Updated: Oct 22
Today is October 18, 2023 – World Menopause Day! I've just arrived home, just in time to complete this World Menopause Day blog. I spent the day assisting wonderful women, both young and old, who are painfully aware of the lack of care provided to menopausal women. They are often dismissed, patronized, prescribed antidepressants, and flat-out denied access to safe and evidence-based treatments. So, here's a vent for World Menopause Day, shared by a frustrated woman, in solidarity with other women!
If men experienced menopause
"If men experienced shriveled penises, awful cold sweats, brain fog, unexplained anxiety, depression, joint pains, intractable headaches, unexplained debilitating palpitations, night sweats, insomnia, unexplained weight gain, lack of libido, and painful intercourse, what would they do? There would be an overnight shift in policy. Men would rise up and demand change, and we would have no peace until that treatment was provided. It would likely be free, and every doctor would be well-versed in managing it. Doctors would offer hormone support to men, whether they ask for it or not. Schools would teach it, medical schools, and the Royal College of Doctors would make education on the condition mandatory. But it's not men who experience menopause; it's women. 100% of women who live long enough will experience menopause. Menopause is more common than high blood pressure, yet most doctors are not educated on managing it. Why, you may ask? The Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study, which was flawed in many ways, still casts a shadow over our understanding. There are baseless myths and misconceptions regarding the safety of estrogen. We talk about the risks of estrogen but rarely discuss the benefits.
Menopause is like an orphan!
Menopause is like an orphan, no specialist fully owns it. It's time for a new breed of doctors called menopause specialists. Why should women have to suffer as they do? We have more compassion for our pets than these women. What is the reason for the silence? Is it economic, is it prejudice, is it misogyny? Tell us; we would like to know.
The truth is, any woman of any age can benefit from having her hormones replaced or balanced. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is the most effective management for menopause. It provides benefits for a woman's current health and protects her future health against cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and there's evidence to show it can lower the risk of dementia and bowel cancer. The cardiovascular benefit is gained if HRT is started within 10yrs of menopause.
There is safe licensed body identical HRT
There is safe, body-identical HRT available, licensed by the TGA, and it is an effective treatment for menopause. A market for herbal remedies for menopause is booming, yet women spend hundreds of dollars with no benefit. These women are cutting back on their work hours or leaving their jobs because they can't remember their passwords, they are self-doubting, have lost confidence, and feel they are a shadow of their former selves. Yet, when their hormones are replaced, they get their lives back and get back to doing what they do best.
Why don't we see it? If we take menopause seriously, we will lower the overall health budget, keep experienced members of the workforce in work, and improve the economy. Families will thrive, and society will benefit from recognizing menopause as a medical condition. You may say, 'Why are we medicalizing menopause?' Well, menopause is already medicalized. It is being treated with antidepressants, diagnosed as fibromyalgia, in some cases as bipolar disorder, inflammatory arthritis, or health anxiety. If menopause were recognized as a condition, it would receive the right funding for research, and doctors would be required to have a mandatory, up-to-date understanding of treatment options, risks, and benefits.
In conclusion, the urgency of addressing the challenges faced by women going through menopause cannot be overstated. It's a matter of both health and equality. If we were to apply the same level of attention, education, and care to menopause as we would if men experienced similar issues, we would create a more just and compassionate society.
We must dispel the myths, overcome the silence, and advocate for the necessary changes in our healthcare systems, education, and societal attitudes. By doing so, we can provide women with the support they deserve during this significant phase of life. Recognizing menopause as a medical condition is not about pathologizing a natural process; it's about ensuring that women have access to the treatment, understanding, and respect they need.
By taking menopause seriously, we can enhance the overall well-being of women, reduce healthcare costs, bolster the workforce, and create a more equitable and prosperous society. It's time to give women the care and attention they require during menopause, just as we would if the situation were different. Let us end the silence, break the silence, and usher in a new era of understanding and support for women facing the challenges of menopause.
By Dr Purity Carr
GP and Menopause Doctor
Dr Purity Carr Menopause Clinic