053 The Financial Costs of the Menopause - Professor Philip Sarrel & Dr Louise Newson

In this podcast, Dr Louise Newson talks to Professor Philip Sarrel, Professor of Gynaecology, Obstetrics and Reproductive Sciences and also Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University. 

Dr Newson and Prof Sarrel discuss the importance of hormone replacement, not only to improve symptoms but also for disease prevention as Prof Sarrel talks about the increased risk of heart disease in women who have had an early menopause. He is the Founder and President of the Advancing Health After Hysterectomy (AHAH) Foundation, an organisation that focuses on educating women who have had a hysterectomy by age 60, a total of 15 million women in the USA! In the 1990s, around 80% of women received HRT following a hysterectomy and now the figure is around 15%. Yet women who have had a hysterectomy in the past and take HRT actually have a lower future risk of developing breast cancer. Professor Sarrel talks to Dr Newson about how many studies, including WHI (Women's Health Initiative), have found that taking HRT can control debilitating symptoms including hot flushes, sleep disturbance and fatigue, and reduces the risk of developing conditions such as osteoporosis, atherosclerosis and heart attacks, and vaginal atrophy and sexual dysfunction.  

Professor Sarrel talks about menopausal symptoms being the “canary in the coal mine” as ignoring symptoms leads to an increased risk of many diseases including heart disease and osteoporosis. The financial costs of these diseases is huge and a new article in the Menopause Journal has reported consequent medical expenditures for five of the diseases which reduced when women age 50 to 59 take HRT - coronary heart disease (CHD), breast cancer, bowel cancer, hip fracture, and stroke. When the costs for all of these conditions have been added together the expenditure consequences for untreated vasomotor symptoms in the USA in a single year is estimated in billions of dollars. In addition, around 20% of Medicare dollars in the USA is spent on Alzheimer’s disease – which is more common in menopausal women. 

Find out more about Professor Sarrel's research here.

Professor Philip Sarrel's Three Take Home Tips:

  1. Take charge of your menopause! Improve your knowledge and learn from reliable sources.
  2. Ask yourself about any symptoms you are experiencing – make a diary and record any symptoms.
  3. Find a healthcare professional who is knowledgeable who can really help you. It's okay to get a second or even third opinion. 

Published: 23rd June 2020