November 20, 2000
Volume XXXIII, No. 38

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RN discusses menopause and decision making


Nursing

Members of the community joined the School of Nursing Advisory Council and nursing faculty and staff Nov. 8 for an informative breakfast lecture at the San Antonio Country Club.

Dr. Mindy Tinkle, associate professor in the Department of Family Nursing Care, discussed "Menopause in the New Millennium." The lecture provided community members with a chance to learn more about menopause and the decisions that women may need to make. It was the fifth in a series of general health education seminars sponsored by the School of Nursing. Each seminar is open to the public.

Dr. Tinkle, a registered nurse, provided an overview of the physiologic events occurring at menopause and explained potential decision-making strategies regarding hormone replacement therapy or HRT.

"As the aging baby boomer generation brings millions of women face to face with menopause and decisions about using hormone replacement therapy, definitive answers about how to approach these questions are not always available," Dr. Tinkle said. "How can women reconcile the lack of clear information with their need to make decisions about their health? The only certain thing for all women is that menopause is a signal to start, or continue, a good health program. Menopause management must take an individualized approach because no single intervention is appropriate for every woman. Each possible option has a risk/benefit equation specific to each woman."

A decrease of estrogen hormone in menopause may contribute to development of chronic disease later in life, including heart disease and osteoporosis. The central nervous system also may be affected.

"Estrogen is considered to be ‘cardioprotective’ because it increases good cholesterol and lowers bad cholesterol," Dr. Tinkle said. "The postmenopausal decrease in estrogen can lead to heart disease. Women who take estrogen may reduce their risk of heart disease by as much as 35 percent to 50 percent."

More than 40 percent of women will die from cardiovascular disease, she said.

In the Western world, menopause occurs at a median age of 51.4 years but can happen anytime between the ages of 40 and 58. Some women reach menopause in their 30s and a few in their 60s, according to information from the North American Menopause Society.

"Menopause is a bridge to a new beginning," Dr. Tinkle said. "Many women report a sense of freedom. Others feel ambivalent and a real sense of sadness in closing out their reproductive years."

For information on the next School of Nursing breakfast seminar, call Bart Harst at 567-3833.