Well, well, well…

Posted by on Mar 30, 2009 in emotions, general | 3 comments

wellbeing, that is. Is it elusive during the menopause?

Earlier studies have suggested that the way that a woman experiences menopause is dominated by several factors, including changes in the structure of their lives (e.g. social roles, personal relationships). When these changes do not occur as expected, for example, menopause starts early or late, they can cause greater distress than when they occur on time sot to speak. The same holds for menopausal symptoms; those that are perceived as normal are not necessarily unpleasant, while unusually heavy bleeding, emotional outbursts or frequent hot flashes can be disruptive.

I was intrigued when I ran across a study published in 2007  in the journal Contemporary Nursing which explored these very themes. Researchers recruited 18 women who were post-menopausal and self-described as having experienced ‘wellness’ during menopause. Interviews were conducted with all study participants, during which they were asked to describe in greater depth their experiences.

The study findings showed that the menopause experience was dominated by three themes:

The continuity of the experience

How women experience menopause is inevitably individualized and not easily generalizable. Indeed, data demonstrated that the nature of menopause and how women go through ultimately determine sits impact and how disruptive it is. More specifically, abrupt changes in menstrual patterns can be more jarring than incremental slowing and gradual cessation of menstruation.

How embedded menopause becomes in the rest of one’s life

In the course of the interviews, the researchers found that a woman’s ability to incorporate menopause into her life and routines versus allowing it to change the routines was key to maintaining an equilibrium. Hence, bothersome symptoms became only “only one experience among many and not the most outstanding.” Even hot flashes, which can truly disrupt a moment, became no more valuable to an overall experience than other daily events, mainly because these women did not allow them to disrupt familiar patterns and daily activities.

Containment of menopause

Participants who experienced a sense of wellbeing during menopause were able to compartmentalize their symptoms and for the most part, did not allow them to encroach upon the emotional or psychological domains. These women rarely if ever, experienced irritability, nervousness, anxiety or moodiness.

So, what does it mean?

Overall, the researchers found that a key to a sense of wellbeing during the menopause is focus, i.e. women are not focused on physical symptoms but instead, consider them part of the the overall experience of being a woman and are able to place them in the background. In other words, “the body [is] experienced in a “taken for granted way” so that menopause is not disruptive to an overall continuity of living.

The women who were studied were fortunate in that fluctuating hormones did not appear to alter or disrupt their moods or emotions. Hence, they were quite well-equipped to challenge the natural changes that were occurring and keep them away from the foreground. That aside, continuity and continuing to live one’s life without allowing physical changes to get in the way appeared to define the experience of menopause in more positive terms.

This brings to mind the word “natural” and challenges the notion of menopause as a disease. If we can find ways to stay on an even keel and take actions that minimize daily eruptions as nuisances rather than allowing them to disrupt, then we are indeed, on the right track. Wellbeing during menopause isn’t elusive; it simply requires careful planning and a different mindset.

What do you think?


  1. 3-30-2009

    New to your blog, but not to perimenopause.
    I, unfortunately started early. And felt as though I had intense PMS, off and on for about five years.
    Now that I am almost done, ( a period once or twice a year) and that there has been further study regarding HRT- my Dr. finally listened to me and realized that my quality of life, especially at 48, could be improved if I went on hrt.
    And it has. Not a miricle drug for me, but definitely helpful.
    I think your blof is informative, thanks for doing all the research and then presenting it in an easy to read manner 🙂

    • 3-30-2009

      And thanks for sharing your perspective and personal experience! I’m not a huge fan of HRT but I am a huge fan of whatever works!

  2. 3-30-2009

    I meant blog, not blof! LOL


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