It usually strikes when you are between 45 and 55 years old. You can start to feel more anxious and lose self-confidence. Your memory may falter. You can begin to feel hot or cold at random times, your sleep quality may deteriorate, and your bones may start to weaken. This condition affects half the population – that is, all women will experience some version of this. It’s the menopause.
I’ve always thought I was good at understanding issues that affect people outside of my own identity, that is across gender, culture or political views. But I have to admit, until recently, I was totally ignorant about the menopause. Presumably, my late mother must have gone through it. And in the future, my sisters, wife and daughter will likely go through it, too. I’d imagine most men, and even some women may not know much about it either.
The word ‘menopause’ literally means ‘end of monthly cycles’ from the Greek words ‘men’ (month) and ‘pausis’ (pause). This accurately describes the biological precursor to menopause in which women stop getting their periods.
The term was coined by a French physician in the early 1800s, though it was known for millennia – Aristotle mentions it in his text. Yet until recently, the medical profession (if we can call it that) viewed it with suspicion. In the Victorian era, doctors (men) even locked up menopausal women in asylums under the view they were suffering from ‘climacteric’ insanity!
Thankfully, proper science today has shown that during menopause the ovaries start to produce less estrogen and progesterone. This shift in hormones can have the profound effects listed in the first paragraph. While the menopause is a perfectly natural process, for those struggling with the symptoms one option is to bring the hormone levels back up again using hormone replacement therapy (HRT). This has been shown to work quite well and has a good safety record.
Anyway, I thought I’d share my learnings and I hope it helps.