Two FOF doctors (and friends) buzz about the tools every FOF woman really needs to put the spring back in her sex life.
Dr. Patricia Allen and Dr. Hilda Hutcherson are two of the most esteemed women’s sex and health experts in the United States. They’re also two of the funniest, realest FOFs we know. Here, they dish about the FOF sex aids that really work: vibrators, lube and of course, jewelry.
- FOF: So let’s start with the most common toy—a vibrator . . .
- Dr. Pat Allen: Well, first of all, if you’re a woman who no longer has estrogen because you’ve gone through menopause, do not decide that you’ve read an erotic book or had a sex talk with your girlfriends, and now you’re ready to start using a vibrator. Because if you use it on an un-estrogen-ized clitoris—well, honey, that might cause some discomfort—the opposite of what you want!
- FOF: (laughing) So what’s the solution?
- Dr. A: Preparation. To restore health—pinkness and plumpness–to genital tissue, we begin with the use of high-dose vitamin D for three weeks. Then a woman can choose to use vaginal estrogen, which generally in two forms—a cream (Estrase and Premarin are the two most common) and a pill called Vagifem a tablet that’s inserted twice a week.
- FOF: What about dangers of estrogen treatments?
- Dr. A: Vagifem is designed to limit its absorption in to the blood vessels, however there is a black box warning on it and all estrogen products noting that some small amount of the estrogen many enter the blood stream and could increase the risk of breast and endometrial cancer. Hilda, would you agree that is the general party line?
- Dr. Hutcherson: I would agree.
- Dr. A: We have to say it, you have to write it, but it’s thought to be extremely low risk.
- FOF: How much Vitamin D and how much estrogen cream?
- Dr. A: After 3 weeks of high-dose vitamin D (5,000 IU of vitamin D every day for three weeks), one can add the Vagifem. The first week, it should be every other night and then twice a week. A woman will decide, depending on how her genital tissue feels, if she needs a little estrogen cream on the outside. I tell patients that they shouldn’t use estrogen cream on the same night as the vaginal pill. And they’re to use a lima bean amount— which is a very tiny amount for those of you who did not grow up on a farm.
- Dr. H: I don’t recommend as much preparation because I’m just so pro-toy. I tell women to start off with something mild first and work up to something stronger. Start out with a small, gentle “finger vibe” and lots of lube.
- Dr. A: Yes, some women can use that. But if they’re several years past menopause, I suggest that they first get the tissue prepared. When their tissue is atrophic and thin and it itches and burns and cracks, first it has to heal.
- FOF: Which vibrator do you like best?
Dr. A: I recommend one from MYLA called the pebble, and the reason that I like is that the maid can find it and not know what it is. I like a vibrator to not look like a vibrator.
- Dr. H: The finger vibe. It’s discreet, but it’s probably enough to get you where you want to go.
- Dr. A: Is there somewhere to go other than orgasm?
- Dr. H : (Laughing.) Well, no.
- Dr. A: I just wanted to make sure I hadn’t missed something or that there wasn’t something beyond orgasm besides jewelry.
Dr. H: I also like the Pocket Rocket and The Bullet. Or for a woman with a great deal of experience, she could even choose something called The Rabbit.
- Dr. A: That probably has multiple prongs…I can’t imagine.
- What about lubricant. Is there one you recommend?
- Dr. H: KY intrigue is a silicone-based product that’s especially good for women who are many years past menopause and have chosen not to use an estrogen product.
Dr. A: For women who are allergic to the propylene glycol found in some of these products, plain old mineral oil is a wonderful lubricant. However, no man can sustain an erection if presented with a one-quart, tin bottle of mineral oil, so do decant it into something pretty and pink. Now, mineral oil would not work with a condom–you must use a water-based lube with a condom. Many of my patients like Astroglide–a water-based lube.
- Dr. A: 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. However, a seductive FOF woman can certainly have fun using lube as a part of foreplay.
- Dr. H: That’s certainly a way to put foreplay back into sex. Also, KY Intense is an arousal gel for women who like to have their clitoris warmed up.
- Dr. A: A hot, relaxing bath is another great way to warm up and have some genital and clitoral engorgement.
- What about erotica? Is there certain visual or written erotica that you think is good?
- Dr. H: Eve’s Garden (www.evesgarden.com) has great erotica–books and videos with women-centered stories.
- Dr. A: If it doesn’t come in a blue box wrapped in a white ribbon, than it’s not erotica for me. You’ll have to go with Hilda’s advice on that one. . .
Want to hear more about the sex life of women in midlife? Check out these titillating topics at Women’s Voices for Change:
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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. She is a spokesperson on women’s health, and the publisher of
Dr. Hilda Hutcherson, MD, is presently a Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Associate Dean for Diversity and Minority Affairs at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. She is also the author of What Your Mother Never Told You About Sex and Pleasure: A Woman’s Guide to Getting the Sex You Want, Need and Deserve.