Jun 212016
 

Welcome to the sisterhood of the shrinking bathing suits!

It’s that time of the year when I get out my box of bathing suits.  I am pretty sure that I accidentally washed them in boiling hot water and dried them on extra high heat before I folded them neatly in this box…………as they all seem to have shrunk! Especially in the tush!

How am I going to keep my tush inside these bathing suits this season?  Staples and tape anyone????

So what’s a gal to do???

  • Thanks to the internet, I can shop for a new bathing suit from the comfort of my own home. You can find a swimsuit that’s flattering and You also can camouflage a lot with a stylish cover-up. Check out these sites:  Swimsuitsforall and Miraclesuit.com.
  • Maintain good posture.Holding your head high, tummy in, and shoulders back, projects an image of self-assurance… and makes you look taller and slimmer, too. Instead of flats, wear sandals with a bit of a heel to give you a longer, leaner look.
  • If you’re not already eating healthy, you can start now! Check out my Menopause Infographic – Weight Gain for some helpful tips!
  • Give your exercise program a boost! Weight-bearing exercises are not only important for toning those muscles, but it is very important for your bone health as we age. Walking with a friend is always fun. You get to keep up on the latest scoops and shed some of those extra winter pounds.
  • Drink lots of water. If you’re spending time outdoors, don’t wait until you’re thirsty. Take a filled water bottle with you wherever you go. Sipping throughout the day is easier than chugging your daily intake all at once. Keeping hydrated will result in healthier skin and hair… and a more beautiful you. Ice-cold water will also cool you from the inside out when you’re experiencing a hot flash. Stay away from carbonated beverages, as they can cause bloating.
  • Stay polished. Treat yourself to a pedicure.There are so many fun, happy colors to play with this season.  My new blush color is OPI – Tiramisu for Two – I promise it is not fattening!
  • Wear a big, floppy hat. After all, you should be protecting your skin from the sun, right? Pair the hat with oversized sunglasses and — voilà! — you look fabulous!
  • Let go of that negative chatter in your brain. Unfortunately, while many of us have outgrown our teeny-weeny-bikinis of yesteryear, we haven’t outgrown our negative self-image. Positive thoughts are the first step to projecting a positive image. Leave the mental baggage at home.
  • Put on your smile.If you’re having fun, no one is going to give your swimsuit-clad body a second thought.
  • Grab your sunscreen! Take good care of the skin you are in.

Don’t deprive yourself of the joys of summer.  This summer, realize your self-truth and know you are beautiful, inside and out.

Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!

Download my free eBook MENOPAUSE MONDAYS The Girlfriends Guide to Surviving and Thriving in Perimenopause and Menopause.

Jun 132016
 

If you or someone you love is post-menopausal and diagnosed with stage one breast cancer, I suggest you speak the doctor about the Oncotype DX test. This test can help you and your doctor choose the best treatment for you. It can be one of the deciding factors on whether or not you need to have chemotherapy. However, always remember, that the final choice lies with you and you want to be proactive.

According to WebMD, this test doesn’t require any additional procedures as it uses tissue taken during the initial biopsy or surgery. It measures 21 different breast cancer genes in the tumor sample.
The Oncotype DX helps to determine if you need chemotherapy treatment and is recommended for people who have Stage I or II invasive cancer and ER+ (estrogen-receptor positive) cancer. The test looks for patterns that would suggest a more aggressive cancer, and that is likely to come back after treatment. The scores range from 0 – 100. The higher the score, the higher the risk.
You also may be a candidate for the Oncotype DX if you’ve recently been diagnosed with DCIS and you’re having a lumpectomy to remove the DCIS. If you have been diagnosed with DCIS, they use a different scoring which is called, a DCIS score. Your doctor will look at your Oncotype DX score, your tumor size and grade, the number of hormone receptors in your cancer, and your age before recommending a treatment plan.
Information is power, the more you know about your tumor, the more individualized the treatment can become. Continue reading »

Jun 072016
 

I strive to keep you up to date on the latest information and science.

I have been reading a lot about liquid biopsies quite possibly changing the way we analyze tumors!

According to the NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information), “Certain fragments of DNA shed by tumors into the bloodstream can potentially be used to non-invasively screen for early-stage cancers, monitor responses to treatment and help explain why some cancers are resistant to therapies.”

Did you know that a liquid biopsy offers a real-time view to track and monitor response to therapy and tumor burden in a timely manner so physicians can rapidly respond and adapt to changes in a tumor during the course of therapy?

I reached out to Dr. Veena Singh who is the Senior VP and Sr. Medical Director of Biocept to learn more about this cutting-edge technology.

I asked Dr. Singh, to explain what a liquid biopsy is in layperson speak. “A liquid biopsy for cancer patients is a blood test that analyzes tumor products shed into the blood by all regions of a tumor, including the original (primary tumor) and metastatic sites. The analysis is done through circulating tumor cells (CTCs) and/or fragments of DNA from the tumor cells (cfDNA).”

Dr. Singh went on to explain that today, liquid biopsy tests are used to identify genetic mutations and to determine if patients are a match for targeted therapy options and to monitor tumors for a reception to treatments. This is done by comparing the tumor DNA with the DNA from normal cells (white blood cells) to detect and monitor genetic alterations. Continue reading »

May 092016
 

http://www.shmirshky.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Ellen_Dolgen_Menopause_Monday.jpgYou’re hot, you’re moody, and you can’t remember the last time you got a good night’s sleep, let alone where you left your keys. Welcome to the club, you’re in perimenopause!

Wait? Aren’t those the symptoms of menopause? Nope. When most women think of the meaning of menopause, they really aren’t thinking of menopause at all. They are thinking about perimenopause, a time that can begin in your late 30s or early 40s and reach into your 50s. Perimenopause comes with a host of hormonal changes and lasts anywhere from 6 to 10 years—until you haven’t had your period for a full 12 months in a row. Then you have graduated to menopause! (Sorry, no cap and gown for this one.)

The first step to finding hormone happiness is to ID and track your symptoms. Download my free Menopause Symptoms Chart and start tracking. Each day, chart the frequency, duration, and severity of your perimenopause symptoms. Talk them over with your perimenopause and menopause specialist to learn how to not just mask the symptoms, but treat their underlying cause. Don’t have a perimenopause and menopause specialist? Here are some simple tips to help you find the perfect one near you!

Want to proactive about your perimenopausal journey?  Here are some perimenopausal symptoms to be on the alert for along with some solutions:

HOT FLASHES

Hot flashes, probably the most infamous of perimenopausal symptoms, strike about two-thirds of women during “the change.” During perimenopause and menopause, the levels and balance of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone begin to fluctuate. When your estrogen levels begin to decrease, they can trigger your body’s thermostat to send a signal that you are overheated. This causes your body to send out an all hands on deck alert: your heart pumps faster, the blood vessels in your skin dilate to circulate more blood to radiate heat, and your sweat glands release sweat to cool you even more. Your body cools down when it otherwise wouldn’t, and you are left feeling miserable: soaking wet in the middle of a board meeting like me or in the middle of a good night’s sleep.

The Fix: Regular exercise, healthy eating, acupuncture, herbal remedies, antidepressant medications, and hormone therapy (HT) are some of the most common options to reduce and even rid your life of hot flashes. Which treatment (or a combination of treatments) works for each woman varies. Talk with your specialist about these perimenopause coolers. Continue reading »

May 022016
 

Sarah Chairing Operation Smile event in NYC

This Mother’s Day, I want to honor my daughter.

On August 8, 2014, Sarah became a mother to Aviva or as she is now calling herself, “V”! I became Grandma EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

Never in my wildest dreams did I understand the explosion of love and joy that watching Sarah mother Aviva would bring to my life.

Today’s parents do have the Internet and even apps to help them prepare for and cope with the responsibilities of parenthood. But no website or app can teach you how to love your child. That simply comes from within. The flood of love and tenderness that is unleashed with the birth of a baby is beautiful to watch.

Sarah is a SAHM.  This was a new term to me.  It stands for, Stay at Home Mom. It is a choice and one that was discussed in great detail together with her husband, Sol.

I too chose to be a SAHM. In 1980 smack in the middle of the women’s movement, I chose to resign from my job as Deputy Treasurer of the Carter Re-Election Campaign. David and I chose to leave a very successful life in politics in Washington, DC. and move to Tucson, Arizona where my family lived.  I had no idea that in doing so, I had “betrayed” the women’s movement. Women were furious with me. I had successfully achieved a very high-level job in a man’s world – how could I give up my career to stay home with my first born?  Apparently, it was a cardinal sin! Who knew??? Continue reading »

Apr 252016
 

http://www.shmirshky.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Ellen_Dolgen_Menopause_Monday.jpgDuring menopause, more and more of us are gaining membership to the aptly named “Sandwich Generation,” a group marked by its responsibility to simultaneously care for both its children and parents. So if it seems like everybody wants (scratch that, needs) something from you these days, you’re not alone.

Here are 4 ways to care for yourself while balancing the responsibilities of work, parenting and caring for parents.

  1. Have a Preemptive Talk
    This is not THE “talk” that you are dreading having with your prepubescent children! This is the elder “talk”. It is best to have this “talk” earlier rather than while you are in the midst of a crisis.  Discussing living arrangements, homecare, financial resources, fears, and concerns, can help ease everyone’s minds. For example, many caretakers unnecessarily worry about their parents moving in with them, when the fact of the matter is that their parents don’t want to live with them either! They might prefer to move and begin to downsize, make plans to move to a retirement community, or assisted living facility. You will not fully understand your parents desires, until you have an open conversation with them.  Together, you can create a functional plan that works for all of you.  This should include getting all of the medical and legal paper work handled ahead of time.  Organizing beforehand will help you to set healthy boundaries and meet realistic caregiving goals. Make sure that all of your siblings feel included and share in the responsibilities as best they can.  Remember: No parent is perfect. You may have lingering emotions and anger issues with your parents which can impede your ability to cope with your newfound caregiving responsibilities. Try to find ways to forgive, not just for your parents’ sake, but for your own health and wellbeing as well.

Continue reading »

Apr 182016
 

http://www.shmirshky.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Ellen_Dolgen_Menopause_Monday.jpgMy very first menopausal symptom was brain fog! I would lose my train of thought, mid-sentence.  My husband, David, began finishing my sentences for me during business meetings and even socially.  Next to go was my sleep!  I was not sleepless in Seattle with Tom Hanks…I was sleepless – every night -with David!

Then came Ms. Flash.  I remember my first hot flash like it was yesterday. It was a beautiful spring day, so I couldn’t blame the weather. I was wearing a lightweight pantsuit for work, so I was not overdressed.  David and I were in a business meeting and suddenly I felt a flush of heat radiate throughout my body. My whole body seemed to be blushing and then glistening. When I rose from my chair, I noticed that something wet was dripping down the inner seam of my pant leg. For a minute, I thought I had wet my pants! But oh no…I was perspiring!

Luckily, I always carry a big purse (I think it makes my hips look smaller). With my purse planted firmly in front of my body and my husband tightly behind me, I made a quick exit to our car after the meeting. I know I had come from a business meeting, but I looked like I had just finished a Bikram yoga class or I had run a 10K.

So what’s a gal to do?? First and foremost, you need a fabulous menopause specialist.  If you don’t have one, I have some great tips in my free eBook, MENOPAUSE MONDAYS The Girlfriends Guide to Surviving and Thriving During Perimenopause and Menopause! Continue reading »

Apr 042016
 

http://www.shmirshky.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Ellen_Dolgen_Menopause_Monday.jpgDuring our menopausal years, our sex lives have so much from which they can benefit: a strong sense of self, deep relationships, and bodies we actually know how to use! Nip your vaginal dryness in the bud and you’ll really have something to celebrate!

In fact, some say that women’s sexual satisfaction actually tends to increase with age despite the hormonal changes of menopause.

Why?

 “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 and author of Pleasure: A Woman’s Guide to Getting the Sex You Want, Need and Deserve. “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.”

So if your current sex isn’t the best you’ve ever had, it’s time to do something about it. After all, you do have hormonal changes to contend with.

“Women may first notice sexual changes during the perimenopausal stage, which can begin up to 10 years before your very last period, or menopause. That means that some women will begin to have symptoms of decreasing estrogen in their mid-late 30s or early 40s. The first sexual complaint is often painful sex due to vaginal dryness. Estrogen is needed to keep your vagina moist, plush, and stretchable. When estrogen is low, women may notice vaginal dryness, which can lead to painful sex,” says Dr. Hutcherson. Continue reading »

Mar 072016
 

http://www.shmirshky.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Ellen_Dolgen_Menopause_Monday.jpgThere are headaches that gnaw at the base of your spine or throb in your forehead, but pop a couple of aspirin or ibuprofen and you can go about your usual routine. Then there are the monster headaches that derail your whole day, or maybe several days, and no over-the-counter pain relievers make a dent on them. These are migraines, and they can be a real pain for women going through perimenopause and menopause. In fact, some people get them so bad, they become extremely sensitive to light and become sick to their stomach.

Research confirms what women with migraine headaches have told their doctors for years: migraine headaches heat up as women approach menopause.  According to a study by researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC), Montefiore Headache Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Vedanta Research, about 12 percent of Americans get migraines and women get them three times more often than men.

According to Dr. Susan Hutchinson, director of the Orange County Migraine & Headache Center in Irvine, California, migraines, unlike other headaches, are often hormonal in nature, so intense fluctuations of hormones, especially estrogen, in women can egg on and worsen migraines. The silver lining is that two-thirds of female migraine sufferers notice a marked improvement when they enter menopause, a time in which hormones finally stop fluctuating. In fact, after age 60, only 5 percent of women suffer migraines, according to the Migraine Research Foundation.

Dr. Hutchinson is the author of The Women’s Guide to Managing Migraine Understanding the Hormone Connection to find Hope and Wellness published by Oxford University Press.

Here are some helpful tips for managing your migraines: Continue reading »

Feb 222016
 

http://www.shmirshky.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Ellen_Dolgen_Menopause_Monday.jpgAccording to the NIH, heart disease — not breast cancer — is the number one killer of women. 

Ladies, listen up here are some important statistics from the American Heart Association:

  • “An estimated 43 million women in the U.S. are affected by heart disease.
  • 1 in 31 American women die from breast cancer each year, but 1 in 3 die of heart disease.
  • Only 1 in 5 American women believes that heart disease is her greatest health threat.”

Love is in the air this month, so I reached out to Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, the Executive Director of the North American Menopause Society and Professor of Ob-Gyn at the University of Virginia to help us learn how to heart our hearts!

Heart disease risk increases with age, but for women often symptoms can also become more evident after the onset of menopause. I asked Dr. Pinkerton to explain the role that our hormones play in our heart health.

     “The decline in estrogen may be a factor in the increased heart disease seen in postmenopausal women. There may be a critical window of timing with the heart in that women within 10 years of menopause benefit from estrogen. Those who are older with already developed atherosclerotic plaque may be worsened with estrogen. Estrogen may decrease total cholesterol, decrease plaque formation or improve the inner layer of the artery wall.” Continue reading »

Feb 082016
 

http://www.shmirshky.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Ellen_Dolgen_Menopause_Monday.jpgDo you want to fall in love this Valentine’s Day? I have the perfect valentine for you – YOU! When is the last time you sent yourself some love? The University of Michigan Institute forSocial Research found that college students who base their own self-worth on what others think, and not their own value as human beings, often pay a mental and physical price for it. So, ladies, this Valentine’s Day – be your own special Valentine!

Here are 4 simple tips to help you become your own sweetheart:

Pay it forward, but start with yourself!

Look at yourself as you do your best friend – with kindness, admiration and love. In referencing a study by psychologists, Ed Diener of the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign and Shigehiro Oishi of the University of Virginia, Psychology Today notes, “True happiness lasts longer than a burst of dopamine, however, so it’s important to think of it as something more than just emotion. Your sense of happiness also includes cognitive reflections, such as when you give a mental thumbs-up or thumbs-down to your best friend’s sense of humor, the shape of your nose, or the quality of your marriage.” Make a mental note to love yourself – find some self-compassion. Value your wisdom, your life experience, your potential. Make a list of all the qualities and characteristics that make you unique and take them to heart. Every life lesson you’ve experienced has added to your wisdom. Celebrate YOU!

Book a date with your BFF (YOU.)

Become your own BFF (Best Friends Forever). Arrange your day around things that bring you joy. This could be lunch with a mentor, your lover, or your mother. Or perhaps book a play date with your grandchildren, go on a shopping spree, or volunteer at your favorite charity. Book it! Treat yourself to something that you love to do. Continue reading »

Jan 182016
 

http://www.shmirshky.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Ellen_Dolgen_Menopause_Monday.jpgUnless you break a bone, you may not be paying attention to your bone health. Bone loss is a silent process.

The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) estimates that a total of 54 million U.S. adults age 50 and older are affected by osteoporosis and low bone mass.

I have received numerous emails from readers who have recently been diagnosed with Osteoporosis. As our estrogen levels decline, bone loss may accelerate.   Many women suddenly find themselves in a quandary as to whether to go on medication or not.

I thought I would share one women’s story with you.  For the purpose of this blog, we shall call her Jeanne.  Jeanne has avoided any pharmaceutical use because her mother took DES while she was pregnant with her.  Recently, Jeanne was diagnosed with Osteoporosis. Her doctor says her case is severe and he recommends she go on a drug called, Forteo.

To help support Jeanne, I  turned to osteoporosis expert Diane L. Schneider, MDa geriatrician, epidemiologist, co-founder of 4BoneHealth.org, and author of The Complete Bone Book.  

According to Dr. Schneider, “Osteoporosis is the result of bone loss that occurs silently and progressively creating a fragile skeleton that puts one at risk of breaking a bone or having a fracture.”

Dr. Schneider graciously shared her review and thoughts on Jeanne’s options:

Jeanne, age 60, was diagnosed with osteoporosis by bone density scan. Her lowest skeletal site was the lumbar spine (low back) with T-score of -3.7 and her total hip was -3.2. The T-score is comparison of your bone density measurement with young women at peak bone mass. The T-score along with assessing risk factors for breaking a bone provides a fracture risk assessment. Continue reading »

Jan 112016
 

http://www.shmirshky.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Ellen_Dolgen_Menopause_Monday.jpgIt’s that time of year when we are all more focused on our health and wellness.  I thought I would take advantage of this mini-window of opportunity to help us all create some new, healthier habits!

For those of you who are sitting at a desk hovered over a computer or laptop, most of the day, this blog is for you!

My work at EllenDolgen.com keeps me glued to my desk chair working on my computer most of the day and sometimes into the night. Consequently, I find myself experiencing a variety of neck/back challenges that I never used to have.

I reached out to my wonderful trainer, Daniel Shamburg, MS, CSCS and founder of ShiftFitness, who helps me stay on my path of healthy aging to see how I can best tackle this new work related  problem.

Daniel told me there are a number of tips that can help those of us whose jobs cause us to be glued to the internet, stay pain-free while we work.

1. Be more aware of your posture. Posture, like muscles, needs to be worked on to improve. When we sit for prolonged periods of time the head, shoulders and torso round forward. This forward posture increases the amount of strain on our neck and spine. Over time, chronic shoulder, neck, and low back pain can develop. Continue reading »

Jan 042016
 

http://www.shmirshky.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Ellen_Dolgen_Menopause_Monday.jpgYou can’t leave your perimenopause and menopause symptoms on the kitchen counter when you leave the house.

You can’t pretend to be “fine” when you are dripping wet from a hot flash, sleepless and irritable. Your family, co- workers, loved ones, and friends know when you are not feeling well.

Here are some simple tips that will help you become your own best Health Advocate:

  1. You are not alone! According to Menopause.org, “An estimated 6,000 U.S. women reach menopause every day.  That is over 2 million of us per year. In addition, more women are living beyond age 65. A women’s average life expectancy in the western world is estimated at 79. 7 years.”
  1. Trust How You Feel! – You know when you don’t feel well. If you go to a healthcare provider to get menopause advice and help and your provider tells you, “You’re too young to be in menopause”, don’t sit there and accept it! Do not go home and suffer in silence.

Continue reading »

Countdown to New Year’s Eve…………….

 Menopause Mondays  Comments Off on Countdown to New Year’s Eve…………….
Dec 282015
 

http://www.shmirshky.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Ellen_Dolgen_Menopause_Monday.jpgIt is about this time of year that I begin thinking about my New Year’s resolutions.

According to Wikipedia, the most common reason for participants failing their New Years’ Resolutions was setting themselves unrealistic goals (35%), while 33% didn’t keep track of their progress and a further 23% forgot about it. About one in 10 respondents claimed they made too many resolutions.

Does this sound familiar?????

Then I learned that women succeeded 10% more when they made their goals public and got support from their friends.

Soooooooooooooo, rather than create a huge “must change” list that I will never achieve.  This year, I decided to just have one, achievable (!) New Year’s Resolution.

This was my initial brainstorm:

  • lose weight
  • change up my exercise
  • cut back on my alcohol intake 
  • laugh more
  • be present
  • reduce cell phone time
  • enjoy life
  • reduce stress

As I ponder over this list, I think that one that jumps out at me most is to “change up my exercise”.   One day a week, I plan on incorporating a different  form of aerobic exercise into my routine!  I think this will help many of the other items on my list.

It will be easy for me to keep track of my weekly progress.

I read somewhere that we are more likely to reach our goals if we share them. So, thanks for letting me share……….. wish me luck!

Happy Healthy New Year!

Remember: Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out in IN!

Click here to download my free eBook, MENOPAUSE MONDAYS The Girlfriend’s Guide To Surviving and Thriving During Perimenopause and Menopause.

I am honored to be nominated as one of the Best Health Blogs of 2015 by Healthline!! I would love to have your vote! Search Ellen Dolgen – you can vote once a day thru Jan 21st! Thank you for your support! Vote here!

Dec 142015
 

http://www.shmirshky.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Ellen_Dolgen_Menopause_Monday.jpgThe holidays are often a bittersweet time of year. Amid all of the parties, family gatherings, and general joyousness, there can be some strong feelings of loneliness, financial stress, and annoyance. For the menopausal women, you may experience triple the annoyance when you’re the only one having a hot flash while standing in freezing cold weather.
Here are seven suggestions on ways to beat the holiday blues and get more joy out of the holiday season:

  1. Reduce your stress! Don’t bog yourself down with giant to-do lists. Take a critical look at your holiday planning list. Are you expecting too much out of yourself? Be more realistic, pair it down!
  2. Chill out. Try TM (Transcendental Meditation). Many medical professionals, corporate executives, even celebrities meditate twice a day for 20 min. These few minutes will change your day and your life.
  3. Don’t let your Type-A personality take over. Keep that chick under control! So what if the cookies look like a third grader made them! Every single thing does not have to be perfect to still be fun and delicious!  Nobody is as bothered by your imperfections as you are. Remember that.
  4. Life sometimes gives us lemons, really bad drivers, and grumpy salespeople. Don’t let others rattle you and let the experience go immediately. More than likely they are having a really bad day and just need a smile or someone to be nice to them. Don’t sweat the small stuff (unless of course you are hot flashing).
  5. Laughter relieves tension. It’s like getting an emotional massage. Do it, and do it often, even if you have to watch funny movies or think of something naughty and awful to get those lips curled up into a smile. Laughter truly is the best medicine. My favorite new TV show is Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on Monday nights on the CW. It’s a hilarious musical comedy. (Rachel Bloom just got nominated for a Golden Globe!!) Check it out! Continue reading »
Nov 302015
 

http://www.shmirshky.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Ellen_Dolgen_Menopause_Monday.jpg“Attention K-Mart Shoppers, there is a shopper in perimenopause and menopause on isle three.  Be prepared for shoving, dirty looks, and sudden emotional outbursts.”

Let’s face it, when our hormones are plummeting, our tempers are rising.   Things that used to go practically unnoticed, like our husbands chewing gum, suddenly feel like fingernails scratching on a chalkboard.

Thank you, Shop.org for the birth of Cyber Monday!

In the olden days, the day after Thanksgiving was traditionally considered to be the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Most retailers would have big sales, providing massive discounts to attract Christmas shoppers.

Thanksgiving weekend is also one of the busiest travel weekends in the U.S. when people travel all across the Country to be with their families. As a result, many customers miss Black Friday’s deals and sales. That is why Cyber Monday was born!  We can shop anywhere – even on an airplane!Cyber Monday 2015
In 2005, Shop.org realized that on the Monday after Black Friday millions of Americans, fresh off a Thanksgiving weekend of window shopping, were not busy at work, but instead were on their computers buying up a storm!

Although the store aisles have been lined with holiday decor even before we celebrated Halloween, the truth is some of us do not get our holiday shopping done in a timely manner.

That’s where Cyber Monday comes in, and why I love it!

Retailers have become more social media savvy, so they often offer the best deals to those who follow them on Facebook and Twitter, get their Pinterest and Instagram feeds, or sign up for text and email alerts. So make sure you’re following your favorite retailers on social media. Continue reading »

Nov 232015
 

http://www.shmirshky.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Ellen_Dolgen_Menopause_Monday.jpgHoliday time is vacation time.  We spend enormous amounts of energy finding the cheapest airline reservations, hotel rooms, and chatting about how excited we are about our vacations.  This is all fun!

Then the dreaded “P” word invades our joy – packing.  Packing is not fun.  Anyone who thinks it is MAAAAAY be just a little obsessive compulsive…..just saying! We spend hours thinking about it, talking about it, and then finally getting down to doing it!  We really need a vacation by the time we zip up that damn bag.

Now that I am postmenopausal, my packing is quite different.  The space the period paraphernalia used to occupy is now filled with my lotions/potions that will enable me to keep my skin young forever- plus lots of space for bras.   I remember when I used to go bra-less.  In those days, I might throw in one bra for a sheer dress, but I could crinkle it up in the palm of my hand.  It didn’t need its own department in the suitcase!   Whether the bra is strapless, t-strapped, or a plain old two strapper – all perimenopause, menopause and postmenopausal bras require wires and lots of space.    Sounds like a drag, I know, but it’s a worse drag if you don’t wear one (nice joke, right?).

When finally done packing, I proudly zip up my bag, but am careful to keep my eyes fixed upon it for a moment.  My suitcase looks like the way I feel after I have had that second piece of apple pie (plus a pumpkin one) on Thanksgiving.   I whisper to my suitcase, “Please don’t explode. Once we get there I will unzip you and you will feel better again!”

Happy Menopausal Thanksgiving!

My Motto: Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!

Click here to download my free eBook, MENOPAUSE MONDAYS The Girlfriend’s Guide To Surviving and Thriving During Perimenopause and Menopause.

Nov 092015
 

http://www.shmirshky.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Ellen_Dolgen_Menopause_Monday.jpgMenopause this season offers us a whole new reason to want to reach for our cocktail of choice. Forget work, spouses, kids, and money issues. Those may have been your old reasons for cracking open a bottle of Pinot Noir. Now there’s a new one: the extremely frustrating, often debilitating, more-than-maddening symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. We’ve survived dating, figured out that we can’t ever fully figure out our spouse, delivered and raised our children, and now finally it should be OUR TURN. Unfortunately, Mother Nature has other plans for us. Instead of basking in our empty-nester glory, we find ourselves in perimenopause and menopause. UGH!

Although alcohol may be thought by some in the Community of Menopausal Warriors as the go-to elixir for taking the edge off of seasonal stress and menopausal symptoms, it actually may not be the best choice.

That glass of wine may enrage some menopausal symptoms, hot flashes being one of them! Remember that alcohol is a refined carbohydrate that acts like sugar in the body. It can cause an epinephrine release, which can trigger a hot flash. Some women say that their symptoms are more triggered by red wine than white.

Although not based upon specific conclusive research, drinking may trigger hot flashes for some women according to NAMS (North American Menopause Society). Some studies find alcohol increases menopausal hot flashing, whereas others find the opposite.  This alone could drive a gal to drink!   Unfortunately for many of the Sisterhood, that delicious red (or white!) concoction of fermented fruit can be a double-edged sword. So it is best to determine whether it’s a personal trigger for you. Continue reading »

Oct 262015
 

http://www.shmirshky.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Ellen_Dolgen_Menopause_Monday.jpgIn August 2015, Sprout Pharmaceuticals received FDA approval for ADDYI™, known generically as Flibanserin. It is a once-daily, non-hormonal pill. The FDA had twice previously declined to approve this pill, repeatedly requesting further studies. The pill will be used for the treatment of the most common form of sexual dysfunction in premenopausal women, generalized acquired hypoactive (low) sexual desire disorder (HSDD).  It is estimated that 8 to 14 percent of women ages 20 to 49 have the condition, which is about 5.5 to 8.6 million U.S. women.

Low libido is a commonly known term. HSDD (Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder) was a new one for me, so I reached out to two doctors to get the scoop in layperson speak.

Dr. Michael Krychman*, the Executive Director of the Southern California Center for Sexual Health and Survivorship Medicine Inc. in Newport Beach CA. explained HSDD this way, “Distressing lowered sexual interest- loss of sexual thoughts, fantasies or general interest in the pursuit of sex.  Many women report a loss of a sexual interest – something they definitely miss, a loss of something internal or sensual femininity. It’s lost and they want it back!”

So you’re saying we finally got our “pink pill”!!??? Continue reading »

Oct 192015
 

http://www.shmirshky.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Ellen_Dolgen_Menopause_Monday.jpgThe news media has lots to say about breast cancer, mammograms, and menopause.  At times, I find myself a bit confused over all the conflicting opinions of doctors over the new data.  We all want to keep our breast friends healthy, so let’s go over the information together.

As the number of candles on our birthday cakes increases, so does our risk of developing breast cancer. While a 30-year-old woman’s risk of developing breast cancer in the next 10 years is one in 227, that of a 60-year-old woman is one in 28, according to the National Cancer Institute. Hit 70 and the risk increases to one in 26.

Dr. Ricki Pollycove, M.D., a women’s health expert agrees, “Age, or getting older, is the single greatest risk for getting diagnosed with breast cancer. There are many likely reasons for this, and many are related to what are called epigenetic factors. In simple words, our lifestyles influence our genes. We can become educated and actively change our behaviors to lower individual risks as we get older.”

Many women are suffering from the various symptoms of perimenopause and menopause, and in spite of the data, remain afraid of hormone therapy (HT). They are convinced it will increase their risk of breast cancer. I asked Dr. Pollycove to tell us how hormone therapy can affect the risk of breast cancer. Continue reading »

Oct 052015
 

http://www.shmirshky.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Ellen_Dolgen_Menopause_Monday.jpgOver 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!

Sep 282015
 

http://www.shmirshky.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Ellen_Dolgen_Menopause_Monday.jpgFor 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! Ready……..here we go……… Continue reading »

Sep 142015
 

http://www.shmirshky.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Ellen_Dolgen_Menopause_Monday.jpgEver 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. Continue reading »

Menopause Life’s Cycle and Loss

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Aug 242015
 

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 …to 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………….