Smart is Better than Tough When It Comes to Menopause

We are often told to “toughen up” when it comes to pain or illness. That advice may be okay for the common cold, but it’s absolutely wrong for women who are experiencing the distress of menopause.

Dr. Tabatha Barber of North Ottawa Medical Group’s Women’s Health has the knowledge and data to back that statement. She recently earned her NCMP certification from the North American Menopause Society, which means she has received in-depth education on menopause symptoms and treatments.

“Let’s face it. Menopause can be a little awkward to talk about,” Dr. Barber notes. “Women think that they have to suffer in silence because this is part of the aging process. That’s just not true.”

Part of the challenge is that the symptoms can be vague, and might not announce themselves clearly. “People think that hot flashes and mood swings are the only symptoms,” says Dr. Barber. “However, those are just the most talked-about ones. Other symptoms, such as depression, weight gain, painful intercourse, incontinence, “brain fog,” anxiety and more can be related to menopause. Those symptoms can start years before actual menopause occurs. The truth is that half of all women experience menopausal symptoms at some point in life.”

Dr. Barber pursued the NCMP certification because she is passionate about women’s quality of life. “I want to help them physically and emotionally, and build an ongoing relationship with my patients,” she says. “I want to see women enjoy life again, especially after retirement or after their children are grown. When I see women stop doing things they love because of menopause symptoms, that’s not okay with me.”

Fortunately, help is available. Commercial insurance covers an OB/GYN exam and a general exam for women every year, and Medicare covers it every two years. All women need an OB/GYN in addition to their primary care doctor in order to maintain their overall health, both before and after their child-bearing years. So any woman of any age can come in to talk about what they are experiencing. “We talk about these issues all day, every day. You don’t need to be embarrassed to call and make an appointment” says Dr. Barber.

Dr. Barber also studied treatments for menopausal symptoms, and there are many good ones. Her recommendations on evidence-based treatments: those that have been tested and proven to have an impact. “There’s a lot of misinformation out there,” she notes. “It’s important to get treatment for a better quality of life, but it’s equally important to ensure that the treatment is evidence-based, so that it is safe and effective.”

If you would like to make an appointment for an exam or consultation, please call (616) 847-2500.

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