Midlife Matters' Raleigh Event To Offer Candid Talk on Menopause, Sexuality, Women’s Health
On Saturday, April 11, we'll discuss topics our mothers didn't discuss. In fact, we'll discuss topics many physicians are hesitant to discuss. So, women need to begin the discussion. No one else is going to do it for us. As the director of the Women's Health & Advocacy Initiative at Duke Medicine, my job involves bringing up and talking about the sometimes uncomfortable stuff.
Many middle-aged women face some deeply personal health issues they're often too embarrassed to discuss. We are an overlooked demographic. Women between the ages of 44 and 65 are, in fact, the largest demographic group in the United States. And, we're vastly underrepresented in clinical trials. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn't enforce its own policy that new drug applicants include the submission of data by sex, age group and race/ethnicity. So, women are frequently diagnosed – and treated – with devices, drugs and procedures that are effective in men but have not been sufficiently studied or proven effective in women. We've got to change that.
One of every three women in their fifties and older has pelvic floor disorder (PFD). Yet, many women who have it feel alone, ashamed and too afraid to mention it to their doctor. Healthcare providers need to recognize that these health concerns are more common than we think. PFD issues affect the overall wellness of women and their partners. Our society is willing to talk about male sexuality but not about female sexuality. Consider the prevalence of TV and print ads for erectile dysfunction drugs. Everyone knows what Viagra is and what it does. But Viagra isn't the only drug that helps men with ED. There are more than 40 FDA-approved drugs for male sexual dysfunction. The number for women: one.
Obviously, women need to begin – and sustain – this conversation. The April 11 conference will help start that effort. It will be an all-day event at Raleigh's Midtown Hilton. We'll be dealing with much more than female sexual health. We're talking about women's health as a whole. I'm proud of the A-list panel we've assembled, including Lauren Streicher, a physician and sexologist from Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, and Alison Weidner, a physician and associate professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Duke University Medical Center and one of two course directors for the forum.
We'll also offer free health screenings, art displays, educational breakout sessions and activities that will create an environment where women feel comfortable in learning about potentially uncomfortable topics. There's even entertainment, including a performance by Rhythm & Blue, Duke University's oldest coed a cappella group.
The conference is two events in one day. One is geared to healthcare providers and the other to a general population. Attendees from both events will come together for a seated lunch, which will feature New York Times bestselling author, Iris Krasnow, Ph.D., as keynote speaker. She'll discuss her latest book, "Sex After: Women Share How Intimacy Changes as Life Changes."
April 11 will be a day to tear down barriers, spark communication, build a sense of community and empower women. Let's start the conversation. To learn more and register, visit https://www.dcri.org/events/stronger-together-community-event.The registration fee, which includes lunch, is $35.
Kathy Kastan, LCSW/MA Ed, is director of Duke Medicine's Women's Health & Advocacy Initiative and is past president emeritus of the Board of Directors of WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease. She is past chairman of the board and board member for the Greater Southeast Affiliate of the American Heart Association. She has been a national spokesperson for the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute's The Heart Truth®/Red Dress campaign since 2003. She serves on the board of the Triangle's American Heart Association. Kastan is the author of "From the Heart: A Woman's Guide to Living Well with Heart Disease" and is a frequent Huffington Post blogger.