Women Are Suffering Unnecessarily From Menopause

'New York Times Magazine' examines why hormone treatment therapy gets a bad rap
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 5, 2023 12:30 PM CST
Women Are Suffering Unnecessarily From Menopause
   (Getty / natalie_board)

The headline makes a strong assertion: "Women Have Been Misled About Menopause," it reads above a deep dive into the subject by Susan Dominus in the New York Times Magazine. Dominus draws on decades of research as well as anecdotal accounts (including from herself and her friends in their early 50s) to make her case. The short version is that hormone therapy can be a very effective treatment for women, but it often goes unprescribed. The main reason it's frowned upon is a 2002 study, "its design imperfect," that inaccurately crippled the treatment's reputation, writes Dominus. Women and gynecologists came to believe—and many still hold this belief—that the treatment is too dangerous, but the "full picture of hormone therapy is now known to be far more nuanced and reassuring."

Dominus digs into the shortfalls of the Women's Health Initiative study as well as the way its results were skewed in the media, and argues that it has resulted in countless women enduring the debilitating effects of menopause unnecessarily. One factor: Many of today's gynecologists are under age 50, educated in the shadow of that misleading WHI study. They often tell women that menopause is a natural part of aging and to tough it out with no treatment. A big part of the story takes issue with how the life-altering symptoms of menopause get shrugged off. Hot flashes have become a "comedic trope," but what gets less attention is the sleeplessness, cognitive decline, painful sex, urinary-tract infections, etc. What would the response be if men were suddenly suffering all these problems, "their penises becoming dry and irritable," wonders Dominus. Read the full story, or check out other longform stories.)

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