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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Susan's Helpful Hints--For Ladies Only




Girlfriends, I'm about to go all Dr. Ruth on you. This is especially for the ones who are experiencing menopausal, post-menopausal and peri-menopausal symptoms. For those of you who file sex advice (especially from a layperson) in the Too-Much-Information category, please feel free to skip on to the next blog. Well (gulp), here we go.....






I entered into menopause two months before my 50th birthday eight years ago. I had gone eleven months without having a period, but the week my second grandson was born I had a real doozy. Then I never had another. I was more than ready to be done with all that monthly stuff. What I wasn't ready for were the not-so-wonderful side effects. Oh, I'm not talking about hot flashes...yes, I had my share of them and they were uncomfortable as all get-out, but as much as I can recall, they never caused me any physical pain. The physical pain part started later.

As some of you know, menopause can cause hair and skin to become drier, and that includes ALL skin. Sometimes dry-as-a-desert dry. Sure, there are wonderful creams and silicone topical applications that one can use during intercourse, and I did. Tried 'em all. (Albolene works the best of any I tried. It's not just for makeup removal, friends.)

On my annual trips to the gynecologist, she would inquire if I were having any problems with intercourse, and I would sort of touch lightly on the subject. It isn't easy for me to talk about these things...I was raised in the 50's and 60's, y'know. She would suggest that I start taking some form of HRT (hormone replacement therapy), and I would turn her down immediately, especially after the studies came out that linked heart attacks and cancer to estrogen treatment. She even suggested a topical estrogen that is inserted vaginally. I try to avoid medicinal remedies at all costs and usually try to find some natural alternative...diet or herbal. And I would never, ever take the popular Premarin, or Prempro, or Premphase, or Prempac, or Premelle. They are all synthetic hormones that are made from PREgnant MARe's urINe. The way it is extracted is horrible.

What Are the Living Conditions of the Mares?

Since there are approximately 431 current Canadian and U.S. PMU farms (but only 308 producing farms as of 11/1/03), and not having visited each one, HorseAid can only generalize based on the ones we have visited (our last visit was to Canada by our HorseAid founders and volunteers in May and June of 1999, that included a side visit to Minnesota).
Pro-PMU people focus on the fact that the mares live out in 1,000+ acre pastures with their foals for up to six months of the year (on most PMU farms, mares are 175 - 185 days pregnant when the collection period begins. Estrogen production starts to peak between day 200 - 275 of pregnancy, then decreases to parturition. Mares are collected for a period of 160 - 180 days with the collection period usually being from October to April).
Anti-PMU people focus on the fact that the pregnant mares are kept tied up indoors for at least six months out of the year.
PMU farmers work to maintain a constant urine volume to meet both their quota requirements and the urine grade. Mares usually produce 90 - 100 gallons of urine throughout the collection season. On a daily basis, a pleasure horse type mare will produce about 0.5 - 0.6 gallon per day while a draft type mare will produce up to 0.75 gallon per day.
To produce Premarin, these mares are impregnated, fitted with a UCD and normally kept throughout their last six months of pregnancy in stalls just 8 feet long, by 3 1/2 feet wide, by 5 feet high! Just before foaling they are taken "off line" and allowed to foal in outside paddocks (90% of the mares will carry a foal full term). In most cases they are impregnated by natural cover (artificial insemination has been tried in the past to "streamline" the operation, but was discarded as too expensive).
Within six months of a successful breeding, they are returned to the PMU production line again (mares that do not become pregnant within a very short time, cannot be returned to the collection barns and will most likely be sent to auction or straight to the slaughterhouse).
Foals removed from the mare are sometimes fattened on feedlots and then sold for slaughter ("The Foals of August"). The ones not sent to feedlots go straight to the meat auctions, or are sold to resale agents. A small number are sold by foal rescue operations to mostly U.S. rescue organizations.


A filly foal has a less than one in 10 chance of not going to slaughter, a colt foal, less than one in 50!
As far as the use of catheters are concerned, PMU supporters say that they are no more (and in fact our research shows they were never used industry wide, if used at all) -- now "urine collection devices" (UCD's) are used. The UCD's are not very hygienic for the mares, since they allow the urine to soak the skin of the vulva, sometimes causing severe infections and painful lesions.
As for the actual living space they have, current PMU farm guidelines (strictly "voluntary" guidelines that have no consequences, and are not enforceable in any way) state that for horses weighing under 900 lbs. the width of the stalls should be no less than 3.5 feet in width; for horses over that weight, the width is increased to 5 feet.

This may well be large enough for the horses to lie down -- but so is a coffin for a person. Would you like to sleep in one? While pro-PMU people, PMU farm vets included, say that it's enough room to lie down and sleep, some have contradicted themselves in print by saying that "horses can sleep standing up anyway."
Horses can lock their legs and doze, but they must lie down for their essential 'deep sleep' period (in the wild and in pasture, horses lie down approximately three hours for every twenty-four). As for exercise, the guidelines leave that up to the discretion of the farm manager or farm employees.


HorseAid has carefully reviewed the guidelines with leading animal husbandry veterinarians and found them insufficient to protect either the wellness of the mares or the thousands of foals they produce. Our latest investigations reveal that even these inadequate guidelines are not being followed.
Pro-PMU people say, "It's 20 below zero out there in the winter, which is when the mares are confined. It's more humane to keep them inside." However, no indoor arenas or turn-out pens were observed in any of the farms we visited. There are an estimated 125 producing mares on each farm (averaged across all farms - 150, if you include reserves, "hires" and foaling/nursing mares), and to hire employees to hand-walk each one even once a day would not be cost-effective (and so, usually not done).
As a result, the already too-fat mares have problems with stocking up, soreness and hoof/wall separation. At almost EVERY farm we visited, there was some form of respiratory distress evident in the mares "on-line". (This quote comes from the website www.premarin.org, linked in the title)

It had been a couple of years since I went in for my pap smear, mammogram, and checkup. I had been wanting to change doctors for a while, so I found a new one. She is young and matter-of-fact, unlike my other doctor who was kind of whispery and not all that informative. As soon as she asked me about any problems in my sex life, I decided to be completely frank about it. "It hurts and no amount of lubrication makes it not hurt," I told her. Before the words HRT were out of her mouth, I told her that I would not, under any circumstances take any of the above substances. She understood completely, then she recommended a completely synthetic topical cream called Estrace, which is not made from horse's urine, to be applied via syringe every night for two weeks, and then twice a week thereafter.

I was horrified at the cost! Are you kidding me? $115+ change for a tube of something I wasn't sure would work? And to top it off, I took the prescription to the pharmacy where my daughter is a pharmacy tech. She wasn't working, but her young, male boss was called over to give me pertinent information. Gawd! I hoped he didn't remember who I am!

The doctor had warned me that it might be a little messy, so I made sure I had panti-liners on hand. Inserting it was no more difficult than inserting a tampon and the forewarned mess was fairly minimal.

How's it working? I know you want to know, so I'm gonna tell ya. I feel like I'm 30 again. The dryness is gone...completely gone. There is no need for Albolene. And it even has a little side benefit...I no longer leak. Yes, you heard me...no more leaking, even when I sneeze. And I'm only about halfway through the tube. To me (and my husband), it's worth every penny.  I even think my mustache may be disappearing.



46 comments:

Natalie said...

Oh, you are brilliant.
I love a woman who is willing to talk the talk, and walk the walk.
I am taking notes. Thank you, Susan.

Dutchbaby said...

Wow! Tell it like it is, Susan! I cant' wait to share this at book club tomorrow night. I have a friend who swears by "Astroglide" as a lubricant. I've been fortunate, I seem to have gone through "the change" without any huge side effects.

Barb said...

I see you're doing more than making wonderful cakes/cupcakes, Susan! I'm glad...

Susan said...

LOL, Natalie! I don't know about brilliant, but I know what works, for me at least! I'm usually pretty reticent about these things, but I figured if I helped one woman, it would be worth it. Hopefully by the time you need such things, there will be something new and more wonderful. You have a long time before you need to start worrying about it, though. :)

Susan said...

Oh, lordy, Dutchbaby!! I'm not sure I'm ready for prime time...just don't mention any names, okay?

It's kind of hard to be delicate when one speaks of such things. Might as well call a spade a spade, right? BTW, I tried Astroglide, and it did nothing for me.

Susan said...

Barb, I guess you could say I'm "makin' whoopee"! LOL It's a lot more fun than cupcakes. ;-)

California Girl said...

WHAT? No more leaking? That's worth it. Have to try it. But do I need a scrip? Wasn't sure of that.

Wanda..... said...

I would never consider hormone replacement therapy either and believe soy products helped me glide through menopause, over 15 years ago. Never experienced hot flashes per se, but did prefer cooler rooms.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I'm entering this stage, so it is all good to know. And good Lord I've been leaking since I birthed my kids. It would be nice to get rid of that. Last time I was at my gyno I asked him if he could just rip everything out. I'm over it. But he declined.

culdesacchronicles said...

Great post!

I'm having a lousy night and you made me laugh. I can just see you at the pharmacy. LOL

I think this is one of those topics women don't talk about much. I'm not sure why. We share so many other things. Good on you.

And no more leaking? Wow!

Thanks, Susan.

Susan said...

Cali Girl, I know! I don't know why or how, but it does seem to be working that way. I don't know if things are fuller down there and the urethra isn't as relaxed, or what. I'll ask my doc on my follow-up visit if that's a know benefit. It does require a scrip, but we have a very high deductible, so the insurance didn't pay much on it. I don't care. I'll sacrifice somewhere else. I also don't know if this is something I can use long-term. Another thing I'll need to discuss with her. I'll let you know.

Susan said...

Wanda, I had a pretty mild case of symptoms going through menopause, at least compared to some women I know. I did get pretty bitchy through it, but I think that's pretty common. It didn't go away, but I learned to hide it better. :D

I still sleep with my arms out from under the covers and I definitely want my bedroom cool.

Susan said...

Sandy, I'm the only one in my family who went through menopause naturally. My mom and both my sisters had hysterectomies at a fairly young age, so I had no family history to compare mine to. Not that my mother would ever discuss ANYTHING having to do with her private areas. She was a very modest lady.

This dryness didn't happen right away. It's only been in the last 3 or 4 years that it got so bad. I didn't think it was possible for me to ever enjoy that part of my life again. I do think the leaking was caused in part by it. As I told Cali Girl, I don't know if I can take it for very long...you know, they don't want you on estrogen for long periods, because the risk factors are still there.

Susan said...

Bella, I'm glad I made your day a little better with my storytelling! :) The pharmacy scene was more than a little embarrassing. My daughter still doesn't know about it, and I don't think her boss knows me from Adam without Aimee there as a reference point. Aimee never did like TMI about her parents' sex life. haha.

Why are we keeping these things a deep, dark secret from each other? We do spill our guts about every other aspect of our lives. I think we need to start sharing information that might be helpful to our fellow sufferers.

You're welcome! :)

Ruth said...

Susie! First of all, I like your font. :-)

This is great! We need a place to talk about these things, and I appreciate your bravery very much. Now I'll be brave.

Hey, have we talked about us having that in common: I am the first to go through menopause too, as my mom and three sisters all had hysterectomies?

Tell me, will you have to keep using the cream daily? I tell ya, for the most part, lubricants work for me, but not always. I may not be in need of this expensive cream, but I'm GRATEFUL it has helped you so much. I'm just curious if it is needed ongoing?

Brava, m'lady!

Susan said...

Hiya, Ruthie! I hope I can still look everyone in the eye after revealing intimate details of my sex life, or lack thereof B.C. (before cream). :D

I do think we discussed that particular commonality, one among many. My sister Judy was only 35 when she had hers. A very bad case of endometriosis. Now, of course, they can use cauterization to remedy it, but 30 years ago that wasn't available.

My problem started out as an occasional thing and then progressed to every single time. I don't think the look of pain on my face was making either one of us happy. I'm so glad I found this solution.

The application was every day only for the first two weeks, and now it's just twice a week. I don't know if it's something I can continue for an extended period of time. That's one of the things I'll be discussing with my doctor in a couple of months. I assume that if one stops, then it will gradually revert once the estrogen is out of the system. I'm a little worried about the long-term effects, but right now it's made life more enjoyable.

Judy said...

WOW, my girlfriends were just talking about "dryness" last night and here today is your blog! Thanks for sharing the information!

Deborah said...

You had me laughing already just seeing the post title on my sidebar.
Good Lord, woman, could I like you any better??? You did the right thing, talking about this. I don't know why we women are so reluctant to talk about stuff like this - well, yeh, of course I know why but you'd think that our daughters would have taught us by example that there is nothing to be secretive about.

Anyway, this is something I have been not exactly worried about, but wondering if it would happen. A friend told me years ago what her solution had been, and I forgot it. And now that I'm no longer in touch with her, I was thinking what-am-i-going-to-do-if-i-shrivel-and-dry-up-and-sex-starts-to-hurt?? And here you are with the answer. Thank you, Susie. I hope I won't need it - but like you I have had very few issues with my recently-arrived menopause - but ya just never know.
This is terrific. This is why women are each other's best source of information. Thank you for being brave. And making me laugh. And informing me. And being Susie.

Kathleen said...

Love, love, love this post. You are awesome for sharing this with all of us. At almost 48 I have already gone through the "change" and am sure I will be "looking forward" to some of this stuff any day now.

Susan said...

Judy, I'm telling you, it has made a world of difference. Hard to believe that's all it took.

The ripples are spreading)))))))))))))) :)

Susan said...

Deb, Deb, Deb! You know I LIVE to bring comic relief (and now sex advice) into your life! And I don't think it's possible to like YOU better, so now we're even. :) I just realized that could be taken the wrong way, but you know I love ya.

It feels good being able to provide a public service like this. Hopefully it won't turn out to be the next phen-fen and they won't have to make me the poster child for what can go wrong when one uses it! But, hey, I'll have fun for awhile and that's a good thing. As far as I know, there aren't any red flags regarding it.

I hope you don't ever need to use it either, but now you have the info, so you're all set if you do.

I have to tell you, if David knew I wrote a post about this he would be mortified. Good thing he doesn't read my blog. HAHAHAHAHA!!!

Susan said...

Hi, Kathleen! You're pretty young to already be in menopause. I'm glad you liked the post! I was really sweating it over how it would be received. But I figured since most of my followers are near my age, they might have the same thing going on and might appreciate the discussion.

I hope this won't be something you have to experience, but now you have the resource to combat it.

Good to see you! :)

Tattered and Lost said...

I'm just so thankful you didn't ask us to do a 6 word story from this.

Susan said...

LOL Tattered! That's Sunday.

Elle Bee said...

Well that is just awesome!!! I'm so glad you found something that works. can I come ask you for advice when I start entering this phase of life???

Char said...

that sounds promising. i need to try it out then

JackeeG4glamorous said...

I'm not quite there yet, but almost!!!!
no libido for me.

I loved your post, and knew all about premarine. AND Estrace. except for the expense. On the flip side, if your mustache disappears, please hurry, run, and call me, I'm ON BOARD! Think it will help with my disappearing nipples? (pigmentation is getting lighter and lighter) Jus sayin!

JackeeG4glamorous said...

Sorry for the TMI, figured once you broke the seal, just about anything goes. Hee hee...

Susan said...

Hi, Elle! I haven't seen you around in a while!

It's so nice to be able to pass along useful information to my fellow sufferers, and the future ones, too.

You can come to me for advice any old time...and it doesn't have to be about this particular subject either! :)

Susan said...

Char, I give it my highest recommendation!

Susan said...

Jackee, it just takes one little hole in the dam, right? LOL I was right there with you on the libido part. It seems to have helped that as well. ;-)

As for the disappearing nipples thing, I think that happens to every woman at some point. The dark pigmentation is to help babies zone in on the buffet bar. Once the baby part is over, the target is no longer needed. And men can find 'em with their eyes closed. :D One benefit--you can go braless in a white t-shirt without the embarrassment of nipple show-through. :)

JackeeG4glamorous said...

Susan LOL!!! "buffet bar"! You are crackin me up! I just love your blog!

Kathryn said...

Oh God, I wanted to comment before, but got sidetracked. Now I'm loving the comments from others, and am still totally happy for you (and your husband - Mr. Shy Guy).
Hey, don't worry about what you buy at the pharmacy and who sees you. What about all those guys buying Viagra? hee hee hee.
Six words:
How dry I am. No more!

Susan said...

Glad I made you laugh, Jackee! Thank you!

Susan said...

Hi Kathryn! Well, I can tell you that the hubby (if the need arose) would never go to the same pharmacy where his daughter works to buy such a sensitive product. I wasn't really thinking straight that day. I'll be sure to refill on her day off. :)

The comments are always the best part of any post for me. I love the give and take of the conversation, and can just imagine us all sitting around the table talking about it.

Your six-word story is perfect! Wish I had thought of it. :) I guess I did, it just took a LOT more words! haha

Cindy said...

My my my, look at all I've missed! I put my blog on autopilot and fail at staying up-to-date in the blogging world, and look what happens. So much good information to soak up. Disappearing nipples? Checking mine out now. My sex life has just recently been awakened from the dead as well. It does great things for the attitude.

Susan said...

Cindy, YES! It is quite the attitude adjustment! I'm much more pleasant to be around these days. ;-)

stacybuckeye said...

Huh. I'm not sure what I should say about this post except, you go, girl!!

Susan said...

Stacy, LOL!!!

Oliag said...

I've been lucky, haveing few problems related to menopause...except for that decline in libido:) Now I like to go to bed and read:) Maybe this cream would make the reading less interesting!...I could use something for that facial hair on my chin too:)

Love this letting it all hang out post! We seem to be needing it!

A Box of Chocolates said...

ha ha laughed hard been through the exact same thing and may even be using the exact same cream just with another name. the hot flushes killed me though i literally dripped and i was also about 45 when it started. darn doctor told me i was too young well i'm melting then i said. good luck and enjoy your new found youtfulness. wink wink

Susan said...

Oliag, I think that lessening of libido was God's way of saying "NO MORE BABIES!!" Unfortunately, most men didn't seem to get the message. :)

The second time I went to pick up the prescription, it had gone up to $125.!! I'm not sure we're being "active" enough to warrant that kind of cost.

Susan said...

Hi, Kim! It's good to know that someone else is also taking advantage of "better living through chemicals". :) If the price keeps going up though, I don't know if I can justify the cost.

Let me guess...your doctor is male? Men should have to go through menopause for about six months, then they would never say such things, would they? I hope you're through the worst part of it.

Thanks for visiting.

Barb said...

Hi Susan, I wish you a Happy Mothers Day, too - you haven't posted in awhile.

Jeanie said...

I've been lucky in that I had almost zero symptoms of menopause -- no hot flashes, minimal night sweats, no funky moods. But yes, dry skin that itches like crazy! I've experienced some of what all you described, but so far, it's still not too miserable. That's a good thing!

grammasnotes said...

Great info on the PMU! WOW! Thanks! No animal should be treated like that, no matter what ailments we have that they can help with. Gotta be another not-so-lucrative way, maybe, but kinder.