In this week's podcast episode, we talked with Dr. Katherine Unverferth on Menopause, anxiety, and mental health. We covered the below topics:
Welcome back, everybody. I am so happy to have you here. We are doing another deep dive into sexual health and anxiety as a part of our Sexual Health and Anxiety Series. We first did an episode on sexual anxiety or sexual performance anxiety. Then we did an episode on arousal and anxiety. That was by me. Then we did an amazing episode on sexual side effects of antidepressants with Dr. Aziz. And then last week, we did another episode by me basically going through all of the sexual intrusive thoughts that often people will have, particularly those who have OCD.
This week, we are deep diving into menopause and anxiety. This is an incredibly important episode specifically for those who are going through menopause or want to be trained to understand what it is like to go through menopause and how menopause impacts our mental health in terms of sometimes people will have an increase in anxiety or depression.
This week, we have an amazing guest coming on because this is not my specialty. I try not to speak on things that I don’t feel confident talking about. This week, we have the amazing Dr. Katherine Unverferth. She is an Assistant Clinical Professor at The David Geffen School of Medicine and she also serves as the Director of the Women’s Life Center and Medical Director of the Maternal Mental Health Program. She is an expert in reproductive psychiatry, which is why we got her on the show. She specializes in treating women during periods of hormonal transitions in her private practice in Santa Monica. She lectures and researches and studies areas on postpartum depression, antenatal depression, postpartum psychosis, premenstrual dysphoric disorder—which we will cover next week, I promise; we have an amazing guest talking about that—and perimenopausal mood and anxiety disorders. I am so excited to have Dr. Unverferth on the show to talk about menopause and the collision between menopause and anxiety. You are going to get so much amazing information on this show, so I’m just going to head straight over there. Again, thank you so much to our guest. Let’s get over to the show.
Kimberley: Welcome. I am so honored to have Dr. Katherine Unverferth with us talking today about menopause and anxiety. Thank you for coming on the show.
Dr. Katie: Of course. Thanks for having me.
HOW DO WE DEFINE PERI-MENOPAUSE AND MENOPAUSE?
Kimberley: Okay. I have a ton of questions for you. A lot of these questions were asked from the community, from our crew of people who are really wanting more information about this. We’ve titled it Menopause and Anxiety, but I want to get really clear, first of all, in terms of the terms and whether we’re using them correctly. Can you first define what is menopause, and then we can go from there?
Dr. Katie: Definitely. I think when you’re talking about menopause, you also have to think about perimenopause. Menopause is defined as the time after the final menstrual period. Meaning, the last menstrual period somebody has. It can only be defined retrospectively, so you typically only know you’re in menopause a year after you’ve had your final menstrual period. But that’s the technical definition—after the final menstrual period, it’s usually defined one year after. Perimenopause is the time leading up to that where people have hormonal changes. Sometimes they have vasomotor symptoms, they can have mood changes, and that period typically lasts about four years but varies. I think that people often know that they’re getting close to menopause because of the perimenopausal symptoms they might be experiencing.
Kimberley: Okay. How might somebody know they’re going into perimenopause? I think that’s how you would say you go into it. Is that right?
Dr. Katie: Yeah. You start experiencing it there. I don’t know if there’s a specific term.
Kimberley: Sure. How would one know they’re moving in that direction?
Dr. Katie: Typically, we look for a few different things. One of the earliest signs is menstrual cycle changes. As someone enters perimenopause, their menstrual cycle starts to lengthen, whereas before, it might have been a normal 28-day cycle. Once it lengthens to greater than seven days, over 35 days, we would start to think of someone might be in perimenopause because it’s lengthened significantly from their baseline before.
Other symptoms that are really consistent with perimenopause are vasomotor symptoms. Most women who go through perimenopause will have these. These are hot flashes or hot flushes—those are synonyms for the same experience—and night sweats. Hot flashes, as the name describes what it is, they last about two to four minutes. It’s a feeling of warmth that typically begins in the chest or the head and spreads outward, often associated with flushing, with sweating that’s followed by a period of chills and sometimes anxiety. The night sweats are hot flashes but in the middle of the night when someone is sleeping, so it can be very disruptive to sleep. That combination of the menstrual cycle changes plus these vasomotor symptoms is typically how we define perimenopause or how we diagnose perimenopause. Once someone is later in perimenopause, when they’re getting closer to their final menstrual period, often they’ll skip menstrual cycles altogether, so it might be 60 days in between having bleeding. Whereas before, it was a more regular period of time.
I think one of the defining features too is hormonal fluctuations during those times. But interestingly, there’s not much clinical utility to getting the blood test to check hormone levels because they can vary wildly from cycle to cycle. Overall, what we do see is that certain hormones increase, others decrease, and that probably contributes to some of the symptoms that we see around that time as well.
Kimberley: Right, which is so interesting because I think that’s why a lot of people come to me and I try to only answer questions I’m skilled to answer. Those symptoms can very much mimic anxiety. I know we’ll get into that very soon, but that’s really interesting—this idea of hot flashes. I always remember coming home to my mom from school and she was actually in the freezer, except for her feet. It was one of those door freezers. So, I understand the heat that they’re feeling, this hot flash, it’s a full body hot flash stimulant like someone may have if they’re having a panic attack maybe.
Dr. Katie: Exactly. There are lots of interesting studies really looking at the overlap of menopausal panic attacks and hot flashes too. There’s a lot of this research that’s really trying to suss out what comes first in perimenopause because we know that anxiety predisposes someone to hot flashes and it can predispose someone to panic attacks, which is interesting. It seems like there’s this common denominator there. But I think that that’s a really interesting thing that hopefully we’ll get into this overlap between the two.
WHAT AGE DOES SOMEONE GET PERIMENOPAUSE AND MENOPAUSE?
Kimberley: I’m guessing this is something I’m moving towards as well. What age groups, what ages does this usually start? What’s the demographics for someone going into perimenopause and menopause?
Dr. Katie: The average age of menopause is 51, and then people spend about four years in perimenopause. Late 40s would be a typical time to start perimenopause. Basically, any age after 40, when someone’s having these symptoms, they’re likely in perimenopause. If it happens before the age of 40 where someone’s having menstrual cycle abnormalities and they’re having these vasomotor symptoms, that might be a sign of primary ovarian insufficiency. It used to be called premature ovarian failure, but that would be a sign that they should probably go see a doctor and get checked out. If it’s after 40, it’s very likely that they’re having perimenopausal symptoms.
Kimberley: Okay. What causes this to happen? What are the shifts that happen in people’s bodies that lead someone into this period of their life?
Dr. Katie: I think there are a lot of things that are going on. I think it’s really important to emphasize that menopause is a natural part of aging. That this isn’t some abnormal process. Nothing is wrong. It’s a natural part of aging. It can still be very uncomfortable, I think. But basically, over time, a woman’s eggs decline and the follicles that help these eggs develop also develop less. There’s this decline in the functioning of the ovaries. There are a few reasons this might be. There are some studies that show that blood flow to the ovaries is reduced as a result of aging, so maybe that makes them function a little bit less. The follicles that remain in the ovaries are probably aging, and then the follicles, which are still there, also might not be the healthiest of follicles, which is why they weren’t used earlier.
There’s this combination of things that leads to these very significant hormonal changes that start around perimenopause. The first of these is an increase in follicle-stimulating hormone. Follicle-stimulating hormone is released by the pituitary and encourages the ovaries to develop follicles. That increases over time because the follicles aren’t developing in the same way. It’s like the pituitary is trying harder and harder to get them to work. At the same time as these, as the follicles and ovaries are aging, what we see is that the ovaries produce less estrogen and progesterone overall. But there’s still these wild fluctuations that are happening. FSH is going up, but it’s fluctuating up; estrogen and progesterone are going down, but they’re fluctuating down. It’s these really big shifts that seem to cause a lot of the symptoms that we associate with this time.
WHY DO SOME HAVE MORE MENOPAUSAL SYMPTOMS THAN OTHERS?
Kimberley: Is there a reason why some people have more symptoms than others? Is it your genetic component or is there a hormonal component? What’s your experience?
Dr. Katie: I think there are lots of different reasons and we probably need more research in this area. There are definitely genetic components that influence it. For example, we know that women who have family members who went through menopause earlier are likely to go through menopause themselves earlier. There’s some genetic thing that’s influencing the interplay of factors. I think we know that there are certain lifestyles. There are certain behaviors, like certain behaviors in someone’s life that can influence, I think, their symptoms. We know that smoking, obesity, having a more sedentary lifestyle can impact vasomotor symptoms. I think some really interesting research looks at the psychological influences here. We know that women who have higher levels of neuroticism, when they go through perimenopause, have more anxiety and mood changes associated with it. People who have higher levels of somatic anxiety, coming into this perimenopausal transition, can also have a tougher time. I think that makes sense when we think about someone with somatic anxiety. They’re going to be very, very attuned to these small changes in their body. During perimenopause, there are these huge changes that are happening in your body. That can trigger, I think, a lot of anxiety and a focus on the symptoms.
I think with vasomotor symptoms specifically, like hot flashes and hot flashes specifically, night sweats, not quite as much, we know that there are these psychological characteristics that probably perpetuate and worsen hot flashes. When someone has a hot flash, it’s certainly uncomfortable for most people. But the level of distress can be very different. They’ve looked at the cognitions that occur when people have hot flashes and at some point, people believe like, “Oh, this is very embarrassing, this is very shameful.” That doesn’t help them process it. They might believe, “This is never going to go away. I can’t cope with it.” That’s also not going to help. I think that’s really a target for cognitive behavioral therapy to help people during this time.
Kimberley: It just makes me think too, as somebody who has friends going through this, and you can please correct me, what I’ve noticed is there’s also a grief process that goes along with it too, like it’s another flag in terms of being flown, in terms of I’m aging. I’ve also heard, but maybe you have more to say about people feeling like it makes them less feminine. Is that your experience too, or is that just my experience of what I’ve heard?
Dr. Katie: No, I agree. I think in my clinical experience, people go through it in a lot of different ways. I think that there is this grief. I think it can bring out a lot of existential anxiety. It is a sign that you are getting older. This can bring up a lot of these questions like, who am I? What’s my purpose? Where am I going? But I think it’s really important to remind women that we’re not defined by our reproductive functioning. I think that that’s something that people forget. Were you less of a woman when you were 15 or when you were 10 maybe and you hadn’t gone through puberty? You’re still the same person. But I do think that there’s a lot of cultural stress around this, and I think there are a lot of complexities around the way society sees aging women. I think that those are cultural issues that need to be fixed, but not necessarily a problem within the woman themselves.
WHAT CAUSES MENOPAUSE AND ANXIETY SYMPTOMS?
Kimberley: That’s really helpful to know and understand. Okay, let’s talk about if I could get a little more understanding of this relationship with anxiety. Maybe you can be clearer with me so that I understand it. Is it more of what we’re saying in terms of like, it’s the chicken and the egg? Is that what you mean in terms of people who have anxiety tend to have more symptoms, but then those symptoms can create more anxiety and it’s like a snowball? Or is that not true for everybody? Can you explain how that works?
Dr. Katie: With regard to the perimenopausal period, what I think researchers are trying to figure out is, do vasomotor symptoms, like hot flashes, lead to anxiety and panic, or do anxiety and panic worsen the vasomotor symptoms? We don’t have a lot of information there. Part of it is because it’s difficult to study. Because when you’re doing symptom checklists, there’s a lot of overlap between a hot flash and a panic attack. It’s just been difficult, I think, to suss out in research. I think what we do know is there was one study that showed that people who have higher levels of anxiety are five times more likely to report hot flashes than women with anxiety in the normal range. Whether or not the anxiety is necessarily causing it, I do think that there’s probably some perpetuation of like, I think that the anxiety is perpetuating the hot flashes, which perpetuates the anxiety. We just don’t know exactly where it starts.
MENOPAUSE & PANIC ATTACKS
But I mean, if we just think about it for a second, if we think about what’s common between them, I think that both panic attacks and hot flashes have a quick onset. They have a spontaneous onset, a rapid peak, they can be provoked by anxiety, they can include changes in temperature, like feelings of heat and sweating. They can have these palpitations, they can have this shortness of breath, nausea. And then it’s very common that panic is reported during hot flashes, and hot flashes can be reported during panic. I think there’s this interplay that we’re trying to figure out. I think what’s interesting too is that common antidepressants can treat both panic and hot flashes, which is not something that probably everybody knows. There are probably different reasons that they’re treating each of them, but it is still just this other place where there is this overlap.
Kimberley: Okay. That’s really interesting. One thing that really strikes me is I actually have a medical condition called postural orthostatic tachycardic syndrome (POTS), and you get really dizzy. I’m an Anxiety Specialist, so I can be good at pulling apart what is what, but it is very hard. You have to really be mindful to know the difference in the moment because let’s say I have this whoosh of dizziness. My mind immediately first says I’m having a panic attack, which makes you panic. I’m assuming someone with that whoosh of maybe a hot flash has that same thing where your amygdala, I’m guessing, is immediately going to be like, “Yeah, we’re having a panic attack. This is where we’re going.” That makes a lot of sense to me.
Now, some people also have reported to me that their anxiety has made them-- and again we have to understand what causes what, and we don’t understand it, but how does that spread into their daily life? What I’ve heard is people say, “I don’t feel like I can leave the house because what if I have a hot flash, which creates then a panic attack,” or “It’s embarrassing to have a hot flash. You sweat and your clothes are all wet and so forth.” Do you have a common example of how that also shows up for people?
Dr. Katie: Yeah. I think that what you were alluding to is this behavioral avoidance that can happen. We can see that with panic attacks where people sometimes develop agoraphobia, fear of being in certain places. Sometimes they don’t want to leave their home. I think with hot flashes, we do also see this behavioral avoidance when people especially tend to find them very distressing. They catastrophize it when they happen. They worry about social shaming. That avoidance, I think, the way that we understand anxiety is that if you have an anxiety and then you change your behaviors as a result of that anxiety, that tends to perpetuate the anxiety. That’s one of the targets of cognitive behavioral therapy for hot flashes, is really trying to unwind some of this behavioral avoidance. Also, we know that temperature changes can trigger hot flashes. Unfortunately, it looks like strong positive and strong negative emotion can trigger hot flashes, just feeling any end of the spectrum. There are certain other triggers that can trigger hot flashes. I think that it’s just this discomfort and this fear of having a hot flash that I think really generalizes the anxiety during this time.
HORMONES, ANXIETY, & MENOPAUSE
There’s also this interesting hormonal component too that’s being studied as well. We’ve talked a little bit about progesterone. But in reproductive psychiatry, we really focus on this metabolite of progesterone called allopregnanolone. I think this is interesting because allopregnanolone is a metabolite of progesterone. We know that progesterone is going like this, up and up and down during this time. Allopregnanolone works on this receptor that tends to have very calming effects. Other things that work at this receptor are benzodiazepines like Xanax and Ativan or alcohol. It has this calming effect. But when it’s going like this, it’s calming and then it’s not, and then it’s calming and then it’s not, up and down rollercoaster. There’s some thought that that specifically might contribute to anxiety during this time. It can be more generalized. It’s not always just related to hot flashes, even though we’ve been more specific on that. It can be the same as anxiety at any point in anyone else’s life, like ruminative thoughts, worry, intrusive thoughts, just this general discomfort. I think this is a really exciting area of research where we’re looking at ways to modulate this pathway to help women cope better. There are studies looking at progesterone metabolites to see if they can be helpful with mood changes during this time.
Kimberley: Interesting. Let’s work through it. As a clinician, if someone presents with anxiety, what I would usually do is do an inventory of the behaviors that they do in effort to reduce or remove that anxiety or uncertainty that they feel. And then we practice purposely returning to those behaviors. Exposure and so forth. From what you understand, would you be doing the same with the hot flashes or is there a balance between, there will be sometimes where you will go in purposely or go out and live your life whether you have a hot flash or not? How do we balance that from a clinical standpoint? Even as a clinician, I’m curious to know. As a clinician, what would I encourage my client to do? Would it be like our normal response of, “Come on, let’s just do it, let’s face all of our fears,” or is there a bit of a balance here that we move towards?
Dr. Katie: It’s more of a balance. I think one of the important things is that what you want to do-- I think the focus is on the cognition here a little bit. I’m not familiar and I don’t think that exposure to hot flashes is intentionally triggering hot flashes repeatedly, like sometimes we do in panic disorders is part of this. What I understand from the protocol is that it’s really looking at the unhelpful cognitions that relate to menopause, aging, and vasomotor symptoms. This idea of like, everybody is looking at me when I’m having a hot flash, this is so shameful. Or maybe it goes further, like no one will like me anymore. Who knows exactly where it can go? We know that when people have cognitive distortions, it’s not really based on rational thinking.
I think other part is you work on monitoring and modifying hot flash triggers, so it feels more in your control like temperature changes and doing those things. I think other things that you do is there’s some evidence for diaphragmatic breathing to help with the management of hot flashes. You teach someone those skills. I think your idea is you want to get them back out there and living their life despite the hot flashes, and also just education. This isn’t going to last forever. Yes, this is uncomfortable, but everybody goes through this. This is a normal part of aging. Also encouraging them to seek treatment if they need it. In addition to therapy, we know that there are medications that can help with this. If the hot flashes are impacting their life in a significant way or very distressing to them, go see a reproductive psychiatrist or go see an OB-GYN who can talk to you about the different options to really treat what’s coming up.
Kimberley: Right. That’s helpful. I want to quickly just add on to that with your advice. I think what you’re saying is when we come from an anxiety treatment model, we are looking at exposure, but when it comes to someone who’s going through this real life, like their actual symptoms aren’t imagined, they’re there, it’s okay for them to modify to not be going to hot saunas and so forth that we know that they’re going to be triggered, but just to do the things that get them back to their daily functioning, but it is still okay for them. I think what I’m trying to say is it’s still okay for them to be doing some accommodation of the symptoms of perimenopause, but not accommodation of the anxiety. Is that where we draw the line?
Dr. Katie: I think that’s a really good way of explaining it.
DEPRESSION AND MENOPAUSE
Kimberley: All right. The other piece of this is as important, which is how depression impacted here. Can you share a little bit how mood changes can be impacted by perimenopause?
Dr. Katie: Definitely. We know that there’s a significant increase in not only the onset of a new depression, but also recurrence of prior depressive episodes during perimenopause. It’s probably related to the changing levels of hormones, but also, I think what we’ve alluded to and what we have to acknowledge is there are big life changes that are happening around this time as well. I think cultural views of aging, I think a lot of times people have changes in their relationships, their partners. Their libido can change. There’s so many moving parts that they think that also contributes to it.
But specifically with regard to perimenopausal depression, we categorize this in the reproductive subtype of depression. At these different periods of hormonal transition, certain women are prone to have a depressive episode. We know that that’s true during normal cycling. For example, premenstrual dysphoric disorder or PMDD is a reproductive subtype of depression. People sometimes get depressed in those two weeks before their period and then feel fine during the week of their period or the week after. During the luteal phase, they experience depression. We know that that group of women also is at increased risk for perinatal depression, so depression during pregnancy and postpartum. And then that same group is also at risk for perimenopausal depression. What we know is that a subset of women is probably sensitive to normal levels of changing hormones, and that for them, it triggers a depressive episode.
One of the biggest risk factors for depression during perimenopause is a prior history of depression. Unfortunately, the way depression works is that once you have it, you’re more likely to have it in the future. For people who have had depression in their life or have specifically had depression around these times of hormonal transition, it’s probably just important to keep an eye on how they’re doing, make sure they have appropriate support, whether that’s from a therapist or a psychiatrist, and monitor themselves closely.
Kimberley: Okay. This is really helpful to know. We know that people with anxiety tend to have depression as well. Have you found those who’ve had previous depression or previous anxiety also have coexisting in terms of having those panic attacks and depression at the same time?
Dr. Katie: That’s interesting. I haven’t read any research on that. It wouldn’t surprise me. But I think at least for research purposes, they’re separating it. I think clinically, of course, we can see it being all mixed together. But for research, it’s depression or panic and they keep those separate.
Kimberley: Right. One thing that just came to me in terms of just clarifying too is, I’m assuming a lot of people who have health anxiety are incredibly triggered during perimenopause as well, these symptoms that are unexplained but explained. But I’m wondering, is that also something that you commonly see in terms of they’re having these symptoms and questioning whether it means something serious is happening? Has that been something that you see a lot of?
Dr. Katie: Definitely. I think the first time someone has a hot flash, it can be extremely distressing. It’s a very uncomfortable sensation. I think there are other changes that happen during perimenopause that, of course, I think, raise concern. We know that in addition to night sweats, people can just have general aches and pains. They can have headaches. Cognitive complaints can be very common during this time. Just this feeling of brain fog, not feeling as sharp as one used to be. They can have sleep disturbances, which can of course worsen the anxiety and the cognitive complaints, and the depression. I think there can be a myriad of symptoms. Other distressing symptoms, I’m not sure if they necessarily-- I think if you know what’s going on, it’s not quite as distressing, but there can be these urogenital symptoms, like vaginal dryness, vaginal burning. There can be recurrent UTIs, there can be difficulty with urination. There are this constellation of symptoms that I’m sure could trigger health anxiety in people, especially if they have preexisting health anxiety.
WHAT TREATMENTS ARE AVAIALBLE TO HELP THOSE WHO ARE SUFFERING FROM MENOPAUSE (OR PERIMENOPAUSE) AND ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION?
Kimberley: Yeah, absolutely. Someone’s listened to this episode so they’re at least informed, which is wonderful. They start to see enough evidence that this may be what is going on for them. What would be the steps following that? Is it something that you just go through and like a fever, you just ride it out kind of thing? Or are there medications or treatments? What would you suggest someone do in the order as they go through it?
Dr. Katie: I think it depends on what’s going on and how they’re experiencing it. If this is distressing, life interfering, if they’re having trouble functioning, they should absolutely seek treatment. I think there are a few different things they can do depending on what’s going on. For depression and anxiety, medications are the first line. Antidepressants would still be the first-line therapy there. There’s some evidence for menopausal hormone therapy, but there’s not really enough. There is evidence for menopausal hormone therapy, but it’s not currently first line for depression or anxiety. If someone had treatment-resistant depression that came up in the perimenopausal transition, I think it’s reasonable to consider menopausal hormone therapy. But currently, menopausal hormone therapy isn’t really recommended for that.
If someone is having distressing vasomotor symptoms with night sweats and recurrent hot flashes or hot flushes during the day, menopausal hormone therapy is a very good option. That is something to consider. They could go talk to their OB-GYN about it. Certain people will be candidates for it and other people might not. If you think it might be something you’re interested in, I recommend going and speaking to your OB-GYN sooner rather than later.
Antidepressants themselves can also help with vasomotor symptoms as well. They can specifically help with hot flashes and night sweats. If someone has depression and anxiety and hot flashes and night sweats, antidepressant can be a really good choice because it can help with both of those. There was a really interesting study that compared Lexapro to menopausal hormone therapy for hot flashes, for quality of life, for sleep, and for depression. Essentially, both of them helped sleep quality of life in vasomotor symptoms, but only the Lexapro helped the depression. It really just depends on what’s going on.
I think another thing that we’ve also talked about is therapy. This can be a big life transition. I think really no woman going through menopause is the same. Some people have toddlers. Some people have grown children who have just left their home. Some people are just starting their career. Some people are about to retire. Relationships can change. I think that it’s really important to take what’s going on in the context of a woman’s life. I think therapy can be really helpful to help them process and understand what they’re going through.
Kimberley: Right. You had mentioned before, and I just wanted to touch on this, vaginal drying and stuff like that, which I’m sure, again, a reason for this series is just how much sexual intimacy and so forth can impact somebody’s satisfaction in life or functioning or in relationships. Is that something that is also treatable with these different treatment models or is there a different treatment for that?
Dr. Katie: With menopausal hormone therapy, when someone has hot flashes or these other symptoms that we were talking about, not the urogenital ones, they need to take systemic menopausal hormone therapy. They basically need estrogen and progesterone to go throughout their body. When someone is just having these urogenital symptoms, they can often use topical vaginal estrogen. It’s applied vaginally. That can be really helpful for those symptoms as well. I think if that’s something that someone is struggling with that they want treatment for, it’s very reasonable to go talk to their OB-GYN about it because there are therapies that can be--
Kimberley: Right, that’s like a cream or lotion kind of thing.
Dr. Katie: Exactly.
Kimberley: Interesting. Oh wow. All right. That is so helpful. We’ve talked about the medical piece, the medication piece. A lot of people also I see on social media mostly talk about these more-- I don’t want to use the word “natural” because I don’t like that word “natural.” I don’t even know what word I would use, but non-medical--
Dr. Katie: Like supplements or--
Kimberley: Yeah. I know it’s different for everyone and everyone listening should please seek a doctor for medical advice, but is that something that you talk about with patients or do you stick more just to the things that have been researched? What are your thoughts?
Dr. Katie: I think that supplements can be helpful for some people. I don’t always find that they’re as effective as medications. If someone is really struggling on a day-to-day basis, I do think that using treatments that have more evidence behind them is better. I think that there are some supplements that have a little bit of evidence, but I do think that they come with their own risks. Because supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA and things like that, I don’t typically recommend them. I think if someone is interested in finding a more naturopathic doctor who might be able to talk to them about those things is reasonable.
Kimberley: Super helpful. Is there anything that you feel like we haven’t covered or that would be important for us to really drill home and make sure we point out here at the end before we finish up?
Dr. Katie: I think we’ve covered a lot. I think that the most important thing that I really want to stress is this is a normal part of aging. This is not a disease; this is not a disease state. Also, there are treatments that can be so effective. You don’t have to struggle in silence. It is not something shameful. There are clinicians who are trained, who are able to help if these symptoms are coming up. Just not being afraid to go and talk about it and go reach out for help. I think that that can be so helpful and really life-changing for some people when they get the right treatment.
Kimberley: Right. Thank you. Where can we hear about you, get in touch with you, maybe seek out your services?
Dr. Katie: You can find me online. I have a website. It’s just www.drkatiemd.com. It’s D-R-K-A-T-I-E-M-D.com. You can follow me on Instagram on the same. If you’re interested to see more of my talks and lectures, I often post those on my LinkedIn page. You can follow me on LinkedIn. I think if you are personally interested in learning more about menopause, there’s a really great book by an OB-GYN, her name is Dr. Jen Gunter, and it’s called The Menopause Manifesto. For anybody who really wants to educate themselves about menopause and understand more about what’s going on in their body and their treatments, I really recommend that book.
Kimberley: Amazing. That’s so good to have that resource as well. Thank you. I’m really, really honored. I know you’re doing so many amazing things and running so many amazing programs. I’m so grateful for your time and your expertise on this.
Dr. Katie: Of course. I’m so glad that you’re doing a podcast on this. I think this is a topic that we really need more information and education out there.
Kimberley: Yeah. Thank you.