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® Hot News Flash 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!
This post originally appeared on ellendolgen.com