The Conversation on Menopause Continues

By Brenna Kehew Sculley

by Elliot Derhay

As we discussed last year, the conversation around menopause is finally shedding its taboo status, with women demanding recognition for the challenges they face during this transformative stage of life. Gone are the days of dismissing menopausal symptoms as just a part of aging. Today, women are flexing their economic muscle, with companies and healthcare entities scrambling to cater to their needs. And, women are no longer discounting the importance of their health and awareness of how menopause can impact their overall well-being.

Important research recently highlighted that there exists a correlation between neurological alterations, menopausal symptoms, and the onset of dementia. Menopause affects the brain due to fluctuations in estrogen levels, the primary female hormone crucial for both reproductive and cognitive functions. As estrogen levels fluctuate notably during perimenopause, the transitional phase lasting two to seven years before menopause, and subsequently decline post-menopause, profound effects on brain function ensue.

“We associate menopause with the ovaries, but when women say that they’re having hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, memory lapses, depression, anxiety, those symptoms don’t start in the ovaries,” Lisa Mosconi, Ph.D., director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Program and the Women’s Brain Initiative at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian shared with HealthMatters.

Policymakers are not sweeping this issue under the rug. In conjunction with Astellas, The Hill recently hosted a breakfast roundtable discussion that brought together political officials, medical experts, business leaders, patient advocates, and more to brainstorm on how to improve menopause awareness, care, and policies.

In legislative session so far this year, Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) and Rep. Diana Harshbarger (R-Tenn.) introduced the “We’re Addressing the Realities of Menopause (WARM) Act.” The bill would create a national menopause public awareness campaign and fund research and education initiatives to develop evidence-based practices. In addition, Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) and Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) unveiled the “Menopause Research and Equity Act,” which would require NIH to “evaluate the results and status of completed and ongoing research related to menopause, perimenopause, or mid-life women’s health, to conduct and support additional such research, and for other purposes.”

From stylish disposable underwear to cutting-edge hormone therapy, brands are cashing in on the menopause market like never before. But it’s not just about products; it’s about empowerment. Women are reclaiming their narrative, demanding fair treatment in the workplace and beyond. The days of doctors ignoring women’s pain and the serious impact of menopause are over – it’s time for menopause to be taken seriously.

How can we work to maintain our brain health as our bodies change? There are no silver bullets when it comes to health. Hormone therapy can help, but perhaps the most important is protecting our quality of life – good sleeping habits, a healthy diet, and constant exercise throughout your life. Menopause isn’t just about hot flashes and mood swings; it’s about navigating a whole new chapter of life with grace and dignity.

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