On Wednesday, May 5, approximately 60 women gathered at North Broward Medical Center for Girl Talk: Holy Hormones, a women's only lecture about menopause.
Menopause, a time in a woman’s life when she can no longer become pregnant after she has stopped menstruating for 12 consecutive months, is a natural part of life that is not often discussed, according to lecturer Dr. Neena Gupta. “Every woman has her own menopause,” said Gupta, “they all present differently.”
During her presentation, Gupta, who has worked as a family practitioner for 22 years, covered a variety of topics concerning menopause — from the difference between perimenopause (the phase before menopause), and actual menopause — to its symptoms, treatments, and even how the body changes in postmenopause.
Some of the most common symptoms of menopause include hot flashes, mood swings and vaginal dryness.
To help ease some of these symptoms, women have a variety of options including anti-depressants and vaginal creams.
In addition to more traditional treatments, Gupta counseled the audience to consider hormone replacement therapy to ease the symptoms of menopause and the bone loss associated with postmenopause.
The once popular hormonal replacement therapy fell out of favor for many after a Women’s Health Initiative program study in 2002, which linked long term hormone use with increased risks for various conditions, including breast cancer, heart disease, stroke, blood clots, and urinary incontinence. Those who are overweight, smoke, and who are older than 60 years old have a higher risk of developing these diseases, said Gupta.
To guard against these concerns, Gupta recommended that women in the risk groups take hormone replacement therapy as soon as they enter menopause at the lowest dose effective, for no more than two to three years.
Regardless of which treatments a woman chooses, Gupta recommended that everyone exercise more, eat healthier, and take vitamin D and calcium supplements, steps that can help ward off weight gain, stabilize moods and increase energy levels.
In closing, Gupta stressed that a change in priorities was necessary for women to better handle the changes their bodies were undergoing. “Up until now, most of the women are so busy taking care of family,” explained Gupta, “And once they get to menopause, they need to take care of themselves.”
Linda Celestino, 47, found the lecture to be informative. Celestino, who is perimenopausal, said that she is hesitant to use natural hormone supplements after learning that doctors are not certain how much hormones they contain.
And although 49-year old Mary McLachlan said that she will not be taking hormonal replacement therapy, she appreciated the lecture about menopause.
“We don’t talk about it enough,” said McLachlan, who is menopausal.
When asked how she felt about undergoing menopause, McLachlan said she accepted it. “[Menopause] is normal,” said McLachlan, but “I don’t think anyone’s happy about it.”