For many women, menopause seems like a mystery. There is a vague idea that starts later in life and can include hot flashes, no more periods and vaginal dryness. Still, it takes surprise for so many women. To help combat this problem, Dr. Jen Gunter, a San Francisco-based OB / GYN, wrote “The Menopause Manifesto: Possess Your Health with Facts and Feminism,” available on May 25, to help women to understand the transition.
“It’s crazy for me to have this really absolute cultural silence about menopause,” he told TODAY. “Most people have a general concept of puberty. They may not always be accurate in the information, but they know it exists. They have an idea of when it can start and what its implications are. And we just don’t have it with (menopause). “
This silence creates many misunderstandings and can even negatively affect women’s health. Often, women only experience menopause in the context of fertility. This means that they may not be thinking about how it is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and dementia.
“Menopause is associated with a sequence of events that increase the risk of many annoying diseases and symptoms,” Gunter said. “When you don’t know what to expect when you no longer expect a period, you don’t know what is normal or abnormal. You may not have the right words to discuss things with your doctor. “
Often women do not talk to their friends or doctors about what the worrying symptoms may be. Even if you discuss it with your doctor, your concerns are unknown.
“The saddest thing is that these conversations do not happen often enough or you may be fired. I hear over and over again women saying, “Well, they just told me that’s part of being a woman.” Okay, so that’s not an acceptable answer, ”Gunter said.
Menopause is inevitable and many women simply accept that it will make their life miserable. But women can prepare for menopause and make it a better experience. In the book, Gunter even points out that women in countries that do not use the term menopause do not experience as much anxiety.
“A healthy menopause is a healthy life,” Gunter said. “So everything you’ve been told to get good preventative health care (like exercising, don’t smoke) is all that will prepare you to get the best for menopause. These are not the attractive things to do. to which you can sell special supplements or prescribe medications, but they are the healthiest things. “
Eating a healthy diet and maintaining a lower weight can also help. But maintaining an open dialogue about menopause and its symptoms also makes a difference. Women know about hot flashes, painful sex, or interest in declining sex, but they often talk about it as a joke, not as a real concern. But these symptoms can be related to health problems and can also affect women’s quality of life.
“Hot flashes are an annoying symptom,” he explained. “Women who have more hot flashes have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.”
Understanding this can mean that women can be more proactive about their health instead of laughing about the heat and sweat they feel. Hot flashes can also disrupt sleep by adding stress and worsening your experience. That’s why women should consider talking about their transition with other people and talking to their doctors before they think they’re menopausal.
“The menopausal transition is a fairly long phase that can begin even in the early 1940s for some women and possibly until the late 1930s. So knowing in advance that this can happen is very beneficial, “he said.” (Imagine) that a girl would wake up at the age of 12 covered in blood and had no idea what was happening to her body … menopause is for to many women. “
The health of younger women can affect their menopause and understand that this can also change their experience. Women who had anorexia, for example, are more likely to have a higher risk of osteoporosis. Women who had a hysterectomy but still have ovaries are at risk for having a previous menopause.
“The earlier you are in menopause, the higher your risk of heart disease,” Gunter said. “Knowing all of this helps people make more educated decisions about their body and the more you know beforehand, the more educated you can be.”
Brain fog is another concern. Menopausal women often notice that they have difficulty remembering things. While annoying, the good news is that it doesn’t last forever.
“It is temporary and reversible and does not affect everyone. The researchers best summed it up as a kind of temporary slowdown in taking new information, “he said.” Interestingly, in one study … women who were in transition from menopause still outnumber men. “
And, having brain fog “is not a sign that dementia is coming.”
“This is very important for people to know, that in many ways, like the baby’s brain, a lot of people talk when they have a newborn,” she said. “Brain fog is alarming, but that’s no cause for alarm.”
But starting menopause at a younger age also puts women at higher risk for dementia.
“When people ask about what is the best way to prevent dementia, the best way is to not smoke, eat a healthy diet, and exercise,” Gunter said. “These are some of the modifiable factors.”
The end result: more education about menopause is needed. It will help women feel empowered about their health and may even facilitate the transition from menopause.
“Menopause is a huge diaspora and there are people who have really annoying symptoms and there are people who don’t have it,” Gunter said. “Think about the transition from menopause and the time before menopause, characterized by hormonal chaos. It’s a bit like puberty. Just like you went through puberty and things were pretty rocky and settled in, that’s the case with menopause. ”