Time to DEMAND Better Menopause Research and Healthcare - Ellen Dolgen
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Time to DEMAND Better Menopause Research and Healthcare

If you have a vagina or know someone who does……………..listen up!  (Yes, I know that the technical term is the vulva, but please indulge me as I call the whole shebang my vagina.)

Regardless of what your pet name is for your vulva, as you move into your midlife years, you will most likely experience the various stages of menopause. You are not alone.  There are 50 Million women in menopause in the U.S. and 1.2 billion women in menopause in the world.  Each day approximately 6,000  U.S. women enter menopause.

Perimenopause is the 2-10 years before you reach menopause. You graduate to menopause when you have been without a period for 12 consecutive months. (If you have any bleeding during that period – start the clock over! Oh, and BTW you can still get pregnant until you reach that 12-month no-bleeding mark!).  The early stages of perimenopause can begin in your 30s but most women start in their 40s.

Once you stop bleeding, you are in menopause. No, there is no cap and gown ceremony. No hallmark card either. You arrive in menopause, and then the next day, you are postmenopausal! The average age of menopause is 51.

Many years ago, I posted the shocking news that not all gynecology residents receive menopause training!   The John Hopkins survey of U.S. obstetrics and gynecology residents found that fewer than one in five med students receives formal training in menopause medicine! I know – this is crazy. They did find out that seven in 10 would like to receive it. Oy! Please don’t pass the other 3!

On top of this horrifying discovery, there are not enough women in clinical trials because of underfunding in research dollars and venture capital investment.  Janine Austin Clayton, director of the National Institutes of Health’s Office for Women’s Health Research, explains, “Diseases manifest in women in different ways than they do for men, and the healthcare sector needs more funding to study those sex and gender differences.”

If you haven’t read Susan Dominus’ article, Women Have Been Misled About Menopause, in the New York Times, please be sure to read it!  Dominus states that although we have treatment for hot flashes, insomnia, and pain during sex, women are not given the treatment. The article further explains that because women have a high cultural tolerance for suffering, their medical issues are simply not regarded as important. Is your head exploding?  Mine is!

The article details how the reporting of the WHI in 2002 scared women and many of their doctors to reject hormone therapy (HT). After hearing the inappropriately reported findings, women flushed their HT down the toilet, and their quality of life went along with it.

The sisterhood needs to stop feeling ashamed or embarrassed about speaking about menopause.  As Dominus so brilliantly explained, if men had hot flashes, suffered from a dry penis resulting in painful sex, and suffered from insomnia and brain fog – how long do you think they would wait to get the proper treatment?????

Thank you, Susan, for speaking truth to power. Your powerful words reinforce the need for women to educate themselves, band together, ask questions of their healthcare providers, and insist on getting the help they need and deserve!

I have interviewed some of the top researchers, menopause specialists, oncologists, bone experts, sex experts, psychologists, brain health experts, pelvic floor experts —- the lists go on and on. Then I deliver the information in lay speak thru my MENOPAUSE MONDAYS® Blog Blog. Please use my website as your menopause library to help educate yourself so that you can become your own health advocate and base your healthcare decisions on facts instead of fear.

Let’s unite and begin demanding better menopause research and healthcare!

My Motto:  Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN! 

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*EllenDolgen.com does not recommend, endorse, or make any representation about any tests, studies, practices, procedures, treatments, services, opinions, healthcare providers, physicians, or medical institutions that may be mentioned or referenced.



6 thoughts on “Time to DEMAND Better Menopause Research and Healthcare”

  1. I am in menopause and been on HRT via now my doctor’s want me to stop after so many years. I don’t know where to go or what to do. I am so confused with all the confusing information.

    1. Terel, I totally understand why you find the information confusing. As I mentioned to Sherlynn, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. As I said in this blog, the doctor prescribing your hormones or taking you off of your hormones may not be trained in menopause. Are you going to a Menopause Specialist who is up on the latest information and science? A Menopause Specialist should assess your personal risk-benefit and together with you create the proper protocol to fit your health needs and ensure your best quality of life.

  2. Sherlynn Ann McKenzie

    Dr. Susan Hardwick-Smith, GYN, who is the founder of the Complete Midlife Wellness Center in Houston. FELICE-FEBRUARY 20, 2023

    “You mean we can take Estrogen now, after 60, we can start now? I was hoping I would be allowed to take estrogen for specific issues but also because frankly, I have read that the benefits can help with the aging process like our memory, bone health, heart health and our skin…. Is this really true I asked one of the top Doctors, Dr. Susan Hardwick-Smith, GYN, who is the founder of the Complete Midlife Wellness Center in Houston.
    “Absolutely… but not orally, but yes, every woman in menopause and after menopause should find a Dr. to talk about this topic and educate themselves!”
    “I was told I had missed the window… and now after 60, I was 10 years post menopause and it was risky?”
    “This is not true,” said Dr. Susan.
    “How could I/We have been so misled? Two years ago my very smart OB told me I had missed the window on Hormone Therapy as I was 10 years post menopause.”
    “This is so frustrating to hear but thank goodness for Susan Dominus’ New York Times article….”Women Have Been Misled About Menopause,” published on Feb 1 (just 2 weeks ago).”
    “Yes, that’s why I called you… we need to continue this conversation. My friends in their 60’s all were told absolutely NO Hormone Therapy and 2 weeks ago, since this article was published we are learning this is no longer true… this is so upsetting that we were so misled but how do we know what the truth really is…can we just rely on this article?”
    “Dr. Susan continued….The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study in 2002 virtually put an end to hormone therapy help with its findings and now, after 20 years, thank goodness women can go to their Doctors armed with this information from this article and ask the questions to get the help they need for menopausal symptoms.”
    We talked further about why the research had been halted in 2002 with the WHI study. We talked about the way the information was presented to the public in 2002 and that the group of women in the study was deeply flawed (too many women over 60 in the study, many of them with health issues already etc.) and how this had put the kabosh on prescribing Hormone Therapy for so many women.
    “So of course that explains when I turned 50, no Doctor offered me relief from my menopausal symptoms which I just had to live with. And, that explains why I was told to just deal with this, and told ….don’t drink coffee, no more wine, wear layers so you can strip down easily when the flash hits.
    That explains why 15 years ago Hormone Therapy was available to me but Doctors wouldn’t prescribe it. I remember them telling me it was off the table due to the risks of breast cancer and heart disease. But now that is not the case. To think I could have gotten relief back then and a jump start on hormone therapy benefits like help with memory, skin, sleep, libido, mood swings and hot flashes and so much more. But there’s no going back.
    Dr. Susan went on to share her favorite quote from the New York Times article which we both chucked about….
    “Imagine that some significant portion of the male population started regularly waking in the middle of the night drenched in sweat, a problem that endured for several years. Imagine that those men stumbled to work, exhausted, their morale low, frequently tearing off their jackets or hoodies during meetings and excusing themselves to gulp for air by a window. Imagine that many of them suddenly found sex to be painful, that they were newly prone to urinary-tract infections, with their penises becoming dry and irritable, even showing signs of what their doctors called “atrophy.” Imagine that many of their doctors had received little to no training on how to manage these symptoms — and when the subject arose, sometimes reassured their patients that this process was natural, as if that should be consolation enough……
    So here we are in 2023, It’s time to continue this conversation about HRT. It’s time to do our own research when we talk to our Drs and if they are not versed on this topic, we have to seek help elsewhere.

    1. Robin, recognizing sex-based differences is long overdue! It seems that we are seeing a bit of a shift recently. I hope it continues. After all, half of the world’s population is women. We, also, account for 80% of the consumer purchasing decisions in the healthcare industry. Considering women spend more than 1/3 of their lives in peri or post-menopause – the economic impact of untreated symptoms is great. I read a study that estimated $1,400 in health costs and $770 in lost productivity per person – per year for untreated hot flashes alone! Let’s hope that some of these statistics begin to resonate and there will be a shift towards better healthcare for women!

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