Cultural Differences in how Women Experience Menopause

Nan Joe By Nan Joe, 18th Mar 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Health

Menopause is a precess that all women go through. Different cultures experience and view it the systems differently. Some view it positvely and others negatively.

Menopause and Cultural Differences

Menopause is a natural process that all women go through. It signals an obvious consequence of an aging endocrine system. It is the end of a woman’s natural ability to conceive a child. The age of menopause varies widely and it comes between the age of 35 and 55 years the average being 51 years.
A woman has experienced menopause if she goes for 12 months without her monthly period. With approaching of menopause, the reproductive organs of a woman begin to experience different changes like the shrinking of the genitalia and breasts become smaller. The decrease of estrogen causes hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness.
Cultural differences:
Studies have shown that with menopause, one size does not fit all. Different cultures view and experience the symptoms differently. Women differ greatly in terms of how many of these symptoms they have and how severe they are.
Women from the Eastern and Western, experience these emotions and physical changes but they have meanings to them depending on which part of the world and culture they come from. Japanese word for this phase of life means renewal years and energy. Symptoms and fears differ as a function of cultural experiences. Few Japanese women report hot flashes whereas 33 to 75 percent of American women report this symptom.
A study showed that though Chinese and Japanese women were less likely to have night sweats and hot flashes, they were less enthusiastic about undergoing this phase of life than other ethnic groups. They also reported stiffness and dizziness but rarely depression whereas European women are often depressed.
The study also showed that Caucasian women in the United States noted more muscle aches, difficult sleeping and irritability than women of other backgrounds. African American women were more likely to experience hot flashes and night sweats but they had a more positive attitude about menopause.

Traditional cultures such as the Navajo of North America, view menopause quite differently. Research found that the women reported no hot flashes or any significant menopausal symptoms. Actually, the women look forward to menopause because with it comes a change of status within their communities. After menopause, the women are elevated to leadership roles and are considered as the wise women. So menopause can be viewed as a positive event in these traditional cultures. Some African cultures consider menopausal women as the advisors for the young women on family, cultural and social issues.
The study also found that ethnic backgrounds influence the age at which menopause starts. Latin and African Americans often enter menopause earlier than white women but Asian women reach menopause several months later.

Conclusion:
What accounts to these diverse differences? Diets, environment, cultural beliefs and genetics all play a role in these differences. Women, especially American women no longer view menopause as a sign of the end of useful life. Many embrace their new status in a positive way and pass through this transition rather easily.

Tags

Age, Cultural Differences, Menopause, Women

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author avatar Nan Joe
Working and talking about families and relationships is my passion. Families are the foundation of who we really are.

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Comments

author avatar Denise O
18th Mar 2011 (#)

I understand there are severe cases but, for the masses, I think attitude is key. Like I have said before, I just don't fret on it. I am glad I am at this age/stage and I embrace it. Nice read. Thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar Nan Joe
20th Mar 2011 (#)

Yes Denise, it is all in the attitude and perception.

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author avatar Carol
18th Mar 2011 (#)

Very interesting share. I was lucky with mine, but still get hot flushes

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author avatar Nan Joe
20th Mar 2011 (#)

Thank you Carol. I guess those hot flashes take time to go away.

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author avatar Greenfaol
25th Mar 2011 (#)

Excellent article, I really enjoyed reading this. Personally, I am not there yet but I know it is on the horizon. My sister, who is 11 years older than me has been putting the menopause off with HRT. She never suffered bad periods so when the menopause started, she got quite a shock.
I do feel genetics make up a large part of it, especially with levels of discomfort. i also read that Japanese and Chinese ladies suffered so little menopausal and PMT symptoms due to their intake of Soya. Hope this is true :D
Thanks for a wonderful read x

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author avatar Nan Joe
25th Mar 2011 (#)

Thanks Greenfaol, You are right, the experience varies due cultural backgrounds.

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author avatar Retired
15th Jul 2011 (#)

Thanks, very interesting. I really thought people were making a fuss about nothing re menopause but I found the night sweats hard work.

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author avatar Nan Joe
21st Jul 2011 (#)

Yes, the night sweats and hot flashes. To some, it is an achievement and to others, just unbearable. Thanks for your comment.

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