Journal / Menopause

Menopause Awareness: Everything You Need to Know

Nancy L. Belcher

Medically reviewed by Nancy L. Belcher Ph.D, MPA

Written by Winona Editorial Team

Last updated November 25, 2021

Menopause Awareness: Everything You Need to Know

Erectile Dysfunction vs. Menopause 

Watching the Super Bowl, or the Final Four, or just about any of the shows my sons like to watch exposes me to an assortment of commercials that I don’t typically see. In the past 5 years or so there have been so many more commercials focused on erectile dysfunction. But I have to ask, what about more menopause awareness?

At first, I was a bit embarrassed watching those men on the commercials talk about their sexual impotence with my boys sitting next to me, but it has now become so commonplace that we just stare blankly as we are instructed about how easy it is to find solutions. Simply go online, press a few buttons, and a bottle of little blue pills is delivered directly to your door.  I can’t help but wish that there was the same level of awareness and acceptance for menopause and its symptom relief. Would my boys pay attention to commercials focused on menopause or the symptoms? Very doubtful.

As menopausal women, we are likely enduring a hot flash, moodiness, or sleep deprivation (or all of them at once) due to menopause as we sit through the men’s commercials waiting for the game to resume. I can’t help but wonder, “Wouldn’t that be amazing if women who are suffering from peri - and menopause had a similar service?” Well, now you do - it’s why we created Winona. 

Prescription menopause relief. Delivered.

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Prescription menopause relief. Delivered.

Menopause, the Ignored Disease

Peri - and menopause is a health condition that, if we are lucky enough to reach the tender age of 40’ish, all women will experience. It is also the single most significant risk factor for developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, and some forms of cancer.1 Menopause has been seriously studied by scientists for well over 60 years and its symptoms are well understood. However, it is still often mismanaged by the health professionals that we rely on to provide us with evidence-based treatments.

I likely started perimenopause soon after my youngest son was born when I was 42. I attributed many of the symptoms to being postpartum. The symptoms included hot flashes, moods, weight gain, sleepless nights, and overwhelming anxiety. However, nobody was talking about menopause in my friend group. It was like we were in denial. Finally, when I was at a Boy Scout Camp mom’s sleepover the most fabulous mom there, who was about 10 years older than all of us, dropped the news, “Get ready ladies! It’s bad, and it lasts more than 10 years!”

As the years went by I continued to suffer from symptoms, and when I couldn’t deny them any longer I went to a doctor who told me to lose weight. The next doctor said I could try hormone replacement therapy (HRT), but I was scared. My mom is a breast cancer survivor, and isn’t there a risk? 

The doctor and I discussed HRT at length, and I politely declined. In retrospect, I realize how lucky I was to have a doctor that even suggested hormone replacement therapy (HRT). It took two more years, and loads of reading on my part,  to finally request an HRT prescription as a solution to my menopause symptom suffering. I wish I had listened to the doctor years before. I got my life back, my husband got his wife back, and the kids recognized me again.

Menopause is rarely discussed, screened for, or sufficiently treated by medical professionals. While women feel confused and hopeless, they are often minimized and ignored even when they have the most obvious symptoms. 

My own mom told me "it is just a phase" and to get through it. What she and I didn’t know was that all of those symptoms of menopause were telling me that my hormones were way off,  my bones are thinning, cholesterol and blood sugar levels are rising, and the inflammation that leads to muscle and joint pain (as well as possibly some cancers) is way too high.

It’s a New Day

That was years ago, and as a scientist, I took my studies of menopause symptoms very seriously. I now work overtime to share the message that menopause needs to be taken seriously, and the treatments for the symptoms are not just vanity or comfort, but ways to prevent long-term diseases. 

The effects of low estrogen are lifelong, and while our healthcare providers might occasionally let us down by not recognizing what the symptoms are telling us, we need to educate ourselves. Menopause and the drop in hormones can create life-altering irreversible changes, and practices to alter diet, exercise, and take HRT can mitigate serious physiologic changes.

Study after study shows that women taking estrogen have less insulin resistance and a decreased risk for cardiovascular disease.1 Winona is a champion that is speaking loudly for a change in the conversation regarding the importance of menopause awareness and appropriate treatment. 

Prescription menopause relief. Delivered.

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Prescription menopause relief. Delivered.

Marie’s Story

I read a story from a well respected menopausal physician who shared Marie’s story as an example:1

Marie’s chief complaint was "menopause symptoms" … she was 54, had never been pregnant, was 16 months from her last period, and had gained 12 pounds in the last 8 months.

Marie’s prior physician’s notes did not mention menopause status or treatment options…. Even though Marie had multiple menopause symptoms, including night sweats, there was no mention of menopause in her medical notes. When her new physician asked,  "what is hard?" Marie quickly answered, "the fatigue, the fatigue is really hard." Marie had been suffering from night sweats for well over a year and had been waking up tired and she felt moody. She also talked about how sex hurt and was no longer enjoyable.

Her new doctor explained to her how her ovaries had stopped producing estrogen, and progesterone and the loss of these hormones caused many of her symptoms. The doctor further explained how hormones influence the brain, skin, vagina, uterus, breast, and bones. "I am not crazy?" asked Marie. No, Marie, you are not crazy, but menopause can certainly make you feel that way.

After about 8 months of hormone replacement therapy, Marie lost and kept off 20 pounds, lowering her blood pressure and cholesterol. Her fatigue was gone, her mood happy, and her coping skills improved, her exercise regular, and she felt normal. 

Menopause is an opportunity to improve your life, to age well, and not just a condition or group of symptoms to be tolerated. Menopause needs to be embraced as a chance to save lives and reduce preventable illnesses.

Conclusion

Effective menopause treatments, like hormone replacement therapy (HRT), are available to help you embrace this stage. Menopause awareness means paying attention to menopause and all of the symptoms associated with it. With menopause support from Winona, you have the opportunity to take preventive action against health risks associated with the ever-decreasing hormones as we age. Take action by using natural menopause relief in the form of HRT and other natural remedies.

Hormone replacement is a safe and physiologically natural way for menopausal women to regain their vitality. HRT can restore proper hormone levels by using hormones that are made from yams and are bioidentical to those produced by your own body. Winona’s healthcare platform is a place to safely connect with a healthcare provider to receive care, to ask the sometimes difficult and maybe even embarrassing questions. 

The decision to treat, and whether to prescribe a product available through Winona, is up to the patient and their Winona-affiliated providers who are all licensed, board-certified, and never financially-motivated to prescribe. We believe that if women embrace their evolving bodies by providing the nutrients their body needs, they can move through this sometimes precarious phase with grace and wellness.

“This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.”

Reference:

  1. https://www.medpagetoday.com/blogs/lady-doc/69472