“Is this normal?” “Am I going crazy?”

We hear variations on these questions all the time – some women’s menopause symptoms are pretty extreme, and for most of us, at least a few symptoms are totally unexpected. And that can be frightening, if you aren’t sure what’s going on in your body.

Understanding the menopausal body

To help women understand their bodies better, Gennev's Chief Medical Officer, ob/gyn Dr. Rebecca Dunsmoor-Su, to develop a tool called the “Menopause Assessment.” The Assessment asks women about the impacts perimenopause and menopause have had on their life and health: hot flashes, sleep disturbances, changes to skin, hair, and weight, vaginal symptoms, urinary issues, and gastrointestinal upsets, among others.

It also asks a woman’s level of concern about future health impacts such as osteoporosis, neurological issues, and heart disease.

So, what did we learn about menopause?

Since we introduced the Menopause Assessment in 2018, nearly 1,000 of you have taken it. As it’s almost the end of 2018, we wanted to give you an idea of what we’ve learned so far.

And just as an FYI, we respect your privacy, always. Our Menopause Assessment is HIPAA-compliant and the information shared is used to improve our recommendations for you.

The top symptoms reported:

  • Weight changes – 75% of respondents reported either gaining or, less frequently, losing weight
  • Sleep disturbances – 74%
  • Mood changes – 73%
  • Loss of libido – 71%
  • Skin/hair changes – 70%
  • Vaginal symptoms – 64%

“I try to do all the right things but I still have fatigue and
brain fog.”

Questions aren’t limited to, “Do you have this symptom,” but also how often the symptom occurs and how disruptive it is to a woman’s life and sense of well-being. Having a few mild hot flashes during the day is very different from soaking through three sets of clothes and being unable to get more than a couple of uninterrupted hours of sleep a night.

Assessing your place in the journey

The goals of the Menopause Assessment? To help women locate where they are in the perimenopause/menopause journey, to provide some answers and solutions for relief from symptoms, and also to help all of us better understand the boundaries of “normal.”

“Menopause is kicking my butt,
it’s been really hard for me to deal with this”

Every woman’s experience of menopause is different, and the complexity, the wide range of experiences, and the social stigma mean the medical community hasn’t given it as much attention as we’d like. At Gennev, we want to change that, and having meaningful insights across a broad spectrum of those experiencing perimenopause and menopause can only deepen and enrich our understanding.

“just feel flat.....”

Some other things you told us

Hot flashes are also very common at 63% of respondents, and of those who reported having them, 66% said impacts of the hot flashes were “moderate to very high.” And lots of women have gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, bloating, and gas. Joint pain was a common symptom, as was a reduced ability to achieve orgasm. And insomnia was a biggie – many of us find it hard to go to sleep, stay asleep, or return to sleep on waking.

You also shared with us some additional challenges in the comments: Anxiety is very common among women in perimenopause and menopause, and it is nearly debilitating for some. Women have lost jobs or relationships from depression or rage. Body odor changes plague many, and fatigue, recurrent UTIs andpainful breasts make it hard to work, exercise, or enjoy intimacy.

“I am 53 yrs old and I remember saying, ‘I'll ride it out,’
but how long is this ride?”

So what did we really learn? That lack of estrogen is truly systemic, affecting virtually every part of our bodies and every aspect of our lives. We learned that “normal” encompasses a wide range of symptoms, a huge variability in intensity and frequency, and very little predictability in terms of duration and response to treatments.

And there appears to be so little help – many women were truly frustrated at the lack of solutions offered and the dismissive attitude of some doctors.

Next steps

At Gennev, our mission is to make menopause easier, to help women take control of their health to feel better now and prepare for long, healthy, active lives beyond. 

We encourage you to speak with a doctor or health coach. Our team are experts in menopause care and can help get you on a path to feeling better.

“I’m not really sure.... Just help. Please. Thank you.”

If you’re ready to understand your body better and get some personalized tips to manage menopause symptoms, take the Menopause Assessment. It’s totally free and created by a board-certified ob/gyn who is a menopause specialist.

 

 

Michele Stanten

January 7, 2019

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