Menopause: Making it the Best Years of Your Life (cont.)

MEMBER QUESTION:
In what ways does dairy make you feel better during menopause?

BOUCHEZ:
Calcium is really the key. We think of calcium as something important for our bones, and it is, but calcium also plays important roles in many bodily functions including the regulation of blood pressure and even our heart rate.

Calcium supplements are good, and they can help. But calcium-rich foods are also important, and low-fat dairy products are a good source. If you don't like dairy foods there are other sources as well, like some leafy green veggies.

MEMBER QUESTION:
Do you have any advice on vaginal dryness? Maybe if I wasn't so dry I could find my lost libido.

BOUCHEZ:
The search is on! I'm sure you know about vaginal lubricants and how much they can help. But what many women don't realize is that you don't just use them right before intercourse, which is actually how many women think they should be used. The lubricants have to be used all the time -- first thing in the morning after your shower, and if necessary refreshed during the day, and again at night before you go to bed. You have to keep the vaginal tissue lubricated all the time because as your hormones are dropping you are losing the natural moisture in your V Zone. Think of it like facial moisturizer. You wouldn't expect to use it one time and see a difference. You have to use it every day to see a difference. Well, think of your V zone in the same way. It's not the same kind of moisturization, but the loss pattern is similar. So the replenishing pattern has to be similar as well. Use it more often; you will definitely see a difference!

MEMBER QUESTION:
My face gets red and dry during this time as well. It seems like nothing works anymore.

BOUCHEZ:
What you put on your face is important, but what you put in your body is important as well. Try increasing your intake of water, for starters, and your intake of essential fatty acids. Both can have an important impact on skin.

The next thing is to pay attention to how you cleanse your face. Are you using soap? Unless it's a very mild soap, like Dove, which is one of the best for middle-age skin, then the soap itself could be stripping away your natural pH. That's the protective acid on the surface of your skin that can cause the redness and dryness you talk about.

Are you using a shower gel and does it get on your face? That can cause problems as can certain shampoos and hair conditioners which many women also don't realize can dry their skin.

The idea here is to do a little detective work and see what else, other than your skin care, may be affecting your skin. As to treatments -- the new copper creams -- Avon has a great one and so does Neutrogena. It's moderately priced too, and can actually help rebuild collagen in the skin; that can go a long way in alleviating some of your problems.

MEMBER QUESTION:
My hair has lost its shine and feels very dry. Is there something I could use to bring my hair back to life?

BOUCHEZ:
Again, I hate to sound like a broken record here, but your diet is one of the main things that can impact hair shine. The essential fatty acids can help. What can also help is taking Biotin supplements. This is what many, many dermatologists recommend for healthy hair. It can add the shine back.

In terms of cosmetically giving your hair shine, there are a number of products on the market specifically to do this but I have found they can sometimes make the hair greasy and heavy so if your hair is fine I'd say skip it. You should always use a conditioner and you might want to try a cool rinse when you shampoo your hair; this closes the hair shaft, which is actually what gives your hair its shine. What a conditioner does is smooth the hair shaft so it lies flatter and reflects light better.

MEMBER QUESTION:
Of all of the dumb things it's the facial hair that is making me crazy! I celebrate not having a period any more, but the chin hairs are embarrassing. I don't want to look like my husband! What can I do about it?

BOUCHEZ:
There are a wide array of options for you to try:

  • First, of course is the classic "waxing" which does remove the hair and keep it away for anywhere from several weeks to a month or more, depending on how heavy the growth is.
  • The next option is electrolysis, which is more costly, takes more time but removes the hair permanently. There are also some home electrolysis kits that work pretty well, though not as good as a professional treatment.
  • The latest in hair removal is done with a laser treatment. It's a little costly but it's totally pain free, permanent, and easy!
  • And you can always use a depilatory product -- something that removes the hair with a cream or liquid. It lasts a few weeks and has to be repeated but it does work.

The main thing to remember is that it is totally untrue that hair that is removed comes back thicker. It does not.

MEMBER QUESTION:
Why does menopause affect bladder control, and what can be done about it?

BOUCHEZ:
First, let me congratulate you for coming forward with this question! This is a topic that affects so many women and it remains in the dark because people are embarrassed. In fact I tell a very funny story in my book about this, but it's really no laughing matter.