Shmirshky? A guest post by author Ellen Dolgen

Posted by on Oct 26, 2012 in menopause | 7 comments

Do you recall when I wrote about Shmirshky and took a mick out of the book? If not, this little excerpt might stir your memory…

Truly, when I first laid eyes on, I wanted to hate it. Why? Because I don’t like cutesy names for vaginas like “shmirshky.” And I don’t really understand the tagline or book title – ‘think inside the box’ or  ’pursuit of hormone happiness’. Nor do I care for abbreviations like “PM and M” (i.e. perimenopause and menopause) or “SUMO,” the author “E’s” (read: everyone) imaginary friend who makes her feel bad about herself….

Well, here I am, a year and a half later, running a guest post by the book’s author, Ellen Dolgen, who I had the pleasure of meeting in New York last month. When I met Ellen, I asked her about the derivation of shmirsky. This is why I’m eating crow today. Ellen is an incredible woman and this story, well, it’s damn special.

Shmirshky. Yup. We should all be so lucky.

Show some love. And Happy Birthday Ellen!



I love a gal who says what’s on her mind. When I read Liz’s review of my book, it made me smile.

I was definitely brought up calling my vagina a vagina, but I can’t really remember using the word vagina in a sentence until I was well into adulthood. As Eve Ensler puts it in her famous Vagina Monologues:

“Let’s just start with the word ‘vagina.’ It sounds like an infection at best, maybe a medical instrument: ‘Hurry nurse, bring me the vagina.’ ‘Vagina.’ ‘Vagina.’ Doesn’t matter how many times you say it, it never sounds like a word you want to say. It’s a totally ridiculous, completely unsexy word. If you use it during sex, trying to be politically correct – ‘Darling, could you stroke my vagina?’ – you kill the act right there.”

Still, I love my vagina. I love being a woman, and I was angry when I found I was totally unprepared for and uneducated about perimenopause and menopause. I decided to do something to prevent other women from suffering like I did. My book is a cut to the chase, conversation opener that women can read, discuss, and pass along to their friends and family.

Since Liz, in her review of my book, was most troubled by my use of the word “shmirshky” instead of “vagina,” let’s get that off the table right off the bat! I had a very special mentor in my life. Her name was Marcia. She used to call the vagina, shmirshky. The penis, erlick. I thought it was hilarious. She would be going on and on about shmirshkies and erlicks, and those seated next to us in a restaurant thought she was talking about a new restaurant or perhaps even a law firm. Marcia was vivacious, smart, and endlessly loving. In 2002, at the age of 72, she was diagnosed with cancer. Toward the end of her illness, she was at home with amazing Hospice care, and it was her birthday. I wasn’t sure if we should celebrate or not mention it since I knew this would be her last birthday.

I will never forget that October day. We arrived at Marcia’s condo with balloons, a cake, and presents. She was wheeled into her living room – and immediately she beamed! For her gift, I had paid off a shawl she had on layaway at her favorite consignment store, and she squealed with excitement when she saw it, wrapping the shawl around herself. Just for a moment, we all forgot that Marcia’s days were ending. With joy in her eyes, she left me one last monumental pearl of wisdom: make every day your birthday. So, in honor of my

BFF (birthday friend forever), I decided to call my book about vaginas – Shmirshky!

Alone and unprepared when my menopausal journey began, I drew on Marcia’s spirit and wisdom. My intro to perimenopause was sudden and fierce: my memory disintegrated, my emotions were out of control, I couldn’t sleep, I became a member of the sisterhood of the shrinking pants, and my vagina took a trip to the Sahara desert. I felt like an alien had taken over my body. After years of struggling, I began journaling about my experiences as a way to escape from all the loneliness and confusion. I also hoped my journal could be a guide to perimenopause and menopause I would give to my daughter that she could use when she got older. When I started looking for answers, I visited my local bookstore and left with 10 books on menopause. For weeks, I buried myself in these books trying to absorb the information within them. Everything I found was way too clinical and better at inducing sleep than at teaching me what I needed to know to get the help I needed. I realized the book I wanted to read did not exist, so I decided to write it myself. I carefully researched and interviewed other women, pharmacists, and specialists. Eventually, a book emerged that was truly new and distinct from anything else I had seen. In addition to providing the information a woman needs to begin her journey through perimenopause, I felt, and still feel, that my book opens the conversation in a way that is fun, positive, accessible, and empowering. It’s a girlfriend’s guide chalk full of useful tools – just enough detail and written with compassion, empathy, and – the most important element – humor.

My mission since publishing Shmirshky is to empower women to get the help they need and deserve. I share my own story in the hopes that others feel comfortable breaking the taboo surrounding perimenopause and menopause, so we can build support networks for ourselves, our daughters, our friends, anyone who has or knows someone who has a Shmirshky. Don’t like that word? Then, call it your vagina, call it your box, your beaver, your ya-ya. Whatever you call it, we all need to reach out and speak out, using whatever language feels comfortable, to connect, unite, and empower the sisterhood!

My motto is: Reaching out is IN! Suffering silence is OUT!

Happy Birthday Liz!


About Ellen Dolgen…

Ellen Dolgen is a Health and Wellness Advocate, Menopause Awareness Expert, Author, Speaker, and health blogger.

Ellen is the author of Shmirshky: The Pursuit of Hormone Happiness — a cut-to-the-chase book on perimenopause and menopause that’s filled with crucial information, helpful guides, and hilarious and heartfelt stories. Known for her humor, compassion, and sassy personality, Ellen has appeared on numerous television and radio broadcasts, including: the Rachael Ray Show, The Doctors, Oprah Radio, Playboy Radio, “Tell Me More” on NPR, Doctor Radio, and dozens of other regional and national media outlets. Ellen is a frequent guest on the popular radio show, “Broadminded,” on Sirius XM Radio (Stars XM 107) and is a regular contributor on Huff/Post 50 along with blogging for many leading women’s health sites. Ellen has dedicated herself to women’s wellness through a wide breadth of activities ranging from being a founding board member of the UCSD Student Wellness Center, working with pharmaceutical companies in helping them to effectively address women’s health needs, serving on hospital advisory boards, and advocating for cardiovascular health.



  1. 10-26-2012

    I’ll be looking for this book!!!

    • 10-26-2012

      @weidknecht1 I am always here for you if you have any questions or need support!

    • 10-26-2012

      @weidknecht1 I think Amazon has the best price :>)

  2. 10-26-2012

    Can’t wait to read Ellen’s book. We all need to talk about menopause and the crazy changes it brings. It helps so much to know what to expect and get support from other women.

    • 10-26-2012

      @LoriJoVest Indeed. That’s one of the primary purposes of Flashfree!

  3. 10-26-2012

    And after reading your blog, for this past month, I can tell you dear Ellen, you have sooooo accomplished this goal: “My mission since publishing Shmirshky is to empower women to get the help they need and deserve.’

    • 10-26-2012

      @stillblondeaaty  Thank you for your sweet words and all that you to to support the sisterhood!

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