Dr. Michelle Jacobson
Menopause Specialist, Toronto
Each woman’s experience with menopause is different. Having access to information allows women to build care plans uniquely suited to them.
A natural phase in life, menopause occurs when a woman has no menstrual period for 12 consecutive months. It’s a milestone that brings about significant change as the body transitions out of its fertility stage. Most women notice the first signs of perimenopause in their late 40s and early 50s.
Common menopausal symptoms caused by fluctuating hormone levels include irregular periods, night sweats, fatigue, hot flashes, libido changes, aches and pains in joints, mood swings, impacts on bladder control, and memory loss. Decreased amounts of estrogen lead to lower bone density levels and even affect cardiovascular health.
That being said, no two women react to menopause in the same way. That’s why it’s imperative to educate oneself about the signs and symptoms — so that the most personalized treatment can be selected.
Strategies and solutions
There’s a range of therapies available to help treat these ailments — more than most women might realize. Hormone therapy (HT) is a safe and effective way to help minimize symptoms for women within 10 years of menopause. It’s a flexible option, so doctors can individualize regimens to suit each patient.
Women who cannot undergo HT for certain health reasons might consider non-hormonal therapies. Alternative prescription medications have been proven to reduce hot flashes, night sweats, and other ailments.
Some find relief through alternative therapies like natural health products and herbal remedies. Complementary approaches can also be effective when reducing symptom triggers, such as not smoking or consuming alcohol, exercising regularly, establishing proper sleep hygiene, and adjusting diet and nutrition choices. Overall, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can mitigate concerns that may arise in the bladder, heart and vascular region, and in sexual health.
Shifting the conversation
Unfortunately, there’s a stigma around talking about menopause. Plus, women are hesitant to seek treatment because of circulating misinformation. The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) is the leading authority on reproductive and sexual health. The organization is working to eradicate these misconceptions, like the long-standing thought that hormone therapy is unsafe.
Comprised of over 4,000 professionals working in women’s sexual and reproductive health sectors, the SOGC works to improve the well-being of all women by providing Canadians with reliable research and education. They’ve recently released new guidelines for health-care professionals regarding menopausal treatments. It states that hormone therapy is the most effective relief from symptoms.
“We want women to know they don’t have to suffer silently through menopause,” says Dr. Michelle Jacobson, a menopause specialist in Toronto. “You shouldn’t be ashamed to talk about it anymore, especially with doctors. There are safe therapies available.”
Get the help you deserve
SOGC is normalizing the conversation around menopause so that women can experience a better quality of life and feel empowered no matter their age.