Sponsored by Pfizer, Inc.
Menopause is a pivotal phase in most women’s lives, where they may experience significant physical and emotional changes that can impact their well-being. While much attention is given to the physical symptoms of menopause, the emotional well-being of women during this time is essential. Addressing the topic of mental health during menopause is crucial, but it remains an area that is still evolving and surrounded by taboos.
In a recent episode of Pfizer’s “menopause: unmuted” podcast series, host Dr. Mary Jane Minkin invited Dr. Pauline Maki, a leading expert in brain health and menopause, to share her insights on managing emotional symptoms and helping to have a smoother cognitive transition into menopause. Let’s explore the key topics of the episode, focusing on promoting brain health and reducing stress during menopause. You can also listen to the bonus episode, A Calm Menopause, to get full access to this expert advice. .
Breaking the Taboo: Prioritizing Emotional Health During Menopause
Menopause can bring not only physical changes but also significant emotional transitions. The discussion between Dr. Minkin and Dr. Maki sheds light on the importance of addressing mental health during menopause, a topic that is often shrouded in silence.
Society often overlooks or dismisses women’s emotional challenges during this phase of life, leading to a lack of open dialogue and support. This perpetuates the notion that emotional health struggles during menopause are insignificant or even imagined. By addressing this taboo and engaging in candid conversations about emotional health, we can empower women to seek the support and understanding they deserve, fostering a community of empathy and empowerment.
Understanding Brain Changes during Menopause
In the episode titled “A Calm Menopause,” Dr. Maki, Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Obstetrics & Gynecology, begins by breaking down why, how, and when women often experience cognitive changes during the menopausal transition. This detailed explanation helps to demystify the causes of symptoms, such as changes to memory, concentration, and brain fog. It’s crucial for women to recognize that these changes are normal and temporary as the brain adapts to the new hormonal environment. Dr. Minkin helpfully chimed in that she often tells her patients: “…people sometimes accused [her patients] of dreaming these symptoms up, and I say, ‘Yeah when they tell you it’s all in your head,’ I say, ‘yeah, it is in your head, but it’s right here in your brain!’” By understanding the scientific basis behind these changes, women can gain validation and better understand their own experiences.
Common Symptoms and Cognitive Challenges
The conversation between Dr. Maki and Dr. Minkin highlights symptoms women commonly experience from a cognitive perspective. Dr. Maki emphasizes that menopausal symptoms extend beyond cognitive changes. Women commonly experience hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings, all of which can impact their emotional well-being. Hot flashes, in particular, have been found to be associated with sleep changes and decreased memory performance. It’s crucial to address these symptoms and provide women with accurate information.
Addressing Disparities and Unique Challenges
Dr. Maki sheds light on the importance of considering socioeconomic status and race in menopausal health discussions. Women from diverse backgrounds may face different challenges and health disparities. For example, research suggests that Black and Latina women tend to experience more hot flashes, and addressing these symptoms becomes important in optimizing brain health. It is essential to advocate for equitable access to healthcare and support systems to ensure all women receive the care they need during menopause.
Promoting Brain Health and Reducing Stress
Looking to maintain your brain health and overall well-being during menopause? Dr. Maki offers practical tips and information that cover many aspects of a healthy lifestyle, from nutrition to physical activity and stress reduction. By establishing healthy habits like regular exercise, a balanced diet, and good sleep, you can make menopause a smoother process. Listen now to A Calm Menopause to find strategies to help reduce stress and support a healthy brain through menopause.
Keep in mind that this is just one of the bonus episodes you can listen to for topics related to menopause. Check out the other episodes of menopause: unmuted for help demystifying the experience of menopause:
- An Intimate Menopause (on sex in midlife)
- A Strong Menopause (on strength training)
- And A Nourishing Menopause (on nutrition and diet)