by Mark Sichel, LCSW

It's a pretty safe guess that a man coined the term menopause: clinical, cold, implying hesitation and impairment or reduction in femininity. Why not call the biological change which women go through in their forties and early fifties, "femipause" and think of the lifestage in a whole new way: feminine, contemplative, and strategically positioned for change?

All too often, society's negative and forgetful attitude toward ageing women is accepted as something "only natural." Stereotypes about age from the past find their way into the present consciousness in ways that are sometimes subtle, sometimes obvious -- but never far away.

Think back to the classic children's stories of "Snow White" or "The Little Mermaid." In each story, ageing women are depicted as "hags" who hate and envy the youthful beauty of the heroines. And, of course, they will go to devious lengths to gain the dewy-eyed charms that only the young possess. Why wouldn't they? Older women having nothing going for them after all, right? Please. Generations of strong, vibrant, and vivacious femipausal women are finally succeeding in exploding this myth.

In our society, women forty to fifty-five often feel stuck in a non-sexy, non-utilized limbo until grandchildren and retirement. It was more accepted in the past by society and individuals that women "stopped" at forty. But Baby Boomers, now thirty per cent of the population, have reached that mark and are once again redefining an age.

The number of women in the work place and earning college degrees nearly doubled from 1950 to 1990, while the average number of children per household was halved. Women's income, education and control over reproduction have contributed to an independence never before known by women. A woman's "worthiness" is no longer determined by her uterus. Is it any surprise then, that society has finally recognized the vitality of menopausal women?

Be sexy. You can. Be active. You can. Be joyful. You can. Menopause is merely the end of your reproductive cycle, not the end of your womanhood. Be prepared, however, for the physical symptoms that accompany menopause. Hormonal fluctuations can create rapid and often unpredictable emotional challenges for menopausal women and their partners. Controversy rages about appropriate and safe treatment, with options running the gamut from homeopathic remedies to pharmaceutical hormone replacement therapies. Do some research to find out what the best option for you is.


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