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Doctors say Black women experience menopause symptoms earlier and longer

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — An area doctor is urging women to normalize talking about things like menopause. While women of all ethnic backgrounds experience it, Black and Latino women tend to experience symptoms longer.

Doctors say women can start experiencing menopause symptoms around 30 to 35 years old. So many can experience the symptoms for years before actually officially going through menopause. It’s important to not just chalk up the symptoms as something you just have to deal with.

Dr. Tronya Hawkins has a simple message for the patients who come through her office. It’s not enough to just take care of your home and the people around you.

“Please please please ladies, take care of yourself,” she said.

She says there’s some research to explain why women of color, particularly Black women, experience menopause differently. Part of the reason is how hormones affect the body, bringing about symptoms. She admits there are a lot of unknowns.

“The woman will come in and say my life is in shambles. It’s affecting my work life. I’m always turning on the air conditioner, or a fan,” Hawkins said.

Hispanics often report symptoms of dryness, urine leakage, and increased heart rate. Black women complain of hot flashes and night sweats, according to the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation. Having those symptoms set in 10-20 years ahead of actual menopause can create other health issues.

“If that happened before the age of 40, it’s premature. They need to go to the doctor because there are important hormones that your body needs, and maybe they need to be replenish to help bone strain, to help your heart, (and) to help your brain,” Hawkins said.

Watkins says whatever your symptoms are, talk to your doctor. Depending on your family history, a common treatment option includes supplemental estrogen.

“One of the things I suggest is talk to the women in your family. Talk to to your mother. Talk to your older sisters. Talk to your aunts,” she said

Hawkins says smoking and consuming alcohol could have negative impacts, and urges women to incorporate exercise into their daily routine.