January 27th, 2003
Contrary to popular belief: Life after menopause requires health maintenance
With the life expectancy of an American female being 80 years or longer, women’s healthcare needs reach well beyond the reproductive years.
And since more than one-third of a woman’s life will be spent post-menopausal, it’s imperative she take preventative health measures to ensure optimal health and wellness in the later years. Unfortunately, many equate the cessation of menstruation with decreased risk of developing diseases that require the care of a gynecologist.
“With lower estrogen levels, women are at an increased risk for a number of health conditions following menopause,” said Patrick Bruno, MD, Board Certified Gynecologist for Community Health Network. “The quality of a woman’s health in her senior years may depend on the decisions she makes regarding continued timely examinations and informed choices.”
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that post-menopausal women see their gynecologist annually for a total health maintenance exam, commonly referred to as a “well-woman visit.” Although a postmenopausal female may not require a Pap smear test each year, continuing with routine examinations is vital when considering the increased risk with age for developing breast and certain gynecologic cancers.
Statistics from the American Cancer Society’s “Fact and Figures 2003” booklet estimate 211,300 new cases of breast cancer, 87,000 new cases of gynecologic cancers, including uterine and ovarian, and 15,200 cases of bladder cancer will be diagnosed in 2003. When detected early by professional screening, these types of cancer boast high survival rates – as evidenced by the nearly 9 million cancer survivors in the United States.
Besides cancer, postmenopausal women are also at an increased risk for developing coronary artery disease, osteoporosis, urinary dysfunction and pelvic prolapse. Post-menopausal well-woman visits can also provide crucial early detection and treatment for those conditions.
In general, a well-woman visit for a postmenopausal patient consists of review of the patient’s medical history, examination of breasts and pelvic (reproductive) organs, and a Pap smear. The type of tests a woman receives during the exam and how often are evaluated on an individual basis – depending on the patient’s medical history and risk factor for diseases. These tests may include a cholesterol screening, bone density scan, mammogram, urinalysis and blood count. Immunization updates may also be administered.
Dr. Bruno, who is a Fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, advocates the philosophy “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” in his practice. “Whether the healthcare provider or the patient, it’s always better to prevent illness, through a healthy lifestyle and preventative care, than to treat it,” he said.
With offices in Berlin, Ripon and Wild Rose, CHN Women's Medical Services provides an array of specialized female health services, including routine examinations; reproductive health; urogynecology; gynecological surgeries including laparascopic/endoscopic procedures; hormone replacement therapy; and bone densitometry scanning for osteoporosis.
Appointments with Dr. Patrick Bruno, CHN Women’s Medical Services, can be scheduled by calling the Berlin office at (920)361-5737 or 1-800-236-1283 ext. 5737.