Menopause: Reaching Out is IN. Suffering in Silence is OUT!

Editor’s note: Ellen Sarver Dolgen would like to start by saying that “shmirshky” is what she calls her vagina. She also uses the term to mean woman. So she both has, and is, a shmirshky! She owes this wonderful term to a dear friend of hers. You can find the full story about the origin of the word “shmirshky” at the beginning of Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness.

Most women spend their teenage years and their 20’s going through a time of self-discovery.  Ironically enough, when we enter perimenopause and menopause, that feeling comes back, and with a vengeance!

When a shmirshky says she is “fine,” this is the first sign of “the cover-up.” Yes, we shmirshkies are really good at the cover-up. It’s not that we don’t want to be honest with those we love, but rather that we aren’t honest with ourselves.  We’re afraid of being less than: less than perfect, less than 100 percent functioning, less than able to juggle everything.

So many times I felt alone during perimenopause and menopause (I call it PM&M for short)—except, of course, for the sumo wrestler in my head.  He’s that big, scary guy in my mind that tells me horrible things like, “You’re getting old and wrinkled”, “You’re not smart anymore”, and “You’re already fat, so you might as well finish all that cookie dough and skip baking the cookies!”

Being aware of your SUMO is so helpful because he shows up a lot. Ladies, you are not alone!

Pushing all your menopause symptoms aside will leave you anxious, lonely, and depressed.  Shut that SUMO down! How? By being prepared, understanding the changes you are going through, and seeking the help you need by sharing your experiences with the people in your life.

But who in the world would want to sit around and talk about menopause? As it turns out, lots of people do! Who knew? And, it can be so much fun!

Talking with others that have gone through perimenopause and menopause (PM&M) is vital, and there are all kinds of ways to get this shmirshky support! It’s easy to take your morning exercise crew, book club, birthday lunch bunch, cooking club, carpool group, play group, investment club, or cocktail circle, and turn it into a shmirshky support group just by talking, asking, and sharing your perimenopause and menopause experience. Whenever women get together and share their wisdom and experiences about perimenopause and menopause, it’s a Shmirshky Party!

If you aren’t in any kind of club or group, start your own. Invite your Sisterhood (the gals) over for cocktails, coffee, or tea and let the conversation begin! It’s so easy and fun. Visit to download some fun Shmirshky Party questions. Print them out, cut them up, and throw them “inside the box.” Trust me, this will definitely get your party started—it’s a blast!

Whole generations of shmirshkies have been involved in the cover-up, and everyone tends to think they have to be “fine” All the time. You don’t! When your SUMO jumps in your face and begins yelling at you, try to minimize him. Make him smaller in your mind.  Over time, he’ll shrink.

Support from the Sisterhood can get you through. Love yourself, and when you look in the mirror every day for the rest of your life, reconnect with the beautiful person that you are, and say, “I am fabulous!” If you don’t believe it the first time, say it again, “I am fabulous!”

“E” is the pen name of Ellen Sarver Dolgen, author of Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness, a light-hearted, informative, easy-to-read book on menopause, and creator of, a resource treasure trove for women going through perimenopause and menopause. E stands for everyone because everyone goes through menopause or knows someone who does. Ellen is passionate about promoting health and wellness in America. She currently serves on the Community Advisory Board of Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla. She has served on boards, committees, and chaired numerous events for Fresh Start Women’s Foundation, Angel Charity for Children, San Diego Hospice. Brandeis University, the Phoenix Heart Ball, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Weizmann Institute of Science, Brewster Auxiliary, and Handmaker Home for the Aging. Ellen’s lifelong commitment to philanthropy through board representation, fundraising, and event organization continues with her founding of Shmirshky Universal, which aims to promote women’s health and well being around the world.  For more information, visit

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