Menopause marks a time of dramatic hormonal and social change for women. And if you are one of them, know that you are far from alone. About 25 million women world-wide pass through menopause each year, and estimates are that, by 2030, the world population of perimenopausal and menopausal women will be 1.2 billion.With numbers like these, it's no surprise that menopause is becoming big business. Along with legitimate evidence-based physicians, products, and treatments, the market is awash in fads, some of which have the potential for causing substantial harm.
Here is some advice as you wade into the menopause marketplace:
1. Find a OBGYN (or a family practitioner) that listens to you. Menopause marks an important transition into a new period of life for women, transmen, and non-binary patients and can present varying symptoms with a range of intensity. Menopause impacts everyone differently. There is no one-size-fits-all solution so having someone listen to your specific concerns is imperative. Note that this might not be simple since many traditional medical practices do not allow for appointments that are as long as you need. Keep looking!
2. Real menopause experts don’t manage menopausal hormone therapy with blood tests because the tests are often misleading. There are too many providers who will start you on high doses of hormones regardless of your test results and then keep prescribing blood tests and changing your dose according to test results - this is a money-making scheme, not healthcare, since the blood tests are unreliable indicators of your hormone replacement needs. Regular visits with your provider to discuss changes in dosing if needed will ultimately be your best care and help you avoid unwanted side effects.
3. Be wary if your provider is recommending supplements and/or compounded drugs to "fix" your symptoms. Supplements and compounded drugs are not regulated like prescription medications so the actual dose and purity are not guaranteed. Be particularly suspicious if the person recommending the supplement also sells it! It is one thing for a provider to vouch for a particular product and another if the provider is selling for a significant stream of income.
4. The best eating plan for menopause is the best eating plan for overall health. Be leery of so-called experts who are selling meal plans and supplements.
5. Know that you have options. Treatment for menopause includes medications, lifestyle changes, behavioral support, health education, and destigmatization. The best place to start before you talk with your doctor is to prioritize behaviors that contribute to good mental and physical health: good nutrition, regular exercise, good sleep practices, reduction of unnecessary stress, connection with other people, reduction of substance use, and getting outside.
Menopause is a normal part of life - not unlike puberty. We need to embrace it, research it, and manage it in the same way as we do other life transitions. Knowledge is power. And you are not alone.
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