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Unlocking the Secret Pleasures of Menopause

Physician-author Christiane Northrup tells women that midlife can be a good thing, especially for those who boost their nitric oxide and foster their sexuality.

Northrup's Rewiring Plan

Northrup gives plenty of commonsense suggestions on how to find the secret pleasures of menopause, the kind of stuff everyone has heard before -- eat a balanced diet, take supplements to get enough vitamins, find a workout you enjoy and stick with it, reduce stress.

But the new message is the importance of maintaining -- even expanding -- sexuality. Out goes the idea that a woman in her 50s and 60s and beyond can't be sexy -- or have plenty of sex. For the doubtful, she offers ideas on how to go from feeling frumpy to sensual first by changing your mind-set. Among the suggestions:

  • Buy great underwear, even if you're without a partner. Quiet the voice that says, "But no one but me will see it."
  • Redefine yourself. (If your grown-up kids balk or snicker, ignore them.) After she got divorced at midlife, she jazzed up her wardrobe with a bit of leopard print, which her youngest daughter initially balked at -- a reaction Northrup ignored.
  • Learn to love yourself. Buy yourself flowers every week. Get a massage. Or offer to trade foot rubs or massages with your partner.
  • Get to know yourself up close and personal. In a section subtitled "To Know Thy Clitoris Is to Love Thy Clitoris," Northrup talks about how to explore and find out what specific area of the clitoris is most a turn-on for you. (Hint: she says to try your 1 o'clock position, as you look down).
  • Rewire negative thoughts. Instead of "Ugh, my thighs are heavy," Northrup suggests focusing on more positive facts about them, like they are soft and smooth and your partner likes to caress them.

Sex after menopause can be the best ever, Northrup insists. She offers her "7 secret keys that will open the door to wonderful sexuality and sensuality after menopause."

Among them: she advises women to explore their own pleasure, learn to turn themselves on, release negativity, and live in a way that motivates others to be at their best and their healthiest.

Second Opinions

"The advice is good," says Wulf Utian, MD, PhD, a consultant in women's health for the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio and executive director of the North American Menopause Society, who tells WebMD he is not speaking on behalf of either organization, rather offering his own opinion.

But whether nitric oxide can be given all the credit, he is not so sure. "We know nitric oxide is extremely important in bodily functions," he says. "The advice [in the book] is good, but there is nothing new about the advice. She is trying to add a scientific hook."

"If her book is successful at getting people to develop a positive attitude and improve their quality of life, than I say more power to her," he says. But he says research on nitric oxide has a ways to go before proving that it is as important to well being as Northrup contends.

For most women, feeling better about menopause may be enough, he says. How it happens is probably irrelevant.

Reviewed on October 15, 2008

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