Written by: Lorraine Miano, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
We had the science and technology to put a man on the moon almost 52 years ago — that is over half a century! Yet, 50% of the population, where 100% will experience menopause in one form or another — if they live long enough —are not receiving the medical attention they desire and even demand.
Their symptoms and concerns are often ignored and dismissed by their healthcare providers. Medical misogyny continues to be alive and well in women’s health. To put this in perspective, over 6,000 women per day reach menopause in the United States. This is a natural progression of life and is often referred to as “reverse puberty.”
The average age a woman reaches menopause, which is one day (the twelve-month anniversary of when menses cease), is 51. Before that, a woman is considered perimenopausal. This is where ovaries began to shut down, and hormones are fluctuating. Perimenopause can last from 2 to 15 years. Symptoms range from mild to debilitating in direct response to the decline of estrogen. According to National Center for Biotechnological Information or NCBI, “Approximately 75% of women experience vasomotor symptoms. These symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, palpitations, and migraines.” This number has been reported to be as high as 90%. So, why, when we can in one year create a vaccine to save billions of people from a deadly virus, are we still unable to educate physicians on how to help women navigate a natural phase of their life?
As a menopause advocate, health coach, and midlife influencer, I decided to ask women on my Instagram and Facebook pages, “What did your doctor tell you when you presented your Perimenopause Symptoms?”
Here are just a few of the comments:
“I was told it’s not my time yet. I told my doctor about my mood swings, and instead of having blood work done to see if I was just deficient, my doctor put me on a low-dose antidepressant. I felt back to normal for a couple of months, but then it went left. I stopped the antidepressants. I did a little research and started taking natural supplements. Also, had my doctor ordered blood work, I was vitamin B & D deficient; my hormones show I’m post-menopausal. It’s so frustrating that no medical professionals take perimenopause/menopause seriously unless you’re of a certain age.”
“Do more cardio.”
"Maybe it's perimenopause. There's really no safe treatment.”
“I was told I was wrong because I was too young.”
“She told me that the sudden weight gain was due to me probably having a sugar addiction I wasn’t aware of.”
“Mine told me, oh yeah, it sounds like you might be starting menopause. It’s a part of life at your age. I told him I’d like to have my hormone levels checked. He told me it was just a part of life and sent me for a blood draw. The next week the nurse called me to tell me my cholesterol was fine, my thyroid was good, and my blood levels were good. I said, okay, what about the hormone levels I wanted to be tested? She said, oh, let me look at your chart....it says here he didn’t feel you needed those tested. He did call in an antidepressant for you to start taking. I went to my gynecologist PA and had my levels checked—all low, including testosterone. I have an appointment with a specialist next week. I changed my whole family’s primary care physician to someone we have never seen, but I will never go back to him!”
“I was told the weight gain, sleepless nights, and low libido was just “part of the process “but that I still looked really good for my age.” I just needed to try more cardio and possibly a keto plan for a while, and it would get better.”
“I was told that’s just how it is- my roller coaster emotions would be this way until I’m fully in menopause, and she prescribed an anti-depressant and appetite suppressant. After I thought about the experience, I felt so offended. She didn’t even check my hormones in blood work or ask any details.”
“Thank you for tackling this important topic. I’m a 46-year-old who suddenly started having hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, lethargy, and weight gain despite a healthy diet and moderate exercise. I was told: “this is what happens” and“You just have to exercise more and watch what you eat.” After researching perimenopause myself and learning more about hormonal functions, I pushed my OBGYN for a solution. She referred me to an endocrinologist because several of my hormone levels were low. I never heard from the endocrinologist, so I called, and they told me that they reviewed my labs and because I’m within “normal range for my age,” there is nothing they can do. I was flabbergasted that 1) they didn’t even bother to see me for a consult and 2) that they told me the