My mission has always been to empower women as the guardians and nurturers of their own health. To do that well, women must understand their bodies and be tuned in to their personal health. I have always urged women to honor their intuition and emotions, including not giving anyone else’s opinion or needs higher billing than their own, be it a partner pressuring for you for sex or a doctor disregarding your questions and concerns.
In my new book, Ask Dr Marie: Straight Talk and Reassuring Answers to Your Most Private Questions, I call this ability for women to place their needs first and foremost my “Golden Rule of Women’s Health”. The “Golden Rule” passed on through the ages asks us to “Do unto others as you would do unto yourself.” I argue that for women, we need to flip that around so that it says, “Do unto yourself as you would do unto others.”
What I mean is that you need to take care of yourself with at least as much devotion as you take care of everybody else. We tend to put ourselves last on our list of priorities but that’s not good for those we love any more than it’s good for us. My “Golden Rule of Women’s Health” applies to all of us at all ages and stages of our lives. Are you a teen who’s only recently started getting your period? Are you a woman in your childbearing years? Are you a woman approaching or going through menopause? Are you a woman enjoying the decades of life after menopause that were denied to so many of our grandmothers and even our mothers before medical advances dramatically upped our life expectancy?
Whatever the case, my book Ask Dr. Marie, offers clear, comprehensive, and compassionate answers to your questions about sex, libido, hormones, and everything else that goes on “down there.” You’ll hear the voices of real women dishing about the intimate and sometimes funny details of everything from birth control to smart sex, HPV to hormones and the safest “bioidentical” choices. I discuss our internal plumbing or bladder and bowel problems, how women manage stress, the best approach to “waist management” and my treasured “Lifestyle Pill”. I also give you ways to approach the diagnosis and treatment of annoying and sometimes serious health problems “down there” so you’ll know whether and when to get help.
You can also share the information across the generations in your family and among your friends. Women have instinctively been one another’s “health buddies,” confidantes, soothers, and healers since the dawn of human history. Now more than ever, as we are bombarded by information technology and hurried through our health-care consultations and procedures, we need to help each other by sharing our stories truthfully and becoming fully informed about our health as women. Let’s celebrate our bodies for the wonders of nature that they are. For one thing, they give us a statistical edge over men in the longevity department.
I have cared for the sisters of Mother Cabrini for the past 27 years and I thank them for giving me the chance to learn so much more about the needs of women and the role of patient empowerment. They were the crucible of my crusade for patient power, in particular the need to collect your own medical records. When I first arrived there in 1981, the missionary sisters were overmedicated and their records were literally scattered all over the world, with most of the paperwork still in their mission countries. As I gradually gathered together what I needed to make accurate diagnoses and treat these women properly, I devised a method of record keeping that turned out to be the genesis of the Savard System I first made available in 2000 and which I continue to refine to this day. With the nuns’ records well organized, I was able to help them benefit from the most alert, vigorous, and pain-free lives possible.
That’s what I want for all of us. I want you to do all you can to achieve optimum health as much as is possible for you. You owe that to yourself and to those who love you.
Here’s to your health!
ABC News Medical Contributor