Menopause Perspectives From Around the World
Global Wellness Day is June 11th. We were inspired by the theme this year, #thinkmagenta, which means to stay positive through everything. Research has shown that women in different cultures have different experiences with peri/menopause. But, the underlying fact is that if women look at this stage of life in a positive light they usually experience less of the 30 symptoms a woman might have during peri/menopause. Here is how women in other cultures are staying positive and reframing their experience in peri/menopause.
In the United States, the perception is that peri/menopause is viewed as a medical issue but not enough focus is provided in the medical field. A majority of doctors still aren’t being trained to support women through this stage of life.
Previous generations didn’t share their experiences openly with family or friends, making it a taboo topic and experience. It left everyone not really knowing what to expect from it, or how to support women going through it.
Big brands have always focused marketing and products on anti-aging. Many studies have found that youth is the goal in the West. Everyone’s goal is to look younger. But, that makes it so no one appreciates the beauty or experiences that come with aging.
Thankfully, things are changing. Female entrepreneurs are stepping up to the plate and creating products to support women as they transition into peri/menopause. Older women are being used on fashion runways and photo shoots, shining a light on the great beauty they possess. These kinds of changes will make a difference for the women who experience menopause in the future. As we will see in other cultures, when age is respected it makes the aging process easier.
British women are speaking up and making sure that the government, medical system, education system, and the corporate world are supporting women through menopause. There is a task force focusing on these themes and exclaiming: #makemenopausematter. The task force has already taken steps to make sure menopause is a part of the education system. Menopause will now be a topic included in the sexual wellness portion of high school education. This will allow conversations to start at a younger age so that everyone is aware of the changes that will eventually come to all women. Students will be able to make informed lifestyle decisions that will affect their future.
Just like in every country, women in Canada are starting to have a platform to discuss what menopause is and how it affects everyone. The government is developing a text messaging program to help support women experiencing anxiety, depression, and mood swings through menopause. Some women still might not feel comfortable sharing these changes with their family, friends, or doctor. This anonymous service is a great way for women to know they are still supported and they aren’t alone.
Women don’t have to worry about finding a doctor that understands what they are experiencing in peri/menopause because the Australian Menopause Centre has a website that offers free consultations to women who need help.
Native American Indians in North America and Aboriginal/Maori women in Australia:
Research shows that indigenous women experience as many symptoms as nonindigenous women in North America and Australia. But, it’s good to note that women that are post-menopausal are respected and looked at as, “women of wisdom,” which is a respected gain of status in their community. Maori women in remote areas didn’t have a word for menopause and some didn’t even know about this stage in a woman's life. But, they knew there would be a time when they no longer had a period.
Women in India experience menopause earlier than women in the West. Menopause is still considered taboo in India. It’s usually regarded as an old-age symptom. There are women working to change that perspective. A short film called, “Painful Pride,” produced by Maansi is raising awareness about menopause for everyone. Nonprofit organizations (NGOs) in India have organized a #hotflush campaign to create positive conversations around peri/menopause for underprivileged women. They are teaching women to approach this stage of life in a positive manner.
In many cases, Japan is looked at as the optimal experience for women in peri/menopause. Culturally, menopause is looked at as a renewal season. Japanese women have lower rates of hot flashes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and breast cancer and they live at least five years longer than women in other countries. An interesting study found that Japanese women that moved to the United States experienced more of the peri/menopause symptoms than Japanese women living in Japan.
In China, women experience fewer hot flashes than women in the West. They see menopause as a “rebirth.” Studies have shown that in Asian cultures, social status often increases with age, and positive attitudes about menopause and aging are frequently observed.
Mayan women in Mexico:
Mayan women today enter into menopause earlier than the average age of 51 globally. But, they rarely have symptoms, and if they do, they are minimal. Through various studies, they found that no matter what the Mayan women experience during peri/menopause, they stay very positive because they are excited about the end of their period and newfound freedom. Women experience very strict rules for diet and daily activities before menopause. They also spend most of their lives pregnant, so when it comes to menopause it is true freedom and time for them to experience life without limits.
We all might have individual experiences in peri/menopause, but if every culture would celebrate women aging – through the lens of their knowledge and beauty standards – then everyone would benefit.Here are some steps to get there:
- Talk openly about peri/menopause experience with family, friends, and doctors.
- Take care of ourselves during this time. Work out, eat well, and stay positive with deep breathing, affirmations, meditation, and/or prayer.
- Educate yourself about peri/menopause and share the findings with your doctor.
We all want to be healthier and live well. This is the day to celebrate and support that effort. Start by trying to take a break from the things that stress you out. Work on getting rid of those bad habits, and learn new ways to live your healthiest and best life.