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Format: 04/19/2014
Format: 04/19/2014


Allegheny Health Network Practice Focuses on Needs of Women in Midlife Transition

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Doctors Address “Five Ss of Menopause” With Multi-Modality Approach
PITTSBURGH – A woman’s life doesn’t end just because her menstrual periods have ended. That’s the guiding philosophy of Midlife Women’s Associates, a medical practice dedicated to helping women make the most of the years spent transitioning into menopause.
Allegheny Health Network gynecologists Judith Balk, MD, Marcia Klein-Patel, MD, and Beth Prairie, MD, MPH, lead one of the few area practices completely dedicated to midlife women, with offices located in Bethel Park, McMurray and Cranberry Township, Pa.
“Menopause arrives at a very busy time in a woman’s life, when she may be dealing with grown children, aging parents and a career,” Dr. Klein-Patel said. “She needs to be at her best, and she doesn’t have to accept that ‘this is the way things are’ in menopause or perimenopause.”
 Midlife Women’s Associates use a multi-modality approach to helping midlife women deal with “The Five Ss of Menopause”:   Symptoms, Sleep, Sex, Stress and Self.
“Today we have many options beyond hormone replacement therapy to ease women’s menopausal symptoms,” Dr. Balk said. “We offer women effective options from medication to meditation for the ‘Five Ss.’”
·         Symptoms
Bothersome menopause symptoms vary widely from woman to woman. Some of the most common include hot flashes, night sweats, thinning hair, urinary incontinence and weight gain. “Often we can use behavioral modification to help women deal with these issues,” Dr. Klein-Patel said. For example, patients can ease night sweats by keeping the bedroom cold, and aiming fans at their feet.
Non-hormonal medications can be useful: anti-seizure medication gabapentin, for instance, may effectively ease hot flashes.
For women needing more intensive treatment for urinary incontinence, referrals are available. Urogynecologist Spyridon (Spyros) I. Marinis, MD, whose practice adjoins Midlife Women’s in Bethel Park, focuses on rehabilitation through physical therapy with pelvic reconstructive surgery as the last option.
·         Sleep
Midlife Women’s focuses on addressing the reasons for lost sleep. Some women may be awakened by the need to urinate, and behavioral modifications such as not drinking anything two hours before bedtime may help. For those who wake up with their minds racing, a visit with a therapist may help them rein in their anxiety.
The practice relies on creative strategies, such as acupuncture, not prescription sleep aids.
·         Sex
Vaginal dryness is a normal part of aging. “Vaginal estrogen cream can address issues of pain and dryness, without the side effects of systemic oral estrogen therapy,” Dr. Balk said “For those who would prefer not to use estrogen cream, we keep a list of effective, recommended brands of over-the-counter lubricants and moisturizers.”
·         Stress
Menopause-related feelings of anxiety or depression can heighten the stresses of midlife. “Cognitive behavioral therapy can help women learn to recognize the triggers of anxiety, and keep it at bay with techniques such as deep-breathing exercises,” Dr. Klein-Patel said. “We can also help women find an exercise program they’ll enjoy, which can also be very useful in fending off stress.”
·         Self
“Probably the most frequent complaint we hear from women in midlife is ‘I just don’t feel like myself.’” Dr. Balk said. “They are beginning a new chapter of their lives, but they can and should continue to lead productive, enjoyable lives. In our practice we look at the big picture and try to focus on key behaviors and habits that can be changed to help women sail on into this next stage.”
Midlife Women’s Associates has offices at 100 Higbee Dr., Bethel Park; 7011 Crider Road, Cranberry Township, and 242 East McMurray Road, McMurray and can be reached at 412.854.7140.
Stephanie Waite
For more information, contact:
West Penn Allegheny Health System
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