Posts made in October, 2010

It’s World Menopause Day! Chew on this.

Posted by on Oct 18, 2010 in Uncategorized | 6 comments

For two years, I’ve run the same piece on World Menopause Day. That post remains one of my favorites and I encourage you to check it out. This year, however, I’d rather call attention to the fact that having only one day devoted to menopause seems to run counter to the marketplace. Just check out the endless Wednesday Bubbles on Flashfree and you’ll realize that menopause is big business. Recent estimates place the market for hot flashes alone as high as $8B and that doesn’t necessarily focus on new applications for existing treatments, for example,  antidepressants for hot flashes. With a market this huge and the shrinking HRT market as the result of potential risks exposed in the Women’s Health Initiative, no wonder menopause has become such a hot commodity. Hell, there’s even a burgeoning market for male menopause, an oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one.

  • Feeling old? There’s a pill for that.
  • Flashing? There’s a gum AND a drink for that.
  • Wrinkly skin? Try this wonder cream!
  • Don’t like your vaginal appearance? How about some rejuvenation? Better yet, get a two for one and a few botox shots while you’re at it.

…Tapes, magnets, ‘all-in-one’ supplements, everything for anything and everything that ails.

Beneath the hype, marketers are actually saying us that they don’t want us to look or be our age. But don’t try to look younger or date younger because then you are just inappropriate or better yet, a Cougar. In fact, just don’t exist. You’re over the hill, washed up, invisible. Call it a day.

But wait!

Why not have a ‘World Menopause Don’t Call it a Day… Yet?’ The old fat lady dressed inappropriately still has a few tunes left in her.

Rather than celebrate a year or hum a new menopause jingle, can we just find a way to embrace ourselves and what we are going through? We did great in our 40s, comfortable in our skins, more beautiful than ever. And then 50+ or its precipice started to get in the way and here we are, with a day on a the calendar and nothing to wear. How about wearing ourselves for a change or for the change?

Just a wee bit of fodder on yet another day of the year, week, month. Chew on this, won’t you?

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National Domestic Violence Month – You are not alone

Posted by on Oct 15, 2010 in Inspiration | 8 comments

I don’t generally get too overexcited about National [fill in the blank] months, days or years. In fact, these days, we are so innundated that it’s a wonder that any initiative that deserves attention actually gets it. However, I believe that National Domestic Violence Month is one of those ideas that deserves attention. A lot of attention.

I am not going to bombard you with statistics about sexual abuse or violence against women; they are readily available though organizations like National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, I do want to focus on something that women need to be aware of, especially if they are newly-divorced or newly-single and back on the dating scene again.

When you think domestic or intimate partner violence, what do you think of?

More often than not, the first thing that comes to mind is sexual and physical abuse, right? And no wonder, because it is truly a national if not an international problem, and increasingly prevalent among teens as well. It can cross genders, ages and race. However, domestic or intimate violence can also be emotional, either in conjunction with physicality or by itself. In fact, like physical abuse, emotional abuse is similarly based on power and control. Emotional abuse is verbal or non-verbal, it is constant criticism and repeated disapproval, it is blame, insults, accusations and insinuations. And, although it is intangible, it systematically destroys self-confidence and creates deep scars that can take years and a lot of work to heal. A key reason that women often don’t report being emotionally abused is that it’s hard to prove. And its wounds can be so deep that the cycle becomes too powerful to break.

I know strong, self-empowered women who wound up in a cycle of emotional abuse, hardly realizing what it was other than it made them feel terrible on a daily basis.

I am one of those women.

I am not going to name names or provide details. But I will share that over time, self-blame starts to set in and it’s easy to believe that there’s something wrong with you, not your partner. And instead of walking away, you stay long after you should stay.

My story is a common story. I partnered with someone who presented himself as one way to the world and another to me. A seemingly charming man who wooed me and then turned into Mr. Hyde.

Bad day? My fault. High rent? My fault. His unhappiness? All my fault. Another viewpoint? Nope, not allowed. The ‘boss’ of [fill in the blank]? Him, not me. Compromise? Not real good at it. Invalidation? All the time. Highlighting my flaws? Yes.  Explosive anger? You bet. I walked around on eggshells for most of the relationship, always trying to please, to try to make him like me, to make things better…”if I, then” set in fairly quickly.

He really didn’t like me. And you know what? I didn’t really like him. But I stayed with it because damn it, I was going to prove to him that I was worth it.

By the time the relationship was over and I made the decision that it was time to cut my losses, I had lost a lot of weight and a lot of me. At the end, 12 pounds lighter and in for a long haul of therapy, I realized that I was angry, damn angry. But mostly at myself for allowing the abuse.

The weight eventually came back on. I did (and continue to do) a lot of therapy. I had another relationship and learned to trust — not only him — but also myself.  But I’m still wary. And some of the trauma and self-doubt remains with me to this day.

Emotional abuse is ABUSE. Don’t let it happen to you. Talk to someone. Let them in. If you need help, please, please get it. Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799.SAFE).

Truly, you are worth it. And you know what? I am too.

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Wednesday Bubble: HRT? Everybody must get kidney-stoned

Posted by on Oct 13, 2010 in HRT, Uncategorized | 0 comments


Everybody must get stoned?  If you are using HRT, this may be the case. Straight out of the headlines of the American Medical Association’s Archives of Internal Medicine: Healthy women who use HRT may be at increased risk of kidney stones.

You hear about them. But what are kidney stones?

Kidney stones are hard masses the develop when crystals separate out from the urine. Many factors interact to form stone and they are influenced by both genetics and the environment. Although they are often prevented by naturally occurring chemicals before they actually form, when they occur, they can cause extreme pain. Over time, they may actually damage the kidneys. And while kidney stones more commonly affect more men than women up to a certain age, by the time a woman reaches 50, this discrepancy balances out, possibly because estrogen may have a protective effect up until this time.

So, if estrogen is good and protective, what goes wrong when you add it back to the mix?

The findings...In the latest analysis of what is now becoming the infamous Women’s Health Initiative Study, researchers evaluated over 10,000 women in natural menopause who had taken estrogen only (Premarin), estrogen plus progestin (Preempro) or placebo. After an average of 5 to 7 years (depending on which agent the women were taking), women taking hormones, either alone or in combination, had a 21% increased risk of developing kidney stones. When the researchers excluded women who stopped using hormones during the actual trial from the analysis, the likelihood of developing kidney stones increased to 39%. Moreover, study researchers were unable to attribute the increased risk to any other factors, including age, ethnicity, BMI, prior use of hormones or intake of coffee or thyroid medication. Writing in Annals, however, they did note that the way that kidneys stone are formed is complex, and that estrogen may play a role in several stages of that formation and requires further study.

According to the researchers, about 5% to 7% of women reaching menopause will develop kidney stones. My friends over at Reuters health, who did an excellent recap of this study, note that in combination with hormone therapy, this risk increases up to 10%, despite that addition of progestin.

In addition to avoiding hormone therapy, the best thing to do to prevent kidney stones is to hydrate! If you have a tendency to form stones, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney diseases recommends that you drink enough fluids, preferably water, to produce about 2 quarts of urine a day. Changing your diet can help too: some experts recommend limiting dairy and proteins that are high in calcium. The best thing to do, as always, is to do some preliminary research and then contact your health practitioner.

So getting stoned? How about losing the HRT? Another bubble burst for a failed therapy.

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Got Zzzzz’s? And the winner is….

Posted by on Oct 12, 2010 in sleep disturbance | 1 comment

Last week I posted about sleep and a new personal sleep coach that I’m trying out – Zeo. I offered to give away a bedside monitor in exchange for a blog comment about sleep, and a willingness to share your thoughts about Zeo on Flashfree in a month’s time. I only received a few comments but I did the old hat trick and pulled out one name:

Meryl K. Evans! Congratulations Meryl – send me your mailing address and I will ship the unit out to you this week.

As a special thank you to Peg and Heather, Zeo has graciously offered free shipping on all units ordered through October 31. Just use FREESHIP at checkout for ground orders.

I’ve got one more night of collecting baseline data and then I start the regular program. So far, I am fascinated and hopeful that it may identify specific factors that are screwing up my sleep. Stay tuned.

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Futuristic Monday: hot AND cold creature comforts

Posted by on Oct 11, 2010 in hot flash, menopause, musings | 1 comment

True confession: I love heated car seats. My last boyfriend won my heart with his heated car seats (okay, not really, but it helped!). For me, heated car seats represent the gold ring of driving comfort, especially when the weather is cold or damp and nasty. Consequently, I was intrigued by a call I received last week from a friend of mine who, like me, is contending with a few menopausal symptoms. The call was car seats for the menopausal set.

“Got a sec?” she asked. “I was just driving down to the road and started thinking about heated car seats. The biggest problem,” she explained,” is that they are only designed with one thing in mind: heat.” (Hence their name, but that’s besides the point.) “Why don’t they make car seats that can heat or cool, depending on the temperature (or temprament) of the passenger? ”

Hmmm, sort of like cleavage coolers but for your derriere. Got me thinking and looking around the interwebz. And what I discovered is that the future is now.  In fact, cooled seats are often part of optional packages in a variety of premium and luxury cars with leather upholstery. Experts recommend that you test drive them yourself, since some come with a ventilation system while others actually have separate cooling elements.

If all else fails, there’s always the ‘Amazing SummerSeat Self-Cooling Car Seat Cushion’ (can’t make this stuff up)!

Ladies, when those internal fires get burning, it’s okay to start your engines in comfort.

Be still my heart. I think I’ve just fallen in love again.

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