Doctors surely know that menopause marks the end of a women’s menstrual cycle, but very few know how to treat its symptoms, finds Wen Shen, a gynecologist and assistant professor of gynecology and obstetrics at Johns Hopkins.
“Unfortunately, there has been a lot of misinformation and fear around the use of hormone therapy and other menopause treatments,” Shen says. “And many women have suffered unnecessarily. My goal is to help them.”
Over the past 15 years, Shen has developed a formal menopause curriculum for residents in gynecology and obstetrics. Then, in 2016, she received a grant to take her teaching even further — into the clinic, where patients are being treated. Pfizer Inc. awarded her $250,000 to develop an interactive tool for medical providers to learn about and treat menopause.
“Women are living into our eighties now,” says Shen. “If the average age of menopause is 51, that's a third of a woman's life that she's spending postmenopausal. Providers need a tool so they can access fundamentals and evidence-based guide in real time to provide the best care to menopausal women.”
She collaborated with more than 16 authors — all of them Johns Hopkins medical faculty members, postdoctoral fellows and a pharmacist — to write the Menopause Guide. For each symptom — including hot flashes, sleep disturbance and weight gain — the guide lists definitions, differential diagnoses, treatment options, when to refer to a specialist, expert comments and references.
Shen then worked with Johns Hopkins Point of Care – Information Technology (POC-IT), a division of Johns Hopkins HealthCare Solutions, to build the guide and publish it online and through a mobile app. The POC-IT team had previously overseen the creation of other Johns Hopkins guides, including the ABX (Antibiotics) Guide, HIV Guide and Psychiatry Guide.
Released in July 2019, the Menopause Guide mobile app has been installed nearly 1,000 times around the world — from the United States to India. That same year, Shen won the North American Menopause Society’s Leon Speroff Outstanding Educator Award.
The Menopause Guide is available for the iPhone and iPad in the App Store.