Do cultural perceptions of menopause change how we experience it?

Those who know me, know I love learning, and asking questions. Perhaps it has to do with my anthropological background… I don’t know, but what I do know is that I have a curiosity around the cultural experience of perimenopause and menopause. Do women from different cultural backgrounds have different experiences in regards to their symptoms. Do they have different expectations of what it is like based on that? AND does that influence what their actual experience of menopause is?

Here is what the research suggests (there are similarities and differences):

  1. Most women will experience menopausal symptoms regardless of culture. This is due to the physiological response to a change in hormones.
  2. Across all cultures, symptoms were worse with higher weight (obesity) and lack of movement.
  3. There were differences in terms of severity of symptoms experienced: In countries where the aging process was more revered (meaning that menopause was celebrated as moving into a wise woman role), the symptoms, although still there, were perceived as less bothersome.

Fascinating and relevant. Why? Although we cannot escape the physiological response, what this tells us is that we can control (to a certain degree) our experience and perception of menopause. Part of this is considering how we think about menopause.

Do you think of menopause as an ending or a beginning?

Do you think of menopause as a decline in health or a gaining of wisdom?

What if we, as women, decided to celebrate this transition? What if we created a celebration and ritual for ourselves? There are many cultures that celebrate a coming of age as young women and men transition to teenagers or adults (from Quinceaneras to Bar and Bat Mitzvah’s, Seijin Shiki to Hamar Cow Jumping – the list goes on!) Why not celebrate the next transition to the wise women years?

Let’s start this revolution together!

Let’s reflect on what that would look like, to be celebrated for all that you are, all that you have become over decades of living, experiencing, learning and growing. What wisdom can you impart as you move into these years? What would your celebration or ritual look like? AND if we as women, stood together to celebrate each other through menopause, would that change out we experience it?

This is something I can thinking about for myself and for my patients. Creating something beautiful to aid women in this life transition. If you have suggestions, I would love to hear them! Drop a comment in the box below and let me know what you would do to move yourself into the wise women years.

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