Even though the last thing you probably want is a temperature hike (hot flash central), here are 14 uncensored, cut-to-the-chase ways to crank that love thermostat up to super steamy. For the faint of heart, you might want to jump to number 4 -- the first three may make you blush!
Cozy up and get down.
Simply, have sex. Seems pretty easy, doesn't it? It is! If you need an excuse, here is a long list of reasons you should be having more sex from Women's Health. Sex can be painful for women in perimenopause and menopause, but there are ways around that (see "Time For a Lube Job")! Focus on the prize -- weight loss, a stronger immune system, slower aging and stress relief are only a few benefits of sex. Tired of insomnia as a symptom of menopause? That's on the list, too!
Rule out unsafe sex.
An article from the Huffington Post, "Baby Boomers Not Immune to Sexually Transmitted Diseases," reports that in a 2010 study, 20% of those tested positive for HIV were over age 50. If you are at risk, the best way to ensure safe sex (in conjunction with condom use) is to get tested. It's sexy to be sure that you're healthy and stay that way. Just when you thought you were through with condoms -- time to stock up again!
Add to your intimates.
When the night arrives with that special someone, you don't want to spoil the mood with night sweats. Like hot flashes, night sweats are very common for women entering perimenopause and menopause, but they're manageable with comfortable sleepwear made from special fibers to make you look and feel 100%. Find them in pink for Valentine's Day! They're sure to help you sleep (or not sleep) more comfortably!
Nix the red.
Pimples aren't the red you want for Valentine's Day, but they often rear their ugly heads at the most inconvenient times. We thought our pimple days were over when we finished puberty, but they're common with hormonal fluctuations in perimenopause and menopause, deeming one thing necessary: Keep a mini-concealer with you for surprise pimples and rosacea. If you find your concealer collection is starting to take over your bathroom, talk to your doctor about acne gel for menopausal women.
Keep yourself cool.
Hot flashes are one of the most publicized symptoms of menopause. Even General Hospital is embracing hot flashes! What can you do when your refrigerator is overflowing with kale, you are having a hot flash and there is no longer room in the fridge for your head? Companies are developing towels that keep you cool and refreshed without getting your clothes wet and help you beat your hot flashes on your special night. Keep it in a small baggie in your purse so it stays activated and ready. Find a reliable deodorant for those really special occasions. Helping you feel cool, confident and sexy, products like these will ironically make your night much hotter.
Time for a lube job.
It's a particularly frustrating and sensitive topic, but according to MedicineNet, one of the most common menopause symptom twofers is the combo of a crashing libido and painful intercourse. As your hormone levels plummet, they may take your sex drive with them, and when you do have sex, it can be painful. This can lead to a one way ticket on the circular train track of celibacy. Instead, fill out the Menopause Symptoms Chart on page 168 of Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness, then get to a perimenopause and menopause specialist (check out our Menopause Doctor Directory) to see if bioidentical hormone therapy is right for you. There are many HRT options to choose from, including a topical estriol vaginal cream. Next stop, ladies: lube! Find a water-soluble lubricant to take care of discomfort. Water-soluble lubes should allow latex condoms to stay intact, while non-water-soluble lubricants can weaken them.
Have better sex.
The Atlantic recently reported that dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), an adrenal hormone, can ease the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. The study indicates that women taking DHEA and HRT had a significantly increased interest in sex and an increase in sexual activity than before beginning the hormones, more than women who were just taking Vitamin D supplements. In the past, DHEA has been a bit controversial. Another option is testosterone replacement (MayoClinic), which is said to boost sex drive and help with your cognitive skills. Ask your doctor about whether DHEA or testosterone therapy could be for you! If you are living with grumpy and you are not Snow White you might want to suggest that your lover gets his testosterone levels checked, too!
They don't have to be in the shape of a heart to give you natural benefits. Health.com says chocolate can be good for heart health, your mood, your body and your taste buds. My favorite chocolate is sprinkled with sea salt, the perfect combination of sweet and salty. Too much of a good thing can be lethal for your hips, but a taste is still delightful!
Head for a massage.
Whether you go to a professional masseuse for a couples massage or simply use those candles to prepare for one at home, treat yourself and your partner to a relaxing vacation from stress. If you've been with your partner for a long time, this can be a nice treat, and if you've just met your partner, you can get things off to a great start by getting pampered together. CNN Health reports that massages can ease insomnia, boost immunity, prevent PMS (or aches in menopause), and more. You can also try a new treatment called endermologie. Endermologie, coupled with an infrared sauna treatment has changed my hips and thighs. They are no longer large or in charge! It takes massage to a whole new level.
During the transition into perimenopause and menopause, women gradually decrease their production of estrogen, which leads to a decrease in blood flow to the vagina and a consequential dryness. Hormone replacement therapy can rejuvenate the blood flow and help correct the dryness, and bio-identical hormones are becoming more and more recommended by doctors across the nation. With all the contradictory information floating around about estrogen and breast cancer, it is important not to react to media sound bytes when determining what the best course of action is for your individual health.
Abolish dryness and cracks.
You always feel more confident when your body feels good, and winter months dry out your skin like crazy (not to mention the new instances of dry skin thanks to menopause!). Try to avoid skin products that contain harsh chemicals and stick to ones that hydrate your skin.
Turn on the mood.
Candles can turn a boring night into a romantic one with the strike of a match. With all the lights off and a few candles lit, you can turn your bright room made for sleeping into a dim, sensual room for romance. Consider Eckhard Hess's findings on pupil dilation. When humans are interested in something, their pupils naturally dilate, which could be the reason restaurants and bars are so dimly lit. Candles will help give that attraction a kick start.
Unwind in a bubble bath.
Whether you're alone or in the company of another, bubbles make baths that much more enjoyable, and they leave your skin smooth and ready for moisturizer. For tackling depression and stress, look for lavender aromatherapy bubbles. Try ending your day with a relaxing, bubbly, candle-lit tub for two!
Play the role of your own Valentine.
Above all, make sure you take some time to recognize yourself as someone you love, because no matter what, you will be spending Valentine's Day with yourself for the rest of your life! Perhaps we should make February 14th Celebrate Yourself Day! Turn Cupid around, strike yourself with a love arrow and acknowledge your uniqueness. Baby, you are looking good today! Happy Valentine's Day from Shmirshky!
"E" is the pen name of Ellen Sarver Dolgen, author of Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness -- a cut-to-the-chase book on perimenopause and menopause, filled with crucial information and hilarious and heartfelt stories. It condenses a confusing, daunting medical topic into an easy-to-understand, purse-sized guide which can be used as a reference throughout your PM&M experience. Reading Shmirshky is like getting a big, comforting hug from a dear friend, who happens to know a lot about menopause!