Menopause: Taking Charge (cont.)

LadyByrd_WebMD: What would be the earliest age and the latest age to start menopause?

Dr. Hann: The actual menopause, on average starts between age 48 to 52. However, quite a few women go thru menopause before 40. Often, it is very hard on them. They aren't really prepared for such early menopause. Likewise, some women can still be menstruating well into their 50s, even late 50s. That is unusual.

Moderator: What treatments are recommended for depression in menopausal women?

Dr. Steinman: Hormone treatment may be helpful. There are estrogen receptors in the brain, and there is likely a complex relationship between estrogen and the level of certain neurotransmitters associated with mood. For women with depressed and anxious MOODS, I would suggest starting with items such as exercise, relaxation techniques, and increase in pleasurable activities, social support, and perhaps psychotherapy, depending on level of severity. For a true clinical depression, the research suggests a combination of psychotherapy and medication to be the most effective treatment.

Moderator: We hear so much about stress. What suggestions do you have for really dealing with stress and learning how to manage it?

Dr. Steinman: I think there are 3 important aspects to managing stress. They are based on the idea of changing what you can and learning to better accept what you can't. The 1st is to do what you can to try to change the situation. Even small dents in a problem can have a positive impact. The second is to try to change your reaction to situations so that you're coping as positively as possible. The third is to try to optimize your tolerance and preparedness for stress, e.g., thru exercise, meditation, etc. Humor always helps, too. Find a good joke every day!

Moderator: Mid life can be a very difficult time for couples to communicate. What suggestions do you have for menopausal women?

Dr. Dosh: It's important to talk to your partner about what you're experiencing, about your concerns, and specify what support and help you need from them. It's also important to know that many men know very little about menopause. If your partner is open to it, teach them what you know. It's also important to not misread a man's quietness or lack of response as a lack of caring. Often, if a man doesn't know what to say, or what to do to fix it. they remain quiet.

Moderator: Mid life can be a very difficult time for couples to communicate. What suggestions do you have for partners (men) of women going through menopause?

Dr. Dosh: It's again important for the man to ask his partner as much as he can about what she's experiencing, and what support she needs from him. He should also express any concerns he has about how the menopause may be affecting their lovemaking. Remember to listen.

Moderator: We are almost out of time, in closing would each of you share your final thoughts and suggestions for women so that they can take charge of their menopause?

Dr. Hann: This is really a time of opportunity. for women to improve their lifestyle, look forward to great health if they invest some time in exercise, reasonable diet, calcium, regular checkups and giving themselves permission to enjoy life. That will carry them through.

Dr. Dosh: It's important to remember that men also go through changes at this time and approximately 15% go through male menopause or andropause. For men, this is primarily psychological due to their difficulty adjusting to the changes at this point in their life. There is also help for men available and this may require therapy or hormonal therapies.

Dr. Steinman: Baby boomers are changing the way we do menopause - we can create a new, positive way of looking on it that we can pass onto our daughters. Menopause is actually a time in many cultures when women are revered for their wisdom. I think we should try to incorporate that in ourselves, increasing our self-esteem and self-acceptance.

Moderator: Our time has come to an end. I would like to thank our guest speakers Lynne Steinman, PhD, and Robert Dosh, PhD, co-authors of The Taking Charge of Menopause Workbook, and obstetrician/gynecologist Cecelia Hann, MD. for joining us this evening. It has been a pleasure having you all here. Take care everyone and be healthy.

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