Mentioning Menopause

29 Jun 2016 11:53 AM | Anonymous

Mentioning Menopause:

Exploring Post-Menopausal Women’s Health in a Rural Community

 

 

Hello!  My name is Hannah and I am currently third-year medical student at the University of Queensland.  For the past 6 weeks, I have joined Dr. Daphene Connor and the team at Blackbutt Medical Centre for my rural medicine rotation.  During this time, I have conducted a health project on post-menopausal women’s health in the Blackbutt community.

 

 

First, some basics about menopause! A woman is in menopause after she has not had a menstrual period for 12 months.  Menopause typically occurs between 45 - 55 years of age.  It is a natural ageing process, but it can also occur due to premature ovarian failure or surgical removal of ovaries.  Body changes and symptoms associated with menopause occur because the ovaries stop producing the female hormones, oestrogen and progesterone.  This drop in oestrogen is also linked with increased abdominal fat deposition, which in turn increases risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.  In the long term, the oestrogen deficiency also increases loss of bone mineral density and risk of osteoporosis in post-menopausal women.  However, a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet, regular exercise, and regular screening checks can help to reduce these post-menopausal health risks and also relieve some menopause symptoms.

 

 

The transition into menopause can be a turbulent time for any woman.  However, for women living in regional, rural, and remote Australia, menopause and life afterwards is further complicated by isolation and distance from health services.   Breaking down these barriers is a challenge for rural doctors.  Rather than struggling alone, we should find ways to involve rural communities in supporting the physical and mental health of their women. 

 

 

My project used a voluntary survey to explore the health of post-menopausal women attending Blackbutt Medical Centre.  This survey assessed age, menopause symptoms, medical conditions, medications, smoking status, diet, exercise, whether the women had had screening tests, and their preferred source for information about menopause and local women’s health services.  Over a period of 2.5 weeks, 50 women completed the survey (and a big thank you to those women!).

 

 

What I found from my survey was:

  • ·         Menopause symptoms were very common; the 5 most frequently reported symptoms were joint aches/pain/stiffness, dry skin, weight gain, hot flushes, and vaginal dryness
  • ·         The majority of participants had an adequate daily intake of lean meat/protein and fruit, but only 8% consumed the recommended 5 serves of vegetables, only 6% consumed the recommended 3-4 serves of grains, and only 4% consumed the recommended 3-4 serves of dairy.
  • ·         Regular exercise was very low among the women surveyed. Walking (excluding daily activities) had the highest participation rates, but participation in jogging, running, resistance training, and weight bearing was much lower.
  • ·         16% of participants were current smokers, which is greater than the national smoking rate of 12.1%.  This finding is concerning because post-menopausal women who smoke tend to have lower bone density and are at a higher risk of osteoporosis.
  • ·         Mammogram screening was high with 88% of the women having received a mammogram within the past 2 years (as recommended).  In contrast, only 52% had received a pap smear in the past 2 years.

 

 

After discussing these survey findings with the team at Blackbutt Medical Centre, I decided to develop the following educational material to raise awareness about healthy lifestyle choices for post-menopausal women:

 

  • ·         A poster about menopause management for display in the medical centre waiting room
  • ·         An information brochure about menopause that medical centre staff can distribute to clients and;
  • ·         A webpage about menopause for the Blackbutt Medical Centre website, which can be accessed via this link:  https://blackbuttmedicalcentre.wildapricot.org/Menopause-and-Post-menopause

 

If you have any questions or concerns about menopause, please talk to your GP.  The Blackbutt Medical Centre has female doctors, nurses, dieticians, podiatrists, and psychologists.  The clinic can provide advice and management for women in the following areas:

  • Menopause Symptoms
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy
  • Breast Checks
  • Pap Smears
  • Nutrition and Exercise
  • Counselling
  • Psychotherapy

Further Information – Hannah Wilson  hannah.wilson619@gmail.com

 

 

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29 Jun 2016 11:55 AM • Anonymous
29 Jun 2016 11:53 AM • Anonymous
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