So as of late, I have not been feeling quite myself. Chalking it up to raising children, homeschooling and enduring a pandemic, I thought the answers were obvious. But were they?
Before I introduce you to, Dr. Susan Hardwick-Smith, let me first tell you my reasons to which led me to her practice.
And of course, leading with: where has life gone? Seriously? I still think of myself as in my twenties, until I look in the mirror and see otherwise. And while, I would never dream of turning back the clock, as being in my forties has awarded me with knowing who I am, what my purpose is, direction, and expectations I have in all facets of my life. Ultimately, our body starts to change and take on its own course. It was with the added hurdle of recognizing that I am actually “midlife” and its own stigma that I tried to avoid.
But I assure you, addressing it was the best gift I gave to myself and possibly to my husband and children. Literally, after one week of visiting Dr. Susan, I feel more myself than I have in years. I’ll go into the details later. But, moreover, feeling justified, seen and heard by a physician and another woman that “gets it” was incredible, in itself!
Therefore, between the demands of day-to-day life as a mom, a wife, an entrepreneur, and active in my community, there is little time left in the day to focus, or even pay attention to wellness. I was making do and functioning at limited capacity, which made it challenging to tackle, what seemed like, an endless to-do list. Often feeling sluggish or fatigued, and overall, not feeling myself. Which started to feel like the new “normal”. Or could these be symptoms that something else is going on? In a culture where we constantly live in a state of doing and rarely give ourselves permission to switch to a state of being, wellness rarely earns our attention. However, if we listen, our bodies play an amazing role in providing feedback by the symptoms that we feel, which can guide us to a path of restoring wellness. This is when I met Dr. Susan Hardwick-Smith.
I help women navigate the challenges of midlife so that we can feel fully alive - sexually, relationally and spiritually. - Dr. Susan
Meet Dr. Susan Hardwick-Smith, approachably, referred to as Dr. Susan, who is Empowering Midlife Wellness
Dr. Susan Hardwick-Smith is a board-certified obstetrics and gynecology physician, author and life coach based in Houston. She started one of the largest all-female OB/GYN practices in the country in 2002 called Complete Women’s Care Center, and recently started a new medical practice dedicated to women in midlife.
Passionate about midlife wellness and sexuality, led her to the research behind her new book, Sexually Woke , and starting AGIL, a line of skincare, and certified organic transdermal hormones that support optimal aging. According to Dr. Susan, “AGIL is directly partnered with a nonprofit called Child Legacy International that I am actively involved in and that is close to my heart”.
Dr. Susan grew up in New Zealand instilling a love for the ocean. She has teenage children who she loves spending time with. And if you’re not impressed yet, she is also a marathon runner and Iron Man triathlete.
Back to my Journey to Wellness
My journey to wellness with Dr. Susan started when I took that "leap" to explore my symptoms, that I was wrongly attributing to a busy lifestyle. Chronic fatigue, unexplained weight gain, brain fog, memory loss, pale skin, hair loss, and dry skin are only a few of my symptoms I’d care to recall. Although, these are enough to cause anyone to feel depleted, both emotionally and physically.
Often, our multifaceted lifestyles make it hard to define the root cause of feeling “off.” It’s reassuring to connect with your doctor who sits, listens and doesn’t rush through your consultation to devise the best, individualized, plan for you. Dr. Susan analyzed my results with her personalized approach and explained them, eliminating the jargon and mapping out solutions for navigating a healthier me! Ahhhhhhhh! If only I could sing, I would…
Dr. Susan’s prognosis, based on my history of symptoms and my lab results from my Hormone Consultation, indicated an imbalance in my thyroid hormones, low vitamin D (D3) levels, and low testosterone levels. Dr. Susan explained that my thyroid was under-active, commonly known as Hypothyroidism. Additionally, my results showed that my thyroid was under attack by an elevated level of thyroid antibodies, another reason my thyroid was underperforming and referred to as the auto-immune named, Hashimoto's Thyroiditis.
Dr. Susan’s help and personalized path to a healthier me has made a huge change in my energy levels, in which my body reacted immediately. On day one, I no longer required the daily nap I had grown accustomed to over the past three years. My skin is softer than it has been in ages. My brain fog has subsided, having more clarity than ever. Even the unwelcome weight that I had been gaining is starting to come off. Not only have I obtained an understanding of what was attributing to the way I felt, I feel better and more confident in my journey to wellness and embracing midlife with new found optimism.
Thank you, Dr. Susan!
*Check below for a comprehensive list of known symptoms associated with your thyroid.
Commonly Asked Questions:
Q: What age is midlife for a woman?
Recent studies indicate that midlife spans from age 40 to 65 years old
Q: What can you expect from your visit with Dr. Susan at Complete Midlife Wellness Center?
We call our annual exam an “annual wellness experience.” We take the whole hour and we’ll do your breast exam and the pap smear and your blood work. We’ll also talk to you for as long as it takes, going through all of those other subjects—your relational wellness, your sexual wellness, your spiritual wellness, your exercise routine. We do your body composition; I do recommendations on how to optimize your muscle mass, for example. We check your hormones, and see if hormone replacement might be an option for you. We get into much more detail than you are normally able to get into with an annual exam.
A midlife wellness experience for women in midlife, by women in midlife" - Dr. Susan
Q. What types of services does Complete Midlife Wellness offer?
Hormone Consultations include a one-hour consult including complete blood hormonal evaluation and an extensive consultation regarding options including bio-identical hormone prescriptions, hormone pellets and bio-identical creams.
Additionally, CMWC (Complete Midlife Wellness Center) offers:
- Vaginal Rejuvenation, Labiaplasty, Life Coaching, Spectra Cell Micro-Nutrition Testing, Cliovana, and O-Shot
- Concierge Services: Cosmetic Surgery and Anti-Aging procedures, Body Composition
- Testing and Nutrition Planning, Sex and Intimacy Therapy
- CMWC has an onsite, fully encompassing lab
Q: Is insurance accepted?
Lab is in-network with all major insurance plans, including genetic cancer screening and
COVID-19 testing. Concierge services are self paid.
Q: What should women ask for when having their hormone levels checked?
Typically, traditional medicine doctors do a very high level thyroid check which is for Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH). High levels of TSH indicates that your thyroid is under-active. Dr. Susan encourages women to ask their physicians to dig a little bit deeper, to ask for a full thyroid panel check including free T3 and free T4 levels. The thyroid produces two hormones, T3 and T4. The active version, free T3, is the most important because this is the only form our cells can absorb.
Q: What does a “normal” thyroid indicate?
Be careful when you are told that your TSH level is “normal." Dr. Susan recommends asking for the specific number because the “normal” range that labs usually state for thyroid are generally, considered to be extraordinarily too wide. Oftentimes when we are told our thyroid is “normal,” falling at one end of the spectrum, in fact it isn’t “normal” because we didn’t know to ask for a full thyroid panel check.
Q: Is there anything else my doctor should consider when checking my hormones, and specifically my Thyroid?
Yes, ask your doctor to check for thyroid antibodies. It is very common to develop these, especially as we get older. If thyroid antibodies are present, they essentially act as a signal that the body is attacking its own thyroid, an indicator of an autoimmune disease. This attack on your thyroid, lowers your thyroid function. This is something that you will want your doctor to watch closely and check every six months.
* Q: What are common symptoms of a thyroid imbalance?
- Cold Sensitivity - Constipation - Depression
- Dry skin - Elevated cholesterol - Enlarged thyroid gland
- Fatigue - Hair loss - Heavier/irregular menstrual periods
- Hoarseness - Impaired memory - Irritability
- Muscle aches - Muscle tenderness - Muscle stiffness
- Muscle weakness - Painful joints - Pale skin
- Puffy face - Sexual dysfunction - Slowed heart rate
- Sluggishness - Unexplained weight gain
I hope my personal journey and connecting you with Dr. Susan can improve your life, bring awareness to your wellness, and empower midlife health within you, as it has for me.
Wish to connect with Dr. Susan?
Learn more about Dr. Susan and schedule an appointment for a Hormone Consult at Complete Midlife Wellness.
Shop AGIL, an anti-aging line for optimal skin and hormonal wellness.
Order Dr. Susan’s book, Sexually Woke, an educational page turner about health, wellness and topics you always wanted to ask, but never could.
Listen to Dr. Susan’s podcast, Being Well with Dr. Susan, where she openly discusses struggles and what the wisdom of midlife can teach us.
Photo Credit: Krisit Zontini