Why Aren't OB/GYNs Trained In Perimenopause?

OB/GYN residents felt unprepared to help menopausal women

OB/GYNs and Perimenopause from Wile

My insurance company was doing a hard sell on women’s health. They called. They emailed. They sent postcards. Was I open to a personalized visit? 

A good friend was suffering mightily with early perimenopause. So after the third outreach, I decided on a pre-perimenopausal consult. 

After all, the average U.S. doctor-patient appointment time clocks in under 8 minutes. Why not seize the opportunity to ask and learn?

Mistake. Even though I stated my purpose when I scheduled the appointment, the woman I met with couldn’t understand. Why was I asking, exactly? What did I want since I didn’t have any symptoms? And my periods were clockwork so….? 

It was uncomfortable, even mildly shaming. 

So much for “well” visits. 

This isn’t surprising. 

In 2017, Mayo Clinic did a survey to find out what post-graduate residents knew about menopause. Answer? Eh.

The good news? Younger doctors want to have women’s backs. 

Most of the OB/GYN residents who responded (77%) were 26-30 years old and 65% were female.

Nearly 95% said it was important or very important to be trained to manage menopause.


Few Know Much About Menopause 

Yet fewer than 7% felt prepared to “manage women experiencing menopause” (the study report’s verb, the emphasis is ours).

A surprising 20% of respondents reported they had zero menopause lectures during their residencies. 


What About The Mid-Career Doctor? 

What about your OB/GYN? Well, it’s time to have a conversation, as many experts say that neither patients nor doctors often bring up or ask about menopausal or perimenopausal situations. 

As Dr. Stephanie S Faubion, medical director for the North American Menopause Society said in The New York Times, 

The barrier is they’ve never been in this space and they don’t know how to be in the space. There’s a little bit of provider discomfort about the periods and uncomfortable sex and hot flashes.”

Another survey indicates the med schools of the mid-aughts had even bigger blindspots. Ironically, many of the female physicians in that very age range are likely now dealing with perimenopause.

In a 2008 survey, 40% of University of Connecticut med students in their 3rd year of OB/GYN studies reported zero menopause training. 

That’s right. No training. For a transition that every woman who makes to age 60 will have undergone in some form or another. 


Many women will live post-menopausal for about 40 years

As a report in the U.S. National Report of Medicine states well:

“Menopause is a medicalized condition; it’s a normal life course event that comes under the sphere of medical supervision and influence.” 

Yet despite turning it into a disease, the medical industry has not taken its study nor support seriously. Often medical journals point only to Hormonal Replacement Therapy with synthetic hormones as the solution—or saying it’s too dangerous. 

At Wile, we support H.R.T. as a viable option and know it can work wonders for many women. But not all women can be prescribed synthetic estrogen according to insurance companies. And many women do not want it, have concerns about it or are unaware of it. 


What You Can Do

The North American Menopause Society has menopause resources including a practitioner finder.

And Wile is here to help, too. It starts with our 40+ Hormonal Wellness, a blend of key ingredients designed to bring your key hormones—stress included—into greater balance to help reduce issues that are common to the transitions that happen around 40, then through perimenopause and even post. 

It includes natural phytoestrogen. Phytoestrogens are estrogen-mimicking compounds that naturally occur in plants, rather than synthetic hormones. 

We’re glad to see the conversation of women’s health get broader, deeper and come out of hiding and shame. But, we know it will not be overnight. Finding solutions that work for you takes curiosity and self-advocacy. But you are worth it. 

Photo credit: Clay Banks via Unsplash

SOURCES:

Menopause Management Knowledge in Postgraduate Medicine, Internal Medicine and Obstetrics and Gynecology Resdients a Cross Sectional Study, February, 2019

The medical management of menopause: A four-country comparison care in urban areas, February 2008

Disclaimer

This article is intended for informational purposes and is not intended to replace a one-on-one medical consultation with a professional. Wile, Inc researches and shares information and advice from our own research and advisors. We encourage every woman to research, ask questions and speak to a trusted health care professional to make her own best decisions.
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