Menopause Patient Education
For many women, realizing that they are entering menopause can be scary. They may experience hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings, but there are also several other things going on with your body during this time.
In a perfect world, doctors would be able to spend all the time in the world talking to their patients about menopause. Unfortunately, we’re often rushed and pressed for time.
Here are some of the things that you need to tell your patients about menopause.
Menopause Happens Gradually
While there are endocrinologists who believe that it occurs over a matter of days or weeks, most believe that it takes place slowly over several years.
This means that hot flashes and mood swings can come and go for quite some time before the actual onset of menopause occurs.
For some women, this makes it easier for them to handle because they will have time to adjust and get used to the fact that their hormones are changing.
Menopause is a Normal Part of a Woman’s Life
Telling your patients that menopause is simply a natural part of their lives can help reduce the fear associated with this stage of life.
It’s important to understand the difference between the term “menopause” and “perimenopause.” The former refers to the medical word describing the cessation of menstruation, while the latter refers to the time before menstruation stops completely.
Perimenopause typically lasts for about four years, although it can be longer or shorter depending on each woman.
Menopausal Symptoms are Real, but they can be Managed Successfully
Menopause often causes uncomfortable symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats, as well as vaginal dryness and urinary incontinence, which can make it difficult for women to perform daily tasks.
While these symptoms may seem unpleasant, they are common and treatable. Don’t shy away from discussing them with your patients — you can help reassure them that these symptoms are temporary and provide them with resources for living well during this phase of life.
Menopause is an Opportunity for Personal Growth
For many women, menopause signals the end of fertility and motherhood and allows them to focus on other aspects of life.
For example, some women may give up jobs or careers after childbearing to raise children, and when these children reach adulthood, some women decide to re-enter the workforce or pursue other goals.
As with any major life change, women need to understand the implications of menopause so that they can take steps to make positive choices about their future.
Menopause is not a Disease
The word “disease” implies that it has an underlying etiology, triggering agent or pathologic process that needs to be fixed.
However, there is no evidence that any of these exist in menopause. In fact, the signs and symptoms of menopause are the normal and expected outcome of ovarian failure.
A disease by definition carries with it an underlying dysfunction that needs to be corrected. There isn’t one for menopause – hence, it is not a disease but rather the natural consequence of aging.
Menopause Doesn’t Have to be a Lonely Time in a Woman’s Life
The menopausal woman may feel particularly isolated if her female friends are still menstruating and she is not.
Some women prefer to confide in their gynecologist or primary care physician about their concerns; others prefer to confide in a spouse or close friend. Knowing where to turn for emotional support can help make this unique time less stressful and more tolerable.
There are Normal and Abnormal Menopausal Symptoms
As the human body ages, it undergoes changes that can affect your health and happiness. One such change is menopause.
Now, while some of these changes may be uncomfortable, they are usually temporary and treatable with the proper information and care.
However, if an older woman experiences any sudden or unusual discomfort, she should contact her doctor immediately because these signs could indicate a serious problem requiring immediate medical attention.
If you are a doctor or nurse, you are most likely to be the first person to tell your patients about menopause. They may have never heard of it and may be shocked by what you tell them.
All the things discussed here can help them go through the phase effortlessly.