Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. is a Gynecologist, Director of the New York Menopause Center, Clinical Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Assistant Attending Obstetrician and Gynecologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She is a board certified fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Allen is also a member of the Faculty Advisory Board and the Women’s Health Director of The Weill Cornell Community Clinic (WCCC). Dr. Allen was the recipient of the 2014 American Medical Women’s Association Presidential Award.

1920s Valentine card.

February is such a dreary month in much of the U.S., filled with cold, rainy, and slushy days, punctuated by the usual prediction, made by a ground hog, that spring will return earlier than expected. The only redeeming features of this month are that it has the fewest days of any in the calendar, and that it allows us to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

We often regard this as silly holiday, flacked by companies to sell products. But we can choose to make February a great month, where we focus on what we can do to make our lives sensual, sexual, libidinal and romantic. As women in or approaching menopause, we shouldn’t forget that romance is always possible, and that being a sensual person is always a choice.

Valentine’s Day month is a great opportunity to try some new tricks to jump start a libido that might be on life support, or to make better use of the juice we know we have.

Here are a few suggestions.

Start every day in a sensual way. Just for this one month, do your hair, apply a bit of make-up, wear a signature fragrance and choose clothes every day that make you feel sexy. If the heavy snow boots are a non-negotiable, focus on lingerie. Sexy lingerie is your secret weapon all day long. Whenever you want to feel powerful, just remember that little black-lace-and-hot-pink number you have on, just for you. We lie about it, but sex is power.

Next order of business for February’s 28 days: Flirting 101. Some women were born flirting with the obstetrician who delivered them. Others were always serious and chose to believe that flirting was degrading and politically incorrect. At this time of life, do we really have to be so judgmental? As the days left to us become fewer, how about doing some new things just for fun, just for the experience and to see how it feels? Remember, this flirting thing is for only 28 days. How much trouble could that cause you? Well, that is for you to find out!

Flirting is seduction lite, most often done without serious intent. It does require self-awareness, self-confidence, and a spirit of adventure. Flirting is best done with a sense that you don’t have much to lose except an opportunity to have fun while making a connection with another person. Make eye contact. Tell a story that has more to come, with no time left at the moment for the punch line. This kept Scheherazade’s head on her shoulders for 1,001 nights before her conquest of the Persian king made her his queen.

I know many women in their 60s and 70s who make men half their age swoon. They know how to make each man they choose to flirt with feel so intelligent, so well informed, so courtly. And often the men out-perform because these seductive women bring out the best in them. This is the most exciting part of having a conversation, after all: each of you bringing out the best in the other.

Flirt with cab drivers. You are less likely to be killed or cursed at. Flirt with doormen. The service is always better. Flirt with the barrista at Starbucks—this, you might even enjoy. Flirt with salesmen and they’ll always remember your name. This is not meant to be an occupation or a preoccupation, just an amusing way of passing the time and reminding us that we are interested in that fizz between men and women. Or women and women, if you’re so inclined. Choose your own tricks for flirting and gently try them out every day. It’s 28 days to a new way of interacting with one special person in your life—or with everyone you meet.

There is a belief that if you try to break a habit and are successful at it for 28 days, the behavior change will be permanent. Wouldn’t this be terrific? To begin each day feeling feline—purring just a bit—and knowing that you are lookin’ fine? A new way of behaving in menopause during Valentine’s Day month. Starting with that sexy underwear.

Women’s Voices for Change is taking Dr. Pat’s 28-day challenge, too. For the entire month of February, we’ll turn the spotlight on love, love, love: the sensual, the sexual, the libidinal, the romantic. Love of family, love of pets, love of music—whatever stirs body and soul. We look forward to your company on this monthlong adventure.

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  • She February 9, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    Fabulous article, Dr Pat!

    Flirt is not an act, it’s a mindset. A state of openness, it is about giving and receiving without expectations in return. And to turn it on, what better than a smile, a gaze (and lingerie for those who like it).

    If content is king, dress accordingly!

    I am sure those of you, empowered with work, give your clients impeccable folders, no coffee stains or ripped letterheads. Isn’t so much nicer to read? It might even bring you pleasure…

    Flirt away!

  • Jacqueline February 6, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    I like this mind-body approach to reviving libido! Another good article on the subject is from Women to Women.

  • Marie-Monique Steckel February 4, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    I think flirting is a tool of life for women. It’s a way to feel confident and good in one’s own skin, but also a great way to connect with and reach out to others. My recent trip to India has opened my eyes to the importance of self-respect and I feel that your take on flirting goes hand in hand with this notion of amour-propre. To the French, flirting is second-nature – we flirt as we breathe. But mostly we flirt to open one’s self up to another.

    We at FIAF will embrace Dr. Pat’s challenge for February and flirt all 28 days long. Thank you for reminding us, Dr. Pat, that we are all beautiful and deserve to feel so each and every moment.

    Marie-Monique Steckel, President of the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF)

  • Julie Levitch February 2, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Love the post! My grandmother continued to “doll herself up” and flirt until her dying days. She loved men and enjoyed life. She serves as my inspiration, and I don’t see why I can’t be both a powerful, successful woman and also attractive and flirty. My customers, both men and women, respond better to me when I’m feeling good about myself and look good. To me, flirting is a powerful form of communication. It shows that I’m interested in others and confident in myself. Life would sure be boring if flirting didn’t exist. For all those women who think they’re above it, you’re missing out on one of the most entertaining aspects of life!

  • drpatallen February 2, 2011 at 11:33 am

    This is going to be a special month for We will be writing about romantic bedrooms, romantic dinners,
    lingerie shopping, the nitty gritty of foreplay from Dr Hilda Hutcherson in conversation with Dr. Pat, a special piece on a certain sexual act, ways to work on relationships, while continuing to provide our readers with Wednesday Five News and blogs about serious issues that are with us always. Visit daily and enlighten this community with your take on what others have to report. We are all different in our interests and how we manage our personal lives but we have a lot to share with each other.
    Dr. Pat

  • Molly Day February 2, 2011 at 10:53 am

    Dr. Pat, as usual, has raised an interesting topic that is really much less about sex that warmth. My mother was a beautiful woman who always looked her best. She was a fabulous flirt with everyone-men and women, cabdrivers and captains of industry. Her flirting had tremendous power, and its source, as I had ample opportunity to observe, was that it made others feel special about themselves. It is after all, a form of attention, and coming from a woman who clearly feels good about herself, a way of saying to the other that he or she is someone who should feel good too. In the end, I saw it as a form of kindness and good manners, and she generated a lot of goodwill along the way.

  • jennifer yeats February 2, 2011 at 9:45 am

    I am looking forward to taking Dr. Allen’s advise…As an Ivy
    League educated women with a full career and family life it is
    Great to be reminded to care about this side of life. It’s great to kick up the heels…leave the logistics behind and enjoy a goodflirt…

  • Tara Dillard February 2, 2011 at 9:38 am

    When CBS hired me for my own TV show I hired an image consultant.

    Hair, make-up, clothes, jewelry. As a landscape designer & contractor those things NEVER mattered.

    After the image consultant? Huge change in the responses (could write a New Yorker piece in length) from men AND women. The TV show lasted 1.5 years but what the image consultant taught me about looks CONTINUES to grow my business.

    Before this experience I would have called image consulting voodoo, now I call it a necessity.

    Garden & Be Well, Tara Dillard

  • S. Bewkes February 2, 2011 at 9:26 am

    I’m with all the women above who find this to be an empowering, fun and romantic initiative. As a smart, successful and sophisticated woman, it’s important to realize that flirting does not negate one’s feminist side but just the opposite – it enhances it with the power to embrace our femininity and make others feel good about themselves as well. Is there anything more appealing than seeing an older confident woman flirting with life? I think not and am definitely joining the ranks this month!

  • Jacki Lyden February 1, 2011 at 11:39 pm

    I can only say that tonight my 81 year old mother tottered off the sands at Naples. A silver-haired old goat asked her how she was doing. “Not bad for an old lady,” she replied. He said, “I don’t see any old ladies.” She stopped and said, “Oh, You Sweet Thing.” Surely, It’s about life force??

  • Geri Mazur February 1, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    I think this is an important reminder to us “menopausal” women that we are still sexual beings. I think sometimes, as women age, we may forget that. Especially those of us who are not in relationships. A big smile on my face and a lot of playfulness has always been my way of dealing, whether it’s business or personal. I suppose it can be called flirting, but it also helped shape a great professional career. And if it gets me a smile back, it’s not just a great way to break the ice, it’s also a great little boost to my ego. Which I will happily accept. Thanks, Dr. Pat, for the reminder.

  • Clara Bingham February 1, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    In defense of flirting, I side with Dr. Pat. It is a given in the 21st Century that women derive power from their career and worldly achievements but let us not forget that some things never change. Dr. Pat’s point is that age doesn’t have to rob us of our sexual power. We may be getting older, but that doesn’t mean that we have to hang up our spurs and shut down our charm. Older women can be empowered by their published books, their medical practices, their public achievements, but they can still find another form of empowerment, and happiness by rekindling their inner flirt. Isn’t that part of the fun of being a woman?

  • Trish Rubin February 1, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Well, I have to respectfully dissent with the above post.

    My Ivy league degreed self is powered in my own business. And feeling power for me comes from the fact that I am smart, successful and well educated, and damn…part of how I got here was knowing how to use all kinds of power…and In this dreary month of February, I think the power of seduction rules in this cold city. Just look at those playful pink roses…THE ROSES installation on Park AVE…the art is flirting with the Power Building of the city. That’s what biz is about at it’s red rose root, seducing clients…and flirting with possibility…so I celebrate that, and YOU Dr Pat! I’m with you….flirt with life.

    And I do chat up taxi drivers who welcome that touch of humanity, smile at doorman, pat babies on the head and say thank you to strangers in the city…it’s all a part of flirting with life and the energy that comes from being playful….LIGHTEN UP…someone’s having a bad NYC day….I say go walk by a fire station– too bad the doors are down in the cold…and say hello to the men ( or women) who safeguard us… be playful and flirt with them and let them know you love their service!

    Love the Post from Dr Pat…

  • Adrian Miller February 1, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    Yep, sometimes when I want to feel powerful I think about the successful consulting business that I launched 23 years ago. At other times I think about the books I’ve written, speeches I’ve delivered and many of the other business-related “atta girl accolades” that I’ve been able to win. But damn it, I also want to be sexy, attractive (to my husband AND to other men that come into my life each and every day) and downright desirable. Once upon a time I was disdainful of women that seemed, well, like me now. But that was when I was in my 20’s and frankly, didn’t know what I know now. And what I know is that this February I’m going to embrace Dr. Pat’s ideas and make this month just a little bit more fun. (I believe that I already hold a black belt in flirting, a fact that has stood me well not only in cabs and in Starbucks, but also when navigating through an awkward business meeting, selling my competencies to a new prospect and in other business situations where I had to give it ALL that I had in order to succeed. Let’s face it: appearances count. Why not embrace all of the powers we can rustle up. And Feb sucks…if pink lace undies can make me feel sunnier then I’m all for it.

  • roz warren February 1, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Hair? Makeup? Perfume?? Flirting? What am I reading — Cosmo??? What a let down to be told by an otherwise empowering site that I should be focusing on this crap. I just let my More Magazine subscription lapse because I was tired of the endless focus on what women are supposed to look (and smell) like. When I want to feel powerful, I don’t think about my sexy underwear. I think about my law degree and the books I’ve published, not to mention my wonderful friends and family and the fabulous man in my life, all of whom seem to enjoy my company, even if I don’t wear perfume or make-up or flirt with everybody crossing my path who wears pants. Dr Pat I usually love your take on things but I’ve got to respectfully dissent this time.