Posts made in May, 2009

Futuristic Friday – the bedfan

Posted by on May 29, 2009 in hot flash, nightsweats | 0 comments


Besides the awful name (what comes to mind is “bed pan”) this whimsical device may actually save a few partnerships or marriages. The bedfan – a “device that blows a cool breeze under the covers.” Now, granted, it’s not quite as nifty as cleavage coolers, but it still might address those night sweats and flashes and make bedtime more pleasurable, for both parties!

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Wednesday Bubble: no glove, no…

Posted by on May 27, 2009 in sexual health | 0 comments


… love.  Seems silly, right? However, sadly, advanced reproductive age has nothing to do with whether or not a woman should use contraception. In fact, according to a literature review published several decades ago, the likelihood of reproductive sterility at age 40 is 40%, and at age 45, 80%. This means that the monthly risk of pregnancy, although declining with less frequent ovulation, may still be as high as 60%, depending on your age.

In a more recent review, published this month in the Advanced Access edition of Human Reproduction Update, investigators report that the decline in fertility among women in their 50s remains insufficient to prevent pregnancy. With the exception of hysterectomy, they point to copper and hormonal IUDs, both of which have failure rates of less than 1%.

Additional considerations when choosing a contraceptive method in midlife include:

  • Menopausal stage, i.e. how frequent or infrequent are your menstrual periods?
  • Menopausal symptoms
  • Sexual issues, e.g., desire, lubrication or lack thereof

Although I am not a fan of hormones, selecting a hormonally-based contraception may help to address these particular issues.

So, how long do you need to wear protection? The investigators suggest that contraception should be continued until women become postmenopausal and attain a natural state of sterility. I’d add that if you are having intercourse with more than one partner, that you add another layer of  protection — e.g. a  condom — to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.

It may be inconvenient, but surely, not as inconvenient (or traumatic) as midlife pregnancy.

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A B C…

Posted by on May 26, 2009 in estrogen, memory/learning | 3 comments

Study results reported in the May 26 issue of  Neurology suggests that the menopause transition negatively affects women’s ability to learn.

Researchers evaluated 2,362 women between the ages of 42 and 52 for verbal memory, working memory and the speed at which they proceesed information. All study participants were tested through the four stages of the menopause transition:

  1. premenopause (no change in menstrual periods)
  2. early perimenopause (menstrual irregularity, no gaps in period for 3 months)
  3. late perimenopause (having no period for 3 to 11 months)
  4. postmenopause (no period for 12 months)

The results showed improvements in processing speed during pre- and early perimenopause and postmenopause that were 28% larger compared to those in late perimenopause. Improvements in  verbal memory were 29% larger in permenopause than in  early or late perimenopause, and and become 36% larger compared with postmenopause.

The researchers said that it appears that during the late and early menopause, women do not learn as well as they do during other stages. What’s more, these findings support prior self-reports that suggest that as many as 60% of women have memory problems during the menopause transition. (Notably, there have been some studies that suggest that this is a fallacy.) The study authors add that this lapse in learning ability tends to be temporary and returns during the postmenopause stage. They also point to findings that show that taking estrogen or progesterone before menopause may help to improve verbal memory or processing speed but this effect can be reversed if hormones are taken after the final menstrual period.

This is an interesting study and the findings seem to jive with personal experience, especially with regards to what sometimes appears like a diminishing abilty to process information.  It makes me wonder if taking classes as I go through menopause is a good idea or not! And it equally makes me question the endless havoc that hormones appear to take on our bodies and our minds.

What about you? I’d love to hear your experiences and where you are in the transition, that is, if you can remember to comment after reading this (!)

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Balancing act

Posted by on May 22, 2009 in exercise | 1 comment


We all know that aging is associated with a decline in balance. But can it also foretell a decline in muscle strength? Apparently so. At least in so far as hormones go.

Reporting in the Publish Ahead of Print issue of Menopause, researchers say that the stage of menopause can predict your physical prowess. 979 women between the ages of 43 and 57 underwent evaluations for flexibility (stand and reach, sit and reach), muscle strength (grip and pinch) and balance (one legged standing with eyes open or closed) to determine their physical performance. Among the study participants, 44.4% were premenopausal, 25.8% in perimenopause and 29.7% in postmenopause.

While the results did not reveal any differences in flexibility among the women, they did show that women in perimenopause or postmenopause had significantly weaker grip strengths than their premenopausal peers. What’s more, their ability to stand and balance was significantly shorter by approximately 20 seconds. These differences remained even after the researchers adjusted for factors that might skew the results.

Life is undoubtedly a balancing act and trying to squeeze an exercise regimen into an otherwise overcrowded life can be difficult. However, this study suggests that the earlier we engage in physical activity, the more likely it is that we can overcome some of the inevabilities of menopause.

The BOSU® trainer is a relatively affordable and low-impact way to build core strength and improve overall balance. Personally, I’ve been using it for years now and have experienced a noticeable difference. My dad, who is 82, also uses the BOSU and likes it immensely.  Tai Chi may also help to promote balance while also reducing stress. Grip strength can be tackled through exercises that strengthen the forearms, e.g., squeezing a tennis ball or forearm curls. An intensive listing of forearm exercises can be found here, although like any physical activity, it’s best to speak to a trainer or a healthcare professional before embarking on any new activity.

I am a firm believer in an ounce of prevention. The earlier we start using, the later we start losing. In this case, more is less for sure!

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Wednesday Bubble: new year, new you!

Posted by on May 20, 2009 in Uncategorized | 13 comments


I’m not going to burst any bubbles or shatter any misconceptions this week. Rather, I’ve decided to serve a few slices of inspiration that resonate with me and perhaps will do so with you as well.

Tomorrow, I turn 48; my mother turns 78. Yes, I was born on my mother’s birthday. So I would like to dedicate this post to my mom. Because I find myself looking in the mirror a bit too much lately.

The past year has resonated with me deeply. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve enjoyed my 40s immensely and I will still have an opportunity to enjoy them for another two years. But a lot has happened over the past 364 days and it’s made me realize that my baggage is getting a bit too heavy for comfort. So I’d like to take this year to dump a few mistakes, undo a few regrets, renverser les faux pas and start anew.

As my friend Sissy once said: ” new year; new you!”

Following are the top 20 tidbits that midlife has taught me so far:

1. Try to make a point to laugh each day. And then laugh some more.

2. Take some time every day to simply “be.”

3. Listen. And then react. Not the other way around.

4. Do one kind thing for someone you know, and someone you don’t at least a few times a week, if not everyday.

5. Nobody’s perfect. Including you.

6. Let those who love you, love you. Just because.

7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. And take it.

8. Underneath the grease paint there’s someone special. Take the time to get to know them.

9. Don’t just say “I love you;” show why.

10. Be vulnerable; it’s okay.

11. Try not to internalize things so much; it’s not always about you.

12. Don’t be afraid to fail or better yet, succeed.

13. Believe in yourself as much as you believe in the people you love and nourish.

14. Just because someone says something hurtful, it doesn’t mean that you have to believe them.

15. Sometimes things are gray, not black and white.

16. Relationships will ebb and flow. Being in sync is great. Being out of sync is a perfect time for self-discovery and reality checks.

17. Strength comes in many forms.

18. You’re only as old as you feel. And sometimes you will feel older or younger depending on your mood, hormone levels, day of the week or weather.

19. Good lighting and a well-placed mirror can do wonders for your soul.

20. Chocolate, red wine and candy are your friends. In moderation. And sometimes, in excess.

And one to grow on, of course…

48? The new 30, easily.

Happy Birthday Mom! Happyto be 48 and “middle-aged” me!

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