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Ask Dr. Gott 9/7

Post-menopausal changes leave woman emotionally scarred

    DEAR DR. GOTT: The subject I am writing about seems to be a taboo subject that no one wants to admit to or talk about.
    Before the age of 49, no one ever mistook me for a man. It has only been since I have gone through menopause that I get comments from people who don't know me that "that's a man, that's a dude," etc. (Some comments aren't so nice.)
    The first two years after this started to happen were traumatizing for me. I have even been threatened with physical harm until people get close to me and realize that I'm a woman and not a man wearing women's clothes.
    I have seen other post-menopausal women who have the same problem to varying degrees.
    Some of my thoughts as to how this happens is, as the body loses estrogen, it allows the level of testosterone a woman has to make more of an impact. Then the sagging of skin around the chin area gives me more of a jowly look. Then I have deep grooves between my brows that sag down into the corner of my eyes on each side of the bridge of my nose, giving me a harsh/angry look. I went to a plastic surgeon who told me that both men and women have a growth spurt of cartilage in the nose and ears starting in one's 50s. I think this happened to me before the age of 49. My nose has a fuller, more bulbous look than it did when I was younger. Genetics, too, may predispose one to this phenomenon — masculinization of the face through menopause. The rest of my body is very much a full-figured woman's body.
    I wish this were a topic that was talked about openly and honestly, because as it has traumatized me. I am sure other women may not understand when and how the change took place in their lives and are suffering emotionally, too.
    DEAR READER: The physical changes that many women experience as they age can be frightening. I agree with you that post-menopausal testosterone levels are a major factor.     Unfortunately, medical science has yet to devise methods to counter these changes, except with plastic surgery. But postmenopausal women may be helped tremendously by knowing that they are not alone. Consequently, I am publishing your letter for general interest and welcome comments from my readers.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Menopause." Other readers who would like a copy would send a long, self-addressed, stamped envelope and $2 to Newsletter, PO Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title.

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