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Understanding the menopausal experiences of professional women

Simon, James A. MD, CCD; Reape, Kathleen Z. MD

doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e31817b614a

Objective: To assess how menopause affects the lives of busy female executives by evaluating how they view their overall health and how specific symptoms affect their lives and to gain insight into their knowledge and general perspective of hormone therapy as treatment for menopause-related symptoms.

Design: In this survey, 961 members of the National Association of Female Executives aged 35 years and older completed an Internet survey about the impact of menopausal symptoms and general knowledge and understanding of hormone therapy. Subgroups within this survey included women who were premenopausal (n = 118), perimenopausal (n = 239), menopausal (n = 297), and postmenopausal (n = 307).

Results: A majority of women surveyed (88%) had personal experience with menopause, 95% reported physical symptoms, and 79% reported emotional symptoms. Among women reporting symptoms, 40% found symptoms to be problematic in at least one area of their lives. Of the 41% of respondents who had used hormone therapy to treat their menopausal symptoms, 57% reported continued use at the time of the survey. Among those who discontinued hormone therapy, 39% cited the Women's Health Initiative results as one of the reasons. The survey also found substantial gaps in the knowledge and understanding of hormone therapy by the survey responders.

Conclusions: The majority of menopausal women surveyed experience physical and/or emotional symptoms. For many women, symptoms related to menopause significantly affect their daily personal, professional, and social lives. Educating patients about scientific findings, current treatment options, and the associated risks and benefits iscritical to providing effective, individualized care to improve quality of life.

More than 900 female executives were surveyed to assess how menopausal symptoms affect their daily lives. These results substantiate that menopausal symptoms are common and can significantly impact quality of life.

From the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC.

Received February 9, 2008; revised and accepted April 8, 2008.

Financial disclosure: Dr. Simon does consultant work for Abbot, Barr/Duramed, Bayer, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Pfizer, Solvay, and Wyeth. He has received research support from Abbot, Amgen, Barr/Duramed, Bayer, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, Solvay, and Wyeth. He is a Speakers Bureau Member of Barr/Duramed, Wyeth, and Pfizer.

Address correspondence to: Kathleen Z. Reape, MD, One Belmont Ave., Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004. E-mail:

©2009The North American Menopause Society