Attitude and hot flashes: an editorial

May we groan with you about this article we just read? Hot Flashes? No-Sweat Attitude Spells Minimal Disruptions (free signup required).

Doesn't this sound nice and encouraging? Rah-rah? And look, not only do these women nurture their own health, but these skills can be taught.

But here's the thing about the subtext of this kind of approach. Although they're not saying it here, this implies that if women would just suck it up and not obsess about "little" things like this, their insurance companies wouldn't have to cover their hrt prescriptions. Everybody wins!

Only really not. Because in addition to furthering the old "it's all in your mind" brush-off that's so disabling for women who can't do so or who dare think that this is a problem for them, this kind of attitude really pathologizes the woman who experiences crippling disruptions. And that's more likely to be us in surgical menopause than women in natural perimenopause, for whom non-hormonal, non-insurance-reimbursible approaches can indeed also be helpful.

This is a trend in research just now, finding reasons not to treat things, and it's a trend that looks suspiciously as though it's driven by insurance companies. In recent years we've been told not to get mammograms because they're too distressing for our delicate sensibilities and my sister's husband, who narrowly survived a very early, very aggressive prostate cancer, is told he shouldn't have bothered getting tested and discovering that because most men outlive their cancers. And on and on, nearly every week I read a recommendation that testing for this or treatment of that isn't "cost effective." This is only one more study, but it's one that grates nonetheless because it undoes so much of what has been done in recent years to set surgical menopause apart as a different entity to natural menopause, permitting different treatment approaches.

Let's each of us hope that our own doctors have failed to catch this latest "news" item. And let's be gentle with each other, all of us in any kind of menopause, and remember that while attitude is very important, we're not a failure if that's not enough. We deserve wellness, each and every one of us, no matter how that wellness is obtained.