For one reason or another, menopause is something that we just don’t talk about. It’s not like women go around waving tampons in the air when they have their periods, but it does seem that in general, we are more open to talking about the trials and tribulations of menstruation than the lack thereof.
The reasons we don’t talk about menopause could be attributed to a number of things. It could be that for years, menopause has been treated as a ‘disease,’ and has developed a kind of stigma that prevents us from seeing it as normal and natural. Most people aren’t too keen on publicly acknowledging the list of things that are wrong with
them. Or it could be that our culture is so obsessed with youth that women going through menopause feel a loss of self- worth. Or it could be as simple as the fact that menopause is accompanied by hot flashes, sleep disturbances, and mood swings, and we just don’t want to talk about it… because what’s worse than being in a bad mood and being prodded at and coerced into discussing it?
Because menopause is a time in a woman’s life when she undergoes a number of physical, emotional, and lifestyle changes, she requires support, understanding, and sympathy from those around her. The problem with this is that if a woman doesn’t acknowledge or discuss these changes, how is she supposed to elicit these kinds of responses?
I was listening to a radio show this morning, and a woman wrote in anonymously with a question about menopause. She said, in short, that she was more comfortable emailing the radio team than discussing the issue with her friends. If you’re reading this and find her situation strange, you might be surprised to learn that (even in 2014) most women don’t talk about menopause. This doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when you think about it, because as women, the one thing that we inevitably have in common is the future, current, or past experience of menopause. As our life expectancy increases, so too does the amount of time we spend on the other side of menopause, and so it is not at all an indication that life is over, and for many women is actually quite the contrary!
I’ve been doing a fair amount of reading about menopause lately, and in doing so stumbled across a website by a woman named Ellen Dolgen, who is a ‘menopause guru’ of sorts. Ellen has coined the term ‘Menopause Mondays’ to describe support groups for women going through menopause. These groups provide an opportunity for women to discuss their symptoms and questions with other women going through similar experiences without judgment. Women can swap notes, stories, and remedies to help get those symptoms under control, and if not, at least laugh about them for an hour over a glass of wine!
We need a reminder in between the hot flashes and bad moods that it is menopause (not jeans) that is the great equalizer, and that starts with a conversation. If you have a funny menopause story to share (we call them menomoments), please post it in a comment here or on Facebook and help us open the dialogue!