Menopause & Me: Mary Jane Minkin, MD

Mary Jane Minkin, MD, is clinical professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at the Yale University School of Medicine. For her, midlife is a great time in a woman's life. We agree.

As we launch the US edition of our Menopause & Midlife Health Clinic IG Live series, we’d like to introduce you to the wonderful Mary Jane Minkin, MD. Mary Jane will be answering questions from our community of American midlife women in a new monthly clinic over on @mpowered_women. We can’t wait for her smart and informed advice.

You can find more about Mary Jane’s extensive writing and podcasting on her site, Madame Ovary.

Here, she tells us a bit more about her own menopause experience, and why she feels midlife is such a wonderful time of life for women. We couldn’t agree more. Over you to, Mary Jane. 

What was your experience of menopause?

My menopause was extremely easy. I had been on low dose birth control pills with no problems. My younger sister (I was 52 at the time, she was 50) went through menopause. Given that age of menopause tends to run in families,  I figured, well let’s see what happens when I go off the pill (the pill sort of gives you regular periods, no matter what your own ovaries are doing or not doing).

So I stopped taking the pill, didn’t get a period, and had a lot of hot flashes. After about six weeks of this, I went and did a blood test, and I was indeed menopausal.

How did you manage your symptoms?

I started taking estrogen with a progestin, and as they say, the rest is history! And I’ve been fine ever since.

What lifestyle measures do you take?

I exercise a lot. I go to the gym about five or six days a week. I do about 45 minutes of strength training and stretching and 45 minutes of aerobics (running, elliptical or biking). So my two tricks: exercise and estrogen!

Where did you get support from?

I must say that I didn’t really ask a lot of questions (as this is my area!) but I religiously attend the annual clinical meetings of the North American Menopause society. Their website is quite good. We talk about these issues all the time.

What do you say to women about menopause?

I tell women it’s time of a lot of changes. To me, a problem is something to which I don’t have an answer to help, and we can really help with just about all the issues menopause can throw at women. So it’s not a problem!

If you have some habits which don’t thrill you, menopause can serve as the motivator to do better.

What are your thoughts on this time of a woman’s life?

This is a great time in a woman’s life. I find women make major lifestyle changes (all hopefully for the better) at several junctures in their lives. Becoming pregnant is one. And going through menopause is another. So if you have some habits which don’t thrill you, menopause can serve as the motivator to do better.

Any other positives?

One can speak a bit more openly as we age. (Not that I’ve really ever been silent!) So I’m eagerly looking forward to 70. I think that’s the time that I really will say “no holds barred” and can say just about everything openly. And 70 is just a bit over a year away, so no problem!

Your menopause was…?

A fairly easy experience.

You feel MPowered when…?

I think I feel MPowered most of the time. A few things make me feel better than others: When I have helped a patient feel better; When a student at whatever level either says to me in person “Now I get it” or one of my old students sends me a note (if they have used something that I had taught them that helped them).

I also feel MPowered after a very good workout at the gym. I must confess I am an addict of the American TV show Jeopardy. I was devoted to Alex Trebek and I try to watch Jeopardy during my workout. I feel especially good if I get a tricky Final Jeopardy answer right – during my workout!

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