Menopause is one of the given life experiences that those with female biology experience. Though it is rarely discussed among those under 40 and only becomes an educational topic at its onset. There are obstacles surrounding the conversation about menopause. Some of those are due to the social discomfort in addressing female biology, others are due to menopause being an age-sensitive matter.
Menopause presents with an array of symptoms that can be misleading and can be misdiagnosed - making it that much more difficult to have a straightforward conversation about the condition. However, there is value in learning about menopause at any point - to learn how to best support others experiencing it, and perhaps better prepare for own experience of menopause.
Menopause is the end of a female’s reproductive years, occurring between the ages 45 and 55, although sometimes earlier. The condition can also occur before the age of 45; this is known as premature menopause. The condition is confirmed after a woman does not menstruate for twelve months. During perimenopause, a transitionary stage into menopause, a woman may experience symptoms such as hot flushes, reduced libido, vaginal dryness, irritability and forgetfulness; caring for diet and lifestyle becomes key in managing these symptoms.
Sometimes early menopause may occur due to earlier surgical intervention in the reproductive system, genetic and autoimmune conditions. In the 60% of early menopause cases, the cause is unknown, and the condition is labelled idiopathic menopause. After undergoing menopause, a woman is no longer fertile and may continue to experience unpleasant physiological, mental and emotional conditions and events. After diagnosis, clinicians may present a variety of treatment options, such as hormone therapy.
Experiencing menopause can be a gruelling, unpleasant experience, and is when women need the support of those around them. Even if a woman is asymptomatic, transitioning into the next reproductive stage can be pivotal. The exercise of empathy by clinicians, friends and family could make all the difference.