And That's on Menopause
Cessation of menses for more than a year is called menopause. Nearly half of the world’s population have experienced, are currently experiencing, or will experience menopause including women, gender-neutral, transgender men.
Menopause can result in hot flashes (which can be extremely overwhelming), mood swings, depression, anxiety, and irregular periods during perimenopause, and those symptoms can continue into the rest of the menopausal process after periods end. The symptoms may last up to 7-14 years. Other symptoms include migraine, insomnia, joint ache, stomach issues, fatigue, GSM, and mental fogginess. Vaginal dryness, painful intercourse, decreased libido, discomfort, or frequent urinary tract infections. Other risks associated with menopause are increased cholesterol levels, heart diseases, osteoporosis, unexplained weight gain.
WHY IS IT EQUALLY IMPORTANT TO TALK ABOUT MENOPAUSE?
Predominantly, menopause is only batted around by a very few women approaching the middle age out of the entire gender spectrum that menstruates: women, gender-neutral, and transgender men.
Menopause is more than just hormones. Menopause is rough.
Its effects are not just limited to the individuals who menstruate but their surroundings as well.
And most importantly hygiene and health shouldn’t be patriarchal in nature. Since cishet men are not affected by it, it shouldn’t be slid under the carpet.
There are 65 million Indian women over the age of 45 at present. In 2025 it is presumed that more than 12% of the population will be more than 60 years of age. Almost 50% of these will be women.
We must guarantee them a safe environment where they can talk about their health without being humiliated for it and also provide them with basic knowledge about menopause.
STIGMAS AROUND MENOPAUSE / WHY PEOPLE WHO MENSTRUATE ARE SO EMBARRASSED TO TALK ABOUT IT?/ WHY DON’T WE KNOW MORE?
Why is it that even those who experience menopause know very little about it? It is because of the patriarchal nature of the society where gender bias is prevalent even in medical research and as result menopause has been misconceived throughout the ages. Hundred of years later it still seems to persist.
Health organizations are exhausted with other problems that the health of older people who menstruate is almost always pushed under the rug.
It is treated as an ugly and inevitable 'disease' that menopausal people just have to suffer through. They are called hysterical and are ridiculed when they show discomfort as they experience some of these symptoms.
Society is unwelcoming to people who are in the tedious process of aging as they lose their ability to produce children, lose fertility, and end of their youth. Menopause is viewed as the first step to old age. Therefore menopausal people are claimed to be useless to society.
“The reason partners and kids have been left out of the educational loop about menopause is that menopausal people themselves have been left out of the loop”, Leslie Butterfield, a perinatal psychologist in Seattle.
HOW BEING UNINFORMED ABOUT IT AFFECTS PEOPLE WHO MENSTRUATE.
The social stigma makes menopause a shameful process of aging which may lead to low self-esteem, feeling of incompetence, anxiety, and depression which further refrains them from educating themselves, talking about it, and seeking medical help and instead compels them to bear with all of it in silence.
Because of a lack of knowledge, some menopausal people are not able to differentiate that whatever they are experiencing is due to hormonal changes during menopause and hence are unable to manage them.
Menopause is a huge hindrance in their day to day activities. Menopausal people continue to work and sometimes even overwork themselves while completely overlooking its symptoms, only to experience a burn out later and then resuming the entire cycle over again.
It makes every aspect of their life 10 times more challenging. It only exacerbates the difficult phase of aging.
MENOPAUSE AND WORK
Menopause is almost never discussed at the workplace just like any other life-changing health issue where women/transgender men are concerned.
Appallingly one out of four women considers quitting their jobs due to harsh menopausal symptoms.
Menopausal women are the fastest-growing workforce demographic according to Jo Brewis.
Unlike maternity leaves, menopause is more complicated since every woman’s journey varies widely.
If the workforce wants to be inclusive then they must take menopause into consideration.
It can be made better for menopausal people by making very minor changes like:
What can be done in the workplace?
Providing a desk fan to help them with their hot flashes.
Granting them menopausal leaves if required.
Flexible work schedule.
Uniforms should not be compulsory.
Initiating conversations and conducting workshops to create a safe and comfortable work environment for menopausal people and their colleagues.
HOW CAN WE HELP?
IT MUST BE TAUGHT IN SCHOOL
If we first allow people who menstruate to openly discuss menopause anywhere it could be an easy transition for all as they will receive validation which will help them let go of the internalized shame.
Family members can develop small habits that are easier to sustain as a family-like diet, exercise, doing their own chores, allowing the menopausal people to rest, and encouraging them to reduce their mental stress.
If family and friends educate themselves to adapt to these minor changes then menopausal people wouldn’t have to live in isolation.
Sex education should not be limited only to two genders.
Having empathy for menopausal people and assuring them when they experience unpredictable hot flashes or panic attacks or extreme mood swings.
Normalizing conversations surrounding menopause by saying something like,
“My mother/sister/friend/uncle/aunt is going through menopause and it is a very bumpy ride. Please look out for menopausal people around you.”
Writer -Charmy Savla
Editor - Priyam Kusundal
Graphics - Thea Sinsin
Illustrator - Ishika Chakraborty