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Recent Posts by Wendy

Dear Readers: So Long After Seven Years….

by on May 19, 2013

Dear Readers,

After nearly seven years and 700 articles about women’s health during the menopause years, I’ve decided to stop publishing Menopause The Blog to devote more time to other projects concerning women’s health. I started MTB as a way to share my personal research about menopause symptoms and remedies with other women experiencing the same thing. Whether you’ve just stumbled onto this website through a web search or you’ve been a regular follower, I hope that you’ve found answers to your own questions in my articles, reading recommendations and interviews with leading medical experts.

If you have enjoyed reading this blog, and want to continue learning about menopause from other members of the “tribe,” let me introduce you to the “menopause sisterhood” – women who, as a result of their own experiences with weight gain, hot flashes, brain fog and more – have made it their mission to  help other women through their books, blogs, media appearances and events;

Have you discovered Ellen Dolgen?  She wrote a terrific book called Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness(she explains the title in the book), which is a primer about what to expect in the menopause years. You’ll love her breezy writing style and upbeat attitude. Stanness Jonekos turned her personal experience of conquering menopausal weight gain (just as she was planning her wedding) into The Menopause Makeover: The Ultimate Guide to Taking Control of Your Health and Beauty During Menopause- her weight loss program that’s helping hundreds of women. Magnolia at The Perimenopause Blog shares her personal experiences, encouragement and a big dose of wisdom on her information-packed blog. And at Flash Free: Not Your Mama’s Menopause, writer Liz Scherer shares her witty sensibility and keen writing skills on topics such as menopausal belly fat (“Jelly in Yo Belly?) and sex cereal (“What’s Fueling Your Fire in the Morning?”).

I can’t say goodbye without a shout out to three physicians I’ve come to know, who are also devoting their careers to helping mid-life women, and who have been so generous with me. Dr. Robynne Chutkan is an integrative gastro-enterologist near Washington, D.C. who understands the unique needs of menopausal women. She can spend hours talking about bloat and gas. In fact she’s written a book about it called “Gut Bliss” that will hit the stores in October. You’ll find details about it on her website.

Dr. Barb Dupree, a gynecologist in Michigan founded Middlesexmd.com to bring problems of sexual dysfunction out in the open so women know they’re not alone and that there are solutions. It’s the best resource I’ve seen on this topic and she even takes questions.

Dr. Lauren Streicher makes me wish I lived in Chicago where she has a thriving gynecology practice no doubt because of her genuine interest in women’s most personal health concerns and her love of teaching, whether at the Northwestern U. medical school, through her media appearances and books, or one-to-one with her patients. If you’re a candidate for a hysterectomy, you must read her book, The Essential Guide to Hysterectomy.

And, though we live on opposite coasts, I consider Joan Pagano my personal trainer through her excellent , illustrated books on women’s fitness that I’ve told you about on this blog. We finally met in person just last year and I know that if we lived near each other we’d walk our 10,000 daily steps together.

Thanks for reading and, for now, so long.

Wendy

 

 

These Fitness Balls Can Help With Kegel Exercises

by on May 14, 2013

Every day, whether intentionally at the gym, or just doing chores around the house, our arm, leg and back muscles get a good workout. But one set of muscles, located in the pelvic floor, never get the attention that they deserve, given their importance to the proper functioning of four organs:  the bladder, uterus, vagina and bowels. Like any other muscle that’s neglected, they weaken with age, or often following childbirth, resulting in urinary leakage and, in more severe cases, pelvic organ prolapse.

Doing Kegel exercises, which involve contracting then relaxing the pelvic floor, can help strengthen this important muscle group.  But many women have trouble doing this exercise correctly because it can be challenging to identify and isolate the right muscle. That’s where a handy Kegel tool called Luna Beads  can help.

menopause, urinary incontinence, kegel exercises“The idea of using a pelvic floor exercise tool is it gives you something more objective to measure your strength, said Dr. Barb Dupree,a gynecologist specializing in menopause care and founder of MiddleSexMD.com, a fantastic website about women’s sexual health. “If you flex your bicep with an empty hand, it’s hard to know how strong it is. When you pick up a 10 or 20 pound weight, you can better understand just how much strength you have in those muscles, and by doing more resistance with the muscle, its going to get stronger.

“That’s the concept of a pelvic floor exercise tool,” Dr. Barb added. “By placing a weighted bead in the vagina, you have to engage those muscles to retain it. It’s a better, objective way to identify, isolate and use the pelvic floor.”

Each set of LUNA beads consists of a silicone harness and four weighted beads: two pink 28 gram beads and two blue 37-gram beads offering four different gradations of weight when when worn individually or combined. You can start with one ball for the lightest weight, and mix and match to create incrementally more weight until you can insert the two heaviest into the vagina at once. (The package includes a cradle that holds two balls). Like any other workout routine, you start at the beginning and work up to a level that you feel works the muscles. … [Read more]

 

Is Urinary Incontinence An Inevitable Part of Aging?

by on May 12, 2013

Urinary incontinence is something we associate with old age. Yet an overactive bladder (OA) can be a consequence of childbirth, or even constipation. So it’s not uncommon for women in their 30s to 60s to experience urgency, frequency and yes, even urinary incontinence. We do seem to hear more about OA in women than men, so I contacted an expert in the field, Dr. Charles Nager, to ask him about the causes and possible cures for this embarrassing condition, and if there’s anything women can do to prevent light leakage or incontinence from occurring in the first place.

Urogynecologist, pelvic floor disorders, urinary incontinenceDr. Nager is a urogynecologist, a specialist in female pelvic medicine and reconstruction, and director of the Women’s Pelvic Medicine Center  at the University of California, San Diego.Here’s a transcript of my interview with him:

 

Is urinary incontinence an inevitable fact of life?

Dr. Nager:  It is not inevitable. It increases as we get older. It’s more common in women than in men. Although symptoms of urinary urgency and frequency are as common in men, they just have less incontinence.

Why is that?

Dr. Nager:  The urethra in women is just not as strong, or as obstructive as it is in men. So even though they may have a equal likelihood of developing symptoms of what’s called an overactive bladder, which is urgency, frequency, sometimes incontinence, the men are more likely to have just the urgency and frequency. … [Read more]

 

This Doc Says Forget The Health Rules and Live A Little!

by on May 10, 2013

Lose weight, exercise more, get 8 hours of sleep, eat more fruits and vegetables, reduce stress, take supplements… have you grown weary of all the health rules offered by TV doctors, magazine articles and well-intentioned friends? Dr. Pauline Chen, in her New York Times column last summer, wrote about a patient’s difficulty in absorbing “a fire hose of advice.” “Thanks to some dazzling advances in preventive medicine and public health,” she wrote, “doctors in almost every specialty of medicine now have a panoply of proven preventive recommendations to keep their patients from getting sick.”


Dr. Susan Love, health rulesDr. Susan Love, the well known breast cancer researcher, takes issue with many of those recommendations, or “health rules” as she calls them in a book called Live a Little!: Breaking the Rules Won’t Break Your Health. She goes down the list of well-known “to do items for healthy living” and questions the etched-in-stone rules that seem to be guiding many of our every day decisions. She writes;

Health rules can mislead you into half way believing that if you eat only the right things, or exercise in the proper way, you can escape not just run of the mill illnesses but death itself. This way of thinking leads to a distorted set of priorities: Instead of trying to be healthy so that you can enjoy life, you squander your happiness in the pursuit of more health.

Dr. Love “studied the studies” in six areas that generate the most health rules; sleep, stress management, health screenings, exercise, nutrition, and personal relationships. While new research has added to our knowledge (and grown the list of rules) since then, her thoughts about putting research findings in context, and using common sense to guide our actions, still holds up. Here are a few examples from her book: … [Read more]

 

10 Best Foods To Lower Blood Pressure

by on May 8, 2013

If you have elevated or high blood pressure, a common condition in menopausal women, you naturally want to reduce your sodium intake. But you also want to make sure that your diet includes enough potassium, which as a natural diuretic, will promote the excretion of water and sodium from your body

If you’ve been diagnosed with hypertension, (half the U.S. population has high blood pressure, according to the Center for Disease Control), The American Heart Association recommends that you consume as much as 4700 mg/day of potassium and not more than 1500 mg/day of sodium to achieve an effective balance.  However, sodium intake can be slightly higher — 2300 mg/per day — for those with normal blood pressure.

Here’s a list of 10 best foods to lower blood pressure and that are delicious enough to make a part of your daily diet.

Bananas – I’ll start the list with this deliciously sweet, grab and go kind of food because it’s readily available and I’ve never met a person who didn’t like them. Each medium size fruit has between 350 and 800 mg of potassium per cup depending on size. But it also contains some magnesium, which offers additional health benefits. … [Read more]