In 1992 Alice Lotto Stamm, was going through a difficult menopause when she discovered a local bulletin board where she learned about the change from other women. She described a hot flash as a power surge, which became a catchphrase. Now Power Surge is one of the top sites for women looking for support and education during a turning point in their lives, menopause!
Put off by zillions of untested destinations on the Internet? Health Magazine asked six experts to recommend The 25 Best Web Sites for Women.
Tapping into the Internet can be a bit like trying to sip from a fire hose. You want a low-fat recipe for dinner or a little advice on how to ease the ache in your knees, but when you type in a query, your computer screen suggests 50 Web sites to check out-or 500. You know some of the sites are reliable, and you know some aren't. If only you could tell which is which.
Women of a Certain Age
By Lorrie Klosterman
Go online and you can tap into Power Surge, a decade-old and highly lauded support phenomenon ( www.power-surge.net ) founded by Alice Lotto Stamm to fill a chasm in women's access to unbiased information. (She also coined the term "power surge" to replace "hot flash," tainted with pejorative connotations.) "The time had finally come for menopause discussions to be taken from the closet into the living room for intelligent discourse," her site explains, and it offers everything imaginable regarding the physiological, emotional, psychological, and spiritual challenges of menopause.
Five thousand american women enter it every day. No, it's not a day spa. Nor is it an outpatient clinic for plastic surgery. And it's certainly not optional -- although many options exist for dealing with it. It's menopause -- often referred to as The Big M. Over the generations it's been called The Change of Life -- for more reasons than one.
"I have no crystal ball", insists Alice Lotto Stamm, Web Mistress of Power Surge, the premier online community/resource for midlife women. But for someone with no fortune-telling skills, she's awfully cutting edge. Long before large clinical studies exposed the many downsides of hormone-replacement therapy, experts on her site had warned about the health risks of the practice.
power-surge.net, now in its 10th year online, is a dynamic and caring support community for women at midlife and in menopause. The "Chief cook and bottle washer," as she describes herself, is Alice Lotto Stamm, a freelance writer from New York City.
It is easy to see why in 2001 Forbes Magazine honored Power-Surge as one of the top sites on the Internet and Health Magazine tapped it as one of the best 25 sites for women. That is quite an achievement in crowded cyberspace.
It's sleek. It's informative. It's a site dedicated to a female problem. Let's face it, women get the short end of the biological stick. The discomfort of menstruation. The excruciating pain of childbirth. The agony and confusion of menopause. Besides up-to-date information from the world of science, there are also great articles pertaining to love and sex, nutrition and weight. Do not be fooled. This is not your ordinary health Web site aimed strictly at menopause. What makes this site so great, besides its wealth of information, is that it's so navigable and wisely skips the highly technical terms that weigh down similar online resources.
While the doctor may have the most accurate information about hormones and bone density, there are some answers only a girlfriend can provide. But not everyone has a best bud or big sister who's willing to chat about The Change. Stepping into the breach, a growing number of Web sites are providing a chance for women to share experience and tips. "My mother's not around and my next door neighboor had been through menopause but that's about it, says Elayne Cipolla, 48. So when she was desperate to talk to someone besides her doctor about stopping HRT, she went to
In light of a recent study that noted an increase in dementia in older women using a combination of estrogen and progestin, undoubtedly thousands of women across the country are staring at their pill bottles and wondering the same thing. Is hormone replacement therapy, once considered a godsend for middle-aged women going through menopause, doing more harm than good? Or are the risks being overstated?
Today, women in midlife are embracing the power of peer support and talking their way through menopause. Whether sharing and comparing hot flashes, low libido, depression, hormone therapy, or night sweats, women are facing their symptoms and learning new ways to cope. In the process, they're finding out that they're not alone in their journey.
A woman going through menopause posted a message on a bulletin board that read, "I'm not having a hot flash. I'm having a POWER SURGE!" That was in 1992. Little did she know that phrase would lead her to build Power Surge, a Web site devoted to women in midlife.
More than two decades ago, anthropologist Margaret Mead said, "There is no more creative force in the world than a menopausal woman with zest." It seems that we've all but forgotten this sentiment. Menopause, like childbirth, has been medicalized instead of being seen as a natural rite of passage. Until now.
The biology is the same -- the hot flashes, the mood swings, the changes in body shape and resiliency -- but the dreaded, solitary journey our mothers and grandmothers often labored through is being transformed.
"Menopause has come out of the closet," says Pamela Boggs, director of education and development for the North American Menopause Society. "Today's women know it's perfectly normal and that we shouldn't have to giggle when we say the word."
The signs are everywhere: Women of a certain age fan themselves in offices, shops, concert halls and cafes. Drugstores stock a confusing assortment of vitamins, herbal mood enhancers and soy supplements, all marketed as female-friendly.
If your mom's not around to offer advice on hot flashes as you enter menopause, head for a Web site called Menopause and Women at Midlife--Power Surge, at www.power-surge.net. Here you can find explanations on hot flashes, hormones, phytoestrogens and more.
There's also a long list of resources and a place to ask for reliable medical advice from experts.
You are probably one of the millions of women going through the menopause.
In its 9th year on America Online and on the web at www.power-surge.net, Power Surge provides women approaching, in or post menopause with information about every aspect of the transitional years including the physical, psychological and spritual changes.
Endorsed by hundreds of women's health organizations, physicians, healthcare practitioners, magazines, newspapers, women's health books, Power Surge has been praised as a "powerfully effective community for women".