Screen Shot 2012-09-13 at 7.52.46 AMAgeology welcomes this special guest post from Ellen Dolgen, 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. Dolgen is also a contributing writer for the Huffington Post’sHuff Post 50,stories that matter most to baby boomers: health, retirement, love, sex, parenting and grandparenting.

Have you heard the one about women being society’s dutiful bearers of chastity and holiness? No? Then, you definitely know what they say about women who express their sexuality openly. No? Well then, you may be one of the few who still believe that women don’t have sexual fantasies. With her best seller, Fifty Shades of Grey, E L James has quietly slipped handcuffs on that myth and tickled it with a feather until it admitted that women like sex, too. In July, total sales of the Shades series topped 20 million (after being released in just March of this year). This matched the same sales record as the Stieg Larsson trilogy although it took that series more than three years to meet the same mark. In reading E L’s so-called “mommy porn” this spring, I was immediately hooked. Just saying “mommy porn” makes me smile like someone who just sent a cocktail to a handsome stranger across the room.
Trust me (or ask my husband), I am not the type that wants to be told what to do — anytime, anywhere — so why did I find myself squirming with excitement on the airplane while reading about the “Red Room of Pain”? Yes, I was openly reading the second book, Fifty Shades Darker, on an airplane! The woman across the aisle from me was reading the first book. Immediately, we engaged in a lively conversation, only to be interrupted by the flight attendant as she walked by us taking drink orders, who excitedly interjected that she told her husband she wants all three books for her birthday. At one point, my inner Anastasia was exploding as I found myself wondering if my 6’2″ husband and I could fit into the absurdly tiny Alaskan Air bathroom. My inner libido was ignited — sparks were flying — my, oh my, this book is HOT! Fifty Shades of Grey had turned me Fifty Shades of RED!
I’m thrilled that I found hormone happiness prior to reading this book because until I learned to manage my perimenopause and menopause symptoms, I would have rather mopped my kitchen floor than get into bed with my husband. In those early days, I was overwhelmed with symptoms which left me feeling about as sexy as wilted lettuce. If I had opened Fifty Shades then, every titillating sentence would have been wasted on me. In fact, I probably would have just been annoyed.
There are over 34 symptoms of perimenopause and menopause including

vaginal dryness
depression
sleeplessness
anxiety
night sweats
hot flashes
weight gain just to name a few.
Even if you have a dashing Christian Grey of your own, all of these can contribute to yet another symptom of perimenopause and menopause: a crashing libido.
Menopause can take the boom out of us baby boomers, but there are ways we can channel our inner Anastasia more often. Your first step to finding hormone happiness is to find a menopause specialist. FYI -the gynecologist that delivered your babies may not be a menopause specialist. Would you take your son to a dentist if he broke his arm? Of course not – so do not go to a doctor for help with menopause unless they are a specialist in this field.
Your doctor is your menopause business partner. Find a good one! I suggest that you interview your doctor to make sure that he/she is up on the latest information. You should feel completely comfortable with your doctor, so you can communicate how you feel clearly and honestly. In Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness, I developed a Menopause Symptoms Chart to help you keep track of your symptoms on a daily basis. I keep my chart by my bed. Each night before I slip into bed, I take a few minutes to keep track of the symptoms I experienced that day. After all, it’s hard enough to remember your children’s names let alone remember how you felt two weeks ago.

Sign up for our Menopause Mondays Newsletter to receive the latest information delivered to your computer. Educate yourself by browsing through our rich collection of posts and resources. Then, you’ll be prepared to review your health history and discuss your options with your specialist. Together, you can find the path that works best for you.

Even if your vagina is on a trip to the desert, a specialist can explore the options that work best for you, including vaginal lubrication or possibly hormone replacement therapy. Once you have found a perimenopause and menopause specialist that is up on the latest information, you will be able to get your mind and your vagina back into a rhythm. Yes, I said it.
Right now, your fantasy could be just to feel “normal” again in dealing with your perimenopause and menopause symptoms. Or maybe you want to be lassoed with a tie and spanked! Whatever your motivation may be, you have to prioritize your own needs. Then, educate yourself, find a specialist, devise a strategy, and claim the life you want and deserve.

Remember: Reaching out is IN. Suffering in silence is OUT!
Tell me: Are you reading Fifty Shades of Greybehind closed doors or in public like a badge of honor?
If you liked this guest post, you will love Shmirshky: The Pursuit of Hormone Happiness. Win a free copy of Dolgen’s book or a chance to win a free hormone test by ZRT Labs by entering Ageology’s Healthy Hormones Giveaway.