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Release Date: 10/19/2015

For years, menopause has been the subject of rumor and myth. At one time, it was believed that menopause was a disease. It was also thought that menopausal women were constantly depressed and just stopped having sex. They were treated as if their lives had ended.

Thankfully, attitudes toward menopause have changed for the better. Menopause is a perfectly natural part of life, and it is an easy transition for some and a more difficult one for others. Through a new openness to talk about menopause, there's more help available to women who are having difficulty coping with this time in their lives.

To better meet the needs of this growing population of women, Women & Infants Hospital, a Care New England hospital, is introducing The Menopause Program. The multidisciplinary team of providers includes obstetrician/gynecologists, internal medicine providers, cardiologists, behavioral health specialists, and endocrinologists.

"Women & Infants Hospital is committed to providing services to women at all ages and stages of their lives. And while we have for years offered programs to menopausal women, this new program allows us to better coordinate care across disciplines," said Maureen G. Phipps, MD, MPH, chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Women & Infants, executive chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Care New England, Chair and Chace-Joukowsky Professor in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology and assistant dean for teaching and research in women's health at the Warren Alpert Medical School, and professor of epidemiology at the Brown University School of Public Health.

Medically defined, menopause is said to have begun when a woman's menstrual cycle has ended for a year. The reason for this change is a decrease in the production of estrogen and progesterone. Menopause occurs, on average, around age 50. Symptoms, however, often begin in a woman's 40s and can last for up to a decade. Women whose ovaries have stopped functioning or have been removed surgically can experience what is commonly referred to as early menopause. Symptoms can vary and include hot flashes, vaginal dryness, sexual dysfunction, nervousness, irritability, fatigue or mild depression. Many of these symptoms can cause trouble sleeping which, in turn, can result in memory loss and mood swings.

"Menopause can be a very challenging time in a woman's life, affecting many aspects of her physical and emotional well-being," said Renee Eger, MD, director of the Menopause Program and medical director of the Women's Primary Care Center. "Postmenopausal women are at increased risk for heart disease and osteoporosis, so it is vital that they not only be treated for their menopausal symptoms, but that they also maintain a strong relationship with their own primary care provider to ensure that health problems can be discovered and treated early. We will be working closely with each patient's primary care provider to ensure continuity of care."

The Menopause Program offers evaluation and treatment of vasomotor symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats, as well as vulvovaginal problems such as vaginal dryness, pain, burning and painful intercourse. The multidisciplinary team also provides preventative care services for midlife women, including breast health, bone health, emotional and psychological health, and cardiovascular screening.

Patients of Women & Infants' Menopause Program will be seen at two locations on the hospital's Providence campus – at the Women's Primary Care Center, 2 Dudley Street, 5th floor and at the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, 90 Plain Street, 4th floor. Appointments may be made through a woman's own primary care provider or by calling (401) 274-1122, extension 42721.

About Women & Infants Hospital

Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, a Care New England hospital, is one of the nation’s leading specialty hospitals for women and newborns. A major teaching affiliate of The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University for obstetrics, gynecology and newborn pediatrics, as well as a number of specialized programs in women’s medicine, Women & Infants is the 12th largest stand-alone obstetrical service in the country and the largest in New England with approximately 8,500 deliveries per year. A Designated Baby-Friendly® USA hospital, U.S.News & World Report 2014-15 Best Children’s Hospital in Neonatology and a 2014 Leapfrog Top Hospital, in 2009 Women & Infants opened what was at the time the country’s largest, single-family room neonatal intensive care unit.

Women & Infants and Brown offer fellowship programs in gynecologic oncology, maternal-fetal medicine, urogynecology and reconstructive pelvic surgery, neonatal-perinatal medicine, pediatric and perinatal pathology, gynecologic pathology and cytopathology, and reproductive endocrinology and infertility. It is home to the nation’s first mother-baby perinatal psychiatric partial hospital, as well as the nation’s only fellowship program in obstetric medicine.

Women & Infants has been designated as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiography; a Center of Excellence in Minimally Invasive Gynecology; a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence by the National Institutes of Health (NIH); and a Neonatal Resource Services Center of Excellence. It is one of the largest and most prestigious research facilities in high risk and normal obstetrics, gynecology and newborn pediatrics in the nation, and is a member of the National Cancer Institute’s Gynecologic Oncology Group and the Pelvic Floor Disorders Network.
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