‘Pause’itive phase Or Menopause – a taboo? Or mere embarrassment?
Night sweats, hot flushes, anxiety, weepiness, onsets of rage, irritability and insomnia-induced exhaustion are some symptoms of menopause that are often deeply disturbing. Let’s not forget the aching joints, sore breasts, weight gain, or the reduced sex drive. Yet, strangely, menopause tends to not be openly discussed.
Why don’t we talk openly about menopause? Is it taboo? Or embarrassment?
The Oscar-winning actor Penelope Cruz was recently quoted in a magazine, questioning “the relationship between hormones and respect?’ Even today, words like ‘period’, ‘postpartum depression’, ‘menopause’ make people nervous when discussed openly. Not just men but even women get disturbed to speak frankly about the above.
The perimenopause lasts from 40 to 50, and nobody discusses it, as society considers such things taboo.
According to a study from the Society for Endocrinology, a startling one in four women shall experience serious menopause systems. Such topics however, are barely discussed. Actress Vidya Balan is one of few actors in India to speak about menopause in public. Women not only undergo depression during this phase, but also face physical and emotional issues. It is however dealt with silently
“In a traditional and conservative country like India, certain terms remain taboo even in the 21st century. Despite its everyday reality, issues like menopause are rarely discussed openly. This is unfortunate because it impacts the mental, psychological, and physical health of women. The anathema towards discussing menopause has resulted in a lack of information about a very critical stage in every woman’s life,” says Dr Sanjeev Kanoria, Founder, Suasth Hospital.
Menopause is one of the most misunderstood biological changes that women have to confront. The changes can be traumatic, and psychologically challenging for women. “According to one study the average age of menopause in Indian women is around 46 years and yet, very few women are prepared for it. Currently, we have no national health policy regarding the clinical, and practical training of primary care physicians for treating hormonal changes in perimenopausal or menopausal women,” says Dr Sanjeev Kanoria.
There are currently 65 million Indian women over the age of 45. While the average age of menopause in India is around 46 years, it often strikes women much earlier, even as young as 30-35 years. 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.
A question that needs addressing is that why is menopause not frequently discussed or researched? “This is unfortunate as it impacts access to information and treatments that can help women deal with their hormonal fluctuations, especially in rural areas,” says Dr Sanjeev.
Problems related to menopause such as sleep disturbance, osteoporosis, weight gain, urinary incontinence, and moodiness can be dealt with some lifestyle modifications. Simple measures like exercising, taking calcium supplements, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding alcohol or smoking are essential. Medical care is often required to deal with some of the symptoms of menopause. However, the taboo surrounding the subject stops women from seeking out such basic aid.
“Timely action can help them take care of themselves in case of possible extreme symptoms and therefore ease their condition. It is time to break these taboos, and open up an honest conversation on menopause. Apart from raising awareness and educating people, we must also focus on providing support in the workplace and the society,” sums up Dr Sanjeev.