All women of a certain age will go through menopause. Around 50 years old, the body goes through a hormone shift with a unique set of symptoms. Hot flashes are perhaps the most well-known symptom and, though commonly belittled, it can significantly impact a woman’s sleep and daily life. Other difficulties that are not as commonly associated with menopause, such as depression or pain during sex, may be an unnecessary source of embarrassment for many women.
Find your people
Connecting with other women who are experiencing menopause can relieve the stigma and shame that many women feel as they notice their body changing without their permission or control.
“If you’re experiencing some of the physical symptoms, such as hot flashes or problems sleeping, and the emotional symptoms, such as depression or memory issues, you don’t have to sit alone with that. Talking with friends, family and your doctor can help,” said Osarumen Doghor, MD, reproductive psychiatrist at The Menopause Center at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women.
The Menopause Center offers group forums, both in-person and online as a way to educate women about menopause and join women in a community of support and empowerment.
Help is available
Many of the most disruptive symptoms of menopause can be relieved with modern therapies. Some of these treatments, hormone replacement therapy in particular, can be a source of confusion and trepidation for many women, but can offer significant relief with few side effects when used appropriately.
“There are a lot of myths out there, especially about hormone therapy,” said Dr. Doghor. “People hear a lot of things from family and friends about other naturopathic methods that are not all incorrect. We try to bring the research to the women.”
Discussing menopause symptoms can be difficult and personal for many women. Your physician should listen to your symptoms and take them seriously, offering support, medications and referrals as needed.
The importance of mental health care
The onset of depression or anxiety symptoms in midlife can be jarring for many women, and all too often these symptoms are dismissed by friends, family or the health care community.
“During hormonal transitions, whether puberty, the beginning of the menstrual cycle, pregnancy or menopause, there’s a lot of hormonal fluctuation. Some women are particularly sensitive to hormone changes. So, it’s not that the hormones are fleeting or gone, it’s that the fluctuation of the hormones that we see for years during the menopause transition can be much more difficult for a lot of women in stabilizing their mood,” said Dr. Doghor.
Estrogen is a hormone that stabilizes mood and promotes memory and progesterone helps regulate sleep and both of these hormones experience significant fluctuations during menopause. The biological cause of mood disturbance during menopause may make therapy or medications necessary for many women to regain their previous interest in life and ability to cope with life’s difficulties.
Find the right expert for you
The Menopause Center at Texas Children’s is unique in Houston because it offers patients a collaboration of specialists who are experts in menopause care. First visits are with a gynecologist, who is accompanied by a psychiatry fellow who can answer any mental health questions you may have and facilitate a referral to psychiatry when helpful.
Other specialists who are less commonly associated with menopause care are also closely affiliated with The Menopause Center. Nutritionists, weight loss specialists, physical therapists, sexual disorder specialists and pain specialists can all be involved in your care, depending on your specific symptoms during the years you go through menopause.
“That’s something that I think is very unique to the menopause center. We make a significant effort at Texas Children’s to make sure that the care is holistic and collaborative as much as possible,” said Dr. Doghor.
Learn more about The Menopause Center at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women by calling 832-826-5281.