Ellen is your advocate until you are strong enough to advocate for yourself. Ellen's book, Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness, guides you through the maze of options available to relieve symptoms, restore your sanity and improve your health.
Even though the last thing you probably want is a temperature hike (hot flash central), here are 14 uncensored, cut-to-the-chase ways to crank that love thermostat up to super steamy this Valentine’s Day. For the faint of heart, you might want to jump to number 4 — the first three may make you blush!
Cozy up and get down.
Simply, have sex. Seems pretty easy, doesn’t it? It is! If you need an excuse, here is a long list of reasons you should be having more sex from Women’s Health. Sex can be painful for women in perimenopause and menopause, but there are ways around that (see “Time For a Lube Job”)! Focus on the prize — weight loss, a stronger immune system, slower aging and stress relief are only a few benefits of sex. Tired of insomnia as a symptom of menopause? That’s on the list, too!
Rule out unsafe sex.
An article from the Huffington Post, “Baby Boomers Not Immune to Sexually Transmitted Diseases,” reports that in a 2010 study, 20% of those tested positive for HIV were over age 50. If you are at risk, the best way to ensure safe sex (in conjunction with condom use) is to get tested. It’s sexy to be sure that you’re healthy and stay that way. Just when you thought you were through with condoms — time to stock up again!
Add to your intimates.
When the night arrives with that special someone, you don’t want to spoil the mood with night sweats. Like hot flashes, night sweats are very common for women entering perimenopause and menopause, but DryBabe has comfortable sleepwear made from special fibers to make you look and feel 100%. Here’s a plus for Valentine’s Day — you can get them in pink! They’re sure to help you sleep (or not sleep) more comfortably! (Look for Dry Babe’s nightgowns in Shmirshky’s March Birthday Giveaway!)
Nix the red.
Pimples aren’t the red you want for Valentine’s Day, but they often rear their ugly heads at the most inconvenient times. We thought our pimple days were over when we finished puberty, but they’re common with hormonal fluctuations in perimenopause and menopause, deeming one thing necessary: Keep a mini-concealer with you for surprise pimples and rosacea. Try the Benefit® boi-ing mini compact (you can find it cheap online!). If you find your concealer collection is starting to take over your bathroom, talk to your doctor about acne gel for menopausal women.
Keep yourself Kool.
Hot flashes are one of the most publicized symptoms of menopause. Even “General Hospital” is embracing hot flashes! What can you do when your refrigerator is overflowing with kale, you are having a hot flash and there is no longer room in the fridge for your head? Get a Kool Tool! The Kool Tool is a very simple towel that is specially-engineered to stay cold for hours after you activate it. Wet it, wring it out, snap it a few times and place it around your neck under your clothes (it won’t get anything wet!) and you’ll beat your hot flashes on your special night. Keep it in a small baggie in your purse so it stays activated and ready. I also find Certain Dri to be helpful for those really special occasions (note: it does contain aluminum chloride). Helping you feel cool, confident and sexy, these products will ironically make your night much hotter. (Look for the Kool Tool in Shmirshky’s March Birthday Giveaway!)
Time for a lube job.
It’s a particularly frustrating and sensitive topic, but according to MedicineNet, one of the most common menopause symptom twofers is the combo of a crashing libido and painful intercourse. As your hormone levels plummet, they may take your sex drive with them, and when you do have sex, it can be painful. This can lead to a one way ticket on the circular train track of celibacy. Instead, fill out the Menopause Symptoms Chart on page 168 of Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness, then get to a perimenopause and menopause specialist (check out our Menopause Doctor Directory) to see if bioidentical hormone therapy is right for you. There are many HRT options to choose from, including a topical estriol vaginal cream. Next stop, ladies: lube! Find a water-soluble lubricant to take care of discomfort. Water-soluble lubes should allow latex condoms to stay intact, while non-water-soluble lubricants can weaken them. Reuters reports that Replens Long-Lasting Vaginal Moisturizer is one of the most highly recommended vaginal lubricants. You can also try Astroglide, or Albolene Face Cream.
Have better sex.
The Atlantic recently reported that dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), an adrenal hormone, can ease the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. The study indicates that women taking DHEA and HRT had a significantly increased interest in sex and an increase in sexual activity than before beginning the hormones, more than women who were just taking Vitamin D supplements. In the past, DHEA has been a bit controversial. Another option is testosterone replacement (MayoClinic), which is said to boost sex drive and help with your cognitive skills. Ask your doctor about whether DHEA or testosterone therapy could be for you! If you are living with Grumpy and you are not Snow White you might want to suggest that your lover gets his testosterone levels checked, too!
They don’t have to be in the shape of a heart to give you natural benefits. Health.com says chocolate can be good for heart health, your mood, your body and your taste buds. My favorite chocolate is sprinkled with sea salt, the perfect combination of sweet and salty. Too much of a good thing can be lethal for your hips, but a taste is still delightful!
Head for a massage.
A couple’s massage or a simple massage at home, treat yourself and your partner to a relaxing vacation from stress. If you’ve been with your partner for a long time, this can be a nice treat, and if you’ve just met your partner, you can get things off to a great start by getting pampered together. CNN Health reports that massages can ease insomnia, boost immunity, prevent PMS (or aches in menopause), and more. You can also try a new treatment called endermologie. Endermologie, coupled with an infrared sauna treatment has changed my hips and thighs. They are no longer large or in charge! It takes massage to a whole new level.
During the transition into perimenopause and menopause, women gradually decrease their production of estrogen, which leads to a decrease in blood flow to the vagina and a consequential dryness. Hormone replacement therapy can rejuvenate the blood flow and help correct the dryness, and bio-identical hormones are becoming more and more recommended by doctors across the nation. With all the contradictory information floating around about estrogen and breast cancer, it is important not to react to media sound bytes when determining what the best course of action is for your individual health.
Abolish dryness and cracks.
You always feel more confident when your body feels good, and winter months dry out your skin like crazy (not to mention the new instances of dry skin thanks to menopause!). Try to avoid skin products that contain harsh products and stick to ones that hydrate your skin. L’Occitane’s Amande Firming & Smoothing Milk Concentrate is a favorite post-shower moisturizer among women across the nation.
Turn on the mood.
Candles can turn a boring night into a romantic one with the strike of a match. With all the lights off and a few candles lit, you can turn your bright room made for sleeping into a dim, sensual room for romance. A big favorite seems to be The Capri Blue Volcano at Anthropologie. If the idea of a volcano doesn’t heat things up enough, consider Eckhard Hess’s findings on pupil dilation. When humans are interested in something, their pupils naturally dilate, which could be the reason restaurants and bars are so dimly lit. Candles will help give that attraction a kick start.
Unwind in a bubble bath.
Whether you’re alone or in the company of another, bubbles make baths that much more enjoyable. Deep Steep’s Lavender Chamomile Bubble Bath acts as the perfect aromatherapy for depression and stress, leaving your body smooth and ready for your moisturizer. Try ending your day with a relaxing, bubbly, candle-lit tub for two!
Play the role of your own Valentine.
Above all, make sure you take some time to recognize yourself as someone you love, because no matter what, you will be spending Valentine’s Day with yourself for the rest of your life! Perhaps we should make February 14th Celebrate Yourself Day! Turn Cupid around, strike yourself with a love arrow and acknowledge your uniqueness. Baby, you are looking good today! Happy Valentine’s Day from Shmirshky!