It is well known that the month of October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. However, a lesser-known fact is that last month was also World Menopause Awareness Month, as designated by the WHO in 2009. In this article, we’ll explore the importance of menopause awareness and discuss how patients can best advocate for individualized menopause care for themselves.
Menopause, though most commonly a natural event in every woman’s life, should she live long enough to experience it, can be associated with significant and burdensome symptoms. While some of these symptoms are well known, such as hot flashes and mood changes, menopause is also associated with multiple other symptoms and conditions. Thus, the goal of good menopause care extends beyond just the management of these symptoms. Thorough menopausal care includes regular health screenings and treatment, also, for conditions that have increased prevalence in post-menopause, such as osteoporosis, breast cancer, and cardiovascular disease.
A common misconception is that the leading cause of death in women is Breast Cancer. However, to this day, the primary cause of death in women remains cardiovascular disease. This is particularly important to know because the Vasomotor Symptoms (also known as hot flashes and night sweats) of the menopause transition are associated with an adverse cardiovascular disease risk profile. Additionally, the menopause transition is associated with adverse changes in body fat deposition, lipid levels, insulin resistance, hypertension, and vascular remodeling; all of which collectively worsen a woman’s risk of cardiovascular disease in later life. It is important to note that women who undergo premature natural or surgical menopause are at an even further increased risk of cardiovascular disease when compared to women who undergo natural menopause at an average age. The risk of this is highest in women who have their ovaries removed prematurely and do not receive estrogen replacement therapy.
With all this knowledge about menopause and the risks associated with it, how exactly does one find a menopause-informed clinician who will personalize your menopause care? The Menopause Society, formerly known as the North American Menopause Society, certifies clinicians to be Menopause Society Certified Providers, or MSCP. The Menopause Society website, Menopause.org, has a page where you can search MSCPs by zip code and find a clinician close to you. Furthermore, you don’t need to have stopped having periods to discuss the menopause transition, as many women suffer symptoms in perimenopause. If you are having symptoms or have questions, find a Menopause Society Certified Provider near you and schedule an appointment.