Dr. Lisa M. Masterson is an Emmy®-nominated co-host of the award-winning talk show The Doctors. She is a board-certified specialist in obstetrics, gynecology, infertility, adolescent gynecology, and family planning, and is on staff at Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, and UCLA. She has been awarded with a Red Cross Humanitarian Award and the March of Dimes Golden Rattle Award recognizing her advocacy work in improving the health of infants and mothers around the world. Her groundbreaking research has been published in The Green Journal and The Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Masterson is a fellow of the American Board of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and maintains a private practice in Santa Monica.
Dr. Masterson offers Healthline readers advice about managing menopause symptoms, maintaining good health, dealing with hot flashes, and talking with your gynecologist.
Why do some women tend to feel more stressed once they’ve entered menopause?
When it comes to stress, every patient is different. Some women say that they feel a lot less stress in menopause while others complain of having more stress. It really depends on their viewpoint on menopause and how healthy they are going into it.
Stress is related to a lot of different things; there is nothing hormonal that would account for different stress factors in menopause. Dealing with stress during menopause is more about your attitude and coping mechanisms in dealing with the symptoms that you’re experiencing. It’s important that women feel comfortable talking to a doctor about what is going on in their bodies.
Are there any coping mechanisms that you recommend for women that are feeling overwhelmed with changes in their body as they enter menopause?
As a gynecologist, the best thing for a woman to do is to speak to her gynecologist about what is going on. As gynecologists, we have a lot in our armamentarium to help women going through menopause and to help manage their symptoms.
Menopause is a segue in life. Some women are absolutely thrilled about it because they are not going to have babies anymore and that takes off a lot of stress when they’re having sex. Other women are very concerned about the changes that are going on in their bodies and some are plagued by a lot of symptoms like vaginal dryness and hot flashes. The biggest thing that you can do is communicate to your doctor about what is going on so that your doctor can help you.
Are there are any natural stress reduction techniques that you would recommend to patients?
Stress reduction techniques for menopause are the same as for anything else. You need to carve out time for yourself. Make sure that you have a healthy body image and that you feel good about yourself. Exercise is a great stress reliever in any time of your life. It’s important that you eat healthy and maintain healthy communication. You want to feel good about where you are in your life.
As a gynecologist, how do you treat hot flashes?
As gynecologists, we know from studies that hormone replacement therapy is the best way to alleviate hot flashes. Some women might benefit from natural methods like acupuncture or over-the-counter medications, which are options that they should discuss with their gynecologist. Our job as gynecologists is to help guide women through this period and through whatever symptoms or problems that they have. With respect to hot flashes, we want our patients to know that they do get better with time.
What’s your viewpoint on the connection between diet, exercise, and hot flashes?
If you have a fat-heavy diet or if you are overweight, you are going to sweat more than someone that isn’t. A healthy diet and exercise will help reduce your symptoms and help decrease stress associated with hot flashes.
The biggest take-away is to communicate with your gynecologist. There are so many things that we have in our tool kit as gynecologists to help women deal with symptoms and stress during menopause. Talk to us about what is going on so that we can work together to make you feel better.