New site helps women navigate and manage menopause
Should you take hormone therapy during menopause? What's the latest research about its safety? And what are non-hormone alternatives for managing hot flashes and other symptoms?
Menopause and its treatments just got a lot less confusing with the launch of a new website, menopausenu.org, that offers women a personalized approach to manage their symptoms and the latest information. It was created by the Women's Health Research Institute at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. The site can be viewed on a computer, tablet or smartphone.
A personalized "Menopause Self Assessment" tool enables women to evaluate their own symptoms and health status. The assessment can be printed out to share and discuss with their health care providers. The site is continuously updated with the latest research by leading scientists and clinicians. It also includes the latest science on alternative and complementary treatments.
Nearly two million women in the U.S. enter menopause every year, increasing the demand for reliable, accessible information.
"This site provides the tools that empower women to live longer and live stronger during their extraordinary journeys during and after menopause," said Teresa Woodruff, M.D., director of the Women's Health Research Institute and the Thomas J Watkins Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Feinberg.
Menopause marks the end of menstruation and fertility and may be accompanied by hot flashes, night sweats, mood changes, bone loss and painful sex. These symptoms may range from minor to severe. The symptoms are not life threatening but they can have a significant impact on one's quality of life. The average age women enter menopause is 52 years old, and any symptoms may last for a short time or continue for 30 or more years.
Many women wrestle with the decision about whether or not to use hormone therapy. The need for individualized recommendations has been reinforced by ongoing research that expands the early findings of the Women's Health Initiative by including different age groups and newer drug formulations than previously studied.
Overall, the latest research shows that hormone therapy is a reasonable option for many, but not all women.
"We now know that the decision to take hormone therapy depends on the extent and severity of symptoms and how everyday life is affected," said Sharon Green, executive director of the Women's Health Research Institute and developer of the new menopause website.
"No two women have the same menopause profile, and the decision to take or not take hormones for symptoms relief comes down to informed decision making between a woman and her doctor," Green said. "This site provides a platform to do this by providing authoritative information based on science and not commercial headlines."