Monthly Archives: June 2013

Sex and Menopause: Bouquet-worthy!

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MiddlesexMD

A post by Dr. Barb DePree, M.D., Menopause Care Specialist and founder of MiddlesexMD.com

A big bouquet of roses waited for me at the front desk of my clinic.

It wasn’t my anniversary or my birthday.

When I saw who sent them, I smiled that special “good sex” smile, even though the sex I was smiling about wasn’t my own.

I’ve been a women’s health doctor for more than 20 years, focused on midlife women for the past four.

These flowers were not from a new mom or a patient with a difficult disease.

These came from a patient who got her sex life back. That may not seem like a big win in the scheme of things, but it was a wake-up call for me.

My patient, now in menopause, was distraught that her sex life seemed to be over so soon — too soon. Sex was effortless for most of her life. It had been very satisfying. And suddenly, it wasn’t any more.

We talked about sexual response with her hormonal changes, all of the many factors that could be influencing her experience.

Then we talked about her options for managing these changes.

She tried different routes, but when I introduced her to a device — she had not used them before — that made the difference for her. With the help of a simple tool, she was able to adapt to her new reality, and enjoy sex again.

It was a fairly straightforward doctor-patient exchange, but not a common one. Women rarely talk to their doctors about sex. As a menopause practitioner, though, I know that changes in sexual response are a key source of distress for a lot of women and their partners at this age.

Is it a doctor’s job to help their patients have good sex?

I think it is, absolutely. A healthy sex life sustains our overall health and well-being. Sex is good for us, and helps us to remain vibrant and strong.

Menopause isn’t a disease. It’s a natural process. The more we understand this process, and discuss it openly, the easier it will be for us to make adjustments to accommodate our bodies’ changes.

The roses were evidence that my patient’s sex life had been restored.

How many women like her have never raised the question with their doctors. Their gynecologists? Or sisters? Or friends?

I founded MiddlesexMD.com for women who aren’t ready to close the door on sex, and who aren’t sure how or when to talk with their doctors about their experiences.

MiddlesexMD is organized around five “recipe” elements – Knowledge, Vaginal Comfort, Genital Sensation, Pelvic Tone and Emotional Intimacy – that are essential to sexual well-being. It provides a factual guide on how they contribute to a healthy sex life, how they change with menopause, and how to use different techniques and products to make up for those changes.

I hope that MiddlesexMD gives you a trustworthy (and hopefully bouquet-worthy!) resource to explore issues you might be having, conditions that could be causing them, and steps you can take to enjoy sexuality for life.

Barb DePree, MD, is a women’s health provider in West Michigan, specializing in menopause care. She founded MiddlesexMD.com, a safe, comfortable place where women can learn how aging affects sex after 40, find advice and techniques, and purchase specially chosen intimacy aids such as a personal vibrator, moisturizers and lubricants.

Dr. Barb 03

Lost Friends and Regret

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Younger--Janice and Me

I met Janice the first week of my sophomore year at Towson High School.

She rushed into English class from art class, holding a large drawing of a rabbit.

Being fond of rabbits, I took note.

“He’s wonderful,” I said.

“I just can’t seem to get him right,” she answered.

My mother was an artist, and I dearly wanted to be one too. At sixteen, I’d figured out, finally, that I had no artistic talent. Janice’s rabbit was exquisitely drawn.

More beautiful than I, Janice had china doll skin and saucer brown eyes that gave her a whimsical yet intent expression.

She spoke in a whispy, quiet voice. I was louder, sometimes shushed by teachers for my talking.

But talk Janice and I did.

For hours.

On the phone. In class. At lunch. In the hall. Weekend sleepovers. Notes and letters.

About school, family, theater, other girls, art, fashion,music, books, boys, and more.

For my birthday, she gave me a teddy bear, a proper one with honey brown fur and jointed arms and legs. We  named him Bear. Years too old, some would say, for teddy bears, we had a glorious time creating Bear’s quirky personality.

Our school book fair that spring sold an edition of Robert Frost’s poems. In Janice’s copy I wrote, “Frost says ‘Nothing gold can stay.’ We’ll prove him wrong.”

Frost was right, and I’ve spent years trying to figure out how Janice and I allowed our friendship to end.

Senior year, she became distant, withdrawn.

She hinted of visits to a therapist (a much bigger deal in 1972) and seemed in various moments to be distracted, angry, sad, or disappointed with me, life, school, the future.

Instead of talking to her, asking questions, attempting to help, I grew frustrated and let her go.

Forty years later, I now understand that my role in the ending of the friendship was selfish and my silence cowardly.

What about you?

Do you still experience twinges of sadness over a lost friendship?

Any attempts to find that friend?

My plan is to look for Janice. I want to find out, among other things, if she’s still drawing rabbits.

Younger-Bear

Top Photo:  Me, wearing glasses, and Janice. We’re holding my cats Martin and Peter.

Bottom Photo:  Bear on a  bookshelf today in my family room.

Grandma Update: Toys from the Attic!

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Talk about a happy grandma day:

The day I pulled down toys from the attic.

Anybody remember these guys?

Queen Buzzy Bee and Little Snoopy Dog.

While it’s been great fun watching Maze play with his mom’s toys, it’s been intriguing, too, to see how toys have changed in thirty years.

Check out these state of the art stacking rings.

They’ve got bells and whistles and lights!

Since his mom’s a blogger, Maze got an early start with his own laptop.

Maze and Laptop

My clever grandson is working hard to understand the ins and outs of this electronic ball.

Ball

Soon, he can teach me. I had a terrible time with it on my last visit.

But…

On that visit, two teddy bears, with the help of this grandma, began chatting with one another.

Maze watched for a few seconds.

His eyes went from the bears to me and back again.

Then he giggled.

He giggled even more when the bears started asking him questions.

Making bears talk is one of my only true talents.

I’m glad he appreciates it.

Maze and Gram

Every grandma has a toy basket full of wishes for her grandchild.

At the top of my basket is the wish that Maze will love nonsense.

Lots of nonsense.

Early on assessment says he does.

Hooray!

For as Dr. Seuss explains:

dr_seuss

Thanks to MediaWebApps.com  for the wise words from Dr. Seuss and Kath Younger for the photos of Maze.

The Moon and The Menses – aka The Lunar Link

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Moons - Perigee and Apogee

A post in honor of the moon by writer Patti Winker:

The full moon is upon us.  And, not just any full moon, a supermoon.

The word ‘supermoon’ refers to a full moon at perigee, the point in the lunar orbit when the moon is closest to the earth. It’s a pretty cool full moon as it appears to be much larger than a regular full moon.

But, aside from the awesome spectacle of a supermoon, why is this important and what does it have to do with the subject of our menses?  Plenty.

There is the linguistic connection between the moon and the menses, of course.  The words come from the Latin mensis (month), which derives from the Greek meis/mens/men/mene (moon).

So, this we know; month-moon-menses, all related at the root.

But, it goes further than that, at least for me.

First, I have to admit to being ‘moonstruck.’

I was born and raised watching the moon rise over the river. It held a fascination for me. A huge orange Harvest Moon or giant white Snow Moon have always been, and always will be, thrilling to me.

I think that’s why I was keenly aware of one little bit of information that many of my girlfriends glossed over when we learned about menstruation.

It was suggested (by the menstruation authorities who gave us Very Personally Yours and Growing Up And Liking It) that our cycle would typically be 28 days.  Interesting.

I made the connection.  The phases of the moon are about 28 days, too.

Coincidence?  Maybe.

But, just in case, I made sure my ‘discreet calendar’ included the phases of the moon.

For decades, as recommended by the authorities, I kept my little calendar and counted the days, making my ‘X’s along the way.  However, the whole 28 day thing never really panned out.  So, I thought, “What do they know.”

Then I moved from Wisconsin to Florida.

As I merrily made my ‘X’s through the months, I noticed a very strange thing happening. My periods started getting closer and closer together.  Was this just a symptom of perimenopause?

After about six months, I noticed a pattern emerge… and stick. Another month.  Another month.  Another month.  It was undeniable.  I have the little ‘X’s to prove it.

My period started each month on the full moon.

It finally came true.  It took moving closer to the ocean for it to happen, but my body had finally synched with the moon.

Coincidence?  Science says there is no proof of lunar affect on humans.  I say science is wrong.

My girlfriends pooh-poohed the notion that somehow the cycle of our periods were connected to the phases of the moon.

Perhaps we just lived too far away from the pull of the tides.

Or maybe it just takes a lunatic such as myself to actually be affected, both body and soul, by the moon.

Either way, I’m going to enjoy basking in the glow of this month’s full moon – the supermoon.

Oh, and in case you think menopause puts a halt to all that moon cycle stuff, it doesn’t.  I still have the same crazy symptoms every full moon.

And, in the words of the great lyricist, pianist, and singer of songs, Billy Joel: “You may be right. I may be crazy. But it just may be a lunatic you’re looking for.”

Thank you, Barbara, for allowing me to share my craziness with your readers.  I hope you enjoyed it and get a chance to also enjoy the supermoon.

About the author :

Patti Winker writes about topics that she and others of “a certain age” are concerned about.  In her blog, RemarkableWrinklies.com, you’ll find thoughts and information on aging well, health and fitness, having a bit of fun, a few debates, and some nostalgia thrown in.  She likes spending time with her grandkids and family, cooking, biking, swimming, walking, and going to the beach. She enjoys nature, but also appreciates a big city.  Patti is a contributing writer in our Tangerine Tango collaboration, and you’ll often find her here commenting and guest posting from time to time. Click these links to read more:

Pushing Fifty Or Pushing Puberty

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

Patti

About the image:

The comparison in sizes of a full moon at perigee (left) and at apogee (right) is an illustration based on Galileo spacecraft images.

Image Credit: NASA