Midwives: Your health partner during menopause
By Jodee Guitierrez, CNM, ARNP
Am I menopausal?
How close am I to menopause?
Is there any way to stop these hot flashes?
Like many other parts of a woman’s life, menopause is a natural, yet often confusing time. It’s also very different from woman to woman — symptoms vary, onset varies and severity of symptoms vary.
Here are a few tips for helping you navigate your journey from perimenopause (“around menopause” or the period right before you become menopausal) to menopause and beyond.
1. Ask questions.
As midwives, we want to take care of the whole you, and menopause symptoms — from night sweats to depression to insomnia — can impact your entire life. Although we may not be able to determine how close you are to menopause, I always encourage women to ask me lots of questions, and I let them know that I’ll listen and spend time with them. I’ll provide options and together we can come up with a plan to help meet your needs.
2. Be open.
In recent years, it’s certainly become more common for women to talk about menopause. Yet I still find women can be uncomfortable with the topic.
I want women to understand the more they can open up about what they’re experiencing, the more I’m able to help. I think it’s important women know that menopause symptoms are a bit of a chicken-egg issue. Do night sweats and hot flashes lead to insomnia, which leads to irritability, which leads to a lack of interest in sex … ?
It’s not always easy to figure out what leads to what. Most important, I listen, I reassure and I help every woman I see come up with a plan that’s tailored to her needs, symptoms and health risks.
3. Change isn’t always easy, so don’t be shy about seeking care.
Just because menopause is a normal part of a woman’s life doesn’t mean it’s easy. For many women, menopause is disruptive and challenging — and you shouldn’t just suffer through it.
We can help.
Sometimes we can suggest small changes (limiting caffeine and increasing exercise) and herbal remedies (black cohosh and melatonin) that provide helpful relief. In other cases, we need to consider hormone replacement or other treatments.
Medications and even herbal supplements may have side effects, so I think it’s important we spend time considering risk factors and family history and weigh this against the backdrop of how menopause symptoms are impacting your health, your family relationships, your work or other aspects of your life.
Jodee Gutierrez, ARNP, is a Certified Nurse-Midwife at the MultiCare Women’s Health & Wellness Center in Gig Harbor. In addition to obstetrics, she provides annual exams, women’s wellness, birth control, and has a special interest in adolescent care, while incorporating health and wellness coaching into her practice.