Rush has launched an innovative program dedicated to the comprehensive care of women 40 years of age and older. The Rush Midlife Center provides women going through perimenopause with a specialized resource they can turn to for diagnosis, treatment and support. It is one of only five such comprehensive, multidisciplinary centers in the United States.
Perimenopause, or the transition years before a woman's last menstrual period, and menopause, which marks the last menstrual cycle, can be a difficult time for women, according to Dr. Barbara Soltes, director of the Midlife Center. She is an associate professor in the Rush Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and a specialist in reproductive endocrinology and infertility. Soltes is also a certified menopause practitioner with the North American Menopause Society.
Menopause can occurs anywhere from age 40 through 60, with the average age being 50. It causes the ovaries to produce fewer hormones, particularly the major hormone estrogen, which is key in both a woman's reproductive and overall health.
"With the decline in estrogen, we see women with a variety of symptoms, such as hot flashes, changes in cognition and moods, poor sleep, urogenital symptoms and difficulty in coping with life in general," Soltes said. "Today we have a multitude of options, both hormonal and non-hormonal, to ease women through these years and help prevent long term health issues.
"Unfortunately, many women suffer from many of these symptoms because they have not found a provider resource that can look comprehensively at the unique health changes associated with menopause."
In addition to menopause, the center focuses on distinct health issues such as osteoporosis and heart disease. The center offers a full laboratory for testing, a DEXA (bone densitometry) machine to assess for bone loss, and complementary therapies such as nutrition counseling, pelvic floor therapy and acupuncture.
Center offers a multidisciplinary approach
The Midlife Center's menopause team works closely with specialists to provide the personalized health care plan women need during this phase of their lives. It's a multidisciplinary approach that makes multiple medical experts available in one location for more convenient coordination of care.
The center has certified menopause practitioners who will assess an individual woman's needs and develop a life plan.
"For the convenience of our patients, we will also have care team members from preventive cardiology, dermatology, gastroenterology, internal medicine, lifestyle medicine to address metabolic and weight issues, neurology, physiatry, psychology, plastic surgery and sleep medicine to provide the necessary consultations," Soltes said.
Monthly support group helps ease confusion about symptoms
The Midlife Center also offers a monthly support group for women concerned about the many issues they may face in menopause. The Rush Menopause Support Group is led by a certified menopause practitioner associated with the North American Menopause Society.
The practitioner will discuss in a group format the hormonal changes associated with the transition into menopause and what to expect. The support group serves as a tool for women who may be confused by their symptoms and need a reliable source about menopause.
The Menopause Support Group meets the third Wednesday of every month from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Herrick Room of the Searle Conference Center, located on the fifth floor of the Professional Building at Rush, 1725 W. Harrison Street. Please RSVP at (312) 563-1000.
The Rush Midlife Center can help answer questions about the center or upcoming topics for discussion at the support group. For more information, or to register for the support group, please call (312) 563-1000.