In this third and final part of my interview, we wrap up with some helpful advice from menopause and women’s healthcare expert Dr. JoAnn V. Pinkerton. Dr. Pinkerton is the Medical Director of the Midlife Health Center and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Virginia.
I had asked Dr. Pinkerton to share her approach to treating her patients and helping them through menopause. She continues to stress the importance of how looking after yourself during menopause is important not just because of the immediate symptoms but also because by taking care of your health now you can enjoy a better quality of life for the postmenopausal years.
Dr. JP: “Menopause is the perfect time for women to take charge of their health, and to really understand their individualized health risks. Are they having symptomatic menopause or going through menopause fairly simply. There is a difference between having 2 or 10 hot flashes a day or a week.
We also address issues such as bone loss and taking calcium and Vitamin D to help prevent bone loss. The importance of exercise should also be stressed. How to do so safely, how to set a regular schedule to help prevent heart disease and bone loss.
We must work to help educate patients about preventing heart disease, lowering their cholesterol levels; again, exercise is the key piece to bringing those levels down.
Women’s health also means looking at their libido and satisfaction within their current relationships. Are they experiencing painful intercourse or genital dryness? We can look at various creams and tablets as treatments that improve this important part of women’s lives.”
"The best thing women can do is to conduct research from credible sources that concentrate on providing objective and straightforward information and then discussing their findings with their doctor.”
Q: Negative perceptions bombard us daily. At the same time, many women may have equally optimistic, or perhaps overly optimistic or even unrealistic expectations for menopause symptom treatments. Your patients may come to you seeking any type of treatment to just ‘get rid’ of menopause. Yet the news is not all bad during this time. How can healthcare providers and patients find a balance between the positive and negative aspects of menopause?
Dr. JP: “You are only as old as you feel. Age is not a number, and it is possible to be happy and healthy at any age. Yes, going through the perimenopausal transition can be difficult for women dealing with bleeding or mood issues and we need to help women navigate through this time. We need to treat those areas where women can make changes in their lifestyles to ensure these women can be as healthy as they can be. This is to help make the next season in life a healthy season.
The goal is to put off medical illnesses for as long as we can. Having a positive slant is important in our approach.
We anticipate options for women, hormonal and non-hormonal, that may soon become available and allow us for individualized treatments. Research in women’s health is continuing to bring these new and exciting options. We have lower doses of current (hormonal) FDA approved products compared to the one-dose-fits all of the past, and perhaps someday herbal alternatives to help greater numbers of women. Plus we have the promising findings from our PRISTIQ research.
**Important disclaimer: PRISTIQ is currently under review with the FDA for the treatment of hot flashes and is not yet approved for this indication.**
These new therapies, individualizing therapies, hormonal and non-hormonal options make this an exciting time in women’s healthcare. Menopause can and is being individualized. My goal is to help women recognize their options. When women get information in ways that they can read and understand, they can work with us to find the right solutions for them.” (Editor’s note: This is not our mother’s menopause.)
A very special thank you to Dr. JoAnn V. Pinkerton for our recent telephone interview May 13, 2011.
Menopause, Your Doctor, and You