...and why you should care too!
It began when I partnered with the local hospital in my hometown to evaluate local women's health services, looking for any gaps where additional services were needed. In the process, it became clear that our community needed and could support a healthcare practice devoted to the special needs and care of women who were past their child-bearing years—these special needs were largely ignored by existing providers.
I decided to transform my practice. That was 4 years ago. I studied and became
certified by the North American Menopause Society as a menopause care provider, and while welcoming patients into my practice, used their questionaire—a thorough document that makes it easy for new patients to give me a comprehensive view of their symptoms and health histories. On that eight-page-long form there are just a few questions for women to answer about their current and past sexual experiences:
- Do you have concerns about your sex life?
- Do you have a loss of interest in sexual activities (libido, desire)?
- Do you have a loss of arousal (tingling in the genitals or breasts; vaginal moisture, warmth)?
- Do you have a loss of response (weaker or absent orgasm)?
- Do you have any pain with intercourse (vaginal penetration)? If yes, how long ago did the pain start? Please describe the pain: Pain with penetration? Pain inside? Feels dry?
Well, I was amazed by the responses from my new patients. 60 percent of my patients have experienced a loss of interest in sexual activities, 45 percent have a loss of arousal, and 45 percent a loss of sexual response. And when I talked to them, they were:
- Perplexed—because they don’t understand what’s changed.
- Disappointed—because they expected there to be more .
- Frustrated—because they don’t know what to do about it.
And when you carry those numbers from my practice to the rest of the country—well, more than 44 million women are aged 40 to 65 in the US alone. Some 6,000 of us reach menopause every day. And at least half of us experience sexual problems with menopause. Probably more.
That’s a lot of disappointed women. And a lot of disappointed men too… I believe there can be more, and women don’t have to just accept the changes if they don’t want to. I see MiddlesexMD as a real caregiving opportunity: Make it easy for women over 40 to gather the information and products they need to sustain their sexuality after menopause.
And that could make everyone happier!
Dr. Barb DePree, M.D., has been a gynecologist and women’s health provider for almost 30 years and a menopause care specialist for the past ten.