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Menopause Experiences: Providers Can Do Better in Educating, Starting the Conversation

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Three in four older women say menopause symptoms interfere with their daily lives and 9% report that these symptoms get in the way a great deal or are completely debilitating.  Yet many women aren’t receiving adequate information to help them cope with the midlife transition, a new AARP survey reveals. 

Nearly one-third of American women ages 40 to 89 don’t receive any information about menopause, according to the national sample of 1,509 women.  When they do, 44% say physicians and health care providers are their primary resources. Others cite getting information from the internet, family members and friends. 

AARP found women have a range of emotions about entering menopause: 31% report feeling indifferent, while 20% are concerned, 18% relieved, 17% anxious and 14% depressed.  

While doctors and health care providers are a major source of menopause-related information for the women who do get such information, the study reveals that this educational source may not be truly tapped. Providers, the survey finds, are not being proactive in initiating the conversation about this event, and the result is a gap in women’s access to information on menopause and potential treatment options.   Just 50% of all women surveyed by AARP report ever having discussed menopause with their health care provider and only 35% of women age 40-49 have done so.  

Women’s impressions of treatment such as hormone therapy vary. While 27% feel negatively about it, 21% say they are neutral. Of those surveyed, just 6% take hormone therapy. About 36% of survey respondents say they do not know enough about hormone replacement to have an opinion about it.

Just 50% of all women surveyed by AARP report ever having discussed menopause with their health care provider and only 35% of women age 40-49 have done so.

When talking with health care providers about menopause, respondents report having good experiences: 97% say their health care providers were comfortable discussing it and found the provider to be knowledgeable.  Another 92% say the provider was sympathetic to their concerns. 

The top five symptoms of menopause that women reported experiencing were hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, insomnia and mood swings.

Moreover, while doctors and healthcare providers may not be always initiating conversations on the topic, they are typically responsive to women’s requests for care. About 75% of women who discussed menopause with their provider say their health care provider offered to treat their menopause symptoms and 62% say their provider discussed hormone therapy with them. Only 15% of those surveyed say they needed treatment for symptoms and pursued it but did not receive it.  However, not all experiences were positive. Of those who reported being menopausal and discussed it with their health care provider, 11% say their provider was not sympathetic to their symptoms.

Methodology: This online survey of 1,509 women age 40-89 was fielded in April 2018 using AARP’s online proprietary panel.  The data are weighted by gender, race, age, Hispanic ethnicity, marital status, census division, age, and income to benchmarks from the March 2018 Current Population Survey (CPS).  Raked weights are estimated using Random Iterative Method (RIM) weighting. For more information, contact Vicki Gelfeld, vgelfeld@aarp.org. For media inquiries, contact media@aarp.org.

 

Suggested Citation:

Anderson, G. Oscar and Vicki Gelfeld. Menopause Experiences: Opportunities for Improvement in Education and Healthcare: A Survey on Menopause Among Women Age 40-89. Washington, DC: AARP Research, July 2018. https://doi.org/10.26419/res.00240.001