager and you experimented with makeup and your look? You get to do it all over again through menopause. Have fun!


New Tricare Breastfeeding Benefits Lead to Reimbursement Fiascos

Breastfeeding 001


Earlier this year, the Defense Health Agency (DHA) tweaked Tricare coverage for breastfeeding supplies and added a new benefit: coverage of human milk from milk banks to feed premature or sick babies in cases where supplementary feeding is necessary.

The assistance has been welcomed by new moms and breastfeeding advocates, but the rollouts have not been without snags. The new policies have forced Tricare beneficiaries, supply companies, milk banks and defense health program contractors to navigate through uncharted territory, with some beneficiaries forced to buy supplies themselves or shell out thousands and seek reimbursement.

The Pentagon changed its policies on providing breast pumps to beneficiaries in March, cutting coverage for deluxe models and their associated supplies and placing limits on pump kits and other necessities. The changes were in response to a 2018 Defense Department Inspector General report that found the DHA overpaid for breast pumps and supplies by $16.2 million.

The DHA also announced in March that Tricare, the military health program, would begin covering the cost of human milk for babies who need it and whose mothers may be unable to provide an adequate supply.

But the milk bank benefit was introduced before a formal policy had been drafted for Tricare's contract management companies to follow, leaving some moms to sort out the problem on their own.

And moms who had ordered supplies and breast pumps before the policy change also found themselves caught between suppliers and the DHA's slow reimbursement process.

In July, military beneficiaries who had ordered a breast pump through Pumping Essentials, a Moraga, California-based company, received a letter saying all current and future orders for breast milk storage bags from Tricare beneficiaries were canceled.

The reason, according to the letter, was that Tricare contractors Humana Military and HealthNet Federal Services weren't paying the bills.

"[The contractors] have drastically mismanaged the handling of these claims, resulting in significant amounts of unpaid claims to Pumping Essentials and many other providers. ... At this time, the volume of unpaid claims has put our company in a position where we can no longer sustain the debt that is accruing," company officials wrote.

The letter sent many beneficiaries scrambling for a new supplier.

"I was planning on calling soon to ask how to get a resupply, so obviously [I'll] be finding a new place to call for my breast milk storage bag needs," wrote one military spouse to

A DHA spokesman said the problem stemmed from the Inspector General audit, which uncovered the overpayments, leading its Tricare contractors to overhaul their claims processing systems.

Due to the system changes, Humana Military and HealthNet Federal Services were forced to "manually process these claims," said to DHA spokesman Kevin Dwyer. The changes are expected to be complete by early August.

According to the DHA, as of July 24, there were 5,244 pending claims for Pumping Essentials, with a total billed amount of $1,016,611.

Pumping Essentials executives did not respond to a request for comment. But an employee who answered the phone said the company is still trying to resolve the situation with DHA and hopes to eventually do business again with military beneficiaries.

She said the amount owed to the company became a large burden that threatened Pumping Essentials' financial stability and, regrettably, they had to stop doing business with the Pentagon until the issue is resolved.

More than 83,000 Tricare beneficiaries have utilized the program's breast pump and supply benefit since Jan. 1, 2018, according to the DHA.

Likewise, milk banks across the country have had to navigate through a payment and reimbursement system that wasn't solidified before the milk bank benefit was announced.

Nearly as soon the benefit was introduced, Mothers' Milk Bank in San Jose, California, was "flooded with calls," according to lactation specialist Pauline Sakamoto. But there were few to no guidelines for milk banks to follow.

"There continue to be questions as to what the benefit is and what the families are responsible for paying," Sakamoto said. "For example, shipping costs. Is that part of Tricare coverage or not? And to some extent, Tricare has a co-pay, but we aren't seeing that families are getting requests. There are a lot of issues right now swarming around this coverage."

Earlier this year, Kaitlynn Cornelius, wife of Navy Aerographer's Mate 2nd Class Philip Cornelius, gave birth to twins at 28 weeks into the pregnancy. The birth was physically traumatic for Kaitlynn, leaving her unable to produce enough milk for what was expected to be a lengthy hospital stay until the babies' projected due date. Neither infant could tolerate formula and, without supplemental breast milk, they were failing to thrive.

Having learned about Tricare's new breast milk bank benefit on a Facebook page, Kaitlynn pursued it. The babies got the needed nutrition, she said, but tapping into the benefit, understanding the cost and managing the reimbursement process was anything but easy, leaving the couple with more than $10,000 in debt.

"They didn't have a procedure in place," she said of the Defense Health Agency. "I feel like Tricare didn't provide any instruction to its contractors. There just wasn't clear communication."

The issue was eventually resolved but, for a while, the Corneliuses relied on support from the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, the hospital and the supplying milk bank.

A persistent employee at Humana, the contractor for the Tricare East Region, and not direct assistance from DHA, "got us all the answers."

"She figured out the preauthorization numbers and procedure codes, resubmitted all the claims, got all the information," Kaitlynn said. "She got those checks coming through."

Lindsay Groff, executive director of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America, said such "hiccups" for the new benefit were not unexpected.

"We are thrilled that the benefit came through ... and we were also of the understanding that when things get passed, it can be a little tangled in the beginning. We did anticipate there would be some headaches, and indeed there have been," she said.

DHA officials said that most contractors are not having issues paying claims if beneficiaries submit their claims properly. "However, some contractors are having difficulties providing the right documentation for their claims," Dwyer said. "In these instances, contractors are working with providers to review the benefit so corrections can be made and claims are paid."

As of July, seven beneficiaries had filed claims for banked donor milk and five claims were pending, the DHA said.

According to the DHA, all claims must be submitted by either the provider or the beneficiary. They must include the prescription and an itemized invoice, with the beginning and ending dates for the milk purchased, and must be submitted listing the infant as the patient.

Banked donor milk is covered for babies less than a year old and must be approved with a referral or prescription on file. A new referral or prescription must be submitted every 30 days.

Sakamoto said she looks forward to reading the final policy and contract, which she said will help all parties involved.

"It is surprising that it was not clear-cut as to what the benefit is. Clearly, the message has been, 'Stay with us, we are going to get through it,'" she said.


102-year-old WWII Woman Veteran Served in WAVES

Melva Dolan Simon


When the Navy called on women to volunteer for shore service during World War II to free up men for duty at sea, 102-year-old Melva Dolan Simon was among the first to raise her hand and take the oath.

“I went in so sailors could board ships and go do what they were supposed to be doing,” said Simon. She recalled her military service as “something different” in an era when women traditionally stayed home while men went off to war. “I helped sailors get on their way.”

Simon was 25 years old in October 1942 and working as an office secretary at the former Hurst High School in Norvelt – a small Pennsylvania town named for Eleanor Roosevelt – when she joined the Navy’s Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, or WAVES.

Simon was the first woman in her hometown of Bridgeport, Pa., to join the WAVES, according to a yellowed clipping of a 1942 newspaper article. She was also among the first in the nation to join the service. It was just three months earlier, on July 30, 1942, that President Franklin D. Roosevelt had signed the law establishing the corps.

“I had a good job with the school, but I felt I would be doing more for my country by being in the service,” said Simon.

The seventh of 12 children, Simon said she chose the Navy because several of her brothers were already serving in the Army, Air Force and Coast Guard.

“They were all enlisted, and I thought, well, what’s wrong with joining the Navy?” said Simon. “I decided I wanted to go, and I was accepted.”

Simon attended WAVES Naval Station Training at Oklahoma A&M College (now Oklahoma State University) in Stillwater, Okla. Each class of 1,250 yeoman learned military discipline, march and drill, and naval history over a six to eight-week training period.

“That’s where we learned the basics of the Navy,” said Simon. “We were trained to march, we studied hard, and they drilled into us how important what we were doing was.”

After completing basic, many of the WAVES trainees spent another 12 weeks at the college for advanced training in secretarial duties.

From Oklahoma, Simon was assigned to active duty at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, which during World War II employed 40,000, built 53 warships and repaired another 1,218. She and her fellow yeomen earned anywhere from $50 to $125 in basic pay per month, depending on their rank, plus food and quarters allowance, unless provided by the Navy.

Simon lived on the all-female fourth floor of the Benjamin Franklin Hotel in Philadelphia. WAVES personnel were under strict orders not to visit any other floors of the hotel – an order Simon said she followed.

“I didn’t go on the other floors,” said Simon, sternly. “It was none of my business.”

Simon’s military responsibilities included taking dictation from the officer in charge, performing clerical duties and driving officers around the base.

“They gave me a driver’s license for the Navy, and I would drive these officers, sometimes just very short distances,” Simon said, smiling as she motioned from her seat at a dining room table to the far side of her kitchen. “I thought that was interesting because it would have done them some good if they’d just walked.”

Simon wrote letters home to her family at first, then sent her parents money to have a home phone installed. Simon said that home phones were a luxury at the time. Before they installed the phone, her family used a telephone at a nearby store to call her.

“I sent them money every payday to keep the phone bill paid,” Simon said. “It was much easier to call than to sit down and write, especially since I was writing all day at the office.”

The phone also allowed her future husband, Joseph “Joe” Simon, to keep in touch with her. The two had met at the high school where Joe Simon worked as an agriculture teacher, and he’d visit with her when she was home on leave. They married in July 1945, just a few weeks before Melva Simon received an honorable discharge from the Navy in August 1945.

The couple purchased a 22-acre farm in 1947 in Mt. Pleasant Township, Pa., where they supplemented Joe’s teacher’s salary by growing and selling sweet corn.

“It sold like hot fire because it was good sweet corn,” Melva Simon said. “Then Joe planted apple trees, and that’s what we decided to do.”

The couple started an apple orchard – Simon’s Apple Orchard – that remains family-run today. The orchard opens its doors to customers every fall, offering everything from pure sweet cider still made using the Simons’ original recipe to bags of fresh McIntosh, Stayman, Rome, Jonathan, red and yellow delicious, and other apple varieties.

At the VA

Melva Simon worked the orchard alongside her husband, then took over when he died in 2004 at the age of 88. Still spry at 102, she drove tractors, harvested apples, made cider and worked the counter at a small shop on the property until just a few years ago.

Blessed with a lifetime of good health, Melva Simon only recently discovered she is eligible for health care benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs. With the help of her daughter, Melvajo Bennett, the World War II Veteran has, since August, received care through VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System’s Westmoreland County VA Outpatient Clinic.

“It didn’t dawn on her to go to the VA because she’s always had such good health and never really had to see the doctor,” said Bennett. “But they’ve been wonderful with how they are treating her.”

Asked for the secret to good health and a long life, Melva Simon gave a simple answer.

“There is no secret,” she said. “All it takes is simple living. I eat simple food. I don’t drink, and I don’t smoke.”

As for her military service, Melva Simon said she’d do it all over again.

“That was all I ever wanted to do, was to do something for the government and the country,” she said. “I’d do it again.”


VA and DoD collaboration offers women’s health transition training

Womens Health Transition


Register now for in-person or virtual sessions led by Women Veterans

A new VA and DoD collaboration offers a virtual option for the Women’s Health Transition Training Program. The program provides service women with a deeper understanding of the women’s health services available to them within the VA health care system and how to navigate the VA enrollment process.

This free training is designed for Active Duty service women planning on transitioning to civilian or Reserve/National Guard status within the next calendar year, or women Veterans and current National Guard/Reserve members who have not enrolled into VA healthcare.

The training is led by women Veterans for women currently serving and fellow women Veterans.

Instructor Nik Hall is an experienced health care and business management professional. Her work for Navy Medicine includes 10 years of experience with clinical transformation, pharmacy operations, patient experience, and women’s health. As an OEF combat Veteran, she was the first female in combat operations in Afghanistan in 2002.

Nik, who utilizes VA health care herself, has personally benefited from the course information and enjoys delivering this high-energy and interactive virtual course. She covers the following:

The course offers the opportunity to engage with live training instructors who answer your questions in real-time, a Women Veterans Program Manager from a VA Medical Center and other Servicewomen navigating the transition process.

Virtual courses will be offered:

  • September 17th (1000 CT)
  • September 19th (0900 CT)
  • September 24th (1100 CT)
  • September 26th (0900 CT)
  • October 2nd (1300 CT)
  • October 15th (1400 CT)
  • November 7th (1700 CT)
  • December 2nd (0900 CT)

On-site training will also be offered at some military installations.

Sign up today for the VA/DOD Women’s Health Transition Training Program.

Virtual classes are offered through Adobe Connect. You will have the option to download it automatically when clicking on the link above, or you can install it ahead of time by going to this website:


Women Veterans: Talk to your provider about cervical cancer

Cervical Cancer 001


One of the most treatable cancers if found early

VA encourages you to talk to your primary care provider about cervical cancer testing because early detection can help save your life.

Cervical cancer was once the number one cause of cancer-related death in women. Due to increased screening, the number of cervical cancer deaths in the United States has dropped by more than 50% since the 1970s, according to the American Cancer Society.

Cervical cancer is one of the most treatable cancers if found early. A Pap (Papanicolaou) test, also known as a Pap smear, looks for cancer and precancerous cervical cells. This test and screening for the human papillomavirus (HPV) testing, which is the cause of most cervical cancers, often leads to early detection. In addition to screening, there is also a vaccination to prevent HPV. It is most effective if administered during childhood or adolescence, but adults can benefit from it too.

Cervical Cancer

These are some of the most helpful questions to ask during your next primary care visit:

  • How often do I need a Pap or HPV test or both?
  • If my test is abnormal, how will I be contacted?
  • Should I receive the HPV vaccine?

Depending on your age and current cervical health, you can now be screened in three- to five-year increments. VA and the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) released new screening guidelines in 2018. You should connect with your primary care provider to better understand the new scheduled recommendations.

For women Veterans between the ages of 21 and 29, VA recommends:

  • A Pap test every three years.

For women Veterans between the ages of 30 and 65, VA recommends one of three options:

  • A Pap test alone every three years.
  • Both the Pap and HPV tests every five years.
  • An HPV test alone every five years.

You can speak to your VA provider about how to schedule a cervical cancer screening, your Pap and/or HPV test at your local VA facility.

To contact a Program Manager at a local VA facility for more information, call 1-855-VA-WOMEN (1-855-829-6636). Additionally, you can chat online via real-time messaging or visit


“Eat it or starve:” food causes stress for women Veterans

Eat or Starve


VA researchers hear about a range of unhealthy eating habits that women developed in the military

The military is no picnic when it comes to consuming food. Eating quickly and at strange hours is a way of life in the armed forces. For many women Veterans, these experiences can affect their eating habits, and relationship with food after their military service is over.

For a study published in the journal Appetite, researchers Dr. Jessica Breland of VA Palo Alto Health Care System and Dr. Shira Maguen of San Francisco VA Health Care System talked with 20 women Veterans about how military service affected their eating habits. They found that many had developed unhealthy patterns such as binging, eating quickly, eating in response to stress and extreme dieting. In many cases, those habits carried over into civilian life.

Military service can change how women eat even after they return to civilian life

Poor eating habits

The Veterans described three military environments that promoted poor eating habits: boot camp, deployment, and on base.

Almost all of the women recalled that in boot camp, they were forced to eat quickly.

“My family asks why I eat so fast, and I say I learned it from the military,” one woman Veteran said. “We were always timed.”

Others ate quickly in order to get second helpings. In addition to eating fast, they also ate a lot. Since they were physically active, they didn’t gain weight. But when they got out of boot camp and continued eating large meals, they gained weight, which then affected their self-esteem.

Deployment changed eating habits even further since there was no set schedule for meals.

“You ate as much as you could before the flies ate your food, or you had to run off and do something and get [to] … the next stressful situation” said one woman Veteran.

On base, meals were less stressful than in boot camp or on deployment, but healthy choices were limited.

“Your options are the mess hall or Burger King and Cinnabon,” said another woman Veteran.

For many women, the need to “make weight”—not exceed maximum military weight limits—was an ongoing struggle. This involved continually monitoring what they ate and being monitored by others. For some, this struggle was tied directly to the stress of being female in the military.

“There is just a whole host of things that we have to deal with that [male service members] don’t have to,” one woman said, “and one of those things is being constantly judged on our appearance. It’s like there is nothing we can do right as women in the military and … that translates into these eating issues when we get home.”

Challenges making weight

Making weight was even more challenging—and critical—after pregnancy.

“They give you nine months to gain the weight [during pregnancy], and if you’re over[weight] when you come back to work in six weeks, it’s career death,” one participant said. “They start writing you up, they start demoting you, but the men don’t have that, you know?”

Some women ate as a way of finding comfort and control in stressful situations. One Navy Veteran said she and a female colleague felt isolated and bullied due to their gender. They used food as a way to feel good and cope.

“When we got in port, we would just hole up in a hotel room, and just buy a whole bunch of just comfort food, candy, cookies, and whatever it was that we wanted to pig out and eat on. So we [were] in a relationship with the food, her and me, which … helped us out a lot.”

Some became trapped in a cycle of overeating and extreme dieting.

“You [could have] the start of a really serious eating disorder that could have killed you and it was reinforced by people saying, ‘Oh my god, look how much weight you are losing,’ like it was a good thing,” one female Veteran said. “Were they going to wait until you were dead before they said, ‘You know, this might not be so healthy’?”

Adapting to civilian life

Some women found it hard to readjust to civilian eating patterns after leaving the service.

“[My family said], ‘We’re not in the military. You have to slow down and back away and think about what you are doing,’” another female Veteran said. “So that was hard … it wasn’t clicking in my head that I was no longer in the military. They didn’t know my norm, and I didn’t know their norm, and we were just clashing all the time.”

Other women reported that they no longer took pleasure in food because years of consuming mediocre military meals had reduced eating to the level of a chore.

“You just eat it or you starve,” as one woman put it.

The researchers caution that their findings may not apply to all women in the military, but only to those with certain risk factors. They hope to do larger-scale research to further explore the issue.


Women Veterans confront intimate partner violence

Women Vets Confront Partner


VA Boston psychologist studies connection between domestic violence and traumatic brain injury

One third of women Veterans experience intimate partner violence during their lifetime

Dr. Katherine Iverson, a clinical psychologist, and researcher at the VA Boston Healthcare System works with women Veterans who have experienced intimate partner violence, or IPV. Often called domestic violence, IPV occurs when a current or former intimate partner such as a boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse harms, threatens to harm or stalks their partner.

Iverson’s basic message to women Veterans who have experienced IPV: “VA can help.”

According to the VA Women’s Health Services Office, one third of women Veterans experience IPV in their lifetime, compared with less than a quarter of civilian women. Researchers are not sure why, says Iverson, but one reason might be that women Veterans simply “have more risk factors” for IPV, including “having parents who have experienced IPV, witnessing violence in the home and being a victim of childhood sexual or physical abuse. We know that people who’ve had these experiences in childhood are more likely to go into the military.”

Plus, a woman Veteran or service member is more likely to partner with or marry another Veteran or service member, who in turn is at greater risk of being violent with their partner.

Iverson’s recent research focuses on women Veterans who experience traumatic brain injury (TBI) as a result of IPV. “In my clinical work, I found that women are often strangled or choked by intimate partners during their assaults,” she says. “Or they might be badly punched or elbowed to the head, face, or neck, or have their head bashed against the wall.”

She notes that women may be more likely than men to experience severe symptoms from such injuries. In a study of Iraq Veterans with TBI, women reported significantly more severe health problems than men and were much more likely to be diagnosed with depression and PTSD.

In addition to the harms caused by TBI, IPV itself is linked with a range of health issues including stomach trouble, sexual health problems and mental health symptoms. “Women who experience IPV are twice as likely to attempt suicide. They are two to four times more likely to have diagnoses of PTSD and depression and to use alcohol—perhaps as a way of coping with the IPV they experience.”

On top of those challenges, says Iverson, women who have experienced repeated IPV “can be colossally critical of themselves” and tend not to trust their own feeling that something is wrong. “If you’ve been put down enough and told that you are crazy, you can start feeling like that. So I think an important part of what clinicians can do is validate for women that their experiences are legitimate; that they don’t deserve to be treated like that; that it’s not their fault; and that there are programs that can help.”

Iverson says that women Veterans who have experienced IPV, or think they might have, can ask their VA health care provider for help. “If they have a provider that they feel comfortable with, like primary care or mental health provider, we’d encourage them to talk to their provider about it.” Women Veterans can also talk with a VA social worker or ask if their VA facility has an IPV coordinator, “who are really the experts on connecting with community services.”

Iverson notes that since VA is an integrated health care system that offers mental health and social work services along with health care, “we can play a very important role in helping women understand symptoms that they experience, to recognize IPV, to know where to seek help, to get help for their own symptoms so that they can make decisions that are best for themselves and their children.

“Essentially, we focus on enhancing the tremendous strengths and resilience that women Veterans already have.”


Top VA official honored for contributions to women’s health

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The Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR) recognized a senior official from the U.S. Departmentof Veterans Affairs (VA) during a ceremony May 1 in Washington, D.C., for her contributions to improving women’s health research.

The organization presented Dr. Carolyn Clancy, VA’s deputy under secretary for Health, for Discovery, Education and Affiliate Networks, with its Health Public Service Visionary Award during its annual awards dinner.

“In recent years, VA has focused increasingly on serving the health care needs of women Veterans,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “Dr. Clancy’s leadership in clinical care and research has been essential to the substantial progress VA has made in this area.”

In her current role, Clancy works to foster collaboration among VA’s researchers, clinicians and the department’s academic affiliates. Under her leadership, VA has strengthened and broadened its scientific research — which now covers a woman’s entire lifespan. These efforts have increased research on primary care and prevention, reproductive health, intimate partner violence, mental health and post-deployment health for women Veterans.

Clancy is an experienced health care executive, having served as director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality from 2003 to 2013.

Currently, 1.9 million living female Veterans make up nearly 10% of the Veteran population.

“As the fastest-growing segment within the U.S. Veteran population, young female Veterans have unique health care needs that must be recognized and addressed,” said Dr. Amy Miller, SWHR president and CEO. “In her many influential roles at VA, Dr. Clancy has enhanced access to and quality of care for women Veterans by helping to identify and remove barriers to their participation and care in VA’s health system.”

Clancy said she is honored to be recognized by SWHR, noting that the organization has helped to elevate awareness of the urgent need for women’s health research.

To learn more about VA research on women’s health, visit


Glyphosate found in pregnant women



Carey Gillam in her book, "White Wash, The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science," writes that "It is undeniable that we've allowed our food, our water, our soil, our very selves to become dangerously doused with chemicals."

Her work focuses on the Monsanto Company. Monsanto gave us DDT, PCB's and Agent Orange. All three products were promoted and defended by Monsanto and U.S. government agencies. All three products were eventually banned because of their damage to human life and the environment. They now offer us a range of weed poison products known as Roundup, with its chief ingredient glyphosate.

In the Northshire, it's used on our lawns and gardens. Perhaps it's used on our town parks and school playgrounds.

In the year 2000, Monsanto introduced glyphosate-tolerant soybean, corn, canola, beet, alfalfa and other crop seeds. These seeds contain the weed poison. The plants that grow from these seeds contain the weed poison. Monsanto acknowledges this and maintains that the levels found in food products are safe. The question is how much residue is found in the breakfast cornflakes our children eat or the corn chips adults eat. We don't know. For the past 20 years the Federal Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have "steadfastly avoided testing for glyphosate residues in the American food supply."

The U.S. Government Accountability Office in 2014 sharply rebuked the FDA for not telling the public of their skipping over glyphosate testing. It further criticizes FDA's capability to do any accurate pesticide testing, "FDA's ability to reliably identify specific commodities that may be at high risk of violating pesticide residue tolerances is limited."

Focusing on pregnant women, fetuses and infants: What do we know? Multiple studies suggest pesticides are harming children's brains and bodies. Research shows that children of pregnant women with pesticides in their urine and blood samples suffer IQ and neurobehavioral development issues as well as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder diagnoses.

In December of 2016, Phillipe Grandjean, a Harvard professor of environmental health and an expert on environmental epidemiology, co-authored a report for the European Parliamentary Research Service.

The report stated, "Recent insight into the toxic effects of pesticide exposure suggests that early-life exposure is of greatest concern, especially prenatal exposure that may harm brain development. No systematic testing is available since testing for neurotoxicity — especially developmental neurotoxicity-has not consistently been required as part of the (regulatory) registration process."

The report further urges women who are pregnant, who plan to become pregnant, or who are breastfeeding to seek organically grown foods.

A study in Chemical Research in Toxicology reports that glyphosate can be toxic to human umbilical, embryonic, and placental cells. It can pass through the placenta.

In Indianapolis, Indiana, Dr. Paul Winchester, the Medical Director of a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, began to notice what reseachers call a "cluster" of symptoms among news babies. For two years (2015-2016) he and seven other researchers tested pregnant women and followed them through delivery.

In April of 2017, Dr. Winchester presented his findings at the Children's Environmental Health Conference. The research showed that over 90% of the women had glyphosate in their urine. Women with higher levels of the weed poison were found "to have shorter pregnancies and babies with lower birth weights." These outcomes are believed to translate to long-term health issues.

This is the first study to show that the weed poison glyphosate is in pregnant women. "This is a huge issue", said Dr. Winchester. "Everyone should be concerned about this."

The last word goes to the best-selling author and naturalist Jane Goodall: "How could we have ever believed that it was a good idea to grow our food with poisons.


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