Menopause is among the many phases that women pass through and is quite significant since it marks the end of a woman’s reproductive age and the onset of an age that is not reproductive. The whole period is characterized by three stages which include perimenopause, menopause and post menopause. Just like other members of the society, women have different attitudes towards menopause which are heavily influenced by culture. In most of the United States cultures, women perceive menopause as a medical condition since they focus more on the negative symptoms which include, hot flushes, irritability, insomnia and low libido to name just few.
In other places where old age is highly regarded, women have a positive attitude towards menopause as it marks the end of responsibilities associated with child bearing enabling them to participate more in other activities. Therefore, variation in cultural attitudes which are positive, negative or neutral are influenced by the perceived role of women in the society, information and the view of old age in different cultures. Table of Contents Abstract 2 Table of Contents 3 1. 0 Introduction 3 2. 0 Symptoms Associated with Menopause 4 3. Women’s Attitudes towards Menopause 6 3. 1 Reasons for Cultural Variations in Attitudes of Women towards Menopause 8 4. 0 Conclusion 9 References 10 1. 0 Introduction In their lifetime, women pass through many phases. Menopause is a transition phase that represents the end of a woman’s reproductive age and the onset of an age that is not reproductive. It generally represents the end of the menstruation. However, this period does not happen abruptly since before the menstruation periods stops completely, irregularity of the same is first observed.
The period before menopause is known as perimenopause and is described as a period when ovaries fail to produce the required balance of hormones that can stimulate the womb lining to shed regularly. It is a period that is characterized by a lot of changes in the body of a woman due to changes in the levels of progesterone and estrogen hormone (Currie 2006). The perimenopause period paves way to the menopausal period which is closely followed by post menopause period.
Post menopause is usually defined as more than twelve months or more without periods for someone with intact normal ovaries or immediately following surgery if ovaries have been removed as Currie (2006) records. Since it is a period that is usually characterized by a lot of changes, most women dread it and there are a lot of misconceptions about the same. Culture heavily determines people’s attitude towards various things in their daily life and menopause is no exception. With this background in mind, this paper therefore discuss more about menopause and narrow down to women’s attitude towards menopause in different cultures. . 0 Symptoms Associated with Menopause Before discussing the attitude of women towards menopause, it is important to discuss some of the symptoms associated with menopause since most attitudes emanate from the symptoms experienced. According to the studies of Currie (2006), about 80% of women experience some if not all of the most common menopause symptoms. However, symptoms vary from one woman to another since they are affected by factors like diet, exercise and lifestyle. Nevertheless, most of the symptoms result from changing levels of hormone progesterone and estrogen.
The very early symptom that most of the women experience is the change in the menstrual periods. They become irregular such that they can be shorter or even last longer. The flow may also increase or it can be reduced. The change of the periods is usually a normal change but in some cases abnormalities are noted that require medical attention. The change in periods usually paves way for other physical and psychological changes. Physical symptoms are inclusive but not limited to night sweats, hot flushes, insomnia, headaches, breast tenderness, joint aches and palpitations.
Of all these, hot flushes which are also known as vasomotor symptoms affect quite a considerable number of women. Since they occur occasionally, they do not cause much distress expect to some few women. However, to some women, the same symptom can lead to distress which affects their work and sleep. On average, some women are affected by hot flushes for about two years but in some abnormal circumstances they have been known to last for about fifteen years. While experiencing the flush, the upper part of the body feels hot, the skin turns red and sweating may occur.
It is quite disturbing but it does not last for long, for it takes about two to three minutes (Currie 2006). The hormonal symptoms also result to psychological changes whether directly or indirectly. Currie (2006) records that most women experience mood swings, anxiety, forgetfulness and irritability. Some of these symptoms may be closely related to the sleep disturbances and other life events that are more prevalent at this particular stage, like worries about children, relatives, lack of enough finances to cater for the family problems among others.
Since women usually have a lot of cares, the symptoms some times become unbearable, though with enough family and medical support they are usually able to cope with all the symptoms. The low estrogen levels lead to dryness of the vaginal which causes a lot of discomfort during sexual intercourse. As a result, most of the women lose interest in sex. Some of the menopause symptoms like insomnia and hot flushes can also contribute greatly to sex problems as well as other problems that women may be going through at this stage.
All these early symptoms may last for a period of few months and in some instances, they may last for a period of between two to five years. Postmenopausal is also associated with some symptoms that still affect women to quite a great extent. The reduced levels of estrogen affect the bladder and the vagina and leads to symptoms like leakage of urine, vaginal discomfort, burning and itching, discomfort usually experienced during intercourse and while passing urine, and vaginal discharge. Most of such symptoms are the same in almost all women, although the severity may vary from one woman to another due to different lifestyles.
Other symptoms that may be as a result of menopause include hair thinning or extra hair, depression, memory loss and skin problems (Huffman, Myers, Tingle ; Bond, 2005). 3. 0 Women’s Attitudes towards Menopause As highlighted earlier in this paper, women in different cultures have got different views and attitudes towards the issue of menopause. In a study which was conducted to investigate how African American women perceived the issue of menopause, the results indicated that age also played a great role in determining the attitude of women towards the whole issue.
The results of a much younger group indicated that less than 10% thought of menopause to be a medical condition, 38% considered menopause to be a natural phase which can be dealt with by taking hormonal replacement therapy and the remaining 44% perceived menopause to be a natural phase of transition that can be best dealt with by natural means (Huffman, Myers, Tingle & Bond, 2005). Further research indicates that majority of older African American women feared most of the menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, irritability, loss of sexual desire and depression.
The much younger women do not know exactly what to expect during menopause and are least concerned with the hormonal replacement therapy. Women with a negative attitude towards menopause believe that it is a condition that necessitates one to seek medical attention. Such women dread it and view it as the end life. Nonetheless, in the same cultural grouping, those who view the issue of menopause positively believe that it is a change that enables women to be freer and to have a broad out look of life especially due to the fact that there are no worries regarding issues like child birth (Huffman, Myers, Tingle & Bond, 2005).
In a country like Malaysia, studies indicate that most women wait for the period and do not have a problem with the whole issue. To most of the Indians and the Muslims, it is a very significant period in the life of a woman since it marks the beginning of their involvement in religious rituals. Therefore, to most of such women, menopause paves way for women freedom especially due to the fact that they can be allowed to participate in activities that they were initially denied and also due to the fact that it shoulders them off the responsibilities associated with child bearing (Paramsothy, Nadkarni, Damodaran, Subramaniam, & Omar, 2000).
Further studies indicate that most of the Malaysian women especially in urban areas seek medical attention while undergoing the menopause phase. However, not many of the women prefer to undergo through hormonal replacement therapy. In some cultures like among the Indian South African women, younger women do not know much about the issue of menopause. This is due to the fact that most of the older women consider it is a shame to discuss the issue with younger women. Moreover, older women assume that it is the duty of the younger women to search for the knowledge.
However, the problem of talking about the menopause is more common among the conservatives since further studies illustrate that among the progressive women, the case is different (Toit, 1990). The same studies indicate that about 51% and 33. 3% of the younger and older women respectively who are more progressive have no problem of discussing the issue. However, majority of women view menopause positively as it is a change that allows them to have more time to participate in other activities in the society.
In most of the Eastern societies, women have a positive attitude toward menopause. According to Nusrat, Nishat, Gulfareen, Aftab, & Asia, (2008), 91. 7% of the middle aged Chinese women perceive menopause as a natural phenomena and deal with the issue in a positive way. Likewise, majority of women in India and Asia had the same positive view of menopause. Most of the women interviewed from these localities indicated that they would not wish to have their menses again.
Although most women from the Western societies still view menopause positively and as a natural phenomena, the percentage is a bit lower compared to the percentage of women in the Eastern societies. 3. 1 Reasons for Cultural Variations in Attitudes of Women towards Menopause Various factors may contribute to different attitudes of women towards menopause. For instance, a study which was conducted to investigate the attitudes between different cultural groups in America indicated that African American had a more positive attitude compared to the American Whites (Sommer, et al. 1999). In the same study, it was found out that Japanese American women were the least positive closely followed by Chinese American women. The study indicated that the fact that the African Americans had gone through a lot of economic and racism related problems made them not to worry too much about an issue such as menopause. Therefore, it was clear that those women who had not been through many hardships worried too much about the problem. Information about the issue of menopause also greatly affects the attitude of women towards the same.
For instance, the fact that young African Americans spend a lot of time with the older women contributes greatly to their positive attitude since they learn a lot from them. Other issues like the social economic class do not have much effect with the attitude. The perceived role of women in the society also contributes greatly to the attitude of women towards menopause. For example, majority of the Hispanic women dread the onset of menopause since they associate menopause with the end of woman’s role in childbearing which is highly regarded (Sommer, et al. 1999). 4. 0 Conclusion Although there are different attitudes towards menopause in different cultures, women in United States view the issue as a medical problem. This is due to the fact that they focus more on the negative symptoms that accompany menopause. As a result, most women in United States seek medical attention and usually go for the hormonal replacement therapy in order to ease the symptoms associated with menopause. The fact that most cultures in U. S. are youth oriented still affects the women’s attitude towards menopause.
Consequently, though there is a lot of information regarding menopause in United States, majority of young women dread the onset of the same as they view it as a medical condition that greatly affects their health. In cultures that are not youth oriented, women posses a positive attitude towards menopause and welcome it whole heartedly as old age in such cultures is highly regarded. It is therefore clear that women’s attitude towards menopause in different cultures is positive, negative, or neutral and is highly determined by information, role of women in the society and the general view towards old age.