What you need to know about wellness at midlife

This week, Contemporary OB/GYN® will be covering the North American Menopause Society’s (NAMS) 2021 Annual Meeting, which is taking place Sept. 22-25 in Washington, D.C. We spoke with NAMS President Hadine Joffe, MD, MSc about wellness at midlife and why it is crucial in menopause.

The pandemic has taught health care providers several important lessons, but one of the most important has been to examine and address mental wellness while also addressing physical wellness, according to several speakers at the North American Menopause Society's (NAMS) 2021 Annual Meeting.

During an interview at the meeting, which kicked off yesterday, NAMS President Hadine Joffe, MD, Msc, who also is the Executive Director of the Mary Horrigan Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital noted the importance of being committed to the health of the "whole woman."

Her primary research interest is in the mechanisms, inter-relationships, and treatment of menopausal symptoms in healthy women and women with breast cancer.

The theme of this year’s meeting is “The State of Midlife Women’s Health,” which illustrates the interdisciplinary nature of the conference and NAMS as an organization.

“Although most of our membership is gynecology and primary care, we do include people who have expertise in other areas, including myself, as psychiatrists, and people who are involved in all aspects of the health of women,” Joffe told Contemporary OB/GYN®. “We, as clinicians, are committed to the whole woman. We are midlife women’s health-focused. That reflects and represents the broad, whole person that we are thinking about and interested in.”

Topics that will be discussed this week include how the pandemic has impacted women's health, including one study that suggests that the pandemic may have had a greater impact on women with a history of partner or childhood abuse; midlife women’s policy and the intersection of clinical care, gene editing, and the art of end-of-life care.

“When we’re providing care to people in this age group and thinking about the science that informs the care that we give them, those are critical aspects,” Joffe said.

The conference began on Tuesday with a focus on wellness. Speaker Holly Wyatt, MD, discussed "The Tao of Wellness," during which she outlined a framework for identifying and measuring wellness with patients.

During her session, Wyatt emphasized the importance of discussing with patients to focus on goals, and focusing on "where can I go," as they move forward in their lives.

“There is a lot of data that actually show that, how people enter, and what their health at midlife is, sets them up for success with aging, BMI, physical, mental, and social health,” Joffe said.

“Wellness is so much broader than just physically. It’s the whole person. The person in her world, in her community, her roles and identity, responsibilities in the society she lives in, and her sense of self. It’s a framework that’s very proactive,” Joffe said.

“Wellness is a broad construct,” she said, “and focuses on a sense of meaning and connection and effectiveness, and also knowing that there are challenges and limitations. It’s being able to be as resilient and resourced, personally and communitywise, with inevitable challenges.”

Check in to Contemporary OB/GYN® throughout the week to get the latest coverage from the NAMS 2021 Annual Meeting.