Women often receive misinformation about menopause and even experience medical gaslighting from healthcare professionals. Clinicians should validate patients’ symptoms, and work with them to improve quality of life.
The menopause transition is often a challenging time for women as they experience physical, emotional, mental, and cognitive changes. In addition to hot flashes and night sweats, women may experience brain fog and worry it will lead to dementia because it impacts their ability to function at home and at work. Their sleep quality suffers, and they may feel more irritable, sad, and/or anxious. Some women may no longer desire sex, and they may experience pain when sexually active, which can harm romantic relationships. All of this can negatively impact a woman’s physical, mental, and sexual self-image.
When trying to seek help, women often receive misinformation and experience medical gaslighting. Clinicians should meet women where they are, validate their symptoms, and work together as a team to improve their quality of life.
To give quality care to menopausal patients, consider the following:
1. Validate their experience with a normalizing statement:
“Many women experience hot flashes, confusion, mood changes, poor sleep, and weight gain during menopause. Have you experienced any of these?”
2. Determine your patient’s understanding of menopause.
“What do you know about menopause and how it affects your body?”
3. Invite them to ask questions.
“What questions do you have about the changes happening with your body?”
4. Assess the impact on their quality of life.
“How are your symptoms impacting your day-to-day life? How can I help you improve your quality of life?”
5. Create a treatment plan together using shared decision-making and ensure close follow-up.
Finally, here are two helpful resources to check out:
This piece expresses the views solely of the author. It does not necessarily represent the views of any organization, including Johns Hopkins Medicine.