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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.

    The Nitric Oxide Connection continued...

    Nitric what? Many midlife women may never have thought about -- or heard about -- nitric oxide.

    Nitric oxide is a colorless, odorless gas that tells blood vessels to relax and to widen, in turn resulting in a lowering of blood pressure. Discoveries about nitric oxide that led to the development of the ED drug Viagra earned three scientists a Nobel Prize a decade ago.

    Although it's the stuff by which erectile dysfunction (ED) drugs work, it's not the exclusive domain of men, Northrup says. (Indeed, one of the 1998 Nobel recipients, Ferid Murad, MD, co-wrote a book, The WellnessSolution, published in 2006, promoting a regimen of diet, exercise, vitamins, and antioxidants that works by increasing nitric oxide levels.)

    Northrup says it's time midlife women discovered the benefits of boosting nitric oxide levels as their own gateway to better sexuality and sensuality at midlife and beyond.

    "Most of us don't produce enough to keep us vibrantly healthy," she says.

    Practicing her suggestions will boost levels, she says. Simply thinking joyous thoughts can boost it, she claims. "A joyous thought would be: 'The best times of my life are yet to come.'"

    Boosting nitric oxide can also be accomplished by exercising regularly, meditating, and having sex regularly, she says.

    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.

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