The Menopause Map Helps Women Find Their Way


2012-05-02 08:34

Menopause can be a challenging time for women as they are faced with hormonal fluctuations and the emotional and physical changes they can trigger. To help women navigate the changes and available treatment options, including hormone therapy, the Endocrine Society developed the Menopause Map.

Menopause is a journey

Menopause doesn’t happen overnight, and while every woman’s experience is different, most do not escape having at least a few symptoms, which may include hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, vaginal dryness, fatigue, memory problems, breast tenderness, increased risk of osteoporosis, and weight gain, among others.

Questions and confusion about which treatment women should try, if any, heightened in 2002 and the years that followed because of the findings of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI). Basically, the WHI investigators found that hormone therapy consisting of estrogen and progestin (synthetic progesterone) increased a woman’s risk for breast cancer, ovarian cancer, heart attack, blood clots, and stroke.

Although hormone therapy can be risky for menopausal women, the degree of risk is not the same for every woman. Generally, women younger than 60 who have just started menopause have a lower risk than do older women if they take low doses of hormone therapy.

Yet, according to the results of a survey the Endocrine Society conducted, the majority of women with menopausal symptoms need some guidance when it comes to making decisions about if and how to manage their symptoms.

The survey revealed the following facts:

  • 72% of women currently experiencing menopausal symptoms have not been treated for them
  • 49% of women have a negative view of hormone therapy
  • Most women have not discussed hormone therapy (62%) or non-hormone options (61%) with their primary healthcare provider or OB/GYN
  • Half of menopausal women have not talked about lifestyle changes with their doctor. Such changes can include modifications to diet, stress management, and exercise
  • Discussions with healthcare providers about hormone therapy varies by ethnic group: only 17% of African-American women surveyed had talked to their doctors compared with 35% of Latinas and 39% of white women

The Menopause Map
The Menopause Map is an online tool women can use to help them open up discussions with their doctors about treatment options for menopausal symptoms. Rather than serve as a diagnostic tool, the Menopause Map helps women see their treatment possibilities based on their answers to questions about their personal health history and symptoms as well as their risk for stroke, heart disease, and breast cancer.

Women are encouraged to print out the results of their journey through the Map so they can discuss them with their healthcare provider to determine whether hormone therapy (not recommended for women 60 and older) or other choices may work best for them. Need an endocrinologist? The site offers women a search feature to find one in their area.

Women are also encouraged to take the journey once a year to see if their risks, benefits, and preferences have changed.

Life is a journey, and menopause is one of the side trips. The Menopause Map is a tool women can use to help them find some direction through their treatment options.

SOURCE:
The Endocrine Society/The Hormone Health Network

Image: Author