Posts made in December, 2011

Three words for 2012: you are beautiful

Posted by on Dec 30, 2011 in aging, appearance, women's health | 2 comments

This past Monday, I asked readers to peruse the archives and choose a post from the year that resonated most with them. My goal was to pay forward some of my good fortune and gratitude, not only for an audience who returns to learn and share about the trials and tribulations of aging and being a woman, but also, to give thanks for the ability to help someone who has not been so fortunate. Margaret Chaivez commented that this post from April of this year, one in which I responded to a reader who called me an ‘old bag,’ spoke to her, adding that she has “realized that make up and clothes can help me morph into something folks like Jimbo may appreciate. Yet without the confidence and self awareness, it means nothing.”

As women, we are often expected to live up to an ideal that is either unrealistic or unreal. And yet, the pressure that is placed on us to do so often comes from within. Ironically, the title ‘menopause’ has caused a lot of women to turn away from Flashfree, not realizing that the time to start embracing is earlier than the ‘pause, and the time to start preparing is the same.

I want to thank Margaret for taking the plunge and having the courage to embrace her beautiful self. And mostly? For helping me help others.

Happy New Year!



Are you an ‘old bag?’

Evidently if you are over 40, you are at risk of becoming one, especially if you are not ‘nice to men.’

I was struck and a bit stunned by a reader comment that I received this week. The comment was in response to a post about the Cougar Convention, and made a point to denigrate women as much as possible.

This is what Jimbo wrote:

Yes, most all women are desparate. Look how they dress. Look at the makeup. Look at what they show off. It is obvious. They are desparate for sexual attention. Yet, they want the attention as if they are in control and giving themselves as a gift. This is a none truth. Women need to get real and look at themselves and their own behavior. They are desparate for sex and men.

When women get to be 40+, they start to get honest. Heck, there is not much time left to pretend. They need to find a man and be real nice to him before they turn into old bags.

A number of readers have responded to Jimbo’s comment, obviously taking offense. I chose to leave Jimbo’s comment up up for the very reason that I don’t censor; afterall, Jimbo is entitled to his opinion. However, I would like to leave Jimbo with this:

Jimbo –

40 year-old+ women are sexy, beautiful and self-assured. They have lived long enough to have gained the wisdom to allow them to feel comfortable in their bodies. And have a tendency to embrace who they are, sometimes even more than their younger peers. Nevertheless, in all fairness, you responded to a post entitled “Pimp your hide,” in which I referred to certain women attending a convention that encourages them to use their sexuality to attract a younger man. This however, is the exception and not the rule; the majority of women I know do not have fake boobs or plumped lips and have not done liposuction. While many color their hair (present company included), don’t be surprised if you find them out and about without makeup or wearing jeans and a tee shirt. Or better yet, out with men their age or older. Yes, Jimbo, women don’t always ‘dress to kill.’

So, Jimbo, I’d like you to see what a soon-to-be 49 year-old looks like – at the gym and home, with or without make-up. I can assure you; I am not an old bag nor do I ever intend to be one.

What does your 40+ look like? Comment or send me a photo and I’ll post! Let’s make Jimbo eat his words.

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In the spirit of giving…help me pay it forward

Posted by on Dec 26, 2011 in Inspiration, Uncategorized | 13 comments


2011 is soon going to be a distant memory and for some of us, that timing is none too soon. For me, this was a year of challenge and upheaval — emotionally, physically and relationship-wise. And yet, I am grateful to be here with a roof over my head, friends and family who I cherish, two cats who drive me crazy but are the sweetest companions one could ask for and some guaranteed work heading into the New Year. I have had loved ones go through difficult times with their health and emerge stronger and healthier, while others that I know are about to go on the merry-go-round once more. And yet, I remain faithful that this too (whatever this is), shall pass.

A few weeks ago, a colleague gave me a gift unlike any other I received this year, one that reminded me that regardless of the stress and turmoil that has formed daily life through the last quarter of the year or health challenges that I have been facing, that there is always someone less fortunate than I. The gift was the gift of love and charity, one that enabled me to select a cause near and dear to my heart and contribute. Mind you, I give throughout the year so the donation was not what made me stop but rather, the reminder. And for that, I am grateful.

So, I want to extend that gift to you, dear reader, because we are only as strong as the weakest among us. I am challenging you to peruse the 2011 archives and tell me in the comments which post made you stop and think, caused you to pause or resonated the loudest. At the week’s end, I will place the comments in a hat and send one reader a $50 donation card to the online fundraising site Razoo, where she/he too, can make a small difference in someone’s or some organization’s life.

Won’t you help me spread to word and pay it forward?

I would be truly grateful.

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Wishing you a flashfree holiday!

Posted by on Dec 23, 2011 in Uncategorized | 0 comments


peace, love, light and  joy to you and yours’.


See you on Monday!

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Wednesday Bubble: is DHEA the path towards a better sex life?

Posted by on Dec 21, 2011 in estrogen, HRT, sexual desire, sexual health | 2 comments

Today’s Bubble is a doozie that can one of two ways: in the yes(!) column or in the no (!) column. I’ll leave it to you to decide.

DHEA is the most abundant sex hormone in circulation and is mostly secreted by the adrenal glands. Research has shown that low DHEA levels in pre- and postmenopausal women may negatively affect sexual functioning, while ample blood levels may enhance sexual functioning, cognitive functioning and wellbeing. Yet, whether or not DHEA really works continues to be controversial. And the reason behind the burgeoning interest is the quest to find a suitable replacement for HRT. The thing is? There are lots of suitable, evidence-based replacements that are not broadly accepted by many medical professionals and many of these are discussed regularly on this blog. Nevertheless, here’s what researchers have just discovered about DHEA.

The researchers, from Pisa, Italy, followed 48 healthy, postmenopausal women for a year. During this time, they divided 36 women who were experiencing troublesome menopausal symptoms and requesting hormone replacement into three groups:

  • 12 women who received 10 mg daily of DHEA
  • 12 women who were given combined HRT
  • 12 women who received the synthetic hormone, tibolone, daily

The fourth group was comprised of 12 women who did not wish to use HRT. They received daily vitamin D (400 IU) and calcium to help combat osteoporosis.

At the start of the study, all of the women reported similar sexual activity. However, after a year of treatment, women taking DHEA had significant increases in sexual interest and activity scoring almost 14 points higher on a questionnaire used to measure sexual interest, satisfaction, vaginal lubrication, orgasm and sexual partner. The women taking HRT experienced similar benefits, and women in both of these groups reported engaging in more sexual intercourse compared to women taking Vitamin D and calcium. Women taking the synthetic hormone also had increased sexual interest scores but they were not as high as the other two hormone groups. The magnitude of improvements in menopausal symptoms was also similar between the DHEA, HRT and tibolone groups.

The reason for this improvement appears to be the effect that DHEA has in terms of improving blood levels of the hormones estradiol and progesterone, both of which decline during menopause. It also appears to positively affect adrenal functioning.

What to think? Well, the study didn’t include any information on side effects. This is what Mayo Clinic has to say in that regard:

“No studies on the long-term effects of DHEA have been conducted. DHEA can cause higher than normal levels of androgens and estrogens in the body, and theoretically may increase the risk of prostate, breast, ovarian, and other hormone-sensitive cancers. Therefore, it is not recommended for regular use without supervision by a licensed health professional.”

Another important fact, acknowledged by the researchers, is that DHEA was only studied in 12 women, hardly enough to draw any firm conclusions. But they do believe that the findings, albeit preliminary, are encouraging, especially for women who “may have problems in taking more conventional HRT.”

Personally, I believe that it’s waaaaay too early to even consider DHEA as an alternative to HRT and in particular, to androgen therapy for sexual health. I want to see more information on side effects before it’s even on the radar. Meanwhile, I would love to hear what you think:




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Newsflash…Before you ‘D’ know the facts. New recommendations from EMAS.

Posted by on Dec 16, 2011 in bone health, diet | 0 comments

Vitamin D. Lately it’s been touted as the cure-all for all that ails. From bone health and diabetes, to cancer and infections, vitamin D is the go-to supplement. But, do you really need it? And how much should you be taking on a daily basis?

Vitamin D levels are reportedly low in women undergoing menopause and because it is necessary to maintain bone health, there is no question that it’s in great demand by our bodies. This is especially true of fair skinned individuals, women, and people who live at higher altitudes. In fact, research shows that a number of factors can influence how the body synthesizes or produces Vitamin D, including altitude, time of year (e.g. winter) time of day, amount of exposed skin at any given time, skin pigmentation, extensive use of sun protection (i.e. sunscreen, protective clothing, shade) and air pollution). However, the more news that comes out about vitamin D, the more confusion abounds as to its true benefits and how much you should be taking.

Some of that much needed detail is provided in a recent statement issued by the European Menopause and Andropause Society. Rather that put you to sleep with all the details, here a few highlights that sets current knowledge about vitamin D on the correct path:

  • Although there have been a ton of studies on vitamin D, linking it to outcomes and risks and benefits in a variety of conditions, evidence for its benefit is strongest in terms of bone/skeletal health.
  • Osteoporosis is very common in postmenopausal women leading to increased fracture risk. It appears that adequate levels of vitamin D may help preserve bone structure and contribute to the function of muscles. In studies, women with the lowest vitamin D blood levels were shown to have the highest fracture risk.
  • Healthy postmenopausal women can insure that their body’s levels of vitamin D are optimized by exposing skin to the sun, 15 minutes at a time at least three to four times a week during Spring, Summer and Fall. This does not include artificial UV exposure from tanning booths.
  • Experts recommend that women supplement sun exposure with no more than 800 to 1,000 IU of vitamin D supplements a day.
  • If you are someone at risk for low vitamin D levels, you should see your doctor or health care practitioner for screening to achieve optimal vitamin D levels.
  • Women who are obese, have conditions that prevent proper absorption of nutrients (for example, HIV or chronic diarrhea) or have liver or kidney issues need to have tailored vitamin D recommendations.

And the news about over supplementation and toxicity? First of all, you can never get vitamin D toxicity through sunlight (although as we know, too much sun can lead to other problems, like skin cancer). And, toxicity issues have been linked to dosages above 50,000 IU over several months time. Last, women with cancer are likely to convert vitamin D in the body faster, so need lower levels. Again, this calls for monitoring by a health practitioner.

Overall, before you ‘D.’ know the facts. These recommendations are a great start.


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