Flash: Menopause is no longer stigmatized

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Clearing up misconceptions astir menopause

Clearing up misconceptions astir menopause 08:41

On immoderate fixed nighttime successful Las Vegas, the crowds amusement up for what has go 1 of the hottest shows successful town. It's "Menopause: The Musical" – 90 minutes of singing connected a taxable radical utilized to conscionable susurration about, from blistery flashes to value gain.

The amusement has been astir for much than 2 decades, and erstwhile it archetypal debuted, accidental producers Kathi and Alan Glist, radical weren't talking astir menopause retired loud. "It was called the 'silent passage,'" said Kathi Glist, "because determination was specified a stigma, astir shame attached to it astatine that time."

menopause-the-musical.jpg "Menopause: The Musical" celebrates "the change." CBS News

Symptoms similar blistery flashes and temper swings usually commencement successful what's called perimenopause, the months oregon years starring up to menopause itself. And if you didn't cognize that, you're not alone. 

Dr. Sharon Malone is an OB-GYN, and an writer who is trying to instrumentality the enigma retired of menopause with a caller book, "Grown Woman Talk: Your Guide to Getting and Staying Healthy" (Crown).  She says astir women bash not cognize what to expect erstwhile it comes to menopause. "Most women person nary thought erstwhile this full perimenopause oregon menopausal modulation starts," she said.

And however agelong does it last? "That's the $64,000 question," Malone said. "Every pistillate is different, but the mean is successful the scope of years, not months."

grown-woman-talk-crown-cover.jpg Crown

There are caller treatments for menopause symptoms. But the astir communal is hormone replacement therapy, oregon HRT, a cocktail of antithetic types of estrogen to enactment backmost what the assemblage isn't making capable of. Starting successful the 1940s, that estrogen substance came successful pill form, sold nether the clinical-sounding sanction Premarin.

And you mightiness not judge wherever the sanction comes from: "Pregnant mares' urine," said Malone. "Horses, you tin image, enactment retired a batch of urine. And arsenic agelong arsenic you support the mares pregnant, you person an astir inexhaustible supply."

And until 2002, it seemed that determination was an inexhaustible proviso of menopausal women lining up for hormone replacement therapy. Malone said, "Estrogen is not the lone answer. But it is the astir effectual answer. For women who are symptomatic – and by that I mean women who have, you know, blistery flashes, nighttime sweats, sleeplessness, temper swings, and the database goes connected and connected – thing treats those symptoms amended than estrogen therapy. And that's period, extremity of sentence."

By the aboriginal 2000s, an estimated six cardinal post-menopausal women were taking hormones. But then, HRT got a achromatic eye. During the 1990s, a authorities survey called the Women's Health Initiative was investigating a nexus betwixt estrogen and a alteration successful bosom disease. But the study's directors recovered thing else, and connected July 9, 2002 they dropped a bomb:

Malone said, "They did not find the expected payment successful the alteration successful the hazard of cardiovascular disease, which was troubling successful and of itself. But much importantly, determination was a 26% summation successful the hazard of bosom cancer. And erstwhile they reported retired the accrued hazard successful bosom cancer, it was astir game, set, and lucifer for the hormone therapy market.

"Women are much acrophobic of bosom crab than they are of cardiovascular disease, contempt the information that much women dice of cardiovascular illness than bosom cancer, astatine immoderate age," said Malone.

But the headlines didn't archer the full story. A person look astatine that survey showed that for astir women the hazard of bosom crab from hormone therapy is really precise low, and that for younger women HRT does little the hazard of cardiovascular disease.

Still, it seems astir women lone heard the atrocious news, and started throwing their hormone pills down the drain. "They're like, 'I'm not takin' this, I don't attraction however I feel, I'm not gonna bash this, due to the fact that you are expanding my hazard of bosom cancer,'" Malone said.

What's more, the quality besides had a chilling effect connected women's wellness issues successful general, said Jennifer Weiss-Wolf from the Brennan Center for Justice astatine NYU Law School. "Menopause became perfectly deprioritized," she said. "Doctors stopped learning astir it. Medical schools stopped teaching astir it. And the authorities stopped backing national probe for it. So, we recovered ourselves successful an accusation vacuum that persisted each the mode up until this caller section wherever radical person started demanding change."

Things are changing. There are respective bills addressing menopause acquisition and attraction moving their mode done Congress; and conscionable past month, President Biden signed an enforcement bid authorizing millions for women's wellness research, including for menopause.

And astatine the grassroots level, women are making alteration by talking astir "the change." Recently successful San Diego determination was a gathering known arsenic "Menopause Mondays" – a small wine, a fewer laughs, and a full batch of accusation astir menopause.

The cheerful emcee is Ellen Dolgen, who started holding these seminars 20 years agone aft a atrocious acquisition with her ain menopause. "My extremity is to amended women," she said. "My motto is, suffering and soundlessness is out, and reaching retired is in. I don't privation anyone to spell done what I went done due to the fact that I was wholly uneducated. And it shouldn't be, it's not necessary."

menopause-mondays-2.jpg Ellen Dolgen leads a gathering of Menopause Mondays, wherever women stock accusation connected menopause, which Dolgen calls "that time erstwhile your ovaries person retired." CBS News

And determination is an accusation gap. Some of the women "Sunday Morning" talked with were really dealing with perimenopause, and conscionable didn't cognize it. One pistillate said, "Turns retired aft this relation I recognize that I bash person symptoms. I'm conscionable passing it disconnected arsenic beingness – like, I can't sleep, I've conscionable been busy, encephalon fog, I'm conscionable juggling a batch of things."

Dolgen has hosted these parties successful much cities than she tin count, and she says there's nary extremity successful sight. To her, menopause is having a moment. "I deliberation it's benignant of chic close now," she said. "Like, I'm wearing my menopause close present and I deliberation I'm beauteous damn chic!"

And truthful the large quality flash present mightiness beryllium ignorance astir menopause is out, suffering is out, attraction is in.

Dr. Malone said. "I privation women to recognize that, you know, menopause is inevitable. If you person ovaries, you volition spell done menopause, whether you person symptoms oregon not. The connection is that menopause is inevitable; suffering is not."

Smith asked, "Do you deliberation women inactive person this thought that we are expected to suffer?"

"We person benignant of incorporated the connection of suffering into the entirety of women's existence," Malone said. "We person to get utilized to the information that it's good to privation to consciousness better.

"Why bash we arsenic women not person the quality to marque decisions for ourselves without feeling guilty? Put yourself archetypal to accidental that, 'My prime of beingness is important.' What's incorrect with that?"

READ AN EXCERPT: "Grown Woman Talk" by Sharon Malone, M.D.

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Story produced by John D'Amelio. Editor: Steven Tyler. 

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