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Owning 40's: Taking control of the aging process

Owning 40's
Posted at 4:55 AM, Feb 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-03 10:15:19-05

HOLLAND, Mich. — Menopause is a natural part of aging for women, but it can bring some very unpleasant symptoms. Hot flashes, mood swings, sleeplessness and even weight gain.

Menopause isn't necessarily kind to women. On top of that, a recent study from Web MD and Healthy Women found that not many aging women talk about their health concerns with their doctors.

Dr. Barb DePree, director of women’s healthcare at Lakeshore Health Partners, helped break the study down for better understanding. She found that many women suffer in silence.

"Women said depression and anxiety had the most extreme negative impact on their life, more so than even the diagnosis of cancer," Dr. DePree explained.

"What we find is that many women don’t understand what some of the symptoms of menopause are," she noted ."[Study authors] also find that many physicians aren’t well-educated about menopause and treatment options."

Of 3,100 women surveyed for the study, 75 percent reported having six or more symptoms of menopause. That's a significant number of women whose daily lives are impacted by conditions like mood swings, sleeplessness and weight gain.

Dr. DePree said even symptoms like vaginal atrophy, which is associated with painful sex and urinary symptoms, can have a profound affect on a woman's mental and physical health.

"So many women don’t think there are treatment options available to them, so they don’t bother to bring it up," Dr. DePree explained. "This is a time when women should be advocating for themselves."

Dr. DePree insisted that if a woman isn't getting the answers she needs, it's time to find another physician. She recommended that women check out certified menopausal providers for their specific concerns, as well as the website nams.org.

"Hopefully, this will be an opportunity to look at the way we provide healthcare specifically to this group of women and understanding what their physical, mental and sexual needs are, and what their concerns are so we can tailor resources," she said.