How women experience menopause and the impact of culture

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This is not a question or request for advice but, as a result of some other discussions on here I recently became interested in how culture and society effects women's experience of menopause. I thought I'd post my findings in case anyone else is interested.

Research that shows that, despite the symptoms women experience being more or less the same wherever they are in the world, those living in cultures that revere and promote youth (e.g. the US and UK) report experiencing worse symptoms. Conversely, in other cultures menopause is celebrated e.g. Hazda women in Tanzania celebrate the onset of menopause, and menopausal women are among the most valued members of their society (like it!)

From the 'woman in balance institute':

The most important factor determining a woman’s experience of menopause is the culture in which she finds herself before, during, and after menopause:

In our youth-idolizing Western culture, menopause can seem like an ending. However, in many cultures, menopause is a time of new respect and freedom for women. A study reported that Mayan women, although experiencing some uncomfortable symptoms, looked forward to menopause, as it provided newfound freedom and status (Stefanopoulou). Marcha Flint found that in Rajasthan, India, women who were veiled and secluded before menopause, could now “come downstairs from their women’s quarters to where the men talked and drank home brew” and could publicly visit and joke with men after menopause (Flint 1975).

Do American women report more symptoms of menopause because of the impact of our Western lifestyle choices and stress levels on hormones? Or is it that we live in a culture where menopause is sometimes treated as a “disease", rather than the transformative and elevating experience it is in other cultures?"

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  • Posted

    That's a good point but I really doubt how much the culture affects the symptoms, I think only the way we perceive them! For me nothing natural or good at meno! I cannot find anything natural at brain fog, insomnia, night sweats and so on. Death is a natural process as well...

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    • Posted

      Exactly! That is what the research is saying. There is little variation in the symptoms from country to country, but the way they are perceived by women varies, depending on the culture. It seems that women who live in the youth-idolizing western countries perceive their symptoms as worse and complain more than those countries that respect older people.

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    • Posted

      I don't think that the western women complain more I think it's that western culture women are more vocal than other women from other countries. We tend to express and voice our concerns more than other women ..their cultures are raised totally different than ours..raised to be quiet and submit or suffer in silence if need be. ..whereas western women are raised and come from a society of being outspoken and have a voice ..

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    • Posted

      Its not just complaining the researchers are talking about, it is viewing it as a disease that needs curing, as the end, as the loss of something rather than something to celebrate and respect as in some other cultures.

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  • Posted

    I feel like I am at the best place of my life and I am happy about my periods stopping....soon I hope. I look forward to all the changes. The symptoms however are do aggressive and I am a pretty tough cookie so I dont think its just the effect of culture on my perception of my symptoms.

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  • Posted

    I do agree that there needs to be more understanding of this part of our lives and more discussion about the wide range of experiences that make up a "normal" tansition experience. Feeling like you are the only one that is having such a hard time....feeling like moodiness and sweating are the only symptoms adds an anxiety that is unnecessary if women better understood that all women are different and this experience is different for all women. I had no idea that all of this could be part of peri which lead to many wasted years of anxiety and racking up medical costs. Only we can change this. Talk. Talk to your daughters, your sons, your friends, your husbands, your doctors. Eventually it will change.

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  • Posted

    You may, but I still struggle with thoughts about how hormones could cause all this. Especially after I talk to my friends who seem to be breezing through. Yes, there is more info now, but it is still not widely out there. Heck, doctors dont really even understand.

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    • Posted

      I'm not sure that drs don't understand, I think they don't prioritise it because they consider it a natural part of aging. Having said that, my drs have been good with advice and finding what works for me. I think women get frustrated with the medical world when none if the available HRT works for them. We are all so very different, with different symptoms and different responses to the same HRT, different perceptions, expectations and ways of coping (not just due to the culture we live in but also individual differences). Such a wide variation means it is impossible to find the single perfect treatment that works for everyone.

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  • Posted

    I had a hysterecomy almost 3 years ago due to a very large fibriod. I still have my ovaries. I never had or wanted children. I had no sadness about having the hysterectomy as i never defined myself by my reproductive ability. This menopausal transition has been really rough because of all the physical and mental symptoms i had had for the past 2.5 years. I can assure you that no of this has been made worse because i live in a youth obsessed country. I havent felt right in over 2.5 years and i just want to feel like myself again!

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    • Posted

      edel...same as me and id too fibroids.

      i think the menopause if a mystery. im tired of attending the GP so i dont bother now.

      hormones are powerful and when they change in levels...everything changes as one GP told me. i too havnt felt myself for a long time now but i am coming out of this...better days now especially mentally.

      i still get windy tummy and stronger at times but i think it may be due to wear i am in my cycle but who knows.

      This too shall pass ...please god..

      CK

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    • Posted

      Hormones have increadible power over the woman's body. I remember just hearing my baby cry would set my boobs off squirting milk. I couldn't stop it if i tried. And of course there is post natal depression, caused by the sudden change in hormone levels after giving birth - women have no control over that either. And PMT. We don't even have stable personalities! When I did my psychology degree they taught us that when you give a woman a personality test at different times of the month, the personality will come out different for each test. I wonder what we would be like, who we really are, our true personality, if you took away those hormones.

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