The hot flashes and loss of libido haven’t changed, but today’s women are taking a modern approach to menopause. Long gone is the embarrassment −− they're heading in droves to see Menopause: The Musical and joining the Red Hot Mamas. And they're approaching life during and after menopause with optimism and determination.
Indeed, women are becoming more accepting of the physical and emotional challenges that are associated with menopause and learning to recognize them as natural transitional changes. They are focusing on feeling good and looking at menopause more positively.
At least this is true for some woman.
However, if you are reading this, you may still be uncertain about how easy it is to make this adjustment, and your symptoms may be so aggravating that your patience level may be shot. So, what can you do?
Let’s first consider the biological basis for menopause. Somewhere around the age of 50, and even earlier in many women, the balance between various sex hormones, particularly Estrogen and Progesterone, changes. The earlier “balance” was primarily centered on the issue of fertility and the ability to conceive and carry a child to term. But after a certain point, this balance shifts away from that function to something different, though equally important.
Clearly, few women now, or in prehistoric times, would want to be pregnant throughout their lives. Further, as social animals, the value of elders, particularly grandmothers to care for and raise young children, provided a significant survival advantage. So, biology has created the circumstance that woman, by design, no longer had the capacity to be pregnant so that they could shift their focus to supporting their daughters and their children.
Beyond this, the role of women as they entered this new age had even greater value to the community at large, at least this was true in generations past when older people were truly revered. The wisdom that we used to derive from both men and women, as grandparents, played a significant role in holding our society’s together. Unfortunately for all of us, we have lost the respect for our older generation and, as such, individuals who enter that phase of life often dread, even fear, it.
I believe the latter point accounts for the severity of menopausal symptoms and the intolerance of them. This is not to say that there is no physical basis for the symptoms, quite the contrary. But, like anything else, I believe the subjective response to the symptoms is heightened because the context of the discomfort is itself painful and hard to accept.
So, while there are both medical and herbal remedies that can treat the physical symptoms, I believe the thrust of one’s efforts should be focused on alleviating the social causes of “menopausaphobia”. In this regard, it may not be enough to gather in the same room to commiserate, though this is common. I think it is necessary for women to recognize the inherent value in the wisdom that they can offer and to boldly step back out into their communities and share their thoughts and perspective as the most important teachers of our time. Indeed, in cultures where this is in place now, menopause, as we know it here in the west, is not as important an emotional or physical concern.
Many say that this is the Female Era. Perhaps, the first phase was the women’s suffrage movement that began in the early 20th century with women’s suffrage and peaked during the women’s lib movement in the 60’s and 70’. But now that the latter generation is grown up, it is time for these grandmothers, and those who follow, to lead the way to a level of greater awareness. One of the important aspects of balance that we all seek as individuals is between the masculine and the feminine. Similarly, as a society we need such balance. When that is achieved, I believe menopausaphobia will fade away in our culture as well.