How women deal with the menopause

Women fall into two distinct groups when it comes to the way they cope with the menopause. That is the conclusion of research being presented today at the annual conference of the British Psychological Society’s Social Psychology Section in Winchester.

Helena Rubinstein from Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge, asked 270 women aged between 33 and 66 years to complete questionnaires investigating their attitudes to their bodies, diet, exercise and the menopause itself. She also interviewed 12 women in depth about their views on these questions.

The results showed a consistent and significant relationship between higher levels of concern about the body or shame about it and negative attitudes towards the menopause.
Helena Rubinstein says:

"The interviews showeed  that attitudes to the menopause are deep-seated and powerful, because it is a tangible marker of fertility and entering old age. Both of these mean that women become invisible and are ignored – and neither is welcome. This change means that women are no longer the object of as much attention  – and this can lead to a re-examination of their sense of identity.

"Most women negotiate this transition by deciding to forgo worries about how they look and enter a new phase is not based on appearance.  They emerge stronger and more confident, with more time to devote to themselves and to new projects.

"A minority try to maintain attention by attempting to recreate their youthful looks or even by emphasising their health proplems. it is the women who emerged from the questionnaires as being more concerned about their bodies and appearance who are more likely to feel this way."