Posted by on May 18, 2008 in Uncategorized, women's health | 1 comment

I was talking to a colleague/old friend the other day about this blog. She is a few years older than I and we got into this great conversation about generational gaps when it comes to discussing health issues. Perimenopause and menopause in particular, have been huge taboo issues for women for decades.

Take for example, an episode from ‘That 70s Show,’ in which Kitty learns that she is not pregnant but rather, has entered menopause. When she asks her mother (played to a T by none other than Betty White) about her experience, she’s informed that she never went through menopause and has always been “healthy.” It’s funny and sad simultaneously. And definitely well worth the watch. (Fast forward to timecode 3:59.)

As the last of the baby boomers enter middle age, their appetites for health information appear to be ever more insatiable. And yet, some of the savviest and most practical women I know confess that they rarely, if ever, discuss their symptoms, moods or concerns about the changes that they are going through with their friends, let alone their mothers.

I’m fortunate. I have a mother who is pretty open about these sort of topics. And although she’s 70+, she tries hard to maintain an open attitude about certain things. When I approached her a few months ago about what I was going through, she was very forthcoming about her own experiences. And while her experiences were not exactly like mine (let’s face it; no two women’s experiences will ever be exactly the same), being able to talk about it was very liberating, even if I didn’t find “why” behind my own symptomatology.

Janine O’Leary Cobb, a former professor at Vanier College in Montreal, author of Understanding Menopause and founder of ‘A Friend Indeed,” once said that “it seem[s] to be one of the last things women talk about because it’s so entangled with aging and we don’t want to talk about getting older.”

And yet, research suggests that when we do talk about “it” and about getting older, hopefulness and positivity dominates, even as we acknowledge the more negative, i.e. loss and bodily changes, at the same time. And there a majority of women in this study who said that they feel a greater willingness to embrace personal growth and opportunities being presented to them with ease and sense of self as they age, a liberation, if you will.

So, what’s my point? Well, I’m not suggesting that we embrace the sugar-coated version of perimenopause and menopause that many advertisers would lead us to believe. But if we start having conversations with our gal pals and our mothers and colleagues, well, maybe we can begin moving towards removing the stigma that surrounds the “change” and aging once and for all.

Knowledge and exchange are certainly positive, powerful aphrodisiacs for growth.

One Comment

  1. 11-17-2008

    Liz, I can’t believe I’m the first one to comment on this blog entry of yours (from way back in May, but I just discovered your blog!). I guess that speaks to the content of it. Your comments are right on!

    I’m involved in a womens’ health day every year, and this year’s theme was about transitioning through the perimenopause years. But, instead of focussing on symptoms like hot flashes, the doctors who decide on the theme each year picked sexuality and depression as two of the topics to address. Duh! Perhaps the hot flashes and resulting sleep depriviation could be the cause of depression! In their defense, they did also address cardiovascular issues. But, the women who attended the day appeared more interested in the heart healthy information I had at my booth, than all the perimenopause handouts I had available (and the average age of the women who attended this event was 40). I’m lobbying for a repeat of this topic next year (with more relevant issues to be addressed!).

    I’m really enjoying your blog by the way. It’s very informative, yet with a good dose of humour!

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