Ladies of the world, flashers, sweat-ers, mood swingers…

Posted by on Oct 19, 2008 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Lend me your ears….you have your own DAY! In the U.S. we give you a month. But the world gives you a day!

If you don’t know what I’m yammering on about, yesterday was World Menopause Day. I posted this rant over at BitchBuzz after Editor Cate Sevilla sent me a link to a press release announcing that Waterstone Books was carrying the Hot Flush Diary.

Last month was National Menopause Month in the U.S. Now, the ‘world of women in menopause’ actually has a day. I swear if it weren’t abundantly clear that the initiative was likely being driven by national medicine societies and pharmaceutical companies, I’d suspect that Hallmark and PaperHouse had conspired to sell more cards.

Here’s the challenge issued by the International Menopause Society (IMS):

“The World Menopause Day challenge therefore calls on every woman age 45 and older to return to her physician and speak about her individual health history, her risks for diseases, the benefits and risks of available treatments for disease prevention, and steps she can take now to take charge of her health.”

President Hermann Schneider of the IMS also says:

“Due to the recent publications on the risks of long-term use of hormone therapy, many women suffering from menopausal complaints have either dropped out of therapy or haven’t started therapy at all.”

Okay. I truly believe that it’s a great idea to take charge of one’s health and examine some of the natural changes that occur, not only with menopause, but also with aging. But by lumping them all together in a single pot, well, I cry “foul.”

Did you know that many diseases that the medical community has long associated with menopause are, in fact, due to the aging process? You may recall that I recently wrote about a new study published in the Journal of Hypertension clearly demonstrates that differences in heart disease risk between pre- and post-menopausal women with similar risk profiles existed only when age, NOT ESTROGEN LEVELS, were accounted for. This may be why hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has not been proven to prevent heart disease.

So, until they sort some of these bits out, do we really want to fault women for refusing hormone replacement? Moreover, how many women wish to make a pact with the devil to further the medicalization of menopause? Not I!

Here’s what I propose:

  • To the IMS and other medical societies – stop medicalizing what is a natural transition in our mid-lives. Hey, here’s a nifty idea: why not review your data, read alternative medicine peer-reviewed journals and educate yourselves about effective alternative therapies for your patients who have been scared off by the negative findings surrounding HRT and antidepressants and other pharmaceuticals? What’s more, what if you made a greater effort to embrace multidisciplinary collaboration and invite educated and credentialed alternative practitioners into your fold, practitioners who might be able to offer you and your patients important solutions when Western ways fail or are simply, impractical?
  • To the World Health Organization – please stop telling us to celebrate the menopause. Trust me – when women are flashing in the middle of a meeting, sweat pouring down their faces as their colleagues look on, or are sleeping on soaking wet sheets because of night sweats, well, they don’t really feel like having a cocktail and a “WOOT,” ain’t life grand”-sort of celebration. Maybe, instead, think about devoting some of that hard research cash toward studies that focus first on women and last on profit.
  • To leading women’s health expert and Council Member of the British Menopause Society, Mr. Nick Panay, a Hot Flush Diary is the last thing I want to keep on my nightstand. In fact, the idea of taking notes on all of my hot flashes and night sweats and when/why/how they occur and how they make feel gets me pretty hot under the collar. Tell you what: the next time you have to pee for the zillionth time in the middle of the night, turn on the light and write in your BPH journal how you feel. I would guess that that’s not going to happen, right?

Want to “make this hot woman cool?” Stop making me feel as though menopause is a disease and not a natural transition that all women go through. Stop telling me that I should embrace this part of my life without fighting it every step of the way. And please, stop treating my body as if it’s disconnected from my mind.

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