A new, interactive Internet site to help women cope with menopause, including a decision support tool for choosing treatments to relieve symptoms, has been unveiled by the Endocrine Society.
The “Menopause Map” was launched early Tuesday by the Hormone Health Network, the society’s public education affiliate, at http://www.hormonehealth.org/MenopauseMap.
In addition to guiding women through treatment options based on their symptoms and preferences, the site also includes summaries of research from the Women’s Health Initiative, risk factor questionnaires for various diseases linked to menopause, and links to other sites with information on menopause.
Women seeking to use the Menopause Map begin by clicking a link labeled Start Your Journey, which asks whether the user is “going through menopause or having irregular periods” or whether her last period was no more than 3 years ago.
A “no” answer leads to a page with tips on a healthy lifestyle, such as keeping a healthy weight and exercising regularly.
Answering “yes” brings up additional questions about symptoms: “vaginal dryness only,” “hot flashes, interrupted sleep, and/or vaginal dryness,” or “no symptoms.”
Women reporting the full range of symptoms are then asked if they are considering hormone therapy; those answering in the affirmative are asked if they are experiencing unexpected spotting or bleeding.
If yes, users are told to talk with their doctors, and the site offers a list of questions to ask, because the cause needs to be established before a menopause treatment can be considered.
A “no” at this point leads to a series of questions about various risk factors associated with hormonal therapies. The answers then bring up information on the options for hormonal therapies in women with, for example, hypertension but no personal or family history of cancer.
Users who indicate they are not considering hormonal therapy are given lists of alternative treatments, with separate lists of “proven” and “unproven” therapies as well as lifestyle changes that may relieve symptoms.
The proven therapies include certain antidepressants, gabapentin (Neurontin), and clonidine (Catapres); herbal supplements, vitamin E, and “mind-body therapies,” such as yoga and acupuncture, are listed as unproven.
The suggested lifestyle changes address hot flashes only and include such advice as lowering the room temperature, wearing layers, and avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and spicy foods.
By John Gever, Senior Editor, MedPage Today