The word menopause typically triggers to mind older age, mood swings, and hot flashes. A brief video on TikTok by Dr. Mary Claire Haver relays that menopause is so much more. It can alter a women’s life quite drastically. One hormonal change increases the risk of health issues, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis.
I spoke with one woman who is in her eighties now. When menopause began in her life, her doctor put her on estrogen. She didn’t know why, still doesn’t really know why, but she did know there was some controversy around it. Fast forward thirty plus years later – and there is still mystery with menopause.
So why isn’t more focus placed on menopausal healthcare?
There is a stigma associated around menopause. It feels embarrassing to talk about or ask questions. Typically, training that focuses exclusively on menopause is rare, as well. Women’s health extends beyond maternity health. Forty plus is when women are hitting their stride. They make up a big part of the workforce. Then menopause hits and women are basically told, “just to deal with it.” But symptoms can be managed, and quality of life can improve!
How can menopause symptoms be treated? Hormone therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy are the most common. Diet can help decrease symptoms, too. During her podcast, Dr. Jen Gunter discussed her choices for treatment with menopause, which include a combination of hormone therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. She decided to use estrogen due to her high risk of osteoporosis. Her mother passed away from osteoporosis, so knowing the amount of estrogen going into her body was top of the list. For the cognitive behavioral therapy, Dr. Gunter decided on a mantra to help with hot flashes. The mantra derives from the “grandmother hypothesis.” When the hot flashes strike, she repeats to herself, “I have this (menopause) because women evolved to drive humanity. This is a sign of strength! Not a sign of weakness!”.
At the end of the day, it’s about presenting all possibilities to the patient and allowing them to weigh the pros and cons. Each woman will suffer different symptoms and benefit from different treatments. As with everything in healthcare, one size does not fit all. With the help of a healthcare provider, they can choose what is best for them. As an employer, remember there are people in your workforce who could benefit from menopausal healthcare. Let’s work on retaining women in the workforce.
In the next coming weeks, we will discuss this topic in more detail with Jennifer Young and Dr. Byron Crowe of Solera Health on our podcast, “It’s All Your Business.” Until then, you can find our other episodes at: https://pbghpa.org/podcast/.