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Ellen Dolgen

  • A Singing Uterus Stars in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend!

    Posted on Monday, October 5, 2015 64,000 of you know Rachel Bloom as the singing uterus in my "A Singing Uterus Explains Perimenopause and Menopause" video.

    Now hold on to your ovaries, just one week from today, Rachel will sing & dance onto Monday night TV in the new musical comedy series, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend premiering on the CW, October 12th! Check your local listing for the time.

    Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a romantic comedy that explores the psyche of a woman who abandons her phenomenal job at a law firm in New York, to find her high school-era ex-boyfriend in West Covina, CA – not exactly paradise!

    Rachel is not only starring in the show, she created the show along with Aline Brosh McKenna. You may have heard of Aline, she was the screenwriter of The Devil Wears Prada. I loved that movie!

    I fell in love with Rachel in 2010 when I saw her music video (WARNING this video is NOT PG) about Ray Bradbury. Of course, we all know Ray Bradbury who was the recipient of the 2000 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the 2004 National Medal of Arts, and the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Special Citation. Apparently, Ray Bradbury fell in love with the video too (so did almost 3 Million other people!), and subsequently asked to meet Rachel!Rachel Bloom

    I know that everyone does stuff, but not like Rachel does stuff.

    Regardless of the topic, from menopause to obsessive young love, Rachel never fails to deliver gifted and creative tongue-in-cheek, hysterical comedy. As I watch Rachel's career soar, I will always remember and deeply appreciate, how she helped tens of thousands of women, both young and not so young, understand and prepare themselves for perimenopause and lives of self-empowerment.

    Thanks, Rachel! Next time I visit West Covina, I will be looking for you!

    Shmirshky, Your links have been removed, please consider upgrading to premium membership.

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  • MonaLisa Touch Laser for Vulvovaginal Atrophy (Dry Vagina!)

    Posted on Monday, September 28, 2015 most of us, when we hear the words Mona Lisa, we think of the portrait of a woman by the Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci. The portrait is of Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo. However, it appears there is a new MonaLisa that is quite the talk now. It is called, the MonaLisa Touch (MLT).

    This MonaLisa doesn't hang in the Louvre Museum in Paris! It is a laser device for the vagina! In the spirit of full disclosure here, I am probably one of a very few 62 year old women who has yet to laser her face, let alone her vagina!

    I have been inundated with questions about this new device from women who are experiencing vulvovaginal atrophy (VVA) - atrophic vaginitis or as laypeople call it, dry vagina. VVA is very common for post-menopausal women, many breast cancer survivors, and women who have had a hysterectomy. If you are experiencing vaginal atrophy, you are not alone! VVA is estimated to affect over 50% of post-menopausal women.

    Mona Lisa

    When it comes to the vagina, thin is out! Finally, a body part that is supposed to be fat and plump! VVA can result in the walls of the vagina becoming thinner, pale, and the natural elasticity and blood supply is reduced. The vagina can lose hydration and thickness causing a loss of lubrication – basically disrupting the natural pH balance of the vagina. The vaginal canal shrinks and becomes inelastic and more prone to trauma. This can result in itching, burning, painful sex, and chronic UTI's. Oh joy!

    I reached out to the following doctors to get their take on the MonaLisa Touch laser:

    Dr. Michael Krychman* is the Executive Director of the Southern California Center for Sexual Health and Survivorship Medicine Inc. in Newport Beach, CA. Dr. Krychman co-authored a recent in depth review for North America Menopause Society and subsequently republished by Medscape.

    Dr. Steven A. Rabin* owns the MonaLisa Touch laser and is currently performing these treatments in his office in Burbank, CA. In addition, he is a national trainer for the MLT.

    Think of me as your laser-focused vagina reporter! we go.........

    The MonaLisa Touch laser is designed and produced by DEKA (Italy) and was approved by the FDA for non-specific gynecological procedures, December 2014. Dr. Rabin purchased his MLT in December 2014. The machine is estimated to cost, $175,000 in the United States.

    Rabin explained how the treatment works, "Fractional CO2 treatment applies tiny laser pulses into the treated area. The columns of laser energy stimulate the surrounding tissues to rush in and heal the areas, bringing in several growth factors, new blood vessels, new collagen, and elastin. Treating vaginal atrophy in this way, we are able to restore pre-menopausal metabolic activity with the new synthesis of collagen, hyaluronic acid, glycosaminoglycans (I looked this up in an English dictionary, but it is still Chinese to me!) and proteoglycans. The evidence shows a hydrated and restored mucosa which then functions as healthy younger tissue. It's more elastic and resilient. It is less prone to trauma, and irritation."

    Dr. Rabin went thru the steps of this in-office procedure:

    • In preparation, patients refrain from using any lubes or products for at least 3 days before the procedure.

    • There is no need for painkillers or valium, etc.

    • A slender vaginal probe is inserted to the full depth of the vagina. (It does not matter if the patient has had a hysterectomy or not.) The probe is retracted 1 centimeter at a time. At each centimeter level, the probe is rotated and the laser is activated at the 12, 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 o'clock positions.

    • The whole process takes about 3-5 minutes. Dr. Rabin indicates that none of his patients have complained of pain, and they have never had to stop a treatment due to discomfort.

    • The recovery is brief - no hot baths, no strenuous activity and no sex for 2-3 days.

    • Although rare, there can be a brief healing discharge which may last for a few days.

    • The prescription is for three treatments, six weeks apart and then a single maintenance treatment once a year.

    Dr. Rabin treated his first patient, January 2015. He explained that she was a 50 year old breast cancer survivor who had taken breast cancer protocol medications to shut down her estrogen and, subsequently, she had her ovaries removed. Not surprisingly, she developed severe vaginal atrophy, dryness, pain tenderness and vagina narrowing. She was unable to be comfortable just sitting or walking... and sex was impossible. Even the small probe was a little tight on the first treatment. After her second MLT treatment (6 weeks later), she reported that she was able to engage with her husband just 9 days after her first treatment. Sex was comfortable and enjoyable. It was their first time having intercourse in over 5 years.

    Krychman's review points out that although laser companies claim on their websites that the CO2 fractional laser may be a treatment for a variety of postpartum/lactational incontinence, and dyspareunia in women with breast cancer, there is no published data on these unique patient populations, nor are there any high-quality clinical trials to support these claims. He, also, noted that the criteria for device clearance are much less stringent than for drug approval. Device clearance does not require the large, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trials with established efficacy and safety endpoints required for approval of new drugs.

    Many health care professionals remain skeptical of the FDA approval process altogether, so I asked Dr. Rabin to give me his take on the established regulations on how this new technology was cleared for use.

    He replied, "The safety of the fractional CO2 laser has been long established in the medical literature and for procedures on the face, neck and other parts of the body. In this case, this specific fractional CO2 laser machine was already approved and has been in use here in the United States for other uses for years. It has a great track record of safety. Showing that it is also safe and effective to treat the vaginal sidewalls for atrophy was done convincingly and the FDA approved it."

    Again, it is important to note that the MLT is not approved specifically for the treatment of VVA but rather for non-specific gynecological conditions. Many doctors feel that although it has been studied in other bodily areas, it still has limited data when used on the vulvovaginal tissues. Of course, the vagina is not the face. You may want wrinkles in your vagina or ridges and folds whereas on the face......not so much.

    Rabin stresses that while the MLT laser is new here in the USA, there are tens of thousands of women worldwide who have already safely benefited from the procedure.

    Krychman cited the following published studies:

    • An abstract presented at the 2011 International Continence Society in Glasgow, where they reported that an analysis of eight vaginal specimens from four women who underwent Co2

      fractional laser treatment. Light and electron microscopic evaluation demonstrated remodeling of vaginal connective tissue without damage to surrounding tissues.

    • There was a follow-up pilot study performed on 50 postmenopausal women with symptoms related to VVA (vulvovaginal atrophy) who were dissatisfied with their previous local estrogen

      therapies. A three-laser application improved the most bothersome vulvovaginal symptoms in this 12 week study. However, changes in pH and what they call the "[Link Removed]"

      are not specifically mentioned. The study had a small size and short duration, without any long term follow-up of the patients.

    • Another study of 15 patients with a 12 week follow-up demonstrated improved dyspareunia related to VVA.

    The data cautions that these short-term studies do not address the potential long term complications that could be possible in the vagina, such as scaring. The studies certainly have some short comings including lack of monitoring for concurrent use of vaginal hormonal or non-hormonal products or systemic medications that could have contributed to the observed improvement with laser treatment.

    Most health care professionals agree that larger powered studies, with more patients who are followed for longer periods of time are needed with newer very expensive technology.

    When asked about the short and long term risks of scarring or damage to the vagina tissue, Dr. Rabin responded, "Fractional CO2 laser used on vaginal tissues has proven to be safe. Since its first use in 2008 there have been no problems identified with it. When used with the recommended settings and techniques, we do not expect nor have we seen any damage. Laser stimulates a natural healing process that wakes up these cells and gets them back to work creating more moisture, elasticity and vitality. There is less risk and no apparent scarring with fractional CO2 laser as compared to the way CO2 laser used in the past for cutting and vaporizing tissues. With many years of experience using fractional CO2 laser on the face, neck and other areas, this is a safe and proven technology."

    Contrary to our shoe budget, most of us don't have unlimited $'s budgeted for our vaginas, so I asked Dr. Rabin about the cost/benefit of this procedure over using LET (local estrogen therapy). Dr. Rabin charges $2400 for the series of three laser procedures. He mentioned that he does offer some payment plans when circumstances make that necessary. He did note that the initial series costs may range from $1800 - $3000+ depending on the practitioner.

    Like Dr. Rabin, many laser practitioners are advocating a repeat procedure "tune-up" (for an additional fee) at the one year mark. Dr. Rabin explained that this single once a year maintenance can vary from $600 - $1,000 for a year. He is charging $800.

    Krychman states that there is not data to support that this repeat procedure is medically warranted, necessary or even safe. Currently, this procedure is not covered by insurance and remains a very expensive fee for a service procedure.

    I reached out to Rite Aid Pharmacy to get some specific comparative pricing for LET (Local Estrogen Therapy):

    Cream 1 tube is $174.54 (some women need one a month some less) = $2,094.48 per year

    Tablets -1 box is $166.59 (usually lasts a month) = $1,999.08 per year

    Ring – 1 ring is $317.89 (usually lasts 3 months) = $1, 271, 56 per year

    Dr. Rabin pointed out that it is often not a simple choice of LET vs. MLT. The four circumstances where MLT should be considered to solve the symptoms of vaginal atrophy are:

    1. Women who are advised to avoid all estrogens.

    2. Women who prefer not to use any hormones at all.

    3. Women who are using systemic and/or local vaginal estrogen (LET) and are not getting relief of their vaginal atrophy symptoms.

    4. Those women who are not happy with the need to use vaginal products week after week, and find the creams to be messy or irritating.

    Dr. Krychman continues to stress that the laser technology holds excellent promise for the future of VVA treatment, however, further long-term efficacy and safety data should be collected before fully embracing this expensive, uncovered by health insurance, new technology. In addition, I chatted with two menopause specialists, one in San Francisco and one in New York who told me that they were not yet ready to recommend the laser, but rather they were taking a wait and see approach.

    I have always been curious about that look in the Mona Lisa's eyes. Now I understand, it is because they are so laser!

    [Link Removed] to download my free eBook, MENOPAUSE MONDAYS: The Girlfriend's Guide to Surviving and Thriving During Perimenopause and Menopause.

    Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!


    Dr. Krychman reports: Consultant/Advisory Board: Palatin, Pfizer, Shionogi, Sprout, Noven, Viveve Medical Materna.

    Dr. Rabin reports: Speaker's Bureau: Ascend, Cynosure


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  • Boomers- The 2015 New Fall Fashions are Hot!

    Posted on Monday, September 14, 2015 since I was young, I have loved fashion. At the end of every summer, when I receive the September fashion magazines, I get excited with anticipation of a quiet time when I can read them without interruption and fall into the fashion fantasies of the moment. A glass of wine in hand, I snuggle into my fav comfy chair, the magazines piled high around me (Yes, I still like to hold and touch them! I do not read them online). I can't wait to dig in and see what's new for fall. This is an early September happening and ritual for me.

    I am ready!

    I think of myself as pretty fashion "with it"...meaning I like to augment my current wardrobe with a thing or two that is "in style" for the season. Changing it up each season adds a spring to my step. Whether I am dressed casual, comfy, glitzy or sexy -...for me, clothes are another form of self-expression.

    I quickly flip past all the ads and land on the first page of the new look! This year, excited and ready to nourish myself in fashion, I began reading the first fashion news for fall; "Slip a turtleneck under it". Wear turtle neck with everything, including under a dress and then "toss on a statement coat for added warmth". It is recommended that you must "flash" leg with this look. I am feeling a different kind of flash coming on! But, I read on..............

    "Tuck it all in" is the next look. Of course, that is what my Spanx are for, right? Wrong, this is not what they are referring to. "Tuck your chunky knit sweaters" into your skirts and pants for your new winter silhouette. The silhouette I am now envisioning is causing me to burst at the seams.

    Next, I read that Zebra stripes with chunky white sneakers (!!!))are running wild on the runway.

    To finish off the season's hot look, the wool sweater dress is back! Preferably sweaters that have the bulky cable look. Now, I am itching all over.

    Apparently it is time for full length full trousers – borrowing a look from men's wear. Does your husband wear full trousers? Mine has been in jeans and a blazer for dress for the past hmmmmmmmmmmmm 10+ years. He doesn't want to wear the "full" trouser either.

    Pockets are the next in news for fall! Big huge- oversized pockets, placed front and center of your pants, skirts and dresses. I have spent a small fortune over the years, removing pockets from everything! I never needed that extra bulk. Now, they're back...and in abundance. In addition, to the big pockets, the experts want us to compliment our winter coats with a belt. They further explain that belting your heavy winter jacket not only wards off the cool temps, but also highlights your waist. Really???????

    Eyebrows – go bushy or go home. My post-menopausal eye brows and lashes went on vacation years ago and haven't returned. Maybe they will return once they hear about the new fall look.

    Hair, whether it is straight or a bit curly...needs a side part – slick it down with a little high shine pomade. As I read these words, my mind floats back to my 13 year old self. I had long curly hair which flowed well below my padded bra. My curly hair and I were not that friendly. I would smother my wet hair in Dippity Do using my head as a huge curler. Then I would sit under the dryer for a tortuous hour and a half (no blow dryers or flat irons in those days) and then proceed to try to unwrap my hardened dry hair. I wonder if I will need to resurrect that gooey Dippity Do for the proper fall "slick down" look.

    Next, I read, that I need to invest in the perfect 'tie neck' blouse to exude feminine cool - preferably in white. Do I wear my turtleneck under this white blouse with the bow tied at the neck? I am feeling very frumpy and a bit queasy.

    The crop top and slit skirt hit the runways. Thank goodness, as I have a whole closet full of crop tops...don't you??? Not so much!

    At this point, I am belly laughing so loud that my husband came running into the family room. I think he was concerned that I was gasping for air and has grabbed the at home defibulator machine. Doesn't every boomer have one?

    Don't fear ladies..... Broaches and pins hit the runways. Dig into your jewelry box....I know you have some.

    Putting your initials on your purses is new. As I look at the picture of the Louis Vuitton logo bag with a women's blue initials on top of all the LV's, I think I am seeing double and feeling a bit dizzy. Could it be the wine!!??

    I was happy to get to the page for the new fall look for nails. Flat colors with stripes and designs are 'IN".

    I grab another glass of wine and try to take in the must have's for fall. I am not going to lie; it's a lot to take in!

    I am envisioning myself wearing a heavy turtleneck under my zebra print dress, and a heavy coat over that , OR perhaps a pair of heavy wool full pants with enormous oversized pockets with a bulky cable sweater tucked in and a belt tightly synched over a coat at my now indiscernible waist. Of course, I will need to add a glitzy broach dangling from the lapel of my coat and make sure that I have a side part in my hair which is slicked back with the still mega strong holding, Dipitty Do. It is very possible that burdened by all of these clothes, I may be bent over at the waist! I am hoping that the synched belt which is over my coat will keep me from bending so far forward that I collapse on the sidewalk.

    Struggling to find my new look for fall, I jump in my car and head to the nail salon. My nails are runway ready! Next stop...the recycle bin for those fashion magazines!

    Nails 2015

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  • Menopause Life’s Cycle and Loss

    Posted on Monday, August 24, 2015

    Menopause Life's Cycle and LossOn July 6th, I received that dreaded phone call. My beloved Mom passed away in Tucson, Arizona.

    Mom started having trouble breathing earlier in the day, and then at approximately 2 in the afternoon, just stopped breathing as she sat in her TV chair. She had what one would call a blessed passing. She did not suffer, it was peaceful.

    Although she was 95 years young, I was not ready.

    As it was with menopause and that stage of life's journey, no one really prepared me for death and dying. Frankly those words were not spoken in our household. My parents had lost their first born, my brother Gary, at the tender age of 4. He choked to death on a piece of bread. Tragically, no one knew the Heimlich maneuver in those days. As a parent, frankly, I do not know how they survived that horrific day. My sister was 2. I was born approx. 9 months later. Then 8 years later my brother was born.

    There was a beautifully framed picture of a little boy on my Mom's dresser. It never moved and no words were ever spoken of it. I knew it was something very fragile - never to be touched. It took me years before I got the courage to ask my maternal Grandma who was that boy in the picture. It was Gary.

    In my teens, I first experienced loss when my maternal Grandpa died. I was scared at the funeral, and had no idea what to expect. I accidentally looked at the open coffin. That's something I will never do again. It took me years to erase the picture of dead Grandpa from my memories.

    I adored my father, but sadly he battled terrible heart disease and he passed away at the young age of 58. My Mom's love for him was unmatched, beautiful and beyond most couples' wildest expectations. David and I had just had our daughter, Sarah. She was 3 months old, and was born on my parent's last anniversary together. I was 27, devastated, and not prepared to lose my father.

    My husband was loving, patient and a rock for me during those dark days. However, I think having my new little baby girl to take care of is what got me out of bed in the morning. Holding her, that baby smell, her giggles, and need for love and mothering surrounded me with the joys of life. Some days I would nurse her with tears running down my face, but her little face, tiny fingers, and helplessness would bring me back to life again.

    When our son was born two years later, I named him Jack after my beloved father. A few months later, my Grandma passed away. My Grandma was my confident and definitely my biggest fan. Having my new beautiful son in my arms and a two year old toddler running around the house got me through the grief of losing my sweet Grandma.

    My beloved Mother lived a sharing, caring and charitable life with effortless grace and tremendous modesty. Although she was petite, refined, and delicate - she was strong and wise. She adored her parents and her brother, Jack, who is 90 and lives in Flint, Michigan. Mom's entire being was devoted to her family. Every breath she took was dedicated to all of us.

    Sarah is the mother of our first grandchild, Aviva. In March of this year, on Mom's 95th birthday, she was able to meet Sarah and Sol's new bundle, Aviva. Aviva just sat on the arm of Mom's chair with her little hand on Mom's shoulder – they were both completely smitten with each other.

    At her burial, as I watched my Mother's grave be covered in dirt, I started having trouble breathing. My son-in-law, Sol, gave me Aviva to hold and immediately I calmed down. It was as if he gave me a tranquilizer. As Aviva squirmed in my arms all giggles and smiles, I was once again comforted by the circle of life...a baby - a new life – love, hope, and joy. I feel blessed to have Sol as a member of our family.

    Lucky for me, in June I read the fabulous free eBook, Love on the Other Side by Arielle Ford. This is a must read! Thanks to this beautiful book, I know that my Mom and Dad are in each other's arms again. This brings me great comfort.

    Towards the end of my Mom's life our daily phone calls were brief – her short term memory was gone, but she was still aware and alert.... I always ended with, "I love you, Mommy." She replied, "I love you too, Ellen Gail."

    I had no idea July 5th would be the last time I would hear her voice. I am going to miss our daily phone calls so much. I know that in time, I will stop reaching for the phone to call her. I will forever look at the world partly through her eyes and hear her words of wisdom and guidance.

    My husband is circling me with love and encouragement to grieve just be. I am so fortunate I can speak openly and honestly with my children, Sarah (35 years old) and Jack (33 years old), about life and death as I cherish their love, support, and wise words of wisdom.

    This is hard for me....I am not used to feeling so sad, so numb, so detached.

    My favorite scholar, Pooh Bear once said, "How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard."

    Yes, Pooh's right. This is very hard.

    However, once again I am reminded about the circle of life. Sarah, Sol and Aviva moved back to San Diego mid July. Lucky me! On August 8th Aviva was 1.

    It seems so fitting that when the grief comes and the tears flow, it is my sweet little granddaughter, Aviva who helps me feel joy, giggles, and happiness again. She reaches out her hands for me to hold her, but in truth it is she who is holding me as life circles on.............

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  • Menopause Infographic - Loss of Libido

    Posted on Monday, August 17, 2015

    Weight GainDo you find yourself suddenly needing to mop the kitchen floor or organize the recycling when your spouse suggests it's time for bed, hoping he or she will have fallen asleep before you get there? Do you find yourself wondering whatever happened to that wildcat who couldn't wait to get her partner alone? And more importantly, do you find lack of intimacy time is creating an emotional chasm with your partner? Thanks to the changing levels of hormones women experience during menopause, your libido may be taking a nosedive.

    You may have noticed the countless television and print ads for pills and creams and power drinks that support a man's virility—there's that "little blue pill" and that couple who inexplicably watch a sunset in separate bathtubs (last time I checked, you need to be in the same tub if you want to get busy).

    So where's the help for women? Research shows that sexual dysfunction occurs in about 30% to 50% of women (and that's just those who report it). Common complaints include low sexual desire, difficulty attaining or maintaining sexual arousal, and inability to achieve an orgasm.

    Are we meant to resign ourselves to live out the second half of our lives as though we're holed up in a convent? No! Just because you've reached a certain age, it doesn't mean you no longer have a need for good sex in your life. In fact, some people find mid-life sex far better than the sex they had when they were young. "As we age, most of us become more aware of what we need in the bedroom and how to get there. We feel more deserving of sexual pleasure and are more willing to ask for what we want from our partners," says Hilda Hutcherson, M.D., Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center. "In our 50s we are more likely to focus on our pleasure than in our 20s, when we tend to focus almost exclusively on his experience."

    Women have the right to toe-curling, earth shattering orgasms, just like men. But due to this double standard, having a fulfilling sex life after menopause may not be a reality for all women.

    However, all is not lost. Read on.

    If your sex drive seems to be firmly stuck in park—or worse, reverse—and you're worried that it may never come back, there are several things to consider. Is low estrogen to blame or could something else be going on? Dr. Hutcherson suggests for many women it's just boredom, although "Medical problems and medications certainly can wreak havoc on desire." Whatever you do, don't fake it! "Faking orgasms will guarantee that your sex life with your partner never improves," she says.

    There is some good news for women! For women who experience what the experts call hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD), we finally have a "pink pill". Addyi (pronounced add-ee), known generically as Flibanserin,is the first everFDA-approvedtreatment for women's most common form of sexual dysfunction made bySprout Pharmaceuticals. It is a once-daily, non-hormonal pill.

    Dr. Michael Krychman, Executive Director of the Southern California Center for Sexual Health and Survivorship Medicine in Newport Beach, California, explains, "While estrogen is critical, it is my belief that there is interplay between lowered estrogen and lowered testosterone levels in women as they age."

    Here is a testosterone 101, courtesy of Dr. Krychman:

    Testosterone is part of our hormonal makeup. Testosterone is a steroid hormone primarily found in men, but smaller amounts are also produced in women's body: one specific place is the ovaries. Testosterone is necessary for muscle tone, a healthy libido, and strong bones. Women begin experiencing low "T" during their menopausal journey, which may begin a decade earlier than when menstrual periods stop.

    Testosterone isn't just for guys. Women with low testosterone levels can experience depression, fatigue, weight gain, bone and muscle loss, and cognitive dysfunction. Then there is the whole "loss of libido" issue, which can be dramatically decreased. As for orgasms, if we have them, they can be more "ho-hum" than "woo hoo!" if your "T" level is down, according to a report from the North American Menopause Society.

    There are many benefits of testosterone supplementation. Supplementing with testosterone can benefit your heart, mood, energy, and bone and muscle health. Additionally, testosterone can sustain skin elasticity and tone, encourage heart health, boost libido, help prevent osteoporosis risks, decrease body fat and increase muscle strength.

    Here are some tips to help you find that lost libido:

    Schedule a visit with your menopause specialist to rule out any other medical problem. Underactive or overactive thyroid, for example, can also affect your energy level, libido and general physical health or well being.

    Talk to your specialist about testosterone testing. Total testosterone and "free" testosterone are typically measured and calculated. Free testosterone, measures your levels of bioavailable testosterone that is not bound by the blood proteins. It is the active portion. Ranges vary between post-menopausal and premenopausal women, with a gradual decline as we age, says Dr. Krychman. However, he adds, "I advise treating symptoms, not lab values. A comprehensive assessment with a good differential is the rule. Testosterone supplementation is not the panacea. It is important to remember that this there is also approximately 40% placebo effect."

    Discuss the various treatment options with your menopause specialist. If your testosterone levels are below norm and you have the symptoms, your health care professional may suggest an "off-label use" of testosterone, with or without estrogen. Why "off-label? Because the FDA has yet to approve any testosterone drug for women. According to WebMD, when you take it orally (by mouth) and it gets processed by the liver—which can result in a change of cholesterol levels. But that same effect doesn't occur when testosterone is administered by skin patch, gel or cream (a.k.a. transdermal) or in pellet form (the size of a grain of rice) inserted under the skin. "What form to use depends on many facets including patient tolerability, patient price, side effects and clinician preference," says Dr. Krychman.

    Weigh the risks vs. benefits with your menopause specialist. Dr. Krychman has a frank and candid conversation with his patients about the benefit versus the risk – safety and efficacy are always balanced, he states. He further recommends that before starting therapy you are aware of the benefits and risks and that once you start therapy, you need to have regular blood work to keep track of your levels. It is important to monitor your blood count and lipid panel, coupled with testosterone levels.

    For some women, the sex drive is fine, but the ability to cross the finish line is a problem. If you're having trouble achieving orgasm, or your orgasms aren't as powerful as they once where, there are several ways you can strengthen your Big O.

    • Strengthen and tone the pelvic floor muscles with [Link Removed], an automatic pelvic floor exerciser. It's a medical device that will strengthen and tone the pelvic floor muscles to eliminate accidental bladder leakage. You've been told to "do your kegels," but actually doing them correctly is tricky. This is the first in-home device that exercises your muscles correctly, every time.

    • Recurring vaginal dryness can make everyday comfort and sex painful and can put unnecessary strain on your relationship. As baby boomers reach menopause, they are saying no to "sandpaper sex."

    Get the info you need to take charge of dealing with your faltering sex drive. Remember, sex is more than just fun. It's integral to most intimate relationships, and it's also great for your overall health (but, yeah, it's also really fun). Check out these benefits you probably weren't even thinking about when you started reading this chapter!

    Stress relief. When you have an orgasm, the hormone, oxytocin, is released from the hypothalamus of the brain into the bloodstream. This creates an instant feeling of release and relaxation. And what better way to start off a good night's sleep than with an orgasm?

    Pain relief. Research shows that [Link Removed] to download my free eBook, MENOPAUSE MONDAYS: The Girlfriend's Guide to Surviving and Thriving During Perimenopause and Menopause.

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  • Menopause Infographic - Weight Gain

    Posted on Monday, August 10, 2015

    Weight GainWelcome to the Sisterhood of the Shrinking Pants!

    If you're anything like me, you woke up one morning and suddenly nothing in your closet fit. Has an alien mysteriously entered your closet during the night and shrunk all your clothes?

    Maybe you try to cut back on the M&Ms and ramp up your exercise routine, but still the pudge keeps on coming.

    Regardless of what number she sees on the scale, a woman's weight through menopause and perimenopause is largely determined by five factors: hormones, diet, exercise, stress, and genetics. Though you may not be able to control all of these factors on your own, a healthy weight is certainly within reach.

    Here are five steps to help you shed those extra menopausal pounds (a.k.a. the menopot belly):

    1. Don't let your hormones get the best of you. [Link Removed] for weight loss. (My husband and I tried it with great success. At first I was reticent, as I would rather have a Pap smear than have to add up points, but if you use the Weight Watchers app, all the adding is done for you. WW taught us a new way of eating that was both size shrinking and life changing.)

    1. Exercise.Physical activity not only wards off saddle bags and thunder thighs, it also keeps the body young. Exercising during and after menopause can help maintain the muscle and bone mass that we tend to lose rapidly after menopause, according to the [Link Removed] published in the Environmental Science and Technology. Wearing a pedometer or one of those activity trackers like Fitbit could give you incentive to move more. There are also plenty of apps for your smartphone like MyFitnessPal that can help you stay on track.

    1. Slash stress.It's hard to relax, especially when you're going through the trials of menopause, but it's important for your mind and body to decompress. Stress not only tends to add weight around your belly but can also boost your appetite, creating a vicious cycle. High stress is a predictor of weight gain and can break your will to stick with a diet, according to [Link Removed] from King's College London.Find some form of exercise that makes you smile. Grab your lover or friend and take a walk, ride your bike or go to the gym. Take the time to read a book, watch a favorite TV show, meditate, or simply enjoy your family and friends. Do whatever helps you decompress.

    1. Control your genes. Researchers now say [Link Removed] from the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health. However, a sedentary lifestyle (a.k.a. watching TV for four hours a day) increases the influence of your genes on weight gain by 50 percent, according to the study.

    A positive attitude is the first step to feeling good and looking good. It's never too late to start living a healthier life. Your brain and body will thank you and so will those clothes collecting dust in your closet. Take the first step! Go ahead—you can do it!

    [Link Removed] to download my free eBook, MENOPAUSE MONDAYS: The Girlfriend's Guide to Surviving and Thriving During Perimenopause and Menopause.

    Shmirshky, Your links have been removed, please consider upgrading to premium membership.

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