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When doc­tors fail women

- Health · Sexism · Medicine · Women's Rights · Feminism · Discrimination · Human Rights · Society · Social Movements · Mayo Clinic · Minnesota · United States of America · AARP · Sandusky, OH · Ohio · The North American · Cleveland · Newport Beach, CA · California · Women's Health · North American Menopause Society · Mayo · Pepper Pike · Pike · Newport, MN · Ohio State University

IN pop­u­lar cul­ture, it’s of­ten a joke.

At the doc­tor’s of­fice, its symp­toms might be writ­ten off as some­thing that will pass in a few months or a year.

But to mil­lions of women, menopause is no joke. And it can last al­most a decade, say ex­perts.

“The main du­ra­tion is seven to nine years,” said Dr Stephanie Faubion, med­i­cal direc­tor of the North Amer­i­can Menopause So­ci­ety and direc­tor of the Cen­ter for Women’s Health at the Mayo Clinic in Min­nesota in the United States.

“A good many women have hot flushes and night sweats for a decade. It’s not a small bur­den of symp­toms we’re talk­ing about here, and telling women to tough it out or wait a year or two is not a good so­lu­tion.”

That’s why there are on­go­ing ef­forts to train doc­tors and other care providers on how to un­der­stand menopausal symp­toms and care for the women who have them.

Menopause is de­fined as no men­strual cy­cle for a year, though symp­toms can start years be­fore a woman loses her pe­riod, Faubion said. The typ­i­cal age that menopause starts for Amer­i­can women is 51 or 52, but any­thing older than 45 is con­sid­ered to be nor­mal, she said.

Symp­toms vary but can in­clude hot flushes, in­som­nia, night sweats, brain fog, ir­ri­tabil­ity and heart pal­pi­ta­tions.

In Amer­ica, the AARP (a non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion fo­cus­ing on is­sues for the el­dely) es­ti­mates that 6,000 women in the coun­try reach menopause each day, and about 1.3 mil­lion women be­come menopausal an­nu­ally, ac­cord­ing to a 2019 study by two doc­tors at Fire­lands Re­gional Med­i­cal Cen­ter in San­dusky in Ohio.

De­spite the amount of women reach­ing menopause, some doc­tors aren’t prop­erly trained or ed­u­cated to of­fer pa­tients re­lief for their symp­toms or peace of mind, ex­perts say.

Menopause ed­u­ca­tion, in gen­eral, has dropped off be­cause med­i­cal schools have so much ma­te­rial to cover, Faubion said.

“It’s men­tioned in a 30-minute lec­ture at best,” she said. “There’s a huge gap there in menopause ed­u­ca­tion.”

The North Amer­i­can Menopause So­ci­ety, based in Pep­per Pike, a Cleve­land sub­urb, has cre­ated a menopause guide­book for providers. Af­ter read­ing the book, they can take a test and get a cer­ti­fi­ca­tion show­ing that they have the knowl­edge to treat menopausal women.

There’s also a search­able data­base on the so­ci­ety’s web­site,, where women can go to find one of 1,200 providers in the world, with most in the United States and Canada, the or­gan­i­sa­tion has cer­ti­fied.

The cer­ti­fi­ca­tion isn’t just for OB-GYNS be­cause fam­ily doc­tors are of­ten the first to treat women with menopausal symp­toms, Faubion said.

To broaden ac­cess to menopause care for women, Dr Les­lie Me­serve be­gan Curiemd, a pri­vate prac­tice in New­port Beach, Cal­i­for­nia, that can treat women us­ing telemedici­ne.

Last year, Me­serve, a pri­mary-care physi­cian, de­cided she re­ally wanted to fo­cus on mid­dle-aged women’s care.

“There are many ar­eas of the coun­try where women are un­der­served,” she said.

Me­serve talked to one pa­tient who said she had asked her doc­tor about per­i­menopause, or the start of menopause when ovaries are work­ing in­ter­mit­tently, and the gy­ne­col­o­gist re­sponded that it isn’t a thing.

An­other told a pa­tient to take Me­ta­mu­cil, a med­i­ca­tion for con­sti­pa­tion, for hot flashes.

“What I hear a lot is, ‘I just feel dif­fer­ent’,” Me­serve said. “Women know their bod­ies well ... and many of them know what they’re feel­ing is hor­monal. They’re just not sure what to do about it.”

To some, the symp­toms of menopause might not be all that dra­matic, said Dr Cyn­thia Evans, direc­tor of the Menopause Clinic at Ohio

State Univer­sity’s Wexner Med­i­cal Cen­ter, but they can be very dis­rup­tive. For ex­am­ple, a woman could have a hot flush in a busi­ness meet­ing and sweat might soak right through her shirt, mak­ing the hot flush no­tice­able to oth­ers and of­ten em­bar­rass­ing, Evans said.

Menopause ed­u­ca­tion is im­por­tant be­cause “it will af­fect ev­ery woman if she lives long enough,” Evans said.

A small amount of med­i­cal res­i­dents do learn about menopause dur­ing their train­ing to be doc­tors.

Evans works with a few res­i­dents at the Ohio State clinic, train­ing them in menopause treat­ment and care. “I don’t think it’s well-taught in res­i­dency,” Evans said. “There are so many things to learn in those num­ber of years ... it is some­thing peo­ple could pick up af­ter they grad­u­ate.”

Go­ing through menopause and com­ing out on the other side can be great, Me­serve said, as women are of­ten more con­fi­dent and happy in that stage of their lives.

“I would like for women to look at it as kind of a new be­gin­ning,” she said. “Talk­ing about all the pos­i­tive as­pects of life and the con­fi­dence we can gain just by be­ing in our skin for over 50 years – I think that’s what we need to cel­e­brate.”

 ?? — ?? Go­ing through menopause and com­ing out on the other side can be great as women are of­ten more con­fi­dent at that stage.
— Go­ing through menopause and com­ing out on the other side can be great as women are of­ten more con­fi­dent at that stage.

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