Mary Ellen Rousseau, CNM, MS; Sarabeth F. Gottlieb, CNM, MSN

Disclosures

J Midwifery Womens Health. 2004;49(6) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction

Although menopause is a normal developmental milestone through which all women pass, the transition has been long associated with chronic pain conditions that may be more accurately viewed as secondary to aging. Clinicians need to understand management of pain problems women may experience. This article examines pain syndromes including headache, back pain, osteoarthritis, pelvic pain, vulvo-vaginal pain, and burning mouth syndrome.

Women often present for gynecologic care during the perimenopausal transition with questions and concerns about pain. Women may report a variety of pain-related symptoms that are not readily explained by specific disease conditions. Some of these symptoms appear directly linked to the changes of menopause, and others do not. Some pain-related symptoms improve over time, whereas others worsen as aging proceeds. Clinicians need to understand management of the pain problems women may experience, whether or not they are related to the changing hormonal milieu. By recognizing the critical issue of distinguishing the differences between aging and menopause, this article examines an aspect of midlife aging that is frequently overlooked or misunderstood by researchers and clinicians (i.e., pain). Five common pain problems experienced by women in the menopausal age range are reviewed.

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