SALT LAKE CITY, Ut – Gaslighting is when someone makes you doubt your own thoughts and feelings. It happens all the time, and it’s happening to women at the doctor’s office, especially women who are going through menopause.
Kristy Nalder has found her game in pickleball and so much more.
“Ultimately, I think it’s the community. I think it’s the community and the friends that I’ve met and ladies that are going through the same thing that I’m going through,” said Nalder.
Like so many middle-aged women, the 47-year-old was hit hard by hot flashes, sleeping problems, heart palpitations, and low energy. Doctor after doctor told her absolutely nothing was wrong.
“They chalk it up to poor diet, lack of exercise, depression, you just need to sleep better. My primary care, he kept trying to give me sleeping pills,” said Nalder.
“Perimenopause and menopause, in my opinion, really can cause women to feel devalued and ashamed,” said Dr. Camille Moreno, a family medicine doctor of osteopathic medicine.
Moreno heads up a menopausal woman’s program at the University of Utah. She said it’s common for women to be dismissed by their health care providers. A survey by the North American Menopause Society found that 45% of women reported that their health care provider did not take their menopause symptoms seriously.
“The increased risk for a menopausal woman to have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, since estrogen does have protective effects at the level of the heart,” said Moreno.
Your lifestyle could also impact the severity. Smokers tend to hit menopause two years earlier and your race even plays a role.
“Women of color tend to have more bothersome and more severe quality of life symptoms and they suffer the longest,” said Moreno.
Moreno tells her patients to be wary of the very popular bio-identical hormone pellet therapy. It’s not approved by the FDA and can expose women to testosterone levels higher than men. She emphasizes searching for a doctor who will work with your specific needs.
“They don’t have to go through this by themselves,” said Moreno.
Nalder was first prescribed an estrogen patch that was too much. However, cutting it down to a quarter of a patch has allowed her to perfectly hit her stride.
“This is something that a hundred percent of us are going to go through. And none of us have the support that we need,” said Nalder.
A study published in the Journal of Women’s Health found that African American and Hispanic women were more likely to feel that their health care provider was dismissive of their menopause symptoms than white women. This highlights the need for culturally competent care that considers the unique experiences and needs of different groups of women.
But the lack of care may not be intentional. A survey of health care providers found that many do not feel adequately trained to manage menopause symptoms and may not be familiar with the latest research and guidelines.