Women are going through changes, and the last thing they want to hear is the word “menopause.” With it comes thoughts of hot flashes, vaginal dryness and irritability — no wonder many women are uncomfortable discussing it.

Not all women feel comfortable talking about their symptoms with a health care provider, either. According to the Endocrine’s Society Hormone Health Network 2012 study1:

  • 69% of women with menopausal symptoms say symptoms negatively affect their quality of life.
  • More than 60% of these women say they have not talked with their provider about hormonal or non-hormonal treatment options for their symptoms.
  • 50% have not talked with their provider about lifestyle changes that could relieve symptoms.

But consider this: Health care providers such as an internist, a gynecologist, an endocrinologist, a physician assistant, a nurse practitioner and many more, have the education and experience to help women understand what’s happening, rule out other possible explanations and decide together upon a course of treatment for their symptoms.


Continue Reading

Our role is more important and challenging than ever.

However, tools are available to help clinicians and women start the dialogue and help them navigate their journey through menopause no matter how embarrassing the symptoms may be. Each woman’s experience with this change of life is unique. That’s why it’s important to provide women with the knowledge, support and empowerment that they need to take charge of this new path in life’s journey.

The Hormone Health Network recently released the  Menopause Map™ — an interactive online tool for women: a one-stop-shop for all things menopause to empower and educate women about the natural changes that occur as she approaches and goes through menopause, as well as what she might experience after the transition to becoming postmenopausal. 

It’s a great resource for information about symptoms which women might experience, provides an overview of treatment options to help alleviate symptoms and information on how to communicate to your partner about what you’re experiencing. Another new feature of the Map™ is connecting women with other women who are on the journey through the Network’s partnership with the Red Hot Mamas®.  

More importantly, the Menopause Map™ can be used by women of all ages to learn more about the hormonal changes that occur during all stages of menopause, which include preparing for menopause, premature menopause, perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause. Women who are currently on this journey should find it useful, and even fun, to use.

More importantly, the Network has developed tools for health care professionals because they are critical to helping women find the right treatment options. The health care professional microsite offers free tools to assist medical professionals on how to best use this new interactive tool with their patients. The primary goal is to provide accessible and clinical relevant resources to the busy provider, such as the Menopause Map™—My Personal Path Magazine that health care professionals can bulk order for free to use with their patients.

We all know the well-woman visit is short, and it’s critical that we use our time with women wisely. Here are some quick steps that you can take today to help start the conversation. 

Let’s Talk About It: Menopause
Starting the Dialogue

Step 1 Step 2
Step 3
Educate and Empower

  • Refer patients to additional resources for information and offer guidance about what’s to come next and what they can do to prepare for where they are as it relates to menopause.
Symptoms are Normal

  • Let your patient know that although they may be experiencing some embarrassing symptoms, like vaginal dryness, it’s okay and discuss treatment options.
Continue Dialogue

  • Share with your patient that they can always discuss with you their symptoms as they may change over time. Additionally, reinforce healthy lifestyle and preventive measures that may ease their symptoms.

Additional Resources for Health Care Providers

Reference

  1. The Endocrine Society. Ten years after WHI, doctors say patient concerns and misinformation impede treatment of menopausal women. https://www.endocrine.org/news-room/press-release-archives/2012/ten-years-after-whi-doctors-say-patient-concerns-and-misinformation-impede-treatment-of-menopausal-women. Accessed August 11, 2014.

Susan Kirk, MD, is a physician specializing in endocrinology and metabolism in Charlottesville, VA, and is affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area, including Augusta Health and University of Virginia Medical Center. She received her medical degree from Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, is board certified in Endocrinology and Metabolism and Internal Medicine, and has been in practice for 27 years.