Is Menopause Overlooked in U.S. Medical Schools?

Many ob/gyn residents would like specialized training but don't get it, study finds

FRIDAY, May 17 (HealthDay News) -- Too few obstetrics-gynecology residents in the United States receive formal training about menopause, which could lead to care issues for the rapidly growing number of older American women, a new study finds.

Researchers surveyed 510 ob/gyn residents and found that fewer than one in five had received formal training in menopause medicine, even though seven in 10 would like to receive it.

Forty percent to 60 percent of fourth-year residents -- those soon to complete their training -- said they need to improve their knowledge about menopause.

Some ob/gyn residency programs don't offer any formal curriculum or clinical experience focused on women's pre- and post-menopausal health, according to the study, published online recently in the journal Menopause.

"It's clear from the results that the residents who responded admit that their knowledge and clinical management skills of menopause medicine are inadequate," lead author Dr. Mindy Christianson, a clinical fellow in the department of gynecology and obstetrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a Hopkins news release.

A woman is in menopause when she has not had a period for one year. It occurs because the ovaries stop producing the hormones estrogen and progesterone.

Study senior author Dr. Wen Shen, an assistant professor of gynecology and obstetrics at the school of medicine, said the results suggest that ob/gyn residency programs need to address this training gap.

"Residents who participated in our study have stressed that they want more knowledge and experience in this field, and an improved comfort level in treating menopausal symptoms," said Shen, who specializes in treating menopausal women.

The 2010 U.S. census estimates there will be 50 million menopausal women in the country by 2020. The average age of menopause is 51, and the life expectancy for an American woman is 85. That means that many women will live one-third of their lives after menopause, Shen noted.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about menopause.

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