Although about half of people go through menopause, less than 15% of them receive effective treatment for their symptoms. Treatment options for people experiencing irritating or severe menopause symptoms are often under researched, and some have questionable efficacy, or cause harmful side effects. In a comprehensive review publishing in the journal Cell on September 6, a team of menopause experts summarizes what we know about menopause, calls for more research into the timeline and treatment of menopause, and encourages individualized, holistic treatment that addresses both menopausal symptoms and other systemic changes happening in the body.
"The road to menopause is not difficult for all, but for some, symptoms may be severe or even disabling and disruptive to work and family," write the authors, who are based in Australia, Italy, and the United States. "Recognition that menopause, for most women, is a natural biological event, does not exempt the use of interventions to alleviate symptoms."
For this review, the researchers looked at over 200 sources across 71 years to synthesize what's currently known about menopause. The authors note the importance of recognizing that menopause impacts more than just cis women; they elect to use the term "women" in this review to reflect the language and focus of much of the research that currently exists in the field.
Key takeaways from the review include the following:
"Despite decades of research pertaining to menopause, more work is needed," write the researchers. Going forward, they call researchers to look deeper into when the menopause process starts and to focus on making menopause treatments more effective and safer overall. They underline the importance of researching the symptoms and other health impacts of menopause outside of high-income countries. Additionally, they suggest studying the impacts of menopause on work both from home and in an office, as well as the impacts on people with less traditional career paths such as caregivers and volunteers.
The team also argues that menopause treatments need to be holistic and tailored to the person being treated -- addressing both the physical and mental health impacts of menopause, as well as the underlying health risks associated with menopause and any other relevant health concerns. "Women with bothersome menopausal symptoms should be counseled on treatment options and offered evidence-based therapies," they write. "Therapy should be individualized depending on age and health risks, recognizing that health risks may increase with age."
"Optimizing health at menopause is the gateway to healthy aging for women," write the authors.
Materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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