Menopause

Sex and Menopause: Bouquet-worthy!


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

Menopause

Lost Friends and Regret

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.

Menopause

Grandma Update: Toys from the Attic!

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.

Menopause

The Moon and The Menses – aka The Lunar Link

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

Aging, Menopause

Alligator Skin, Lovable Lyle, and a Giveaway!

Alligators

I have a friend Gail just like Oprah has a friend Gayle.

Their names are spelled differently, but they are the same kind of friends.

They tell us stuff.

Stuff we might not know about life and getting older.

Gail said to me a while ago, “One of the things I hate most about aging is alligator skin.”

I had never even heard of alligator skin.

I had never even thought of my skin EVER resembling an alligator’s.

Later that day, my eyes caught a pattern on the side of my calf.

Something I hadn’t noticed before.

Alligator skin.

Yep.

I did some research.

Not much info.

One blogger suggested: “Hydrate.”

Gail says lotion helps some, but it doesn’t make the alligator skin disappear.

I think she’s right.

Mine seems here to stay.

So I guess it’s time to embrace my patches of alligator skin.

Or perhaps it’s crocodile skin.

Bernard Waber, author of the wonderful picture books about Lyle the Crocodile, died on May 16.

In honor of Lyle, the world’s most gentile and gracious crocodile, the creative spirit of Bernard Waber, and our own Friend for the Ride menopausal aging skin, I’m giving away a copy of the Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile Storybook Treasury.

Storybook Treasury

Lyle is not the type to sit around and grump.

He tackles life with gusto.

Even when the chips are down, you seldom see him frown.

And he seems quite content in his crocodile skin.

I’m going to work hard to be content, too.

After all, alligator/crocodile skin makes us all a bit more like lovable Lyle. Lyle Giveaway:   To enter the giveaway, leave a comment by July 1 saying you’d like to be the winner.

Top Photo:  These charming alligators were created from recycled tires, which I found on the site Reclaim, Grow, Sustain: Leaning to Live a Life Sustainable. 

Giveaway Winner:  Congrats to Carol, who won the Care Organizer!  Thanks to Margaret Mintz for donating this innovative resource for keeping track of medical records.

Menopause

Medical Care: Spiritually Speaking

Doctor

A post by writer Chris Rosen:

The first night in Nashville, I left my book club book in the car.

Not wanting to go downstairs and back outside in my nightgown, I picked up a little paperback I found on the bedside table, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, by Anne Fadiman.

SpiritCatchesYAYFD

Little did I know how much I would enjoy reading about the Hmong people of Laos…currently living in California.

It’s a story about seizure disorder, and about the many ways modern medicine can fail a refugee population. Cultural dissonance is bound to happen when doctors want to order invasive tests for a baby who’s only problem is that her older sister slammed the door coming in and so an evil spirit invaded her body.

For the Hmong, animal sacrifices, amulets, and strings around the wrist should cure her, but instead her parents, who speak no English, are supposed to dose her with a varied cocktail of drugs many times a day. You can see where we’re going.

But it’s not all medicine. I’m almost done with the book and I’ve had quite a history lesson on Southeast Asia.

I was talking about the book to one of the Bride and Groom’s friends, an academic internist at Vanderbilt. She said it was required reading in her medical school. “Which medical school did you go to,” I asked. “Yale,” she said.

This morning, after working all night, my ER doctor daughter asked me to read this article.

How Not to Die: Angelo Volandes’s low-tech, high-empathy plan to revolutionize end-of-life care

Have no fear, yes, it is about dying.

Let’s face it, the spirit eventually does leave us and we all have to think about this stuff, unless of course denial works for you.

It’s about a doctor who becomes an educational/documentary film maker. He makes short films that actually show people what advanced dementia (among other maladies) looks like, and he tells us to have “The Conversation” with our doctors:

“In the health-care debate, we’ve heard a lot about useless care, wasteful care, futile care. What we”—Volandes indicates himself and Davis—“have been struggling with is unwanted care.”

That’s far more concerning. That’s not avoidable care. That’s wrongful care.

I think that’s the most urgent issue facing America today, is people getting medical interventions that, if they were more informed, they would not want. It happens all the time.”

Which made me think.

Sometimes, even when you speak the same language, you still can’t communicate.

Christine Lynn Rosen divides her time between her newly adopted home in Charlottesville, VA and Nashville, TN. She first started writing for The Berkshire Eagle and found the discipline of a newspaper deadline, and working at home, fit seamlessly into her family life. Editors would punctuate the end of their weekend magazine with her unique take on the Berkshires.

After a move back to her home state of New Jersey, Rosen was given carte blanche and her own column at The Two River Times. Her style blended local and political issues with more personal reflections. She would occasionally fill in the split-page with a creative biography; usually finding an outstanding, but little known, local personality.

After moving to VA, blogging came naturally. It was a way to make sense of her newly adopted Southern state, her empty nest, and the process of planning her daughter’s wedding. Rosen is a University of Virginia Community Scholar, she is married to Bob, an ER doctor who specialized in Emergency Medicine long before it was considered an actual medical sub-specialty. They have two adult children and a new son-in-law.

In Mountainmornings: a Blue Ridge Point of View, their daughter is always “The Bride,” and is a brand new ER doc; her husband, “The Groom,” is a physician as well. Their son, “The Rocker,” is the Talent. A gifted guitarist, he stayed north of the Mason Dixon line to play with his band, The Parlor Mob. MountainMornings is a series of expository essays – both public and personal.

Beauties[4]

Top Photo: ER doctor/daughter/bride leaving for the hospital.

Bottom Photo: Chris in 1981 with the baby Bride.

Menopause

Menopause Blogs!

First Post

Above is the heading for my first post.

Seems like yesterday!

Today I’m pleased to report that Friend for the Ride was selected by Healthline as one of the best menopause blogs of 2013.

I’m in fine company! Check out the other blogs here:

Health Blogs with Link

As the article states, “There’s more to menopause than moaning and groaning.  Take control of your health and your life during menopause by taking the time to pause and reflect on this important topic for women.”

Thanks to writer Robin Madell, who put the list together, and to all of you for your enthusiasm and support.

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