(WKBN) — Oct. 18 marks World Menopause Day, which was established 39 years ago to break the stigma of menopause and to encourage further medical research on a condition that affects half the world’s population.

First News reporter and anchor Stan Boney sat down with local nurse practitioner Mandy Corvino, who specializes in menopause, to talk more about the topic.

STAN BONEY: Let’s begin with, What is menopause?

MANDY CORVINO: So menopause is 1 year without your menstrual cycle. The average age of menopause is 51, but that means you can go through menopause before 51 or after 51.

STAN BONEY: There’s actually something called perimenopause, correct?

MANDY CORVINO: Correct. Perimenopause is the time leading up to menopause, and that can happen, believe it or not, as early as your late thirties. Average age of perimenopause is 45, but you can have symptoms well before then.

STAN BONEY: Symptoms? What are symptoms?

MANDY CORVINO: Symptoms can be hot flashes, night sweats, brain fog, joint aches, changes in your hair, skin and nails. But more importantly, there are also silent symptoms like osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and problems with your pelvic health.

STAN BONEY: What do you suggest? How do women deal with this?

MANDY CORVINO: Well, I would tell them definitely to come see me. But what they do — estrogen is a great treatment option. It’s gotten a bad rap for years. But all the medical guidelines have been updated, and estrogen is not as scary as what we once thought. And it is the FDA approved treatment for a lot of your menopausal symptoms.

STAN BONEY: Estrogen is the talk about hormone treatment. Is that what that is?

MANDY CORVINO: Yes, estrogen is a hormone treatment usually prescribed in a pill, patch or a gel.

STAN BONEY: Is there any way to get away from using estrogen if you want to balance your home hormones? Or is that the only way?

MANDY CORVINO: No, this is the only way. You can’t balance your hormones on your own. You do have nonhormonal options, but they don’t have the added effect that what estrogen does, how it protects your bones, your pelvic health and your cardiovascular health.

STAN BONEY: Are there any downsides to estrogen?

MANDY CORVINO: Not in my eyes. There’s only benefits. And we’ve seen this time and time again through numerous medical reviews doing the estrogen.

STAN BONEY: What’s involved in it?

MANDY CORVINO: It’s you just come in, talk to me. I take a detailed medical history to make sure that you’re a good candidate for menopause hormone therapy. And if you are, then I place you on a patch, a pill or a gel, and then we go from there. We monitor your symptoms. I look to get, on average, a 70 – 80% improvement in your menopausal symptoms. It’s very individualized. There’s no standard, for every woman who’s perimenopausal needs to take this patch or this pill. All of my treatment options for my patients are based on their symptoms and are extremely individualized.

STAN BONEY: What do you do if a doctor doesn’t want to take your symptoms seriously?

MANDY CORVINO: I would tell you then to see another provider and seek out someone like myself. I have got an extra education and a certification. I am a national certified menopause provider. I will help you. You don’t need a referral to come see me. Just come in, have a conversation.

STAN BONEY: Cortisol levels, do they rise when you’re doing estrogen, and if so, can you combat that?

MANDY CORVINO: So that is a big myth. So you don’t need to look at cortisol levels. Truthfully, we don’t need a ton of labs to treat you. What’s more important is replacing that estrogen that you’re losing through the menopause transition.

STAN BONEY: And you’re a believer in estrogen?

MANDY CORVINO: 100%. All of the data that many women hear, “estrogen causes cancer,” That’s not true. If someone’s telling you that, that’s misleading information. That study that scared everybody was called the Women’s Health Initiative. All of those alarmist statements have been retracted. It’s why it’s important that you do have a conversation with your provider. We talk about risks and benefits, but estrogen is not what causes cancer.

STAN BONEY: Did we miss anything? Is there anything else you’d like to get in there?

MANDY CORVINO: No. I think we covered a lot of topics that were very important. Just know that you don’t need a referral to come see me and I’d be happy to help any woman with any of their perimenopause or menopause symptoms.