Apr 142014
 

http://www.shmirshky.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Ellen_Dolgen_Menopause_Monday.jpgIf you’re smoking while you’re going through menopause, you may want to put down that cigarette. Almost every day, there are studies being released about what can happen to you if you smoke and are dealing with perimenopause or menopause. The information may help you quit smoking that much faster.

In a recent research study published online in the journal Menopause, researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania report the first evidence showing that smoking causes earlier signs of menopause. The study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Perelman School of Medicine Translational and Clinical Research Center, and the Perelman School of Medicine Center of Excellence for Diversity.

In an announcement of the study’s findings, it was noted that although previous studies have shown smoking hastens menopause by approximately one to two years regardless of race or genetic background, this study is the first of its kind to demonstrate that genetic background is significantly associated with a further increased risk of menopause in some white women who smoke. In the case of heavy smokers, this can be up to nine years earlier than average in white women with certain genetic variations. Genetic variation refers to diversity in gene frequencies, and can refer to differences between individuals or to differences between populations. In this case, we’re talking about differences between individual women in the study. The genetic variants were present in 62 percent of white women in the study population. Continue reading »

Apr 072014
 

http://www.shmirshky.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Ellen_Dolgen_Menopause_Monday.jpgCelebrities and friends were shocked when L’Wren Scott, glamorous model-turned-designer girlfriend of Mick Jagger, committed suicide in her upscale New York apartment.   Once again, life is not always as it seems and fighting to maintain that illusion can be deadly, especially as women grow older.  Scott’s suicide, at the age of 49, is raising the question of whether undiagnosed menopausal depression played a role.  Although that is just a theory, experts now know that the risk of suicide increases dramatically as we cross the threshold of middle age.

Although there’s no definitive link between celebrity designer L’Wren Scott’s suicide and menopausal depression, the tragedy spurred a fellow celeb to hop on Twitter and get the conversation rolling about menopausal depression and whether women are really paying attention to the signs. Recently, a study by the CDC showed that suicides in middle-aged persons (ages 35-64) increased by 28% over a 10-year time frame.  It’s probably no coincidence that those high numbers reflect the transition of vibrant baby boomers into middle and older age.

If you really don’t feel like your “normal” self and are struggling to find any joy in your day, please take the time to be evaluated and treated by a knowledgeable doctor.  If these feelings of depression are happening in partnership with perimenopause or menopause, step back and take stock. It could be menopausal depression creeping in alongside the hot flashes and insomnia. Continue reading »

Mar 242014
 

http://www.shmirshky.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Ellen_Dolgen_Menopause_Monday.jpgAre you awake all night, and then dragging through the day with toothpicks holding up your eyelids? Then try not to snooze through this one. Sleeplessness can be a real problem for women going through menopause. In fact, the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) lists trouble falling asleep as one of the five main symptoms of menopause. I, suddenly, without any notice, was not sleeping beauty, once perimenopause hit my life!

The Menopause Sleepless Society is a BIG club, Ladies! Why does menopause affect a woman’s ability to catch her z’s? According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), most women complain of sleeplessness during perimenopause to post-menopause, with about 61% of post-menopausal women continuing to have issues with insomnia. Why does menopause affect a woman’s ability to catch her z’s? The NSF says it has to do with the hormonal changes — estrogen and progesterone — that occur during menopause. Continue reading »

Mar 172014
 

http://www.shmirshky.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Ellen_Dolgen_Menopause_Monday.jpgShe shoots….She SCORES menopausal symptom happiness! And the crowd goes wild! (Ahhhhh)

When you say “March Madness” many people will automatically think of the NCAA March Madness college basketball tournaments. However, if you are speaking with a woman in perimenopause or menopause, “March Madness” is not a game she wants to go into overtime with. Menopausal symptoms like mood swings may cause her to be “slam-dunking” one minute, and the next her family is suspending her for “alley-ooping” for the other team. You’ll be thinking your team player has turned into an out of control Dennis Rodman!

And if being moody isn’t enough, according to a six-year study published in Menopause, researchers found that women with the highest levels of stress were more than five times (I repeat, five times!) more likely than normally stressed women to report hot flashes. Mood swings and hot flashes, that combination is enough to make you want to turn in your final four tickets and bench warm it up at the bar!

Before your perimenopause or menopause lady turns into Rodman, read my 4 simple tips to combat those mood swings: Continue reading »

Mar 102014
 

http://www.shmirshky.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Ellen_Dolgen_Menopause_Monday.jpgYou wrap it in scarves, decorate it with necklaces, and swoon when it gets a kiss. Your neck gets a lot of attention, but, unfortunately, not the attention it really needs. See, situated in your neck between your voice box and collarbone, and wrapped around your windpipe, is your thyroid—and it affects everything you do and are.

The small, butterfly-shaped gland pumps thyroid hormone straight into your bloodstream, where it circulates throughout your body to influence practically every system in your body. For example, it’s responsible for keeping your brain focused, energy up, reproductive system churning, and skin, nails, and hair luxurious and beautiful.

So when it goes on the fritz—and it has for 20 million Americans—everything suffers, and get this: most of those victims are women, according to Dr. Daniel Einhorn, M.D., an endocrinologist at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla. Lucky us, right? The primary cause of thyroid disorders is the immune system attacking the body’s thyroid, and since women are more prone to developing autoimmune diseases (such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis) than are men, we get the bulk of thyroid conditions, including hyper- and hypothyroidism. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, women over 50 are at the greatest risk for thyroid disorders. Continue reading »

Mar 032014
 

Thought you were done learning about your body at age 12? Well your uterus and your ovaries might disagree!

Listen up ladies, perimenopause arrives unscheduled, uninvited, and often sooner than you think.  There is no one- size-fits all age when perimenopause begins.  Many woman start experiencing perimenopausal symptoms as young as 38, others may be 48. There is no right or wrong age, and you won’t receive a “save the date” to let you know when the festivities will begin.   When you have been without a period for 12 consecutive months you are officially in menopause.  The average age of menopause is 51.  Many women find that they experience premature menopause, which means that your period has stopped for twelve consecutive months before the age of 40. Premature menopause may occur as a result of one’s genetic make-up, an illness, or medical procedures such as a hysterectomy. Continue reading »

Feb 242014
 

http://www.shmirshky.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Ellen_Dolgen_Menopause_Monday.jpgDo you love those male enhancement commercials on television as much as I do? Ever notice that the men are 50-something and the women appear to be late 30′s, early 40′s? Is there an unwritten rule somewhere that men should have a healthy sex life until old age, while women lose interest in sex altogether? It certainly seems that way. There are countless products that support a man’s virility. Women, on the other hand, are left wondering if it’s a lost cause, resigning ourselves to live out the second halves of our lives as though we’re holed up in a convent. The reality is the older we get, the more in tune we become with our bodies. As we learn to identify and adjust to our menopausal symptoms, we take comfort in knowing we’ve had the time to learn what we want in a sexual experience. Women have the right to toe-curling, earth shattering orgasms, just like men. But due to what seems to be a double standard, having a fulfilling sex life after menopause just isn’t a reality for all women.

Ladies, there’s now a light at the end of the tunnel. Continue reading »

Feb 172014
 

http://www.shmirshky.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Ellen_Dolgen_Menopause_Monday.jpgAs little girls, we dressed up in white dresses and held make-believe weddings. We dreamed of a future on Prince Charming’s arm every Valentine’s Day, and assumed happily-ever-afters included marriage.

Forget that! All grown up now, increasingly more women are trading their childhood dreams for a new, marriage-free future. Whatever you want to call the cause–independence, a love for cats, or just thinking outside the engagement ring box — the U.S. marriage rate is its lowest in more than a century — and down 60 percent just from 1970, according to a 2013 study by Bowling Green State University’s National Center for Marriage and Family Research. Meanwhile, women are marrying later than ever before, at the ripe old age of 27. OK, that’s really not that ripe — or old — but our grandmothers would sure say otherwise!

So who isn’t getting hitched this Valentine’s Day? Is it women in their later years who are going through perimenopause or menopause? In actuality, it’s just the average woman who either hasn’t found love — or who has, but just isn’t interested in all of the trappings of marriage. Maybe that includes you. Continue reading »

Feb 102014
 

http://www.shmirshky.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Ellen_Dolgen_Menopause_Monday.jpgTiny candy sugar hearts with endearing messages, chocolates in red heart-shaped boxes, flowers, sexy lingerie – it’s Valentine’s Day! Want to fall in love this Valentine’s Day? Before heading to the corner bar or the latest online dating site, think about when you last sent yourself some love. The University of Michigan Institute for Social 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 – let’s channel Mae West, “I don’t like myself. I’m crazy about myself!”

Here are 4 lovey-dovey tips to help you become your own perfect Valentine:

Start with yourself! Then send the love forward.

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 loving qualities and characteristics that make you an amazing person and take them to heart. (Go YOU!) 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.” Every life lesson you’ve experienced has added to your wisdom Continue reading »

Feb 032014
 

Ellen Dolgen Menopause MondaysNext time you’re with a group of girlfriends, look to your left. Then look to your right. Of the three of you, one probably has heart disease, the number-one killer of women in the United States.

More than one in three women have some form of cardiovascular disease, according to the American Heart Association, and every 90 seconds, one of them suffers a heart attack, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Now only 53 percent of women recognize that cardiovascular disease is the leading killer of women,” says Dr. Noel Bairey Merz, M.D., director of the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center in the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute. “Said another way, almost half of women still do not know. Importantly, among the 53 percent, most do not feel that cardiovascular disease is their leading healthcare threat, so women continue to fail to make the numbers personal.”

I first encountered heart disease at the young age of 11, when my lovely father, who was 42 at the time, suffered his first heart attack. Through the years, my family watched him go through one open-heart surgery, countless diet and lifestyle changes, and, ultimately, his passing at just 58 years young. Continue reading »

Jan 272014
 

Ellen Dolgen Menopause MondaysAs women of 2014, we have grown to have a keen sense of intuition. This intuition has not only driven us throughout our lives, but has allowed us to act upon and make decisions regarding situations we are not fully comprehensive of, per say, a sneaky cheating ex you just knew was doing you dirty! We gain knowledge and act upon this intuition more and more as we grow older, which is beneficial getting into the menopause and susceptible cancerous stages of our 2014 lives.

Earlier this past year, 63-year-old Molly took a bathroom break on the drive home from a family vacation and noticed a small red speckle on her toilet paper. This postmenopausal woman hadn’t had a menstrual cycle in five years and immediately had her guard up. Of course excuses such as a bladder infection came immediately to mind, but she knew deep down there was something just not quite right—and an hour later she found another drop. Continue reading »

Jan 202014
 

Ellen Dolgen Menopause Mondays

To HRT or not to HRT? The debate over hormone replacement therapy is one that has confounded doctors, confused the menopausal, and, ultimately, jeopardized the health of millions of women. Not on my watch! So buckle up and get ready for a crash-course in all things hormone replacement therapy!

First, let’s get something straight: Most of the confusion out there isn’t the spawn of some evil plot. It’s simply about the misinterpreted findings of one landmark, long-term study called the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI). The study examined estrogen and combination hormone therapy use among menopausal women to establish their effects on women’s most common causes of death, disability, and poor quality of life–cardiovascular disease, cancer, and osteoporosis. However, the study ended prematurely after an interim review found an increased risk of adverse health events associated with combined hormonal therapy of conjugated equine estrogen (CEE) and medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA). Continue reading »

Jan 132014
 

Ellen-Dolgen-Menopause-Monday-thumb

“All exercise, ranging from housework to running marathons, impacts menopause in a positive way,” In fact, exercise can help prevent the muscle and bone loss from which many postmenopausal women suffer, according to the American Council on Exercise. Also, a recent Penn State study found that menopausal women who exercise experience fewer hot flashes in the 24 hours following their workout. While a recent study from the MsFLASH Research Network found some conflicting information — that aerobic exercise isn’t significantly associated with reduced hot flashes — it did find that exercise does have positive effects on sleep quality, insomnia and depression in both perimenopausal and menopausal women. What’s more, exercise may be effective at treating menopausal depression, according to a recent review published in The Cochrane Library,” says Dr. Diana Bitner, MD, a North American Menopause Society Certified Menopause Practitioner & Physician and board-certified OB/GYN. “My patients who exercise on a regular basis have fewer menopause symptoms as well as improved body chemistry — lower cholesterol, better sugar control, less weight gain, and stronger bones. Women who exercise have better sleep, better mood and better quality of life.” Continue reading »

Jan 072014
 

Ellen-Dolgen-Menopause-Monday-thumb

Can’t remember the last resolution you kept? Join the club. Each year, of all of the Americans who welcome the New Year with a resolution, 35 percent of them throw in the towel during the first month, according to a survey from FranklinCovey. Fast-forward and things get even bleaker: Only 23 percent of resolutions ever hit the one-year mark.

The solution to your failed New Year’s resolutions: “Cut the CRAP!” says certified health coach, Maura M. Knowles, a.k.a. Mo the Morselist, founder of Mac-n-Mo’s Morselicious Treats, host of the new online show Mac-n-Mo’s, and author of themorselist.com and two e-cookbooks, including the MORSELICIOUS 21 day DETOX e-cookbook. But no, that’s not just a dose of tough love. See, as far as Knowles is concerned, CRAP stands for Carbonated sodas – Refined sugars -Artificial anything -Processed/Preservatives.

Instead, Knowles encourages you eat a whole different kind of CRAP: Clean – Real – And – Pure foods. Whole grains, lean protein, fresh produce, and healthy fats are the bedrocks of her better-body eating strategy. So, for this year’s resolution, forget the crash diets, elimination plans, and downright starvation tactics. Follow Knowles’ 85/15 rule: Eat clean, real, and whole plant-based foods 85 percent of the time, and allow yourself 15 percent wiggle room. After all, too-strict diets aren’t sustainable, and can lead to the yo-yo dieting with which we are all far too familiar. While the weight women lose during a typical Near Year’s crash diet is composed of both muscle and fat, weight gained is 100 percent fat. That’s a big problem, especially for menopausal women who are already prone to muscle loss.

Even worse, many so-called healthy food labels actually trick women into eating CRAP when they think they are eating well. “There is a big misconception that a fat-free diet is healthy. When fat is removed from a food-like product (note, I do not call it food) more CRAP goes in and our bodies don’t recognize it as food, but the addiction cycle continues and we crave and eat more,” Knowles says. “There are gluten-free and vegan-free products out there loaded with sugar and salt.” Continue reading »

Dec 312013
 

2013-12-27-Ellen_Dolgen_Menopause_Monday.jpg

Forget your 2014 retirement age. Let’s talk about your 2014 encore career age–and it’s now.

Never heard of an encore career this New Year? That’s about to change. In fact, as Marci Alboher–a former lawyer and reporter who is fittingly now the vice president of Encore.org–writes in The Encore Career Handbook, “Research shows that 9 million people are already in encore careers, and another 31 million are keen to move in that direction.” They are “crafting their encores and helping to create a movement for personal renewal and social good,” she writes.

I’m one of those 9 million. After all, my “change” was what launched my new beginning and improved encore career as a perimenopause and menopause awareness expert.

See, when I entered early menopause, I acted like the Wicked Witch of the West, slept like an insomniac, couldn’t find my way through a case of never-clearing brain fog, and sadly waved goodbye as my estrogen and vagina packed up and moved to the desert–and I’m not talking about Las Vegas!

After struggling in silence for three long years, I figured it was time for a new beginning. I took out my journal and started writing about my menopause experiences. While, at first, the journaling was a way to escape from all the loneliness and menopause symptom confusion, it soon became a gift that I intended to give to my daughter. It would be a guide to perimenopause and menopause–something she could turn to when she was older and found herself experiencing signs of menopause as I did then.

The more I learned of the various menopause symptoms, and how many women were suffering through them in silence, however, the more I wanted to share my newfound menopause knowledge with the sisterhood of all women. So the journal became my book, and then led to the creation of EllenDolgen.com, the home of Menopause Mondays.

I now have a purpose in my 2014 life that is bigger than me: Supporting women through perimenopause and menopause so that they can lead the happy, healthy, and fulfilled New Year lives they deserve. Best of all, I found that purpose during my life’s second act: menopause. My mission is ageless and so am I. I am living a great life of passion and purpose after menopause. After all, 60 is the new 40! Continue reading »

Dec 172013
 

Menopause MondaysDear sisters in perimenopause and menopause,

“Give, give, give.” It’s the theme song of the season, especially for you! You give so much—and I don’t just mean holiday presents. You give your time, energy, and self to so many people and projects. But I’m afraid all of your efforts don’t leave enough for YOU. You deserve so much more out of your holidays!

So here’s what I’m proposing: This season, before you give to anyone else, first give YOU the gift of self-care. You deserve to feel like your best self, especially during the holidays. Plus, you can’t expect to truly take care of others if you’re running on empty. So put happiness at the top of your own wish list, and start planning how you’re going to deliver. After all, you’re the only person out there who can give you the health and happiness you deserve.

My suggestion? First, stop being your own biggest critic. While easier said than done, you need to realize that during perimenopause and menopause, you might not have the energy you had in the past. That’s okay, and you don’t need to have as much energy as your grandchildren. Scale back on your stressors: Make your holiday dinner a potluck; use gift sacks, not wrapping paper; and dial back on the décor. I also suggest shopping online. On the web, you get to escape the crowded malls and heavy shopping bags, and you can hit every store on your schedule from the comfort of your couch. If a gift for YOU sneaks its way into your online cart, so be it!

While we’re on the subject of expectations, we need to set another thing straight: The holiday pictures you see on Pinterest, HGTV, and in Good Housekeeping just aren’t realistic. Honestly, who has time for this stuff? Problem is, most women think they should: One recent TODAY survey found that 42 percent of moms suffer from Pinterest stress, thinking they aren’t crafty enough. The antidote? PinterestFail.com, a website that chronicles Pinterest projects gone incredibly, hilariously wrong. Check it out and I promise you will feel better. You’ll also have a pretty big laugh. Continue reading »

Dec 102013
 

Menopause MondaysIt seems to happen every holiday season: Somewhere between the punch bowls, crowded malls, and head-spinning schedules, your blood pressure becomes higher and your pants, tighter.

In fact, most people gain some poundage over the winter months, according to one New England Journal of Medicine study.

“The holidays (or as I affectionately call them, “the holiDAZE”) become a perfect trifecta of issues that can result in compromised health and weight gain come January,” says dietician Ashley Koff, RD, author of Mom Energy: A Simple Plan to Live Fully Charged and the voice behind Ashley Koff RD Approved. “There’s a lot more to do (gifts to buy, cards to write, parties to plan and attend, outfits to put together, etc.)—and actually less time to do it in (the days are getting shorter and darker, signaling to our bodies that we should be going to bed earlier). Plus, during the holiDAZE, family, friends, and colleagues cause emotions to run high (and low), which can be a trigger for looking to food to do something other than provide nutrient support (emotional eating).”

If you think those sugary splurges affect only your waistline, it’s time to also think about your noggin. Rich, fatty foods can physically alter your brain, according to one study in the International Journal of Obesity. Researchers from the University of Montreal found that high-fat diets cause chemical reactions in the brain in a similar way to illicit drugs, ultimately leading to physical changes in brain composition, an increase in stress hormones, and depression.

It doesn’t have to be that way! Make your holidays a little less stressful—and sinful—this year with Koff’s stress- and fat-fighting advice:

Plan Things Out

Are you Type A? You are going to love this. “Planning is probably your best ally during the holidays. Setting aside time for sleep, for exercise, and also planning out what your week will look like food-wise,” Koff says. “Not every day can be a holiday and you will do better if you don’t pair several days of indulging in a row but rather plan out your routine and have it include some indulgences.” Continue reading »

Dec 032013
 

Menopause MondaysIt doesn’t matter if your schedule is jam-packed with parties, your holiday cards pack pictures, or you’re expecting a visit from a family member. This season, every woman has a reason to look her best.

But if I’ve learned anything about beauty, it’s that how we look is a direct result of how we feel, our health, and how we take care of ourselves. Unfortunately, we are so busy taking care of others that we often forget to invest in our own health and beauty.

So to help out all of my sisters in perimenopause and menopause this season, I’ve collected my best beautifying secrets for the holidays in one place.

Follow these holiday beauty tips and—trust me—turning heads will follow:

Minimize Stress

The holidays might as well be renamed the “season of stress,” and as if the anxiety, frustrations, and headaches weren’t bad enough, stress causes an uptick in blemishes, according to a Stanford University School of Medicine study. So for both your mood and skin’s sake, scale back a bit. Set boundaries and be willing to say no from time to time. After all, you should love the holidays, not pull your hair out over them! Put your own happiness at the top of your wish list and all of the overstressed women at your holiday parties will be wondering what your beauty secret is! Get more tips for fighting menopause stress! Continue reading »

Sep 102013
 

Menopause MondaysSave the vaginas! My battle cry this Menopause Awareness month, it reminds us of the cold, hard facts: Menopause is out to steal our vaginas! If we let hormones (or lack thereof) have their way, they will dry out our vaginas and send them packing for the desert — and I’m not talking about Las Vegas!

Hence the formation of GLAMTM (Great Life After Menopause). I’m thrilled to be a key alliance spokesperson for this new women’s health awareness group, sponsored by Novo Nordisk, to help get women talking about menopause. All of us in GLAMTM (Great Life After Menopause) are women who have experienced menopause and weren’t afraid to speak up about it in order to get the help we needed and deserved! Over the years, we have learned how to keep our vaginas healthy and so can you!

Ladies, when it comes to the vagina, thin is out! Thinning and inflammation of the vaginal wall impacts many women during their menopausal journey. Vaginal atrophy comes unannounced and uninvited. The big E (estrogen) is responsible for maintaining the structure of the vaginal wall, elasticity of the tissues around the vagina, and production of vaginal fluid, according to vaginaldiscomfort.com.

Basically, estrogen keeps our vaginas healthy and working as Mother Nature intended. So when you’re driving down the menopausal highway and your estrogen tank is low, your vagina — not to mention your intimate relationship with your partner, quality of life, and even self-image — can take a huge hit.

It doesn’t have to be that way! GLAMTM (Great Life After Menopause) is here to help save your vaginas from menopause’s grip! Here’s how to start taking back your vaginal health:

 

Spot the Symptoms

While many women’s perimenopause and menopause journey comes tied with a bow of hot flashes and mood swings, vaginal atrophy often doesn’t begin until several years after the onset of menopause, worsening as the years go on.

The most common symptom of this vaginal thievery is dryness; when your estrogen levels decline, so can the moisture in your vag. What’s more, that dryness often goes skipping hand-in-hand along with itching, burning, painful sex, and even bleeding during intercourse. But perhaps most surprisingly, a less-than-supple vagina can be linked to urgent or painful urination every time the faucet runs. Why? Because the urethra can atrophy right along with the vagina! That can even mean having frequent urinary tract infections all the cranberry in the world can’t keep away.

If this is going on below your belt, it’s a good idea to visit vaginaldiscomfort.com and use the site’s vagina symptom tracker. You might not be able to wear it like you can a step tracker, but it does allow you to track your symptoms, their severity, and what has and hasn’t worked to relieve them.

Pow-Wow With Your Partner

Communication is the key to any healthy relationship, so don’t be embarrassed to tell your partner that you are having problems “down there.” The last thing your partner wants is for sex to be painful for you! Best of all, once you broach the subject, you can work together to regain your sex life.

Talk to Your Menopause Expert

While a bottle of lube can provide a quick fix in the bedroom, vaginal atrophy is a chronic condition and requires ongoing treatment to remedy the underlying cause. So if you find that you are lubed to the max, but your vagina is still clammed up, you owe it to your vagina to seek a menopause expert and save your vagina! A menopause expert is trained in the ins and outs of perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms—including vaginal dryness and painful sex—and is your best bet at achieving a happy vagina once more. Check out the menopause experts listed on the North American Menopause Society website, request a referral from any great health care providers you know, or ask your friends to refer you to a health care provider who has helped them find hormone happiness. An examination will allow an expert to pinpoint the problem and help you find the best solution for your individual needs. There are treatment options: systemic estrogen therapy, local estrogen therapy (LET), and over-the-counter moisturizers. There is no one-size-fits-all solution; every woman is different. So, ask your health care provider about the treatment option that is best for you.

Treat Your Vagina Right

Menopause isn’t the only thing that can dry you out. Not getting enough blood (and the nutrients it carries) to your vagina can too. You ask, how does that happen? For one, cigarette smoking diminishes your blood circulation. This causes tissues, including those of the vagina, to not get enough blood flow or oxygen. This in turn, contributes to vaginal atrophy. What’s more — and best of all — sex can actually help keep your vagina from atrophying. Sexual activity with a partner (or even a sex toy!) increases blood flow below the belt, making your tissues more elastic and healthier, according to Mayo Clinic. Talk about “use it or lose it”!

While as women, we often stay hush-hush about our vaginas, we should actually be speaking up for them every chance we get. After all, we have them to thank for the great sex we have had, and for the lives and families we have born. So come on, ladies, let’s keep our vaginas healthy and give them the care they need and deserve!

Reaching out is IN! Suffering in silence is OUT!

GLAM™ (Great Life After Menopause) is a trademark of Novo Nordisk FemCare AG

© 2013 Novo Nordisk All rights reserved. 0813-00017648-1 September 2013

MENOPAUSE MONDAYS GOOGLE HANGOUT SEPTEMBER 16TH-Tell us your menopause story, get free gifts, and hangout with me on September 16th!

September is Menopause Awareness Month, and we’re celebrating with a very special Menopause Awareness Month edition of Menopause Mondays!

On September 16th at 8:30 PM EST, Ellen will host a live and interactive Google Hangout. Hangout panelists will share their menopause stories, and Ellen will answer Hangout attendees’ questions about everything menopause!

Would you like a chance to be one of our live panelists during the Hangout?  All you need is a computer with a microphone and a webcam. If you’ve got a menopause story to share, submit it to Ellen atmenopausemondays@ellendolgen.com by September 10th. Panelists will receive a choice of an autographed copy of Ellen’s book, Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness; a Menopause Mondays mouse pad; or a Menopause Mondays iPhone cover.

See you on September 16th!

SEPTEMBER GIVEAWAY

“The Woman’s Guide to Managing Migraine- Understanding the Hormone Connection”  by Susan Hutchinson, MD. Enter to win here.

PRODUCTS RECOMMENDED BY THE SISTERHOOD

Check out the Products That May Help You and get discounts on great menopause products, courtesy of EllenDolgen.com. Available now: botanically based vegan & gluten-free beauty-health-wellness products, cooling clothes, a sleek and discrete chargeable fan, a “Hot Flash Havoc” documentary, and a natural menopause relief formula. Enter promo code “ellend” to save serious cash!

Sep 022013
 

Menopause MondaysIt’s the middle of the day and you’re on your back with the blinds closed, a wet washcloth over your eyes, and a nauseated feeling in the pit of your stomach. What’s that got to do with perimenopause? In a word: hormones.

About 13 percent of adults in the United States suffer from migraines—that’s 35 million people, according to Susan Hutchinson, M.D., director of the Orange County Migraine & Headache Center in Irvine, California. It turns out, 27 million of those migraine sufferers are of the fairer sex. While migraines are about equally prevalent in boys and girls, after puberty, the ratio of migraine occurrence tips to 3:1, with the ladies losing out big time, Dr. Hutchinson says. In fact, girls are more likely to have their first migraine during the year of their first period than at any other time in their lives, according to the Migraine Research Foundation. Why? Again, hormones.

Migraines, unlike other headaches, are often hormonal in nature, so intense fluctuations of hormones (especially estrogen!) in women can egg on and worsen migraines, she says. What’s more, when going through “the change,” many women report elevated levels of stress. Between hot flashes, mood swings, and flat-out life as you know it, how could you not suffer perimenopausal stress? Of course that stress can further exacerbate migraine symptoms, according to Dr. Hutchinson.

For women, migraines are often marked by throbbing pain that’s worse on one side of the head, nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and noise. For those women who have migraines with aura, those symptoms are often prefaced by seeing flashing lights and floating lines, developing temporary peripheral blindness, experiencing numbness or tingling in the face or hands, suffering a distorted sense of smell, taste, or touch, and experiencing mental confusion, according to the North American Menopause Society.

While migraines typically last for anywhere from four to 72 hours, when shifting hormones are to blame, they tend to run the long side, notes Dr. Hutchinson. “My speculation is that, often, the underlying hormonal trigger continues to be present unlike, for example, a migraine caused by a food trigger that is ingested, causes a migraine, and then is no longer ingested so the trigger does not continue to be present,” she says.

The silver lining is that two-thirds of female migraine sufferers completely ditch their migraines or notice 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.

Still, the problem for many women is getting through the hell of perimenopausal migraines to the bright light of menopause.

Not anymore! Put the pain in the past and get your life back with these three tips perimenopausal migraine-relief tips from Dr. Hutchinson:

Find a Specialist

As with most things medical, visiting a trained specialist is a solid first step. Your perimenopause and menopause specialist can evaluate your migraines in relation to your hormonal status and adjust hormone therapy if necessary, says Dr. Hutchinson, who notes the importance of also finding a good headache and migraine specialist who is versed in how fluctuating hormone levels affect migraines. Your best bet? Ask your perimenopause and menopause specialist for a referral or look for local M.D.s on headaches.org or achenet.org, she says.

Consider Non-Oral Bio-Identical HRT

Whether you are on hormone replacement therapy or are just thinking about taking the plunge, talk to your perimenopause and menopause specialist about how HRT can influence perimenopausal migraines—both for good and for bad. Remember: “All forms of HRT are not created equal,” Dr. Hutchinson says. “If HRT is used, the general consensus in the ‘headache world’ is to use a non-oral delivery system such as the estradiol transdermal patch. It would be expected to help prevent migraine as it provides an even level of estradiol and is the same chemical structure as the estrogen/estradiol that a woman’s ovaries produce prior to menopause.” On a synthetic, oral pill? It might actually be worsening your migraines! “Oral preparations have more variability in absorption and blood levels and therefore would be predicted to not be as helpful in treating/preventing menopausal migraine. Synthetic and oral preparations are more likely to cause or aggravate headache,” Dr. Hutchinson says.

Fight Your Triggers

Apart from hormone fluctuations, bright or flashing lights, a lack of food or sleep, and stress can all contribute to migraines, according to the North American Menopause Society. Your best defense is good self-care. Dr. Hutchinson advises eating small, frequent meals throughout the day that pack both complex carbohydrates (think: whole grains, legumes, and starchy vegetables) and protein to regulate blood sugar levels. Dietary supplements including butterbur, B-2 (riboflavin), co-enzyme Q-10, and magnesium can also be helpful in migraine prevention, according to Dr. Hutchinson. Make sure to drink plenty of water, as dehydration can cause headaches. Remember: if you feel “thirsty,” you are already dehydrated, according to the National Health Service. Getting a full night’s sleep and exercising regularly (which can help you sleep better!), can also help. Last but not least, don’t smoke! You also might want to cut back on the caffeine and booze, she says.

Don’t let perimenopause be a pain—figuratively or literally! A happy head is vital to being the productive and fulfilled women that we are destined to be.

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

Let’s hang out! September is Menopause Awareness Month! Celebrate by joining us for a special Menopause Awareness Month Menopause Mondays on Monday, September 16th at 5:30PM PST 8:30 EST! Ellen will be hosting a live and interactive Google Hangout where guests will discuss their own menopause stories and Ellen will answer audience questions about everything menopause!

If you want to share your menopausal story on-camera during the Hangout, submit your menopause story to Ellen at menopausemondays@ellendolgen.com by September 10th. All you need is a microphone and a video camera on your computer. If you have any questions you want answered, comments, or feedback from the last Hangout email them to menopausemondays@ellendolgen.com. Sign up here!

September Giveaway: Enter to win “The Woman’s Guide to Managing Migraine” Understanding the Hormone Connection to find Hope and Wellness by Susan Hutchinson, MD.

Is it hot in here or is it just you? Is it hot in here or is it just you? Check out the Products That May Help You and get discounts on great menopause products, courtesy of EllenDolgen.com. Available now: botanically based vegan & gluten-free beauty-health-wellness products, cooling clothes, a sleek and discrete chargeable fan, a “Hot Flash Havoc” documentary, and a natural menopause relief formula. Enter promo code “ellend” to save serious cash!

Aug 262013
 

Menopause MondaysSeptember is all about fashion—fall collections, catwalks, and the September issue of Vogue (902 glossy pages thick!) so heavy you could bench-press it!

Whatever trends come and go with the passing seasons, my style of choice will always hinge on one simple thing: what makes me feel good about myself. It’s all too common to gain weight during perimenopause and menopause, but with regular exercise and eating Weight Watcher’s style, I’ve not only been able to keep off the weight—I feel better about myself and my health than ever before! (Here are some more tips on how to fight menopausal weight gain).

The lengths go up and down, the pants change from skinny to wide, but no matter what the experts say, I dress in what lifts my spirit and helps me feel confident, sexy, and self-expressive! Fashion lifts my mood and nourishes my soul. I love it! Fashion, style, and beauty add joy and wellbeing to my life. I think this TED series on beauty is perfectly on point.

Want to show off your true you this (and every!) season? These colors will reflect every part of you!

Red

When I’m in a super-sexy mood (thanks, hormone replacement therapy!), I love to play it up with a red, Jessica Rabbit number. Science says I’m not alone. A brand-spanking new study published in Psychological Science shows that women are 3.5 times more likely to don red during the most fertile days of their cycle. Why? Because when women are ovulating (aka: more likely to get preggers), they crave sex. Goodness knows, I’m definitely not getting pregnant any time soon, but that doesn’t mean the ruby hue won’t get me some extra loving. Research from University of Rochester has found that men are more attracted to a woman when she is wearing red. Guess what I’m wearing to date night with my husband!

Blue

To me, there’s nothing more calming than the beach. The sand, the sunsets, and most importantly, the bright blue waves! So when I’m feeling ultra-cool and calm—or am just trying to take my anxiety down a notch, blue is the hue for me. Whether it is a blue dress or my favorite stretch blue jeans, the sky is the limit! Experts at the Utah Valley University even claim that just seeing the color slashes stress. I’d have to say, it works for me!

Yellow

Sunny clothes = sunny personality! My mood just loves a healthy dose of yellow. Don’t be shy; try it out! I promise you won’t look like a walking, talking, banana. The key: keeping the color on top. It draws attention up to your gorgeous face! Try pairing a yellow shirt, jacket, or necklace with some equally fabulous blue jeans.

Fuchsia

As far as I’m concerned, the brighter the better! Which is why fuchsia is my favorite shade of pink. Flirty, feminine, and full of fun, seeing myself in this color just makes me happy! Plus, it perfectly transitions from day to night. Switch your oh-so casual sandals with some saucy heels and you’re guaranteed to stand out in any cocktail party’s sea of black dresses!

Orange

A true statement color, orange is the new black. But all jokes aside, doesn’t wearing orange just make you feel peppy? It does me – that is why I chose this orange jacket when I spoke at the Naval Base San Diego. Energized, creative, and open, that’s what I want to be! No wonder I am surrounded in a sea of orange! If going all in orange is a little

brighter than what you are used to, then try adding a pop of orange to your accessories. After all, what’s better than an orange patent-leather purse? (If you find one, can I borrow it?)

We are beautiful on the inside and out—so let’s show it off this and every season! Our wardrobes provide the perfect vehicle to show the world everything we love about our personalities —and trust me, there should be a whole slew of things on your self-love list! So go out there and strut your stuff!

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

Let’s hang out! September is Menopause Awareness Month! Celebrate by joining us for a special Menopause Awareness Month Menopause Mondays on Monday, September 16th at 5:30PM PST 8:30 EST! Ellen will be hosting a live and interactive Google Hangout where guests will discuss their own menopause stories and Ellen will answer audience questions about everything menopause!

If you want to share your menopausal story on-camera during the Hangout, submit your menopause story to Ellen at menopausemondays@ellendolgen.com by September 10th. All you need is a microphone and a video camera on your computer. If you have any questions you want answered, comments, or feedback from the last Hangout email them to menopausemondays@ellendolgen.com. Sign up here!

August Giveaway: Arbonne’s Advanced Intensive Renewal Serum - Enter to win a powerful blend of clinically proven, collagen-supporting ingredients that visibly firms and lifts skin, while helping to diminish the appearance of fine lines. Good luck, sisters!

Is it hot in here or is it just you? Is it hot in here or is it just you? Check out the Products That May Help You and get discounts on great menopause products, courtesy of EllenDolgen.com. Available now: botanically based vegan & gluten-free beauty-health-wellness products, cooling clothes, a sleek and discrete chargeable fan, a “Hot Flash Havoc” documentary, and a natural menopause relief formula. Enter promo code “ellend” to save serious cash!

Aug 182013
 

Menopause MondaysMenopause may leave you feeling dry somewhere other than where you expected: your eyes!

Dry eye syndrome is a little-known symptom of menopause. About 61 percent of perimenopausal and menopausal women suffer from dry, itchy eyes—but only 16 percent of them realize menopause is to blame, according to the Society for Women’s Health Research. It’s time to change all that and start working our baby blues! (and browns and greens…)

“Many women going through menopause experience dry eye syndrome or exacerbation of their pre-existing symptoms,” says Dr. Sol Shaftel, M.D., Ph.D., an ophthalmologist and ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgery fellow at the University of Washington.

Like with most symptoms of menopause, our hormones are likely to blame. Plummeting hormone levels are believed to affect the ocular tissues and the composition of tears your eyes produce, both of which can result in “Cheech and Chong”-style eyes. Common symptoms include dryness, light sensitivity, blurred vision, as well as burning, gritty, and sandy feelings (often called “foreign body sensation”). But don’t let watery eyes fool you! Although teary eyes look like they are anything but dry, excessive tearing may be a sign that your eyes are desperately trying to make up for a lack of moisture, according to Dr. Shaftel.

Some data suggests that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may help alleviate symptoms, but the Women’s Health Initiative, which studied 25,665 women, found an increased risk of dry eye syndrome in women using HRT, and especially estrogen. Basically, the jury is still out on HRT’s exact role in dry eye syndrome.

Either way, if dry, scratchy, burning eyes trouble you, know that you can feel (and look!) better without any invasive medical interventions. “These symptoms can often be treated effectively with simple measures leading to major improvements in quality of life,” says Dr. Shaftel, who notes that successful treatment hinges on three major strategies: increasing lubrication, decreasing tear outflow, and reducing eyelid inflammation.

Ready for relief? Stop rubbing and try out these five easy remedies for dry eyes:

Avoid Environmental Triggers

Wind, dry air, and pollutants can all contribute to dried-out eyes, according to Dr. Shaftel. While you can’t completely control your world (drat!), you can control how much havoc these elements wreck on those gorgeous eyes of yours. For instance, on windy days, wearing glasses or sunglasses can help block the wind from wicking your eyes dry. If your casa is as dry as your eyes, try a humidifier! It can bring serious relief to your eyes (not to mention to your skin!). Changing out or cleaning your air conditioner’s filter can also help keep eye-irritating pollutants from entering your home.

Try Over-the-Counter Eye Drops

These are my miracle fix! I use OTC eye drops as well as an OTC gel on my lower lids at night—and my eyes are just as happy as they were when my estrogen was at its all-time high. Per Dr. Shaftel, here’s a quick overview of the options out there: tear substitutes, which are quick-acting, but provide only temporary relief; gel drops, which are longer-acting but can blur vision; gels, which are for nighttime use and will blur vision; and preservative-free formulations for those women who are allergic to preservatives. The option that’s best for you—and how many different ones you need to employ on a given day—largely depends on just how dry and miserable your eyes are. Start with tear substitutes and work your way up. Caution: Avoid “get the red out” and “clear eye” drops as these can cause rebound redness, inflammation, and dryness if used for prolonged periods, warns Dr. Shaftel.

Take It Easy on Your Eyes

Blink, already! Being told to blink more might sound silly, but how often have you found yourself not blinking because you were enthralled in a book or a movie? Exactly. So when you must concentrate, lubricate your eyes. Another way to take it easy on your peepers is to limit how many hours a day you wear your contact lenses, Dr. Shaftel says. After all, the sexy librarian look is in!

Eat Right

Omega-3 fatty acids are good for more than your heart. They are also good for your eyes, says Dr. Shaftel. The connection: Antioxidants. A 2011 study from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine found that eating unsaturated fatty acids can effectively treat dry eyes. Aim to eat at least two portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily fish such as salmon, tuna, or mackerel. Don’t like fish? Omega-3 fatty acids supplements can also do the trick.

Talk to Your Doc

When it comes to hormone (and eye!) happiness in menopause, the right experts can provide a one-two punch of relief. While you should tell your perimenopause and menopause specialist about any menopausal symptoms you experience, an ophthalmologist (eye surgeon) specializes in the anatomy, physiology, and diseases of the eye, and can help provide significant relief. “Early referral to an ophthalmologist is the most important step in getting patients the help they need,” Dr. Shaftel says. Your perimenopause and menopause specialist may even be able to give you a recommendation of a local eye doc that’s knowledgeable in the unique eye changes that occur during menopause.

They say the eyes are the windows to the soul. So if those windows look and feel red, itchy, and altogether inhospitable, do something about it! You’ll never look back!

Reaching out is IN! Suffering in silence is OUT!

Let’s hang out! Monday, September 19th at 5:30pm PST/8:30pm EST.  Ellen is hosting her Menopause Mondays Google Hangouts: Where the Sisterhood helps the Sisterhood. Start sending your questions in here!  Get ready to talk menopause with Ellen at this free online event! Stay tuned for more details.

Is it hot in here or is it just you? Is it hot in here or is it just you? Check out the Products That May Help You and get discounts on great menopause products, courtesy of EllenDolgen.com. Available now: botanically based vegan & gluten-free beauty-health-wellness products, cooling clothes, a sleek and discrete chargeable fan, a “Hot Flash Havoc” documentary, and a natural menopause relief formula. Enter promo code “ellend” to save serious cash!

August Giveaway: Arbonne’s Advanced Intensive Renewal Serum - Enter to win a powerful blend of clinically proven, collagen-supporting ingredients that visibly firms and lifts skin, while helping to diminish the appearance of fine lines. Good luck, sisters!

Aug 122013
 

Menopause MondaysIt’s not in your head: Menopausal brain fog is real.

Many menopausal women have trouble with working memory, as well as keeping themselves focused, according to a recent study from the University of Rochester Medical Center and the University of Illinois at Chicago. (Watch Ellen on the TODAY Show discussing the research!) After reviewing perimenopausal and menopausal women completing a variety of cognitive tests, researchers found that many women had trouble taking in new information and manipulating it in their heads. That translates to problems with even some of the most basic real-life tasks, like calculating a tip after a restaurant meal or adjusting an itinerary after unexpected flight changes.

“If a woman approaching menopause feels she is having memory problems, no one should brush it off or attribute it to a jam-packed schedule. She can find comfort in knowing that there are new research findings that support her experience. She can view her experience as normal,” lead researcher Miriam Weber, Ph.D., said in a statement. Between one-third and two-thirds of women report forgetfulness and other memory difficulties during perimenopause and menopause, according to Weber.

Knowing that your symptoms are “normal” can be a huge relief. After all, the only thing worse than feeling like you are losing your mind is feeling like you are the only one going through the situation. Still, “normal” doesn’t always mean “good.”

Here are five natural ways to help overcome some of these issues and have a sharp mind during menopause:

1. Access Your Memory

“Those who understand the memory process are more likely to employ strategies to improve their memory,” says Ruth Curran, creator of Cranium Crunches brain-training games. Knowledge about memory, called “metamemory,” requires really examining your memory and embracing your strengths and weaknesses. “Sometimes ‘thinking inside the box’—seeing and recognizing our ‘failings’—helps us embrace the way we function right now and make something great out of what we might otherwise see as ‘deficits.’ We need to give ourselves permission to embrace the way we are and maximize our potential,” Curran says. Is your problem focus? Picking out the most important part of someone’s story? Pay attention to what mental tasks are challenging for you. Once you know them you can work by yourself or with a cognitive therapist so that you can best use your unique brain, she says.

2. Play Games

Memory games aren’t just for kids. “There is growing evidence (based on functional MRI studies) that mental exercise helps rebalance and rewire the brain,” says Curran. For example, Cranium Crunches, which she developed in response to the cognitive decline she observed in her parents as a result of chemotherapy and Parkinsonian-dementia, uses cognitive puzzles that mimic everyday life to hone your day-to-day attention and processing skills, make new brain connections, and generally up your brainpower. Other websites including Luminosity, Posit Science, Happy Neuron, and CogniFit also offer fun brainteasers for cognitive health.

3. Break a Sweat

Exercise is good for both your body and brain! Physical exercise influences the delivery of neurochemicals throughout the brain that regulate memory (and are directly affected by hormone levels), Curran says. In fact, a recent study in Neuroscience found that running increases levels of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which supports neurological health and encourages the growth of new brain cells. Meanwhile, weight training increases levels of insulin-like growth factor, another protein in the brain that promotes cell division, growth, and health. It’s your move: Combine both cardiovascular and strength training into your schedule.

4. Eat Right

Your brain runs on food. Feed it right. Research from Oregon Health and Science University shows that people with diets high in vitamins B, C, D, and E and in omega-3 fatty acids are less likely to suffer from brain shrinkage and other abnormalities associated with Alzheimer’s disease, while people who consume diets high in trans fats—often found in fast, frozen, and processed foods—are more likely to have low scores on thinking and memory tests. Check out the best foods for menopausal health.

5. Meditate

No, seriously, it can work! A recent study from the University of California, Santa Barbara found that meditation—aka mindfulness training—improves working memory and mind wandering—the two biggest brain problems women experience during perimenopause and menopause. In the study, subjects completed a two-week mindfulness course that involved daily meditation exercises (think: focusing on sensory experiences such as the feeling of breathing, the taste of a piece of fruit, or the sound of an audio recording). Meditation can help restore a healthy chemical and electrical balance in the brain, Curran says. Try these three easy meditation tips.

True self care is about more than your body. It’s about your mind, which is the control center for everything you think, do, and are. Clear cognitive health allows you to be your healthiest, happiest self. Sure, it’s easy to dismiss brain fog with late nights, busy schedules, and to-do lists worthy of a personal assistant, but you owe it to yourself to stop making excuses and to get to the real cause. Remember, just because your challenges are  “normal” doesn’t mean you can’t ease them. Be your own best friend—take good care of yourself!

Reaching out is IN! Suffering in silence is OUT!

Let’s hang out! Monday, August 12th at 5:30pm PST/8:30pm EST.  Ellen is hosting her Menopause Mondays Google Hangouts: Where the Sisterhood helps the Sisterhood. If you would like to get an invite to Ellen’s Menopause Mondays Google Hangouts, please email your request to menopausemondays@ellendolgen.com. You can RSVP here if you have a Google Plus account and have received an invite. Start sending your questions in here!  Get ready to talk menopause with Ellen at this free online event!

Is it hot in here or is it just you? Get discounts on great menopause products, courtesy of EllenDolgen.com. Available now: botanically based vegan & gluten-free beauty-health-wellness products, cooling clothes, a sleek and discrete chargeable fan, a “Hot Flash Havoc” documentary, and a natural menopause relief formula. Enter promo code ellend to save serious cash!

August Giveaway: Arbonne’s Advanced Intensive Renewal Serum -Enter to win a powerful blend of clinically proven, collagen-supporting ingredients that visibly firms and lifts skin, while helping to diminish the appearance of fine lines. Good luck, sisters!

Aug 052013
 

Menopause MondaysLast week, my husband reminded me it was time for my car’s regularly scheduled tune up. The brake lining, fluid levels, tire alignment, balancing—it all needed to be checked out.

For both David and me, maintaining safe, well-running cars is a huge priority. After all, we spend a tremendous amount of time in those cars, commuting to work, meetings, family gatherings, and just running errands. Then it hit me (a question, not a car!): why are so many of us incredibly organized and attentive when it comes to the wellbeing of our cars, but not when it comes to the wellbeing of our primary vehicles (the bodies that we ride around in 24/7)?!?!

If our cars groan, sputter, or smoke, we take them into the mechanic without a second of hesitation, but when our bodies are flashing, flushing, overheating, and experiencing many of the more than 30 symptoms of perimenopause and menopause, we far too often suffer in silence! Many women, even if undergoing hormone replacement therapy, don’t get rechecked when they find themselves experiencing old or new symptoms. Just like our cars need adjustments from time to time, so do our hormones and healthcare.

Our cars have all kinds of flashing, blinking, chirping alarms for a reason: to tell us to attend to their needs. Our bodies are built with alarms, too. When we don’t feel right, it’s our bodies’ dashboards telling us that something is wrong. So why don’t we pay attention to them? Why do we wait until we find ourselves on the equivalent of a highway shoulder? When it comes to caring for our perimenopause and menopause symptoms, we all too often wait for a crisis to hit us before attending to them. It’s as if we had been waiting for AAA to come and give us a menopausal tow into the nearest garage! (Bad visual, right?)

It’s time for some preventative care—a tune up, if you will. Preventative care is the true foundation of living and being well. Every 10,000 miles or so, we take our cars in for a looksee from our friendly mechanic. The same should be true for our bodies. Why check the lining of our brakes, but not the lining of our vaginas?

It’s way too common for women to not check their estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and other hormone levels. We need to do this in order to make sure that all of our “equipment” is working well. We would never think of driving with anything less than a well-oiled engine and plenty of fuel, but when was the last time you asked your gynecologist to screen you for vaginal atrophy? Is your vagina lubricating and running right? If not, your health, sex life, enjoyment, and romantic relationships can suffer.

Here are my five steps to getting on the road to hormone happiness:

1. Listen to Your Body. Listening to our bodies’ dashboards is the first and most important step in our bodies riding smoothly during perimenopause and menopause. Until you pay attention to those flashing lights, you can’t do anything about them.

2. Find a Menopause Specialist. Gynos are great, but they often aren’t trained in the specifics of perimenopause and menopause tune ups. To find a specialist near you, consult my Menopause Doctor Directory, get a referral from your primary care physician, or ask the women in your life who’s guiding them toward hormone happiness.

3. Chart Your Menopause Symptoms. To help track your symptoms, sign up for my free Menopause Mondays Newsletter to receive my Menopause Symptoms Chart via email. Each day, chart the frequency, duration, and severity of your perimenopause and menopause symptoms and take this chart in with you to your appointment with your menopause specialist.

4. Know Your Numbers. Ask your menopause specialist about receiving a complete blood workup, including a hormone panel. The proper testing together with your completed Menopause Symptoms Chart will enable your doctor to create an individualized program just for you. There are lots of numbers involved, but don’t worry, no algebra needed!

5. Stay on the Path. Remember, one tune up is not enough. Constantly listen to your body, monitor your symptoms, and maintain an open dialogue with your menopause specialist.

As we continue on with our summer travels and get our cars all ready to roll, let’s remind ourselves to put our own personal health needs on our tune-up list. After all, without that our bodies can’t properly take us where we want and need to go. So turn up your car’s volume and heed the wise words of the Beatles…

Baby you can drive my car

Yes I’m gonna be a star

Baby you can dive my car

And maybe I’ll love you

Let’s hang out! Monday, August 12th at 5:30pm PST/8:30pm EST.  Ellen is hosting her Menopause Mondays Google Hangouts: Where the Sisterhood helps the Sisterhood. If you would like to get an invite to Ellen’s Menopause Mondays Google Hangouts, please email your request to menopausemondays@ellendolgen.com. You can RSVP here if you have a Google Plus account and have received an invite. Start sending your questions in here!  Get ready to talk menopause with Ellen at this free online event!

Is it hot in here or is it just you? Get discounts on great menopause products, courtesy of EllenDolgen.com. Available now: botanically based vegan & gluten-free beauty-health-wellness products, cooling clothes, a sleek and discrete chargeable fan, a “Hot Flash Havoc” documentary, and a natural menopause relief formula. Enter promo code ellend to save serious cash!

August Giveaway: Arbonne’s Advanced Intensive Renewal Serum -Enter to win a powerful blend of clinically proven, collagen-supporting ingredients that visibly firms and lifts skin, while helping to diminish the appearance of fine lines. Good luck, sisters!

Jul 292013
 

Menopause MondaysSometimes, menopause’s biggest challenges aren’t related to hormones at all. Sometimes, they have more to do with our roles in our lives and families.

Case in point: During 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.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the term “Sandwich Generation” has become more common in the last two decades. Currently, about one-in-seven middle-aged adults provides financial support to both an aging parent and a child, according to the Pew Research Center. It’s not difficult to see why: While young workers are buried with student loan debt and low wages, the elderly face dual challenges in record-high life expectancy rates and declining retirement savings. Often, we are the ones caught between the two generations.

Perhaps even more taxing than dishing out dough is the fact that nearly four-in-ten people in their 40s, 50s, and 60s say both their grown children and their parents rely on them for emotional support, according to the Pew Research Center. More often than not, women are providing this shoulder to lean on. After all we are frequently the emotional “rocks” of our families.

According to Jody Gastfriend, the senior care expert for Care.com, when it comes to making your life in the “Sandwich Generation” work for you and yours, the best offense is a good defense. Here are three ways to care for yourself when balancing the responsibilities of caring for both children and parents.

1. Have a Preemptive Talk

 

“Trying to make decisions in the midst of a crisis is far from optimal. The best time to discuss long term care needs is when things are calm, before your loved ones actually need help,” says Gastfriend. 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 to an assisted living facility with their friends when the time comes. You can’t know until you have an open conversation with them.

2. Don’t Try to Do It Alone

 

You are amazing, but you can’t try to be Superwoman. Think: Who in your life can support you and your responsibilities? Your husband, siblings, children, and even professional caregivers can help. “Hiring outside help just a few hours a week may be worth it,” Gastfriend says. It can give you a needed break for “me” time. If dollars and cents are your biggest stressor, consider speaking with a financial advisor (this can be someone you pay or someone you access thru a social service agency) who can help with realistic goal setting, continuous savings adjustments, and account rebalancing.

3. Determine Your Benefits

 

“If you are in the workplace, find out if your organization has benefits to support caregiving employees,” Gastfriend recommends. Many companies have eldercare programs that include referrals to caregiver resources in the community, on-site support groups for working caregivers, and discounted backup homecare for emergency needs, according to the AARP Public Policy Institute. What’s more, your boss may be open to arranging a more flexible work schedule for you that allows you to deliver on all fronts.

We want to be there for the people we love—but it can be draining. When we are left dry and exhausted (physically, emotionally or financially), what can we possibly give to others? No matter our caregiving responsibilities and roles, caring for ourselves—our financial, emotional, and hormonal health—has to come first. Put yourself on your own To Do list for a change! If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t truly take care of anyone else. After all, you and your family deserve the happiest, healthiest you!

 

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

Let’s hang out! Monday, August 12th at 5:30pm PST/8:30pm EST. Ellen is hosting her Menopause Mondays Google Hangouts: Where the Sisterhood helps the Sisterhood. If you would like to get an invite to Ellen’s Menopause Mondays Google Hangouts, please email your request to menopausemondays@ellendolgen.com. You can RSVP here if you have a Google Plus account and have received an invite. Start sending your questions in here! Get ready to talk menopause with Ellen at this free online event!

Is it hot in here or is it just you? Get discounts on great menopause and wellness products, courtesy of EllenDolgen.com. Available now: botanically based vegan & gluten-free beauty-health-wellness products, cooling clothes, a sleek and discrete chargeable fan, a “Hot Flash Havoc” documentary, and a natural menopause relief formula. Enter promo code ellend to save serious cash!

July’s Giveaway: Having trouble sleeping? Enter to win Estroven® Nighttime. Good luck, sisters