The theme for MEDiversity Week in 2023 was “Care-4-All-Ages,” and this year’s scheduled events ended on a high note with a standout webinar from Women in Health, Medicine, & Science (WiHMS). One of the most popular events of the entire week, hosted by University of Utah Health Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion, panelists focused a subject that has remained taboo for far too long: menopause.
Menopause often includes changes of all kinds for women experiencing it—from fluctuating hormone levels to changes in mental health, exercise and nutrition needs, and sleep habits to name a few. With a panel of experts from Pharmacy, Nursing, and the Resiliency Center, WiHMS was able to empower attendees with research-backed knowledge and suggestions on how to successfully navigate not only menopause but peri- and post-menopause too.
The trio of panelists for the webinar included Karen Gunning, PharmD, from the College of Pharmacy; Jamuna Jones, LCSW, from the Resiliency Center; and Katie Ward, DNP, WHNP, MSCP, from the College of Nursing.
Ward and Gunning began the conversation going into what is happening biologically when menopause starts to occur and why certain symptoms begin to take hold. As the discussion turned to treatments, the model for shared-decision making was emphasized, recognizing that while providers are the experts on testing and treatments, patients are the experts on what matters most to them and thus should have a significant say in their healthcare. Panelists pointed out that where and who we turn to for treatment and advice is crucial as well, and they emphasized that we have more ways to consume information than ever before, and not all are trustworthy.
Media literacy skills—such as the ability to discern if a new treatment is legitimate or if it is merely being pushed for profit, understanding credentials and qualifications, and paying attention to advice that is evidence-based—are critically important when seeking out information to help navigate your health treatment options. Because the risks of new treatment can include a negative impact on personal health, especially in cases where personal medical history may be implicated, it is important to know whether certain treatments have been properly vetted or FDA approved.
Jones also discussed how mental health can be affected during menopause, providing attendees with a holistic view of how to manage symptoms. She noted that perimenopause has been associated with increased risks of depression and anxiety in women who do not have a previous history of mood disorders. She also said that in addition to provider treatments like hormone replacement therapy and psychotherapy, it is important to practice self-compassion, incorporate exercise and movement, adjust nutritional habits, and improve sleep hygiene during this time.
Readers who are interested in services and resources at the University of Utah like those discussed in the webinar should…
- Speak to your primary care provider at one of our community clinics about connecting with a clinical pharmacist.
- (for employees of University of Utah Health) visit the Resiliency Center website for ways to connect to their mental health and wellbeing services.
- Schedule with a menopause provider by calling (801) 581-4014, visiting the Women’s Health Services website, or visiting the Midlife Women’s Health & Menopause Program site.
If you missed the webinar or would like to re-watch the event, please visit the Let’s Talk About Menopause! recording. Resources mentioned during the webinar as well as additional ones are linked below:
- North American Menopause Society
- NAMS Find a Menopause Practitioner
- American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology
- NIH – Menopause Resources
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