In-demand program helping mature women

With boomers getting older, and more women entering middle age, there is a growing demand to address the health care needs of mature women — a topic that is typically not discussed.

However, a program at Mount Sinai Hospital is changing that outdated perception.

“Many women face difficulty during menopause and this often hits women at the peak of their careers,” says Dr. Wendy Wolfman, the head of the Mature Women’s Health Program at the hospital. “It’s been hard on women to seek adequate help for these symptoms and feel validated,” she adds.

Dr. Wolfman heads up the program along with Dr. Harold Drutz in the Frances Bloomberg Centre For Women’s and Infants’ Health. The program cares for women experiencing severe menopause symptoms including mood changes, vulvar disorders, hot flashes, pelvic pain, sexual dysfunction or other symptoms due to underlying medical conditions.

Dr. Drutz directs the Urogynecology portion of the program, which specializes in treating problems such as incontinence, pelvic floor prolapse, pelvic pain, painful bladder problems and infections.

While the program began in 2000, it is now one of the most in-demand areas of care says Wolfman. Recently, the program moved to its new space on the 8th floor of the Ontario Power Generation building located on University Avenue. Clinicians say the wider hallways and spacious waiting rooms make it a calming atmosphere for patients. The move is part of Mount Sinai’s ongoing capital redevelopment, which is transforming the Hospital.

The program has been a hub for educating residents in obstetrics, gynaecology and reproductive endocrine. The program also houses the only Premature Ovarian Failure Clinic in Canada, and one of the few in the world, which was initiated by Dr. Wolfman.

For patients with more complicated medical, oncologic and gynaecologic problems that impact the menopause experience, the program offers advanced consultation. Dr. Wolfman says patients are also able to access other services, because the program acts as a “linchpin,” with clinicians co-ordinating points of care for specialized services, such as care for osteoporosis or psychiatric concerns.

Dr. Wolfman says the goal is to expand the Mature Women’s Health Program. One day, she would like to see increased exposure in the program from nursing and family practice residents. “There is such a greed need for this kind of care,” she stresses.

“Overall, this kind of unique service provided to mature women helps improve not only the patient’s quantity of life but their quality of life,” says Dr. Wolfman.  “I’ve had people tell me ‘I’m back to my old self again. Thank you for giving me back my life.”