Monday, November 14, 2011

Women More Accepting and Less Fearful Of Menopause

It gets a mention in her latest humor book and is the subject of the comedy “Menopause: The Musical” hitting Dayton’s Victoria Theatre Sept. 14 to 16, (see article on D5) but there is little Kay Frances can say truly hilarious about menopause.

“The hot flashes are just a special hell,” said the Wilmington-based author who devotes space in her book “The Funny Thing about Stress: A Seriously Humorous Guide to a Happier Life” to menopause. “You’d love to peel off all of your clothes and your skin.”

But Dr. Jeremy Crouch said menopause is nothing to fear and is a normal stage of a woman’s life.

About a third of a woman’s life will happen after menopause, he said.

“If you live long enough, you are going to go through menopause,” Crouch noted.

The shame of menopause

Many of the stigmas associated with menopause — clinically defined as the permanent end of menstruation — have diminished in the last 40 years due in part to the generational shifts including women’s right movements, said Marie Thompson, a Wright State University assistant professor who specializes in health and gender communications.

“(Female baby boomers) are redefining age,” she said. “We (women) are finding other ways to value our place in society.”

Still Thompson said there is an underlying stigma connected to the loss of a woman’s fertility due to menopause.

“It’s the way in which we place so much emphasis on youth, and beauty and the body,” she said.

“We don’t recognize the value of women in other roles.”

The wake up call

A stress management specialist and retired comic, Kay Frances, said the stage in life she and friends call “Aunt Minnie” comes with some great lesson.

“That is really freeing,” the 55-year-old said.

“The joy of menopause: you don’t care. When you hit 50 you get much more comfortable with your skin ... I don’t have time to worry about the small stuff and I want to do what I want.”

Dr. Sheela M. Barhan of Wright State Physician Women’s Health Care said many women take menopause as a wake-up call.

“Some have an opportunity to reflect on their health and their life and see how they can live healthier,” she said.

The attitude shift is due in part to the notable advances in the way women’s health and reproduction is discussed in society, she said.

“Because women can talk about (the subject), they are more likely to live well and avert serious health issues,” she said.

“They use to get information from their family on what they are going through and sometimes that is misinformation.”

The talk

The way menopause is discussed in society has definitely changed in Rosemarie “Ro” Scacchetti’s lifetime.

The 81-year-old Bellbrook resident said the subject wasn’t even considered when she experienced menopause.

In fact, she only realizes she went through menopause in retrospect.

“I was so busy in those days raising a family. I was probably working at that point,” the former educator said. “We didn’t have the information and the knowledge about menopause. Whatever was going on in your life we accepted. We didn’t know about hormones.”

Scacchetti said women experiencing menopause today, such as her fitness instructor Kay Bugary at the Five Seasons Sports Club, talk about the subject freely.

“They are hormoning back and forth and I didn’t know what a hormone was back then,” Scacchetti said.

Bugary, 51, first experienced menopause-related symptoms when she was 47.

Bugary said hot flashes woke her up two to six times each night before she began hormone therapy recently.

“It’s just bizarre,” she said of the intense hot flashes and night sweats. “It’s terrible because you can’t sleep.”

Bugary said her own mother never broached the subject of menopause and she never thought about it before experiencing its symptoms.

Now she often talks to younger women about the condition so that they can know what to expect.

“I want people to understand that this is what your body does,” she said noting that menopause is not a reason to feel old.

Bugary, a personal trainer, teaches 13 to 15 classes a week at either the Beavercreek YMCA or Five Seasons.

“I don’t miss my menstrual cycle period, no pun intended,” she said.

Article by: Amelia Robertson

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