Factors affecting North Louisiana women's decisions related to menopause therapy options
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Menopause, the natural biological change that occurs during the aging process, is the permanent cessation of menses and fertility that generally occurs between 45 and 55 years of age. Although many women may seek some type of intervention during their menopausal transition, others may avoid doing so for various reasons. Some of the factors that reportedly affect women's decisions about whether or not to seek menopausal treatment include knowledge and attitudes about changes that occur during menopause, severity of symptoms accompanying menopause, knowledge about treatment options, physician recommendations, and friends' or family members' experiences with various treatment options. The purposes of this study were to: (1) Determine the most common therapies reported by women transitioning through menopause; (2) Determine factors that influenced participants' therapy decisions; and (3) Determine if there are significant differences in decisions based on age, race, income level, employment status, health insurance, health status, severity of menopausal symptoms, and knowledge and attitudes related to menopause. Two hundred seventy four female participants, aged 40-60, recruited from northern Louisiana, completed an anonymous survey offered in online format. Chi square and multiple logistic regressions were used to analyze the data. The most common treatments/therapies reported by participants in the study were estrogen, progesterone, and combined hormone therapy. Significant relationships were revealed between attitudes and treatment/therapy use, and knowledge and treatment/therapy use. Women holding the attitude that menopause is a natural part of the aging process were at significantly lesser odds of currently being on menopause treatment/therapy compared with those who perceive menopause to be a medical condition ( Odds Ratio = .188, p = .036). Furthermore, women holding a positive attitude towards hormone therapy were at significantly greater odds of currently being on menopause treatment/therapy compared to women with negative attitudes towards hormone therapy (Odds Ratio = 6.752, p = .009). The most frequent menopausal symptoms reported by participants were hot flashes, night sweats, mood changes, vaginal dryness, and loss of interest in sex. A large proportion of the women in this study reported physicians as their primary source of menopause information, but postmenopausal women were more likely to obtain information from physicians than premenopausal and perimenopausal women. This presents an opportunity to educate women prior to cessation of menses about the possible symptoms that occur during the menopausal transition, treatment/therapy options, important health implications related to menopause in general, and benefits and risks related to decisions on the use of treatment/therapy.