GLAM™ Great Life After Menopause

Meet 5 sassy women and a leading OB/GYN on a mission to empower menopausal women and their vaginas. Whoa, what? That’s right. Menopause frequently brings with it vaginal changes that can interfere with everything from sex to using the bathroom. The condition is chronic, but these 6 will be the first to tell you: it’s treatable.

Ellen Dolgen

Ellen Dolgen

When Ellen was in her 40s, she began to experience the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause, something that nobody had prepared her for. She felt alone, scared, and confused, until she was able to find a menopause specialist who made her feel comfortable speaking openly and honestly about her symptoms.

Ellen resolved to help women reach out and end the confusion, embarrassment, and less-than-lovely symptoms that come with “the change,” which is what fueled her book, Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness, and popular weekly blog, Menopause Mondays™.

Ellen has since become an outspoken women’s health and wellness advocate, menopause awareness expert, author and speaker. She is also a regular contributor to over a dozen leading women’s health blogs. Her weekly “Menopause News Flash” provides a one-stop shop for the latest menopause and women’s health news and research, allowing women the access and know-how needed to take charge of their health and happiness. Her motto is: Reaching out is IN! Suffering in silence is OUT!

Ellen joined GLAM™ (Great Life After Menopause) because there are far too many women who are still not comfortable speaking up about the vaginal symptoms that come with menopause such as dryness, itching, soreness and pain during intercourse. “I am passionate about getting the message out that no one needs to suffer needlessly,” says Ellen. “I struggled for many years because no one sat me down and gave me ‘the talk’ about perimenopause and menopause. Each of the women of GLAM™ has a unique voice and our journeys have led us to be passionate about helping women speak up and out.”

My advice for menopausal women:

Trust how you feel—you know when you don’t feel well. Don’t give up until you get the help you need and deserve.

Three things you didn’t know about Ellen:

The best advice I’ve ever received is to always be true to myself and not make decisions based on what others think.

If I could be an ice cream flavor, I’d be Very Berry. It’s feminine, tart, and sweet at the same time.

I admire Golda Meir, the mother of Israel and one of the first women to run a country. She was compassionate yet tough and was revered— a rare accomplishment for a woman in politics.

Barbara Hannah Grufferman

Barbara Hannah Grufferman

When Barbara, a nationally recognized expert on healthy and positive aging, first experienced menopausal symptoms, she didn’t know how to discuss them. “There was a time when I wanted to put the proverbial blanket over my head and stay there,” she says. “But then it hit me: If I didn’t make myself a priority and learn how to deal with these and other symptoms connected to aging, I wouldn’t be able to do all the things I have to do and want to do as I get older.”

Barbara decided to learn everything she could about living her best life after 50 through interviews with fitness experts, top doctors, fashion and hair stylists, and financial gurus, and in 2010, Barbara released her book, The Best of Everything After 50: The Experts' Guide to Style, Sex, Health, Money, and More. Since then, she has launched Best of Everything Media, Inc., which has allowed her to develop content for Web sites and other media, including Huffington Post and AARP. Barbara also has a video series on the AARP YouTube Channel called “The Best of Everything After 50,″ which focuses on fitness, health, nutrition, style, sex, and everything in between. She received an award for outstanding journalism in the field of women's health and issues by the National Osteoporosis Foundation, which then named Barbara its first “Ambassador for Bone Health.”

Barbara is joining GLAM™ (Great Life After Menopause) because she knows firsthand the importance of taking control so that life doesn’t end at menopause. By educating women on the vaginal symptoms associated with menopause, she hopes that they will feel more comfortable having open conversations with their health care providers and partners. Unlike other symptoms of menopause, vaginal symptoms are unlikely to resolve on their own over time so women must learn how to speak up.

My advice for menopausal women:

For too long, women have put others first—children, partners, work and very often aging parents. Women often don’t get enough exercise or sleep, and after menopause, energy can lag. Women need to take control of their lives and their health, so they can be engaged and vibrant as they get older. You don’t have to suffer. Speak with your health care provider about what you can do to deal with the hot flashes, irritability, and especially the vaginal dryness, so you can live your life with joy (and more sex)!

Three things you didn’t know about Barbara:

I would love to meet Mrs. Emma Peel, the fabulously British private detective on the 1960s hit TV show “The Avengers.” She was everything I wanted to be when I grew up: smart, fit, gorgeous, sexy, and positively fearless!

I ran in the NYC Marathon to celebrate my 55th birthday…to show my daughters that age is just a number.

My personal mantra is: “We can’t control getting older, but we can control how we do it!”

Geri Brin

Geri Brin

An entrepreneur since the age of 50, Geri created FabOverFifty.com 4 years ago, a unique and robust online community where the dynamic women of the “boomer” generation could celebrate each other’s accomplishments and share their experiences, challenges, and opportunities.

Today, FabOverFifty.com is an interactive space where members promote their passion projects and businesses, share their wisdom, test products, and even set up their single “kids.” The site also features exclusive and original content on subjects relevant to members’ lives, from fashion and beauty to health, sex and, of course, menopause.

Talking about sex didn’t always come easy to Geri. “When I was in my 20s and 30s, I never discussed sexual health because the subject was in the closet,” Geri said. “I changed in my 40s, when I experienced the greatest sex of my life. Women must take ownership of their own health and well-being, to be assured they are doing the right things for their minds and bodies. The more knowledge we have, the better off we'll be.”

Geri is excited to be part of GLAM™ (Great Life After Menopause) because she loves the idea of providing her generation of women with expert information about vaginal discomfort, one of the most common symptoms of menopause that is not frequently discussed. Many women don’t seek treatment or discuss vaginal symptoms with their health care provider or partner, but Geri believes now is the time to educate them so that they can lead healthier, happier, and smarter lives.

My advice for menopausal women:

Stop dwelling on how unhappy your symptoms might be making you feel. Use your energy, instead, to turn menopause into a learning experience to help you decide where you want to take the next part of your life.

Three things you didn’t know about Geri:

The best advice I ever received was that you have to learn to walk in others’ shoes, take the focus off of yourself, and try to feel what they may be feeling and experiencing.

If I could be an ice cream flavor, I’d be Tutti Frutti. It’s not just one flavor, and there are many different sides to me.

My younger sister is one of the most inspiring people I know. She has her head on straight and her emotions in check. She’s intelligent and has achieved great balance in her life between her family, her career, and herself.

Staness Jonekos

Staness Jonekos

As one of the original executive producers who launched Oxygen Media, the television network for women co-founded by Oprah Winfrey, Staness has devoted most of her career to women’s advocacy. When she experienced a challenging menopause with few unbiased credible resources to turn to for information and support, she launched a Web site for the millions of women facing the same symptoms.

After extensive research and working closely with Wendy Klein, MD, a renowned women’s health expert, Staness wrote The Menopause Makeover, a book to empower women to take control of their health during menopause. Staness now has an active Web site, MenopauseMakeover.com, that includes the latest information on menopause supported by science, and embraces that we are all different.

“We need a coalition to bridge the gap between women, doctors and politics,” said Staness. “Our work will pave the way for our daughters and all women—we must receive equal attention in research and medical training, and equal rights in health care.”

After navigating a miserable menopause that included severe vaginal symptoms like dryness, itching, soreness and pain during intercourse, Staness made a commitment to stop suffering in silence and start spreading the word that these progressive symptoms are treatable, which is why she joined GLAM™ (Great Life After Menopause). Staness is committed to educating women about menopause treatment options so they can create an effective menopause management plan with their health care providers. A third of a woman’s life is post-menopause, with 75% of women experiencing vaginal dryness, but only 25% of women seeking treatment. She hopes that by creating a unified voice, the women of GLAM™ can help more women start the conversation with their partners and health care providers.

My advice for menopausal women:

You are not alone. Talk about it. Share your lessons. Teach your daughters that menopause is a natural life transition and an open door to new possibilities.

Three things you didn’t know about Staness:

I have always been fascinated by women’s health, and considered going to medical school to be a doctor.

After college, I appeared on “The Love Boat,” “Falcon’s Crest,” “The Young and the Restless,” and Shop Television Network to earn money so I could launch my own television production company, Krystal Productions.

Betty Friedan’s book, The Feminine Mystique, changed my life by showing me that change can only happen when you are fearless and speak up.

Karen Giblin

Karen Giblin

Karen founded Red Hot Mamas in 1991 with the goal of helping women manage the transition into menopause, providing support and guidance to women for all aspects of menopause through their postmenopausal years. After her own menopausal transition was brought on by a hysterectomy, Karen felt blindsided and unprepared for the onset of her symptoms. Since then, she has sought to empower women to take charge and develop healthy lifestyle strategies to enjoy life during and after menopause.

Red Hot Mamas is the largest menopause education program in North America, offering free monthly education programs in over 200 hospitals and physician group practices in the United States and Canada. For over 20 years, millions of women have been attending programs; logging on to redhotmamas.org for comprehensive and up-to-date information about menopause; and joining their global community forum and popular e-newsletter “The Menopause Minute.”

As a representative of Red Hot Mamas, Karen is now joining GLAM™ (Great Life After Menopause) to encourage women to get educated and speak out about vaginal discomfort, one of the less-talked-about symptoms of menopause. She encourages them to smile throughout the process. “It’s important to know what to expect before menopause arrives and learn how to manage its course,” says Karen. “Keep a sense of humor, as there’s no prescription required for that. As I like to say, keep a twinkle in your wrinkle!”

My advice for menopausal women:

Recognize the problem.
Talk to your health care providers about any changes that may occur.
Do your homework and learn about ways to abate issues.
Don’t be embarrassed to talk about it with your partner and health care provider.

Three things you didn’t know about Karen:

My personal mantra is “Flowers for the Living.” Be kind to yourself daily and don’t deprive yourself of the things you can do for yourself now!

I have a fabulous shoe collection. Shoe shopping is my favorite thing to do with my girlfriends.

If I could meet any one inspiring woman, I’d want to meet Mother Theresa. She had an ability to help those in need—no matter what their socioeconomic background or religion—just through her heart.

Mary Jane Minkin, MD

Mary Jane Minkin, MD

Mary Jane Minkin, MD, is clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale University School of Medicine and has a private practice in New Haven, CT. She is a leader in women's health education both inside and outside the medical community. She is interviewed often in print and broadcast media.

Dr. Minkin is co-author of A Woman's Guide to Menopause and Perimenopause and The Yale Guide to Women's Reproductive Health. She has written articles for numerous peer-reviewed journals, and she is also the women’s health advisor for Prevention magazine.

Dr. Minkin is joining GLAM™ (Great Life After Menopause) as the Alliance’s medical expert to help encourage women to speak out about vaginal discomfort, one of the most common symptoms of menopause that is not being discussed enough. “I have always been passionate about menopause and there is so much misinformation out there about the vaginal symptoms that come with menopause,” said Dr. Minkin. “I’d like to help educate these women so that they know that they don’t have to suffer in silence because there are treatment options.”

My advice for menopausal women:

Women have been second-class citizens for far too long and even women who take fabulous care of themselves can have significant menopausal problems. Stay healthy and align yourself with a health care provider with whom you can discuss anything.

Three things you didn’t know about Dr. Minkin:

The best advice I ever received was to keep working.

If I could be an ice cream flavor, I’d be Rocky Road or German Chocolate Cake.

I play the accordion (along with many others who grew up in New Jersey in the 1950s and 60s).