Looking Forward to Menopause? Yes! Here’s Why…

Witch Hexing

Happy Halloween! Hope it’s pleasantly scary and filled with candy that suits your every sweet tooth.

Candy corn

This witch made the mistake of not looking forward. She was hexing while flying!

But speaking of looking forward, I love this list on Everyday Health of eleven reasons to look forward to menopause. Check them out here.

The article outlines the physical advantages of menopause such as no more periods and no more PMS. Then it goes on to the intellectual and emotional reasons to look forward to the Great Pause.

Dr. Cynthia Stuenkel, an endocrinologist at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine, suggests that menopausal women “ask themselves if they’re headed in the direction they want to go, both professionally and personally, and whether the way they’re spending their time is meaningful to them.”

There’s that heading in the right direction again!

What about you? 

Have you changed directions? Or are you thinking of it?


The misguided witch above graced the lawn of my neighbor, Linda Ostrand, last Halloween.


Lower Dose Vaginal Cream: Please Sign the Petition!


Lower dose vaginal cream rescued me a few years ago. I went from horrible pain to feeling myself again in one treatment.

Leading menopause expert Ellen Dolgen is joining the North American Menopause Society’s campaign to have the labeling changed on lower dose vaginal creams.With Ellen’s approval, I’ve posted her message. Please join me in signing the petition.

Take it away, Ellen, and thanks:

Attention all vagina owners!

On November 10, 2015, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is holding a workshop in Silver Spring, Maryland on the subject of the product labeling of lower-dose vaginal estrogen.  This workshop will also provide public comments and testimonials on this subject.

Lower dose vaginal estrogen, commonly referred to as LET (local estrogen therapy) is used for women who are experiencing the following symptoms:

  • Vaginal dryness
  • Vaginal burning
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Genital itching
  • Burning with urination
  • Urgency with urination
  • More urinary tract infections
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Light bleeding after intercourse
  • Discomfort with intercourse
  • Decreased vaginal lubrication during sexual activity
  • Shortening and tightening of the vaginal canal

The medical community has many names for this condition: dyspareunia, vulvar and vaginal atrophy or Genitourinary (Don’t worry, I can’t pronounce that either.) Syndrome of Menopause.  For our purposes, let’s call it dry vagina!

Dry vagina occurs when there’s a drop in levels of estrogens, produced by the ovaries. Estrogens maintain the structure and function of the vaginal wall, the elasticity of the tissues around the vagina, and production of vaginal fluid. When it comes to the vagina, thin is out!

As if graying hair, sagging tatas and expanding waists weren’t enough, we now find out that our vaginas are aging too! If you feel you’re left high and dry, you’re not alone. Vaginal dryness affects as many as 75 percent of postmenopausal women. Between 17 and 45 percent of postmenopausal women say they find sex painful, according to The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

It is important to understand that dry vagina is a progressive condition that adversely affects the health and quality of life for many postmenopausal women.

LET is estrogen applied directly to vaginal tissues, so it goes directly to the affected area, withminimal absorption of estrogen into the bloodstream. LET is available in creams, a ring (this one is not diamond encrusted) and a tablet.

According to NAMS, low-dose vaginal estrogen is very effective against atrophy-related pain during sex, with up to 93% of women reporting significant improvement and 57% to 75% reporting that their sexual comfort is restored. Improvements in vaginal moisture and health typically occur within a few weeks of starting therapy, although relief from severe vaginal atrophy can take several months.

Here is how you can support this effort:

Detailed information about this workshop is provided here. The meeting will be held at the FDA White Oak Campus, 10903 New Hampshire Avenue, Building 31, Conference Center, Section A of the Great Room (Room 1503), Silver Spring, Maryland, 20993. Entrance for the public meeting participants (non-FDA employees) is through Building 1.

Citizens’ Petition

NAMS has published a commentary in the September 2014 issue of Menopause to encourage modifications to the product labeling of low-dose vaginal estrogen (Manson JE, Goldstein SR, Kagan R, et al. Why the product labeling for low-dose vaginal estrogen should be changed. Menopause.2014;21:911-916). If you would like to indicate your support for this proposal, please sign the Citizens’ Petition here. Deadline for signatures is November 10th!

It’s been about 10 years since my vagina was found stranded on a desert island and took my sex drive with it! Since rescuing it, my life is full, happy and satisfied. Remember: Your symptoms are treatable. You can have a happy vagina again!

Please share with the sisterhood!

Ellen Dolgen

About Ellen Dolgen: After struggling with her own severe menopause symptoms and doing years of research, Ellen resolved to share what she learned from experts and her own trial and error. Her goal was to replace the confusion, embarrassment, and symptoms millions of women go through–before, during, and after menopause–with the medically sound solutions she discovered. Her passion to become a “sister” and confidant to all women fueled Ellen’s first book, Shmirshky: The Pursuit of Hormone Happiness. As a result of the overwhelming response from her burgeoning audiences and followers’ requests for empowering information they could trust, Ellen’s weekly blog, Menopause MondaysTM, was born.


#Kegelface! A PeriCoach Campaign



Ever since my surgery last year for endometrial cancer, it’s been especially important that I do my kegels. If I get lazy and stop, I’m in trouble when I sneeze. (Actually it usually takes three sneezes in a row).

What’s cool about kegels is that you can do them anytime, anyplace, and no one knows. So when PeriCoach announced #kegelface, their new campaign, I agreed to join in. Above is my #kegelface. I’m at the bottom of the slide at Durham’s Museum of Life and Science. We had a blast there with my grandson Mazen last week. Any place is a good place for kegels, including the bottom of a sliding board!

Kegels work, and I so appreciate PeriCoach’s effort to spread the word in a fun way. I’ll be putting my #kegelface out on social media. I’m hoping you will too!

Here’s the scoop from PeriCoach. Do check out the links to the National Association for Continence and the Voices for PFD. Both websites have plenty of information for women:

Bladder leakage is a topic many prefer to cover up rather than talk about or fix even though it affects millions of women. The company behind the new PeriCoach® System – a pelvic floor muscle training device + smart phone app – hopes to change that.  Their new campaign, called #kegelface, encourages women to post their “Kegel faces” on social media to demonstrate they are taking back control of their pelvic floors through regular and smart Kegel exercises.

Kegels are pelvic floor muscle training exercises and considered first line treatment for urinary incontinence (UI).  About one in three women will experience UI at some point in their lives, typically after childbirth and around menopause.

“We know that pelvic floor muscle training is very effective for reducing or eliminating urine leakage, but like any exercise program, women have to be inspired to take that first step and start a daily regimen of exercise to see results,” said Leslie M. Rickey, MD, Departments of Urology and Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences, Yale School of Medicine.   “As physicians, we struggle with ensuring patient engagement with their pelvic floor health once they leave the office.  #kegelface is a way for women to stay connected with these important exercises and also unites the millions suffering from bladder control issues.”

Cleared for use by the Food and Drug Administration and available by prescription, PeriCoach, made by Australian company, Analytica, is designed to take the frustration out of a regular program of pelvic muscle floor training.  PeriCoach provides real-time feedback that is beamed to a smartphone so women and their clinicians can track progress.

As part of #kegelface, PeriCoach will donate to the National Association for Continence and Voices for PFD (Pelvic Floor Disorders), part of the American Urogynecological Society (AUGS).

“It’s exciting to be part of a campaign designed to help empower women to manage the health of their pelvic floor,” said Steven G Gregg, Ph.D., Executive Director of the National Association For Continence.  “Many women want to take control of their health and performing Kegel exercises properly is certainly one way in which they can make a difference.”

“AUGS is pleased be a partner in #kegelface. It is a fun way to raise awareness and get women reengaged in this important exercise that if done right can make a difference,” said Michelle Zinnert, Executive Director, Voices for PFD.

In appreciation of participation, the company will offer women who post their “Kegelface” to their Instagram, Facebook or Twitter accounts along with hashtag #kegelface a discount code for purchase of the PeriCoach. A downloadable Rx form for signature by a clinician is available from

The #Kegelface campaign follows “Leakers Anonymous,” an internet campaign PeriCoach introduced earlier this summer and viewed by hundreds of thousands around the world.  Watch here.

#Kegelface social media campaign runs from October 20th to the second week of November to mark Bladder Health Week 2015.

Learn more about PeriCoach at

pericoach-with-phone-copyI received compensation for this post. I know from personal experience that kegels work, and I’m pleased to participate in the #kegelface campaign.


Michele’s Story: HRT to the Rescue

headshot for Barbara

HRT or not? That’s the question for many women. My gynecologist is a strong HRT advocate. Yours may not be, or you may, for many reasons, choose not to take it. I love to present your stories on this blog. Here’s part of Michele’s menopause journey and her experience with HRT. Take it away, Michele and thanks!

There is a life on the other side of menopause, but getting through the menopause fog can be one of the scariest rides a woman will ever take. If you are reading this and you are like me, chances are you may feel like you’re driving in a car that is going to derail and end up in the gutter. Or you have just bought a ticket for the scariest roller coaster ride you’ve ever been on, and you want it to stop so that you can get off.

The desperation that I felt earlier this year was undeniable, and I just wanted to feel like I could stand on solid ground again. I knew that something in my body was terribly off balance and something was definitely wrong within me. I was convinced that it was a chemical imbalance, but none of my health care providers even gave menopause a mention or a second thought even though I was menopausal. One of them even suggested that the recent death of my father could be the cause of my symptoms, stating that grief often affects people in strange ways.

After months of a myriad of tests and a ton of out-of-pocket money, I never got a definitive diagnosis. One doctor thought it might be complex Lyme Disease causing my brain fog. Another doctor suggested that it could possibly be my thyroid causing my issues, and yet another doctor quickly prescribed an anti-depressant drug (that I did take to the pharmacy but never took a pill) because the diagnosis was attributed to grief.

One afternoon, after having yet another episode of sleeplessness, anxiety, and depression, I finally decided to take matters into my own hands. I sat down by my computer and turned to Google with a question, “I’m a 50-something year old woman who is losing her mind, and I do not know what is wrong with me.”

I was overwhelmed with over 2,000,000 hits on the topic of post menopausal symptoms and HRT replacement. I ended up on the Hormone Health Network and began reading about HRT replacement as a remedy for my symptoms.

From that site, I discovered Barbara Younger’s blog. I knew that it was an answer to my prayers for help in getting back to my normal self again. I quickly fired off an email to Barbara saying,

     “Hi – I found your blog thru the Hormone Health Network when I was searching for HRT alternatives to deal with the brain fog that I believe is being caused by Menopause. I’m a 50-something yr old (ruptured brain aneurysm survivor) who thought she was losing her mind or worse. For the past several months I’ve had anxiety, mild depression, trouble sleeping, profuse sweating, etc. I’ve had CAT scans, blood work, etc and no one suggested it may be Menopause. Yikes! Anyway, I have scheduled an app’t with a gyno and an Endocrinologist doctor but in the meantime, I’m wondering if you used HRT and that led to your endometrial cancer? I truly feel like I am in need of HRT.

Looking forward to your response (and praying that this “roller coaster” comes to a halt before I jump off!)
Sincere love,

Here’s one line from Barbara’s email reply:

Menopause causes lots of body/mind changes, and that’s just what your case sounds like to me.

I made an appointment with an endocrinologist, and he ordered blood tests. Within 2 days, he personally called me to say that my estrogen levels had tanked. Because my uterus was still intact, he thought that the best course of treatment would be the Combi-Patch which contains both female hormones: an estrogen (estradiol) and a progestin (norethindrone). The application is twice a week, and he mentioned it would be low dose for a short period of time until my body responded. The doctor assured me that we could monitor my progress together.

It has been one month since I began using the patch, and I can happily share with you that I AM MY HAPPY SELF AGAIN! Yay!

What a difference a month and a little hormone replacement can make. I got a part-time job at a farm market, where I love to shop, and my marriage is back on solid ground. My friends have even begun to invite us to social gatherings again (now that they realize I’m not a crazy person).

I’ve decided to share my story with others because I’m alive to be able to do so. Two months ago, I was actually considering whether or not it was worth going through another tortuous day. Imagine that!

Just yesterday, I took the dog for an early morning walk and looked up at a beautiful sunrise and thought, “thank God for Google leading me to other women like Barbara who were brave enough to share their story.”

I’ve decided to share my menopause story because I want to be “brave” and save others from crashing like I did.

I am also going to write it all down so that one day our girls can read all about it just in case they come face-to-face with the menopause demon and get stuck on a scary roller coaster ride. They will realize that HRT replacement can help them bring that roller coaster to a halt and get them back on solid ground again.

Much love to all of you from a sister who no longer suffers from menopause side-effects,


Michele and Family

Michele Starkey is a graduate of the Christian Writers Guild and has written several devotionals and Bible studies. Her stories have been published by Adams Media, F&W Publications, and Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Since rediscovering life post-menopause, she is currently working part-time at a family- owned produce store where she loved to shop.

After living the world over, she resides in the Hudson Valley of New York with her beloved husband, Keith, and their rescued dog, Duffy. They are all anxiously awaiting the birth of the first of many grandchildren who will bless their lives.

Read more:


Retro Calories! (And Some Encouraging Words on Menopausal Weight Gain)


A blast from the calorie past!

Cliff found this calorie list among my mother-in-law Vivian’s papers.The doctor’s name is at the top, and in Vivian’s handwriting are the words “For Al.”

So did the doctor want Cliff’s dad on a diet or did Vivian? Not sure, but it’s fun to see the foods listed on the sheet. The names Boston brown bread, Brown Betty, and prune whip have a particular fifties flair.

Menopause and weight gain go together like ice cream and apple pie. Here’s a good article from one of my favorite health sites, the Mayo Clinic, about gaining weight during the Change of Life.

My daughter Kath, a registered dietitian, was the second food diarist on the Internet. For five years, she took photos of everything she ate. Her website,, has thousands of readers (proud mom here), but I know from her experience that writing about weight gain and calories can rub some the wrong way. So here’s my experience, but please skip this if you’re not in the mood for weight or calorie talk.

I had horrible food cravings during the worst of the roller coaster ride; I’ve got a huge sweet tooth; and I love to eat, especially in restaurants, at parties, and on vacation. But I got serious about taking off some pounds around the time of my cancer diagnosis. I wondered if I could really do it now that I am entrenched in menopause. I could. I did. I paid attention to calories and upped my exercise, and it worked*

But I still look at Vivian’s calorie sheet and sigh. It’s not easy to resist desserts and other high calorie foods. And I bet my father-in-law, who loved desserts as much as I do, wasn’t so happy to see his name on the top of that sheet!

Prune whip, anyone?


Actually, prune whip looks better than it sounds, and it’s not too hard to make. I found the recipe and photo on a cool site, Vintage Recipe

*Maintenance is a kicker though. Exercise seems to be the key.


On Menopause

just mom

A post by my friend Ann Rocap. I recently met Ann at the Tablerock Writers Workshop, and I asked her to write a post for Friend for the Ride. Thanks, Ann!

On Menopause

Ann Rocap

Birth date June, 1926

So, you are approaching menopause.  Don’t worry.  It is the gateway to the best years of your life.  At least it was for me.

It meant the end of irregular and painful periods, cramps, cold sweats, nausea, flooding and at the most inconvenient times – my honeymoon for instance.  Even after having three children I still had problems with my periods.

Menopause arrived in my early fifties accompanied by occasional hot flashes.  I only remember them at night when I had to sleep on top of the covers.  Somewhere I had heard that the pancreas could produce small amounts of estrogen after the ovaries have shut down.  In the middle of the night I would call on my pancreas to get cracking.  I believe in mind over matter.  We do have amazing control over what happens in our bodies.

Another thing I was told is to expect weight gain.  That does not need to happen.  It is what you put in and what you put out that controls weight.  I did not want to grow out of my clothes and I didn’t.  Well, maybe some of those short shorts.

My sister who is five and a half years older than I am encouraged me regarding menopause.  “Love making can be more spontaneous.”

The good thing is that after menopause your body settles into a more even keel.  Emotional highs and lows moderate.

I felt so much stronger – ready to take on new physical challenges – lap swimming, hiking, back packing.  I even bought myself sporting equipment for the first time in my life – cross country skis and boots.  It was so liberating to be able to make plans and count on being well.  Life presented me with many opportunities to take up responsibilities that I was ready and willing to undertake.

The fifties, sixties, seventies, and eighties have been good years for me, and they can be for you!

A short bio, written by Ann: I was born in Media in 1926, the youngest child in a family of three. After graduation from high school, my desire was to attend art school, but instead I  went to a secretarial school and got a job in Philadelphia.

In 1950, I married attorney Edward Rocap and continued to live in Media, Pennsylvania. We raised three children and filled our lives with Christian service of one kind or another. In 2001, my husband retired after practicing law for fifty years, and we moved to Cedar Grove, NC.  My husband died in 2011.

I have always enjoyed my family, my friends, painting, journaling, listening to classical music, bird watching, and taking a good walk.

About Table Rock Writers Workshop: Read more about this fabulous writers workshop in the mountains of North Carolina here on their website. 

Table Rock Logo


The Ladies Room Door Art Series: Part Fifteen


On our summer trip to Carolina Beach, Cliff spotted The Fat Pelican while on a walk through town. He brought me back that night. Turns out the Fat Pelican made this distinguished list of the 32 Diviest Dive Bars in the America. Check out the funky ladies room door above. And look at the cute man below. The men’s room was occupied, and I convinced him that he should use the ladies.

“After you,” he said.

“Oh no,” I responded. “You go ahead. I’m just taking photos of the door.”

I explained about the Ladies Room Door Art Series, and he said, “How about taking my picture with the door?”

So I did. Thanks cute man at Carolina Beach.


Here’s the back of the door.20150731_202019 (1)

And a shot of the inside decor. What a ladies room! Makes me wonder what Lady Violet on Downtown Abbey would think.


Here’s the door at the Sea Witch Cafe, a Carolina Beach tiki bar.

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And a pleasant wooden sign at Shelby Jeans on the Boardwalk.


Blog reader Barb sent the door below. She writes, “I was recently with my three sisters, and we ate at the Cafe Bavaria in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. Saw this adorable door and remembered your series.”


From reader Stephanie comers the ladies room door at the Coast Guard Station in Georgetown, South Carolina.


And Carol, of The Potty Trip of Potty Trips fame, sent these signs from the Seabreeze Recreation Center, The Villages, Florida.

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Back in North Carolina, Carol met this Egyptian-looking lady at the Mellow Mushroom in Wrightsville Beach.

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Reader Judy spotted this sign on Menemesha Beach on Martha’s Vineyard.

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Then Judy found these:

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And finally, Cliff’s friend Joe, who loves what I’ll call “Boy Humor,” sent this to Cliff by email. I have no idea where, but this sign hangs over a urinal at a golf club.


So that’s our latest. Thanks to all of you for sending doors my way and to the men who helped with this post: Cliff, who discovered the dive bar; the cute guy who used the ladies room there; and Joe, whom I suspect would find me more bathroom humor if I egged him on.