Marketing of Menopause Creates its Own Misery

Sunday, September 18, 2011

There's no one size fits all for menopause, says Dr. Wulf Utian in his new book "Change Your Menopause," released this month during National Menopause Awareness Month. In this excerpt he says confusion creates a distorted and negative view of menopause.

(WOMENSENEWS)--In simple English, menopause means the last, final and never-to-return loss of the monthly menstrual period, a natural event through which all women will eventually traverse.

But if only it was that simple. To many women worldwide it is as much a state of mind as it is a state of bodily change. There are numerous descriptions, misconceptions and even marketed untruths (yes, lying for purpose of gain) as to what the "change of life" is really all about. Few of these stories match each other, except that none ever paint a pretty picture of what to expect.

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Change Your Menopause - Why One Size Does Not Fit All
by Wulf H. Utian

To most people, even the clinicians, menopause means more in their minds than the final menstrual period. Rather, it is a word used to collectively include the final period, as well as years before and many years after, and a host of real or perceived symptoms and potential diseases.

Europeans tend to use climacteric (Greek: steps of a ladder) instead of menopause to refer to this time in a woman's life.

Given the great mythology that has built up around the word menopause it is little wonder that many women approach this significant event with nothing short of dread, anxiety and fear. In desperation, most women turn for guidance to friends or family, to women's magazines, to the Internet or the lay medical press.

Aggravating Confusion

What do they get out of this? Mostly confusion, one that may aggravate an already existing distorted image of life and where it is going.

  • "There is nothing to it," says one friend, but "it is the change of life and beginning of old age," says another.
  • "My sex life ended and my husband left me," confides her next-door neighbor, while her aunt warns: "Take life easy or you will break a bone!"
  • "Menopause is a galloping catastrophe," stated one early renowned physician who hurried to add that with hormone therapy, "you will be much more pleasant to live with and will not become dull and unattractive."
  • "You must really be crazy to allow a male chauvinist gynecologist prescribe you hormones. Don't you know they cause cancer and heart attacks?" shouts her daughter.

And so it goes on and on, with increasing confusion, more indecision, hot flashes, night sweats and greater emotional distress, the escalating and inevitable results.

Whose fault is this distorted idea of menopause? Probably ignorance aided and abetted by social attitudes, fallacies and misconceptions.

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I am a little tired of hearing men's views of women's lives, as if men are experts, which I find biassed in ways that intend to patronize women and sooth us into leaning on a male for 'guidance' on matters in which the men have no experience.

As with practically everything in the US —regardless of whether it pertains men or women, feminists or not— the bottom line is MONEY and a crafty mix of marketing LIES with commonsensical truths. The reader finds several itemizations, the first of which are obvious exagerations unworthy of consideration (because you would have to be dumb to believe that all women stop having sex or are abandoned by their husbands after climaterium); but then, mixed with this, comes a commonsensical reason to be aware and beware of hormones, which are given in the US to women in all manners and forms, from the pill to post-menopause conconctions.
Since most US women, USers, in their 50s have been living in a "reality" created by the Government with the help of the communication media (and yes Ms. Magazine is key and fits in into all these big Gov plans), and most USer women in their fifties are ALONE (meaning, with no man, I am not counting girlfriends here) and their children (if they had them) are on their own, surviving the Capitalism of Frenzy we have here, most such women are AFRAID. In comes all kinds of support groups, articlettes, etc.
The women in my family are from the Basque country; not great believers in Big Pharma or in doctors, even in smiling female doctors (when have you ever met a US doctor who was not "nice"?). We follow nature; we eat nothing defrosted, articificial, prefabricated; we the eat fresh food that we buy and we cook; we follow nature and do not interrupt its cycles; we menstruate until our late 50s, one of my grandmothers until 60. Fish is almost a daily routine, goat cheese or milk are part of our diet as are walnuts and figs and olive oil. We stay close to the earth by avoiding as much as we can all modern artificiality including, in as much as it is possible, using electricity or using the car. We walk miles a day, we clean and we cook, and if possible we also plant. The vagina is key to our health: in goes the penis, out goes either menstruation or the baby or a mild discharge. No paps or mamograms recommended, but once a year and only because we happen to be living in the US where insurance companies might deny you treatment if you do not submit to those two (that is, if you have money to buy insurance which in this country is not a "universal health care" right). Those of us who, by need of our hectic modern lifestyle in the big cities of Europe or the Americas, have to depart from that lifestyle, find that we get to menopause earlier on.
A healthy sexual routine also helps keep the woman young and "motivated" in a physical and emotional, spiritual way. The husband is the ideal party but if not possible, a lover is necessary in most cases. Penetration is very healthy for the woman's psique and body; orgasm too, but it should not become the female focus of sex activity: follow nature and anatomy and then reason by yourself and reach your own conclusions; it is anatomically possible for a woman to have orgasms, but it is not as easy as with the male.
As with women from any other part of the world, Basque women have to deal with being alone and many times also lonely, as they age; they not always have the money and authority prestige that accompanies grandpa.
Increasingly, however, they think of ways not to end up alone or lonely. Money and a long life of hard work, following the feminist bible, is neither guarantee of happiness and company, nor of health. Nothing is? Well, joy, physical activity, contact with nature, a sense of purpose, faith in God, usefulness and company seem to be the common threads that weave into the wellbeing of a few happy old women I know. I hope I become one of them. That is why I do not neglect my two girlfriends and I share a lot of laughter and some wine with them, or food or coffee or whatever, and as often as once a week (with one, the other lives a hectic life and quite far away, so I can only meet her once a semester). I try not to fight my husband as often as I am inclined to, but I don't try to gracekelly myself to a cancer by keeping it all in. I have frustrated career aspirations and I have to deal with that and put in perspective, with the help of a little humor. I try to keep an eye on my 23 year old "still feminist" daughter (who just got off the pill after 2 years, and is trying a mixture of chastity with vinegar douche and avoiding the ovulation days, and avoiding a waste of your ... in the wrong guy; "save yourself for, at least, a good lover, if not for the love of your life", I tell her; and she retorts, "but I will have the love of my life, and not on your terms, which is ok right?" yes it is ).
I visit my girlfriend who is sick with cancer but full of zest; I make her laugh with my unconventional ways; her husband left again, but he will come back. I think of my ex lover, 10 years younger and Latino like me (though not white like I am), and thank God for the great 5 years of the best sex in my life. And then I say my prayers asking for pardon, but I had no man, I "had" to do it.
As a 57 year old woman, who is contemplating her last menstruations, I share the mixed feelings that accompany the journey through an exciting jungle with periodic showers, to the lovely hill I am pacefully climbing amidst the flowers, and pastures, and creeks that flow away from the top. As I climb more and more, I see the river of my life glistening full of charm into the sea magnicent and misterious.
"There is nothing but love", is what I am trying to understand, but those words are not mine; they belong to an old woman.

I am afraid you are guilty of marketing menopause too. Look at your lead.

"In simple English, menopause means the last, final and never-to-return loss of the monthly menstrual period,"

Loss? Menopause is when your period stops. And it is as simple as that.

Your reference to loss implying something else altogether.

That's a valid point. However, since this is an exerpt from a book, it's the author's thoughts, not necessarily womensenews. And that raises the issue of how biased or not the author is.