Menopause Mondays: Menopausal Baggage

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Richard Dreyfuss and Bill Murray said it best in What About Bob? – Take a vacation from your problems. As much as I love that movie and as much as I wish that was always possible, I have a feeling that if Bob were a 40 something, perimenopausal woman, that line would be quite different.

Preparation for a Healthy Life Trip
Around this time of year, we all start thinking about planning those summer vacations. Vacations are full of “Bobs” traveling from point A to B, looking to take some time off, enjoy the heat and relax. If Bob were a woman in perimenopause or menopause (Paula or Madeline?), she wouldn’t be able to take a vacation from her symptoms without being proactive. Most of us spend weeks and weeks preparing for our trips. We research, Google, Facebook and become all “aTwitter” about where to go, what to eat, what sites to see and what to wear. On this year’s vacation, remember to put yourself on the top of your to-do list.  Spend some time getting your perimenopause and menopause ready to go on your trip so that you can have a great time, sans the meltdown. Begin by familiarizing yourself with the many symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. Start charting your symptoms with my handy  Menopause Symptoms Chart, and find a perimenopause and menopause specialist with whom you can discuss these issues openly and honestly. Find hormone happiness before you leave! Act now!

Adjusting to the Weather
Hot flashes and night sweats are very common symptoms of perimenopause. On road trips, you may still be hot in twenty-degree air conditioning, and on airplanes you have to try to aim that tiny spout right at your forehead to even get a whisper of relief. Traveling by plane, train or automobile, your body temperature isn’t as easy to control as an adjustable thermostat. Wouldn’t that be nice if we could just turn ourselves down a few degrees when needed?

Unless you’re going to Australia or either of the poles, you’re likely to remain hot on your summer vacation. Of course, your idea of an arctic vacation could be standing in front of an open refrigerator. If you’re in perimenopause, you’ve probably been in your own personal summer since the dead of winter. There’s nothing fun about waking up in a pool of sweat, and hot flashes and night sweats can make your beach vacation a little, um, swampy. Take a look at some of the new moisture grabbing sleepwear!

You can also try: acupuncture, yoga, mediation, reducing your alcohol intake and caffeine (especially before bed), cut back on spicy foods, and try a Mediterranean Diet to help reduce your weight.  Try to reduce stress. I usually recommend trying one thing a time to see what works best for you. Some women  find help with black cohosh. You can find this ingredient in Remifemin. As of 2014, we have a new product that has come to the U.S. called Relizen. It has been used in Europe for 15+ years.  Relizen’s raw ingredients are grown in the fields of southern Sweden. This product is made from pollen extract. (No, I am not being paid to tell you about these products.)

Speak to your menopause expert about systemic hormone therapy options which come in pill, skin patch, gel, cream or spray form. Many women find that this is the most effective treatment for relief of troublesome menopausal hot flashes and night sweats.

Spicing Up Your Getaway
When I first entered perimenopause, I was shocked by the fact that my vagina had taken its own personal trip to the Sahara Desert. It didn’t matter whether I was on my summer vacation – my vagina was dry, uncomfortable and sex was painful. Landing strip (yes, this is a play on words) or not, there was certainly not going to be any visiting aircraft with me feeling the way I did! Vacations are about letting loose and enjoying your time away from responsibilities and daily stress, and a parched vagina makes you feel anything but sexy and amorous. There are lots of great options on the market for relieving the discomfort and bringing fun back to the bedroom (or wherever else the mood strikes you). It might be time for a lube job!

Local Estrogen Therapy (LET) can  ease vaginal symptoms of menopause, such as dryness, itching, burning and discomfort with intercourse. LET can offer more long-term, ongoing relief. Some women need a combination of LET and lube. Speak openly and honestly with your menopause specialist and you can get the help you need!

Act now so that you can leave your menopausal baggage at home and enjoy vacation!

You deserve it!

Remember: Suffering in silence is OUT!  Reaching out is IN. 


After struggling with her own severe menopause symptoms and doing years of research, Ellen resolved to share what she learned from experts and her own trial and error. Her goal was to replace the confusion, embarrassment, and symptoms millions of women go through–before, during, and after menopause–with the medically sound solutions she discovered. Her passion to become a “sister” and confidant to all women fueled Ellen’s first book, Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness. As a result of the overwhelming response from her burgeoning audiences and followers’ requests for empowering information they could trust, Ellen’s weekly blog, Menopause MondaysTM, was born.

  • Lisa

    Hello Ellen.This is a great site. But I’d like to know,if anyone knows how frigging long can Perimenopause last. OMG 5 years later and although my period stopped twice 2010 for 6 Months as well as 2011 for 5 months. Now really, isn’t 5 years enough to deal with peri symptoms. .ugh.

    • Ellen Dolgen

      So sorry you are going through so much, Lisa. Yes, the period is quite the drama queen! It comes and goes and comes and goes until it finally leaves. You are not in menopause until you have been without a period for 12 consecutive months. So if your period stopped for 6 months, but then started again – you have to start the clock all over again! Are you officially in menopause yet? There are many options for dealing with perimenopause and menopause symptoms. You do not need to suffer. LMK what symptoms you are dealing with and maybe I can help direct you to the options to discuss with your menopause specialist. If you don’t have a menopause specialist, there are some tips on how to find one in this Dear Ellen.