Spotlight on Women’s Health

By Mary K. Zajac

Do hot flashes last forever? Does hormone therapy cause weight gain? Do women need Pap tests every year? These are just a few of the many midlife issues Tara Allmen ’86, MD, demystifies in her new book, Menopause Confidential: A Doctor Reveals the Secrets to Thriving Through Midlife, published by HarperCollins.

The book, says Allmen, comes at a time when more women are seeking out specialists in the field of midlife women’s health. “Women are more empowered now to talk about their symptoms and learn about what the best evidence-based solutions are,” says Allmen. “In my mother’s generation, women just toughed it out and didn’t talk about menopause. That has absolutely changed in the last decade.”

Menopause Confidential addresses issues particular to women over 40, from symptoms and hormonal changes associated with perimenopause to health screenings to remedies both allopathic and natural. “It’s amazing how little information midlife women get before they start this complicated time of life. My goal was to write a scientifically accurate, easily readable book that teaches midlife women with humor and respect.” Allmen also offers a series of short videos addressing frequently asked questions on her website, drallmen.com.

Allmen joined the Center for Menopause, Hormonal Disorders, and Women’s Health in New York City in 1999 and has focused her practice exclusively on midlife women. She earned her medical degree from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and completed a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, San Francisco. She is the president of the North American Menopause Society Foundation as well as the Allmen Foundation, which is devoted to issues concerning women’s health and animal welfare.

A pre-med graduate of the Krieger School, Allmen credits her first-year chemistry professor for changing her approach to academics. After failing the midterm, Allmen met with her professor, Ruth Aranow, who gave her some life-changing advice. “I will never forget it because I had never failed a test before,” says Allmen. “Dr. Aranow told me that I could no longer rely upon my excellent memorization skills. I needed to learn how to apply what I had learned. That’s when I became a critical thinker.”

It is a lesson, she says, that has served her well through the rest of her undergraduate years (yes, she passed her chemistry final), medical school, and residency, and still resonates with her after 25 years in practice. “I think I have the best job in the world,” says Allmen. “I love that I’ve been able to help women of every age navigate through all of the stages of women’s health. Honestly, I can’t think of anything better than that.”