Will YOUR doctor help you through menopause?
As a journalist, I have the fun of spotting trends before much of the general population. A few examples: In the 1980s, when I was an editor at Women’s Wear Daily, we recognized that big belts, padded shoulders and suits inspired by menswear were going to be hot. I’ll never forget buying two wide belts by Donna Karan–one in lipstick red and one in navy, with gold colored buckles. I still have them, although they’ll never fit around my waist again. Carl Sontheimer, the man who brought Cuisinart to the United States, personally introduced it to me at breakfast in the 1970s, when I was a young reporter. I had a private tour of the Microsoft “campus” when “personal” computing was in its infancy.
I see a current trend that is exciting in a far different way: More and more female doctors, whose careers were focused on obstetrics and gynecology, are turning to the practice of helping women through perimenopause and menopause. Makes sense: The boomer generation of women born between 1946 and 1964 is approximately 30 million strong, and we are intensely interested in maintaining our physical and mental health. Whether a doctor is a boomer herself, or she’s a 30-something doctor with a boomer mother or friend, she has first-hand experience or knowledge of the range of issues facing women during the transitional stage of her life, when hormone fluctuations can wreak havoc on their psychological and physical states.
This is wonderful news for FabOverFifty women, since many of our male OB GYNS or internists don’t exactly make us feel comfortable discussing our hot flashes, no less vaginal atrophy. We see them for routine Pap smears, they examine our breasts, take our blood pressure, and off we go! We’re embarrassed asking them if they can recommend anything for the painful sex we’ve been having lately, and they sure don’t bring up the subject.
A few women doctors have been at the forefront of the women’s health and well-being movement, including Dr. Christiane Northrup, who is passionate about helping women flourish as they enter what she affectionately calls their “wisdom years.” A radio host and well-known public speaker, Dr. Northrup has authored important books, including Goddesses Never Age, The Wisdom of Menopause and Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom.
And, as the founder of the website, FabOverFifty,com, I am hearing from other doctors across the country who are starting to specialize in the treatment of problems arising from menopause. They know that this period of a woman’s life, which can (woefully) last for years, can be defined by far more than weight gain and hot flashes. Add to this decreased bone density, thinning hair, dry skin and loss of libido, and there’s lots of advice women need. “This chaos can be brought under control, alleviating numerous symptoms that women blame on other issues, and doctors often dismiss,” said Dr. Prudence Hall, a former gynecologist who now heads The Hall Center in Santa Monica.
Numerous blogs are devoted to the subject of menopause, which is a good thing, since the overwhelming majority of women 45+ turn to the internet to research health information. But, while some of these blogs provide smart and practical information (faboverfifty,com chief among them) to help us maneuver through menopause, they are not substitutes for doctors who know us personally and learn our unique health histories, to help them help us. Based on what I’m seeing, however, we’re going to be hearing more from these wise, experienced and passionate doctors who are making menopause their number one priority.
Geri Brin, Founder of FabOverFifty.com