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VN Editors
4 products that promise to make Kegel exercises for women easier
Love & Sex
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Kegels are a group of muscles named after Dr. Arnold Kegel. They’re located at the pelvic floor in the shape of a figure eight in both men and women. Kegel exercises for women can improve urinary incontinence issues as well as sexual performance.

When you can’t enjoy sex, you stop wanting to have sex, and this leads into a whole host of other problems that could change your future relationships and sexual enjoyment. Kegel exercises for women are an effective treatment against dyspareunia, more commonly known as painful sex.

By strengthening the muscles associated with the pelvic floor, the muscles that directly affect the vagina and the bladder, Kegel exercises for women increase blood flow to the genitals, thus increasing lubrication that prevents dyspareunia. Because Kegels strengthen those muscles that are engaged during orgasm, women will also notice increased intensity and frequency when it comes to sexual release after practicing these exercises. The exercises help to prevent vaginal thinning that occurs in some women as estrogen levels change through menopause.

Because it can be difficult to tell if you’re doing Kegel exercises for women correctly, there are several “helper” products on the market:

GyneFlex is a resistance exerciser designed by a gynecologist to strengthen vaginal muscles.




Verseo Super Kegel Pelvic Muscle Thigh Exerciser
Regular exercise with this vinyl-padded stainless steel exerciser promises to strengthen pelvic floor muscles while helping slim and tighten thighs, buttocks, and lower abdominal muscles.


LELO Luna Beads
Made with body-safe, phthalate-free silicone, this set of two 28-gram and two 37-gram beads is intended to help you develop increased resistance over time.





Kegel Pro – Vaginal Exerciser
This kegel exerciser promises to help you increase your orgasms, enhance sexual stimulation, and heighten sensation for you and your partner.

As you practice Kegel exercises for women, don’t expect to notice changes overnight. Kegels, like any other type of exercise regime, strengthen the pelvic floor over time. In the interim, use vaginal lubricants to prevent dyspareunia. With an understanding partner, using lubricants can become a fun sexual experiment that adds to the overall enjoyment of intimacy.

VN Editors
Do Vibrators for Women Cause Urinary Tract Infections?
Love & Sex
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The vagina and the urinary tract are pretty close together, and one can affect the other, but does that mean vibrators for women can cause urinary tract infections?

Vibrator Use and Your Urinary Tract

Some women may avoid vibrator use altogether because they’re afraid of getting a urinary tract infection. They aren’t just being overly-cautious. There is some basis to this fear.

When bacteria gets into the vagina, this can create an infection. If the bacteria somehow comes into contact with the vulva or the urethra, where the urine exist the body, that bacteria may travel up the urethra and cause a urinary tract infection. That all sounds pretty awful, but this type of infection can be avoided. If you do get a urinary tract infection, it can be treated.

So what about your vibrator use? Vibrators for women, just like anything else, can become dirty. They may get bacteria on them. If you then insert that vibrator into your body, then yes. You may get an infection. However, it’s not the vibrator’s fault. It’s the bacteria’s fault. Instead of getting rid of your vibrators for women, you need to get rid of the bacteria that’s causing these problems.

Clean Vibrators for Women

Almost 10 million women get urinary tract infections every single year, so this problem is actually quite common. A UTI, as they’re known, can be treated with a course of antibiotics. If you notice frequent or painful urination, you may have an infection. Consult with your physician and get it treated.

The next step is figuring out how to avoid getting another infection. First, clean your vibrator before and after every single use. Vibrators for women may collect lint, dust, hair and other bits of debris even while sitting in a drawer, so you should always give yours a cleaning before and after use. For most vibrators, soapy water is sufficient for getting the design clean. Use an antibacterial soap, and rinse thoroughly after you’re done cleaning. Pat your vibrator dry with a clean, dry cloth prior to use. Before enjoying vibrator use, make sure your hands are clean as well.

A clean vibrator can be used without fear. If you continue to keep your tool clean, your vibrator will not give you a urinary tract infection. Vibrators for women are perfectly safe and healthy when they’re used in a safe way. No. Vibrators for women don’t cause urinary tract infections, but improperly using vibrators can lead to an infection.

Husband’s PSA tested very high
Healthy Living
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My husband’s PSA tested very high in the annual physical.  His doctor put him on antibotics for three months saying it was an infection much like a urinary track infection.  I’m worried, if it is cancer three months is a long time to wait.  I don’t was to alarm my husband by suggesting a second opinion now.  Any thoughts on this?

Mesh sling for stress incontinence
Healthy Living
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Has anyone had to have their mesh sling removed because it was too tight and caused urinary retention? I’v been getting urniary tract infections and finally found out after seeing many doctors that it was due to the mesh sling. Now I have to have a revision surgery.

Steps to Take to Improve Urinary Incontinence
Healthy Living
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I understand, you can’t do your jumping jacks any longer. Or cough in public, laugh uproariously; or take up running. Menopause can be so unfair to some of us. I know. For some reason, when I was starting to go through menopause; I could no longer run with my dog without leaking my urine. I was ok without the dog, sort of.

UI is a common part of menopause, but it is not always considered normal. Having had childbirth definitely increases the chances due to the stretching of pregnancy and childbirth. The falling estrogen levels then cause the strength of the muscle holding back urine, to weaken. The increase of pressure of coughing, laughing, jumping up and down; causes more pressure than these muscles can resist against.

What can you do?

Definitely remind yourself to urinate frequently to keep your bladder as empty as possible. Don’t avoid drinking liquids because of this problem, dehydration causes a lot of other issues!

You may have to give up some of the more vigorous bouncing exercises for a little while. A colleague recommended putting in a tampon before exercise. This sort of squishes the urethra closed. Just don’t forget to take it out!

Kegel exercises can help, and these are easily found on the internet. Basically, you practice squeezing the muscle used to control urine tight for a count of 3, hold for 3 then release. Repeat this 10-20 times as many times a week you can remember. Be careful not to squeeze the other muscles in the area like buttocks, thighs and abdomen. To find the right muscle, next time you are sitting on the commode, tighten those muscles you use to prevent urination. Or, as on specialist site recommends; imagine you are sitting on a marble and want to pick it up with the lips of your vagina. Those are the muscles you need to use, if you can imagine this action!

Stress incontinence is one of the more common causes of urinary incontinence, but there are several other causes that need evaluation by a specialist. If the above measures do not help, you may need to see a urogynecologist for testing and treatment.

Like everything else in menopause, it should pass with time and practice at control.

VN Editors
Female Dryness Creates Other Symptoms, Too
Love & Sex
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Female dryness is such a common side effect of menopause, many women attempt to ignore it. But there are other symptoms that can come with dryness, and these may be impossible for you to ignore.

Female Dryness and You

Vaginal dryness is one of the most common symptoms of menopause, though many women don’t discuss it. Studies show that women are reluctant to talk about their personal moisture even with their doctors. The dryness is a natural result of lack of estrogen in your body. Your vaginal walls become thinner and dryer, and this can cause dyspareunia – painful sex. When you’re dry, sex isn’t going to feel as pleasurable. This is one of the worst side effects of female dryness, but it’s not the only one.

  • Bleeding: Dry skin can become torn and damaged easily. Make sure your partner knows to be slow and gentle with you to avoid painful tears and rips that create vaginal bleeding.
  • Soreness: You may feel a general aches or soreness, even when you aren’t engaged in sexual intercourse. Female dryness can create feelings of pain any time if you leave it untreated.
  • Irritation: Without proper moisture, your vagina could easily become irritated. This will make your skin sensitive to the touch and may even make it painful for you to sit normally.
  • Urinary tract infection: All that irritation and lack of lubrication can lead to a urinary tract infection. Many menopausal women find themselves getting these infections much more frequently than they did prior to menopause.

Lack of lubrication also puts you at a higher risk for bacterial problems, which can cause yeast infections and other side effects.

Treating the Problem

Female dryness can cause many painful symptoms, but you don’t want to get bogged down in treating them day-to-day. Treat the dryness instead of the symptoms, and that other stuff should go away. You have several options when it comes to managing this type of dryness, and living with it isn’t one of them. There is no reason that you should feel pain or avoid sex even as you go through menopause. A healthy sex life is possible for many more years yet.

Over-the-counter lubricants have proven very effective at treating female dryness of all types. Use water-based lubricants to avoid the risk of bacterial infection caused by oil-based formulas. Vaginal estrogen cream delivers a low dose of estrogen directly to the vaginal walls, but this can be obtained only through prescription. Some women find that foreplay and sex play are enough to get natural juices flowing again.

Look into various remedies to find what works for you best, because you shouldn’t have to live with dryness or the symptoms it causes.

VN Editors
Even Small Medical Problems Can Cause Dyspareunia
Love & Sex
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Dyspareunia is such a big problem with such huge complications, it becomes overwhelming. Experiencing pain during sex can be so distressing, you forget all about all the little problems that can cause you to feel this discomfort. Dyspareunia is a big problem, but there are many little things that cause it. Know how to identify them, and you may find the key to putting a stop to your sexual discomfort.

Other Medical Problems

You wouldn’t think that a skin disorder can cause you to have pain during sex, but it can. There are many seemingly minor medical conditions that will cause you to feel dyspareunia. Address them first, and then move on to the bigger problems caused by painful sex. You may find that your problems with sex go away once these medical conditions are cleared up.

  • Depo-provera: If you take birth control, which many women do until they complete their menopause, this can cause dyspareunia. Try switching to a new birth control to see if this solves the problem.
  • Depression: Stress and emotional despair will cause your natural lubrication to stop flowing. You may attempt to ignore or suppress these feelings, with the hope that they’ll just go away. But ignoring emotional distress will only make your dyspareunia worse.
  • Osteoporosis: Are you taking medication for osteoporosis? Many medications used for this deficiency can cause your natural lubrication to decrease.
  • Urinary infection: An infection in the urinary tract frequently causes dyspareunia. You must get this infection treated first.
  • Rash: Any type of inflammation or skin disorder around the genital region can cause you pain. Eczema, for example, can create dyspareunia.
  • Hemorrhoids: A very common medical condition, hemorrhoids affect a lot of people. This inflammation can cause sexual pain.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome: Irritation in the bowels will cause you to feel pain in another part of your body as well.

Many chronic and acute conditions cause dyspareunia, so you can’t ignore any medical problems you may be having. Seek out treatment for other medical problems, but don’t be surprised if dyspareunia persists.

Painful Sex

Unfortunately, dyspareunia isn’t always caused by a medical condition that you can treat. One of the most common forms of dyspareunia is created by menopause itself. Your vaginal moisture naturally lessens as your hormone levels change. Over-the-counter lubricants and vaginal estrogen cream are common treatments.

After you solve any medical conditions that may be causing the problem, start treating dyspareunia itself.

Ellen Dolgen
Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month: Seeking Clarity
Healthy Living
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http://www.shmirshky.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Ellen_Dolgen_Menopause_Monday.jpgDid you know that September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month? Ovarian cancer strikes about 3 percent of women.

The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2014 about 21,980 women will receive a new diagnosis of ovarian cancer and approximately 14,270 women will die from ovarian cancer.

Although early cancers of the ovaries generally cause no symptoms, they list the most common signs and symptoms as:

  • Bloating
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Trouble eating or feeling full quickly
  • Urinary symptoms such as urgency (always feeling like you have to go) or frequency (having to go often)

Remember, be your own advocate for your health and pay attention to your body. You need to know what’s normal for you. If you are concerned, contact your medical professional.

To learn more about this disease and the possible treatment options, I reached out to Dr. Laura Shawver, an ovarian cancer survivor (and ironically a cancer researcher) and the founder of The Clearity Foundation. According to Shawver, the treatment has remained virtually the same for many years and all women are treated alike in spite of what has become known about the molecular make up of cancers. The Clearity Foundation is working hard to change this. The foundation notes that, like all cancers, ovarian cancer is not a single disease, but a category of many diseases. What these diseases have in common is that they start in the ovaries or in the finger-like opening of the fallopian tube. But just as each woman who develops ovarian cancer is a unique individual; her cancer is unique as well. The foundation’s goal is to help women with recurrent ovarian cancer live longer, healthier lives by enabling a more individualized approach to therapy selection.

  • The cause of most ovarian cancer is unknown.
  • Ovarian cancer usually occurs in women over age 50, but it can also affect younger women.
  • Ovarian cancer is the ninthmost common type of cancer in women but the fifth leading cause of cancer death.
  • One of the primary challenges of ovarian cancer is that initial symptoms are generally mild, making early detection difficult. As a result, women often do not notice the symptoms or mention them to their physician until the disease is in advanced stages. Only 24 percent of ovarian cancers are detected at an early stage before it has spread outside the ovaries.

According to Mayo Clinic, there are three different types of ovarian cancer based on the cell of origin but many, many more based on the genomic underpinnings that drive the cancer to grow and spread. The cell of origin categories are:

  • Epithelial tumors – These tumors begin in the thin layer of tissue that covers the outside of the ovaries. It is estimated that roughly 90 percent of ovarian cancers are epithelial tumors.
  • Stromal tumors – These begin in the ovarian tissue that contains hormone-producing cells and are usually diagnosed at an earlier stage than other ovarian tumors. Approximately, 7 percent of ovarian tumors are stromal.
  • Germ cell tumors – These tumors begin in the egg-producing cells. These are rare and tend to occur in younger women.

“As soon as I was told I had ovarian cancer,” Shawver said, “I wanted to understand the blueprint of my cancer (genomic make-up or molecular profile) so I could match my cancer to a drug that would work best for me. As a cancer researcher, I thought I would have an ‘in’! I even remarked to others when I had my diagnosis, ‘Oh, I will just have my tumor profiled.’ I was so surprised that not only was there no labs that would profile my tumor; there was no mechanism to get this done outside of a clinical trial. This service was not something that existed for ovarian cancer patients. I wanted to change that.”

She launched the Clearity Foundation in 2008 to help ovarian cancer patients and their physicians make better-informed treatment decisions based on the molecular profile of the tumor, which she calls the “tumor blueprint.”

A tumor blueprint is a means to help prioritize your treatment options,” she said. “In newly diagnosed ovarian cancer, everyone gets the same treatment: a combination of two chemotherapy drugs. Unfortunately, 75 percent of ovarian cancer is diagnosed in late stage and 75 percent recurs. These are horrible statistics. When it recurs, doctors have a choice of several agents and then there are clinical trials to choose from, too. A tumor blueprint provides some rationality to the choices rather than pick-out-of-the-hat treatment.”

I noted that on her site one article said that only 25 percent of women who receive chemo will benefit from it. If you ask me, those aren’t very good odds. She agreed with me that these are horrible odds.

“What is more horrible, however,” she said, “is that oftentimes women with recurrent disease go from treatment to treatment to treatment all the time suffering through the side effects and often without much benefit. In short, they never get their life back. That’s why we are focused on helping them find a drug — either FDA approved for ovarian cancer, FDA approved for another type of cancer, or a drug that is in clinical trials that might have a greater chance of success — and we are the only foundation that provides women access to molecular profiling to facilitate this.”

Dr. Shawver said Clearity navigates the waters to get a tumor specimen to the labs and coordinates the testing. “We consolidate the results from the different labs into an easy-to-read report for the physician. We speak with the patient about her results. We follow each woman to see what her doctor ultimately prescribed (was it based on the test results or something else?) and how she fairs. Clearity acts as both a back office for the doctor but, more importantly as a strong advocate for the patient to provide her and her physician additional treatment options when often there appear to be none. At Clearity, our mission is focused on women with ovarian cancer ‘in the fight’ where it is too late for early detection and they can’t wait for cures for the future. No other organization does this.”

As we know, pharmaceuticals are a business. I was curious as to how realistic/financially feasible it is for drug companies to provide personalized treatment of tumors. She answered me quite frankly: “For the cancers that are common — like breast, lung, prostate and colon — it is much easier for drug companies to provide drugs that match to subsets of patients based on tumor profiling or blueprints. The subsets are large enough to make it economically feasible. However, for ovarian cancer, which is one-tenth or less of the size of the larger tumor types, it is a huge barrier for pharma to choose ovarian cancer as an indication for clinical trials and registration of their drugs.”

“There have not been any dramatic changes in survival rates from ovarian cancer since Taxol® was approved in 1992 in combination with carboplatin. There has been zero success in identifying which women will be cured (25 percent) and zero molecular-targeted agents have been approved for ovarian cancer as there have been for breast, lung, colon, prostate and skin cancer.”

Shawver is hopeful that this will change, but she stresses that we need everyone’s help; we need more pharma companies to have clinical trials in ovarian cancer, we need doctors to explore all options for their patients, we need insurance companies to cover the cost of the profiling and we need women to empower themselves with information so that they can best fight their battle. She fully expects that more women will get their cure as we are better able to match patients with treatments.

The sisterhood is powerful. When we speak out, we shake things up! Look at the strides we have made with Breast Cancer Awareness. When Dr. Shawver was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, she not only took care of herself, but she created a foundation to help others! It is important to note that The Clearity Foundation does not charge for the tumor blueprint.

However, the foundation does incur significant costs for the services it provides. In addition, it tries to help defray the cost of biomarker testing for women who need financial assistance. The foundation relies on charitable donations to make that possible. In honor of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, I shall be making a donation to The Clearity Foundation as a thank you for championing this tremendously important work.

Perhaps you can find a way to involve yourself in expanding ovarian cancer awareness to help support and advance this cause.

Together we CAN make a difference.

Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!

Help for UTIs!
Healthy Living
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Ever since I went through menopause about five years ago, I get about 3-4 Urinary Track infections a year. Sure I take the over-the-counter medication to help relieve the pain, and eventually I end up in Urgent Care to get an antibiotic. I was told at one center that I couldn’t come in anymore becuase I had 3-4 in one year and they wanted me to see a urologist. I haven’t done that, and I suppose I should but I would love to get ideas from others about what to do to help prevent them or what can I take naturally to help get over the infection. It even prevents me from having sex with my husband because I don’t want to risk another infection. Please help!!

VN Editors
Dyspareunia: Is the pain in your head, or your uterus?
Love & Sex
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Dyspareunia, painful sex, is a symptom that can be caused by a wide variety of different conditions. Do you know which one is causing your problem? Is the pain of dyspareunia in your head, or your uterus?

Painful Sex

Sex can become painful for all sorts of reasons, but female dryness may be the most common. Lack of lubrication may be part of a physical problem, like menopause or pregnancy. A change in hormones will quite often affect your personal moisture. Stress and even diet can have an impact on dryness as well. If you’re thinking about pain or stressing about a problem, your body is going to have a hard time creating the moisture it needs to make sex a pleasurable act. Without it, you experience the pain of dyspareunia instead.

Is the pain all in your head because you’re tired, or stressed, or thinking about the Christmas shopping you haven’t done yet? Once you experience female dryness, it’s on your mind. You may be thinking about that problem the next time a chance for intimacy arises, and then the circle repeats.

It’s very common and very natural. But is your dyspareunia really so simple? Sometimes, dyspareunia isn’t caused by what’s going on in your head. Sometimes, the pain is a signal that something may be going on with your uterus.

Physical Ailments

Dyspareunia is almost always a symptom of something else, or a side effect of another condition. Sex isn’t meant to be painful, so you know that something is wrong when it is. Maybe it’s PCS.

Pelvic Congestion Syndrome is difficult to find through traditional testing. This condition relates to large veins in the pelvic region which cause pelvic pain, during sex and at other times. You may also experience urinary tract infections, low back pain and very painful sex if you have this condition. Pay attention to other symptoms you may be having, in addition to dyspareunia, because they may indicate that you have a larger condition that needs to be treated.

Fibroids, non-cancerous tumors in the uterus, can also cause dyspareunia. Many women have fibroids and don’t realize it until they begin experience pain or symptoms (like unusual bleeding). If you’re having pain and can’t pinpoint the cause, an ultrasound can tell you definitely if you have fibroids getting in the way of good sex.

Preventing the Pain

Painful sex isn’t always in the pelvis or even in the mind. Some women suffer from chronic pain due to arthritis, back problems and other conditions. There are many ways to work around pain and still find ways to enjoy sex. If female dryness is causing your dyspareunia, try lubricants or vaginal estrogen cream. If chronic pain is causing the problem, try new positions and different forms of sexual enjoyment.

Don’t decide to live with the pain, or stop enjoying sex because of it. Dyspareunia is a condition that can be defeated. Find out what’s causing it and move on from there.

Ellen Dolgen
Menopause Mondays: Celebrate Menopause Awareness Month – Save the Vaginas!
Healthy Living
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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

Lynette Sheppard
Having a Happy Vagina After Menopause
Love & Sex
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© lynette sheppard


I had a wonderful time interviewing Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, an activist for vaginal health. She claims that “everyone should have a happy vagina.”

Here’s what she shared with me:

MGB:  What is vaginal atrophy?

Dr. Minkin:  Vaginal atrophy is very common, but often we don’t talk about it. It affects so many menopausal women because the vaginal and vulva are the tissues most sensitive to decreased levels of estrogen.

MGB:   What are the signs and symptoms of VA?

Dr. Minkin:  Itching, burning, discharge, discomfort during sex or even riding a bike are common symptoms. And believe it or not, urinary tract infections can result. What happens is that in VA, there is a loss of the good vaginal flora (good bacteria) that keep the pH optimal. Bladder infections occur due to this change in flora – and also when the vagina is dry, the bladder and urethra may also be dry, making them more prone to infection.

MGB:  What can VA be confused with?

Dr. Minkin:  Drainage may be attributed to infection alone (which may or may not occur with VA). Treatment with antibiotics may help but won’t address the underlying problem. Women need to be educated and talk with their health care providers about this.

MGB:   What are some treatment options?

Dr. Minkin:  Basically, we need to introduce estrogen locally. Non systemic estrogen is less risky than systemic (pills, patch, etc.) Note: the FDA requires the same warnings for all estrogen preparations regardless of whether it is systemic or not.

Options include the vaginal ring, vaginal estrogen creams, and the vaginal tablet (Vagifem).  A recent study looked at compliance with various regimens. The cream was messy, according to some women, and involved cleaning applicators.

The vaginal ring stays in place for 3 months and some women worried about that, although it’s been shown to be safe (no toxic shock risk, etc.) Rarely, the sexual partner noticed it on intercourse.

Vagifem tablet is tiny and generally creates no mess, so might be better for sticking with treatment for those who worry about messiness and so on. You use it every day for 2 weeks, then maintenance dose is 2 times per week.

MGB:  What about products like Replens or Hyalo Gyn to help with vaginal atrophy?
Dr. Minkin:  These products are good in helping with moisture – and they are longer acting than lubricants. For some women, they will need more. Also, these often don’t help with the bladder problems.

MGB:  What if a woman does not want to take estrogen? What about soy based remedies or other phytoestrogens?

Dr. Minkin:  These are fine, keeping in mind that soy isoflavones are a weak plant estrogen and may not be enough.

MGB:  How do you propose that women take charge of their vaginal health?

Dr. Minkin:  One of the most important things is to find a health care provider with whom you feel comfortable. Some women feel better talking to a woman, be she an MD, nurse midwife, or nurse practitioner. Together, you can explore options and find what is right for you.

MGB:  What additional resources do you recommend?

Dr. Minkin:  Vagifem.com and NAMS (North American Menopause Society) at menopause.org.  Also, visit redhotmamas.org where I am one of their Menopause advisors.

MGB:  Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Dr. Minkin:  Women with VA should know that they are in very good company. And we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about it.

Many women are simply not aware there are options. Remember in the year 1900, the average age of Menopause was 48. And the average life expectancy was…48!

Now the average age of Menopause is 51 and our life expectancy is into our 80’s.

One of the perks of treating VA is a pain free, healthy sex life. I was once on a show with Dr. Ruth who stressed that we should have sex until we are 99. I suggested even longer if we live into our 100’s. “Why not?” she said.

kathi prien, Breaking50.com
I Cried More When My Dog Died Than When My Mom Died
Family & Relationships
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I hate to admit it but I cried more when my dog died than when my mom
died.  Some of you may think I’m a horrible or shallow person for
behaving this way.  Others may give me the benefit of the doubt and
assume I had a Joan Crawford-like “Mommie Dearest” mom.  But that’s just not true. Not even close.

Or maybe you think I must have had an obsessive relationship with my dog.
You know the people who dress up their dogs in a new outfit every day
and chew their food for them and feed them like a bird!  I talked to my dog a lot but I truly think I was within the range of normalcy which is
where I strive to land in all parts of my life.

I thought I had shed my “Catholic guilt” back when I was thirty but I
feel kind of guilty about this and want to try to explain why I was and
still am so sad about the loss of my dog, Koby, and why I wasn’t as
devastated by the passing of my mom.  Here goes:

1) Recency of and age at death:

My mom: My mom died in 2008 at the age of 93.  She was married to my wonderful dad for 58 years and had eight children with him.  I was the last of the eight children.  She had me when she was 45.

My dog: My dog died on 3/12/13 so it is still very fresh in my mind and heart.  He just missed his 10th birthday which would have been on 3/21/13.

2) Health status:

My mom: My mom had been pretty healthy most of her life.  When you have a baby at 45, you have to be physically fit and young at heart.  She lived alone
in our house until her early eighties but her mental faculties were
starting to weaken.  After she was found wandering around in the country
one summer, we moved her into the local nursing home.

When my family and I first visited her, she at least pretended she knew who
we were and liked to play ball with my boys.  They got a kick of how
competitive she was and by how hard she tried to beat them.  In the last
few years, however, Mom got to the point where she didn’t know anyone,
didn’t talk at all and was in a wheelchair.  It was hard to see such a
lively spirit in that condition.

My dog: Koby had his share of health issues.  He had urinary stones removed about four years ago, and he was diagnosed with diabetes a year ago. The
diabetes made him go blind within a couple of months.  Then he got
glaucoma in one eye, and we had it removed.

About two weeks before he died, Koby had a seizure which we thought was
diabetes-related.  We took him to the emergency room because he was
screaming in pain and wouldn’t let us touch him.  They took an X-ray and
thought it might be his gall bladder.  We decided to give him pain
medicine and see what happened.  Miraculously, he recovered and was back
to his normal self until the day he died.

3) Proximity to me:

My mom: My mom lived about two hours away from me so I only visited her a few times a year at the nursing home.  We didn’t have many free weekends due to my boys’ many activities plus it was hard to talk to her when you
got no response in return and not a glimmer of recognition.

My dog: I worked part-time when we bought Koby almost 10 years ago so I spent a lot of time talking to him and petting him. He was my baby.  He followed me around wherever I went “like a little puppy dog”.  We folded clothes together, went on walks together, watched Jeopardy
together. He was my constant companion, and I think that’s what I miss
most.  I still find myself thinking he’ll be outside our bedroom door in
the morning or will run to greet me when I come home from an

4) Cause of death:

My mom: My mom died peacefully from complications of Alzheimer’s and old age.  I was very prepared for her death so it wasn’t shocking or sad.  It was
much harder for me to see her in an almost vegetative state so it truly
was a blessing when God finally took her.

My dog: As mentioned above, we thought Koby was going to die after he had the seizures and went to the emergency room. He was unusually anti-social
and wouldn’t eat or let us touch him. I was mentally preparing myself
for him to die which was why it seemed like such a miracle when he
completely recovered after about 10 days.  He was eating again, barking
again and wanting to go for walks again.

Despite all of his health issues, Koby got hit by a car and died instantly.  He
had just eaten his dog food so he was happy when he went outside to
bark at the neighbor dogs.  It was my first experience with death by an
accident.  It was shocking and sad and horrible all rolled into one.  I
scooped him up with a snow shovel so he wasn’t left lying in the
street.  It was surreal and very uncomfortable for me – a person who
likes to plan and prepare for everything.

5) Replacing loved ones:

My mom: You can’t replace your mom but I will try to be a better mom on her behalf.

My dog: Koby will be very hard to replace because he was such a well-behaved
and sweet dog.  But we will try.  We are already talking about getting
another bichon frise and even have some names under consideration.
Since I am no longer in the market to have any more babies but still
have the need to nurture something, I will always have a puppy dog.

kathi prien, Breaking50.com
I’m Post-50 So Why Do I Still Care What People Think?
Family & Relationships
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I’ve read several articles and heard many women say that when you get older, you don’t care what people think about you anymore. They said it was very freeing because you could do as you please and not worry about it. I took comfort in knowing that while I might be losing my youthful appearance, I would be gaining the self-assurance not to care.

A perfect example of this was the response of 87-year-old Barbara Bush on the Today Show recently.  When asked whether her son, Jeb, should run for President, she calmly said, “There are other people out there that are very qualified, and we’ve had enough Bushes.”  Apparently, she didn’t feel the need to vet her answer with Jeb ahead of time.  Gotta love that!

Well, I’m post-50 now, and I’m still waiting for the cloak of confidence to come over me and make my inhibitions and insecurities disappear. I’m still waiting to wake up one day and not waste one more minute fretting about trivial things like how I look or how I cook.

Since I’m still waiting, I made a list of topics where I could use a boost of confidence. Below each topic, I’ve listed why I do care and why I don’t care what people think. See what you think, (not that I care):

1) Physical Appearance:

I do care about my physical appearance, and my goal is to “look pretty good for my age”.  I exercise, eat reasonably and employ a drug store of beauty products to try to achieve it.  Below are three of my favorite products.  The No7 Advanced Renewal Anti-Ageing Glycolic Peel Kit is gentle but makes my skin feel very smooth.  The Nioxin System 3 Shampoo & Scalp Therapy Conditioner thickens fine, chemically treated hair like mine.  The Oil of Olay Facial Hair Removal Duo removes my peach fuzz quickly and painlessly.

I don’t care how much I weigh as long as I’m exercising regularly and can fit into my clothes.

2) Fashion:

I do care that I dress appropriately for my age.  I promised my sons I wouldn’t wear my yoga pants to a basketball game like the teenage girls do. “That would be gross, Mom!”  But I would never wear high-waisted “Mom” jeans either – even more gross, in my opinion.

I don’t care if I wear the newest fashion trends mainly because I don’t have the guts. Check out my fashionable friend below who was way ahead of the trends in 1989, especially in Iowa, and had the confidence to wear this headband to my wedding.  I could only hope to ever be this brave with fashion.

3) My Home:

I do care how my house looks and smells if someone happens to pop by or is invited to my home.  I don’t want them to be able to detect that our dog has had some urinary issues or some ants have decided to come in from the rain.  Yuck!  Is it so wrong that I want people to come to my house and not be grossed out?

I don’t care if my house is perfectly decorated.  I aspire to fairly neat, clean and very comfortable.

4) Cooking/Entertaining:

I do care that we try to serve yummy food when we have people over.  I fret over this because I don’t cook a lot so my repertoire of delicious dishes is limited.  I have learned that it’s okay to supplement with restaurant or deli food, and that helps.  If all else fails, I serve my guests a little extra wine or beer and hope they don’t notice the food is subpar.

I don’t care if our house gets messy when we have a party as long as it’s clean at the start.  It’s more important to me that I talk to all my guests and everyone has a good time, including me!

5) Likability/Having friends:

I do care that some people like me, trust me and want to hang out with me. Having friends is very important to me because I’m not close to many of my family members.  Sometimes it’s hard but I try to keep in touch with friends both close by and far away.

I don’t care if I’m popular with the masses. (Oops!  What am I saying? I write a blog!) I like my close, personal friendships best and like to spend as much one-on-one time with them as I can.

6) Voicing my opinion/Speaking my mind:

I do care that I keep up with politics and current events and formulate my own opinions.  I was taught that it wasn’t proper to discuss politics, sex or religion.  Now I think it’s okay to discuss controversial issues with your spouse or good friends because it opens your mind to other viewpoints than your own. My blogs are my opinions, and I’m guessing that as I get more comfortable and confident, some hot-button issues may find their way into my blogs.

I don’t care if my spouse, friends or acquaintances agree or disagree with me.

7) Smart/Successful/Contributing to society:

I do care that people think I’m a somewhat intelligent, thoughtful person who contributes to society by trying to make them laugh, cry and feel they’re not alone via my blog.

I don’t care if I make a lot of money these days.  That’s not how I define success now.

I don’t know if I’ll ever throw caution to the wind and say and do
anything I want without worrying about it later.  I’m sure I’ll move in
that direction as I mature but I think I’ll always have my share of
insecurities. It’s just not in my DNA to be so carefree, and that’s

This quote on aging, by novelist, Doris Lessing, really spoke to me:

“The great secret that all old people share is that you really haven’t changed in 70 or 80 years. Your body changes but you don’t change at all.”