Menopause, once a taboo topic, continues to be a subject of medical controversy as well as a path of exploration for generations to come. Women now have a chance to continue redefining aging, as they did work, motherhood, sex, marriage, physical, and spiritual health.
The amount of material available about menopause has exploded exponentially since Gail Sheehy published The Silent Passage in 1992. We have moved out of silence, but not out of anxiety. New levels of mass media attention and technology have ushered in new conundrums.
Age hysteria and obsession with looking younger remain as intense as ever. Caught up in the culture’s “pedal to the metal” work and lifestyles, we have “no time” to let the natural process of menopause play itself out.
Advertisements proclaim; “What Menopause???” as stratagems are devised to hormonally regulate women’s entire lives, from birth control to perimenopause to postmenopause, in one smooth pharmaceutical flow. For decades, millions of women were told that hormone replacement therapy was a long-term medical necessity to protect their heart and bones. Only in 2002, when the Women’s Health Initiative Study found this strategy was not scientifically verifiable (with risks outweighing benefits), did some doctors reconsider their standard recommendation of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). Increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer had always been a concern, but long-term studies found that HRT increased the risk of heart disease, stroke, blood clots and dementia–the very conditions it was supposed to prevent. Clearly, women need to use their own bodies as sources of knowledge as we remain in uncharted waters.