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Does menopause madness really exist? Middle-aged women shouldn't identify as crazy

Germaine Greer saw right through menopause discourse. (Fairfax Media via Getty Images)

Germaine Greer saw right through menopause discourse. (Fairfax Media via Getty Images)


August 1, 2023   5 mins

The menopause had a “MeToo moment” the year I turned 45. It was 2020 and women were finally speaking out about their hot flushes and sleepless nights. The roots of this revolution could be tracked back to a 2017 interview with Lorraine Kelly, after which other well-known women started sharing their stories. The message to women my age was: “You are not alone.”

As a beneficiary of this new-found openness, I do not wish to appear ungrateful. Even so, there’s something about it that unsettles me. When Lisa Snowdon calls her show Midweek Menopause Madness, or the writer Kate Muir describes her “deranged perimenopausal mood swings”, or the actress Martine McCutcheon compares the approach of menopause with “losing your damn mind”, I am desperate to empathise. But I worry about the renewed embrace of the language of craziness to describe being an older woman.

“Thinking about menopause,” wrote Germaine Greer in The Change, “is like thinking about the menstrual cycle: there are two schools of thought”: “One holds that nothing of any significance is taking place, and the other that the stress and strain of what is taking place are so acute that sensible behaviour is not to be expected. Both kinds of arguments conceal crude misogyny. The ‘nothing happening’ school reserves the right to despise women who are encountering difficulties, and the ‘Sturm und Drang’ school allows itself to treat femaleness as a pathological condition.”

In talking about menopause, it seems that we are still in thrall to these two extremes. I fear that in its desire to reject the “nothing happening” state of affairs, which makes women who struggle with menopause feel wimpish and inferior, today’s menopause activism risks going all-out for “Sturm und Drang”. But what about those of us who do not want to be co-opted into this narrative, either?

The legacy of medical misogyny means there is pressure on women to emphasise the severity of symptoms in order to be taken seriously; we have so often been told our pain is “all in our heads”. Yet there is a simultaneous, overlapping history of female emotions — things which are indeed “all in our heads” — being pathologised. Women’s feelings have long been stripped of any social and political context, and therefore treated as purely biological, which makes it easier to apply the label of madness.

Given the ways in which women’s expressions of anger and anxiety are so often used to discredit us, I question just how liberating some of today’s “menopause madness” rhetoric is. “Some of our negative feelings about menopause,” wrote Greer, “are definitely the result of our intolerance for the expression of female anger.” For many of us, middle age is the first time we feel confident enough to acknowledge the validity of certain emotions. In her 2019 memoir Flash Count Diary, Darcy Steinke describes herself feeling “angry more often, a menopausal condition that doctors classify as hormonal irritability but that I’m starting to see as a gateway to authenticity”. If we see a woman’s expression of anger purely as an unpleasant biological symptom, rather than an acceptance of feelings that she might once have suppressed, we are in danger of undermining her. When I was younger, I was often told that my resistance to male authority was not “normal”, and I believed it. Is it pathological not to believe it anymore?

It is no small thing to tell the world that women your age are going insane, regardless of whether or not you blame this on hormonal depletion. As Elinor Cleghorn writes in Unwell Women, the discovery of oestrogen a century ago did not lead to a straightforward replacement of “old ideas about women being ‘naturally’ defective and deficient”: “Where female nature had, in the past, been blanketed as ‘hysterical’ and ‘neurotic’, now it was hormonal.” Personal accounts in a book produced by campaign group Menopause Mandate, entitled It’s Beyond a Joke, position the benefits of Hormone Replace Therapy as proof that women are not going “properly” mad, yet the distinction seems to me very fine. In the age of Karen, we have not evolved to a stage at which accounts of menopausal derangement can be treated as politically neutral. The shouty middle-aged woman is not taken seriously, regardless of whether she is categorised as mad, bad or simply medication deprived.

I am conscious that, in writing this, I may be accused both of being anti-scientific (because I find the biological realities politically inconvenient) and unsympathetic (because I am having a less extreme menopause than other women). In a piece for The Guardian, Kate Muir claims that “while some lucky women joyously ‘sail through’ the menopause with little more than red clover tea, the reality is that 80% have symptoms — from brain fog to anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, exhaustion, vaginal dryness and stiff joints”. I worry about being perceived as one of these “lucky” red clover tea women — a traitor to the menopausal cause, oblivious to the suffering of her peers.

I do not find this life stage easy. The reason I cringe every time a woman my age seeks to bond over our shared “craziness” is due to my own particular sensitivities. I have spent time as a patient in psychiatric hospitals; the credibility that comes with being perceived as “sane” is not something I treat lightly. I am not prepared to let go of it, in order to feel I am part of the “menopausal club”.

Besides, I am not the only person who finds the evidence base for “menopausal madness” shaky, and not all of us are feminists. Just how many women are having severe menopause symptoms is not a settled matter. Recent research puts those experiencing measurable changes in brain function during menopause at 23%. While this is not insignificant, it does not seem to justify the way in which all women are now primed to suffer from “menopause brain”.

It is also unclear why symptoms differ so much. A 2022 article in the BMJ argued that “social and cultural attitudes contribute to the varied experience of menopause”, and that over-medicalisation risks “collapsing the wide range of experience at the average age associated with this natural process into a narrowly defined disease requiring treatment”. The authors estimated the prevalence of moderate to severe symptoms to be 16-40%, based on a 2021 survey of 11,771 women. They also suggested that women’s expectations and experiences of menopause were strongly influenced by “personal, family, and sociocultural factors”, and by “social values around reproduction and ageing”.

The article was controversial. Some read in it a puritanical insistence that women should “keep calm and carry on”, despite there being treatments available to alleviate their suffering. To these readers, the authors’ resistance to medicalisation sounded like a return to the “nothing happening” school of thought described by Greer. The debate captured much about the push-pull nature of women’s relationship to medical authority. Are we validated by being labelled, or does validation come when we resist? And what might be the relationship between validation and truth?

My own view is that it is not in the least invalidating to acknowledge that how we feel about our bodies and minds is influenced by how we are told we should feel. Indeed, this is something with which women struggle at all stages of our lives. When teenage girls are described as prone to social contagion, some see in this a claim that their feelings are less real or painful. What I see is that women and girls are always presented with a limited range of acceptable things to express. Right now, “menopausal craziness” is socially and politically forgivable in a way that middle-aged women’s activism regarding other issues is not. This is not to say that hormones or bodily changes are irrelevant, but that the “mad” middle-aged woman is being constructed and discussed using only fragments of an experiential whole.

To be clear, this is not a call to be silent about menopause, or a dismissal of medical intervention when it is part of a holistic view of potential symptoms. Much good has been done in recent years by organisations such as The Menopause Charity and Menopause Mandate. I know women who say Hormone Replacement Therapy has changed their lives, and fully support attempts to make it more accessible and affordable for those who need it. Nonetheless, I resist the tendency to identify as menopausal crazy women. There are enough people in the world who will do this for us; we don’t need to do it to ourselves.


Victoria Smith is a writer and creator of the Glosswitch newsletter.

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Katharine Eyre
KE
Katharine Eyre
8 months ago

On the one hand, I think it is quite marvellous that this stage of life is being talked about more. When I was learning the ropes of being a woman in the 90s, it was still a bit taboo, being over 40 was to be “over the hill” and miscarriage? Well, you’d just deal with it if and when you had one. Suck it up, ladies – figure it out for yourselves!
The new openness about female reproductive health is basically a positive thing. We’re no longer dried up old prunes post-menopause who are damned to wearing twin-sets and pearls and being irrelevant: we have just “evolved” onto the next stage of our lives. A woman’s ability (or willingness) to reproduce is no longer definitive of our role in society – thank heavens!
However – just with everything else: when an issue becomes a way not just to “break the taboo” but to get attention for oneself, then the discourse does get rather histrionic rather quickly.
As far as my body is concerned, I’m not fully buying into the Greer-ish “nothing of significance is happening” narrative. I’ve always been able to “just get on with things” as far as my cycle is concerned. I’ve climbed mountains, done 40km walks, trekked through Burma and run half marathons with my period and just dealt with it.
But I’ve been having night sweats since I was 32; the sleepless nights started in my late 30s (I’m now 41). And I have to admit: when you’re on your 4th sleepless night and pyjama soaking in a row, it is quite hard to just continue as normal. With more women talking about the issue, it’s a real comfort to know that I’m not the only one lying there in bed at 3am with a pool of sweat on my sternum.
Just bought myself “Woman On Fire” by the German gynaecologist Dr. Sheila de Liz. She’s generally a very positive and down-to-earth sort, so I’m looking forward to her insights.

Last edited 8 months ago by Katharine Eyre
Lindsay S
LS
Lindsay S
8 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Yes, this article does read that the author is finding women talking about their experiences to be inconvenient to her belief system. Yet while she acknowledges that, just with menses, menopause affects all women differently. What doesn’t help is that HRT doesn’t alleviate all symptoms nor can all women take it for a variety of reasons. Living and working with those women can be challenging during those times and it can exacerbated by them not recognising that their unreasonable stance is hormonal. I say this as a peri menopausal woman. In the moment you feel absolutely justified in you rage or frustration however on reflection (if you reflect) it can become clear. That’s not patriarchy, it reflection.

MJ Reid
MR
MJ Reid
8 months ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

I finished my menopause when I was 34. Because of my age, I was told I had to take HRT. The first type caused me to cry all the time. The second made me want to kill people. I then decided medicine could go hang, and I went au naturale. My mood swings vanished. My depression disappeared and never came back. I don’t have osteoporosis as was predicted. My arthritis flares occasionally but that might have happened anyway. I am so glad I didn’t have to try to go through what I did in my 40s or 50s. Someone might just have died.

MJ Reid
MR
MJ Reid
8 months ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

I finished my menopause when I was 34. Because of my age, I was told I had to take HRT. The first type caused me to cry all the time. The second made me want to kill people. I then decided medicine could go hang, and I went au naturale. My mood swings vanished. My depression disappeared and never came back. I don’t have osteoporosis as was predicted. My arthritis flares occasionally but that might have happened anyway. I am so glad I didn’t have to try to go through what I did in my 40s or 50s. Someone might just have died.

Samir Iker
SI
Samir Iker
8 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

“climbed mountains, done 40km walks, trekked through Burma and run half marathons with my period and just dealt with it.”
Firstly, bravo! Really inspiring.

Secondly, I don’t think you are the target market here. Needs less doing, more complaining to be included in this club.

Lesley van Reenen
LV
Lesley van Reenen
8 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Menses are not the same for all women. Some hardly experience any discomfort (me), others have extreme pain and heavy flows. Google endometriosis.

Samir Iker
SI
Samir Iker
8 months ago

Even if it means little discomfort, doing mountain climbing or 40 km walks is gutsy.
Though part of the issue is, I guess, is not only that symptoms differ, but hardiness and toughness as well (for men or women). So the woman who is complaining most about symptoms might well not be the same as the one suffering most.

Katharine Eyre
KE
Katharine Eyre
8 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Here’s an account of the best hike I ever did if you’re interested: https://katharinewrites.com/home/best-hike-gehrenspitze-tyrol/

Check out the International Marching League for the long walks: they are held all over the world and the routes have various lengths. They are usually 2 day events but sometimes 3 or 4. Walking 40km a day on 3 consecutive days is a transformative experience I’d recommend to anyone. Proper mind-over-matter stuff, but also a spiritual experience if you’re open to that. And you meet some great people.

Last edited 8 months ago by Katharine Eyre
Samir Iker
SI
Samir Iker
8 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Nice, thanks, and glad to know I am not the only husband who leaves his wife alone to wander off during treks…

Samir Iker
SI
Samir Iker
8 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Nice, thanks, and glad to know I am not the only husband who leaves his wife alone to wander off during treks…

Lesley van Reenen
LV
Lesley van Reenen
8 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

I don’t think Katherine speaks for all women – just running many kilometres through her period was ok for her, but she is clearly not listening to other women. Frankly I think the tone is dismissive

Katharine Eyre
KE
Katharine Eyre
8 months ago

I was not being dismissive and it is not true that I am “clearly not listening to other women”. I was simply recounting my experiences and my own point of view which is that I think that some women do whinge and get histrionic to get attention – in this matter as in others.
This is also the reason why I generally regret joining in women’s discussions like this: I always end up being made to feel bad because I am deemed not sufficiently sympathetic to other women’s pain. And ironically, that’s when I DO get dismissive. THAT is when I think: “Oh, Lord – how bad do I have to feel to participate in this conversation? This is too much work – I’m off.”
Men don’t have conversations like this, and accuse each other of not taking other mens’ prostate issues seriously, for example. We women should learn off them.

Last edited 8 months ago by Katharine Eyre
MJ Reid
MR
MJ Reid
8 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

But women keep an eye out for their menfolk too. Speaking to other women helps keep famies healthy. Don’t knock it, you might need it in the future. I know very few women who whinge without reason. I do know lots of men who whinge without reason or feeling for their womenfolk and their pain. Everyone is different. Again don’t knock it…

MJ Reid
MR
MJ Reid
8 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

But women keep an eye out for their menfolk too. Speaking to other women helps keep famies healthy. Don’t knock it, you might need it in the future. I know very few women who whinge without reason. I do know lots of men who whinge without reason or feeling for their womenfolk and their pain. Everyone is different. Again don’t knock it…

Katharine Eyre
KE
Katharine Eyre
8 months ago

I was not being dismissive and it is not true that I am “clearly not listening to other women”. I was simply recounting my experiences and my own point of view which is that I think that some women do whinge and get histrionic to get attention – in this matter as in others.
This is also the reason why I generally regret joining in women’s discussions like this: I always end up being made to feel bad because I am deemed not sufficiently sympathetic to other women’s pain. And ironically, that’s when I DO get dismissive. THAT is when I think: “Oh, Lord – how bad do I have to feel to participate in this conversation? This is too much work – I’m off.”
Men don’t have conversations like this, and accuse each other of not taking other mens’ prostate issues seriously, for example. We women should learn off them.

Last edited 8 months ago by Katharine Eyre
MJ Reid
MR
MJ Reid
8 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Deep depression and pain that stops you breathing happening every month from the age of 12 stops a girl/woman from climbing mountains and trekking 40 km during her period. I k ow, that was me. The other 2.5 weeks of the month, I swam long distances, ran miles each day, lifted immense weights. Then spent the rest of the month rocking in a corner or crying every time someone looked at me. If you haven’t been there…

Katharine Eyre
KE
Katharine Eyre
8 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Here’s an account of the best hike I ever did if you’re interested: https://katharinewrites.com/home/best-hike-gehrenspitze-tyrol/

Check out the International Marching League for the long walks: they are held all over the world and the routes have various lengths. They are usually 2 day events but sometimes 3 or 4. Walking 40km a day on 3 consecutive days is a transformative experience I’d recommend to anyone. Proper mind-over-matter stuff, but also a spiritual experience if you’re open to that. And you meet some great people.

Last edited 8 months ago by Katharine Eyre
Lesley van Reenen
LV
Lesley van Reenen
8 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

I don’t think Katherine speaks for all women – just running many kilometres through her period was ok for her, but she is clearly not listening to other women. Frankly I think the tone is dismissive

MJ Reid
MR
MJ Reid
8 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Deep depression and pain that stops you breathing happening every month from the age of 12 stops a girl/woman from climbing mountains and trekking 40 km during her period. I k ow, that was me. The other 2.5 weeks of the month, I swam long distances, ran miles each day, lifted immense weights. Then spent the rest of the month rocking in a corner or crying every time someone looked at me. If you haven’t been there…

Samir Iker
SI
Samir Iker
8 months ago

Even if it means little discomfort, doing mountain climbing or 40 km walks is gutsy.
Though part of the issue is, I guess, is not only that symptoms differ, but hardiness and toughness as well (for men or women). So the woman who is complaining most about symptoms might well not be the same as the one suffering most.

Lesley van Reenen
LV
Lesley van Reenen
8 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Menses are not the same for all women. Some hardly experience any discomfort (me), others have extreme pain and heavy flows. Google endometriosis.

Lindsay S
LS
Lindsay S
8 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Yes, this article does read that the author is finding women talking about their experiences to be inconvenient to her belief system. Yet while she acknowledges that, just with menses, menopause affects all women differently. What doesn’t help is that HRT doesn’t alleviate all symptoms nor can all women take it for a variety of reasons. Living and working with those women can be challenging during those times and it can exacerbated by them not recognising that their unreasonable stance is hormonal. I say this as a peri menopausal woman. In the moment you feel absolutely justified in you rage or frustration however on reflection (if you reflect) it can become clear. That’s not patriarchy, it reflection.

Samir Iker
SI
Samir Iker
8 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

“climbed mountains, done 40km walks, trekked through Burma and run half marathons with my period and just dealt with it.”
Firstly, bravo! Really inspiring.

Secondly, I don’t think you are the target market here. Needs less doing, more complaining to be included in this club.

Katharine Eyre
KE
Katharine Eyre
8 months ago

On the one hand, I think it is quite marvellous that this stage of life is being talked about more. When I was learning the ropes of being a woman in the 90s, it was still a bit taboo, being over 40 was to be “over the hill” and miscarriage? Well, you’d just deal with it if and when you had one. Suck it up, ladies – figure it out for yourselves!
The new openness about female reproductive health is basically a positive thing. We’re no longer dried up old prunes post-menopause who are damned to wearing twin-sets and pearls and being irrelevant: we have just “evolved” onto the next stage of our lives. A woman’s ability (or willingness) to reproduce is no longer definitive of our role in society – thank heavens!
However – just with everything else: when an issue becomes a way not just to “break the taboo” but to get attention for oneself, then the discourse does get rather histrionic rather quickly.
As far as my body is concerned, I’m not fully buying into the Greer-ish “nothing of significance is happening” narrative. I’ve always been able to “just get on with things” as far as my cycle is concerned. I’ve climbed mountains, done 40km walks, trekked through Burma and run half marathons with my period and just dealt with it.
But I’ve been having night sweats since I was 32; the sleepless nights started in my late 30s (I’m now 41). And I have to admit: when you’re on your 4th sleepless night and pyjama soaking in a row, it is quite hard to just continue as normal. With more women talking about the issue, it’s a real comfort to know that I’m not the only one lying there in bed at 3am with a pool of sweat on my sternum.
Just bought myself “Woman On Fire” by the German gynaecologist Dr. Sheila de Liz. She’s generally a very positive and down-to-earth sort, so I’m looking forward to her insights.

Last edited 8 months ago by Katharine Eyre
Allison Barrows
AB
Allison Barrows
8 months ago

Good grief, women have been talking about their periods and menopause all of my life, and I’m 15 years older than the author. My grandmother would visibly perspire (she always had tissues in her bra), and just wave it away as “The Change”. My college roommate had periods so intense she’d lie on her stomach and I’d sit on her back (she claimed it helped).
HRT is dangerous stuff. It was determined to be the cause of my mother’s abdominal aortic aneurysm that killed her at 68, and did absolutely nothing to ease her menopause symptoms. Night sweats, hot flashes, and insomnia suck, but interfering with the body’s natural chemistry can be fatal.
As for “menopause madness”, why would anyone want to be associated with such a daft idea? I’m told we’re all strong, independent, capable, stunning, and brave.

Sue Sims
SS
Sue Sims
8 months ago

My reaction entirely. Why on earth does Victoria Smith think that people have only just started talking about the menopause? I don’t recall any time when people weren’t discussing it, writing articles and books about it, and I’m 71. (I’ve just checked the British Library catalogue, and the first books focusing on the menopause date from the 1840s, though admittedly those were in French – the English didn’t join in till 1897.)
Actually, though, there’s an obvious reason: Ms Smith turned 45, and either started or approached the menopause. Men and women alike, we’re always far more tuned in to things that affect us personally, even though we may well have been unaware of them until that point. Unfortunately, it does tend to produce the sort of article that so much media, no matter what their political alignment, specialise in: indignation about something that’s apparently only just started happening, or is far worse than it ever was – except that, for those of us who’ve been around for some time, it’s just business as usual, possibly with extra glitter.
By the way, Steve Murray, I’ve watched all the Test matches, men’s and women’s, from start to finish, though admittedly it started in self-defence – my husband is a raving cricket nut.

Last edited 8 months ago by Sue Sims
Sue Sims
SS
Sue Sims
8 months ago

My reaction entirely. Why on earth does Victoria Smith think that people have only just started talking about the menopause? I don’t recall any time when people weren’t discussing it, writing articles and books about it, and I’m 71. (I’ve just checked the British Library catalogue, and the first books focusing on the menopause date from the 1840s, though admittedly those were in French – the English didn’t join in till 1897.)
Actually, though, there’s an obvious reason: Ms Smith turned 45, and either started or approached the menopause. Men and women alike, we’re always far more tuned in to things that affect us personally, even though we may well have been unaware of them until that point. Unfortunately, it does tend to produce the sort of article that so much media, no matter what their political alignment, specialise in: indignation about something that’s apparently only just started happening, or is far worse than it ever was – except that, for those of us who’ve been around for some time, it’s just business as usual, possibly with extra glitter.
By the way, Steve Murray, I’ve watched all the Test matches, men’s and women’s, from start to finish, though admittedly it started in self-defence – my husband is a raving cricket nut.

Last edited 8 months ago by Sue Sims
Allison Barrows
AB
Allison Barrows
8 months ago

Good grief, women have been talking about their periods and menopause all of my life, and I’m 15 years older than the author. My grandmother would visibly perspire (she always had tissues in her bra), and just wave it away as “The Change”. My college roommate had periods so intense she’d lie on her stomach and I’d sit on her back (she claimed it helped).
HRT is dangerous stuff. It was determined to be the cause of my mother’s abdominal aortic aneurysm that killed her at 68, and did absolutely nothing to ease her menopause symptoms. Night sweats, hot flashes, and insomnia suck, but interfering with the body’s natural chemistry can be fatal.
As for “menopause madness”, why would anyone want to be associated with such a daft idea? I’m told we’re all strong, independent, capable, stunning, and brave.

David Morley
DM
David Morley
8 months ago

The legacy of medical misogyny means there is pressure on women to emphasise the severity of symptoms in order to be taken seriously

The legacy of toxic masculinity means men have to be really ill before they go and see the doctor. Hence they are taken more seriously when they do.

I’m joking of course – but can we have more articles which are genuinely informative and a bit more fact based rather than just propped up with old feminist saws. It’s an important topic.

David Morley
DM
David Morley
8 months ago

The legacy of medical misogyny means there is pressure on women to emphasise the severity of symptoms in order to be taken seriously

The legacy of toxic masculinity means men have to be really ill before they go and see the doctor. Hence they are taken more seriously when they do.

I’m joking of course – but can we have more articles which are genuinely informative and a bit more fact based rather than just propped up with old feminist saws. It’s an important topic.

Daniel P
DP
Daniel P
8 months ago

Well, as guy with a fiance that is going through it, had his mother live with him while she was going through it, and who has two sisters dealing with it, I am glad to hear women talk about it and provide some insight. Hard to be supportive or to understand how to react to things when you are left in the dark.

Obviously I have no direct experience of periods or menopause but it would seem to me that no two people are biologically exactly the same, male or female. It also would seem obvious that after decades of life that even if the original baselines were the same, a lived life is going to have an impact and so no two women will enter menopause with the same physical health. It seems highly probable then that no two women are going to experience menopause in the same way.

God bless those that get to cruise through and lets do all we can to set up as many women as possible to get through it in that manner.

That said, there are those, like my mother, who are going to have it rough, and who may well appear to be losing their minds, lash out at their friends and family, and be miserable. The question I guess is how to help these women before the impacts of what they are experiencing not only damages their mental and emotional well being but potentially their relationships.

There probably is a need for some form of resources for people who are dealing with women they love and care about that are going through this more extreme experience. We cannot help if we are in the dark and do not have an understanding. Also, as a single father of a, now grown, daughter, I had to deal with the birds and the bees issues that I suppose her mother would probably have dealt with. Parenting is about preparing your child for life. I got through periods and feminine hygiene, dating, all the basics, but it never occured to me that I should probably prepare her at some level for what she will face in 30 years or so. I managed to get through the biological clock at its potential impacts on her life choices but never talked about what happens when the clock stops. I prepared her to save for retirement but not this.

Thanks for this article.

Lesley van Reenen
LV
Lesley van Reenen
8 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

A man who listens and has logic and empathy. Thanks for this. I cruised through it all (inasmuch as women cruise), but so many of my friends did not.

Lesley van Reenen
LV
Lesley van Reenen
8 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

A man who listens and has logic and empathy. Thanks for this. I cruised through it all (inasmuch as women cruise), but so many of my friends did not.

Daniel P
DP
Daniel P
8 months ago

Well, as guy with a fiance that is going through it, had his mother live with him while she was going through it, and who has two sisters dealing with it, I am glad to hear women talk about it and provide some insight. Hard to be supportive or to understand how to react to things when you are left in the dark.

Obviously I have no direct experience of periods or menopause but it would seem to me that no two people are biologically exactly the same, male or female. It also would seem obvious that after decades of life that even if the original baselines were the same, a lived life is going to have an impact and so no two women will enter menopause with the same physical health. It seems highly probable then that no two women are going to experience menopause in the same way.

God bless those that get to cruise through and lets do all we can to set up as many women as possible to get through it in that manner.

That said, there are those, like my mother, who are going to have it rough, and who may well appear to be losing their minds, lash out at their friends and family, and be miserable. The question I guess is how to help these women before the impacts of what they are experiencing not only damages their mental and emotional well being but potentially their relationships.

There probably is a need for some form of resources for people who are dealing with women they love and care about that are going through this more extreme experience. We cannot help if we are in the dark and do not have an understanding. Also, as a single father of a, now grown, daughter, I had to deal with the birds and the bees issues that I suppose her mother would probably have dealt with. Parenting is about preparing your child for life. I got through periods and feminine hygiene, dating, all the basics, but it never occured to me that I should probably prepare her at some level for what she will face in 30 years or so. I managed to get through the biological clock at its potential impacts on her life choices but never talked about what happens when the clock stops. I prepared her to save for retirement but not this.

Thanks for this article.

William Shaw
WS
William Shaw
8 months ago

First we hear about period issues and the need for free sanitary supplies, then it’s pelvic floor dysfunction and the need for special lessons in school, now it’s menopause.
Women are strong, independent and can do anything a man can do except apparently just get on with their lives without massive government intervention and medical support.

Lesley van Reenen
LV
Lesley van Reenen
8 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

All the imagination you need is trying to conceive of having a monthly period of pain (to a greater or lesser degree), accompanied by a loss of control in respect of something that emanates from your body. Try some of this imagination.

William Shaw
WS
William Shaw
8 months ago

Sounds like a serious design flaw that could have been solved by a sphincter at the cervix.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
8 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Apparently, you know very little about the female reproductive system.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
8 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Apparently, you know very little about the female reproductive system.

William Shaw
WS
William Shaw
8 months ago

Sounds like a serious design flaw that could have been solved by a sphincter at the cervix.

Samir Iker
SI
Samir Iker
8 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

The problem here, and with those other articles you mentioned, is that there is no solution proposed, nothing positive expected or planned.

Of course, the usual “it’s all the men’s fault” patriarchy reference (even for something where practically every medical professional involved would be a woman), and barely a hint of acceptance that it’s primarily women who need to be less judgemental and more understanding of those differences within women.

But ultimately, complaining, mainly about men, and often about things that don’t even exist in today’s society, is the objective, not the means.

Interesting how that mindset fits closely with how so many of my female relatives think, but none of the men (who might be awful in certain cases, but don’t sit around complaining and expecting sympathy).

Lesley van Reenen
LV
Lesley van Reenen
8 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Samir, I would genuinely like to know what triggers you about women? Is it strong women? Is it logical women? It certainly isn’t just hard line feminists. Every thread on women, here you are dripping bitterness.

William Shaw
WS
William Shaw
8 months ago

From what he wrote it’s obvious that he’s tired of all the whining and man-blaming.

Last edited 8 months ago by William Shaw
Samir Iker
SI
Samir Iker
8 months ago

Whining about how it’s all men’s fault while refusing to take charge of your own life, isn’t “strength”.

William Shaw
William Shaw
8 months ago

From what he wrote it’s obvious that he’s tired of all the whining and man-blaming.

Last edited 8 months ago by William Shaw
Samir Iker
SI
Samir Iker
8 months ago

Whining about how it’s all men’s fault while refusing to take charge of your own life, isn’t “strength”.

MJ Reid
MJ Reid
8 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Female medicine was dominated by male doctors who didn’t believe women, no matter what they were going through. If they are still alive, go speak to your grandmother or mother. .. They will tell you how often valium was prescribed for everything from periods, menopause or serious conditions like stroke. When I was a kid, most of the older women I knew apart from my two grans and their sisters, were addicted to prescribed diazepam. My grans and great aunts simply never went near a doctor…remembering how much it cost when they were growing up!

Lesley van Reenen
LV
Lesley van Reenen
8 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Samir, I would genuinely like to know what triggers you about women? Is it strong women? Is it logical women? It certainly isn’t just hard line feminists. Every thread on women, here you are dripping bitterness.

MJ Reid
MR
MJ Reid
8 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Female medicine was dominated by male doctors who didn’t believe women, no matter what they were going through. If they are still alive, go speak to your grandmother or mother. .. They will tell you how often valium was prescribed for everything from periods, menopause or serious conditions like stroke. When I was a kid, most of the older women I knew apart from my two grans and their sisters, were addicted to prescribed diazepam. My grans and great aunts simply never went near a doctor…remembering how much it cost when they were growing up!

Lesley van Reenen
LV
Lesley van Reenen
8 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

All the imagination you need is trying to conceive of having a monthly period of pain (to a greater or lesser degree), accompanied by a loss of control in respect of something that emanates from your body. Try some of this imagination.

Samir Iker
SI
Samir Iker
8 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

The problem here, and with those other articles you mentioned, is that there is no solution proposed, nothing positive expected or planned.

Of course, the usual “it’s all the men’s fault” patriarchy reference (even for something where practically every medical professional involved would be a woman), and barely a hint of acceptance that it’s primarily women who need to be less judgemental and more understanding of those differences within women.

But ultimately, complaining, mainly about men, and often about things that don’t even exist in today’s society, is the objective, not the means.

Interesting how that mindset fits closely with how so many of my female relatives think, but none of the men (who might be awful in certain cases, but don’t sit around complaining and expecting sympathy).

William Shaw
WS
William Shaw
8 months ago

First we hear about period issues and the need for free sanitary supplies, then it’s pelvic floor dysfunction and the need for special lessons in school, now it’s menopause.
Women are strong, independent and can do anything a man can do except apparently just get on with their lives without massive government intervention and medical support.

Maggi B
Maggi B
8 months ago

Yes – the space between the two discourses is a fine one to tread, and we’ll articulated here. Having had breast cancer I can’t use HRT. I don’t feel remotely ‘mad’ just sleep deprived at a time when we are barraged with information about the importance of sleep. On a bad night I will have 8-10 episodes where I wake with a hot flush. Thankfully I am retired. Yet at a recent conference I discussed this with a woman who has written a book about the ‘invention of menopause’ – who says it never existed back in the day. Hard one that.

Mike Buchanan
MB
Mike Buchanan
8 months ago
Reply to  Maggi B

Thanks Maggi, but when was “back in the day”? It’s surely only in relatively modern times that so many women lived long enough to experience menopause.

Lindsay S
LS
Lindsay S
8 months ago
Reply to  Mike Buchanan

I think we’ve also lost a generation that had experienced menopause fully. I know my grandmother never discussed menopause with my mother and she (mother) was encouraged to go straight on to HRT, by her doctor, when she reached “a certain age” (peri menopause). She was on it till she was forced to come off due to breast cancer. Then she started to experience menopause symptoms and then she died. The greatest lesson my sister and I got from that was to avoid HRT and anything oestrogen related. Patience is helpful when supporting menopausal and peri menopausal women.

Mike Buchanan
MB
Mike Buchanan
8 months ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

Thanks Lindsay, interesting.

marjan m
MM
marjan m
8 months ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

Thank you, I like your contribution. I am nearly 48 and struggle with aspects of peri menopause. I think it is hard. I also think it is natural. Not everything that is uncomfortable, needs to be fixed. It’s a bit like puberty in that way. Something you have to go through, and that’s OK.

Mike Buchanan
MB
Mike Buchanan
8 months ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

Thanks Lindsay, interesting.

marjan m
MM
marjan m
8 months ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

Thank you, I like your contribution. I am nearly 48 and struggle with aspects of peri menopause. I think it is hard. I also think it is natural. Not everything that is uncomfortable, needs to be fixed. It’s a bit like puberty in that way. Something you have to go through, and that’s OK.

Maggi B
MB
Maggi B
8 months ago
Reply to  Mike Buchanan

I’m guessing she was talking about 18th or 19th century. I’d like to read the book but it’s an academic book that costs a couple of hundred dollars

Lindsay S
LS
Lindsay S
8 months ago
Reply to  Mike Buchanan

I think we’ve also lost a generation that had experienced menopause fully. I know my grandmother never discussed menopause with my mother and she (mother) was encouraged to go straight on to HRT, by her doctor, when she reached “a certain age” (peri menopause). She was on it till she was forced to come off due to breast cancer. Then she started to experience menopause symptoms and then she died. The greatest lesson my sister and I got from that was to avoid HRT and anything oestrogen related. Patience is helpful when supporting menopausal and peri menopausal women.

Maggi B
MB
Maggi B
8 months ago
Reply to  Mike Buchanan

I’m guessing she was talking about 18th or 19th century. I’d like to read the book but it’s an academic book that costs a couple of hundred dollars

Janet G
JG
Janet G
8 months ago
Reply to  Maggi B

Back in the day many women did not experience menopause because they had died.

Mike Buchanan
MB
Mike Buchanan
8 months ago
Reply to  Maggi B

Thanks Maggi, but when was “back in the day”? It’s surely only in relatively modern times that so many women lived long enough to experience menopause.

Janet G
JG
Janet G
8 months ago
Reply to  Maggi B

Back in the day many women did not experience menopause because they had died.

Maggi B
MB
Maggi B
8 months ago

Yes – the space between the two discourses is a fine one to tread, and we’ll articulated here. Having had breast cancer I can’t use HRT. I don’t feel remotely ‘mad’ just sleep deprived at a time when we are barraged with information about the importance of sleep. On a bad night I will have 8-10 episodes where I wake with a hot flush. Thankfully I am retired. Yet at a recent conference I discussed this with a woman who has written a book about the ‘invention of menopause’ – who says it never existed back in the day. Hard one that.

Alex Stonor
AS
Alex Stonor
8 months ago

The menopause offers a great opportunity to medicalise a life course stage, starting with the Marina coil in early 40s to manage icky symptoms and prime women for further engagement with longterm medicalisation. The Government recently released a Gender Health Gap Review and propose to make it easier & cheaper for women to access long term treatment for being non-fertile; the treatment doesn’t address all the symtoms by the way. As far as I can tell, female friends choosing to go it alone (without HRT) are in the minority. I think this a shame because I have found, despite an unpleasant transition, that the psychological, emotional & physical benefits of having no hormones left are hard to quantify; in a positive way.

Alex Stonor
AS
Alex Stonor
8 months ago

The menopause offers a great opportunity to medicalise a life course stage, starting with the Marina coil in early 40s to manage icky symptoms and prime women for further engagement with longterm medicalisation. The Government recently released a Gender Health Gap Review and propose to make it easier & cheaper for women to access long term treatment for being non-fertile; the treatment doesn’t address all the symtoms by the way. As far as I can tell, female friends choosing to go it alone (without HRT) are in the minority. I think this a shame because I have found, despite an unpleasant transition, that the psychological, emotional & physical benefits of having no hormones left are hard to quantify; in a positive way.

Andy Iddon
AI
Andy Iddon
8 months ago

I just don’t get the calls by Greer of mysogyny, TBH – it seems based in projection or toxic egocentrism, where the individual is berating the outside world for noticing her erratic behaviour, deliberately disregarding the boundaries her inward experiencing and the innocent passers-by unfortunate enough to be exposed her psyche. It seems like toxic femininity, so lacking in self-awareness and full of anger, entitlement and resentment.
The sooner things move from anger to compassion for self amd others by those undergoing menopause the better IMHO.

Last edited 8 months ago by Andy Iddon
Andy Iddon
AI
Andy Iddon
8 months ago

I just don’t get the calls by Greer of mysogyny, TBH – it seems based in projection or toxic egocentrism, where the individual is berating the outside world for noticing her erratic behaviour, deliberately disregarding the boundaries her inward experiencing and the innocent passers-by unfortunate enough to be exposed her psyche. It seems like toxic femininity, so lacking in self-awareness and full of anger, entitlement and resentment.
The sooner things move from anger to compassion for self amd others by those undergoing menopause the better IMHO.

Last edited 8 months ago by Andy Iddon
Bernard Hill
BH
Bernard Hill
8 months ago

…the footy season’s not far away now is it.

Steve Murray
LL
Steve Murray
8 months ago
Reply to  Bernard Hill

You mean to say you’ve not been following the Lionesses’ tentative progress at the World Cup, following on from their triumph in the European Championships?

Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
8 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

What!? In contrast to the Test!

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
8 months ago

Men’s or women’s? I follow both! (the men’s much more avidly).

It’s still “batsman”, not “batter”…

Steve Murray
LL
Steve Murray
8 months ago

Men’s or women’s? I follow both! (the men’s much more avidly).

It’s still “batsman”, not “batter”…

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
8 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Funnily enough, I haven’t met a single women who is “following” them so far.
Just like none of the feminist moms I have met bother to take their daughters to sports, STEM activities, etc.

MJ Reid
MR
MJ Reid
8 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

There are plenty dads taking their girls to watch the world cup matches on huge tvs in football grounds. Why does it have to be something mums fo? You need to get out more…

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
8 months ago
Reply to  MJ Reid

Women take no interest in football, take no initiative in getting their daughters interested, but somehow they should still demand the same pay and media attention as the far superior men’s football formats?
Pathetic.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
8 months ago
Reply to  MJ Reid

Women take no interest in football, take no initiative in getting their daughters interested, but somehow they should still demand the same pay and media attention as the far superior men’s football formats?
Pathetic.

MJ Reid
MR
MJ Reid
8 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

There are plenty dads taking their girls to watch the world cup matches on huge tvs in football grounds. Why does it have to be something mums fo? You need to get out more…

Bernard Hill
BH
Bernard Hill
8 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

…the men o’ paws lot you mean?

Last edited 8 months ago by Bernard Hill
Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
8 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

What!? In contrast to the Test!

Samir Iker
SI
Samir Iker
8 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Funnily enough, I haven’t met a single women who is “following” them so far.
Just like none of the feminist moms I have met bother to take their daughters to sports, STEM activities, etc.

Bernard Hill
BH
Bernard Hill
8 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

…the men o’ paws lot you mean?

Last edited 8 months ago by Bernard Hill
Samir Iker
Samir Iker
8 months ago
Reply to  Bernard Hill

Cricket’s been pretty exciting though. Pity about that early declaration.

I think next season of “real” football would be great, possibly for the first time in years multiple teams competing.

Janet G
JG
Janet G
8 months ago
Reply to  Bernard Hill

The World Cup is underway right now I think. Seem to be lots of pics of women running around. I don’t suppose many of them are old enough to be experiencing menopause. Women’s World Cup of course.

Bernard Hill
BH
Bernard Hill
8 months ago
Reply to  Janet G

The English “Lionesses”……paws….no?

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
8 months ago
Reply to  Janet G

The English “Lionesses”……paws….no?

Janet G
JG
Janet G
8 months ago
Reply to  Bernard Hill

This is the point in a conversation when my father would leave the room to work under his car. Perhaps some others would like to join him?

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
8 months ago
Reply to  Janet G

….yes, good idea. Sometimes even serious matters, are best kept amongst the female team, until you have a role for the males to do.

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
8 months ago
Reply to  Janet G

….yes, good idea. Sometimes even serious matters, are best kept amongst the female team, until you have a role for the males to do.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
8 months ago
Reply to  Bernard Hill

You mean to say you’ve not been following the Lionesses’ tentative progress at the World Cup, following on from their triumph in the European Championships?

Samir Iker
SI
Samir Iker
8 months ago
Reply to  Bernard Hill

Cricket’s been pretty exciting though. Pity about that early declaration.

I think next season of “real” football would be great, possibly for the first time in years multiple teams competing.

Janet G
JG
Janet G
8 months ago
Reply to  Bernard Hill

The World Cup is underway right now I think. Seem to be lots of pics of women running around. I don’t suppose many of them are old enough to be experiencing menopause. Women’s World Cup of course.

Janet G
JG
Janet G
8 months ago
Reply to  Bernard Hill

This is the point in a conversation when my father would leave the room to work under his car. Perhaps some others would like to join him?

Bernard Hill
BH
Bernard Hill
8 months ago

…the footy season’s not far away now is it.

Emmanuel MARTIN
EM
Emmanuel MARTIN
8 months ago

Yeah, we really need to show more appreciation for the demands and feelings of Karen.

TheElephant InTheRoom
TheElephant InTheRoom
8 months ago

Oh no! More mental illness and celebrations of instability! Get hold of yourselves, go for a walk, stay in shape and keep a fan running nearby….

TheElephant InTheRoom
TheElephant InTheRoom
8 months ago

Oh no! More mental illness and celebrations of instability! Get hold of yourselves, go for a walk, stay in shape and keep a fan running nearby….

William Edward Henry Appleby
William Edward Henry Appleby
8 months ago

Is it really so bad? Or do we just get to hear from that minority that seems to suffer, ie. a selection bias?

William Edward Henry Appleby
William Edward Henry Appleby
8 months ago

Is it really so bad? Or do we just get to hear from that minority that seems to suffer, ie. a selection bias?

Susan Bennett
SB
Susan Bennett
8 months ago

Anything to do with the menopause makes my heart sink. I had 2 hot flushes, 20 years ago, before starting menopace tablets. I never had another. The magic ingredient is soy isoflavones which is why Chinese women have few menopausal symptoms. I told all the women I knew the good news but not one was interested. I got the impresssion that the menopause was a rite of passage and if you didn’t have something to moan about you weren’t doing it right. Sorry ladies, I wish you’d go back to moaning in private and stop taking up airtime and column inches with your whinging.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
8 months ago
Reply to  Susan Bennett

“Hormone levels. Because soy can have estrogenic properties, its effects can vary depending on the existing level of hormones in the body. Premenopausal women have much higher circulating levels of estradiol—the major form of estrogen in the human body—than postmenopausal women. In this context soy may act like an anti-estrogen, but among postmenopausal women soy may act more like an estrogen. Also, women with breast cancer are classified into hormone type—either hormone positive (ER+/PR+) or hormone negative (ER-/PR-) breast cancer—and these tumors respond differently to estrogens.“

Women who can’t take HRT will probably have the same issue with menopace. Is being genetically susceptible to estrogen eating cancer our own dumb fault?

Elizabeth Fairburn
EF
Elizabeth Fairburn
8 months ago
Reply to  Susan Bennett

James Wong – he wrote a book about grow your own “drugs” his menopause remedy was sage leaves and raspberry leaf tea – worked for me – not another hot flush or night sweat – don’t know about brain fog as I don’t know what that is!!

Lindsay S
LS
Lindsay S
8 months ago
Reply to  Susan Bennett

“Hormone levels. Because soy can have estrogenic properties, its effects can vary depending on the existing level of hormones in the body. Premenopausal women have much higher circulating levels of estradiol—the major form of estrogen in the human body—than postmenopausal women. In this context soy may act like an anti-estrogen, but among postmenopausal women soy may act more like an estrogen. Also, women with breast cancer are classified into hormone type—either hormone positive (ER+/PR+) or hormone negative (ER-/PR-) breast cancer—and these tumors respond differently to estrogens.“

Women who can’t take HRT will probably have the same issue with menopace. Is being genetically susceptible to estrogen eating cancer our own dumb fault?

Elizabeth Fairburn
EF
Elizabeth Fairburn
8 months ago
Reply to  Susan Bennett

James Wong – he wrote a book about grow your own “drugs” his menopause remedy was sage leaves and raspberry leaf tea – worked for me – not another hot flush or night sweat – don’t know about brain fog as I don’t know what that is!!

Susan Bennett
SB
Susan Bennett
8 months ago

Anything to do with the menopause makes my heart sink. I had 2 hot flushes, 20 years ago, before starting menopace tablets. I never had another. The magic ingredient is soy isoflavones which is why Chinese women have few menopausal symptoms. I told all the women I knew the good news but not one was interested. I got the impresssion that the menopause was a rite of passage and if you didn’t have something to moan about you weren’t doing it right. Sorry ladies, I wish you’d go back to moaning in private and stop taking up airtime and column inches with your whinging.

Mike Buchanan
MB
Mike Buchanan
8 months ago

Hi Victoria. We’ve just posted a link to your interesting article on our main website http://j4mb.org.uk. It’s been 10 years since we last linked to your writings, a link to those pieces here https://j4mb.org.uk/?s=Glosswitch.
So, you at least admit that many women suffer debilitating symptoms from menopause, including ‘brain fog’ – something never suffered by men, obviously – which is one of the key determining indicators for a diagnosis of Feminist Delusion Disorder in the DSM-5, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition.
Speaking personally I wouldn’t want to fly in a plane piloted by a person with ‘brain fog’, nor have such a person carry out brain surgery on my daughters. Would you?
Mike Buchanan
JUSTICE FOR MEN & BOYS
http://j4mb.org.uk
LAUGHING AT FEMINISTS
http://laughingatfeminists.com

Last edited 8 months ago by Mike Buchanan
William Shaw
William Shaw
8 months ago
Reply to  Mike Buchanan

Do they really allow menopausal women to fly planes?
Shouldn’t that be a medical disqualification?

William Shaw
WS
William Shaw
8 months ago
Reply to  Mike Buchanan

Do they really allow menopausal women to fly planes?
Shouldn’t that be a medical disqualification?

Mike Buchanan
Mike Buchanan
8 months ago

Hi Victoria. We’ve just posted a link to your interesting article on our main website http://j4mb.org.uk. It’s been 10 years since we last linked to your writings, a link to those pieces here https://j4mb.org.uk/?s=Glosswitch.
So, you at least admit that many women suffer debilitating symptoms from menopause, including ‘brain fog’ – something never suffered by men, obviously – which is one of the key determining indicators for a diagnosis of Feminist Delusion Disorder in the DSM-5, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition.
Speaking personally I wouldn’t want to fly in a plane piloted by a person with ‘brain fog’, nor have such a person carry out brain surgery on my daughters. Would you?
Mike Buchanan
JUSTICE FOR MEN & BOYS
http://j4mb.org.uk
LAUGHING AT FEMINISTS
http://laughingatfeminists.com

Last edited 8 months ago by Mike Buchanan