A Quick Primer on The Stages of Menopause and History
By Julie Gordon White, Founder, Bossa Bars Menopause Energy Bars
31 Million women between the ages of 45 - 64 experience menopause symptoms every day in the United States, and 1.2 billion worldwide by 2030. The fact that the majority of our sisters in The Pause feel generally off-kilter, sweaty, tired, bloated, and are suffering in silence about this phase in their life is UNACCEPTABLE!
Adding to the challenge, many women struggle to understand the stages of menopause and which one they’re technically in, so here they are:
Perimenopause is when your menstrual cycle becomes irregular but you still have a period. This begins to occur around age 47 (and you can still get pregnant!).
Menopause is when you have not had a period for 12 months and you won’t know you’re in it until you pass that milestone. The years between perimenopause and menopause are when the symptoms are strongest.
Postmenopause begins after that 12 month mark and may still include symptoms.
Now let’s talk about the history of menopause. Here are a few interesting facts:
- 1821: A French physician coined the term menopause.
- 1930s: People started describing it as a deficiency disease. Consequently, various replenishment therapies were advocated; e.g. testicular juice, crushed ovaries of animals.
- 1970s: Menopausal symptoms were ascribed to estrogen deficiency and estrogen (hormone) replacement therapy was exhorted as the ultimate liberation of middle-aged women and the medical industry (pharmaceuticals) entered the scene of menopause in a big way and dominated the center stage. Symptomatology of menopause differs in different areas of the world; e.g. West—hot flushes/hot flashes are the hallmarks of menopause; in Japan, women can experience shoulder pain; and in India, impaired vision is a common symptom.
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) use rate is high in the West, while it is low or negligible in countries like India.
- Overall, women in western countries view menopause negatively. This is contrasted with a positive outlook towards menopause in a developing country
These revelations, along with what feels like hundreds of conversations with our girlfriends in all stages of The Pause, are changing the perception and experience of “today’s menopause”, or at least getting the momentum heading in a positive direction.