AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – An assessment of OBGYN programs across the U.S. shows that more training is needed to give women going through menopause the best care possible.
Women make up more than half of the U.S. population, and menopause will affect each one of them differently.
“For most people, menopause starts at about age fifty-one or so,” said Dr. Donna Adams-Pickett, an OBGYN at Augusta Women’s Health and Wellness Center. “We’re living longer, most of us to eighty and beyond, so a good bit of us will spend the bulk of that time in menopause. We need to know how to navigate it.”
Menopause symptoms can be diverse, and aren’t just your stereotypical hot flashes.
“Some may have debilitating symptoms that occurs multiple times a day and affects their quality of life, their work, and social interactions,” said Dr. Benjamin Muller, who practices maternal and fetal medicine at Doctors Hospital. “So it really is a large range of what to expect from it.”
Each doctor we spoke to said they received very little menopause training during their residency programs, and they agree that more needs to be done.
“I probably read one practice bulletin and had a lecture or two in the four years of my training,” said Dr. Jennifer Allen, the Director of the OBGYN Residency Program and Menopause Health at Wellstar MCG Health. “And I saw a few patients in clinic, but I commonly felt very unprepared to treat them.”
Dr. Allen is a certified menopause practitioner with the North American Menopause Society – one of only four in the CSRA.
She also established a menopause clinic a few years ago at the college.
“One of the best ways to teach students and residents is to have them see patients in person, and interact with those patients,” she said. “Take a history, do an exam, understand what questions are pertinent to menopause and be able to practice that repetitively.”
And now she is working with the International Menopause Society to create an in-depth menopause curriculum for residency programs.
“It’s something that impacts such a large group of people in our country and they’re undertreated, so it’s important that we train our residents to know how to answer their questions and help them feel better,” she said.
Dr. Allen said they’re working toward getting a module focusing on menopause training in place for residency programs nationwide in the next two years.