The M Word

Our culture is not exactly crazy about discussing a)older women and b)female plumbing.

So it is no surprise that MENOPAUSE is a subject that causes even the most unflappable to cringe. But before you turn away from the screen, I promise you the words below are worth reading -- even if you are under 40 years old, even if you are a man. Here is your chance to learn critical facts about your future health and easy ways to become a more sensitive employer, husband or friend.

A few facts: The transition to menopause typically occurs starting from age 40 to 58 and can last from one to 12 years. Menopause is characterized by irregular (and eventually, zero) periods, hot flashes, night sweats, changes in sleep habits, a slower metabolism and hormonal changes. You can still get pregnant while transitioning through menopause, so be careful!

The most surprising thing about menopause -- given that there are 477 million postmenopausal women worldwide -- is that there have not been more consumer guides on the subject published recently. But thanks to almost three years of research and synthesis by two Newsweek health writers, Pat Wingert and Barbara Kantrowitz, we've now got Is It Hot In Here Or Is It Me? The Complete Guide to Menopause. The publisher, Workman Publishing, also brought us the much loved, much hated What to Expect When You're Expecting series. The Complete Guide to Menopause is clearly meant to be a sequel of sorts -- What to Expect When You'll Never Expect Again. The book, a hefty paperback, is filled with anecdotes, information about types of menopause, hormonal changes, diet, exercise, stress, cancer and medications, plus dozens of cartoons.

So what does menopause have to do with balancing work and family?

"For many of us, this is a time in life when the balancing act gets tricky. We may have children at home and we're likely to be caring for aging parents as well. The symptoms of menopause can be troubling at work because we live in a society that values youth and reaching menopause is an unavoidable sign that you are no longer young," explain Kantrowitz and Wingert. "You may work out and color your hair regularly, but you're not 25 any more. If you're having a hot flash in a meeting, you really don't want to admit it -- even to an all-female audience. A friend who's a surgeon says she sometimes has hot flashes in the operating room. She just keeps going -- good advice for all of us. We're hoping that as more and more women of our generation reach this milestone, we will all learn to become more accepting. We're not going to get any younger by ignoring menopause."

In our societal rush to avoid talking about the negatives of menopause, we miss out on the positives. The book outlines the many benefits to the "change of life."

"On the plus side, menopause does bring a sense of freedom and not just because you can't get pregnant any more," say Wingert and Kantrowitz. "Many of us have spent years taking care of other people -- our kids, perhaps our elderly parents, even colleagues at work. Many of the women we spoke to said that they now wanted to focus on themselves and do the things they have been putting off for so long. For some women, that means starting their own businesses or changing careers. It's a time in life to reflect on where you've been -- and where you want to go next."

What do you have to say about menopause? Questions? Advice? Secret fears? Hilarious stories you'd like to tell the world?

To learn more about menopause, visit the National Women's Health Information Center or the North American Menopause Society. There is also a comprehensive list of helpful organizations and Web sites listed in Appendix II of The Complete Guide to Menopause. Another good source is Our Bodies, Ourselves:Menopause, also recently published; the Web site includes informative chapter excerpts.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  January 17, 2007; 7:18 AM ET  | Category:  Moms in the News
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Comments

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My FIL (two DDs, one DIL, four GDs) appears to think it's ever so cute and clever to circulate menopause jokes and anti-female rhetoric from the internet. Any suggestions on how to deal with him without sinking to his level? This is a man who professes to have the utmost in love and respect for women, but his actions certainly speak louder than his words.

Posted by: Getting There | January 17, 2007 7:57 AM

lighten up, it's just a joke. Like all the dumb man jokes out there.

Posted by: to Getting There | January 17, 2007 8:03 AM

Have you tried just being straightforward and saying that you feel that while he may not intend it his comments are unkind and hurt your feelings? Ann Landers always said to say "Why would you say something like that?" which I think is a good, subtle way of indicating your displeasure. OR you might ask him how he would feel if someone else made those kinds of jokes about his daughter or granddaughters. Good luck. In laws can really suck.

Posted by: to Getting there | January 17, 2007 8:13 AM

Leslie, you are really running out of rich topics. The link between menopause and work-life balance is pretty darn weak. I'd be surprised if the blog hit 100 comments today.

Posted by: Pearl | January 17, 2007 8:23 AM

I guess the problem for me with bringing all that Menopause discussion out in the open is that currently my husband is one of those with the annoying habit of attributing much of my (valid) discontent to "Oh, you just have PMS" type explanations. The idea that there's a 12-year period during which many and most of my ideas could be ignored because "you're just out of sorts because you're going through menopause" is too scary to even contemplate! That's OK, hon. I'll listen to you again when you're 53. You just let me know when that will be . . .

Posted by: Armchair Mom | January 17, 2007 8:25 AM

Wow! What you all females put up with. You certainly have my sympathy.

Posted by: Father of 4 | January 17, 2007 8:27 AM

My FIL (two DDs, one DIL, four GDs) appears to think it's ever so cute and clever to circulate menopause jokes

Maybe because you are driving him crazy with your mood swings and this is the only way he can deal with it short of (insert whatever here--seperation, divorce, affair)

Posted by: the original anon | January 17, 2007 8:43 AM

all men who have sisters, wives, daughters or daughters-in-law need to understand menopause.

Posted by: experienced mom | January 17, 2007 8:44 AM

Pearl

There is a valid link between menopause and work-life balance for the women who go through menopause at the workplace and for those in management positions.

Sex, pregnancy, and breastfeeding are topics on this blog - why not menopause!

Posted by: Liz | January 17, 2007 8:49 AM

Not the same, Liz. Menopause is not about making different life-style or work-situation choices and combining it all to have a more or less pleasant existence.

You might as well be discussing how having your period affects your work-life balance. Irrelevant.

Posted by: Pearl | January 17, 2007 9:11 AM

Yawn, cant you girls come up with more exciting topic?

Posted by: Thierry | January 17, 2007 9:12 AM

If men suffered hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, hormonal changes, changes in sleep patterns, you can be damned sure more would be done about it. I was in the middle of HRT and feeling really great when some medical study showed those in HRT had a higher risk of developing cancer. My doctor took me off HRT immediately. Back to the night sweats and hot flashes. One good thing about it is I don't miss the monthly PMS, bloating, and inconvenience of periods.

Posted by: Been There | January 17, 2007 9:15 AM

"Many of us have spent years taking care of other people -- our kids, perhaps our elderly parents, even colleagues at work. Many of the women we spoke to said that they now wanted to focus on themselves and do the things they have been putting off for so long. For some women, that means starting their own businesses or changing careers. It's a time in life to reflect on where you've been -- and where you want to go next."

O.k., help me out here. How exactly does menopause reduce any of the needs your kids, parents or colleagues may have?

It's entirely possible that some pre-menopausal women are doing more than they have to do, or should do. But let's be clear here - menopause itself doesn't change any social or workplace needs or obligations.

Could it be that menopause is simply a reminder that we're getting old? (Or could menopause simply make women cranky?)

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 9:18 AM

"all men who have sisters, wives, daughters or daughters-in-law need to understand menopause."

Why? We never understood them before menopause.

(Of course, they don't seem to understand us, either, so the karmic whatever probably balances.)

Posted by: Demos | January 17, 2007 9:20 AM

"If men suffered hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, hormonal changes, changes in sleep patterns,"

Speaking on behalf of married men everywhere: We do - believe me, we do.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 9:21 AM

Pearl

"Not the same, Liz. Menopause is not about making different life-style or work-situation choices and combining it all to have a more or less pleasant existence."

Are you are a supervisor whose female employees were spending hours in the bathroom each day? Have you had female employees cut back on travel and even quit their jobs because of symptoms?

Posted by: Liz | January 17, 2007 9:22 AM

"You know women have come a long way when The Wall Street Journal, the bible of testosterone infused stockbrokers and businessmen, features an article about (wait for it) "vaginal dryness, itching and pain."

Posted by: http://thekitchenthink.typepad.com/the_kitchen_think/2006/06/news_flash_hot_.html#comments | January 17, 2007 9:23 AM

Unless you are going through menopause, you don't really know how it will affect work-life balance. Waking up several times a night drenched in sweat leaves you just as sleep-deprived as getting up with babies. Mood swings affect how you deal with people at work and at home. Since many people have babies later, then a lot of women are dealing with menopause and teenagers at the same time. I used to enjoy brainstorming with others and working meetings to hash things out. Now because people irritate me so much, I would rather be left alone to work. I'd say that menopause is definitely affecting my work-life balance.

FWIW, I have no problem admitting to anyone that I am having a hot flash. It's a part of life, as is getting older. IMO, the people who try to hide this are unsure of themselves or don't have a lot of confidence and are afraid that people will know they are "of a certain age".

Posted by: to Pearl | January 17, 2007 9:27 AM

My mood swings were so severe, I was ready to move out and divorce my husband and I didn't really care if I took the children or not. He's not perfect, but he really wasn't doing anything wrong. I was put on medication to help with the mood swings. The only problem was that I could not stay focused at work and do my job. Hmmm - work-life balance problem?

Posted by: anonymous | January 17, 2007 9:36 AM

I went through menopause when I was 17 and again at 22 (medically induced). The weirdest part - more than the symptoms - was how unnatural it felt to have my mom and aunts quizzing me on what it was like. They were suppose to go through it first.

Having been through it twice - I had two separate experiences. The first was dominated by hot flashes, the second by emotional rollercoasters (I once sobbed because someone said I looked nice, and I thought that was the nicest thing EVER!) So hopefully I'll be prepared when it's comes around the third time - naturally.

Posted by: mfd | January 17, 2007 9:37 AM

Everyone should also be aware that menopause can extend much later than 50. I am 61 now and have not reached the Big M yet. It's driving my Dr. crazy, I guess, but I'd rather it just be over. And yes, the balancing act doesn't slow down any at this age either, because there are still obligations to work and to aging parents, as Peal has pointed out so eloquently.

Posted by: RIchmond | January 17, 2007 9:39 AM

Does having a hot flash feel similar to being hot in really hot weather? I'm pretty young, so I won't know what it feels like for a long time, but I get hot really easily. I've been complaining about our non-January weather for weeks, wishing for 20-degree days like today. I'm about to move to NorCal. Reading about hot flashes strikes fear in me like nothing I've felt before, especially since I overheat really easily. What does a hot flash feel like?

Posted by: Mona | January 17, 2007 9:39 AM

Like anything else, "M" affects us all differently. Like anything else, when it affects us personally then it is important to us. People are considerate/understanding of the mood swings of pregnant women so why not of menopausal women? Both are controlled by hormones and we are at their mercy.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 17, 2007 9:41 AM

As I'm approaching this milestone (48), I've spent a bit of time thinking about this...

and, I have to recommend going to see "Menopause, the Musical". It will explain it all to your loved ones, and give you all a humorous platform from which to discuss it.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 9:41 AM

I can't ignore the demeaning reference to "girls" out there, but for those of you interested in hearing how today's stated topic is directly relevant to work-life balanace, let me tell you how perimenopause (the run up to menopause) affected me. I found my mood swings to be so strong I had to go on antidepressant medication. I ditched my career, moved my family several hundred miles, broke my leg while distracted--I could go on and on. It wasn't pleasant! In the last six months, my periods have stopped. I'm back at work in a wonderful job--have already been promoted once--and I'm happy. Odd, but I've never ONCE experienced a hot flash. I drink one cup of soy milk in the morning with breakfast. Who knows? Every woman's experience varies, but to say menopause doesn't affect work-life balance is patently wrong. My two teenagers will tell you how hard it's been to balance it all, as will my spouse.

Posted by: Somewhere south of New Jersey | January 17, 2007 9:42 AM

Mona, a hot flash feels like you opened the oven but it comes from the inside. Some feel it all over their body, some just the face. I am lucky enough to just get the face and chest (yes, your chest looks like you have sunburn but only for a minute)and hands. Personally I hate the hot hands. I am lucky enough to be able to take medication so it is almost non-existent but not everyone is able or willing to.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 17, 2007 9:45 AM

Discussion so far seems to show EXACTLY why we all need to talk about menopause more openly! "Cute" and "clever" jokes from husbands? Pearl trying to shut down the discussion before it even begins? Come on!

There are so many misconceptions, and so little open acceptance that menopause is part of every adult woman's life. We've gotten to the point where we talk about pregnancy, childbirth and parenting issues openly -- at work and elsewhere. Menopause is the next horizon. A low number of comments would just show that people aren't comfortable blogging about this subject -- kind of like the day we talked about gender discrimination at work. Thankfully we have books like this one and the Our Bodies Ourselves guide to menopause, both written by smart, articulate, open-minded women, to help us get there. Because, whether we want to or not, we are all going to get there...

Posted by: Leslie | January 17, 2007 9:46 AM

Sorry Pearl - I think your comments are harsh and not helpful.

The notion that menopause and work/life balance are not related is wrong.

How many men have we encountered who hit mid-life, divorced their wife, bought a red sports car and moved to Colorado to pursue a mountain-man lifestyle? Probably more than you'd think.

How many women have gotten past the little kid stage gone back to school, gone back to work and changed the world?

Maybe it's not so much about losing your period, the physical thing, but about moving into full adulthood. There are countries where a woman is not allowed out of the house alone until she is menopausal. These women don't have hot flashes and mid-life depression - they have freedom as never before. We're sucked into this media/youth thing and think our lives are over.

I think menopause is about realizing that life is not forever, and if we're gonna do it now is the time. In a way it all works out because at mid-life you are likely almost done with oppressive child-rearing, and have hopefully accumulated some cash and knowledge that will help you get there.

When I look at the leaders in our country and world, the ones that are making a difference (male or female) are pretty much over 50, and past their youth.

Posted by: RoseG | January 17, 2007 9:47 AM

Armchair Mom, you are absolutely right. I'll probably be slammed for this, but I think that PMS is a myth. Now, I'm not talking about serious medical conditions. I'm talking about the idea that every woman turns into a raging b*tch for a few days every month. It's simply not true. I've never had symptoms and neither have any of my friends. I have met a couple women who say they "get crazy" that time of the month, but they are the type who relish that kind of attention (you know the ones). In my opinion, PMS has been fabricated by society to take power away from women. What better way to discredit our opinions? Have you seen a Midol commercial? It claims to treat pain and bloating (which other medications also do) but also irritability. Irritability? Is there Esctacy in there?! And because PMS has been made into this "truth", women are taught to believe it. It's psychosymatic. Again, I'm not talking about true diagnosable disorders.

Now menopause is different. I think that most of those symptoms are for real because there is a real explanation for them. But should we be the victims of this inevitability? Or should we just, as Leslie says, deal with it and move on? Do we really need to know more than we already know about it (i.e., it sucks) to properly cope with it?

Menopause doesn't kill you or hurt anyone you love. Don't you think it's a little self-indulgent to worry about this annoyance when there are much bigger problems out there?

Now if we're talking about bone loss associated with menopause, that is an issue worthy of discussion and treatment.

Okay, rant over :)

Posted by: Meesh | January 17, 2007 9:51 AM

"'Cute' and 'clever' jokes from husbands?"

I'll apologize as soon as you ladies forswear snotty comments about husbands.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 9:51 AM

"There are countries where a woman is not allowed out of the house alone until she is menopausal."

Yes, but this isn't one of them. If a woman reaches menopausal age in America without "into full adulthood" it's her own stinking fault.


"I think menopause is about realizing that life is not forever, and if we're gonna do it now is the time."

If that's it, then men do it too. This is the classic description of the male "mid-life crisis."


Personally, though, I like the way you put it together. "The notion that menopause and work/life balance are not related is wrong. How many men have we encountered who hit mid-life, divorced their wife, bought a red sports car and moved to Colorado to pursue a mountain-man lifestyle? Probably more than you'd think."

Makes sense to me - men bug out of their marriages and move to the mountains fo Colorado to escape menopausal wives. Do you think that would work for me?


Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 9:57 AM

I'm probably still quite a ways from reaching menopause but am curious - my mother claims to have gotten rid of her hot flashes and sleep problems by using some kind of herbal tea (haven't asked her which one yet). Has anybody heard about that, or tried it for herself?

Posted by: Ajax | January 17, 2007 9:58 AM

Meesh, just because you and your friends don't admit to experiencing PMS that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Do some people use it as an excuse? Absolutely. Should it be taken seriously? Absolutely. When you get to menopause and actually experience it then we can talk about it. This topic is no more and no less self-indulgent that one about exercise or private schools.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 17, 2007 9:58 AM

"If men suffered hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, hormonal changes, changes in sleep patterns,"

"Speaking on behalf of married men everywhere: We do - believe me, we do."

Cute. Well, on behalf of married women everywhere, we suffer from your changing sleep patterns (snoring for four hours instead of two--talk about sleep deprivation) night sweats (could you drool any more?) and mood swings and hormonal changes (looking forward to that mid-life crisis?).

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 10:01 AM

"In a way it all works out because at mid-life you are likely almost done with oppressive child-rearing"

Do you see child-rearing as oppressive?

Posted by: Demos | January 17, 2007 10:02 AM

Seems like lots of men have chimed in about this as tho it is a joke. Very helpful (not).

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 10:02 AM

"Cute. Well, on behalf of married women everywhere, we suffer from your changing sleep patterns (snoring for four hours instead of two--talk about sleep deprivation) night sweats (could you drool any more?) and mood swings and hormonal changes (looking forward to that mid-life crisis?)."

No doubt - marriage is a two way street.

But don't kid yourself - anything that significantly affects wives also affects the husbands who live with them (and vice versa).

Living with a man is no picnic - neither is living with a woman. That's why we have to work at it.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 10:07 AM

Lighten up - sometimes a little humor helps. Living with a menopausal woman does affect the man. I have more respect for my husband for his patience with me when I was so mean to him.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 10:07 AM

"Seems like lots of men have chimed in about this as tho it is a joke. Very helpful (not)."

Come on, lighten up. Jokes about hot flashes are as much a part of American culture as Mom, Apple Pie, Coca-Cola, jokes about clueless dads, baseball and jokes about mothers-in-law!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 10:11 AM

Shall we start on the balding jokes and the hairy nose and ear jokes too? Let us not forget the beer bellies. Fair game right?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 10:14 AM

I DO think this is a perfectly appropriate On Balance topic -- women who bear children will experience menopause at some point if they live long enough.

I have often wondered about menopause (although I'm not quite there yet). It seems as though once women reach age 50 or so, they fall off the radar, as if society has decided they aren't interesting anymore. I do know women who appear to be going through menopause (i.e., sweat drips off their face in the middle of the workday in the middle of a staff meeting), but menopause doesn't seem to be a popular conversation topic. Maybe because it hits different women at different times of life -- me at 48, my best friend at 55? Is it seen as an unpleasant harbinger of the beginning of old age (until you've gone through it and realize that it's not so bad)?

It is odd that it's not discussed more in the mainstream, even among today's older baby boomers.

Posted by: chausti | January 17, 2007 10:17 AM

On a lighter note, I walked in the door the other night from a 12 hour work day, fresh from the grocery store with about eight bags draped, dragging and falling from my person when my nine year old DS ran up to greet me at the door with "whats menopause?" NOT exactly the greeting I was expecting, but oh well!!! :)

Posted by: karme | January 17, 2007 10:18 AM

"women who bear children will experience menopause at some point if they live long enough."

ALL women - not just women who bear children - will experience menopause.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 10:19 AM

I'm on board that menopause is a topic worthy of discussion - but what's to discuss? how menopause impacts one's ability to balance life-work issues? like how? as soon as someone comes up with a topic that's a conversation starter, I'll respond, but at the moment there's no issue on deck. After a day of various versions of "exercise is good", this is day 2 of yawner topics.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 10:24 AM

Lots and lots of anonymous comments today. Can't even come up with a fake name you'd post these luminary ideas under? Cowards.

Posted by: FarragutSquare | January 17, 2007 10:28 AM

awesome column. I applaud you Leslie. There is more to balance discussions than those issues common to 20s and 30s. The balance issues of those of us in 40s, 50s, 60s are just as relevant. In fact, there are probably more of us going through this than ever due to the original baby boom years just now hitting menopause.

A change in definition: my doctor says menopause is just one day, not years. Menopause is defined as the DAY one year after your last period. Everything before is called peri-menopause. All the discussion of hot flashes, etc. refers to peri-menopause, not menopause.

I have hot flashes. These hot flashes affected my sleep. I would feel very hot and sweat profusely all of a sudden. My doctor prescribed a low dosage of effexor, an anti-depressant with a common effect of also killing hot flashes. It works marvelously. I'm sleeping normally. I've lost weight because my rhythms seem to be back to normal. My husband and I agree that effexor doesn't affect me psychologically at all...probably because it is such a low dosage. People taking effexor for depression take much higher dosages than what I'm taking.

Posted by: dotted | January 17, 2007 10:30 AM

To Getting There:

I've found that the best way to defuse someone's stupid jokes is the following two-step approach:

1. Look puzzled and ask the joker to repeat the joke.

2. Once he has done so, tell the joker, "I don't understand. Could you explain it please?"

Nothing bursts an idiot's humor bubble faster than having to repeat -- and then explain -- his joke. All the laughs dribble out, and he just ends up looking stupid.

Posted by: pittypat | January 17, 2007 10:31 AM

"It is odd that it's not discussed more in the mainstream, even among today's older baby boomers."

I find it odd that people think that menopause isn't discussed in the mainstream. Last week's Newsweek cover story was on menopause. Articles on it run regularly in the Post and Times health sections. What, then, is the mainsteam?

My sister went through menopause in her early 20s due to a series of medical issues. My mom started menopause at the same time; they discussed it pretty regularly but neither of them made a point of getting out there and talking about their hot flashes with people they didn't know well.

I agree with 10:24 - women will go through menopause; they will probably talk about it some with their friends; that's about it. What's the huge issue here?

Posted by: Lizzie | January 17, 2007 10:32 AM

to anon at 10:24
there are a lot of things to talk about.
What to do to counteract the common effects? Medicate or not? If so, then what medications and for how long? These common effects affect our work life, our sleep, our partners and our outlook on life.
What about stories on hot flashes and keeping going regardless?
What about stories on hot flahes and not being about to keep going?

both are relevant and helpful. Knowledge helps balance.

Posted by: dotted | January 17, 2007 10:35 AM

The question of whether to take medication (hormones) is huge for many women due to the possible link with breast cancer. How it affects cardiac disease. That affects us all.

Posted by: KLB MD SS | January 17, 2007 10:39 AM

The question of whether to take medication (hormones) is huge for many women due to the possible link with breast cancer. How it affects cardiac disease. That affects us all.

Those hormones are not fun either. I had to take them for another issue and did not like them at all.

Posted by: scarry | January 17, 2007 10:42 AM

"It seems as though once women reach age 50 or so, they fall off the radar, as if society has decided they aren't interesting anymore."

It's because of the pedestal we put pregnancy and childbirth on...once you can't do it anymore, what use are you? Expectant mothers could go on and on about cervical mucus and diaper rash, but hot flashes?! OH NO! It's why everyone reveres new moms but ignores new grandmothers; they are simply there to babysit and spoil the kids. It probably also has to do with our youth-obsessed culture. We care more about the young than the old. We agonize over putting kids in daycare, but see nothing wrong with putting mom up in a nursing home that she hates and that makes her feel lonely and long for her family.

Posted by: Mona | January 17, 2007 10:42 AM

It's 14 F degrees outside and I have the air conditioner in my office running at full blast. I'm not how I would manage at work if I wasn't a boss. You better believe that menopause is a life changing big deal for some women!!!

Posted by: EJ | January 17, 2007 10:47 AM

Mona: Hot flashes come from deep inside. It's not like walking into a hot room. They last about 5 minutes and can come at any time. They make you sweat and feel stifled. I used to wear turtle-neck sweaters a lot because I thought they were classic and sophisticated. Now I can't stand anything around my neck. I'm wearing V-neck tops now. Along with the hormone changes comes the thickened waist. I used to be thin - had hipbones and ribs. Now I'm middle-aged matronly and look like an apple. Oh, to be thin again. That's the most depressing part -- looking matronly.

Posted by: Been There | January 17, 2007 10:48 AM

It probably also has to do with our youth-obsessed culture. We care more about the young than the old. We agonize over putting kids in daycare, but see nothing wrong with putting mom up in a nursing home that she hates and that makes her feel lonely and long for her family.

This isn't true for everyone. I cried when I left my daughter in day care the first time and I cried when my husband's family put his grandmother in a home. I also cried everytime I left the home after a visit.

Posted by: scarry | January 17, 2007 10:48 AM

"I find it odd that people think that menopause isn't discussed in the mainstream."

So true.

Anyone remember the ground-breaking "All in the Family" episodes devoted to Edith Bunker's menopausal symptoms? There was a lot of great humor mined in those shows, and that was back in the early 70's!

Posted by: pittypat | January 17, 2007 10:51 AM

My sisters and I don't have hot flashes. We have "power surges". ;-)

When I skipped my first period, I was kind of excited about it, actually. I have no children, so I hadn't missed a period since boot camp. Thrilling.

50 next month! Yeah!

Posted by: Lurkville | January 17, 2007 10:51 AM

to Mona:
I keep doing things backwards. I never agonized over kids in daycare. They went and it worked well for them. I do, however, agonize (with my husband) over putting my mother-in-law in a nursing home. It isn't time yet, but it is on the horizon.
I do agree with Mona...why is it new moms can talk about bodily fluids, but we can't? And peri-menopause doesn't even measure on the gross scale like baby-talk can. chuckle.

A friend of mine, and co-worker, was going through menopause. Her symptoms were mostly managable, except she could no longer tolerate coffee. And she was a coffee addict. Coffee exacerbated her symptoms, plus coffee turned her breath simply foul. She started losing sales and confidence until she realized the connection and cut out coffee. Strange but true.

Posted by: dotted | January 17, 2007 10:52 AM

I'm with 10:24. What is so important to discuss? KLB SS MD, why is it absolutely important to discuss PMS? So that people know it exists? I think we all do. So that men will understand us better? Excuse me while I laugh. So what is the point? I understand talking to bring about awareness, especially of things that we can change. But what should we be aware of with menopause? There is already a treatment. I'm sure the pharmacutical companies are testing other treatments considering the amount of money they'll make.

To look at it another way, ALL people, not just women, will experience bad BMs. It's a normal and inevitable part of life and getting older. Should we devote a blog to that? Working with bad BMs? Is it just because only women experience this that we have to make it a big deal?

10:07 said it best: "Living with a man is no picnic - neither is living with a woman. That's why we have to work at it." We all already know that everyone has little quirks. No one person experiences the same thing the same way. For people who can't tolerate and accept their spouses problems, I think they'll have a problem with people in general, no matter what they are aware of.

Posted by: Meesh | January 17, 2007 10:52 AM

what's this about a woman spending hours in a office bathroom because she is going through menopause?

Why?
Vaginal Pain?
Spashing water on chest to cool down the hot flash?
Incontentent?

Posted by: Hello1 | January 17, 2007 10:53 AM

"We agonize over putting kids in daycare, but see nothing wrong with putting mom up in a nursing home that she hates and that makes her feel lonely and long for her family."

Mona, Don't be so quick to smear all families with one brush. Many families agonize over the nursing home decision and only make it when they can't afford 24-7 in home-care and "mom" is not safe anywhere else. Everyone doesn't have the same insurance coverage or options, due to limited financial resources. No older person likes a nursing home, particularly if the older person has an advanced form of alzheimers, but it unfortunately is the only option for some, at some point.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 10:54 AM

"Nothing bursts an idiot's humor bubble faster than having to repeat -- and then explain -- his joke. All the laughs dribble out, and he just ends up looking stupid."

Just make sure it really is "stupid" - asking to be walked through a clever joke, especially one that makes a point, can make you look like you just don't get it.

Posted by: Demos | January 17, 2007 10:54 AM

"I used to be thin - had hipbones and ribs. Now I'm middle-aged matronly and look like an apple. Oh, to be thin again. That's the most depressing part -- looking matronly."

This is a pretty sad commentary on what's important in life.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 10:55 AM

pittypat,
I remember those episodes. Unfortunately, I was a teenager and like all teenagers I thought I was immortal and it wouldn't happen to me. I didn't have the wisdom to learn from the stories of my elders. I'm not saying I have wisdom yet either! I would like to review those episodes right now, if I could. I'd get more out of it.

Posted by: dotted | January 17, 2007 10:56 AM

to hello1:
My guess, and I'm not a MD, it is the emotional roller coaster symptoms of perimenopause causing someone to stay in the bathroom. However, it could just as likely be something completely unrelated to perimenopause.

Posted by: dotted | January 17, 2007 10:59 AM

"It's 14 F degrees outside and I have the air conditioner in my office running at full blast. I'm not how I would manage at work if I wasn't a boss."

Uh, how do your subordinates feel about it? Sounds like you could seem to them like the boss from the inner circles of you know where (after all Dante described them as frozen, rather then burning).

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 11:01 AM

Pittypat, I am not saying we should all discuss it like last night's ball game but some people are so ready to dismiss it ("In my opinion, PMS has been fabricated by society to take power away from women.")and I can't let that slide.

Posted by: KLB MD SS | January 17, 2007 11:03 AM

"I remember those episodes. Unfortunately, I was a teenager and like all teenagers I thought I was immortal and it wouldn't happen to me."

The point is, the "mainstream" has been talking about menopause since before you were old enough to register it.

If anything, we've gotten a bit too open. Do guys really need to be forced to sit through commercials that explain the benefits of "wings"?

Posted by: Demos | January 17, 2007 11:05 AM

As a non-menopausal woman, I manage at work by running my space heater year round in order to balance the fans set on high and the over-bearing air conditioning.

Geez, this topic's not going to take us very far.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 11:05 AM

Ah, menopause, a womans legal right to make a mans life miserable, the right to scream and yell, throw temper tantrums, and anything else that will make his life miserable and unberable and its their right. Men by the millions are treated to a court restraining order for far lesser conduct and jail for acting like they have it, yes wonderful weapon.

Posted by: mcewen | January 17, 2007 11:07 AM

Off-topic alert.

Leslie, there was an interesting article on ABC's website about the demise of the "trophy wife" that might be an interesting blog. More Men Seek Partners, Not Dependents, for Marriage, According to a New Study. Here's the link:

http://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=2798536&page=1

Posted by: WorkingMomX | January 17, 2007 11:07 AM

"What is so important to discuss? KLB SS MD, why is it absolutely important to discuss PMS? So that people know it exists? I think we all do. So that men will understand us better? Excuse me while I laugh. So what is the point? I understand talking to bring about awareness, especially of things that we can change. But what should we be aware of with menopause? There is already a treatment."

Yeah, there are treatments for cancer, too, but we still talk about it.

Look, Meesh, people talk about things that are difficult for them because it helps to know that other people are having experiences similar to yours. That's why there are support groups for illness, bereavement, etc. It helps to talk. Sharing your stories and hearing other people's are basic to human comfort.

Posted by: pittypat | January 17, 2007 11:08 AM

Ah, menopause, a womans legal right to make a mans life miserable, the right to scream and yell, throw temper tantrums,slap and kick and anything else that will make his life miserable and unberable and its their right. Men by the millions are treated to a court restraining order for far lesser conduct and jail for acting like they have it, yes wonderful weapon.

Posted by: mcewen | January 17, 2007 11:08 AM

Well, demos, I'd like to be able to watch an ACC basketball game with my 11 year old son without watching (uncomfortably) endless Viagra commercials as well, but, alas, it appears both you and I are stuck.

I agree that there's plenty of information about menopause in the mainstream at this point.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 17, 2007 11:10 AM

I don't have much to contribute today. But I will say that we as men should be aware of menopause (as with so many things, pay attention to Mom) so we are somewhat aware when it happens to our wives. I'm sure menopause will affect the balance in our lives when it happens.

It's good for men to understand women better, and the "Excuse me while I laugh" attitude doesn't benefit anyone.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | January 17, 2007 11:12 AM

to Demos:
You can listen to ads referring to wings as long as I have to listen to ads referring to Low-T and ED.

The point is, the discussion continues because technology changes, understanding changes, and then life changes. Just like Pampers improved between kid #1 and kid #4, so have medications (and some non-meds) to handle symptoms. Who would have thought a low dosage of an anti-depressant would do the trick? Who would have thought exercise would work? back in the 70s, women didn't exercise much. women also weren't in the boardroom experiencing menopause. a whole different kettle of fish entirely!

Posted by: dotted | January 17, 2007 11:13 AM

"This is a pretty sad commentary on what's important in life."
10:55 drive-by, not necessarily. Self-esteem and confidence are important factors in a person's happiness, and many people derive that from their looks. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be thinner, younger-looking, less matronly, etc., as long as the person is healthy and not obsessed. I'll agree that there are worse things out there than being apple-shaped (or in my case, pear-shaped), but there's nothing wrong with lamenting the loss of one's "girlish" figure after menopause. It is, after all, part of menopause, which is the topic of discussion.

And to those who think I am being too harsh on families who put parents away, I wasn't trying to point fingers at all. Just pointing out that our culture in particular values youth over age and wisdom in general. I'm not totally against institutionalizing the elderly in certain cases...I just don't think we focus on elder care as much as childcare. It's a personal choice; people do what they want with their own families. Either way, I'm getting off track...my point is simply that menopause is not discussed as much or considered as important as childbirth and raising because of the importance we place on youth and "future generations."

If the children are our future, then adults are our past and present, and the former could not exist without the latter. Different people place different levels of importance on each, but as a whole, we treat babies with more care and attention than grandparents.

Posted by: Mona | January 17, 2007 11:13 AM

Thanks Dotted!

Posted by: hello1 | January 17, 2007 11:15 AM

"Well, demos, I'd like to be able to watch an ACC basketball game with my 11 year old son without watching (uncomfortably) endless Viagra commercials as well, but, alas, it appears both you and I are stuck."

Amen to that. The only good thing about the commercials for ED drugs is that they are typically limited to some older guy with a truly goofy grin walking around or hugging his "significant other."

Posted by: Demos | January 17, 2007 11:16 AM

NC lawyer, I think the worst ads are during CSI on Spike for the "male enhancement".

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 17, 2007 11:16 AM

"Do guys really need to be forced to sit through commercials that explain the benefits of "wings"?"

Do women really need to be forced to sit through commercials that explain the heartbreak of "ED"?

Come on. The majority of commercials are guy-targeted: beer, cars, beer, cars, beer.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 11:17 AM

"Different people place different levels of importance on each, but as a whole, we treat babies with more care and attention than grandparents."

So maybe here's our segue into a more interesting topic. How do parents in the prime child-care years prioritize as between the needs of parents and the needs of kids? In our case, neither set of grandparents is willing to travel at this point - -Mohammed must always visit the mountain. If we take a weekend to visit one set of parents, then we're not living up to our commitment to either child's sports commitments, and we're also stripped of what little time we have to stay on top of things that need to get done at home; however, both of those things seem so small to me compared to the limited time we have left to enjoy their grandparents. Surely others have more significant choices about how much time to devote to parents vs. kids. How do you resolve those choices and then get comfortable with your decision?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 11:20 AM

The only good thing about the commercials for ED drugs is that they are typically limited to some older guy with a truly goofy grin walking around or hugging his "significant other."
~~~~~~~
Worst ads: hands down, Valtrex. Look at me, I have genital herpes, but that doesn't stop me from going boating, having a pool party with my friends, snuggling in the ocean with my significant other, and riding my bike through the trees!

"I have genital herpes. But that doesn't slow me down. Because of Valtrex, I spend all my time being attractive on vacation with my boyfriend!"

Posted by: Mona | January 17, 2007 11:20 AM

Menopause can become a time of drug addiction if a woman isn't careful. In addition to problems related to HRT (both using it and stopping it), a woman may have to contend with the push to use anti-depressants for her mood, then Ambien in order to sleep, then possibly an allergy pill for symptoms brought on by the other drugs. Although I've had to return briefly to a low dose of HRT, I threw all the other meds in the trash and substituted exercise and a low carb diet in order to maintain a normal weight and unclouded outlook on life. I don't believe that pills come without side effects and a woman has to be alert to when pills prescribed to treat the symptoms of menopause cause problems worse than the condition itself.

Posted by: footloose and childfree | January 17, 2007 11:20 AM

"the discussion continues because technology changes, understanding changes, and then life changes."

Well sure - but do we need to conduct all of these legitimate, important discussions in commercials on broadcast television? Isn't there anything you see that makes you say, "that's just tasteless"?

I find it difficult to believe that modern women would be suffering in benighted ignorance if wings and those tampon demonstrations with the little glass vases didn't show up in TV ads.

And yes, the same goes for Viagra, Preparation H and jock itch cures.

Posted by: Demos | January 17, 2007 11:21 AM

I remember being terrible embarasses at watching Kotex commercials with my dad in the room (and that was 30+ years ago when they were nearly as graphic as they are now).

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 17, 2007 11:23 AM

Demos, I have no problem with the older guy version of ED commercials. But the newer ones with couples in their 40s where there are many significant looks and raised eyebrows? and then he puts the tv on 'record' mode and follows her into another room? ick. Try explaining that to your kids.

KLB SS MD, You're right!

to anon at 11:17, if you think beer and cars are "guy" things, we'd run out of things to talk about real fast. hee hee.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 17, 2007 11:24 AM

"Come on. The majority of commercials are guy-targeted: beer, cars, beer, cars, beer."

Depends on the shows you watch, and the periodicals you read. Advertisers aren't stupid.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 11:24 AM

to Demos:
somehow I don't think we're talking about the same thing.
I agree with you about the tasteless ads...
However, I disagree with you about the need to keep the discussion going. I wouldn't use advertisements as discussion points.

Posted by: dotted | January 17, 2007 11:26 AM

I meant that the commercials were NOT nearly as graphic as they are now - duh on me.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 17, 2007 11:27 AM

"But the newer ones with couples in their 40s where there are many significant looks and raised eyebrows? and then he puts the tv on 'record' mode and follows her into another room? ick. Try explaining that to your kids."

Agreed - these are beyond tacky.

"I remember being terrible embarasses at watching Kotex commercials with my dad in the room (and that was 30+ years ago when they were nearly as graphic as they are now)."

It's not a whole heck of a lot better when you're the dad.

Posted by: Demos | January 17, 2007 11:28 AM

Once again a topic chosen which says, "men bug off", despite the half line professing men need follow along anyway.

Voting with feet...Bye for today.

Hope y'all find the topic useful.

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | January 17, 2007 11:29 AM

Ads as discussion point: Heck, what do you say when the 8 year old asks "what's ED mommy?" or "where does that go (tampon) mommy"?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 11:29 AM

NC lawyer:
I'm with you. I'm into pyramid beers right now...weizen beer with a slice of lemon...pure heaven. and I'm not a guy.

footloose and childfree:
the low dosage of anti-depressant aren't causing me to take any other med, but then I'm not taking them for mood, but rather, for hot flashes.

Posted by: dotted | January 17, 2007 11:30 AM

Why do people who have no interest in the subject feel they have to demean those of who are participating by announcing their disinterest? Just leave for pete's sake.

Posted by: DC lurker | January 17, 2007 11:31 AM

to anon: 'discussion' was meant to refer to discussion on perimenopause, not the ad itself.

ummmm, I guess I would just answer the question. I remember when one of my boys, when about 2, came upon an open box of tampax (and yes, he destroyed them all..big fun). He asked me what they were for. I told him. It meant nothing to him and life went on. No real issue.

Posted by: dotted | January 17, 2007 11:34 AM

Dotted,

we may have slipped past each other at some point. I was responding to your post that said: "You can listen to ads referring to wings as long as I have to listen to ads referring to Low-T and ED. The point is, the discussion continues because technology changes, understanding changes, and then life changes."

I took the second sentence to be a follow-up to the first. It sounds now as if I was mistaken?

Anyway - sure, adults should talk about all sorts of stuff like menopause, menstruation, ED, etc., in an adult way and in appropriate settings.

My only point is that television ads have become unnecessarily tacky - I wish they weren't.

Posted by: Demos | January 17, 2007 11:35 AM

One answer to the questions about the prevalence of ads for "embarrassing" or "personal" or "intimate" products is this:

For many people, these issues are hugely stigmatizing, and they won't voluntarily seek help. However, once a product (and its originating disorder, disease, or condition) is introduced to the mainstream, then people fearful of humiliation are encouraged to seek out the treatment.

If broadcast television can feature ads for treatment of hemorrhoids, herpes, ED, PMS, jock itch, yeast infections, menopause symptoms, menstrual discomfort, etc., then these afflictions are no longer so stigmatizing as to prevent people from seeking help.

Of course, that's the feel-good reason. Beyond that, and much bigger, is the fact that corporations and pharmaceutical giants have discovered that there are fortunes to be made by de-stigmatizing such medical problems and making them not only eminently treatable but also no big deal to have. People will pay lots of money to stop feeling embarrassed. It's human nature, and it's sadly exploitable.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 11:38 AM

Demos,
I thought something similar was happening. Thus my clarification to you and to anyone else...we were agreeing.
As long as we react by even remembering their ad, they'll keep making them...alas.
Anyone here in advertising?

Posted by: dotted | January 17, 2007 11:39 AM

The ads that get me are the ones for a medication but they never tell you what it is for but you are supposed to ask your doctor if it is for you. Don't get that at all.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 17, 2007 11:40 AM

New Trend: The End of the Trophy Wife? on abcnews.com
http://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=2798536&page=1

Posted by: Funny Article Alert! | January 17, 2007 11:44 AM

"If broadcast television can feature ads for treatment of hemorrhoids, herpes, ED, PMS, jock itch, yeast infections, menopause symptoms, menstrual discomfort, etc., then these afflictions are no longer so stigmatizing as to prevent people from seeking help."

Come on, now - a Valtrex ad is hardly a public service announcement. And really, what adult woman is so stigmatized by her periods that she wouldn't go to the grocery store and buy maxi-pads if she didn't see them flying away on their "wings" on TV?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 11:44 AM

Well, DC lurker, while I agree with you that there's no reason for disrespect, I suppose that posting the basis for one's departure and expressing boredom with the topic are one way for certain participants to communicate to Leslie and WaPO that the lack of participation on a particular day isn't because the poster is too busy to participate -- sometimes it's because the topic teed up is woman-centric or just not interesting/controversial/has inherent conflict/ or about which a myriad of opinions might be expressed.

Is menopause an important topic? Yes. Is today's initial column necessarily a good spring board for discussion for those interested in balance? IMHO, no.

dotted, I'll have to try pyramid beer. yum.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 17, 2007 11:47 AM

The nickname 'soap opera' came from the fact they were sponsored by detergent makers (Lever Brothers, Proctor & Gamble) and aimed at housewives. No doubt the feminine supplies and convenience foods are sponsoring them now (I wouldn't know, I have to work for a living.) Sporting events are sponsored by beer makers, cars, tires, razor blades. Saturday morning cartoons are sponsored by cereal and toy makers. Advertisers do a lot of market research to find out who is watching what program so they can sell to a targeted audience. It's not a coincidence, folks.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 11:50 AM

"No doubt the feminine supplies and convenience foods are sponsoring them now (I wouldn't know, I have to work for a living.)"

Unlike those lazy SAH moms.

and I suppose you don't have dvr or tivo, either.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 11:53 AM

to anon at 11:50
Unfortunately, their market research appears to be flawed as these ads aren't hitting their target audience. Otherwise, Demos wouldn't be seeing ads on wings and NCLawyer and I wouldn't be seeing so many ED ads (dang that Virginia Tech, though UNC fought back at the end).

I wish there were more women, and men, telling their experiential stories today. Maybe most of the blog readers aren't old enough to experience peri-menopause yet. If there were, it would be a good blog day. As it is, maybe NC lawyer is right again...give it another 5 years or so.

but I'll keep reading to see who shows up during the lunch hour!

Posted by: dotted | January 17, 2007 11:57 AM

The trophy wife article is one, long, unsupported set of comments by someone with an agenda, quoting one or two carefully chosen interview subjects. Very superficial. blechhh.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 17, 2007 11:57 AM

I'm in advertising. TV and print ads, for certain segments and certain consumers, are the best way to get your message across. For other it's direct mail, or internet, or whatever. As for why pharma companies say "ask your doctor" and don't tell you what it is - the FDA requires that if they say the benefit of the product (for prescription drugs) they have to say the negative side effects. Hence, the "see your doctor for prolonged erection" in a Viagra, Cialis, etc. ad.

Posted by: MplsMama | January 17, 2007 12:00 PM

The ads that get me are the ones for a medication but they never tell you what it is for but you are supposed to ask your doctor if it is for you. Don't get that at all.

The pharmacutical companies want to sell a lot of their medicine. So they want everyone asking their doctor for it, not just people who need it. That's why it's on TV. Doctors know what you need to be prescribed, but the ads are to intice you to ask your doctor for unneccessary medication.

Sort of like making a disease or disorder seem much more common or widespread than it actually is so that more people think they have it. Sort of like PMS...

Posted by: Meesh | January 17, 2007 12:00 PM

'Once again a topic chosen which says, "men bug off"'

we already told you that men are part of this topic of discussion. go stick your head in the sand and remain uninformed if you must.

PMS is not a myth, you are really fortunate if you and everyone you know hasn't suffered from it.

My tongue hurts from biting it for one week a month, so the PMS doesn't take over and say things that shouldn't be said. I imagine menopause to be a more intense version of the same thing. And hot flashes aren't imaginary either!!

Posted by: experienced mom | January 17, 2007 12:03 PM

SAHM moms and trophy wives, now that is a topic.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 12:04 PM

Someone way up above mentioned older mothers and menopause. I've wondered about that: How are women whose children are still very young (under 15) going to deal with perimenopause symptoms? It's not easy to explain why mommy is having mood swings to a 10-year-old. My friend, who had her only child at age 41, is now contending with flashes of rage toward her child (age 10) and husband. She knows there's no real reason for them, but at times she simply wants to be left alone because she feels so irritable. She's doing her best but feels a lot of guilt for pushing her daughter away.

I remember my own mother's baffling menopause behavior. I was in college and when we were together she would be angry and irritable with me. It was awful. But because she was embarrassed to talk about what was happening with her, I didn't realize until a few years later that she had been dealing with menopause. I still resent that she couldn't talk to me and that I felt lost due to what I perceived as "rejection" from her, but I have forgiven her.

I think this is a valid topic. Menopause symptoms can lead to problems at home and at work, so why not talk about it? I for one have long planned to retire or change to freelance work at 50 and one reason is so that I don't have to deal with an office at that time of my life.

Posted by: Linda T. | January 17, 2007 12:05 PM

"Sort of like making a disease or disorder seem much more common or widespread than it actually is so that more people think they have it. Sort of like PMS..."

Or ADD/ADHD. I won't say it doesn't exist, but it seems like every kid I know is on something for it.

Posted by: Mona | January 17, 2007 12:05 PM

Also, all ads have some sort of bleed-through effect, in which people outside the target audience view the ads. For example, I watch television court shows (Judge Judy, Judge Mathis, etc.). But I am well outside the target demographic for these shows. I have a relatively high income, have an advanced degree, and don't need legal assistance. If you look at the demographic profile of those who watch the show, they tend to be lower-income, high school graduates or less (hence all the training school ads). There are lots of ads on there for personal injury and bankruptcy lawyers. There are lots of Pawn America ads. I am well outside the target demographic. However, the effectiveness of hitting this consumer for these companies is high enough that attracting me is just a bonus. I count toward the "reach" number but not toward the "target" number. The places where you get little target market bleed are in extreme niche areas, and then you sacrifice reach.

Posted by: MplsMama | January 17, 2007 12:07 PM

Haven't read all the comments but I think this is a great topic. At my last doctor's visit the doctor brought up menopause - I am almost 40 and she said to be on the lookout for subtle signs. I have noticed it is taking me FOREVER to take off the 5 pounds I gained this past summer. I used to be able to buckle down and lose 5 pounds in a heartbeat, but I think it is my age. As my doctor said - I am not 25 anymore.

Combine this with yesterday's column about exercise - it is so important to keep up your exercise when you are going through any life change. Regardless if the change is physical, mental, occupational - the need to release stress and work out is paramount.

Posted by: cmac | January 17, 2007 12:07 PM

There is an excuse for everything these days. Next, it will be that a parent killed their kid because of perimenopause symptoms. Please, what did people do before we had a name for it?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 12:09 PM

Why don't you circulate some dumb FIL jokes to the family? Maybe just one will do the trick...

Posted by: to Getting There | January 17, 2007 12:09 PM

The trophy wife article seems to miss the whole definition of what a trophy wife is. It talks about how the "trophy wife" can become the "toxic wife" if she stops working and stays at home after the couple has amassed some wealth.

However, a trophy wife is actually the wife a guy leaves the first wife for -- after she's helped him to make his money, get his education, etc. The trophy wife is the 20-something woman he marries after he turns 40-something and divorces the help-mate wife.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 12:16 PM

Meesh, you're really looking for trouble today, aren't you? :>)

I have had two friends in my life whose pms pain was so severe that they were essentially bed-ridden, even with medication, for 2 - 2 1/2 days per month. For each of them, pms was debilitating. When each changed employment, they had to tell bosses about their very personal health issues soon after hire in order to forestall being labeled unreliable on those occasions when they had to call in sick. They also made up for that sick time with superior performance and reliability the rest of the month, and with taking work off of any employees who covered the load during their respective absences. Other than for those few women who experience debilitating discomfort, I agree with you that pms primarily is an excuse for some women, and for many men, to dismiss the comments and contributions of women on the whole.

with respect to the pharma companies, and in the interest of full disclosure, several are clients, pharma companies don't seek to have persons ask their physicians about medications for which those persons don't have the indications for which the pharma companies' medications have shown a health benefit. Pharma companies, however, want to own 100% of the market share of those persons who have the "qualifying" indications for which the prescription has a health benefit, and to accomplish that 100% market share, pharma companies seek 100% brand awareness amongst everyone who may someday experience those indications. At least that's how I see it.

Just for fun, let's have a show of hands: had anyone heard of restless leg syndrome before approx. Thanksgiving 2006?

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 17, 2007 12:17 PM

"Just for fun, let's have a show of hands: had anyone heard of restless leg syndrome before approx. Thanksgiving 2006?"

Yes. Well before.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 12:20 PM

I am reasonably far from M - but the response today just aggravates me. I think the idea of this board today is useful tips.
- The coffee one is the kind of thing a person may experience and not know why.
- I don't think that the question of how to handle temperature controls is all that far off from how to negotiating space to pump. But I again I have heard ad nauseum details of the latter but almost nothing of the former.
- I would eventually like to hear how fellow teachers handle hot flashes that occur during lecture...
- I think it is helpful to have a collection of anecdotes before going into something like that - the women in question might have tried giving up coffee more quickly...
- There are medical / news resources out there on my menopause - but at the family gatherings I have been to I have heard every detail of labor/delivery and rarely a word on menopause. I think maybe the next time I drink wine with my Mom I will make it a point to ask her about it.

p.s 12:09 PM they had a name for it ... they just called it "the change" - we just now have something that is not out of a sci fi movie.

Posted by: ugh... | January 17, 2007 12:22 PM

my hand is down. I've never heard of rls until the ad. In fact, I thought it was an ad within an ad...like they were making something up and it would end up being a beer commercial or something.

thanks to mnplsmama...your explanations make sense to me.

Posted by: dotted | January 17, 2007 12:23 PM

Mona,

I'm glad you won't suggest that ADD/ADHD doesn't exist, particularly since no one is helped by failing to properly identify mental health issues. Let's just assume that the social circle in which you run has a plethora of informed parents.

Understanding adult ADD and its effects on marriage has been key to keeping our marriage together and to getting meaningful marriage counseling.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 17, 2007 12:25 PM

My sisters and I don't have hot flashes. We have "power surges". ;-)

When I skipped my first period, I was kind of excited about it, actually. I have no children, so I hadn't missed a period since boot camp. Thrilling.

50 next month! Yeah!

Posted by: Lurkville | January 17, 2007 12:25 PM

Richmond - my best friend who is 8 years older than me stopped having her period completely at 38. She was nearly impossible to get along with or pleased. We didn't suspect it was menopause because she never got irregular periods. There were many times when I thought I should just give up on her because she was so impossible to be around, but I relied on our history as well as my affection/attachment for her to keep us connected. Her husband didn't get the brunt of her mood swings because he was tucked away at the hospital for his long(heart surgeon)residency. It has been three years now since her period stopped. Now we're gearing up for my turn with the big M. I'm thinking I'll go through it at a young age as well because the women in my family tend to ceased having their periods by the mid 40's. So you see, the gap can be as wide as 23 or more years. However, where we are from women tend to go through menopause without the use of drugs. It's something you go through with other women. We tend to keep men out of its discussion. I guess it's a women way of being and of sharing the intrincic part of being a women. I don't know, my american husband is already teasing me about it, he said he will leave for an extended trip and come back on the scene when I am done with it.

Posted by: k | January 17, 2007 12:32 PM

I don't have hot flashes - mine are "private summers".

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 17, 2007 12:32 PM

NC Lawyer, I'm glad you've found something that helps you. I'm all for healthy marriages...I'm just a little wary of the parents who feed their kids too much sugar and then put them on drugs to control their hyperactivity.

Then again, maybe the prevalence of ADD/ADHD is not being over-diagnosed...maybe it's occurring in unprecedented proportions, kind of like peanut allergies, which seems to have experienced a recent sharp upward growth.

Pre-emptive strike: I am NOT implying that peanut allergies are unreal or imagined. I am simply stating my surprise at the increased presence.

Posted by: Mona | January 17, 2007 12:37 PM

"I'm glad you won't suggest that ADD/ADHD doesn't exist, particularly since no one is helped by failing to properly identify mental health issues. Let's just assume that the social circle in which you run has a plethora of informed parents."

No one has said that ADD/ADHD doesn't exist. I personally know several adults who have been greatly helped by diagnosis and drug therapy.

That having been said, many are concerned that behavior that falls well within the normal range for young children may be being medicalized unecessarily by a diagnosis of ADD/ADHD.

Identifying and treating serious mental illness is vitally important. Extending drug therapy to normal little kids because we have unrealistic expectations, or because we've created a preschool/school environment that's not kid-friendly is a legitimate concern, though.

Mona was carefully trying to express concern about the second, without minimizing the importance of the first. That's how you move a discussion along.

Posted by: Demos | January 17, 2007 12:40 PM

If anybody read yesterdays transcript about children and parental longivity they may have noticed that the researcher notes what he called the 'Grandmother effect'.

As an evolutionary advantage Grandmothers matter. The presence of wise, experienced women in a community who are not caught up in the physical business of giving birth adds to longevity.

I believe that some of the discomfort we see here about menopause and women is rooted in the notion that men feel threatened by the power of women.

Perhaps a more apt description for this blog should be: what are you going to do with yourself when the question of children is no longer a possibility?

Posted by: RoseG | January 17, 2007 12:42 PM

"Pre-emptive strike: I am NOT implying that peanut allergies are unreal or imagined. I am simply stating my surprise at the increased presence."

I don't want to imply anything politically incorrect, either.

But given all the advances in medicine, food safety and public health over the last century or so, is it really reasonable to think that we're all that much sicker than our parents or grandparents - much less our great-grandparents? After all, life expectancy has been steadily rising.

If nothing else, could we simply have higher demands for what it means to be "healthy?"

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 12:43 PM

WorkingMomX, great link to the story of the Demise of The Trophy Wife.

Quick and Interesting read.

http://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=2798536&page=1

More than any other single societal change, I think this will help the present generation erase some of the bad stereotypes of dads and husbands as feeling threatened by strong women.

Posted by: Proud Papa | January 17, 2007 12:45 PM

btw, many controlled studies show no correlation between diet, including sugar, and ADD. Put this in the column of old wives tales.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 12:45 PM

12:45 drive-by: Then again, I never implied that sugar causes ADD. It does, however, cause hyperactivity, which can then be diagnosed as ADD/ADHD. Try again: "I'm just a little wary of the parents who feed their kids too much sugar and then put them on drugs to control their hyperactivity."

Posted by: Mona | January 17, 2007 12:47 PM

To the person who asked what to do if having you have a hot flash during a lecture.

This happened to me (I was the student)! In a seminar, my professor said "Excuse me, I have to take a quick break--darn hot flashes." The students were amused at her ability to be candid. If she had just suffered through it, we might have thought that she was ill or on drugs. We also might have assumed that she was just not feeling well. But she cleared it up for us. I, for one, completely understood. After all, we're college kids. We all know what it is and most of us have moms who are going through it too!

But would it have been so bad for her to just say "I'm not feeling well"? I mean, it's the truth. Do we need the detail?

Posted by: Meesh | January 17, 2007 12:49 PM

To NC Lawyer - I know, that's why I titled the post "FUNNY Article Alert" instead of "Groundbreaking Sociological Research from Great Britain Article Alert." Can you people find humor in anything???

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 12:51 PM

Meesh, Why should the professor hide her hot flash? Would you have a pregnant woman hide morning sickness? Both are just facts of life.

Posted by: DE lurker (no more I guess) | January 17, 2007 12:51 PM

"Winter Wilson summed up her hypothesis: "Rich men ... have finally cottoned on to the sinister side of the stay-at-home wife. Unless you marry an equal who's going to pay her own way, you will end up with a lazy, indulgent, overpampered slug, for the transition from trophy wife to toxic wife is as fast as the end result is furious"

slugs are funny.

Posted by: funny | January 17, 2007 12:52 PM

"we already told you that men are part of this topic of discussion."

Oh, you TOLD us so, experienced mom? Well, that must make it so, then.

Gee the comments are just pouring out of the males, just like you TOLD us.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 12:52 PM

Demos, Drug therapy is only one option for those who are correctly diagnosed with ADD/ADHD.

What we've created is an elementary system that is distinctly boy-un-friendly. Nonetheless, correctly address ADD and ADHD has little to do with normal behaviors.

Back to menopause, and thanks for this non-commercial break.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 17, 2007 12:54 PM

Does calling it a hot flash (or morning sickness) reassure others present that you did not show up to the meeting/class with a bug that others are in danger of catching? or is it viewed as too much information? And in the teaching case I suppose it also matters what the audience age is (I have 18-22 year old students... but mostly males).

Posted by: truth? | January 17, 2007 12:55 PM

gosh, anon at 12:51 PM, I find humor in lots of things. Sorry you took a comment about an article so dang personally.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 17, 2007 1:01 PM

One reason why disorders such as restless legs syndrome are new to our ears is that advances in neurological research and understanding have been profound over the past 10-15 years. Many of these disorders have been plaguing people for centuries, but no one had a clue what was bothering them. People didn't say, "Oh, I've got this feeling like bugs crawling under my skin" because other people would have labeled them insane or possessed. (And either way, many would have paid with their lives.)

It's only been with the recent developments in neurological science that the causes (and treatments) for these disorders have emerged -- and with them, the legitimacy of recognition.

Similar to what happened with OCD during the '90s.

So, laugh if you will. But I guarantee you that there are a lot of very grateful people out there whose quality of life has improved immeasurably as a result of neurological research.

Posted by: pittypat | January 17, 2007 1:02 PM

pittypat, I wasn't laughing at RLS, and agree with your analysis of the progression of our understanding of less-prevalent neurological issues. The topic at the time of my initial post was the appropriateness of commercials for pharma products. I intended to highlight the fact that, prior to our all viewing those commercials, few of us were aware of RLS. If that struck you as "laughing at" the underlying problem, I apologize.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 17, 2007 1:07 PM

I do find this topic interesting, if we could hear more stories, tips, etc. Like another poster, I remember my mother going through menopause over the last several years and it being completely confusing and heartbreaking because she seemed so irritable that we (her five kids) all became afraid to talk to her, not knowing what might set her off. This, of course, only infuriated her more. It was a really rocky time, and I like to think it could have been helped had we understood better. As a result, to be quite honest, I am terrified of eventually going through it, because I hate the thought of being so emotional and having it feel out of control. My mom did not do meds of any kind, and I have appreciated some of the info today about effective meds.

Posted by: TakomaMom | January 17, 2007 1:08 PM

My sweet mom is currently in menopause and I appreciate that she has told me because some days I don't recognize her at all. On those days, I know she is dealing with issues and I can step back and not take it personally. I am not sure what I would think if I didn't know this about her. She also has hot flashes and says it feels like she has a furnace inside her that kicks in.

Posted by: s | January 17, 2007 1:11 PM

Dotted : weizen with lemon is heaven. Also love Michelob Amberbock - particularly on tap.

Posted by: cmac | January 17, 2007 1:13 PM

NC lawyer --

No need to apologize. My comments were not directed specifically at you.

Posted by: pittypat | January 17, 2007 1:16 PM

So can we agree that the truth is somewhere in between, as it usually is? Menopause and PMS are significant physiological changes that cause a variety of symptoms in women, ranging from nonexistent to severe. So if modern science can invent treatments and therapies, and we can develop coping mechanisms, yay -- share 'em.

On the other hand, there is also a huge medical and pharmaceutical industry out there that makes money with every person diagnosed as having a treatable disease, so there's a significant economic inducement to expand what is considered a disease -- heck, nowadays, we don't just have diabetes, we have pre-diabetes, we have advice to take cholesterol-lowering drugs even if you have cholesterol that just a year or two ago was considered normal, etc. etc. etc. Individually, there are valid scientific reasons for each one of these things. But collectively, if everyone qualifies as "sick" or "gonna be sick" in some way or another, what does "healthy" mean any more?

I see the ADD issue as a good example of this. On the one hand, I have a brother who very clearly suffers from a serious version of ADHD; he literally cannot focus on anything without his medication, so modern pharmacology has truly been a lifesaver ('cause my dad would likely have throttled him if he hadn't finally finished school and gotten a job). On the other hand, I have another brother (different side of the family) whose therapist basically just told us that he has ADD and that we can't even expect him to (say) take the dirty dishes out of his room before they become moldy until he's gone through years and years more therapy. And I'm just waiting for someone to tell me my daughter has ADHD, because she is very high-energy and not suited for the normal "sit in a chair for 6 hrs" mode of school (that will be the mother of all fights -- no pun intended).

Posted by: Laura | January 17, 2007 1:19 PM

'Perhaps a more apt description for this blog should be: what are you going to do with yourself when the question of children is no longer a possibility?'

The question of (having more) children was no longer a possibility for me in my early 30's when I had my tubes cut immediately after my youngest child was born by C-section before I was closed up.

Re: menopause while still raising children. My oldest daughter was a teenager while I was peri-menopausal. Dealing with my out-of-whack hormones while dealing with a difficult teenager who had raging hormones of her own was the hardest time in my life. We had major screaming battles and she even called the police on me at one point saying that I was "crazy". The police informed her that she needed to follow house rules or make plans to leave on her 18th birthday because parents make the rules, not kids :). During this time, my husband tried to reason with me, and when that didn't work, he tried to keep himself and the kids out of my way. Fortunately, I decided to get help because I didn't want to live that way and the only other choice was leaving. Mind you, I didn't think I was wrong - I really believed the rest of them "just needed to act right" and i thought I was getting help to "help me deal with them", not because I thought I was the one who needed help.

My younger daughter thinks that it was the time when Mom was a little crazy, but the older daughter thinks Mom was a lot crazy, and I really believe that our relationship has been damaged in some ways that are irreparable (sp?). We do have a relationship, but it is shaky. She is in college now and I hope that time will improve things between us.

The point to my story is that all women should consider a gynecological basis to their moods swings. I went way too long blaming job stresses, lack of work/life balance stresses, and dealing with a teenager for my bad moods. I regret that I didn't consider the possiblity of menopause and take action to alleviate symptons before damaging the relationship with my daughter.

Posted by: to RoseG | January 17, 2007 1:29 PM

Laura, I understand where you're coming from. My guess is, a school employee might recommend an evaluation of your daughter, and you'd respond neutrally to get out of the conversation and then decline to pursue it. You know your child best, and energy-level, on its own, is a poor indicator of ADD, as you know. (please, please, elementary schools, bring back more recess and P.E. time!!)

warning -- off topic rant ahead.

To all, though. Can we step back a moment and consider why we view diagnoses of mental health issues so differently from diagnoses of physical health issues? and if that's a good thing or if it contributes to an environment in which adults don't share such diagnoses with other adults because they don't want to deal with the pushback? Why does everyone under the sun feel qualified to comment on the presence or absence of mental health challenges, in a way that we do not with respect to physical health? If a friend said she had been diagnosed with a broken leg, we'd accept it as capital-T Truth. If she said she'd been diagnosed with severe PMS or ADHD or depression, to get to a new topic, we all seem to have that little nagging doubt in our minds that the mental health diagnosis merits less respect. Are we more suspicious of doctors who specialize in mental health fields? or the accuracy of such diagnoses? or is this suspicion more of an indicator of our discomfort with mental health issues, generally?

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 17, 2007 1:34 PM

The best hefewizen is Widmer. Pyramid is good too.

My mom went through menopause early on, and may still be experiencing it. Did she tell me? No. Did I bother asking? No, because I know that no matter what the reason, she can be angry. Big deal, so can I, so can my brother. But that doesn't change the way I act around her. I am not "resentful" because she did not feel the need to explain her behavior. I think we were just taught to accept people with all their faults. Or maybe we are just very private people.

Posted by: Meesh | January 17, 2007 1:35 PM

If the conversation is turning to beer, I really have a bone to pick with the microbreweries.

Some of the most "interesting" beers are only brewed for the holidays unfortunately. Harpoon Winter Warmer, Sam Adams Old Fezziwig and Holiday Porter, Sierra Nevada celebration, etc. With apologies to Texas Dad of 2 and F04, there are too many different kinds to get a keg fridge full, so you have to hide 12-packs all over the house like some kind of bank robber.

I think I pack on 5 pounds of Winter Beer Weight alone. This only affects my "balance" if I drink too much of it at one sitting. (smile)

Posted by: Proud Papa | January 17, 2007 1:35 PM

Proud Papa, I like the bank robbers you have in your neck of the woods. If one asks you for directions, please redirect him to central North Carolina.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 17, 2007 1:40 PM

Meesh - 'My mom went through menopause early on, and may still be experiencing it. Did she tell me? No. Did I bother asking?'

If she didn't tell and you didn't ask, how do you she went through or is going through menopause?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 1:41 PM

DE lurker (no more I guess) wrote: "Meesh, Why should the professor hide her hot flash? Would you have a pregnant woman hide morning sickness? Both are just facts of life."

The way you phrase it implies that they should be ashamed, which they obviously should not be. But by the same token, I should not feel ashamed of anything I'm feeling. So would I say "I've got to go take a ___" when I really need to use the restroom? It, too, is a fact of life. It doesn't mean that it should be shared, and revelled in, and embraced, and accepted by all.

I just think there is way too much information out there.

Posted by: Meesh | January 17, 2007 1:42 PM

"If men suffered hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, hormonal changes, changes in sleep patterns, you can be damned sure more would be done about it."

Jesus, it's not cancer. If you can't deal with menopause, imagine how rough a real setback would be for you.

Posted by: PJ | January 17, 2007 1:46 PM

To 1:41, I noticed that as she approached 60, she had a sporadically less patience with crying children, bad drivers, and long-winded talkers. She also became uncomfortable quickly. This is unlike my mom. So I assumed.

The point, however, is that it doesn't matter if she is or not. I still treat her the same way I treat everyone (duh!). And if she wants to talk about it, cool. If not, I won't pick up my handy wheel of menopause, tick off the symptoms, and say "Was that a hot flash? Are you irritable?" We're just not those types of people.

Posted by: Meesh | January 17, 2007 1:48 PM

I agree that mental health issues are looked upon differently than say, a broken leg, perhaps with good reasons though. Most people do not commit suicide because their leg is broken but a severely depressed person might. Just because you can't see it doesn't mean someone doesn't have it but most of the time (not all and I am not putting blame on anyone or any group) there are some warning signs of mental illness. Because we don't discuss it they can be ignored or dismissed as a quirk (hoarders have been in the news alot). The derivation of hysteria was hyster which means uterus. It was thought that the uterus made women crazy. Maybe they did recognize PMS and menopause.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 17, 2007 1:48 PM

My friend's husband considers her his trophy wife because she is 18 years younger AND has a high-powered, high-salary career!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 1:52 PM

"ALL women - not just women who bear children - will experience menopause."

Wrong. My Aunt Dottie never experienced menopause.

She died in childbirth in 1929.

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | January 17, 2007 2:03 PM

anon at 1:52, If your friend has a high-powered career, when does she have the time to put in at the gym, the hairstylist and the nail technician in order to stay in mint, trophy-wife condition?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 2:06 PM

I tuned in late and was shocked to read all the entries and find so little useful advice for those uf us dealing with perimenopausal symptoms.

Where are the first-hand accounts of people who have used soy? progesterone cream? vitamin E? flaxseed? black kohosh tea? I'm just embarking on this perimenopause road (sleep disruption being my chief complaint at the moment), so I can't endorse any of these treatments, but that's what people are talking about out here in the West.

Posted by: surprised | January 17, 2007 2:06 PM

My trophy-wife high-powered career friend knows how to balance work and life!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 2:07 PM

proud papa - my beef with micro-breweries is that they are all getting bought up. Rolling Rock out of Latrobe PA is now being bottled in (gasp) New Jersey and is owned by Anheuser. Similarly my beloved Old Dominion is being sold to Rams Head distributors and Anheuser - per a washpo article Jan 8.

Once the micros get to a certain size they cash out and leave the clientele that got them there scratching their head.

FYI: 2 years ago Michelob put out a seasonal pack that was excellent. Also bought a "Scrooge and Marley" Seasonal the past 2 years that had a little bit of everything. And yes, we are storing the 12 packs like squirrels ourselves - found one in the coat closet the other day - immediately iced it down for consumption during the play-off games.

Posted by: cmac | January 17, 2007 2:08 PM

To surprised: I tried soy and it did nothing for me. The progesterone cream worked great for a while but it's usefulness faded after about a year. Someone earlier mentioned caffeine being a problem - not for me. I started on low dose estrogen which has basically stopped all hot flashes and mood swings. I would try the non-prescription first but read carefully as these drugs are not FDA approved and you really don't know what you are getting.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 17, 2007 2:10 PM

well anon at 2:07, if your trophy friend knows how to balance work and life, I trust she'll pass on her secret to you for you to share with the rest of us.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 2:13 PM

While the limited season of Harpoon's Winter Warmer makes me sad, I know it is much better for me this way...

Posted by: to Proud Papa | January 17, 2007 2:13 PM

My mother went through menopause and had maybe one hot flash/mood swing the whole time that she noticed. Then again, she was also one of those lucky women who never got period cramps.

Point being, menopause is not always this debilitating, blowing-hot-and-cold thing. Just thought I'd throw that out there.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 2:14 PM

I had never thought of rolling rock as a microbrew? Based on taste I had always assumed that to be mass produced?

Posted by: Missing something? | January 17, 2007 2:15 PM

Do guys that hide twelvepacks count as "hoarders"? :-)

Posted by: me | January 17, 2007 2:16 PM

No, guys who hide twelvepacks count as Wise Men. Women who hide twelvepacks are labeled Trophy Wives by Wise Men.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 2:18 PM

To me: Technically yes but let's be reasonable here - a good twelvepack is hard to find.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 17, 2007 2:19 PM

"Meesh, Why should the professor hide her hot flash? Would you have a pregnant woman hide morning sickness? Both are just facts of life."

Well, so are the runs, but we don't typically share that in polite society.

Any adult is familiar with the full gamut of bodily functions. That doesn't mean we have to share everything. "Whoops, that big ole bean burrito I had for lunch just caught up with me - gotta run!" Or, "well, maybe sour-cream-lemongrass dressing was a poor choice for sushi - please excuse me while I go make an offering to the great porcelain goddess of hygiene!"

There are limits to the benefit of "openess."

Posted by: Demos | January 17, 2007 2:19 PM

Thanks for sharing your story, RoseG. I still look back at my mom's menopause time (can't remember if it was a year or more or less) as a really bad one for me and for our family. I know she wasn't happy either. I honestly think one of the reasons it was so bad for her was that she did not openly acknowledge it to her family, or even really admit to herself how bad her symptoms were. (Mom tends to be very private and stoic.) Many times she was not only irritable with me but hyper- critical but in a contradictory way! I couldn't please her, it seemed, so I avoided her at a time when it would have helped me to have her advice and care. That's all in the past, but it doesn't mean I don't remember it and somewhat dread behaving the same way myself.

Posted by: Linda T. | January 17, 2007 2:20 PM

To Laura - have you considered Montessori education for your daughter. There is a lot of freedom to move about the class room and choose different activities. I think it is an excellent for "busy" children especially boys. I think that the public schools serve the severely challenged and very gifted very well - a lot of the other kids just get lumped together. My opiion, not an indictment of the entire public school system.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 17, 2007 2:22 PM

"nowadays, we don't just have diabetes, we have pre-diabetes"

Laura,

This is simply an indication that medical research has advanced to the point where it can identify markers and genetic
pre-disposition to illnesses that can be devastating when not caught until they're more fully advanced. If they've figured out, for instance, that certain physiological symptoms are precursors to diabetes, why not publicize this and give people an opportunity to take their health into their own hands in a preventative way?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 2:23 PM

moxiemom, I was scared to go there after our last adventure on the topic of Montessori, but I agree with you completely. FWIW, I've not ever heard of a Montessori educator recommending or pressuring a parent to have an ADD eval done, either.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 17, 2007 2:25 PM

Demos, My point was not that we should tell all (love the runs example) but more of the idea of why some things ok to be open about but not others. Where exactly is the line? I have to blow my nose is ok but a nose bleed is not? I have morning sickness is ok vs hangover? Maybe we should all just have the vapors like the victorian women. Believe me I am not a fan of knowing all - there is too much information.

Posted by: DC lurker | January 17, 2007 2:26 PM

Anon at 2:17, my trophy wife friend and I are writing a book to share the secret. It will cost you $29.95.

Do you really find it so hard to believe that someone earning more than $200,000 a year can find time to get her nails done?

Posted by: MM | January 17, 2007 2:26 PM

for the beer aficionados, another interesting article on how microbrew can save the world.

http://www.alternet.org/story/43435/

what's more relevant to the average parent: trophy wives or beer? I rest my case.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 2:27 PM

"There are limits to the benefit of "openess."

Please tell that to the Nursing Nazis!!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 2:27 PM

"Can we step back a moment and consider why we view diagnoses of mental health issues so differently from diagnoses of physical health issues?"

That's easy:

- because the diagnosis given specific patients still seem to vary greatly between mental health professionals (you can't just do an x-ray)

- because the recommended courses of treatment still seem to vary greatly between mental health professionals

- because we still seem unable to objectively determine which treatments are effective, and which are not.

And yes, I know that the same is true of some physical ailments. Those are also the physical ailments that people tend to be most skeptical about.

If you have an objective test that has a high degree of specificity and is generally recognized in the medical community, and an effective course of treatment that is also generally recognized and accepted in the medical community, then most laypeople will accept both the disease and the treatment.

If you can't agree on what it is or how to fix it - and, the evidence for the symptoms relies mainly on the subjective statements of the patient rather than any objective physical measurements or testing - then people tend to be more skeptical.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 2:28 PM

NC Lawyer - I agree that there is a double standard re: mental health. I don't think it is ill intended, I think most people just don't understand. People tend to draw from their own experience - "well, I've been depressed, but I got myself together and kept going" not realizing that being "blue" and clinically depressed are very different things. Everyone can relate to a broken bone or physical pain because we've all felt it - Schizophrenia - a little different to figure out. I still cannot get my head around eating disorders. Intellectually I know that there is a DSM diagnosis for it, but I look at those 98 lb. girls and cannot understand why they don't see how awful they look and how hard can it really possibly be to eat? I also find eating disorders to be upsetting when there are so many people who are actually starving in this world. So, I know I've got stuff to work on. That said, I do think that more understanding and compassion is needed re: mental illness.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 17, 2007 2:29 PM

"Please tell that to the Nursing Nazis!!"

O.k. - "Nursing Nazis," I have no desire to minimize the importance of your caring for your babies in the way you feel best, or of the benefits of human breast milk and nursing. Nonetheless, I am convinced that there are limits to the benefits of "openess" - and in some instances, it can carry the downside of embarrasing everyone involved.

Posted by: Demos | January 17, 2007 2:32 PM

Guys, you've got it all wrong.

The way to do it is to become a Trophy Husband and let her do all the work!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 2:33 PM

I don't know if Rolling Rock was still a microbrew by the time it got sold, but it was a 25 year old brewery that pretty much defined Latrobe, PA and it's community. If Old Dominion was the 50th top selling last year I would assume Rolling Rock was probably higher.

Personally I don't like Rolling Rock but appreciate the story behind it. I drink it in PA when visiting relatives - along with - get this - Iron City! Whew - that is a BAD beer but when in Rome.........

Posted by: cmac | January 17, 2007 2:33 PM

"Where exactly is the line? I have to blow my nose is ok but a nose bleed is not? I have morning sickness is ok vs hangover?"

Heck if I know. I like your "vapours" suggestion - it's polite, non-specific, and almost impossible to refute.

In all seriousness, the rule I use is this:

- give a reason if it's important for people to know, or helps explain your specific actions (e.g., could be food poisoning and you ate together, could be contageous, or people might wonder why you just grabbed the trash can and dashed into the hall);

- give the reason if you need help (e.g., chest pain, passing out, asthma attack);

- give the reason if it's a very minor issue and a bit of humor might be useful in the situation (sorry guys, gotta step out into the hall and scratch under this dang cast).

Otherwise, "please excuse me" is sufficient.

Posted by: Demos | January 17, 2007 2:37 PM

"Can we step back a moment and consider why we view diagnoses of mental health issues so differently from diagnoses of physical health issues? ... Is this suspicion more of an indicator of our discomfort with mental health issues, generally?"

Thank you, NC lawyer, for bringing this up.

Yes, there's been increased medicalization of many "normal" human conditions in the past several years. However, these conditions are not the same as the variety of mental health disorders that have been identified, studied, and treated over the past decade -- not to mention the ones that have been with us for years and for which we're beginning to discover real treatment breakthroughs.

Furthermore, as a society, we still haven't weaned ourselves from the belief that mental illnesses are different -- in both intensity and significance -- from physical illnesses.

Much of this, I'm certain, emanates from our ingrained fear of what mental illness may signify -- and where (and in whom) it might crop up.

Our societal reaction, then, is to ridicule or dismiss the seriousness of mental disorders. This helps to put them well outside the boundaries of our comfort zone, and, hence, we don't have to deal with the reality of the pain they cause for sufferers and their loved ones.

Is there a way to counteract our willfull blindness? I don't know, but I'd like to hear others' ideas about how, as a society, we can come to terms with the realities of mental illness.

Posted by: pittypat | January 17, 2007 2:39 PM

Re menopause: so far, hot flashes and night sweats are just annoying. Wear lighter clothes, use fewer blankets, etc. The thing that has started recently is the appearance of classic debilitating migraines (complete with aura,numb fingers etc) at ovulation. This after 6 months of no periods...now three periods with the stupid migraines. The migraine meds (rizatriptan) only take the edge off. I still lose between 6 and 12 hours of productivity. Not funny.

Posted by: seattlemom | January 17, 2007 2:40 PM

"Is there a way to counteract our willfull blindness? I don't know, but I'd like to hear others' ideas about how, as a society, we can come to terms with the realities of mental illness."

I believe the only solution is to get better at the diagnosis and treatment. Conditions that have been demostrated to be attributable to a specific chemical imbalance or neural abnormality are pretty well accepted now.

For most of us, the problem arises with conditions that are less well defined - the layman struggles with "is this real, or is this Wooddy Allen Syndrome?" The solution is to advance the science and prove that it's real (or not, as the case may be - remember the Victorian diagnosis of "hysteria"?).

Posted by: Demos | January 17, 2007 2:45 PM

"If you can't agree on what it is or how to fix it - and, the evidence for the symptoms relies mainly on the subjective statements of the patient rather than any objective physical measurements or testing - then people tend to be more skeptical."

anon at 2:28, the disconnect between your comments and reality, though, is that there is little disagreement between practitioners with respect to ADD or post-partum depression. A diagnosis of either syndrom or condition results from objective test criteria that depend only partly on the statements of the patient and turn largely largely on the statements of other observers, and the direct observations of the practitioner. So why is it that you and Tom Cruise consider yourselves qualified to comment on the quality of the diagnoses obtained by neighbors, acquaintances, and strangers? I suspect you wouldn't say that a friend diagnosed with liver cancer does not, in fact, suffer from that disease, but would you feel your skepticism is appropriate if a friend disclosed to you that she is clinically depressed?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 2:47 PM

"If you can't agree on what it is or how to fix it - and, the evidence for the symptoms relies mainly on the subjective statements of the patient rather than any objective physical measurements or testing - then people tend to be more skeptical."

From http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001505.htm

"An exact cause of PMS has not been identified. However, it may be related to social, cultural, biological, and psychological factors."

"There are no physical examination findings or lab tests specific to the diagnosis of PMS."

"Self-care methods include exercise and dietary measures."

I hope you all know I've just having fun at this point!

Posted by: Meesh | January 17, 2007 2:49 PM

NC Lawyer, you kill me!
The other day, I asked one of my kids why she couldn't sit ALL through dinner, and got the explanation: "Well, maybe I have restless leg syndrome." I'm with you. What's up with that?

Posted by: Armchair Mom | January 17, 2007 2:49 PM

Too much fun to proofread, apparently. That should be "I'm" not "I've."

Posted by: Meesh | January 17, 2007 2:50 PM

"Self-care methods include exercise and dietary measures."

You'd think NIH would at least be helpful. What sort of dietary measures assist with PMS? Microbrew beer?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 2:55 PM

Laura T. - somebody hijacked my handle! That isn't my story, although it has a good point. I guess I have an twin.

KLB SS - I think the current infatuation with progesterone cream is dangerous! Everybody and their dog touts it for menopausal symptoms BUT it's a hormone, and no less dangerous than estrogen. Breast cancer has hormone receptors - estrogen AND progesterone. If you wouldn't take estrogen because you are concerned about the breast cancer risk you shouldn't rub that progesterone cream on either!

Posted by: RoseG | January 17, 2007 2:56 PM

I was diagnosed with ADD when I was 12, about 25 years ago. I've been on almost every medication out there -- Ritalin, Dexedrine, Strattera, Adderall, etc. -- and 2 years ago said ENOUGH. I am now doing MUCH better through a combination of a healthy low-carb diet and behavior modification. It is possible to be ADD and medication-free.

Posted by: ADD | January 17, 2007 2:58 PM

RoseG, I am not telling anyone to use progesterone cream - just that I had used it years ago.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 17, 2007 2:58 PM

cmac, is Yuengling on your beer list? it's my favorite PA beer, but then I tend to find something I like and stick with it.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 17, 2007 2:58 PM

"the disconnect between your comments and reality, though, is that there is little disagreement between practitioners with respect to ADD or post-partum depression."

Don't put words in my mouth. I was answering the general question - I did not make any negative comments about ADD or post-partum depression.

"So why is it that you and Tom Cruise consider yourselves qualified to comment on the quality of the diagnoses obtained by neighbors, acquaintances, and strangers?"

Don't be snarky - it doesn't become you. I never claimed to be "qualified to comment on the quality of diagnoses obtained by neighbors, acquantances, and strangers."

I do believe it's fair to say that the science of diagnosing mental illness has lagged significantly behind that of diagnosing physical illnesses - in large part because it's more difficult. I also believe it's fair to say that our ability to treat mental illnesses has lagged behind our ability to treat physical illnesses. Do you disagree?

Because of this, most laypeople put more trust in our overall ability to diagnose and treat physical illnesses. That's one fundamental reason we may see a diagnoses of mental illness as different from a diagnosis of, to use your example, cancer.

"but would you feel your skepticism is appropriate if a friend disclosed to you that she is clinically depressed?"

Again, please dial back the sarcasm. No - I know people with major clinical depression, and do not doubt that it is real.

I've also known people to go to multiple mental health practicioners and get multiple, conflicting diagnoses - some clinical, some borderline, some subclinical, some finding nothing.

Very similar tales, in fact, to the wife of a friend who was given, by different doctors, diagnoses of chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and multiple chemical sensitivities - turns out, in the end, that she had Lyme Disease (and has been successfully treated now).

The better the doctors get at it, the more we trust them.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 2:59 PM

moxiemom, actually, I've got her in Montessori right now, for exactly the reasons you mentioned (after her 3-yr-old teacher at preschool #1 suggested we be on the lookout for ADHD in the future). I see her energy and independence as something that needs to be directed and controlled, not stifled, which really seems to fit well with that approach. I've seen ADD up close, and there's a big difference between being physically unable to focus and a particular teacher simply not knowing how to handle a kid.

2:23: if you read my whole post, you'd see that I specifically said there were legitimate scientific reasons for each of those changes. I just worry about the cumulative impact when it seems like everything becomes a disease.

surprised, I'm not there yet, so can't give personal experience. But I will say I've noticed a tremendous difference in my mother since she's been running. She used to complain about the hot flashes and interrupted sleep at night. But for the past two years or so, she's been running 1-3 miles a day, every day, and she never seems to complain about that any more (plus she's lost like 30 lbs and can now totally kick my butt in a 5K).

Posted by: Laura | January 17, 2007 2:59 PM

Pitty - I agree with much of what you posted. However I think there is a societal double edged sword when doctors and researchers label, diagnose and exploit just about any behaviorial irregularity.

I don't dismiss mental disorders, I know many people that would be better off in life if they had been diagnosed and gotten the help they deserve. However I know an equal number of people that are "hooked on therapy and treatment" for anything and everything. People have brought up the ADD and ADHD problems on under and over-diagnosing.

Mental disorders exist, yes - we are uncomfortable talking about them and many people do not seek the treatment they need because of the stigma. I just feel like all the attention the various disorders that have been discovered over the past 20 years have somehow opened a pandora's box to treat even the most mundane behavior. A mixed blessing.

I am not arguing with you, merely expressing my opinion, which you solicited in general.

Posted by: cmac | January 17, 2007 3:03 PM

Please be careful if you are using "herbal remedies" or supplements to treat menopause symptoms. Some of these can inter-react in a bad way and be harmful. Most supplements are not FDA-approved. Many women seem to feel that medical science and prescription drugs are the LAST thing they will try, and instead rely on a friend's suggestion or something they heard 4th-hand from a women's group. I'm not saying certain things might not help, but they also might hurt. Tell your physician EVERYTHING you are taking, even if it's not a prescription.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 3:04 PM

on the whole, we're doing amazingly well with civility today.

not that the mood couldn't change at any moment.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 3:08 PM

"I tuned in late and was shocked to read all the entries and find so little useful advice for those uf us dealing with perimenopausal symptoms."

For me, the best treatment for perimenopause, hands down, has been staying on oral contraceptives. I'm into my 50s now, but my gynecologist tells me that there's no reason not to continue taking the pill. It's much safer than being on HRT because it's not unopposed estrogen, and since I've always been really irregular without the pill, staying on it makes everything more manageable. Also, I don't have a history of breast cancer in my family.

Not a good solution for every woman -- maybe not even a lot of women -- but it works for me.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 3:08 PM

NC Lawyer, I'm with you on the Yuengling!

Laura, awesome for your friend. I always feel better after a nice long run. I'd actually like to kick the habit of running and spend more time on martial arts, but I just can't seem to let it go; I enjoy it too much.

Posted by: Mona | January 17, 2007 3:09 PM

Mona - good to see you. I was hoping I'd find you after the discussion re: pregnancy and weight. I had a fitness class last Friday that was taught by a, and I'm not kidding, 7 month pregnant woman who I think might be skinnier than me. She's definately fitter - she kicked our butts although there was some concern she might drop the baby during the squats! I think she's a nifty role model even though most of us can't be that fit all the time let alone when pregnant.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 17, 2007 3:13 PM

Thanks moxie. I was thinking about all you ladies last night during my nice long workout. :-)

Posted by: Mona | January 17, 2007 3:15 PM

"And yes, I know that the same is true of some physical ailments. Those are also the physical ailments that people tend to be most skeptical about."

2:28 --

How do you figure?

Your second and third points --

- because the recommended courses of treatment still seem to vary greatly between mental health professionals

- because we still seem unable to objectively determine which treatments are effective, and which are not.

apply equally to cancer. Don't think too many people are skeptical when a friend, relative, or mere acquaintance is diagnosed with cancer.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 3:18 PM

NC: Yuengling - funny thing - you can't buy it in OH - which I think is strange. Since I can buy it here in VA I drink it occassionally - buy it for the OH relatives when they come down. They have a nice black and tan and I like the lager but Y-lite stinks.

Posted by: cmac | January 17, 2007 3:20 PM

"Conditions that have been demostrated to be attributable to a specific chemical imbalance or neural abnormality are pretty well accepted now."

Acceptance seems to lag a good twenty years behind demonstrable science, at least unless a celebrity takes up a particular mental health cause.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 3:22 PM

cmac, that IS odd about Yuengling not being for sale in Ohio. all the more reason to live within 3 hours or less of the east coast! but if one's fallback has to be black and tan, that's not so bad.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 17, 2007 3:29 PM

Yuengling is also my favorite beer...have to agree with you on the Y-lite, cmac, definitely not drinkable. I think you can only get the lite in PA (thanks goodness..)

Posted by: Missicat | January 17, 2007 3:29 PM

lots of PA beers being listed today. Who would have thought the water in PA was good enough to brew good beer? says me, the one who will drink water from the Allegheny, but refuses to drink water from the Monongahela.

Yuengling is really big here in Chapel Hill. No idea why, but it is big big big. Rolling Rock was big around the world about 10 years ago. I remember getting a rolling rock in Sydney and thoroughly enjoying it. Hey, it was a hot day.

Posted by: dotted | January 17, 2007 3:38 PM

You can get Yuengling Lite anywhere in MD. There's a beer store across the street from my place that sells it.

Posted by: Mona | January 17, 2007 3:43 PM

"I think there is a societal double edged sword when doctors and researchers label, diagnose and exploit just about any behaviorial irregularity."

Yes, cmac, the key here is "exploit."

Unfortunately, there are several overlapping industries that conspire to do precisely that -- with the pharmaceutical companies right at the top of the list. The profit factor is at the bottom of the exploitation; if you can "make" everybody sick, you can make a LOT of money.

The sad result of the exploitation is that many legitimate -- and disabling -- mental illnesses get lumped together with the "pseudo"-maladies. And, ultimately, truly sick people can become the victims of skeptical disbelief.

Thanks for your input.

Posted by: pittypat | January 17, 2007 3:43 PM

Okay, maybe not ANYWHERE. But in lots of places.

Posted by: Mona | January 17, 2007 3:45 PM

I remember when Rolling Rock was popular...of course I also remember buying cases of Red, White and Blue..blech. The joys of being a poor college student...

Posted by: Missicat | January 17, 2007 3:47 PM

dotted, it may be that the UNC kids mistakenly think Yuengling's an exotic Chinese beer . . . or they appreciate all the hard work the local distributor's done in making Yuengling the on-tap option at almost every local bar -- make that -- restaurant I frequent, and buy the best quality 24 oz. draft available for $1.50. A sensible choice, all around.

Rolling Rock was good, too, awhile back. I think it's been more than 10 years though. The hot day excuse is always acceptable. Particularly if someone else is picking up the tab. or if one is in Sydney.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 17, 2007 3:49 PM

We can get y-lite here but only at a Total Wine and Beverage as 12 pack, but not at any of the groceries I shop. Had one over the holidays bought in yet another mult-pack I got for my dad - we agreed it was terrible.

BTW: My dad was born in Allegheny County, thus all the PA beer drinking in my family. Well, and we just like beer.

Posted by: cmac | January 17, 2007 3:49 PM

Boy this is timely for me ! I am 47 and had to call in sick on Tuesday because I was up all night with hot flashes. I was honest with my male boss and he was great about it. I never considered covering it up or being ashamed. HRT seems scary. I just bought two cold packs to put in bed with me tonight. any other suggestions on cooling down so I can sleep? I open my window in my office and keep a fan...

Posted by: Patricia Kay | January 17, 2007 3:50 PM

purchase a twelve-pack of Yuengling?

Posted by: to Patricia Kay | January 17, 2007 3:53 PM

""Conditions that have been demostrated to be attributable to a specific chemical imbalance or neural abnormality are pretty well accepted now."

I'd disagree, especially from an inssurance standpoint. I don't know of any insurance company that treats any mental illness the same as a physical illness. (And they should, IMO.)

I know many people who have depression who feel a stigma about it, which would seem to say that they don't feel accepted. Bipolar illness is fairly well understood, and I don't think it's accepted at ALL in the popular mind.

Posted by: AG | January 17, 2007 3:56 PM

"purchase a twelve-pack of Yuengling?"

That is funny!

Posted by: Patricia Kay | January 17, 2007 3:56 PM

ha, you guys miss your beer and I missed my Snyder's chips that I could never buy in Virginia.

Posted by: scarry | January 17, 2007 4:00 PM

PATRICIA KAY - If it was Y-lite I completely understand the hot flashes.

Posted by: CMAC | January 17, 2007 4:00 PM

I have found that spicy foods often trigger hot flashes. I mostly avoid spicy foods, but will eat them sometimes in the late afternoon or early evening. If it does trigger flashing, at least work will be over or mostly done for the day and the flashing will come before bedtime when I find it most bothersome.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 4:01 PM

If it does trigger flashing, at least work will be over or mostly done for the day and the flashing will come before bedtime


The word flashing makes me think of girls gone wild.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 4:03 PM

actually, Scarry, I think we're all glad we live where our beer, and our Snyder's chips, are available at a moments notice, sometimes sooner if you live in Mona's neighborhood.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 17, 2007 4:04 PM

Yuengling is great bar-beer. It has a really consistent taste from the tap vs the bottle. It's a pretty agreeable "high volume" beer, where if you are having a party, most of the beer-drinkers will drink it without complaint (except the Guiness people, who if left nothing else to complain about, will take issue with the temperature of your Guiness vs. how they normally drink it).

Hey, NC Lawyer, I was out at a bar in NC one time and a buddy told me to get some Red Oak on tap, which I LOVED. It's got to be the best bar-beer (read: drink all night and not feel too bad the next day) I've ever had. He claimed that it was, and is, produced and sold ONLY in North Carolina. Whenever I'm there visiting the SIL, I never see it. You ever have any of that?

Proud Mama likes Rolling Rock and I can't forgive her for it. :-) She also dated a Bud Light distributor before we got married, and I hold a grudge from that too.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 4:05 PM

UTZ chips beat Snyder's any day - snyder's wins on the pretzels though.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 4:07 PM

Scarry - I remember the Snyders chips in the big yellow tin can! That was when I was a kid - do they not sell them in VA anymore? Love Snyder's pretzels too.

Anyone for a pretzel, chip and beer happy hour?

Posted by: CMAC | January 17, 2007 4:09 PM

Sounds good!

Posted by: Missicat | January 17, 2007 4:11 PM

Oh yes, UTZ over Snyder's. UTZ cheese curls over anything, actually.

Posted by: Mona | January 17, 2007 4:11 PM

I remember going to a Red Oak brew pub/restaurant in Greensboro a while back, but don't know if it's there any longer. I agree, it was great. If it's generally available in NC, I sure haven't seen it.

Proud Mama clearly moved up when it was time to make a permanent decision, but I am suspicious that her yen for Rolling Rock indicates she still hasa lingering fondness for Anheuser Busch products. I'm married to a die-hard Bud man, so what can I say? You take the minor flaws with the otherwise complete package.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 17, 2007 4:11 PM

I find the references to beer offensive.
My religion forbids the use of alcohol, for very good reason.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 4:12 PM

Whups, that was me at 4:05.

Posted by: Proud Papa | January 17, 2007 4:12 PM

I find the references to beer offensive.
My religion forbids the use of alcohol, for very good reason.

anon at 4:12, Good. That leaves more beer for the rest of us. Does your religion forbid cheese curls and pretzels as well?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 4:15 PM

You guys are all wrong. Lay's potato chips rule! Not greasy and brittle like Utz. They taste like potatoes! (Nevertheless, my husband is an Utz man, too.)

Posted by: pittypat | January 17, 2007 4:16 PM

So, you want funny anecdotes about menopause? I can't supply any, but do know one benefit is you no longer have to buy those embarrassing feminine products anymore. My mother never mentioned the facts of life. Everything I know about sex and 'the curse' I learned in high school phys ed class. We were really an uptight family. Never ever mentioned that stuff. When I was at the age of having to buy feminine products with my meager allowance I'd sneak it into the house in a brown bag. Then the immense problem of disposing them. As I got older I'd go to different drug stores to buy them so the clerks wouldn't recognize me. Or I'd buy several items I didn't need to keep them from thinking I only came in specifically to get the feminine products. Then I'd only go to a checkout line with a female clerk. I still can't say the words out loud.

My mother was always PMSing although we didn't have a name for it then. Always ready to bite our heads off, slap us down, bawl us out, and shout 'Don't touch me, you give me cold chills.' My dad was a saint for putting up with her. Even though he owned a shotgun he never used it on her but I'm sure he was tempted.

Posted by: Been There | January 17, 2007 4:17 PM

Okay, pittipat, but you have to agree on the cheese curls right?

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 17, 2007 4:18 PM

I think Leslie should host a happy hour at a Wash DC establishment for regular posters - I am sure some sponsor and/or the Washpo will pick up the tab. From the tabulation of beer drinkers on this site it would be quite a tab.

Posted by: CMAC | January 17, 2007 4:18 PM

Cape Cod Reduced Fat Potato Chips.

Best Reduced Fat Product Ever!!

Nice and salty.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 4:19 PM

I never saw any Snyder's chips in VA. I think the company that makes the pretzels is different from the one that makes the chips. I have found Snyder's chips in some of the far out suburbs of Maryland.

I don't like UTZ chips at all. I guess it is all in what you are used to. I never had any until I moved to the DC area and then I thought they were generic, much to the offense of some of my friends.

Posted by: scarry | January 17, 2007 4:21 PM

Well, beer is a great subject so I will add my favorite beer - Modelo. I just love it. It is a mexican beer and it is great - any other lovers of Modelo? Oh, it does help to "forget those flashes" Stay cool all my "M" friends !

Posted by: Patricia Kay | January 17, 2007 4:22 PM

scarry, what about Wise potato chips? I'm rather fond of them, but am more of a cheese curl girl, truth be told.

cmac, what a fine idea! although the loss of anonymity might scare off a few -- nah, come to think of it, probably not the beer drinkers.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 17, 2007 4:24 PM

When I could drink beer I was a Guinness girl. Well, to be honest when I could drink I was a whatever you have girl, but Guinness is my fav.

Posted by: scarry | January 17, 2007 4:24 PM

Patricia Kay, Modelo's great. I've also become rather fond of Corona lately. I'm under no illusions about its great beer quality, but I find it goes well with a broad spectrum of snacks. Fits nicely on the treadmill as well.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 17, 2007 4:26 PM

Scarry: Cold or Warm on your Guinness? (Meaning do you want to be hated by the Americans or the British??)

Patricia Kay, Modelo is OK, but you almost feel obligated to float some fruit in a Mexican beer, which violates one of the Man Laws if I recall. If I find myself in a trendy mexican joint (where the 20-somethings are soaking themselves in Patron') I'll get a Tecate or a Dos Equis in a pinch. They are pretty light though.

Posted by: Proud Papa | January 17, 2007 4:29 PM

I am a sam Adams Fan all of the way, even the lite beer is good, though my friends like the Bud variety I get Yeuengling is a great middle of the row beer that I always keep in the fridge (and 24 bottles are $14.99 at costco). As for chips, I prefer the baked ones.

What about male menopause, or when they have testosterine decreases beginning at 30 years old (reduced sex drive etc).

Posted by: single mom | January 17, 2007 4:31 PM

NYC Lawyer,

I eat baked lays chips sometimes Wise are okay, but to be honest, I just don't like any chips the way I like Snyder's. I have a lot of fond memories attached to those chips! I buy a bag every time I am home in Ohio, but I wisely do not buy a bunch to take home with me because I would like to keep my shape!

Posted by: scarry | January 17, 2007 4:31 PM

NC lawyer --

Well, yeah on the cheese curls. But I've had to renounce those as a practicing vegan. :>(

Luckily, some of life's great junk foods are on the vegan list: potato chips, Oreos (and most knock-offs), and Twizzlers. (I never said we were healthy!)

Posted by: pittypat | January 17, 2007 4:35 PM

the local grill/bar has Red Oak on tap. I go back and forth between Red Oak and Pyramid on tap. Though Corona rules when at the beach.

I'd show up for a beer/chip event...if anything just for the variety!

Posted by: dotted | January 17, 2007 4:36 PM

Scarry: Cold or Warm on your Guinness? (Meaning do you want to be hated by the Americans or the British??)

Ha, I am an Irish American, I drank Guiness anyway I could get it without regard to who liked me! Which, by the way usually involved all the English people I have ever meant. (maybe it was the combination of Irish+American that they didn't like and not the way I drank my beer.

I tell all my friends that if I make it to my 70s the worrying about pancreatis is off and I am going back to my booze.

Posted by: scarry | January 17, 2007 4:37 PM

pittypat -

All together now, beer is healthy!

Posted by: dotted | January 17, 2007 4:38 PM

The fact that an informative discussion could have taken shape here but was derailed by "regulars" chatting about BEER makes it clear that this blog has nothing more to offer anyone and should be shut down. Leslie, please read over today's repsonses and show them to your editor. I'm sure you're as tired of feeding this blog as we are of trying to find intelligent comments on it.

Posted by: Sharon | January 17, 2007 4:41 PM

Dotted --

Yeah, it probably is. :>)

Posted by: pittypat | January 17, 2007 4:44 PM

Sharon, having a menopausal moment, are we?

Many posters made substantive contributions to an informative discussion on the topic du jour between 9 and 3 before -- imagine that -- someone made an off-topic post. Somehow I don't recall you contributing to the informative portion of the discussion. So you've made no substantive contribution, but you want the blog shut down. Interesting.

To recap: "I don't want to play in that sandbox, but no one else should be able to play there either."

Perhaps if you'd like to contribute an intelligent comment, you could make the world a better place.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 4:47 PM

I agree with Sharon. Perhaps some of the 'regulars' could exchange IM names and just chat all afternoon in their own room, rather than on this blog. It just clogs up the blog and makes it very difficult to glean anything meaningful - and there seem to be meaningful messages, you just can't get to them w/out frustration. And extra frustration is not helpful for those looking for balance. Many thanks.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 4:49 PM

I think that to include the males on this blog we should discuss decreasing testosterone levels (which I cannot seem to spell), and the effects that it has on their relationships, self image, etc... though that would probably bring us back to the beer discussion and the need to avoid the topic.

I think that it fairly common with this blog to start off on the right foot, and then around 3 or 4 people seem to think that the topic is covered and move onto other things of interest. And why would Leslie want to shut down a blog that she gets paid to do?

Posted by: single mom | January 17, 2007 4:51 PM

to think what Texas Dad of 2 missed today. Fred, are you out there?

pittypat, Whoops. I had a senior moment and forgot your vegan lifestyle. More likely, I never really thought of cheese curls as containing any actual dairy products, but they do have the appearance of evil, I admit. Note to self, pay attention when posting . . .

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 17, 2007 4:52 PM

It is cruel of you all to act like you are discussing menopause long enough to scare us men away and then switch the topic to something so near and dear to us.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | January 17, 2007 4:55 PM

If anyone should be blessed with early menopause, it should be Britney Spears. Looks she's gone and (OOPS!) done it again!

Me? I'll probably be some freak of nature and not go through it until my 60's.

Posted by: Disgusted | January 17, 2007 5:00 PM

NC lawyer --

Not at all. Cheese curls were a favorite of mine from way back when they only made the really puffy ones. (They stuck to your teeth, remember?) Then I switched allegiance to the crispy ones -- yum.

There is an addictive substitute out there which I try to keep out of my grocery cart -- Tings. I can go through a large bag in a single sitting. Sigh.

Posted by: pittypat | January 17, 2007 5:04 PM

Guess all the blog is going to get from these posters is criticism but no on-topic comments. Almost as bad as Jokester.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 5:06 PM

Sincere apologies to those who would rather read a significantly shorter, on-topic blog.

My mom's gone and my MIL and I aren't the best of friends (possible guest blog topic) so I have nothing to add on Menopause.

Posted by: Proud Papa | January 17, 2007 5:14 PM

Pitty, what are Tings and who make 'em?

Note to unhappy gleaners: This blog has often been criticized in the past for a lack of civility. As a result, there are a several posters who actively attempt to lighten things up from time to time. Sorry if this strikes you as somehow offensive.

Many posters abhor the tendency of some posters to post anonymously because anon postings often (but not always) become a shield for a higher level of snarkiness. With respect to targetted responses, as a matter of efficiency, it's easier to follow a discussion or argument when it's directed to a particular poster making an assertion, rather than requiring readers to scroll up and determine for themselves to what post one is responding. That's just my opinion. To each his own approach.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 17, 2007 5:15 PM

If I were a scientist, you know what I would do?

Find a way to change female reproduction. Formulate a pill or shot (or both) that promotes ovulation. Want to get pregnant? Take this pill!

Think about it. You would have to consciously choose to take something in order to get pregnant. No unwanted pregnancies. No menstruation, should you choose not to do so.

No "oopsing" that often times snares men into a commitment they don't want.

Somehow, though, it would have to be figured out how to supply women with the beneficial affects of hormones--without the dangers like HRT and such.

If there could be a way to do it, I'd be all for it!

Posted by: Dr. X | January 17, 2007 5:16 PM

NC --

Tings are made by Robert's American Gourmet. In the past I've ordered them online, but they're now usually available at Whole Foods. Probably elsewhere, too.

Ingredients: Corn meal, rice and/or sunflower oil, nutritional yeast, salt.

They're truly divine.

Posted by: pittypat | January 17, 2007 5:30 PM

Thanks, pitty. I'll be on the lookout at Whole Foods.

[insert appropriate menopause-related comment here]

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 17, 2007 5:33 PM

"I'd disagree, especially from an inssurance standpoint. I don't know of any insurance company that treats any mental illness the same as a physical illness. (And they should, IMO.)"

Actually, pretty much any major group health insurer will sell a large employer a plan that covers mental health conditions as any other illness. It just costs a good bit more - because you end up paying more claims. Small employers and individuals may find it more difficult - when it's voluntary, lots of times only those people/small firms that know they will use the benefits will buy them. This makes it very hard for an insurer to price it right.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 5:37 PM

ok, i'll tell my story of buying "feminine products". i was 22 & fairly comfortable about buying tampons in a store. walked into the local a&p (remember those) immediately saw a drop dead gorgeous guy. we followed each other around the store for a few minutes until i ditched him to buy my tampons. ran to check out when the guy came up behind me. i acted as cool as i could but when the cashier held up the box of tampons & yelled "price check" i thought i would die.

what is this about your periods getting closer together before they start tapering off? has anybody experienced that? i like the idea of herbal suppliments but am fearful of the unregulated aspect of them.

Posted by: quark | January 17, 2007 5:43 PM

My employer self-insures. While we have mental health coverage, it is limited and about as useless as our dental coverage (for which we pay $80 per month, and it has a $1000 cap -- great for braces as you might imagine). Most of us end up making mental health decisions based on whether we can pay for it out of pocket, in the likely event that such will be the outcome. As you might imagine, that leads to the well compensated getting all mental health care needs met and the less well compensated getting no mental health care needs met. Pretty lousy outcome.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 5:48 PM

"My employer self-insures. While we have mental health coverage, it is limited and about as useless as our dental coverage"

That's your employer's decision - not the insurance company's. If they find it impossible to keep employees (or hire replacements), then they'll adjust something. If not, they'll keep it the way it is to save money.

Benefits are like wages - employers pay what they have to in order to get people to work for them.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 5:59 PM

Cheese doodles beat Cheetos anyday.
For any yankee - Stateline potato chips.
Favorite beer = mimosa or margarita.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 17, 2007 6:03 PM

I wonder whether my generation (20 somethings) is going to have a different menopause experience than our moms, because so many of us don't get regular periods anyway (by virtue of manipulating BCPs or opting for Seasonale, etc.).

Posted by: BRF312 | January 17, 2007 6:03 PM

To BRF312: very interesting idea. Tell us in 25 years when we are in the nursing home (if we remember).

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 17, 2007 6:05 PM

to anon at 5:59, well,of course, ding dong. did you read all of the comments? the insurance comment relates back to the discrepancy between how physical health issues are handled and how mental health issues are handled. It's not a comment on whether the world is unfair or whether the government should provide universal health coverage.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 6:26 PM

Sharon - Actually the discussion was about beer AND snack products. Please drink 12 Y-lites tonight and check back on the blog tomorrow.

Posted by: cmac | January 17, 2007 6:33 PM

I have heard that in some languages there is simply no word for menopause. It's not that they don't acknowledge it or just sweep it under the rug or banish women going though it in other cultures. It's just life so they don't bother giving it a word. American's just make a huge deal out of it, mostly in a negitave way.

Has menopause gotten out of control? I mean does it really last 12 years or is it just the way you are when you reach a certain age? Once you attach a name and expectations to something you start to give that something more power than may be necessary. Sometimes a room is just hot, sorry it may not just be you and your "hot flashes". I choose to take the zen approach to menopause; but then again I the girl who was horribly upset at the sight of her first period and hated every minute of it ever since so I can't wait for it to end! No "Are you there God? It's me Margaret. I can't wait to get my period" moments for me!

Posted by: d's ma | January 17, 2007 6:56 PM

Youth obsessed culture??? That's ridiculous

How much money do we spend on Social Security and Medicare???? MUCH more than we could ever DREAM of spending on education or any "youth" related expenses.

Try blaming problems on something other than being a woman or being older.

My mom and her friends talk about it all the time. Not a big deal at all. I think it's your own personal issues that keep from discussing it out in the open.

Yet another reason to have kids young! i am well out of the house- my mom is going through it now.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2007 7:06 PM

While I can understand what Sharon was trying to say, it is also true posters form a community. Communities support and help balance in and of itself. What bugs me is Sharon uses such a wide inappropriate tar brush. For example, I made numerous postings on the blog subject. I also hypothesize the average age of blog readers/contributors precludes much experience on menopause....thus a seque into beer.... I believe this was a good blog day. I learned something about balance and I hope others did also.

Posted by: dotted | January 17, 2007 9:50 PM

i really enjoyed the beer and snacks postings

Posted by: experienced mom | January 17, 2007 11:00 PM

I have to add one more comment. My periods are not over and according to my doctor will not be over for a long, long time. I am in perimenopause - thus the hot flashes. So no relief from periods plus the hot flashes! Like the commerical - pimples and wrinkles at the same time. Even still 47 Rocks ! and I tried the cold packs under the pillow last night and it was great - when you get hot just pull one out and place in on the back of your neck.

Oh and I did have a few beers before bedtime, just to relax.....

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