Marla Ahlgrimm R.Ph.

Marla Ahlgrimm | Retired Pharmacist | Leading Expert in Women's Health

Q&A with Marla Ahlgrimm | Stress, Sex, and Sleep

Marla AhlgrimmChildren, work, and running a household mean one thing to weary women: stress. Here, Marla Ahlgrimm answers common questions about how stress affects the body and mind.

Q: Why am I so tired all the time? I’m stressed at work, but I get plenty of sleep.

Marla Ahlgrimm: Even if you’re slumbering peacefully (which, if you are truly stressed, you probably aren’t), your body releases a hormone known as cortisol when your mind is under pressure. Cortisol offers a burst of energy to help get you through the rough spots, but burning so much energy in a short time frame can leave you sluggish afterwards.

Q: I can’t seem to get (or stay) aroused anymore. It all started when I took a new position at work. Could stress be the cause?

Marla Ahlgrimm: While men use sex to relax, women have a much harder time getting “in the mood” when their minds are elsewhere. This is especially true for women facing long-term stress as the body reacts by altering the amount of estrogen it produces. This missing hormone could leave you uninterested in doing anything in your bed other than sleeping.

Q: Can older women really experience breakouts when they are stressed?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Absolutely. Androgens are chemicals released when you feel anxious and these male-dominant hormones make themselves known all over the body. Rashes and acne along with excess oil and enlarged pores are common.

Q: My doctor says stress can actually affect my memory. How?

Marla Ahlgrimm: There is a form of stress known as “trauma stress.” This happens when you feel threatened. If you’re worried about losing your job, for instance, you may begin to obsessively worry about how to care for your family.  This triggers a shrinkage in the hippocampus, the part of your brain that forms and stores memories.


Author: Marla Ahlgrimm

Pharmacist Marla Ahlgrimm revolutionized the field of women’s health in the 1970s and continues to do so today. After introducing the term “premenstrual syndrome” to the American public in the late 1970s, Marla Ahlgrimm has continued to focus her pharmacy practice over the years to successfully address hormone concerns that affect women as they age. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Marla Ahlgrimm co-founded Madison Pharmacy Associates, and it was there she fine tuned individualized care protocols and prescription medication to optimize a woman’s hormonal health. One of the first hormone issues that Marla tackled was Premenstrual Syndrome, or PMS. At that time, there were no diagnosis or treatment options to address the severe symptoms that many women were reporting. As a result of Marla Ahlgrimm ’s intense attention to women’s health, Madison Pharmacy Associates gained a national reputation as an innovative practice. Founded in 1982, Madison Pharmacy Associates was the first pharmacy to special in women’s health in the nation. Thanks to the expertise of Marla Ahlgrimm, Madison Pharmacy Associates became known for the management of PMS. Over the years, Madison Pharmacy Associates evolved with Marla Ahlgrimm’s careful guidance, providing the national PMS Access newsletter, as well as a toll-free line where patients could obtain referrals to physicians who had the expertise to help them manage their symptoms. Marla Ahlgrimm founded Women’s Health America, Inc. in 1993 to help women by providing individualized hormonal medications to address the complex health issues of women and also to provide practical, helpful women’s health information. Over the years, Marla Ahlgrimm’s vision has grown to include Women’s Health America, Madison Pharmacy Associates, PMS Access and Cyclin Pharmaceuticals. In addition to her accomplishments with these landmark organizations, Marla Ahlgrimm is an author, having published two watershed books, The HRT Solution and Self-Help for Premenstrual Syndrome. Marla Ahlgrimm has also been published in numerous national publications, including serving as a columnist for The American Journal of Natural Medicine. Today, the primary work of Marla Ahlgrimm centers on natural hormone therapy, an important area for the large number of women who are menopausal and postmenopausal. Marla Ahlgrimm ’s work is unique because of her focus on individualized, natural hormone therapy options. According to pharmacist, Marla Ahlgrimm, many health issues facing women today are related to hormone changes. Using an individualized approach to therapy, she reports that many women feel reenergized for the first time in years. In addition to recognition in publications and journals, Marla Ahlgrimm has been recognized with a number awards over the span of her career. Some of Marla Ahlgrimm ’s most notable awards have been the YWCA’s acknowledgment of Marla Ahlgrimm as one of its Women of Distinction and recognition by her alma mater, the University of Wisconsin, as one of its Distinguished Alumni. Above all of the awards and honors, Marla Ahlgrimm finds that helping so many women is the greatest accomplishment of all. In fact, says Marla Ahlgrimm, she still works with some of her very first patients and their doctors. These women once sought the help of Marla Ahlgrimm for PMS, she says, and today she is helping them manage symptoms of menopause and the years that follow.

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