Healthy and Happy Relationships During and After Menopause

“It’s never too late -never too late to start over, never too late to be happy.” —Jane Fonda

Most of us believe that being HAPPY is our goal in life, and we often define our happiness in terms of our relationships.  While some fortunate women sail through peri-menopause into menopause with few symptoms or ill effects, many of us DO NOT!  Happiness seems elusive when you do not feel like yourself, and this affects how we are in our relationship with our partner, husband, or significant other.

The average age of menopause is 51, which is not so old these days. You could easily have many happy and healthy decades ahead of you and in fact, research suggests that happiness typically increases as we age.  Why then, is this time in our lives often so challenging for our relationships?

Menopause affects all of our relationships: those with our husbands or partners, as well as with our children, parents, friends, and colleagues in both positive and sometimes negative ways.  There are many positives.  Freedom from pregnancy brings sexual liberation, financial freedom and freedom from child-rearing responsibilities bring time for intimacy, time for nurturing friendships, new and old hobbies, and time to explore sexually.  Whether married or single, most boomers report they still want to have happy, sexual and intimate relationships.  They also admit that many of them do not.

Many women experience the common symptoms of menopause – irritability, anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, low libido, ‘brain fog,’ and vaginal dryness. These symptoms can make any and ALL relationships challenging.  It is difficult to be loving, sexual, kind, and patient in the throes of hot flashes, anger, exhaustion, depression all while not feeling like yourself anymore.  To make matters worse, many physicians prescribe the usual RX cocktail consisting of Ativan and Prozac which may make you numb, but may not help you live the life that you want at this age!

There are solutions.  Here is a list of my best and most useful tips to help you sail (even at half-mast!) into menopause with a healthy and happy relationship intact or perhaps even better than ever!

  • Educate yourself on the hormonal changes you are going through, and then educate your loved ones so they understand.  You are your own best health advocate and as such, you owe it to yourself to be informed.  Put yourself in the driver’s seat: this will help you feel more in control of YOU even when you do not always recognize yourself.
  • Humour: find it, use it and spread it around!  Sometimes laughing together at the changes you are both experiencing helps.
  • Try new sexual positions if you are having more aches, pains, and reduced mobility.  Be playful and have some fun!  Accommodations can make you more creative.  Use femMED’s Libido to enhance arousal, increase lubrication, and sexual response.
  • Be more emotionally intimate:  listen to each other, touch with affection, kiss more, share music or heartfelt notes.  Appreciate your love and connection.
  • Make healthy choices to support hormone balance using supplements and good nutrition.   I have used personally and recommended to many clients the Hormonal Balance for PMS and peri-menopausal symptoms and absolutely love the ingredients in Menopause Relief.   All the natural ingredients I want to see in a Menopause supplement are contained in this product.  It works for many women to help them manage night sweats, hot flashes, and mood swings.   Good quality amino acids (protein) will help balance your serotonin and dopamine levels in your brain.  They are our “feel-good” neurotransmitters.
  • Get support from close friendships.  Women provide a safe and nurturing place to discuss changes occurring.  Women also love to share good information with each other.
  • Practice loving kindness to yourself and to your partner.  “Let it be” – some things must just be let go of.  In this vein, be clear and non-judgemental in your communication with your sweetheart about the things that really matter.
  • Remember that intimacy is THE glue that holds relationships together; however, this is not just wild, crazy sex on the kitchen counter.  It is also cuddling, holding hands, kissing and being affectionate.  Oxytocin is our bonding love hormone and all of these things bring it on!

 

Remember Buddha’s words:  “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and attention.  Be happy and help others be happy”.   Menopause is simply a natural and normal phase all women will go through.  Let’s sail through it being our best!

 

Camille Lawson  RN, BA, MEd.    March 2014

 

 

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Why the Menopause Taboo?

For one reason or another, menopause is something that we just don’t talk about. It’s not like women go around waving tampons in the air when they have their periods, but it does seem that in general, we are more open to talking about the trials and tribulations of menstruation than the lack thereof.

The reasons we don’t talk about menopause could be attributed to a number of things. It could be that for years, menopause has been treated as a ‘disease,’ and has developed a kind of stigma that prevents us from seeing it as normal and natural. Most people aren’t too keen on publicly acknowledging the list of things that are wrong with
them. Or it could be that our culture is so obsessed with youth that women going through menopause feel a loss of self- worth. Or it could be as simple as the fact that menopause is accompanied by hot flashes, sleep disturbances, and mood swings, and we just don’t want to talk about it… because what’s worse than being in a bad mood and being prodded at and coerced into discussing it?

Because menopause is a time in a woman’s life when she undergoes a number of physical, emotional, and lifestyle changes, she requires support, understanding, and sympathy from those around her. The problem with this is that if a woman doesn’t acknowledge or discuss these changes, how is she supposed to elicit these kinds of responses?

I was listening to a radio show this morning, and a woman wrote in anonymously with a question about menopause. She said, in short, that she was more comfortable emailing the radio team than discussing the issue with her friends. If you’re reading this and find her situation strange, you might be surprised to learn that (even in 2014) most women don’t talk about menopause. This doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when you think about it, because as women, the one thing that we inevitably have in common is the future, current, or past experience of menopause. As our life expectancy increases, so too does the amount of time we spend on the other side of menopause, and so it is not at all an indication that life is over, and for many women is actually quite the contrary!

I’ve been doing a fair amount of reading about menopause lately, and in doing so stumbled across a website by a woman named Ellen Dolgen, who is a ‘menopause guru’ of sorts. Ellen has coined the term ‘Menopause Mondays’ to describe support groups for women going through menopause. These groups provide an opportunity for women to discuss their symptoms and questions with other women going through similar experiences without judgment. Women can swap notes, stories, and remedies to help get those symptoms under control, and if not, at least laugh about them for an hour over a glass of wine!

We need a reminder in between the hot flashes and bad moods that it is menopause (not jeans) that is the great equalizer, and that starts with a conversation. If you have a funny menopause story to share (we call them menomoments), please post it in a comment here or on Facebook and help us open the dialogue!

 

 

 

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Excited but not “Excited”: Enhancing Sexual Desire in Time for Valentine’s Day

Welcome February. Characterized by its long, grey days and accompanying cold winds, February doesn’t really leave us with a whole lot to get excited about. It is arguably the most insufferable month to endure, until you remember that smack in the middle of it is Valentine’s Day: the auspicious occasion that allows you to guiltlessly leave the kids at home and your work at the office, and celebrate your relationship.  (I don’t care if it was popularized by Hallmark to sell greeting cards; if it gives me an excuse to eat unlimited chocolate then I’m into it)!

So you’ve booked a babysitter, made the reservations, and have finally dropped those holiday pounds in order to fit back into your sexiest dress (or you haven’t…but you look great all the same). You should be excited, but if you’re one of the 18 million women in North America who suffers from low female libido, you’re probably more anxious than anything else. Valentine’s Day is by nature a day to celebrate relationships, and by extension is just as inherently a day to celebrate sex. If you’re not interested in this integral part of the holiday, then quite frankly, Valentine’s Day sucks. There are dozens of reasons why women lose their sex drive, which include but are not limited to:

  • Perimenopause
  • Menopause
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of confidence
  • Lack of physical exercise
  • Insomnia/fatigue
  • Environmental toxins (smoking, pollution)
  • Depression (and antidepressants)
  • Prescription drugs
  • Relationship issues

Most women who are suffering from low libido are not apathetic. They want to want sex, but they just don’t. Whether this lack of interest in sex is due to psychological, environmental, or physiological factors does not change its repercussions. Low libido can affect a women’s body image, mood, and self-confidence, and can leave us with feelings of disappointment, frustration, and inadequacy. Needless to say, no woman should ever have to struggle with these feelings, and it was with this in mind that femMED created femMED Libido.

There are over 25 FDA-approved treatments for men suffering from issues related to their sex drive, but there is currently very little on the market for women. Obviously medications like Viagra have been extremely successful in revitalizing many men’s sex lives, but most women aren’t looking for an equivalent. While a magic “Viagra for women” pill that you can ingest an hour before sex is an attractive quick-fix, what is more appealing is targeting the core issues affiliated with low libido and implementing a natural solution to improve sex drive.

Women experiencing low-libido are often less easily aroused, less sensitive to touching and stroking, prone to vaginal dryness and psychological discomfort, lack pelvic blood flow, and have difficulty achieving orgasm. The ingredients in femMED Libido work together as sex-drive enhancers and are successful in maintaining and increasing sexual desire, enhancing sexual satisfaction, and enhancing sexual response, thus combatting and often fully alleviating these symptoms. When these symptoms are targeted and relieved by the herbs for female sex drive in femMED Libido, women can start desiring and enjoying their sex lives, which will contribute to their ultimate personal, social, and physical fulfillment.

For many couples, Valentine’s Day is just a “Hallmark holiday,” but for others its importance is rooted in the fact that it is representative of their relationship as a whole. For these latter couples who normally play the grand gesture game, staying home and watching Breaking Bad is indicative of a larger problem. If that problem is female sex drive, then femMED Libido is an effective solution that you can find in the Natural Health or Vitamin section of just about any pharmacy in Canada. Unlike Viagra, it takes between 2-3 weeks of consistent daily use to achieve its best results, and so now is the time to start “warming up your engine” in time for Valentine’s Day (and every day after that). If you’re in the “I-think-Valentine’s-Day-is-a-whole-load-of-commercial-crap-camp,” but also experiencing a low sex-drive, then try femMED Libido so that you can go back to getting the most out of your sex life on any given day. If nothing else, (the desire for and practice of) sex will give you something to do during this long winter month!

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Aging Gracefully with Dr. Pearlman

On Wednesday evening, we attended the second seminar hosted by Dr. Jennifer Pearlman at her clinic. The focus of the discussion was on the physical effects of aging on your appearance and the steps you can take to age in a graceful and healthy way.

The discussion highlighted how the aging process affects us physically over time and how hormonal shifts in our body such as menopause, can dramatically affect our appearance. The key takeaway was that it’s incredibly important to take care of your health, since it directly translates to your appearance.

  • Easy tips for skin care that we took home were:
  • The importance of drinking lots of water and eating plenty of colourful vegetables with high levels of antioxidants.
  • Always protect your skin from the sun throughout the entire year, not just the summer months!.
  • Manage your daily stress levels.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking can age your skin prematurely by up to 10 years, which means if you’re in your fifties there’s a good chance you’ll be looking closer to your sixties!
Dr. Pearlman and her staff also covered a variety of topics and options on how to look youthful, but not over done with cosmetics.  She introduced us to a new line of make-up developed by celebrity make-up artist Michael Marcus. The goal of this new  line of make-up is to help women age gracefully while looking their best. All of the  products in this line are paraben free (paraben is a chemical preserve found in many beauty products such as shampoos, shaving gels and make-up) and all production is environmentally responsible. There was even a make-up artist on hand who demonstrated the benefits of each product and provided make-overs!  We loved that each of the colourful lipsticks, eye shadows and foundations were named after women who were a source of inspiration to the line’s creator.

 

After Dr.Pearlman’s presentation, many of the attendees shared their own personal stories and anecdotes, some funny and some serious, on how they began to noticed the physical changes in their appearance as they aged. They shared what beauty solutions they had all tried in the past and what was working for them now.  It was enlightening to hear from women of all ages in different stages of their lives, comment on their own personal experience with aging, and how they all found their own way to age gracefully.

 

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Menopause and Relationships

Girls are like phones. We love to be held and talked to. But if you press the wrong button you’ll be disconnected! -author unknown

Isn’t that the truth, especially during  perimenopause and menopause. For many of us, one wrong move or word by the people who matter to us the most, can mean a quick disconnect (read SNAP!!).

The average age for menopause is 51 — which is not so old these days. You can easily have many happy and healthy decades ahead of you, and in fact, research suggests that happiness typically increases as women age. Why then, can this time in a woman’s life, be so challenging for our relationships?

Menopause can affect our love relationships, in both positive and sometimes negative ways. The freedom from pregnancy and for many of us, child-rearing, can provide us the time to rediscover our sexual selves and our partners.

The challenge is now that you finally have the freedom to rediscover yourself sexually, the common symptoms of menopause – irritability, anxiety, depression, lack of  sleep, zero libido and a dry vagina can make it somewhat challenging. It is difficult to be loving, sexual, kind, and patient in the throes of hot flashes, anger, exhaustion, depression and simply not feeling like yourself.

There are solutions.

A recent client of mine illustrates what is possible after menopause when we are proactive, knowledgeable and find collaborative health providers. Margaret is 55 and found that her previously healthy relationship with her husband changed dramatically after menopause. She was cranky, had no sex drive and suffered hot flashes every night. Her experience made it impossible to get a restful sleep. She felt miserable and isolated. She missed the way things used to be between them. Being proactive, she began her own research and found an integrative health professional who advised her to have her hormone levels tested, suggested a therapist, and a nutrition expert. They helped her work through the various issues that were interfering with her relationship and her health.

I worked with Margaret for 6 sessions and during that time she started taking natural health supplements that I use and recommend; specifically, femMED’s Menopause Relief and Libido. Menopause Relief is an excellent product that helped Margaret manage her menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and mood swings and femMED Libido which helped boost Margaret’s libido.

Because our relationships can really improve for the better during this time, I recommended that she read “Passionate Marriage” by Dr David Schnarch. It is my favourite book for learning how to grow within yourself and thereby grow your relationships.

Margaret reported major breakthroughs in how she felt physically, mentally and emotionally during our last session.

I encourage you not to give up if menopause is adversely affecting YOUR relationships. There is hope, help and many years left to both thrive and embrace life to its fullest!

 

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