by Christine Farrell
Women are frequently told that menopause is a natural part of life and something that they need to just “get through.” As a society, we have a tendency to make women feel less beautiful, young or worthy when they hit their menopausal years. The true effects of menopause are actually much more far reaching and impact our families, our workplace, our general sense of well-being and society as a whole.
Over 73 million women are in the workforce in the United States and a large percentage of them are over the age of 40 and therefore prone to hormonal issues such as peri-menopause or menopause. Women are typically also the primary caregivers for their families even if they are working. Many also care for aging parents. These are important roles in our society and in our daily lives. The impact of menopause or peri-menopause can greatly affect a woman’s ability to do even her normal, routine tasks thus impacting her work, her family and her happiness.
Hormonal issues range from mild physical discomfort to debilitating depression and health issues. “Brain fog” or memory issues is a common complaint in women experiencing these hormonal changes. This affects a woman’s productivity in the work place as their ability to think quickly or clearly is diminished. Hot flashing and sweating during a big business meeting is seen as unprofessional and unbecoming. Mood changes impact relationships at work and at home. The divorce rate for women is highest during these years–60 percent of all divorces after the age of 50 are initiated by women. Depression is common during these years and directly affected by hormonal changes. Drops or surges in estrogen can cause anxiety, depression, rage and even suicidal thoughts. The impact of these issues on family, work, society and the woman herself is staggering.
Each woman goes through these hormonal changes differently and some lucky ones have minimal issues. Many more suffer in silence feeling out of control and as if their lives are falling apart. Women are told that this is a “natural process” and to “deal with it.” Thankfully, there are safe and healthy ways to treat the hormonal imbalances. Hormonal therapy and its benefits go far beyond just getting rid of hot flashes (which unless you’ve had one you definitely shouldn’t mock). Treatment helps to increase general physical health and mental health, therefore providing a productive and healthy employee, a happy home and fewer burdens on society due to health and emotional issues. Menopause is very hard on women and those around them, but it doesn’t have to be. The medical community and society at large needs to recognize the impact this is having and support women in the process. We need to start a dialogue about how we can recognize and treat these issues effectively. Let the dialogue begin here.
Christine Farrell MSN, FNP-C is a specialist in the area of hormonal imbalances in men and women and has been in practice in the area for over 17 years. She is an Associate Clinical Professor at University of California, Los Angeles and is also an alumnus of the University. Farrell belongs to the North American Menopause Society, The International Menopause Society, and the International Hormone Society. Her practice, Bio-Identical Wellness in Westlake Village, incorporates the use of bio-identical hormones, nutrition, supplements and lifestyle changes to promote wellness of both the physical and emotional aspects of health.