For menopause, telehealth proves effective in treating some symptoms, NAMS says

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The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) has found that while telehealth is effective in addressing some symptoms of menopause, the need for physical examinations still remains.

In a new video, “Benefits and Pitfalls of Virtual Medicine in Midlife Women’s Health,” NAMS explored how telehealth is helping to extend care to underserved menopausal women. The video is hosted by NAMS past-president Marla Shapiro, MDCM, CCFP, MHSc, FRCP, FCFP, NCMP and features Lisa Larkin, MD, a member of the NAMS Board of Trustees.

“Telehealth is a great way to extend care,” Larkin said in a statement. “Among other things, it allows us to reach women in menopause in underserved areas where there is a paucity of certified menopause specialists. That’s not to say, however, that all telehealth services are the same and that they can completely replace a face-to-face visit.”

According to Larkin, a telehealth visit with a healthcare professional with whom a patient has an existing relationship is a great way to augment care because that professional already has the patient’s health history and data to make an informed diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment. But she cautioned that telemedicine care on its own with a practitioner who has no history can result in misdiagnoses. She added that because telemedicine grew so quickly and unexpectedly, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has not been time for standards and guidelines to sufficiently catch up.

“Women need to realize that not everything can be adequately addressed during a virtual visit, and evidence-based care is still critical,” Larkin said. “Although menopause is ideally suited for telemedicine because women can easily communicate their symptoms and concerns, there are times when a physical examination is still necessary. Vaginal dryness, for example, can have multiple causes, and menopausal women shouldn’t automatically assume that menopause is the only reason. Only a physical examination can rule out other more serious causes.”

The new video is part of NAMS’ comprehensive video series for women on important midlife health topics. NAMS is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the health and quality of life of all women during midlife and beyond through an understanding of menopause and healthy aging.

Editor's note: While this article refers mainly to cisgender women, it’s important to note menopause can affect people who were assigned female at birth but who may identify as transgender or nonbinary.