“There’s No Way I Could Have Syphilis!”

“There’s no way I could have syphilis,” you say. “That’s what YOU think!” I say.

Deb, in her 70s, had a long-term affair with a man (we’ll call him Eddie) who used to make frequent business trips to Bangkok with his boss, and he told her, more than once, how Mr. Boss Man would pay to have sex with teenage girls. “The girls would be on show behind one-way glass,” Deb remembers her boyfriend telling her, “and his boss would choose the one he wanted.”

A few years ago, Deb’s doctor recommended that she have an STD panel (as in sexually transmitted diseases), to rule out the possibility that she had syphilis, among other diseases.  “I told my doctor that was crazy, how could I possibly have syphilis,” Deb said, “but she responded that women or men who’ve had unprotected intercourse (anal, oral or vaginal) with more than one partner should be tested, so I went ahead and had my blood taken.” (more…)

“Take Back The Bedroom” On The Balancing Act

Mark your calendars for this Thursday morning, ladies!

Dr. Alyssa Dweck and Dr. Michael Krychman are kicking off a 5-segment series, called “Take Back The Bedroom,” on The Balancing Act. The first segment, appropriately dubbed “Vagina 101” will air Thursday, July 7 & 14 at 7:30am ET/PT on Lifetime. Both doctors specialize in women’s sexual health, and we’re excited that these important discussions about women’s health, during and after menopause, are getting the attention they deserve!

Win A $500 Sexual Health Makeover

Like we did throughout our lives, ‘boomer’ women continue to push the boundaries when it comes to getting what we want.

lubrigyn giveawayAnd what we want is for our sex lives to be as vibrant today (well, almost as vibrant) as they were decades ago. So we’re leading the conversation about sexual health, and thankfully, brands are stepping up to deliver products that promise to help give us the best sex lives possible.

Why Cleansing Your Vagina With Soap Just Won’t Do!

When I was a teenager, my mom advised me never to use soap on my face because it would dry out my skin. “You’d be better off just using water alone,” she said. I actually listened to her, and started using Noxema every single day to cleanse my face. (I’ve seen moved on to other brands). It tooks years before I applied the same practice for my body, and now I use sugar body scrubs and washes that help to keep my skin hydrated.

So why didn’t I think about my vagina during all these years, at least in terms of how I cleansed it?

Why? Because it never occurred to me that the skin of my vagina could dry out, too. No one ever told me it could. Not my mother. Not my friends. Not my doctors.

It could, and it did.

Fortunately, it’s not taboo to talk about vaginas these days. But never in my wildest dreams could I ever think I’d sit down with a handsome man from Rome, Italy, to talk about dry vaginas. But sit down I did, with Giorgio Chiozza, to discuss a feminine intimate hygiene line he produces, called Lubrigyn, that he claimed would relieve vaginal dryness using hormone and paraben-free, completely natural ingredients.

Manufactured by Uniderm, Giorgio’s Rome-based company, Lubrigyn has been successfully selling across Europe since 2004, and now that CVS.com is carrying it in most of their stores, American women will have the chance to use it, too. When Giorgio recently came to the United States to visit his distribution center in Florida, he and I met so I could learn more about his two products: Lubrigyn Lotion and Lubrigyn Cream. The cream is FDA approved but does not require a prescription.


What Do You Know About Yourself?

Carolyn Hidalgo, one of the most passionate women we know, is a self-relationship coach who dreams how wonderful the world would be if we could all live “judgement free.” We’d love for you to answer Carolyn’s questions (anonymously, of course) to help her see what matters most to us.


Amberen for Menopause – Say Goodbye to Menopause Symptoms

Cheri Bufford is a licensed vocational nurse with Lunada Biomedical, which makes Amberen, a proprietary supplement that’s been clinically proven to ease many of the worse symptoms of menopause. Cheri has had a great deal of experience advising women on how to take Amberen and what to expect. FOF talked with her about the product, which the company calls “revolutionary.”


options_amberenWhat does Amberen do?
Although menopause has as many as 35 different symptoms—hot flashes, sleeplessness, low libido and irritability among the most prevalent—they all have a common cause: Our bodies lose their ability to support hormonal balance. Instead of covering up symptoms, Amberen supports the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis, which is the foundation of a woman’s hormonal signaling system.

Amberen’s exclusive technology produces perfectly shaped ‘smart’ molecules (bio identical to the human body) that our bodies recognize and use. Once inside our cells, these molecules rejuvenate mitochondria (our cells’ power producers) and rebalance hormone levels. The supplement isn’t actually putting hormones back into our body, but it is triggering the connections that bring out our natural hormones.

So you’re saying Amberen actually helps our body produce increased levels of estrogen?
Yes, women tested in our clinical trials did get an increased level of estrogen. I have talked to thousands of women and the responses I get when they take Amberen choke me up. I get emotional when they call to tell me they feel like themselves again. Many women are so far down in menopause that it has affected their life.


What’s in Amberen?
Amino acids, vitamins and minerals

How long do you take Amberen?
It’s a 90-day course. While the majority of women are symptom free after 90 days, some women get relief within a few weeks and, for others, it takes longer.

We do recommend that you take a break after 90 days to allow your body to work on its own. If the symptoms are starting to return, you can go back on Amberen for another 90 days. The break, hopefully, will become longer and longer each time.

Does the relief last indefinitely?
Like with everything, people respond differently. It depends on the stage a woman is in. Perimenousal women may have a six-month break from symptoms after taking Amberen for 90 days. It’s perfectly safe, however, to continue taking it beyond 90 days.

woman2Can a woman take Amberen any time before, during or after menopause?
Amberen is not age specific. It is for any woman in perimenopause or menopause, as well as in post menopause. Some women still suffer from hot flashes, for example, when they are over menopause.

If I’m on HRT (hormone replacement therapy) should I stop taking them if I want to start taking Amberen?
We don’t recommend that a woman continue her hormone therapy. Check with your doctor, however, before getting off hormones. It also may take longer for someone previously on hormones to see the results of Amberen because the hormones could remain in her system for a while.

Supplements don’t have risks that hormones do. Also, we don’t advise taking other over-the-counter supplements for menopausal relief at the same time you take Amberen.

If I had a total hysterectomy, can I take Amberen?
It depends on why you had the hysterectomy. But since your adrenals produce estrogen, as well as your ovaries, you can generally take Amberen if you’ve had your ovaries removed.

Where is Amberen sold?
Previously, it was only available online and through call centers, but now it’s sold in many GNC stores.

Does Amberen make you more lubricated?
A lot of women tell me they are more lubricated and can enjoy sex again.

Are there any negative reactions?
Some women have gotten rashes—albeit few and far between—because they may be allergic to something in Amberen.

Will Amberen help reduce weight gained during menopause?
A lot of women start noticing fat that sits around the middle and doesn’t go away during menopause because of their hormone imbalance. Some who take Amberen start seeing inches come off their waists and their pants start fitting better. Of course, if you’re eating 10 cheeseburgers a day, the weight won’t fly off.


Will Amberen help if the only problem I’m experiencing is low libido?
I wouldn’t advise Amberen only for low libido, but there’s nothing wrong with trying it, especially since we have a trial period and it can be returned if it doesn’t work. We sell a 90-day course, which consists of two boxes paid and one free. Most women will notice changes in symptoms within the few couple of weeks. We encourage them to call for a consultation with one of our staff nurses if they don’t notice changes. We also encourage everyone to thoroughly read the literature. The two unopened boxes can be returned for a full refund at any time during the first 30 days after purchase,

Are there any meds that don’t react well with Amberen?
If you take Coumadin or blood filler, you should consult with your physician since there is a small amount of Vitamin E in Amberen, which has blood-thinning properties.

-1Can anyone call for a consultation, even before taking Amberen?
We have nurses available through customer care from 5 am to 5 pm Pacific time. We also encourage new customers to talk to the nurses since they might have questions about how the medications they’re taking will react with Amberen. Consults are limited to 15 minutes for Amberen customers.

When was Amberen invented?
It was invented in Russia and introduced here in 2006.

Does Lunada make other products?
We recently came out with a male potency product.

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Why you’ll want to sample Wendy’s lubes!

Many lubes on the market are not safe for you, but FOF SEXpert Wendy Strgar found a solution. Her company, Good Clean Love, makes “Almost Naked” lubricant that is organic… and sensational. Send your name and address to shelley@faboverfifty.com to receive a travel-sized tube of lube (1.5oz). You won’t regret it.

The first 50 entrants will win! Everyone else– why not a discount? Enter code FAB50 at checkout and you’ll receive 50% off any full-sized (4oz) organic lubricant. Visit Good Clean Love’s shop to redeem your discount today (until 8/15/13)!

 Wendy Strgar is a woman on a mission: To tell the women of America a thing or two about the safety of the lubricants that we (and our daughters) are using, not in our cars, but in our bedrooms. We met Wendy when we launched the FOF SEXcellent section since her company, Good Clean Love, produces products for good, clean loving. Whole Foods wouldn’t be selling Wendy’s lubes unless they were as natural as Wendy says they are.

by Wendy Strgar

1.5 ANI have been working in the field of personal lubricants for over a decade. It became an occupation when I desperately needed a solution to the burning, itching reactions I experienced when using petrochemical-based products, which continue to be used widely and dominate the intimacy market. Over the years, I have worked to produce lubricants as clean, natural and healing as possible and was graced to find a formulator who used his deep knowledge of ingredients to create natural and organic products without petrochemicals.

Since beginning my work, I’ve advocated for cleaning up the $219 million lubricant industry, long dominated by a handful of multinational companies whose products are filled with the same petrochemical ingredients also found in oven cleaners and brake fluid. I have long believed that these ingredients were common irritants in the sexual lives of millions of women. I attributed the most common complaints of itching and burning to allergic responses.

Let’s talk about Vaginal Atrophy

drminkin“I am always happy to talk about happy vaginas,” Dr. Mary Jane Minkin told us as we started our interview about the subject of vaginal atrophy. When you get a quote as good as that, you lead the story with it!

Dr. Minkin is clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at Yale University School of Medicine and has a private practice in obstetrics. We wanted her to teach us a thing or two about VA, which affects “well over 50 percent of post menopausal women,” but is an issue which few women talk about, she explained.


First things first: What is Vaginal Atrophy?
VA is a treatable chronic condition that affects the vagina and the surrounding tissues during and after menopause due to declining levels of estrogen. Symptoms include vaginal dryness, pain and bleeding during intercourse, itching in and around the vagina, vaginal soreness, urinary tract infections and painful urination.


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He has Viagra. You Have…

Our favorite sex experts reveal the pills, creams, tricks and toys that actually work to get FOFs in the mood.


The hard truth: menopause depletes our estrogen, which can cause vaginal dryness, loss of arousal and loss of sexual satisfaction in some women. Or, in the words of Dr. Michael Krychman, Director of the Southern California Center for Sexual Health, “orgasms were once like thunder and lightening, and now they are the pitter-patter of rain.” But, being FOF also brings increased confidence, freedom and self-awareness which can lead to the most satisfying sex of your life. At the end of the day, the former is fixable and the latter is fabulous.


Here, our most trusted authorities on women’s sexual health, Dr. Patricia Allen, Candida Royalle, Dr. Holly Thacker and Dr. Michael Krychman, reveal everything that’s really worked to help their FOF patients get the “thunder and lightening” back in the bedroom.


  • 1. Get your “equipment” in working order.
    • Dr. Pat Allen: “Lack of estrogen can cause vaginal tissues to become dry and thin–not very arousing. To restore pinkness and plumpness, I prescribe the use of high-dose vitamin D for three weeks. Then a woman can choose to use vaginal estrogen, which generally comes in two forms—a cream (Estrace and Premarin are the two most common) and a pill called Vagifem that’s inserted twice a week. Vagifem is designed to limit its absorption in to the blood vessels, however some small amount of the estrogen many enter the blood stream and could increase the risk of breast and endometrial cancer. It’s thought to be an extremely low risk.”
    • Dr. Michael Krychman: “If you don’t want to use or can’t use hormones, you can try non-hormonal vaginal moisturizers such as Me Again or Replens which are applied on a regular basis to help hydrate the vaginal tissue and improve skin quality.”
  • 2. Lubrication, lubrication, lubrication.
    • Candida Royalle: “Use a good water-based lubricant, especially around the outer opening to the vagina.”
    • Dr. Holly Thacker: “Water-soluble lubricants such as Astroglide® or K-Y Jelly®, can help a lot.”
    • Dr. Pat Allen: “For women who are allergic to the propylene glycol found in products such as KY, plain old mineral oil is a wonderful lubricant. It would not work with a condom–you must use a water-based lube with a condom. Some women don’t want their partners to know that they’re not getting lubricated. For that, KY ovules, used twice a week, on a regular basis, could be enough to keep you lubricated when the time comes.”
  • 3. Try an aphrodesiac that actually works.
    • Dr. Holly Thacker: “There is an over-the-counter ‘feminine arousal fluid’ called Zestra that’s available without a prescription. A small, randomized trial showed that when women applied Zestra to the genitals–versus some other over-the-counter oil–they had better sensation and slightly better ability to climax.”
    • Dr. Michael Krychman: “I’ve seen good results with two over-the counter products: Zestra, a proprietary blend of essential oils that increases arousal, and ArginMax, a supplement that helps by improving circulation.”
  • 4. Edit your sexual script.
    • Dr. Michael Krychman: “Patients often come to me and say things like, ‘We always have sex on Friday night after Letterman.’ Just changing one thing about your sexual routine–the location or time for example, can have a major effect on arousal.”
  • 5. Rub a Dub Dub. Get going in the tub.
    • Candida Royalle: “Take a warm bath before intercourse to help you relax. You could even begin some sensual self-stimulation and caressing while in the bath to get you in the mood. Consider adding a waterproof vibrator.
  • 6. Tell him the doctor made you do it.
    • Dr. Michael Krychman: “Forty percent of women don’t have orgasm during penetration and many have a much easier–and better–time when a vibrator is involved. But women are nervous about bringing vibrators into the bedroom for fear their men will feel threatened. I tell my patients, ‘Tell your husband that your gynecologist prescribed it.’”
  • 7. Lights, Camera, Get Some Action.
    • Candida Royalle: “Many women claim watching an erotic movie that they like works better than anything else they’ve tried. Consider movies made by and for women. Or read erotic stories together. Some couples become well-versed in telling their favorite erotic stories to each other, which can really put you both in the mood.”
  • 8. Practice makes perfect.
    • Candida Royalle: “Masturbate regularly to keep yourself vaginally and sexually fit. This will help your body continue to produce “sex hormones” and enable you to be more easily be aroused. Also, doing regular Kegel exercises not only helps keep the muscles strong to enable good bladder control; it also increases blood to the vaginal walls, which will increase lubrication and keep your vaginal walls toned and able to feel sensations more easily.”
Dr. Holly Thacker, Dr. Patricia Yarberry Allen, Dr. Michael Krychman and Candida RoyalleDr. Holly Thacker, MD, FACP is the director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Specialized Women’s Health and the of authored two outstanding books on menopause and hormones.

Dr. Patricia Yarberry Allen, MD, director of the New York Menopause Center, is a gynecologist affiliated with New York-Presbyterian Hospital and a board-certified fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Dr. Michael Krychman is a board certified obstetrician and gynecologist and the Director of the Southern California Cetner for Sexual Health and Survivorship Medicine.

Candida Royalle is a renowned sex expert and the the founder of Femme Productions, and female-focused erotic film company, and of Natural Contours, a line of intimate sexual toys for women.

Are You a Shopaholic?

A psychologist reveals why you may be a compulsive shopper–and not even realize it.

What do Mary Todd Lincoln, William Randolph Hearst and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis have in common? Aside from friends in high places and triplicate names, each had an issue with what psychologist April Benson calls “the smiled upon addiction”: compulsive buying. Like workaholism, shopping addiction is often dismissed as relatively harmless, and is sometimes even considered positive (remember Bush 43 telling Americans to “go shopping more” to combat the recession). But as Dr. Benson told us, this can be an extremely deleterious condition.


  • What is shopping addiction?
    • Shopping addiction is when someone spends so much time, energy or money, shopping – or even just thinking about shopping – that it’s impairing his or her life in a significant way.
  • So you don’t need to buy anything to have a shopping compulsion?
    • If you’re spending eight hours a day thinking about it, or obsessively ruminating, or going online and putting things in your shopping cart, you’re considered a compulsive buyer. You could be classified as a compulsive buyer without ever buying a thing.
  • How do I know if I’m someone who has a shopping problem, versus someone who just spends a little too much sometimes?
    • Shopping addiction isn’t necessarily about the money, it’s about how shopping impedes your life. If you or someone you know has any of the following “symptoms” – it’s a problem:
    • • You are shopping despite considerable debt or despite having no money for retirement.
    • • You’ve isolated yourself from her friends, your spouse or your children due to shopping. For example, there might be fights at home because of the spending or you’ve found yourself lying about something you bought. A lot of relationships break up over this.
    • • You lack other personal interests. Somebody who’s spending so much time, energy and money shopping often has little time or interest in cultivating other talents and hobbies.
    • • You experience considerable anxiety, guilt or shame from shopping.
  • Why do people compulsively shop?
    • There are several main factors that play into shopping addiction. It is for some people an instant mood enhancer. Money is an equal opportunity, all-purpose mood-changer. For other people, it makes them feel more like their ideal self – they believe the acquisition of material goods is a central goal of life, a key to happiness, and a predictor of success. Some do it because it makes them feel more in control, because in other areas of their lives, they feel out of control. Some people do it to avoid dealing with loss, or to avoid a step in their life they don’t want to take. Some people do it because it’s the lesser of evils – for instance, if they’re not doing this, they might be shooting up heroin. They may come from a family with a lot of addiction. Some people do it to express anger, or seek revenge. One study in England suggested that up to a quarter of compulsive buyers do it for revenge – on spouses or parents.
  • It seems important to realize that this addiction touches on more than just money.
    • There’s financial affording, and then there’s emotional and spiritual affording. We can bankrupt ourselves in many ways. A full one-third of the people that I work with are not in debt.
  • We all know people who live for bargains, perhaps compulsively. What’s going on there?
    • The need to get a bargain is something that differentiates one group from the others. These people might feel less deserving, and need to spend less money on themselves than the normal compulsive buyer.
  • What about people who have a lot of money, and as soon as a new luxury item comes out, they have to have it, whether they need it or not?
    • This is about status – and how important it is to have the newest and the best. Compulsive shoppers tend to have a big self-discrepancy – the distance between who we are and who we’d like to be, or how we would like to be seen. People might think a particular product will help them get closer to being that ideal person.
  • What about wishful shoppers? For instance, someone who wants to lose weight, so she or he will buy something too small, with the thought they’ll lose weight to fit into it.
    • It’s buying for a fantasy. Buying for a party you imagine you’d go to. Or buying for a size or shape you imagine you could attain. Buying for a date you imagine you could go on.
  • Some people seem to get hooked on QVC, or HSN, almost as if buying something from them makes them feel less lonely – as if the people on TV were their friends.
    • Absolutely. A colleague of mine did a study of 100 testimonial calls to QVC – ‘Why I love QVC.’ 75% of those calls had to do with compulsive buying motives. And home shopping networks lull you into believing that these are your friends whom you’re buying from. A lot of insomniacs do this – that’s when they’re buying. They feel much less alone, like they have a friend out there.
  • What should you do if you feel you might have a problem?
    • In my book, there’s a perforated card with six questions. I tell my clients to ask and answer them in writing when they’re about to buy something. If you can answer these satisfactorily, it’s probably not a compulsive purchase. This is also a way of creating space between the impulse and the action, which is often all we need to make a more mindful decision.
    • • Why am I here?
    • • How do I feel?
    • • Do I need this?
    • • What if I wait?
    • • How will I pay for it?
    • • Where will I put it?
  • How do you approach a friend or loved one you might be concerned about?
    • You want to start by saying what you’ve noticed. For instance, “I have noticed that every day I see you, you’re wearing something different.” Or, “I noticed how much money is coming out of our checking account.” Describe rather than dictate. Put the focus on how the behavior has made you feel, not directly on the person. Then, if they’re receptive, talk about possible help.

For more information, please visit Dr. Benson at www.shopaholicnomore.com, where you will find several helpful resources, including a free self-assessment guide, and information on her books.

April BensonApril Lane Benson, Ph.D., is a nationally known psychologist who specializes in the treatment of compulsive buying disorder. She practices in New York City.