By Dr. Brittanny J. Keeler

You’ve probably heard the word “menopause” a lot lately — and with good reason. There are 60 million women over the age of 40 in the United States, and all of them will experience menopause. The average age of menopause in this country is 51, and the current life expectancy of women is now over 76. This means that most women will spend at least one third of their lives experiencing pre- and post-menopausal symptoms beyond their reproductive years. While a woman is technically not menopausal until having gone for a full year without a period, symptoms, referred to as perimenopause, can begin 7 to 10 years prior to menopause.

While inevitable and natural, menopause can be a devastating transition for some women, who often say that they no longer recognize themselves. Over 80% of women experience hot flashes, night sweats, sleep disturbances, and unwanted weight gain. Many others experience anxiety, mood disturbances, brain fog, joint and muscle pain, and vaginal dryness. Such symptoms occur due to wildly fluctuating hormonal levels which can last anywhere from 5 to 10 years. Women who experience these symptoms report problems with sleep disruption, health problems, relationship challenges, and work-related issues.

Sadly, many of these issues often go unaddressed or dismissed, and the long-held sentiment is that “the change” is something women simply have to deal with. Contributing to the problem are the many myths surrounding menopause, including the belief that treatment can be harmful and dangerous. As a result, many women aren’t even provided with options to relieve their symptoms, which is an inexcusable disservice to women, when there are, in fact, many safe and effective options for treating and alleviating symptoms of perimenopause and menopause.

So, what can women do? Women should know that all of the symptoms that accompany this time in their lives can and should be discussed with their physicians. Additionally, all women should be screened for perimenopausal symptoms beginning at least by age 40 by their OBGYN or primary care physician. If your provider does not treat menopause, or if you feel that you are not getting the answers you are seeking, the best place to find a physician trained in menopause care is  

Most importantly, women in midlife need to know that they do not have to suffer at the hands of their hormones. Women also do not need to simply accept and live with disruptive symptoms associated with menopause at a time when they should be enjoying life to its fullest. Menopause is not something women should just suffer through. Instead, women can and should receive up-to-date and evidence-based menopausal care to help them continue to live well.

Brittanny Keeler, DO, NCMP, is a Certified Menopause Practitioner who sees patients at Queen City OB/GYN, a General Physician, PC practice. In addition to menopause, Dr. Keeler focuses on pregnancy care, including high-risk cases, postpartum planning, and infertility. Call 716-748-4444 for more information or to schedule an appointment.