Menopause is a taboo topic that isn’t often discussed, although most women will experience common symptoms such as vaginal dryness, painful urination, lack of sex drive, or hot flashes. Novo Nordisk, a global health care company brought together five leading influencers in women’s health care advocacy to begin the conversation of Great Life After Menopause (GLAM™), and to speak of the “silent symptom.”
Vaginal atrophy, a chronic condition that affects the vagina and surrounding tissues during and after menopause can often create barriers in a woman’s daily life. Although the condition can be impactful, it is treatable. A common symptom among post menopausal women is vaginal dryness. In Fact, 75 percent report experiencing dryness; however, only 25 percent seek treatment from a medical professional (Novo Nordisk). 70 percent report that their health care providers rarely or never bring it up when they go for a physical examination (Novo Nordisk).
Ellen Dolgen, author of Shmirshky: The Pursuit of Hormone Happiness, and founder of Menopause Mondays™ teamed up with Staness Jonekos, author of The Menopause Makeover: The Ultimate Guide to Taking Control of Your Health and Beauty During Menopause. In an interview with Examiner.com, Dolgen, and Jonekos discuss their partnership with GLAM™,” experience with menopause, and foods that can help.
“Yay vaginal health!” said Jonekos.
“GLAM™, great life after menopause is really trying to shake things up and shed some light on this taboo topic, which is important to women,” said Dolgen.
Examiner: How did you ladies come together to break the silence about Menopause?
Dolgen: It’s very exciting to be a part of this alliance with all these women who have come together each with their own voice. I kind of feel like Novo Nordisk brought us together to create this powerful choir. Our collective voices are really going to resonate with menopausal women, so that they understand there’s no need to suffer with vaginal discomfort. There is help and we want to help women understand that. When it comes to vaginal health we’ve discovered that silence is not golden, and this group is going to make some noise.
Jonekos: What’s amazing is that all of us all new each other. We were advocates on Facebook , Twitter, on our blogs, and writing for publications about menopause. I think most of us have a very similar story five years or so ago. There wasn’t a lot of education and awareness out there. It has been the most rewarding period of my life, and I feel honored.
Examiner: Does medication or hormone therapy help balance hormone levels?
Dolgen: There’s no one size fits all solution to symptoms of menopause. Women need to find a menopause specialist. I like to think of my menopause specialist as my private personal chef. [The menopause specialist] helps evaluate my personal health history; he takes an intake on my symptoms, does proper testing and then he creates this individualized menu that works just for me. There’s no way for any one woman to have the same journey as another woman. [Also] websites such as vaginaldiscomfort.com that help to explain some of the symptoms, treatment options, they lay it out there easily for a woman to understand, and it can really help you understand that you’re not alone.
Jonekos: Vaginaldiscomfort.com is a great resource, and they also have a great tool called, The Symptom Tracker. [Women] can print it out and talk to their doctors to have a productive conversation. We have estrogen only hormone therapy or estrogen plus progestin therapy, which is the synthetic form of the progestin therapy. For symptoms caused by fluctuating hormones like declining estrogen, which is what causes vaginal dryness and contributes to vaginal atrophy – hormone therapy both systemic and local is one option a woman can discuss with her healthcare provider. We are all different, [and] there are also over-the-counter lubricants, and vaginal moisturizes. It’s highly individualized when we talk about a woman’s fluctuating hormones and how to manage.
Examiner: Is there a certain age when women experience Menopause?
Dolgen: Well, I wish I could tell you that you would receive a hold the day notice for women during your perimenopause and menopause journey will begin. It just arrives, unscheduled, unannounced, and usually earlier than you think. Perimenopause [occurs] six to 10 years before a woman is in menopause. Menopause is when a woman has been without a period for 12 months. The average age of menopause is 51. Some women began earlier. You can go into menopause due to medical surgeries or medication taken for cancer therapy, [which is known as] medically induced menopause. Every woman is going to be different, but the important thing is to understand and be prepared for it.
Examiner: Any foods or change in diet that can help?
Jonekos: I hit menopause right before my wedding day, I was 47 and I gained 25 to 30 pounds in about six months. I had bought my wedding dress, I had outgrown it, and I was an overstuffed sausage. It was horrible, I had night sweats, [and] I was in no mood for a honeymoon. Literally, my poor vagina, my poor fiancé, the last thing that I wanted to do was have sex. I created the eight step twelve week program, [and] a big part of that was what we eat and what we do, and how we manage our symptoms. Maintaining a healthy weight can help your menopause symptoms, it can help your self-esteem, it helps you physically, mentally, and sexually. If you’re at a healthy weight and you’re eating right, you feel better, and if you feel better you’re going to want some “nookie.” I had to start eating lean protein, which is chicken; turkey, fish, [and] edamame is a good source of protein. You want to watch the kind of carbs that you’re eating. Instead of white rice [an individual can] switch to brown rice, [and eat] lots of veggies and fruits, and healthy fats.
©Salatha Helton All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced without prior permission from the author. This was an exclusive interview with Ellen Dolgen and Staness Jonekos.